Foreword to an edited collection on “unintelligent evolution”
|April 6, 2007||Posted by William Dembski under Darwinism, Evolution, Intelligent Design|
Now and again I’m asked to write the foreword to an ID book. Here’s a foreword I recently completed (I leave off the contributors and title so that Darwinists don’t sabotage the book before it sees the light of day):
Imagine you just won the state lottery. Suppose the pot for this lottery was up to several hundreds of millions of dollars. Suppose the pot got that big because no one had won the lottery for such a long timeÃ¢â‚¬â€until you got lucky! Out come the reporters to interview you about how it feels to win this vast amount of money. You say the usual things: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what to say … IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m overwhelmed … This is the happiest day of my life … The first thing IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to do is buy my parents a new home ….Ã¢â‚¬Â
But then comes a reporter from the Eccentric Broadcasting Network (EBN) and asks you the following question: Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know, it was an incredible long-shot that you should win this lottery. WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s your secret? How did you pull it off? Where did you get the skill-set to win that lottery?Ã¢â‚¬Â You stare at this reporter in disbelief. This is a lottery after all. Eventually someone was bound to win it. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need any special skill-set (read Ã¢â‚¬Å“intelligent designÃ¢â‚¬Â) to win the lottery. You just have to buy a ticket and get lucky. Case closed.
Many scientists, when confronted with the possibility that life and the universe were designed, react in the same way as you did when confronted with the possibility that you somehow engineered winning the lottery. According to them, there is no evidence of design in the universe. Rather, the best evidence is that everything proceeds by unbroken natural laws. Accordingly, nature at bottom is nothing more than matter, energy, and the forces by which these interact. In short, nature works out its destiny purely by chance and necessity and not by design.
But even though you would be right to dismiss a reporter who suggested that you had somehow Ã¢â‚¬Å“designedÃ¢â‚¬Â winning the lottery, you would be wrong to side with materialistic scientists who regard the universe as exhibiting no evidence of design. In the last forty years, advances in our understanding of cosmology and biology, especially molecular biology, have pointed up just how inadequate materialistic theories are in accounting for the appearance of design throughout the universe.
In reply, scientists committed to materialism would say that the appearance of design in the universe is only an appearance, and that when we really understand the underlying science, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see that there is no actual design. Such a dismissal of design, however, rings untrue. When Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, in River Out of Eden, writes Ã¢â‚¬Å“The illusion of purpose is so powerful that biologists themselves use the assumption of good design as a working tool,Ã¢â‚¬Â one is right to start wondering if the appearance of design in nature is really only an appearance.
In fact, the best scientific evidence now strongly confirms that design in the universe is real. This volume will help you sort through that evidence. But it does more. It situates the scientific debate over theories of intelligent design and unintelligent evolution within a broader philosophical and cultural conversation. The list of contributors is superb, the scope of the contributions is comprehensive, and the topic is absolutely central to understanding the struggle for peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hearts and minds. If you want to know whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s driving the culture war, read this book.