Evolution vs Intelligent Design

Last night I attended a talk at the Edinburgh Zoo given by Stuart Ritchie, President of the Humanist Society at the University of Edinburgh, as part of the Darwin 200 celebrations. Stuart is a good friend of mine and I looked forward to the talk a lot, as I know he’s very enthusiastic on the subject of creationism.

Basically he outlined the difference between Creationism and Intelligent Design (ie. not much, according to the Wedge Document), then outlined the theory put forward by evolutionists. He then took arguments used by Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents in turn and demolished them as he knows how to do so well, incorporating the circular logic of the Bible, information theory, the bacterial flagellum, the Climbing Mount Improbable analogy, the scrabble analogy, and pretty much everything important that needed to be included, although I’m sure he could have continued for much longer afterwards if he’d had the time. He placed evolution side-by-side with both creationism and Intelligent Design to see which one stood up to scrutiny, and lo and behold evolution came out on top.

What interested me was the Q&A section towards the end. Several people who appeared to be from a religious background said that Stuart was simply bashing religion and its theories in the same way as ID proponents bash evolution. This is completely untrue! If ID theorists stood their own theories up to half as much scrutiny as Stuart did to evolution, I would be a happy man. In reality it is a blinkered, religiously motivated view which holds them back from seeing the truth and leads them to take others into their false beliefs. And if nothing is done, they will still be doing it when we’re celebrating Darwin 300.

Another man who confessed to being a Christian and a former RE teacher said to me afterwards that really both his position and that of Stuart were against fundamentalism. Whilst Stuart repeatedly said he had no qualm with religious people who kept their beliefs out of science (I happen to know otherwise 😛 ), my major problem with the so-called “religious moderates” is that they rarely, if ever, speak out against fundamentalists within their ranks. How often do we see the British Muslim Council speak out against lies told in the name of Islam? How often do Christians turn on creationists and say “hold on a sec, you’re talking rubbish, I’m not letting you represent me”? We only ever see religious people speaking out against fundamentalism after a serious terrorist attack, when they’re effecively forced to. Instead the debate is between different faiths, or between faith and science, and too seldom do religious people scrutinize themselves. I suspect there’s a reason for that; if they did, there wouldn’t be too many religious people left.

In any case, I fully support the Darwin 200 events, and urge anyone who’s remotely interested to get along to one of the many events happening nationwide. You won’t regret it. I think we’ll be getting Stuart to do the same talk again in the Humanist Society’s first semester programme, too.


3 Responses to Evolution vs Intelligent Design

  1. Stuart Ritchie says:

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Damn, I really should have said that about moderates standing up to fundamentalists. I’ve used the point before, elsewhere, but it totally slipped my mind the other night…

    And OK, I do have a problem with people being religious, but I hardly wanted to get into a big discussion about that – those chimps needed to get to bed!

  2. ejh says:

    How often do Christians turn on creationists and say “hold on a sec, you’re talking rubbish, I’m not letting you represent me”?

    Why are people obliged to do this? People are responsible for what they say themselves, and to a degree, for statements and actions of groups of which they themselves are members. But the insistence that people condemn, or distance themselves from, people whose views they do not share, just because they have something else in common, is not a healthy one: it’s really a step or two too close to zealotry.

  3. grammarking says:

    It’s a fair comment. You kind of give it away in the preamble though. When people do and say things as a member of a religious organisation, they represent that organisation. If other members don’t agree, not only is it undemocratic for that member to represent the organisation, but it can misrepresent it in a way which can have negative consequences for everyone. In this case a very small minority of people in the Christian community are shouting out making ludicrous statements that are simply not true, ruining the good name of the majority who don’t believe in what they’re saying. And they’re allowed to do it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: