What Support?

mcurrie's picture

Believers in of Intelligent Design continue to argue that the theory should be added to high school science curriculum alongside the theory of Evolution.  The theory of Evolution states that the earth and all creatures were developed at random and have evolved through natural selection.  While Intelligent Design states that earth and creatures are too complicated to have evolved at random and instead were organized by an intelligent being.  This being has yet to be announced but can allude to God, or an entity like him.  Although Intelligent Design raises another theory to be considered it does not have the support of scientific data behind it.  Therefore the theory of Evolution should be studied by high school students, while Intelligent Design should not be included in science curriculum.

Although Intelligent Design raises an interesting question of "Did someone truly create the earth?" it does not lead to further questions and understanding of life.  There are no experiments that I have been able to find to support Intelligent Design.  Evolution on the other hand is observed by scientists over the years.  On the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin began his study of evolution, a group of finches live and thrive depending on the weather.  In 1977 the Galapagos Islands experienced a drought6.  This may not seem like a very tremendous disaster but to finches it disrupted their way of life.  Before finches mate, they wait for the January rains which make the island blossom with enough food to feed the young.  With no rain there was no mating occurring between the birds and of the finches that were born, little survived.  The variation in beak sizes in finches allowed the birds to eat different sized seeds.  With the drought the amount of seeds diminished leaving only the largest seeds to be eaten by the finches with the largest beaks.  Smaller beaked finches were unable to crack the larger seeds open and were less able to survive6.  This is part of selection, and when the drought had ended the females mated with the males with larger beaks.  The numbers of finches with larger beaks were more favorable so their numbers increased, while the number of smaller beaked finches decreased.  The finches experienced natural selection, a decrease in variation, and sexual selection all at once and only the more "fit" survived.  This is part of the evidence that has been actually seen in the present.  There is also evidence in fossils which have been studied and continue to be studied and organized into possible lines of descent.  Evolutionary scientists compare the bones left behind in order to figure out and study the changes in ancient organisms that have lead to the present organisms.  Over time the fossils changed from single celled organisms into complex organisms in the process of evolution.

Evolution has much more evidence to support its theory but Intelligent Design cannot be ignored.  The support for Intelligent Design is to take every hole in the theory of Evolution and use it to disprove the theory.  For example, with fossils there are many holes in how organisms have evolved.  Darwin's theory of Evolution stated that species evolved through gradual descent.  For two species to form it took a long amount of time and small modification to form.  When looking at fossils there are gaps between species showing that there was no gradual descent and instead species suddenly formed.  Scholars of Intelligent Design see the changes in fossils as being better support for their theory than for theory of Evolution4.  When looking into a biology textbook there is the point of gradual descent but evolutionary scientists have also found that there are points of punctuated descent.  Punctuated descent speciation occurs quickly and then the organisms may continue living without any larger changes1.  In the Origin of the Species, Darwin did state that fossils did not completely support his theory2.  Although, he did argue that fossils were not accurate.  Today evolutionary scientists have been able to study the fossils, get a better understanding about them, and modify the theory of Evolution by their observations.  Darwin's theory is only a basis and does not fully explain the present theory of Evolution.

There is also the argument about the impossibility that complex systems could have been created at random.  The example most used is the eye.  This complex organ allows organisms to see.  Like a camera, light enters the eye as an up-side-down image and then flipped to be viewed right-side-up.  The process of the eye consists of interactions between nerves and the brain, and is irrelevant to my thesis, but I do not argue that it is not complex.  Scholars of Intelligent Design see the complexity of the eye and determine that if events were random the eye would not exist3.  No study has been done to support the theory of the eyes formation.  The scholars have only stated that the development of the eye "Is not possible without an intelligent being."  The support for Intelligent Design is just stated as fact.  Scholars of Intelligent Designs should now be asking themselves "Can I perform an experiment that will prove that the eye could not have been made by an unintelligent occurrence?"  Having the tables and data would benefit the belief in Intelligent Design and give it a greater consideration for its addition in science curriculum. 

When comparing the two theories, the theory of Evolution has an advantage over Intelligent Design with all of the evidence that backs it up.  Plus, evolution is only a THEORY, it may be an accepted theory but it is still being studied and modified, not stated as definite fact.  Students are not forced to believe in evolution, they still have the choice to explore other possibilities.  Believers of theory of Evolution do not oppose having a connection of religious ideas "Evolution is not opposed to religion unless people make it so.  The message of evolution is that we are just as Genesis told us, we are made out of the dust of the Earth, we are united in this web of life with every other living creature on the planet5."  The idea of an intelligent being does not have to be lost because of the theory of Evolution.  Evolutionary scientists are only afraid that Intelligent Design will undermine science and make people see science as hostile to new ideas5.  

Intelligent Design is another theory that can be considered by individuals, but until there is data to support the theory it really only has the strong belief of the followers behind it.  Also, when comparing the two, the theory of Evolution leads to more questions, more ways to explore the possibilities.  It adds to people's curiosity.  While Intelligent Design only states its theory was fact, with no evidence, and no chance to question the theory or explore any new possibilities.  The only exploration for Intelligent Design is to contradict the theory of Evolution with statements based on opinions.  It's a start.  At least an opinion can be explored and argued but without data the theory is only supported by belief.  I do not believe Intelligent Design should be taught alongside the theory of Evolution.  I believe in evolution and its importance to science.  I believe that high schools should keep teaching the theory to Evolution in schools.



1)      Campbell, Neil A.. (Ed.). (2008). The Origin of Species. In Biology (8th ed., San   

Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings. Pg 502.

2)      Darwin, Charles (2003). On the Origin of the Species. Orchard Park, NY: Broad

View Texts.

3)      N/A, (2001). "Evolution of the Eye". Retrieved February 11, 2009, from PBS:

Evolution Web site:       http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_01.html

4)      N/A, (2008). "General Evidence, Fossils." Retrieved February 11, 2009, from

Intelligent Design Evidence Web site: http://www.intelligent-design-evidence.com/fossils.html

5)      Than, Ker (2005/9/22). "Intelligent Design: An Ambiguous Assault on

Evolution." Life Science, Retrieved 2/8/09, from http://www.livescience.com/health/050922_ID_main.html

6)      Weiner, Jonathan (1994). The Beak of the Finch. New York: Random House Inc..





Paul Grobstein's picture

intelligent design: its place in evolution and education?

It is, I suspect, the case that contemporary versions of "intelligent design" consist largely of finding problems with contemporary stories of "evolution." But earlier versions were actualy based on observations, no? On observing that many complex/adaptive things (eg watches and bridges) were "designed," from which its not an unreasonable story that there must be a designer for other complex/adaptive things, no? And maybe its not entirely unproductive to find/call attention to problems with contemporary stories of evolution?

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