Heckle: Unintelligent design: Part 1


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Creationism word cloud concept with an abstract background

Michael Heckle

In 1925, John Scopes, a science teacher in Dayton, Tenn., was convicted and fined $100 for teaching evolution in his classrooms.

At that time, a law made it illegal to teach any scientific theory that conflicted with biblical accounts of how the world was created. After one of the United States’ most famous trials, Scopes ended up losing. However, the cause of rational scientific thought took main stage and opened up a dialogue for what must be taught in classrooms.

Ninety years later, America is still infected by pseudoscientific and baseless claims of creationism, which is most often referred to through the facade of intelligent design.

It nearly pains me to write about evolution in a column, as science is true regardless of anyone’s beliefs, yet here we are. For those reading who accept evolution, this issue may seem arbitrary and outdated.

Yet when we have presidential candidates who hold on to this archaic delusion, a discussion must take place. Especially when the current Republican front-runner has made his career in a scientific field.

The arguments against creationism cannot possibly be confined into one column. The issues and fallacies presented by a claim without evidence intrinsically have questions about the nature of truth divided between science and religion.

For these reasons, my argument will be broken up into several different columns in the weeks to come. For now, I would like to present a basic overview of the argument.

The term creationism, in the most generous rhetoric, is the religious belief that a supernatural force created the world. While many people argue that there are different forms of creationism and that it differs from intelligent design or religion, the scientific fallacies they all possess are the same.

To claim Christianity and other religions have nothing to do with intelligent design is laughable because it requires an unknown, unexplainable, unjustifiable super being.

One of the leading pieces of creationist propaganda is the organization Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis, run by Christian apologist Ken Ham, argues not only that the Christian God created the world through the exact events described in the first book of the Bible but also claims that the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old.

Evolution refers to the scientific theory first presented by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago. It argues that all living creatures are derived from a common ancestor.

The evidence favoring this theory is too numerous to even begin to dissect in one column, however the simplest piece of evidence we have is a fossil record that shows gradual changes in extinct hominid species. Furthermore, the process of evolution itself can be seen through microbial resistance to antibiotics.

To have a complete understanding of this argument, one must have a complete understanding of the scientific method. A scientific theory is not a shot in the dark, nor is it at all related to scientific law.

A theory is a principle that explains the nature of an observation. In order for a scientific theory to be developed, we must start with an observation of a natural phenomenon. A hypothesis is created, tested, modified and then retested until it accurately explains the natural phenomenon, thus producing a theory.

In an essence, all of science is a theory. A law, on the other hand, is merely a description of the observed phenomenon. It is most often expressed in a verbal or mathematical formula, and all conditions must be the same for a law to be accurate.

This is where creationism falls flat. While science at the purest level starts with an observation and ends with a conclusion, creationism works the opposite way.

Creationists have already assumed the theory that God has created the world. The so-called evidence they present is either cherry-picked from science, reliant on second-hand accounts of fictional events from thousands of years ago or relying entirely on poking holes in the theory of evolution without addressing the evidence to the contrary.

In the columns to come, I will address specific claims made by creationists and why such an unscientific world view hurts not only the scientific community but also the United States as a whole. However, it is vital that the ideology of scientific principles be ever present through the entirety of the argument as it presents the most accurate method for uncovering the truth of the world around us.