I want to preface by stating that I am a firm believer that life evolved on this planet. My point here is not to "disprove" what has been proven
over and over again by any objective scientist.
However, there is a lot of philosophically misguided information put out there on both sides. Here is some nonsense from an evolution supporter in an
otherwise way cool article:
"If there's one way we can be sure that life on Earth really is the result of evolution, and not the guiding hand of a cosmic engineer, it's the
hideous design flaws. The examples are too numerous to list, but let's just consider one: human males have their testicles on the outside.
It seems they work better that way, because sperm production works best slightly below human body temperature. But it isn't half inconvenient – as
any male who has ever been kicked in the goolies will tell you."
OK, well, this might be a response to a philosophically flawed argument from Intelligent Design supporters who create their own strawman to be used
against them by suggesting that life is "perfectly designed." The term "design" is not really a religious term. It is a term from manufacturing.
It entered the world with the development of capitalism, the idea of streamlining. I do not see it in most ancient religious texts. It is really a
cultural overlay from industrial capitalism and not something that I see either in Nature or in any honest discussion of religion.
The earliest concept of a Creator (or creators) was the idea that all of what we see in Nature is Divine Will, including what we consider
imperfections. For the ancients, an animal did not have to be perfectly adapted to survive in order for there to be Divine order in Nature. It might
be the Divine Will for that animal to have to endure a certain amount of suffering. It might be Divine Order for a creature to have a tail bone that
no longer holds a tail, and for the creature to be less than fully adapted. Indeed, it may well be that believers could argue that males have their
"goolies" (as the author would say) on the outside precisely to help female assault victims to survive. That would not necessarily be an
"evolutionary" reason, since I doubt that evolution put our reproductive organs on the outside of us for that reason, but believers might argue it
as a metaphysical reason (perhaps). Or, maybe the reason is one we could never fathom.
My point is that biology should not be confused with metaphysics. In philosophy an "Is" does not necessarily imply an Ought. Because Nature is a
certain way we cannot then make who philosophical or religious arguments from that, as ID supporters and detractors both seem to think. It may be that
the Creator designed Nature simply as an art project, not as an exercise in "intelligent design," design being a cultural projection from modern
capitalism and marketing and not something that exists in Nature per se. Perfect design in DNA may be less important than humans think. For us, such
perfection is important but who are we to say that a virus that limits our population may not be part of the broader Divine Will? Most ancient texts
would say so.
Hitchens pointed to a fish that had eyes but then lost eyesight as "proof" that ID is flawed because, well, if a creature has an eye then the eye
should see. This is a perfect falsification of the ID argument, and he is right given the assumptions of the ID argument as promoted by the Discovery
Institute. But, I think that many people of religious faith are more mature than ID proponents, who are often right-wing conservatives pretending to
be sincere believers. The fact is that God may intend for a fish to have an eye that does not see, and for that to be part of the great Design of
Nature. If one reads the the Hebrew Bible, we can see a great deal of tolerance for the seeming randomness in life, in which one only discovers the
order of things long after one has grappled with dirt, sweat, procreation, and the desert sun. At no point is "design" perfect in either Nature or
humanity if one reads the Bible in its original cultural context.
Again, I not only believe in evolution, I rejoice in the unity of life shown by the fossil record. My point is that both ID proponents and ID
opponents are often philosophically shallow. Not always, mind you, but many on both sides cannot understand philosophical arguments that are too
complex. Darwinians are often worse in my experience, by the way. But, Creationists are often contradictory in other ways. Most of them could care
less about endangered species, and yet environmental concerns should be central to any Creationist who believes in Genesis 2:15.
Between the two positions, Darwinians are correct in saying that randomness defines Nature. However, they have it only half-right. Randomness is not
a denial of creativity. It is the essence of creativity. (I love Fractals, by the way) Perhaps the idea of the Divine Artist is the best notion of
God we have. That is the concept I hold to. Of course, all artists have critics. But, if you are the Divine Artist then you have power that other
artists only dream of, that of smiting your critics (and trust fund officers). The fact that critics of the Divine Artist are not stricken with
leprosy may be a sign that a true Artist knows mercy, and values what the ancient Chinese called "non-interference" more than "design." Picasso
would not be so generous.