I was given the opportunity to do a paper in my English class on Intelligent Design. I only had 2 1/2 hours to write it and this is what I came up with. I had very limited use of the internet and it was NOT a research paper. The professor is (I think) Christian and knows that I am an Atheist. She was very excited to read my paper. I am posting it here because I would like feed back on the arguments I presented. I told her without proper research my ideas might have a few holes in them and she understood completely, again this was for an English paper.
Any help on the ideas I presented would be greatly appreciated :) I hope this is in the right forum.....
Is Intelligent Design Really Intelligent?
Is life on earth the result of intelligent design or did it all happen by chance? Intelligent design (or ID) is the theory that a superior being put the universe into motion. The majority of people who believe in intelligent design also believe it goes further than that, that God has a hand in our every day life. A smaller percentage believe that we are here due to evolution, that everything happened by chance. From my point of view Chance seems more logical. The ideology of Intelligent design does not justify birth defects; it can not be proven in the science lab; and is not an adequate argument for “gaps” in science.
A disturbing problem with the theory of Intelligent design is the overwhelming amount of birth defects, both structural and functional/developmental. Birth defects are caused by defects in our genes as well as environmental hazards. Intelligent design, with the accompanying belief in God, is that humans should be perfect. We were made by God in his image. Perfect. If that were true then our genetic code would not mutate. Hence there would be no birth defects and/or genetic mutations/mishaps. This however is not the case. The Center for Disease Control states that 120,000 babies in the United States are born with birth defects each year. If you look at this situation through the scope of evolution you will see that mutations in genetic code fit very well into the science of evolution.
The way our species has evolved over time has brought us to become a science dependant race. Everything from understanding our place in the solar system, to the atoms and molecules that make up our bodies, to the types of foods we can safely ingest, we got from scientifically testing theories, which is the reason we have the answers to those questions. Intelligent design is not a probable or acceptable theory due to lack of being able to test it which is why the scientific community does not recognize it.
There are some who view science as a great tool of the human race, however they can not let go of the emotion that accompanies Intelligent Design. They see the gaps in science as unexplainable and therefore attribute these unexplainable instances to ID. This is called using the God of Gaps rationalization. Using this argument is not conducive to science because everyday science is understanding more and more about the universe and the world in which we live. At one point in time science thought the earth was flat, but due to exploration, we came to the conclusion that the earth was in fact round. This is the way that science works.
Intelligent design, as fascinating as it might seem to some, is not a theory of scientific measures at this point in time. It simply plays on the emotions, as opposed to the intellect, of humans. So in the words of Christopher Hitchens I leave you with this “Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.", and Intelligent Design does not give exceptional evidence.
Well, cue the bagpipes; you have just used the No True Scotsman logical fallacy. It's a common one, I do have to admit.
I know some of the Clan Johnson, actually. Beautiful green and blue tartan. Makes a great-looking kilt. Clan motto is "Nunquam Non Paratus." Now, that's interesting.
Appeal to popularity fallacy... Just because an idea is popular, does not mean that it is true. The majority once though the world was flat, that the sun orbited the Earth, that keeping people as slaves was just dandy, and that Zeus created lightning. But some of these misplaced beliefs were righted by the ever advancing march of science and some was corrected by great thinkers, humanitarians and a liberal application of common sense. Remember, before you religion existed, others dominated the world in it's place. Popularity alone didn't make them true, nor does that make yours true. In the end, that's what it really comes down to. What is true? I was a believer once but there is simply do evidence to support the many god claims. Without evidence, there is no good reason to believe in one, in my opinion.
Are we going to comfort a mother with claims that they are in a better place now (which is contrary to the Biblical account by the way)? Have you wondered about a big reason why she is so upset? Her child has died, but there is more to it than that. Your particular religion teaches that we are all inherently flawed and deserve to suffer in hell. So in the back of her mind she has the worry that her son could be burning for eternity heaped upon the anguish of loving the child she loved. To me death does not bother me. I didn't exist before I was born, and death is simply a return to that prior state of non-existence. Could we comfort a grieving mother? I think it's possible. We can guarantee that her son isn't burning in hellfire for one. I could reassure her that he is no longer suffering or in pain. Remind her to hold on to the memories, as that it where true therapy comes from. Not false hope in seeing him again. Letting go of the prospect of an afterlife can actually make this life all the better. You are released from the shackles of religion and free to live life to the full.
I too hope for something better... a better world. But religion is not the answer. The AIDS pandemic in Africa is spread by the assertion by the church that condoms are evil. Yet well know scientific evidence shows that they would actually help alleviate the need for so very many to suffer such a terrible fate. The lack of a god frees me from the prohibitions that could shortchange this life, but it also leaves me in awe of the beauty of this world and in appreciation for life, family, my wife whom I love... just about everything. I understand the path of our existence, the odds that were overcome, and the dangers of ignoring this reality. For this I am stranger and happier without religion. A world without religion wouldn't be perfect, but senseless suffering in the name of religion would be ended... More complete understanding of our universe will grant us knowledge and the ability to make further medical advances and the tools to build a better world.
You may be sorry for us, but I will say that it's you that I'm sorry for. I care about if a claim is true, not if it gives me hope or makes me feel good. I do wish I could properly convey the majesty and awe I feel when I think of my astronomical/chemical/evolutionary/statistical origins of my very existence. Surely life means more if it never HAD to happen, rather than being the inevitable whim of a deity? And I will tell you that you are wrong. There is hope for me, hope in my life, things to look forward to, etc etc. I am hopeful that I will wake to see my wife the next morning, that I'll be able to take care of her and myself. I look forward to growing grey with her and loving every moment we share together. I look forward to a quite evening, going to a football match, hearing a good joke, doing well at my job, kissing my wife, seeing a beautiful sunset, seeing the moon and planets in my telescope, making others happy, learning whatever I can, helping those in need, etc etc etc. Life is worth living for life's sake alone. We are what we make of it. We can weigh it down with worries of an unfounded hereafter, or we can make the best of it and enjoy it as best we can... good, bad and everything in between. We never had to be here. Our knowledge of DNA tells us that someone much greater could have been in our place. A great poet, scientist, athlete, humanitarian, etc etc. Yet here you are in our normality that are here. I find it extremely selfish to demand more than this life... This amazingly wonderful gift. Who are we to say that this life isn't enough, when we should be grateful of this life that we know we get.
I agree that some people have better lives than others. But isn't it far healthier that people know that in order to better their life they must wort toward those ends rather than relying on hope that a deity will fix it. What of people that truly believe that their hardships are a test of their faith? They may not attempt to rectify the issues in expectance of reward in the hereafter. Things that are easily righted, left to a divine hand. A life wasted for the hope of eternal reward. Everything I have, I have worked for, sacrificed for and am thankful for. It is true that peoples in other lands may lack the resources we have here. But that's why spreading scientific literacy, education and critical thinking skills over superstition is so important. If people are armed with the mental tools for success, they can achieve it. But patting someone on the back, telling them they are being tested for the next life and that this life is but a prologue and that the next life is what matters, does nothing to better them for the here and now. If anything, it can cause them to be complacent and simply wait for their expected reward.
You quote Jesus saying that a rich man entering heaven is harder than a camel passing through a needle. But richness in life doesn't have to equal monetary success. I may have a 'rich' life, but I am not rich. It is true that we are rich in knowledge, sadly there are many who ignore much of this knowledge because it conflicts with the claims of their religion. Surely living life by the depth of our knowledge and as the evidence points is much healthier than living life by the outdated and sometimes absurd dictates of a deity unsupported by evidence or his supposed son. I feel that it is far more moral to help other better their life, or even help ensure that they get to live a life, than it is to lead them along with false promises.
Actually, I did get your point about us being 'rich' figuratively. I mentioned that briefly and even agreed with you...
It is true that many have a much harder road to travel. But there are always ways to pull one's self at least slightly ahead. Maybe not in regards to status, but proper education can do wonders for a persons self esteem and worth. They may not gain physical riches, but they may gain the means to make more of what they do have. Shedding iron age superstition could allow them to make better of their situation or give them an understanding or point of view that bay give them a more positive view on life. Of course every situation is different. But isn't it better for the man on the street to realize that although their life may not be easy, it is still a wonderful 'gift'. Rather than living in constant worry that their poor life conditions are due to being punished by their god.
I find it profoundly sad that theists can think that life without a god is meaningless or that there can be no good without a god. Religion has no monopoly on morals... far from it. Anyone that has read the Bible can easily see that the doctrine is full of many horrors and absurdity. We are all obviously capable of good and bad. You, me , the next person we meet... none of us are perfect. You think that some truth has been lost on all of us. But your 'truth' is far from the truth. There is no evidence to show that godless societies are any less good. In fact, research has shown that the least religious countries tend to have lower crime statistics. Or maybe you're saying that even though we are personally good for reasons other than a god, we still somehow channel that ability for him without our knowledge... The latter is nothing more than an unfounded assertion. Anyone could claim any trait is the doing of any entity or person by that line of 'thinking'. You may think that is the case, but can you show it to be so? What if someone else claims that all goodness flows from Vishnu? Neither of you have any proof to show such is the case. Yet we can look at history and see that some aspects of morality have changed through the years, while others have remained constant. Morality based off of a logical reflection, and empathy is both feasible, fits the historical record and works. Sadly, there are otherwise good people who will do wrong in the name of religion. I'm sure we can both agree that this is a terrible truth. But I must ask you this... If you say that without a god there is no goodness, then if you were mad enough at someone that you wished they were dead, would the lack of that god mean that nothing would stop you from shooting them dead on the spot? You think that the world is greater for Jesus, but I feel it is the inverse since faith tells us to be satisfied with not knowing.
Your world view denies them this most essential thing.
But your worldview denies them everything else. Food, sanitary conditions, safety - all things an omnipotent god could fix - or better yet, "designed" to never have happened. Hence, the insistence (original topic) that ID be left in the realm of theological study, and leave science to science.