Sunday, February 12, 2006

Honk if you love Jesus...and like Darwin

Yesterday, I was driving behind a car with a Darwin bumper sticker. You know, the one with the Jesus fish, but Darwin is written inside it and the fish has legs.

I think those stickers are ridiculous, but more on that later.

It reminded me of sixth grade Catholic School religion class, when I first learned that Adam and Eve was a story, and that in fact, the Pope said it was okay for Catholics to believe that God created man through evolution.

I always thought that was the theory of Intelligent Design, something that's been in the news a lot around here because some people in Kansas want it taught in public schools.

But that's not what Intelligent Design Theory says at all, I learned yesterday.

After a church trivia night last Sunday, I vowed to learn more. So with the boys at their cousins, and the baby asleep, and the laundry and dishes piling up everywhere, I did a little light reading yesterday on evolution and intelligent design. Today is, by the way, Charles Darwin's birthday, as well as the day of the Lord, the perfect time, I think, to consider how God created everything.

Here is what Intelligent Design states, according to the Web site, : features of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

In other words, Intelligent Design does not state that God creates new living things through macroevolution (the evolution that turns fish into land creatures, for instance,) but that he creates them and macroevolution doesn't happen.

Now I'm not sure what the Catholic church says in terms of evolution. I always thought you either believed in it or didn't, but I guess there are degrees of belief in evolution. Some people believe only in microevolution, changes that happen within a species.

A refresher course on evolution:
Charles Darwin, the birthday boy, put forth the theory that evolution happens through natural selection. Animals who adapt to their environments, by say, growing more fur, thrive better, look healthier, do a better job attracting mates, and then produce furrier offspring.

I know this works from personal experience because my husband is very furry and we have furry children. We don't even have to buy them coats in the winter.

Anyway, intelligent design proponents think animals evolve to a certain extent, but only within their group of animals. For instance, a bird's beak can become bigger, but dinosaurs cannot lose their arms and sprout wings. They say there is no mechanism by which this can happen.

Not so fast, say evolutionary scientists. One such mechanism is the Hox gene, which turns on and off in animals, resulting in changes like fish lobes turning into hands. Intelligent design proponents think this can't be proven.

They think an intelligent designer creates animals on the spot, albeit with many years between the various creations. They do not, like the old creationists, believe God created the world in seven days.

To read about this debate, go to Click on evolution and then intelligent design. This is set up for intelligent design proponents to state their case and evolution scientists to knock it down. You might think this is an unfair setup, but it will give you an idea of the arguments on both sides.

The problem mainstream scientists say they have with intelligent design theorists is that they ignore recent breakthroughs in evolution science and set up a case based on a lack of evidence and no evidence of their own. The scientists say it is not a science but a philosophy.

Many add that they share the philosophy that the intricacies of life and the universe point to a divine intelligence, but they say this can't be proven by science.

Not being a scientist myself, I have little room to critique either side. But coming from a family of lawyers, I'd have to side with the evolutionary scientists, who seem to have more evidence.

Anyway, it doesn't lessen my belief in God's power to think that he created things through evolution.

Say I'm a lawyer in the pre-lawn mower era. A client comes to me because he cut a guy's lawn and never got payed. I go to the site and theorize that he cut the grass blade by blade with scizzors. I prepare my case based on that theory. I meet with my client again. No, no, he says, and shows me the lawn mower he invented, built and pushed across the lawn. Would I continue to put forth the scizzors theory? Does my client deserve payment any less if he designed a machine by which to mow the lawn?

We should ask my dad, who actually tried this case when he started out being a lawyer in the 1800s.

But seriously, intelligent design theorists would argue that no evidence of such a lawn mower exists. Not to mix apples with oranges, but I know lawn mowers exist because if the grass had to be cut with scissors, it would be done by the females in the household, and not the males, as it generally is now. We have evolved through the years to complete household tasks that never, ever end, such as laundry.

Anyway, I think scientists would further their cause by explaining to non-scientists like me what they've learned since Charles Darwin roamed the earth. The Intelligence Design proponents do a good job taking their case to the public. Why don't scientists do the same thing? We'd get it. Hey, we're not as dumb as we look.

It would also help for the scientists to make a concession to the Intelligent Design proponents along the lines of:

"We realize it was not a mere coincidence that catastrophe after catastrophe befell the dinosaurs, those selfish, bloodthirsty bastards. God destroyed them."

Finally, evolution proponents should get rid of those ridiculous Darwin bumper stickers. No offense to Darwin, especially on his birthday. But what are these stickers suggesting? That Darwin is the new God? Just because Darwin observed evolution doesn't mean he created it. That survival of the fittest should replace "Love one another," as Jesus taught? Maybe the symbol means neither of the above. In that case, why did they have to hijack a Jesus symbol?

You can take Adam and Eve. But leave Jesus alone.


Anonymous pat brewster said...

Oh my God! Wow! this needs to be published elsewhere! Many, many elsewheres!!!! Do it!!!!

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's gotten into you - sleeping in 'til 7?!

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Mike G. said...

Lawrence Diuguid,you better not look now. But those footsteps you hear closing fast are those of Bridget Heos.She is a pithy Maureen Dowd with a human touch and a better sense of humor.Well done on this one as well as all the others!
I look forward to your daily musings.

8:14 AM  

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