Surprisingly, I find myself writing my first letter to an editor – not about some hot-button political issue, but regarding the biological “Field Notes” column by Barry Evans in the July 16 issue. This is a well-written article that deals with some very profound philosophies. While I would have to agree with his final conclusion – that absolute knowledge is problematic – I very strongly disagree with the logical flow of his discourse.
Mr. Evans’ article begins by discussing the problem with “The Turtle Problem” and “the philosophical notion of ‘infinite regression,’” which I think could be much more simply described as assumptions built upon assumptions. (And we all know what assumptions make of people.)
It is in the phrase “the so-called Intelligent Design approach to creation” that Mr. Evans’ point of view collapses. I am not a religious fanatic at all, therefore I believe I can resolve the ideas of creationism and “intelligent design” in a much more secular way than is generally discussed. The intelligent design/creationists believe this world is all or partly God’s doings. The creationists put great stock in the assumption that “a complicated world couldn’t have happened on its own, that it needed a designer.” In their next breath, they usually vilify Charles Darwin.
But the creationists are missing the most important ammo they’ve got. In dwelling on the micro-variants of evolution, they lose sight of the trees, the forest and the mountain they are standing on. The point is that creation and evolution go hand in hand. But the one thing they are not is endless. Creationism and evolution both begin with the Big Bang. Religious people have many names for the ways of looking at this, and they all make just about as much sense as I do. But for my own purposes, I will begin using the terms “The Big Bang” and “The Great Whatever” in a somewhat divine sense.
Mr. Evans’ quandary – that if there is a God, what created God? – can probably best be answered by standing with angels on the pointed end of a pin. My first main point is, if God or “The Great Whatever” didn’t create the Big Bang, what did? How did a small lump of weirdness suddenly explode and become a whole universe with new natural laws of physics? The idea of the Big Bang seems very theo-logical to me. I suspect that at least some would agree that “The Great Whatever” caused the Big Bang.
Returning to Mr. Evans’ critical phrase, I agree that “the so-called Intelligent Design approach to creation” fails to pass muster at this point. While the Big Bang, the Great Whatever or even God are without any doubt miraculous at design, the whole universe is Awesome! However, despite all this amazing clockwork complexity, any actual sign or proof of “intelligence” is only conjecture.
R. Thom Palmer, Arcata
Sweet Spot: *R. Thom Palmer blows our mind. He wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.*