My Intelligent Design Column - Published in the School Newspaper

Dec 24, 2002
Hello Everyone.

Well, as my bio states, one of my hobbies is writing. Given the current U.S. controversy about the "theory" of Intelligent Design, I felt that I had to make a stand, even if it was only in the Humboldt State University Lumberjack. I decided to share it with my fellow TONMO'ers, mostly because, in retrospect, I think Kun-Fu Tze (Confucius, to all us Westerners) was right - "Never write a letter while angry." This goes for newspaper columns as well.

Science is a deeply personal thing for me, and what I have viewed from studying its history and many of the nuances involved is that its in trouble, and will probably always be. I find it funny that people expect from science what it cannot deliver, and do not appreciate what science brings to the human experience.

Well, without further adieu, here is the original artice (sans school-added title). Hope someone makes meaning of this. I know I'm still trying... :

A lot of debate has raged lately about the theory of intelligent design, or “ID”. ID is a hypothesis that some of the observed complexity in living systems must be the result of having been designed by some outside force. This is now being considered as an alternative to evolutionary theory in some U.S. public schools with the backing of President Bush and many scientists, and school boards. The question must be asked if ID should be taught in a science course, and if it truly qualifies as a scientific “theory”.

The proponents of ID look for what is known as “irreducible complexity”, or other physical signs that seemingly point toward an intelligent designer of life. What is “complex” or “simple”, however, and by whose standards is this judgment passed? Many older zoology texts have a somewhat straight-line evolutionary path from “simple” life like sponges to more “complex” forms like man. This idea is the shadow offspring of Aristotle’s scala naturae. This theory influenced early biologists to consider evolution as a natural pursuit of evolutionary “perfection”, driven by purposeful motives by an unseen force (God, if you will). Interpreted this way, we are at the top of the evolutionary ladder, and everything else is below our “level”.

On June 21, a New York Times article by Carl Zimmer shed new light on the vast genetic information of jellies (Phylum Cnidaria), indicating that these “simple” creatures, are in fact, far more derived than first thought. Should this truly be the case, does this make them “complex”? This question becomes unscientific, because we interpret levels of complexity based on ourselves as the model organism. Upon examination, “simple” and “complex” are not exactly appropriate terms for biological science curricula, nor for this subject debate.

So is ID a theory? In the scientific sense, it is not. A scientific theory is based on observation and experimentation, both of which are at the core of any real evolutionary study. ID is based on the relativistic notion that because we humans cannot understand all the processes of life what we do not understand must be a product of the supernatural. The fallacy of ID lies in the religiously humanistic relative interpretation, and the lack of understanding of about what science actually is. Given the religious undertones of ID, we are asked to set aside skepticism and have faith, which science and scientists cannot do.

So is religion the source of ID? Because the very nature of science is systematic study and collection of evidence to determine empirical truth, science must be atheistic. Science cannot be used to determine the existence or nonexistence of a god or God. So it would be more appropriate to say that while science is atheistic, it is not anti-theistic. This is outside the realm of empirical study.

From a theological perspective, the points espoused by followers of ID and the related Creation Science movements are disturbingly antithetical to the notion of religious faith itself, which is probably best defined by the Apostle Paul who wrote, "Faith is the substance of that which is hoped for, the proof of that not seen.” (Hebrews 11.1). Therefore, these hypotheses do not further the agendas of religion, and indeed seem more to undermine science than strengthen faith.

So why ID? I would argue that the nature of this debate is all about politics. Today, many politicians speak openly about the “culture wars”, where ideologically-driven political debates rage about hot button issues like abortion, separation of church and state, homosexuality, morals, etc. These politicians drive the study of evolution into this mix, blaming in part the study of evolution for the apparent loss of respect for the value of human life. I would argue that the human experience, the overall history and metaphysical meaning of our lives are independent of evolution for the aforementioned reasons. Put simply, our experiences are important whether to a creator, or if only to us as humanity itself.

ID is scientifically and theologically flawed and should not be taught in schools as a science. The motives of its proponents should be questioned, as science itself should constantly be challenged by new scientific ideas. Science grows with scientific debate and empirical information, and withers in the darkness of speculation and pseudoscientific conjecture. Hopefully, both religion and science can agree to send ID back to the halls of politics to vanish into obscurity.

John F. Jaramillo

Humboldt State University
Marine Biology/Zoology Senior
[email protected]
An excellent piece or writing there John. You really boiled down the issues to the core and argued very purposefully.

You really should get together with Richard Dawkins one of these days!
By the way, don't forget The Daily Show starts it's week long special on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design is neither very intelligent nor very good design.
good show

well written article, John. I'll be interested to hear if it is rebutted by letters to the paper or anything...
Terrific work, John. I'd also enjoy hearing about any objecting letters from the unscrubbed detritus out there...
erich orser said:
Terrific work, John. I'd also enjoy hearing about any objecting letters from the unscrubbed detritus out there...

Thanks for all the compliments everyone. I was worried that it was too technical for most. Eric, its funny that you should mention this, because I have the feeling that the student population at HSU is going to be too apathetic to really care. We'll see. There is an "Ask the Pastor" paid advertisement column from a local church, but I doubt he (the pastor in question) will care either.

It would be nice to have people actually talk about this issue rather than a bunch of politically-appointed scientist sellouts and barely educated school board members.

I have read ID information posted by a number of PhD researchers, to which I have to reply "HUH?". How'd these guys get their degrees without a basic knowledge of science? *sigh* I realize that if I ever become a professor I will be the kind of Prof. of which I am afraid. :grad:

Oh well. Que sera, seratonin

Piece (of sushi with your good sake),


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