Intelligent debate on design 1

June 30, 2006

When I read the articles on intelligent design (News, June 23), I was surprised that the view was still being perpetrated that there is no scientific debate about origins.

One accepts that most aca-demics believe that evolution has got us to where we are after 4 billion years, but a recent BBC Horizon poll showed that less than 50 per cent of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, so it is surely valid to question whether the reigning paradigm is correct, and to consider alternatives.

To suggest that design is not a valid scientific alternative is absurd, since any engineer knows how to recognise design and to improve on what has been done. Design was the thesis of Kepler, Faraday and Newton. One may take the view that they were wrong, but it is nonsense philosophically to deny that they had a rational basis for their belief.

And to suggest that Stuart Burgess's and my research is not relevant to the debate is not to understand the issues involved. The origins debate lies at the intersection of a number of disciplines including thermodynamics, life sciences, mathematics, biochemistry and design engineering.

I have always maintained that the debate will only really make headway when a mutual respect emerges between the disciplines without the fear of academic censorship in discussions. Let the issues be put on the table and discussed openly. The Royal Society would do well to encourage such a valuable debate, rather than allow some to insist that only one side is heard in our institutions.

A. C. McIntosh

Leeds University

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