Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Intelligent Design

Those who cite the complexity of the human species -- or even the diversity of life on Earth in general -- as proof of intelligent design are sadly off-base, I think. Yes, living things are staggeringly complex, but in many cases that complexity is far from elegant.
Anyone with an understanding of science knows that in almost every case, the simplest explanation is the best. And when you try to explain some of the strangeness evident in living things, invoking God leads to more and more circuitous, convoluted reasoning.
On the other hand, the theory of evolution provides simple and direct explanations for some of these things.
Why an appendix? Why wisdom teeth? Why are some humans born with vesigial tails or gills? If you pin these on God, you either posit that God makes mistakes, is a perverse trickster or is coldly insensitive to the pain endured by some of his creatures, whereas the scientific, evolution and genetics based explanation for all of these makes perfect, logical sense.
So where is the evidence of God?
Here's where I turn: Numbers.
If you want to see a system that is simple, elegant, consistent and yet capable of infinite complexity, turn to your calculator. The beauty of mathematics provides all the evidence of God that I need. Humans didn't invent numbers, except in the sense of giving them names. Numbers were there to be discovered. They always work.
Talk about your intelligent design.
All God had to do to set the universe in motion was to provide this elegant system, and to make it applicable to every aspect of his creation. From simple counting to atomic theory. Everything else is explicable by science.