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Does Evolution Even Have A Mechanism?

William A. Dembski

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Talk delivered at the American Museum of Natural History, 23 April 2002 at a discussion titled "Evolution or Intelligent Design?" The participants included ID proponents William A. Dembski and Michael J. Behe as well as evolutionists Kenneth R. Miller and Robert T. Pennock. Eugenie C. Scott moderated the discussion.

Evolutionary biology teaches that all biological complexity is the result of material mechanisms. These include principally the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation, but also include other mechanisms (symbiosis, gene transfer, genetic drift, the action of regulatory genes in development, self-organizational processes, etc.). These mechanisms are just that: mindless material mechanisms that do what they do irrespective of intelligence. To be sure, mechanisms can be programmed by an intelligence. But any such intelligent programming of evolutionary mechanisms is not properly part of evolutionary biology.

Intelligent design, by contrast, teaches that biological complexity is not exclusively the result of material mechanisms but also requires intelligence, where the intelligence in question is not reducible to such mechanisms. The central issue, therefore, is not the relatedness of all organisms, or what typically is called common descent. Indeed, intelligent design is perfectly compatible with common descent. Rather, the central issue is how biological complexity emerged and whether intelligence played a pivotal role in its emergence.

For the complete article go to the Discovery Institute website.



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