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So on the second post involving the infamous $10,000 bet about nested hierarchies in evolution, regular erudite commenter Daydreamer1 brought up some really good points about design, but not from a biological standpoint. With intelligent design theories, we often fail to look at them in contexts outside of biology, say, in the earth sciences. I think the criticisms of ID can really be pushed home in these contests, as DD1 shows:

I wonder if it is helpful to present the view of a geologist here.

Throughout my degree we studied paleontology, which obviously means studying fossils, but in the wider context of a geological degree means looking at how Earth history has shaped the fossil record.

Much of this obviously relates to extinctions, but evolutionary adaptation is a story of how life has adapted to the changing Earth.

The ID proponents seem to have geared themselves towards the biology, which is fine-ish, but so far I have not really seen them tackle the relationship between Earth history and evolution from their ‘design’ perspective.

If anything has been designing genetics – been plotting its course – then it has ultimately done it by shaping Earth history. Much of this would mean controlling plate tectonics to divide and incorporate gene pools with the correct geological timing, as well as controlling ice ages, desertification, mass extinctions due to volcanism, oceanic chemistry changes, asteroid impacts etc The list would go on and no doubt feature such things as mountain building to separate gene pools and the numerous instances of climate change…

Focusing just on how evolution works misses the bigger ID claim – that Earth history has been very finely controlled to create this outcome.

So, does geology indicate that it has? This is a testable hypothesis after all. Nature, by definition, is events following laws, whereas design would be shown by geological history surprisingly deviating from them. And the answer as best as I know it is no, Earth history is explainable by abiding by the laws of nature. I.e. when we study rock formations and plot such things as stress and strain, folding, fold hinge directions and dynamics to study plate tectonics (to study structural geology) over mountain belts, or subduction zones, or spreading ridges, or hot spots, or fault zones, in rocks of widely varying ages, we find that they plot exactly as the maths says they should (completely solid evidence against a global flood as well, by the way, since the patterns in structural geology for flood deposits are different from non-flood deposits).

This can be repeated across all the forms of evidence through structural geology, geochemistry, geophysics, sedimentology etc etc. When we put it all together to produce those nice movies you can download off of the web showing plate tectonic drift, mountain building, subduction etc etc (the Earths cumulative physical history) we don’t see any designing hand pushing continents around in a way that does not obey natural laws. Furthermore we don’t look at the geological record and compare it to key points in evolutionary history and find anything bizarre happening.

Earth history is entirely natural – as proven by the vast numbers of evidences that all interlock and show the same thing the world over. If that is the evidence that it is not designed then we have it in spades.

So where is the designer?

It just seems to me that ID proponents like to delve into the genetics and microbiology to create ‘might have’ arguments without every realizing that their idea is utterly disproved by sciences beyond the biological…

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...