Sunday, May 23, 2010

Unintelligent design

 Life? No mystery

The mystery of life and nature lies
With shimmering pebbles in a moorland stream.
While deeper than it seems to our poor eyes

A simple slate like lapis lazuli can gleam.
And in this river find deceitful stones
That hide their sparkle from a duller glance,

But make the eyes of others shine with lust
Of riches for the one who hones
This glassy rock to its refractive best.

But I digressed.
The wonder of a diamond stems
From qualities discovered at the hand of man;

While nature had, so many eons past
Pressed humble carbon into service as a jewel-to-be, 
it took a jeweler to add the essential polish 

The question that I really want to ask
is do you feel the need to ascribe nature’s hardest creation to a supernatural power?  Nobody has ever told you to believe that beautiful pebbles in a stream or on the beach prove intelligent design, have they?

And does the simple worm that moves only to eat and procreate speak of a ‘maker’ just because it is more complex than a stone? 

Where is the design here?  Molecules exist because atoms can combine according to strict rules – and do so whenever they meet because they must.

Even under conditions of heat and pressure where life cannot exist, complex molecules can replicate, and do so because they must.  These replicating molecules can organize themselves into ‘simple’ forms that can move and take stuff from their environment – which they do, because they are able. But the mechanisms within continue to operate because they must.

Fishes skipped on the mud and gills slowly changed to lungs – a whole new world rose from the water’s edge to be explored and exploited. Wonderful changes took place because they could. Forms changed slowly as small errors crept into the processes of replication.  Particles  
from space bombard us still and can make changes to the elementary atoms involved in DNA – the instructions for replication. 

To a very simple creature a simple change meant success or failure in the competition for resources, in the ability to recreate. The changed forms flourished because they were better, and nothing could stop them. For a while anyway.

 As creatures became very complex tiny changes had tiny effects, but over millions of years the complexities grew, and not for one second in the time it took dumb animals to evolve into even dumber humans (humorous episode) was there a need for an outside ‘designer’ to make something from nothing.  

My mother was a devout believer, and I respect the human need to fill in the gaps of understanding, and to praise something for the wonder of life (when it is wonderful) and beauty of nature (when it is beautiful).  

It is my position that simple christians are among the kindest and most selfless people by nature, and fundamentalists of all flavors among the most neurotic and dangerous.  There cannot be a single god that both groups believe in.  How can there be?


  1. I want to thank you for the compliement about being faithful to God. And there can be a God for all, maybe we call Him by different names but he is all and for us believers it means that we love and trust. Even sometimes when we do not agree, because God created us and all and gave us differnt thoughts. Some good and some bad, that's up to us. By the way love the poem.

  2. Thank you for responding Carol, there is, it seems to me, great humility in believing god gave us our thoughts, but then you say what we think is up to us! Can both be true?

    I think what unites us both is the desire to know the answers. For me, nature created the terrible diseases that infect children (for example) because nature is not given choices. You could say physical laws are god - but this god has no choices either!

    Your god seems to be different - it/he/she created diseases that blind and maim children from choice, and can even cure them if they pray correctly. Am I wrong Carol? His 'mysterious ways' are not an answer for me. If I believed in god I would hate him for doing this. Are not little babies innocent?

    I believe many things Carol, but take pleasure in being proved wrong, if this is a step towards a better truth. My beliefs are in my head - nature and truth are outside my head, living independently (lucky things!) Go well, and be happy, Bob

  3. Wow Bob, I am so tempted to argue with you (respectfully) but will refrain (mostly) because I do not have the time to do so in a quality way, so I would lose. :-)
    Will just content myself with saying a few things ...
    -You have only described HOW molecules exist, not WHY. The fact that atoms have these attractions and repulsions is a quality of theirs, not what caused them. It is an important detail of how the physical universe operates, not the reason for the physical universe. It seems to me that in the sciences, we are often told we will receive an explanation, when all we really get is a description.
    -The Christian explanation for the universe is a complex one. The Bible teaches that we live in a world that was created completely good, but is now fallen, ruined, and so contains much pain. It's tempting to say, "But if God exists, that means He created either evil beings, or beings capable of becoming evil, so isn't that exactly the same as if He'd created sickness and pain Himself?" The answer is, No. It's complex. It all goes back to the mystery of free will. God is somehow able to create beings outside of Himself, who can take real actions that have real consequences, which left to Himself He would not have chosen, DESPITE that He knew what they were going to do beforehand. No, I don't understand that. It's reality. It's too complex to understand.
    -About the form. I like the parts that scan and rhyme. The transition from poetry to prose was smooth (I thought). It's also appropriate that the poem leads you to contemplate beauty, but the prose sticks to the argument. However, it seems to me you have a lot more prose than poetry. If you want the form to be perfect, shouldn't it move back and forth more?

  4. Wish I'd come in at the start of this arguement... LOL :)

  5. Interesting poem.

  6. Indeed, we don't need to look outside, we only have to examine our faith and we become one with the Source. Stunning in its profound simplicity and vice versa.

  7. It has always seemed to me that nature is cruel, brutal, barbaric, and in no way concerned with humans except as a medium of change. As a part of the process, we may well be expendable and evolution, itself, because it is a process, and seems to be guided by chance, could go off in directions far beyond our imagining. So, to see in it all an intelligence that resembles ours, though far more powerful, is beyond many of us. My best

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