Intelligent Design is Blasphemy
Says Dr. Francisco Ayala!
On the evening of March 23, 2006, Dr. Francisco Ayala, along with his wife (Dr. Hanna Ayala) spoke before an assembly of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS; widely known for its publication of Science magazine). The evening presentation was more an informal event where both Dr.s Ayala spoke of their professional experiences and current activities.
Of note were the comments of Dr. Francisco Ayala with regard to the teaching of evolution in public schools. Dr. Ayala is a well known biologist with academic interests in genetics and evolution. He also proclaims to have a theistic side and some studies in theology. What becomes clear however is a propensity among some scientists to state evolution is a fact—more than a theory.
The rejection of biblical literalism becomes full grounds to say church and state must remain separate and schools must teach evolution. But most are unaware of why the United States originally was founded with the principles of a separation of church and state. This has nothing to do with scientific evidence or misguided assumptions.
Perhaps what we might fear is a 'scientific literalism' that prevents thinking about all the implications of the scientific data. Dr. Ayala also wants us to believe that any discussion of the topic of intelligent design is pure religion. The hot button word of the day always seems to be an emotional rejection of something called creationism. But if he is referring to an old school of thought, then he is likewise putting up a smoke screen to avoid the direction in which discussions on intelligent design lead us.
NOTE: Before you read and digest all that Dr. Ayala is quoted to say below ... we wish to draw your attnetion to a glarring problem that even Dr. Ayala did not see. Here is an example of an intellect "seeing what he wishes" when evidence to the contrary is starring him in the face! Dr. Ayala crticizes intelligent design by citing the imperfections of the human jaw and its 'poor evolutionary history,' and yet he did so by not citing the mist powerful example FOR intelligent design. His wife! Sitting opposite Dr. Ayala is a representation of the most complex design, the female human reproductive system, that itself depends on cascades of events, hormones, and developmental sequences to orchestrate the delivery of a new human being. The jaw is nothing by comparison to the complexity of human reproduction.
[ NOTE: You can opt to hear Dr. Ayala's words for yourself. The sound recording is sufficient to verify what you will read below. The recording comes up in a separate browser window - listen while you read here!]
Dr. Ayala's Own Words:
“… there are so many misunderstandings in this effort, first, to try and keep evolution out of the schools, and second to trying to introduce creationism or now the current version which is intelligent design, which bothers me because of course it’s not science, it bothers me because it’s very bad religion. First let me say why we have to teach evolution in the schools. Evolution is now the unifying concept of biology. Evolution is the unifying concept of biology. You cannot teach biology without teaching evolution. Now biology and biotechnology is one of the important places of technological and natural development in this country, we need … to train them in science, need to train them in evolution, because it’s the only way we are going to link biology and biotechnology. …and also understand the world in which we live, including the world of bird flu and all the other diseases which are really only understandable in the context of evolution.
"So they don’t want evolution being taught in the schools because it seems to contradict the literal interpretation of the Bible, this account of Genesis, now most … theological … most people have written about … they realize the Bible is not a book about biology, nor a book about cosmology or about physics. And it amounts to blasphemy to understand the work of physics or biology by reading the bible; this is not the purpose of the Bible. … about religion and to teach religious truths, moral truths.
So, it’s a travesty to interpret the Bible in that way. Be that as we may, we have in this country separation of church and state in the public schools. … The most recent judicial decision concerning intelligent design, December 20th,  the court of Judge Jones in the District of Dover, Pennsylvania, he wrote a 439 pages long decision
[speaking of Judge Jones in his December 20, 2005 Dover PA court decision]
“… he points out that the utter misunderstanding of the proponents of intelligent design and the members of the school board in seeing a contradiction between the teaching of evolution and religious beliefs. As he states in the decision, many witnesses here testify to show evidence that there is no contradiction in religious beliefs and the teaching of evolution. So, it is very unfortunate that these people are trying to introduce, as it were, through the back door, the teaching of religion in the schools. And when you use the concept of intelligent design, you have, forgive me now for using some strong words, you have a consequence of intelligent design [that] amounts to blasphemy.
"Because organisms are not intelligent designed. We are incompetently and incontrovertibly designed by what natural selection does. Natural selection in response to the environment improves the adaptation of the organism through the environment. … those things that happen to function better ... in a particular environment are favored ... they are what get multiplied … that’s how we acquire eyes to see and … natural selection does not start with a conceived design, it’s just a step by step movement of adding one thing after as a result of adaptation of the organism … trial and error process.
"So, what happens as a consequence … to take an example the human jaw. You know we don’t have The jaw is not big enough to fit all our teeth. So we have the wisdom teeth removed. Even after removing the wisdom teeth, we still have to go through operations [inaudible phrase] … [exclaims] Designed by God? (as if to say the jaw’s apparent imperfection cannot be designed) The kind of God that monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is suppose to be an intelligent being, a benevolent being, an omnipotent being ... any engineer in my university who would have designed a jaw [like that] would have been fired the next day. [laughter] …
"Again, it’s perfectly understandable in light of evolution."
[next Dr. Ayala gives the example of the human brain and cites enlargement comes by a step by step process over time and further that the ‘jaw had to catch up’ in size as the brain enlarged. Some how there seems a disparity between the development of brain and jaw to warrant the conclusion that design is not in the picture. The rationale here then justifies an evolutionary point of view. (Editor note: Of course, this is to forget the complexity and enormous leap of faith one takes in assuming the brain is simply a product of chance or a trial and error process that ‘seeks’ a higher ordered structure with greater mental function.)]
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Dr. Ayala then depicts individuals who are proposing a theory based
on intelligent design as ‘Creationists’ and that their support for evidence for
design, even by the scientific evidence, amounts to “… blasphemy.
These people with the best of intentions, are trying to introduce blasphemous teachings in the schools.”
Dr. Alan Leshner noted that it is interesting to use the term blasphemy, especially coming out of the mouth of a scientist. He asked if Dr. Ayala has any credentials to support using such a term. Dr. Ayala’s response reflects concerns for what is taught in the schools and noted that: “I have an advanced degree in theology as well.”
(NOTE: But no clarification was given as to what that degree is or what position that may engender when interpreting scientific information. What is the depth of one’s faith, especially when the degree is cited without a profession of faith! No one wanted to ask. This issue was left unqualified. How is one to discern the value of this presentation without further information!)
Dr. Leshner then reflected on the concept that Dr. Ayala is an example for “science and religion to live together comfortably” and that in the U.S, and around the world we are now experiencing a “tension between science and religion.” Dr. Leshner further explains a desire to show how science is not in opposition to religion, but furthermore reveals in his own words a reluctance to entertain the discussion that includes a deeper look at what intelligent design offers.
Dr. Ayala continued with a reluctance to engage in the discussion on design and explains science’s role is to “explain the world of nature as a consequence of natural laws and testable by observation” and then he stereotypes the intelligent design proponents on the basis of religion and not as individuals who have a scientific vantage point. Dr. Ayala then refers to Judge Jones’ decision and what was stated therein.
THERE IS MORE TO THIS!
... NOTE: We invite you to read the court’s decision (<here as a PDF 312kbytes) as well as to read a response to the decision in the form of a 125 page book published under the title “Traipsing into Evolution.” (book link)
The contrasts between these two documents is unmistakable and no one would want public education to suffer the consequences of bias or faulty logic. If you explore the facts to the circumstances, the testimonies in the courtroom and the evidence not considered, you will be incensed, and you will know why the issues will one day make their way to the Supreme Court!
In fact, when the court's decision was released, USA Today (<PDF file 177k) contrasted issues to the point of saying (paraphrasing the newspaper): Let the students read the court decision and let the kids ask questions to decide what is relevant. Let the students hear the arguments and investigate the issues. Novel idea! More over, read the book shown on the right to see more of the real implications to having a 'level playing field' for the truth.]
LISTEN - WE DIDN'T MAKE THIS UP!
You may wish
to agree with Dr. Ayala or Dr. Leshner. You can hear the entire
dialog here and
consider for yourself why Dr. Ayala’s response to
intelligent design has to be characterized as emotional. If the Dover ,
PA, court decision
is flawed, then ask why Dr. Ayala and others want that decision to stand.
Ask why proponents of intelligent design think there is more to the issues
what the court considered.
Simply calling intelligent design “blasphemy” is an emotional response and a mere distraction from the scientific underpinnings of the theory put forth for comparison to Darwinian macro-evolution.
Dr. Ayala indicates the proponents of intelligent design are ‘fundamentalists’ and that they are always changing their tactics to support a cause. He then cites previous court rulings based on cases that have nothing to do with intelligent design. He pits religion against science, even here, after Dr. Leshner has stated AAAS wishes to take a middle ground and not pit science against religion. Dr. Ayala is furthermore saying proponents of intelligent design would exclude teaching of evolution from the schools.
But anyone who has followed the topic of design knows that teaching intelligent
been encouraged! Why? Simply to illustrate weaknesses in Darwin's theory
and to consider alternatives. Dr. Ayala may chose to ignore this point,
that is his prerogative.]
To hear Dr. Ayala speak, is to hear one rationalize the former ‘creation science’ offered for consideration in the courts some decades ago with the current theory on ‘intelligent design.’ What he forgets to observe is that the data or evidence used in the former approach and in the present theory on intelligent design is entirely different. This is not a modification of tactics, it’s an adoption of the scientific evidence of the day. Scientific advances and the level of complexity we can see in the data is what in fact supports the design theory, not religion.
Dr. Ayala closes by saying that proponents of intelligent design are few, they repeat the same things over and over, that they know something is wrong with what they say, and really its all about selling books. Really? Have you seen the number of publications that have been put to the presses? Have you read any of these titles?
To say there are ‘dubious intentions’ and to excuse the proponents of design is mere rationalization. Ayala is preaching to an eager scientific choir. So, in this venue, why not find agreement. However, if design carries any weigh of the evidence, the evidence itself will carry design.
In a final attempt to show that evolution is a fact, Dr, Ayala criticizes Dr. Behe, a proponent of design, a Ph.D. biochemist (not biologist) for an unwillingness to see how the scientific literature proves evolution with respect to the immune system. He characterizes Dr. Behe as not being persuaded by the evidence. But there is no analysis as to why Dr. Behe takes his position. This is character assassination without analysis of the evidence offered in the courtroom or with no opportunity for another academic to explain an opposing position. The choir loved it.
Leshner and Ayala further reflected on how intelligent design is not published in academic and peer reviewed journals. They didn’t tell about the resistance to publish intelligent design articles by the scientific community, nor did they tell of the bias against research in this area. The choir was unaware. And by the way, there are many books and a number (yes, only a few at present) of journal articles that actually support or test the concept of design. 'Old-school back pressure' on doing this type of new research only makes Dr. Ayala’s criticism a cheap shot.
We invite you to visit another web page listing of publications that describe the details to Intelligent Design. Yes, intelligent design is a new concept to many. The number of publications is growing rapidly even during the infancy of this expansive new theory.
Writer / Editor: Dr. T. Peterson, Director, WindowView.org