The best of Fred Hutchison
Evolution vs. intelligent design: which model has more integrity?
December 13, 2012
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst

Originally published August 18, 2005

President George Bush once said that public schools should expose students to both evolution and intelligent design science and discuss the scientific controversies as the two models clash. The press unleashed a flurry of editorials that claimed this would involve a comparison of science with religion and a comparison of facts with faith.

But is this true? Is the evolution camp misunderstanding or misrepresenting what the intelligent design scientists are saying by calling it faith and not science? Even Charles Krauthammer, one of my favorite columnists and television pundits, asserts that intelligent design is faith, not science. Has Krauthammer, a medical doctor, read what the intelligent design scientists are saying, or is he following what he was taught by evolutionists in medical school?

Are important thinkers with a scientific background, like Dr. Krauthammer, changing their mind on this point? Yes. I heard one speak in late July (2005) at Oxford, University.

Intelligent design: science or faith?

The C.S. Lewis Conference (named Oxbridge, because it meets at Oxford and Cambridge) featured a discussion between eminent philosophers Anthony Flew and Gary Habermas. Anthony Flew was one of the world's most famous atheists because he'd debated theist philosophers about the existence of God for decades and some of these debates were televised. For much of his life, Flew based his atheism upon science. His more recent and celebrated conversion to theism was also based upon science.

Flew was invited to Oxbridge to join Habermas, his old debating partner and friend, for a discussion about Flew's recollections of C.S. Lewis at Oxford and Flew's conversion from atheism to theism. His conversion to theism came from reading the works of intelligent design scientists. He concluded that the weight of the scientific evidence points to the idea that the universe was designed, and therefore must have an intelligent designer. Habermas asked him about faith and Flew denied that faith had anything to do with his change of mind. He said he was logically following where the evidence led him. Flew obviously regards the research of the intelligent design scientists as science and not faith. What say you to this, Dr. Krauthammer?

Natural law, science, and government

Interestingly, Flew insists he is not a Christian or a religious monotheist and that he has no faith in a personal God. Habermas asked him if he is a Deist and Flew said "yes." A Deist believes in the existence of an impersonal and detached God who is the designer and creator of the universe. The Deist God gave man the gift of reason so he could discover the laws of nature and the design of the universe. Then he stepped away from his creation and left the governance of the world to man. Eighteenth century Deism contributed to the development of natural law philosophy, which influenced science, philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy.

Deism and natural law philosophy influenced American founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and James Madison, Jefferson's protégé and author of the Constitution. Jefferson opened the Declaration with these words from natural law philosophy: "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people...to assume those separate but equal stations which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them.... We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...." Natural rights are derived from natural laws. There are two kinds of natural laws: laws of nature that scientists study, and laws governing human conduct. Concerning the second, natural law decrees that the rights of the individual must not be transgressed by persons or governments.

We have a natural law Constitution and a revival of natural law science, namely intelligent design science. Yet some of our judges have assumed that the teaching of natural law science in the public schools violates our natural law Constitution. For example, in McLean vs. Arkansas (1984), Judge William Overton ruled that the teaching of scientific creationism in public schools violates the "separation of church and state." Let us assume that Judge Overton would have included intelligent design science as a branch of scientific creationism. There are no natural law churches in America. The last Deist churches in England closed in the eighteenth century. Therefore, how does teaching natural law science bring a church's doctrine into the classroom? Since the Deist God does not answer prayer or involve himself in human life, is not Deism more of a philosophy than a religion? If teaching natural law science like intelligent design is contrary to the "separation of church and state," then our natural law Constitution is contrary to "the separation of church and state."

Judge Overton's opinion is based upon two false assumptions: first, that the Constitution is hostile to religion, and second, that natural law philosophy and intelligent design science represent a religion. Madison, who wrote the Constitution, was inspired by natural law philosophy that was based upon the assumptions of philosophical Deism. One assumption of Deism is that men will form rational social contracts like the U.S. Constitution, as guided by self-evident truths from "nature and nature's god." Another assumption is that men will use reason, observation, and experience to discover the laws of nature. Never was there a science more in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution than intelligent design science. Both the Constitution and intelligent design science are triumphs of natural law philosophy.

Einstein's physics: a violation of church/state separation?

Anthony Flew's Deism is a little different from Jefferson's and Madison's Deism. Anthony Flew said he believes in Einstein's God. Einstein said in 1929 and was quoted by the New York Times, "I believe in Spinoza's god who reveals Himself in orderly harmony that exists, not a God who concerns himself with the fate of human beings" (source: Albert Einstein — Scientist, edited by Paul Schilipp 1970). Spinoza was a rationalist philosopher and a pantheist. He believed that everything is interconnected within one gigantic system and that this system and everything it contains is "God." Monotheistic religions and traditional Deism sharply differentiate between Creator and creation. Spinoza, Einstein, and Flew make no distinction between God and the cosmos. Intelligent design science brought Flew to Einstein's impersonal pantheistic God. It did not bring him to a personal faith in a personal God or to anything remotely resembling a religion.

Einstein started with Spinoza's general principle that everything that exists is essentially one, and everything is harmoniously interconnected into a beautiful whole. From this presupposition, he developed his theories of physics through blackboard mathematics. During the later part of his career, Einstein's futile pursuit of a unified field theory was driven by his belief that everything is harmoniously connected and interrelated. Einstein acquired this life-long conviction in his youth while reading Spinoza's pantheistic philosophy.

If deistic natural law science like intelligent design violates the doctrine of separation of church and state, does Einstein's physics, which is based in pantheism, likewise violate that doctrine? Of course not, and neither does intelligent design science violate the separation of church and state. Einstein was a philosophical pantheist, but had no interest in the mystical spirituality of pantheist religion. Intelligent design science is no more a religion than Einstein's physics. The intelligent design writers make no mention of who the intelligent designer might be and say nothing about faith or spirituality. Anthony Flew, who was an Oxford professor of philosophy, thinks that belief in Einstein's god is a particular kind of philosophical Deism. He views intelligent design science as a true science that is compatible with Einstein's philosophy. He firmly rejects personal faith and religion.

The logic is inescapable. Although natural law philosophy has roots in theism, it is a philosophy in the category of rationalism, like the philosophies of Spinoza, Descartes, and Leibnitz. Immanuel Kant fused philosophical rationalism with philosophical empiricism in his work, Critique of Pure Reason. He facilitated the blend of reason and evidence in modern science. A scientific model should be logically sound and mathematically articulated, if possible. However, a model must be vindicated by hard empirical evidence. Einstein's blackboard theories about how gravity bends light were rejected out of hand until the solar eclipse of 1919 when scientists measured the bending of light as it passes by the earth. Flew is a rational philosopher, but it was the hard, scientific evidence that won him over to intelligent design and Deism.

Is evolution a mixture of science and philosophy?

If we can ban a scientific model, such as intelligent design, from the classroom simply because it has roots in a philosophy that has theistic implications, can we also throw out evolution if it is revealed to be a blend of science and a philosophy with cosmological implications? Of course not. It would be absurd to throw out either intelligent design or evolution on these grounds. Although the ultimate winner in the contest between these two scientific models will be determined by the evidence, it is helpful to understand that the two models represent two conflicting cosmologies and worldviews. It is extremely painful for a man to change a long-held worldview. I stand in awe of the profound integrity of Anthony Flew to change his cosmology when the evidence required it, even though he had been a public advocate of a different cosmology for fifty years. The evolutionists' long commitment to a particular cosmology might help us to understand their emotional reactions when they are contradicted with hard evidence.

Since evolutionists often claim, "We are of science, and intelligent design is of faith," we are entitled to know if this is true. So far in our deliberations, it has become clear that intelligent design is a science with roots in philosophy. Is the same thing true of evolution? Yes, indeed.

Prior to French Enlightenment science, there was no concept of a necessary link between science and the philosophy of materialism — which holds that nothing exists outside the realm of matter. (This was due in part to the fact that most of the founders and eminent names of early science were Christians.) During the 1750's and 60's, Denis Diderot (1731-1784), the leading editor of the Encyclopedia and other leading French "philosophies," borrowed empirical ideas from Bacon, Locke, and Hume, and mechanistic ideas from Descartes, to create a hard-boiled new kind of materialism. The "philosophies" were either atheists or anti-clericalists, and their new materialism excluded the possibility of the existence of God or the possibility that God intrudes into nature or intervenes in the affairs of men. The philosophies argued in the encyclopedia that materialism and science were of necessity linked and that traditional theism is necessarily excluded from science. They argued that matter is a closed system that excludes the supernatural, the paranormal, and the spiritual. This philosophy of the cosmos came to be known as "scientific naturalism." The philosophies were the first to maintain that science and materialism are bound together in an indivisible embrace.

Influential German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) emphasized the "laws of classical mechanics" and said that all science can be reduced to a closed system of matter, force, chemistry, and energy. His emphasis of the mechanics of nature intensified the passion for materialism and the conviction that science is necessarily materialistic. These ideas were passed down to Ernst Von Brucke, who was a college professor of Sigmund Freud (1855-1939). Freud, who was a superlative writer and commanded a wide audience, popularized the idea of science as the study of the world as a closed mechanistic system.

Scientific naturalists from Diderot to Freud promoted the idea that science was linked of necessity to materialism and that any conclusions of research that allow for a realm outside of a closed system of material cause and effect must not be science. Evolutionists still make this claim today. But is it true? Not at all. Materialists have used the mechanisms of nature in an attempt to prove materialism, but that does not prove that the assumption of materialism is essential to science. Microbiologist Michael Behe, one of the most famous of the intelligent design scientists, uses the mechanical processes of microscopic creatures as an illustration of the irreducible complexity of nature. He says that irreducible complexity hints at an intelligent design and presents a difficulty for the evolution model.

Although many evolutionists are saying that intelligent design is not of science because it does not support materialistic assumptions, saying so does not make it so. Such an assertion is unnatural to science. It is prima facie evidence that the loyalty of the evolution establishment to a philosophy trumps their curiosity about where the facts lead and calls into question their integrity concerning the pursuit of truth. Not only is a materialist philosophy not essential to science, but the insistence that it is essential to science forces science to serve a philosophy. This fallacy is a potentially corrupting influence upon scientists.

Does the evolution establishment have integrity?

It is not enough to point out a fallacy that is a potentially corrupting principle. It is also necessary to point to specific corrupt actions that flow from the fallacy. Each example must be a recurring syndrome and not just the act of one corrupt person.

Recurring statement of evolutionists: "We do not have to respond to criticism from intelligent design people because they are not of science." Truth: It is a fallacy to say they are not of science because they do not subscribe to a philosophy of materialism. It is contrary to an essential principle of science that inconvenient criticism can be disregarded. One of the time-tested principles of science is that the science community must attempt to "falsify" the results of research. Only conclusions that cannot be falsified should be accepted as sound research. The refusal of evolutionists to answer serious criticisms might be an evidence that they have no answer and prefer to silence the conversation.

Recurring statement of evolutionists: "Intelligent designers do not publish their papers in academic journals so as to expose themselves to the criticism of their peers. Therefore, they are not of science." Truth: This claim is based on the concealment of a false premise. The false assumption is that the journals would publish papers written by intelligent design scientists if the papers were of good quality. However, the biological science journals are controlled by the evolution establishment. Papers submitted by intelligent design scientists are automatically rejected. The prejudicial blackballing of a category of dissenting papers displays a lack of integrity by the evolution establishment and perhaps a fear of the truth. The claim that there is something wrong with intelligent designers because they do not publish is a cleverly deceptive statement. Actually, there is something wrong with the evolution establishment for refusing to allow intelligent design scientists to publish their papers. It is a question of integrity.

Recurring statement of evolutionists: "There is no evidence to support intelligent design and no evidence that challenges evolution." Truth: Such a statement can only be made by a liar, or one who has never read what the intelligent design scientists are saying. Evolutionists get away with the big lie tactic by suppressing the works of intelligent design scientists.

Recurring statement of evolutionists: "Intelligent design is biblical creationism in fancy dress." Truth: Biblical creationism starts with a biblical model and works outward from the model to the evidence. Intelligent design starts with observed facts and cautiously works upward toward conclusions that it hopes will eventually be the foundation of a mature model. Evolutionists laugh at intelligent designers because they lack a mature model. Intelligent design scientists are suspicious of evolutionists because of their agenda to find facts or reinterpret facts to fit their model and to sweep facts under the rug that do not fit the model.

Wings on the feet vs. weights on the feet

Intelligent design scientists follow Francis Bacon's cautious guidelines in research and analysis. The scientists should start with empirical facts and work slowly and cautiously upward to provisional conclusions. Francis Bacon (1521-1626), one of the founders of empirical science, advised the scientist to put weights on his feet rather than wings on his feet. With wings on their feet, scientists fly up from scanty evidence to sweeping generalities. With weights on their feet, scientists slowly trudge up a stairway. They use careful inductive reasoning to take a step to a provisional conclusion and carefully test the conclusion at that stage before taking the next step to a conclusion that is slightly more generalized.

In accord with Bacon's advice, the intelligent designers have avoided flying upward to sweeping conclusions. They have resisted formulating a general theory because of empirical caution. For this reason, the intelligent designers accuse the evolutionists of hastily seizing fragments of evidence and impetuously flying up to sweeping generalities and writing imaginative "just-so" stories. Rudyard Kipling's "just-so" stories for children include a fanciful yarn about how the leopard got his spots. When scientists ignore Bacon and put wings on their feet, they wind up with "just-so" stories, like the evolutionist who conjured up a missing link from the discovery of one fossilized toe.

Do evolutionists suppress facts?

Yes, evolutionists often suppress the facts when they are inconvenient to the evolution model and the philosophy of materialism.

Example 1: All nine phyla of complex animals have appeared suddenly in the Cambrian rock in China. No complex animals appear in Pre-Cambrian rock. No transitional forms of simple creatures evolving into more complex creatures appear in Pre-Cambrian rocks. Some Chinese scientists have rejected Darwinism because of these findings. The American evolution establishment has suppressed the information, so that many American scientists and students of science have never heard of the "Cambrian explosion." Scientists in Communist China have significant freedom of thought and publication. Biological science in democratic America is under the dictatorship of the evolution establishment. However, if President Bush had his way a while back, high school children would be allowed to hear about the "Cambrian explosion."

Example 2: After the discovery of DNA in 1953, evolutionists realized that natural selection is inadequate to explain "macro-evolution," which is evolution from one species to another. Natural selection cannot add new information to the DNA during the evolution of a new species. Dogs cannot evolve into cats through natural selection, because there is a lot of information in cat DNA that is missing in dog DNA. Natural selection cannot make this data appear in the DNA. However, evolutionists also recognized that "micro-evolution," which is variation within a species, can occur by natural selection or selective breeding because no new information needs to be added to the DNA. A society of breeders can start with poodles and after thousands of generations of selective breeding wind up with a Saint Bernard. All the information in poodle DNA is also in Saint Bernard DNA.

Evolutionists decided to fix their evolutionary mechanism by claiming that gene mutations can supply new information to DNA. Hopefully, they believe, mutations plus natural selection can produce macro-evolution. Students are not told that no example has ever been found of one species evolving into a new species through mutations. Only minor variations within a species have been discovered that involve mutations, and most of these variations are harmful. Students are routinely given examples of micro-evolution as proof of the evolution of species (that is, macro-evolution). The fact that micro-evolution is not an evidence of macro-evolution is concealed. When intelligent designers protest this misinformation of students, evolutionists will sometimes say that there is no difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution, and that creation scientists invented the concept of micro and macro-evolution. This is false, of course. The evolutionists, themselves, discovered the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. That is why they added gene mutation to their model for macro-evolution. However, it is easy to fool students by palming off examples of micro-evolution as evidence for the evolution of new species. It is very easy to conceal the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution from students. The evolutionists do not play fair. If President Bush had his way a while back, students would be allowed to hear about the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution.

Example 3. The late paleontologist Steven Jay Gould said that the fossil record demonstrates that "species stasis" is the norm. Species change is rare and sudden. It is not a continuous process as evolutionists had long thought. Gould called his theory "punctuated equilibrium," because the long "equilibrium" period when species stay the same is "punctuated" by great change. Gould assumes the sudden change in species is the reason why evolutionists have never found the multitudes of intermediate forms that they have always been looking for — and which Darwin said they must find if evolution is true.

Gould was too famous and too widely published for his theory of punctuated equilibrium to be suppressed. However, the evolution establishment has enough clout to prevent school children from hearing about punctuated equilibrium.

Interestingly, Gould was an articulate defender of evolution all his life and thought punctuated equilibrium is consistent with evolution. But consider the difficulties. Gould insisted that all evolution is random and without purpose and design. Yet, he also said evolution comes in great spurts in which hundreds of thousands of gene mutations occur in a relatively short period of time and perfectly synchronize with each other. At the same time, each individual mutation must give the creature an immediate advantage in survival — or it will die. After the evolution spurt, the combination of new mutations must give the altered creature an adaptive advantage. The new species must have an internal harmony of parts — as though it had been designed. Scientist William Dembski claims that the mathematical odds of this happening are remote. It is far more plausible that the rare but sudden species changes in the fossil record represent the intervention of an intelligent designer.

Conclusion

The theory of evolution is a blend of science and the philosophy of materialism. The evolution establishment has gradually corrupted the science so that it will serve their theoretical model of random evolution in order to support their philosophy of materialism. This corruption includes the concealment of inconvenient evidence, sheltering themselves from criticism, making sweeping generalities from fragments of evidence, and making false charges against intelligent design scientists.

Like the theory of evolution, intelligent design science has links to a philosophy, namely the philosophy of Deism and natural law. However, intelligent design science is protected from corruption by its careful adherence to the empirical disciplines of Francis Bacon.

In conclusion, whether one believes in evolution or intelligent design science, one is obliged to consider that at present, the intelligent designers are operating at a higher level of integrity than the evolution establishment.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at Amazon.com.

© Fred Hutchison

 

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