ID is not Creationist

By design

Not all ID believers are creationists

By ALBERT LOW,, July 25, 2008

Contrary to Christopher Hitchens’s assertion, (“The eyes have it,”July 23), not all who are sympathetic to the idea of intelligent design are creationists.

Indeed, those who support intelligent design range from those who are more or less creationists to those who are more or less Darwinians, with all the gradations between. Unfortunately what could be an interesting debate on the origins of human nature has become an exchange of dogmas amid hurled epithets.

One does not have to reject the main tenets of Darwin’s theory to embrace the idea that intelligence and creativity play a part in evolution. That organisms have evolved, that accident has played a part in this evolution and that natural selection has been the refining agent all seem perfectly reasonable. What does not seem to be reasonable is that human genius and creativity – such as shown by Einstein, Newton, Mozart and Michelangelo – is the result of accidental or random mutation. Neither does human compassion and altruism – again as, for example, shown by Christ, Buddha and Mother Teresa – seem to be simply strategies for survival.

To feel that creativity and evolution share so much in common, that evolution seems to be slow-motion creativity, does not mean that one must automatically invoke a god who is the creator. Creativity does not need a creative agent; it does not even need consciousness.

This is confirmed by much research into creativity and attested to by us all when we are faced with a difficult problem and decide “to sleep on it.” Buddhism is quite at home with a creative and intelligent world, and with intelligent evolution in that world, even though a Buddhist neither affirms nor denies the existence of God.

The assumptions that form the foundations of neo-Darwinism as taught in schools are the following: Life is an accident and accidents alone power evolution; cause and effect is an adequate explanatory principle in life sciences; classical logic is an adequate logic to frame discussions about life; and, more generally, the science that gives such miraculous understanding and control of the material universe is adequate to the search for an understanding of the evolution of life.

As assumptions they can neither be verified nor falsified. The question is: Are they adequate, or would other assumptions be more useful? This question could provide a far more meaningful basis for a discussion about evolution than whether the eyes of a salamander refute the theory of evolution.

Albert Low is director of the Montreal Zen Centre.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

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