|April 7, 2013||Posted by Granville Sewell under Intelligent Design|
In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe writes:
Imagine a room in which a body lies crushed, flat as a pancake. A dozen detectives crawl around, examining the floor with magnifying glasses for any clue to the identity of the perpetrator. In the middle of the room, next to the body, stands a large, gray elephant. The detectives carefully avoid bumping into the pachyderm’s legs as they crawl, and never even glance at it. Over time the detectives get frustrated with their lack of progress but resolutely press on, looking even more closely at the floor. You see, textbooks say detectives must “get their man,” so they never even consider elephants.
There is an elephant in the roomful of scientists who are trying to explain the development of life. The elephant is labeled “intelligent design.” To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed.
For me, the evidence for design in biology has always seemed so overwhelming, so obvious, that the real question is how so many smart scientists are unable to see the elephant in the room. In Chapter 9 of In the Beginning and Other Essays on Intelligent Design I asked how so many intellectuals could have “lost their minds”:
I think I can explain. 1) When one becomes a scientist, one learns that science can now explain so many previously inexplicable phenomena that one comes to believe that nothing can escape the explanatory power of our science. 2) When one becomes a biologist, or a paleontologist, one discovers many things about the origin of species, such as the long periods involved and the evidence for common descent, that give the impression of natural causes. 3) When one studies history, one may become overwhelmed by the misery and confusion of the human condition, and wonder, why is it so hard to see evidence of the hand of God in human history?
But noticably absent from any list of reasons why intellectuals reject ID is any direct scientific evidence that natural selection of random mutations or any other unintelligent process can actually do intelligent things, like design plants or animals.
So I see three reasons why the elephant in the room, which is so obvious to the unindoctrinated, is ignored by most of our intellectuals, and here is how I would counter each:
- Is it possible that this crime could have been committed by an elephant, when all the other crimes the detectives have investigated were committed by humans? Is it possible that we can explain all other phenomena in Nature without invoking design, but we cannot explain the origin and evolution of life without it? Score one point for the other side here, but…of course it is possible, why not? I explained why evolution is so different from other scientific questions that it requires such a different type of explanation, in this video.
- Kenneth Miller asked ID advocates to explain why the history of life gives the appearance of evolution, if species were really designed. I answered this with another question in this Evolution News and Views article: “Why does the history of technology give the appearance of evolution, when we know it was the result of intelligent design?” Again, score one point for the other side, but this argument is also not definitive, I gave one possible answer, others are possible.
- The presence of evil and misery in our world is an unscientific, but powerful, argument against design. It is unscientific because there is a very simple reply: no one ever claimed that the scientific evidence shows that our designer is good, only intelligent. But it is powerful because neither we nor our critics like this answer. I devoted a chapter in my otherwise scientific book to this objection to design, because it is so powerful, even if it is unscientific. Sometimes my answers there seem convincing, other times they seem naive, even to me. Score 2 points for the other side here, but again their arguments are not definitive.
Despite the above reasons to go after the usual suspects, which seem so powerful to many intellectuals, the evidence implicating the elephant is so overwhelming, so obvious, that the final score is still 1000000 to 4 for the elephant, the way I calculate it.