Not Darwin's Year?

According to a Zogby poll taken this year, Darwin’s 200th anniversary, Americans favor intelligent design over Darwinian theory. According to the poll, 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with Darwinism, but 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.” On the other hand, the poll was commissioned by The Discovery Institute, which advocates intelligent design. This is the kind of thing that gives Gary Langer fits. [%comments]

Joe Smith

The Romantics out number the Rationalists - always have, always will. Rationalists mostly run the world (at least the parts of the world that work) because they are the only ones who can.

Dog Eat Dog

When I saw the title "Not Darwin's Year," I thought it was a piece about all the government bailouts (with our - the taxpayers' - money) of Wall Street banks and automobile companies. The bailouts have allowed the weakest to survive - quite in opposition to Darwinism.


Are the two mutually exclusive? Why can't someone believe in a Creator that designed and guided evolution, but that the universe and its creatures evolved as described by Darwin? The only time these two concepts are at real odds is in the teaching of science, because even if you believe in a Creator, that has nothing to do with the science of how things evolved.


When respondents say "guided by," isn't that consistent with evolution? Darwin theorized a mechanism/process. If someone believes in intelligent design, it's entirely possible that he believes evolution is the process chosen by that intelligence to guide the development of life. In other words, evolution and intelligent design are not mutually exclusive.

Thomas Myers

Rather than assuming the poll wasn't objective based on the poller's predispositions, should we not examine the methods, questions, responses used first? Shouldn't we assume a degree of responsibility when evaluating social research before declaring sides and their perceived influence? It's that same assumptive eye that can create for facilitate further social stigmas and problems.


These are the kinds of posts that make me depressed and worried for the future.


Phrasing this as the *development* of life being *guided* by intelligence plays into a notion not of a single creation event, but creation occurring over time. In some ways, it's phrased in a way making it compatible with Darwinism: not the dogmatic assertion that all attributes derive from greater fitness of ancestors but the idea that natural selection drives changes in the genetics in a population, in addition to other causes (perhaps among them intelligent interference).

Certainly their compatibility is the case when we consider the development of dogs (which happened through natural selection and the intelligent selection of people).


I don't see why it has to be one or the other. Why can't natural selection and evolution be PART OF an intelligent design? I would think that any intelligent design would include a plan with rules and an order of how things would work.

Andrew Coulson

Many of my fellow secular empiricists have long championed the notion that public schools could promote rationalism by teaching, among other things, evolution. Clearly, that hasn't worked.

So here's an alternative idea: support a free educational marketplace in which schools compete to attract and retain students. Certainly there would be schools that did not teach evolution, and others that taught "intelligent design," or "creation science." But, at the same time, the schools that wanted to teach science well and clearly would no longer have to appease groups opposed to their efforts, and thus would no longer have to water down science instruction.

Attempting to ram reason down the public's throat has been tried, and it doesn't work. It was never a good idea in a free society anyway. So why not try educational freedom?


You know, I think that evolutionists should stop trumpeting their rationalism as somehow superior to a romantic view of the world. After all, most people would a dash (or maybe a dollop) or romanticism is needed.

I also would like to point out that scientists may be the most sentimental of all people. After all, just because an apple fell from a tree last week does not mean that it will fall from one this week.

Cold, rational thinking leaves us with a very limited set of deductions. If someone is a bachelor, that means he is not married. If you touch my nose with your finger, then that means my nose is touching your finger. If we limit ourselves to purely rational beliefs, we may not be able to get out of bed in the morning

Caca Fuego

For many of us, it's not evolution that is the problem, but the framework of philosophical naturalism that is pushed along side it. Many (e.g., Asa Gray, Darwin's friend and source of botanical examples; Owen Gingerich; John Polkinghorne) hold to intelligent design (n.b., the non-capitalization) and evolution as the mechanism for carrying out that design.

science minded

Let' suppose there is some truth the to the idea that it is not Darwin's year, but someone else's. Why not predict that it will be Darwin's year at some point in the future when his real understanding of Evolution is made obvious. Why then even mention Intelligent Design i.e., religion at all when faith has nothing to do with it.

David Klinghoffer

So then it seems that most Americans are in line with the view of Thomas Jefferson, who was himself a proto-intelligent design advocate:


The reason why it can't be both "Intelligent Design" and Evolution is because "Intelligent Design" tries to masquerade itself as a valid scientific line of inquiry, when it clearly is not. It's a line of inquiry that lies outside the scientific enterprise. You can't use empirical data to try to confirm the existence of something that is beyond the scope of empiricism.

Evolutionary theorists do go in for one thing - that evolutionary theory is the best SCIENTIFIC theory out there, the most well-confirmed empirical thesis regarding species diversity on this planet.

People who make the jump from evolutionary theory to something that involves a debate about rationalism and romanticism are conflating in a major way. Evolutionary biology is a SCIENCE that cannot prove or disprove whether or not things like deities exist; nevertheless, it doesn't purport to, much like it doesn't purport to have any say in whether a person likes to read The Economist or the The Wall Street Journal - both of those are outside of its domain. The issue is when people from the sham "Discovery Institute" try to sneak an intelligent "designer" into the scientific enterprise.



#11 -

If not philosophical naturalism (upon which the natural sciences are based), which form of philosophical supernaturalism works out? If you're not up for philosophical naturalism, then apparently Occam's Razor is out of the question. That seems like a terrible problem.


Anyone who believes Intelligent design and Darwinism are compatible misunderstands evolution.


In other news, a study commissioned my Microsoft found most people preferred Windows. A separate study commissioned by Apple confirmed that most people liked them better. Similar studies have been recently commissioned by the Democratic Party, the Republican party, Ford, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Budweiser, Coors and IBM, with similar results expected.

I'm OK with schools teaching intelligent design, as long as it's the proper classroom -- and that's NOT a science classroom.


The most vocal advocates of "Intelligent Design" and their organizations go on to claim that the Earth is around 6000 years old. I'd be interested to know how many Americans believe in that.

Rich Wilson

One of the questions in the poll is:

Statement A: Biology teachers should teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the
scientific evidence that supports it.

Statement B: Biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also the
scientific evidence against it.

Which presumes scientific evidence against evolution exists. Every 'evidence against' I've seen has been either debunked or has actually been a lack of evidence where it would be expected.


Wow. A lot of misunderstadning of Darwin's work.

Darwin's theory of evolution has two elements. First, random mutation. Second, survival of the fittest.

Evolution is not simply about the developmental path or a design history. Rather, it is about how these two mechanisms led to the array of life we see before us.

If you add a designer or guiding hand, the mutation is no longer random, and instead becomes intentional. That's not biological evolution as scientists understand it. If any criteria other than fitness guided who survived (i.e. some intelligent agent who favored some over others), that's not evolution, either.

So, the fossile record is not incompatible with intelligent design, no. However, the theory of evolution is.