Sunday, October 17, 2004

Ok, evolution is not evil, it's just not the whole story

Thanks to David for clearing up my confusion with respect to whether Creation Scientists believe all evolution is bunk [apparently they don't]. This ties in nicely with an article just published in Wired about the new assault on evolution, which is based on the "Intelligent Design" argument: existing organisms contain many highly complex systems which couldn't have evolved through pure chance and so point to the existence of a "supernatural" designer.

I must admit that I too have a really hard time believing that the types of finely-tuned systems that exist in biology evolved purely by chance -- I suppose if somebody showed me the probability calculations that show that this is possible, I might be more inclined to believe it, but right now I just don't buy it. Of course, I'm making that statement from a position of almost total ignorance about the nuts and bolts of the current theory of evolution -- maybe somebody has done the math, or has an equally convincing explanation, and I just don't know it.

That said, I don't think you need to go as far as invoking the existence of an Intelligent Designer. I think that we just don't really understand evolution well-enough yet, and that as we gain further understanding of the natural forces that act to shape biological systems, we'll get to a more satisfactory answer than "Trial and error" to the question "How did all this get here ?".

[At one point, I was actually interested enough in this question to consider trying to "do the math" myself, for my PhD thesis, but I realized that there are times when discretion is the better part of valor: starting my scientific career in something as contentious as evolution just didn't seem like a smart idea, especially if I want to graduate in a reasonable amount of time].


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