Problem is 'arrival of fittest'

23rd March 2007 at 00:00
Alastair Noble Lynn Drive, Eaglesham

Tom Bryce, in his response to my article about intelligent design (March 9), raised questions about my intellectual capacity, integrity, motives and, indeed, my age. He also provided a selective excursion into American education and politics. However, I suggest that all of this has little to do with intelligent design and that it is best to stick to the relevant scientific issues.

ID theorists do not dispute that mutation and natural selection occur in nature. What they do question is the capacity of these processes to generate the level of complexity we find in living things and, in particular, the immense sophistication of genetic information. It is, as one ID sympathiser has put it, not "the survival of the fittest" which is the problem, but "the arrival of the fittest".

The fine tuning of universal constants, the irreducible complexity of some physiological and biochemical systems, and the digitally-coded information stored within DNA remain significant indications of design. As all our experience tells us that information only arises from prior intelligence, we have to wonder why it would be different in living systems. And that's before you even begin to discuss the nature and origin of consciousness.

I don't expect Professor Bryce to accept these arguments, but I do ask him to respect the academic and educational validity of the design hypothesis.

I thank him for his suggestion that I read Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion. I have already done so and found it much less than inspiring.

Perhaps I could offer him a suggestion: try Alister McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion. McGrath is an Oxford-trained scientist and theologian who knows a thing or two about God and biology. He may also have the added attraction for Professor Bryce of not being particularly sympathetic to intelligent design. But then I can cope with that level of controversy.

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