Origins and science 1

July 7, 2006

The teaching of creationism in science classes is not right, because creationism addresses the theological question of how the designer created (if there is a designer). But the concept of intelligent design is different. It is an acknowledgement that evolution may not give a complete explanation of the origin of life.

Evolution is not a fact of science. No one has reproduced spontaneous generation of life in the laboratory. But intelligent design is scientifically verifiable. Evolution relies on incremental change and so a structure that requires many parts to exist simultaneously to perform a useful function provides objective evidence for intelligent design. The fact that many scientists deny that irreducible complexity exists in nature demonstrates that they recognise irreducible complexity as evidence for intelligent design.

In the article "Campus believers preach Genesis" (June 23), it was implied that I was not qualified to talk about the origin of the knee joint. I am a professor of design and nature and have researched mechanical aspects of the knee joint for several years. The 4-bar mechanism in the knee joint is a mechanical device and an engineer is better qualified than a biologist to explain this feature.

It is often implied that supporters of intelligent design are in a minority and are not well qualified. But the Discovery Institute in the US has a database of more than 600 scientists who are sceptical of evolution. Some of the greatest scientists were enthusiastic supporters of intelligent design, including Newton, Faraday, Maxwell and Kelvin.

Intelligent design is consistent with neutral science. If intelligent design is banned from science, then only an atheistic philosophy is being allowed. To be scientifically neutral it is necessary not to either ban or insist on the idea that there has been an intelligent input into origins.

Stuart Burgess

Bristol University

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