Intelligent Design is nothing less than Creationism in Drag: it is an attempt to pass off Creationism as a science, without ever mentioning the word God. The principal modus operandi of its proponents is to attack what it perceives as the two main weaknesses of the Darwinian world-view. Namely, (i) the fossil record is imperfect, and (ii) it’s impossible to conceive how really complex organs like eyes could be the process of an apparently random and uncontrolled biological process like Natural Selection; that is, half an eye, by its very nature, would be as useless as half a kidney: so how could these complex structures have been constructed as a series of steps as evolutionists seemed to be suggesting?
Except that the Creationists’ arguments are a superficial and nonscientific treatment of the evidence. Indeed, there are gaps in the fossil record, but the fossil record is nothing if not supportive of the Darwinian view of evolution – where one form can be seen to change over time, where simple can be seen to become more complex. Similarly, with complex organs such as eyes, it is being at best mischievous to suggest that the Darwinian view of evolution implies such structures came into being all at once (the Creationists are fond of likening the probability of evolution producing an eye as being similar to the probability of a tornado going through a junkyard and assembling a bus). But that’s just ignorant bluster: evolution doesn’t happen as a single event (in contrast to Creation), but as a long series of steps – some small, some big – that occur over long periods of time. And, yes, it is possible to discern a series of steps whereby simple light receptors have been modified in succeeding groups of animals, culminating ultimately in the vertebrate eye.
Of course, the telling thing for supporters of Intelligent Design, for proponents of so-called Scientific Creationism, is that they have no testable hypotheses, nothing they can hold up and potentially test to validate their view of the world. They lack that basic requirement of any science. They are, therefore, left believing in God and his ability to create the world in six days as an act of faith. Call that intelligent, if you will.
Lloyd Spencer Davis
I've just finished Looking For Darwin, a fast-paced mix of science and travelogue by Otago University's Lloyd Spencer Davis, who follows in the footsteps of the author of Origin of the Species to throw light on the whys and wherefores of life on our small planet.
Regrettably you won't find this one on Amazon, as it's only published in NZ. But be of good cheer ye Northern Hemisphere types, there's a website to accompany the book that's well worth checking out. I particularly enjoyed the comments about ID, but the anecdotes about far-flung places from the Galapagos Islands to Antarctica make this anything but a dry academic read. A helluva book.