Does God Have Back Problems Too?
The illogic behind ‘intelligent design.’
By David P. Barash, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, is coauthor of “Madame Bovary’s Ovaries” (Delacorte Press, 2005).
In 1829, Francis Henry Egerton, the eighth Earl of Bridgewater, bequeathed 8,000 pounds sterling to the Royal Society of London to pay for publication of works on “the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as Manifested in the Creation.”
The resulting “Bridgewater Treatises,” published between 1833 and 1840, were classic statements of “natural theology,” seeking to demonstrate God’s existence by examining the natural world’s “perfection.”
Current believers in creationism, masquerading in its barely disguised incarnation, “intelligent design,” argue similarly, claiming that only a designer could generate such complex, perfect wonders.
But, in fact, the living world is shot through with imperfection. Unless one wants to attribute either incompetence or sheer malevolence to such a designer, this imperfection — the manifold design flaws of life — points incontrovertibly to a natural, rather than a divine, process, one in which living things were not created de novo, but evolved. Consider . . . .