This book provides an overview of differing positions on the question of the origins of life. Materialism, Creationism and Intelligent Design are compared and contrasted. The evidence for and against design are presented. He concludes that observations from the natural world do not require a rejection of the design hypothesis.
The Origins Debate
Are we the product of random chance and natural selection or are we the product of design? New discoveries have not quieted this debate. It has been the topic of many books, documentaries and court cases. This book cuts through the ideological rhetoric and discusses the core of the debate and answers fundamental questions such as: Is Intelligent Design science, or is it religion? Is it creationism? Finally, can any rational person accept the possibility of design or does it require us to commit intellectual suicide? This book is not about evolution bashing. Insults get us nowhere in resolving contentious issues. Anyone who has ever asked the question: How did we get here? Needs to read this book.
It is a cold, calm winter night and I can hear the snow crunching under my feet as I lug my telescope and my star maps out across the schoolyard behind the house. Itís a gorgeous night out. The stars are shining brightly and I hurriedly set up my equipment. I have only owned this Meade LX10 telescope for just over a year but I have totally grown attached to it. After I align my telescope to the North Star I turn southwards towards the constellation Orion. This is my favorite winter constellation. There is so much to see in it. I decide that tonight is a perfect night to look at the Orion Nebula (M42). Located in this nebula is a star-forming region called the Trapezium. As I center the nebula in my finder scope I start to think about the young newborn stars there and what the future might hold for them. Will anyone of them end up being a stable mid-sized star like our sun? Five billion years from now when our sun is near the end of its life and all life on Earth has long since vanished, what will it be like in the vicinity of these stars Iím about to look at? Is it possible that around one of those stars a planet similar to our own might evolve out of the nebulous gases surrounding the stars? Is it possible that life might begin in this region long after its been extinguished here on Earth? If so, how would it get started? The questions surrounding our origins such as: where did we come from and how did we get here, are questions which Iím sure each one of us ends up asking at some point in our lives. These questions are just too interesting for us not to ask them.
The answers to those questions however, bring about much controversy and the dialogue between differing views surrounding the topic of origins has at times been anything but constructive to say the least. Recent advances in areas such as cosmology and biology have not quieted this debate. Instead recent discoveries have lead to an increased questioning of long held assumptions about the universe we live in, and at the micro level discoveries of new structures and the immense amounts of information contained in the DNA of living things, has caused many to re-examine the naturalistic explanation for our existence. The last half of the twentieth century saw a resurgence of the design hypothesis. This hypothesis is often referred to as intelligent design and it continues to gain momentum and attract new supporters in the twenty-first century. The growth of the intelligent design movement has lead to heated debates and political controversy as its promoters attempt to make inroads in the scientific community and as dogmatic proponents of methodological naturalism attempt to prevent it from entering into mainstream scientific discourse. But what is intelligent design? What are its foundations? Is it science, or is it religious creationism merely repackaged? Should it be taught in our science classes? Why the controversy?