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Rounding Out Our Darwin Day Coverage: "Unintelligent Design," and a Reminder to Open Your Eyes

David Klinghoffer


Ah, the sun will soon set on another Darwin Day, and our coverage concludes with an article published today by our colleague biologist Ann Gauger at CNSNews:

This Friday, February 12, is Darwin Day, the birth date of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). It’s an occasion celebrated around the world for revealing the truth about who we really are and what we’re really like — so say Darwin’s more aggressive followers. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re just an animal, and a poorly made one, at that. You are the product of “unintelligent design.”

But perhaps, on this occasion of Darwin’s birthday, might it not be worth asking, is what they say true?

She goes on to examine the rhetoric on the subject from one aggressive and prolific Darwinist, evolutionary biologist David Barash. She concludes:

Despite what some, like Dr. Barash, would tell you, our bodies are marvels of perfection in many ways. The rod cells in our eyes can detect as little as one photon of light; our brains receive the signal after just nine rods have responded. Our speech apparatus is perfectly fit for communication. Says linguist Noam Chomsky, “Language is an optimal way to link sound and meaning.” Our brains are capable of storing as much information as the World Wide Web.

We can run long distances, better than a horse and rider sometimes. For an amusing comparison of our fastest times compared to various animals, have a look here. But bear in mind, not one of those animals can run, swim, and jump as well as we can.

Then there is our capacity for abstract thought, an activity you and I are engaged in right now, and our incredible fine-motor skills. Think concert pianist.

On that note, happy Darwin Day, and I do mean happy. Before allowing some evolutionists to get us down and drag us under, let’s remember and be grateful for all the things that go right and work well. Intelligent design does not mean “perfect design,” or “design impervious to aging, injury, and disease.” It means being a product of intelligence, whatever the source might be, giving evidence of care, intention, and forethought, as our bodies surely do.

If I were one to philosophize, I would say a theme of Darwin Day 2016 is the effort it can take to lift yourself up and out of the utilitarian illusion and open your eyes to what our other biologist colleague Michael Denton pointed to earlier today as the “non-adaptive order that permeates the entire organic realm.” Non-adaptive doesn’t mean maladaptive, or harmful. It means superfluous to survival or reproductive value.

In the Darwinian explanation of life’s evolution, driven by consideration of utility, non-adaptive order should be minimal. It’s not, as Denton makes clear in his new book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis and in the new short video documentary The Biology of the Baroque that we released today:

As Dr. Gauger points out in her article, human biology and existence are shot through with levels of excellence — “marvels” — that came on the scene at some point in our distant past without serving any Darwinian adaptive purpose. The deepest things that make us human almost all seem non-adaptive.

The ability to detect a photon? To engage in abstract thought? A linguistic ability sufficient not merely to facilitate cooperation in hunting and gathering, but to serve the needs of Milton, Shakespeare, or dare I say it, the Bible? The “incredible fine-motor skills” not to mention the artistry to perform or write music for a concert pianist?

Coincidentally, my wife and I went to the Seattle Symphony last night, to hear a Bartók piano concerto and a Beethoven symphony. It’s something I generally love to do. Frankly, though, this time she had to push me to go. I was stressed out by one and another practical concerns, and was all set to send our youngest daughter in my place. But I thanked her later for making me go as planned.

I have to think it’s good for the soul to gather with all these other people in a formal setting and a beautiful building to sit quietly and listen to beautiful music. But it did take an effort last night to set aside utilitarian matters and get in the car and go.

In the past I’ve recommended George Steiner’s wonderful, short lecture on how good music points to the transcendent. Watch it again, or for the first time if you haven’t done so:

Darwinism insists on our closing our minds to all that music, art, beauty, and wisdom represent. It’s an anesthetic for the soul. It dulls you and puts you to sleep. Just as it can be a struggle to open your eyes and shake off sleep in the morning, so too in thinking about life and its origins. Ann is right. Materialism like that represented by Dr. Barash, for all its chirpiness, drags you under.

So watch Biology of the Baroque and cheer up. Happy Darwin Day — and as Dr. Gauger says, I do mean happy.

Get your copy of Dr. Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis now. For a limited time, you’ll enjoy a 30 percent discount at CreateSpace by using the discount code QBDHMYJH.

Image: Seattle Symphony, by Dcoetzee (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.