Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Unintelligent Design or Masterful Storytelling?

In response to Louisiana Governor (and possible McCain running mate) Bobby Jindal's signing into law a bill allowing the teaching of intelligent design in his state's public schools, NYU professor Gary Marcus posted this entry to his Huffington Post blog. He says: "When you get right down to it, from an engineering perspective, the design of the human mind (and for the matter the human body) is a bit of mess." Marcus describes several of these design flaws and concludes that Darwin's theory of natural selection is the only explanation for the imperfections of the human body.

Before I continue, I should say that my knowledge of the development of life on earth comes from high school biology, a few Discovery Channel shows, and a couple books that I've read. So I don't reallly have an informed opinion on this subject. But for what it's worth, I believe in a divine creator but have no problem with evolution as a means or method of creation. (A few years ago, I wrote this post on the subject.) I'm also skeptical of the intelligent design movement. I guess you could call me a theistic evolutionist.

That said, I disagree with Marcus's premise that an intelligent creator would be interested in creating beings without significant physical or mental flaws. I like to think of God as a master storyteller, and the best stories feature characters with very obvious shortcomings. Conflict and obstacles are what makes life interesting. A world populated with perfect or near-perfect beings frankly would be boring.

Of course, we Christians believe that human beings have been crafted in the image of a perfect deity. In that regard, I suppose that a fickle memory and a backwards retina would be problematic. Then again, Christians for centuries have been reconciling human imperfections with the concept of Imago Dei; so this is nothing new.


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