Poor Kansas. Dawkins on creationism and “Intelligent Design”
The creationists’ fondness for “gaps” in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.
I wish folks would be willing to keep going once they got to the “intelligence” part. Yes, the natural world is “designed” by an intelligence. That intelligence is, at least in part, an evolutionary process. Does that mean God didn’t do it? No, it means that god is evolution. Should it be celebrated any less? Certainly not.
The truly frightening idea is that we might be able to explain the world, that we might rid ourselves of more and more mysteries until we “run out.” I’m not particularly fearful of this; there are enough out there to keep us busy.
The other fear is that if we can explain god “away,” if we understand how intelligence occurs, and the nature of god’s will, we will also understand the nature of our own will, and the gods within will evaporate. Again, I don’t think this will happen. I think mystery remains asymptotic. Moreover, understanding the general “how” and “why” does not necessarily mean we can ever understand the particular.