Letters to the Editor
Norman Geisler's main argument (issue XIV) may be answered by examining the role that information content or form plays in determining whether something has an intelligent origin or not.
A blob of pure aluminum does not have much information content to brag about yet is surely as much in need of a creator as is a watch. It's not the amount of information that guarantees a creator but rather the high improbability of that information being produced by the raw forces of nature. If watches formed naturally in beach sand, we would have no way of knowing whether a newly discovered watch had a creator or not.
Since nature does not refine quantities of pure aluminum on earth, create watches, or carve faces on Mount Rushmore, it is clear that intelligence is involved in the production of those objects. On the other hand, what can we say about the marvelous design of a blade of grass? Its information content may be great and the design may appeal to our sense of beauty and order, but that in itself doesn't logically rule out a natural origin. The ecology of a forest is also complex, beautiful, and orderly; it self-adjusts to meet the needs of the environment, including chance factors (humanmade or natural). One need not assume that each ecological zone was designed by a special act of intelligent creation. Those arrangements that don't work under the present environment simply die out or move elsewhere! Indeed, the concept of evolution offers a natural explanation for the general emergence and complexity of life forms and therefore of their marvelous designs.
In attacking evolution, one ought not employ an argument which assumes that evolution is false. We must not assume what we're trying to prove! Argument from design essentially boils down to the assumption that complex design cannot be natural (that is, that evolution is false), and therefore the argument cannot be used against evolution. In the case of watches, we can employ independent evidence to eliminate the natural alternative. But we cannot do the same for grass by merely claiming that its design is complex and wonderful; evolution claims to be able to evolve such design. We cannot deny a natural alternative for the origin of grass by assuming that some claims made by that alternative are false. We must first prove evolution false before we can use the design argument to prove evolution false! The design argument is not particularly helpful in this matter.
In summary, in order to prove an intelligent origin, one must first eliminate the alternative (nature), and one cannot logically do that by appealing to complexity and order in design. One must show that the design is incompatible with naturenot assume it.
Ronald H. Pine, in his article, "But Some of Them Are Scientists, Aren't They?" (issue XIV, page ten), writes: "At the beginning of and throughout a scientific endeavor, all that is supernatural is excluded, and thus it is not surprising that, at the end of a scientific (as opposed to a pseudoscientific) investigation, no outlines of a creator, angels, devils, or demons appear."
This sentence gives too much away and creates grave problems in logic. The author concedes here the existence and knowledge of the "supernatural" ("all that is supernatural is excluded"), and he claims at the same time that scientists, by excluding "it" from "consideration," are therefore assured of the nonappearance in their work of "a creator, angels, devils, or demons." But since no one knows what the "supernatural" is or is not capable of, how can it be assumed so glibly that "it" could not insinuate itselfin spite of being excluded by a mere mortalinto the scientific observations, results, or conclusions?
Surely it is quite inadequate for a scientist to adopt such a timid agnostic stance vis-a-vis "the supernatural." The scientist has, in fact, every right, and, indeed, a duty, to declare the "supernatural" to be a nullity and to demand that the burden of proof for the hypothetical existence of such a concept be placed upon those who profess to believe in it. As long as no conclusive evidence is provided for the existence and properties of alleged supernatural effects, the scientist is totally unconcerned and need not, indeed is incapable of, consciously excluding these unknown effects. Thus, until such time as and when a "demon" detector, an "angel" detector, or a "soul" detector are clearly demonstrated, the nonexistence of all "supernatural" beings, powers, or effects is justly taken for granted by scientists and needs no proof whatsoever.
I have been interested in the creation-evolution controversy for a little over a year now and have acquired quite a few books on the subject. Speaking from a layperson's point of view, I have found the majority of the books fairly hard to understand. That is, all except for one. The book, In the Beginning: A Scientist Shows Why the Creationists Are Wrong, by Chris McGowan is by far the best. McGowan proves that evolutionary biology can be explained in a simple, straightforward manner. He even makes it fun to read about!
The whole point of my letter is that part of the reason the creationists and their books are so successful is that they use this type of approach. It is the general public which needs to be informednot so much the educators. The public are the creationists' victims, not the scientists. And, if the average "Joe" or "Jane" has to have a B.S. in biology in order to read a book, he or she is just not going to do it!
There needs to be more books written like Chris McGowan's. I urge anyone planning to write a book on the creation-evolution controversy to, above all, keep it simple!