(Originally written November, 2005)
The Vatican stand that biological evolution “represents the interpretative key of the history of life on Earth” is refreshing (‘Design’ is not science, Vatican paper says). Its conclusion (and subtle admonition) that “intelligent design doesn’t belong to science and the pretext that it be taught as a scientific theory alongside Darwin’s explanation is unjustified” has a ring of irony that begs a reading between the lines, so to speak. My interpretation of the message follows along these lines: there is a line separating science and theology that should not be crossed, and that intelligent design falls squarely on the side of, and within the exclusive purview of, theology. The implied meaning coming out of the Vatican is an accommodation of sorts: we’ll keep theological concepts (such as intelligent design) out of science deliberations; (if) you undertake to keep scientific concepts (such as evolution) out of the way of theology.
The problem as I see it is that intelligent design also includes the non-theological concept of “rational design” as proposed in Origin of Life: The 5th Option – the idea that the interactive system of biological life could have been rationally designed by molecular engineers and implanted on Earth as unicellular organisms by an intelligent alien civilization some 3.8 billion years ago to fulfill some purposeful design intent. As part of the package, the life system would have come equipped with the ability to adapt (evolution) and thereby survive the ever-changing biosphere conditions of the host planet. Furthermore, there should be somewhere within such a rationally designed system, waiting to be discovered and tested by scientists, incontrovertible evidence of design.
With all due respect, is there any logical reason why rational design should be prohibited from discussion in science classes?
BRYANT M SHILLER, Eng., Author,
Origin of Life, The 5th OPTION