Overcoming Evolutionism and Naturalistic Intelligent Design

On the Arrival of Human Extension

Biologists these days, especially evolutionary and socio-biologists, often try to dictate to people about ethics, morality and religion. Do they not know any limits to their specialist natural science? It is no wonder that a movement of scientists, philosophers, theologians and PR figures have gathered around the idea of ‘intelligent design,’ as a possible escape route from biological exaggeration and scientism in the contemporary Academy. In terms of humility and reflexivity, evolutionary and socio-biologists seem to be running on an almost empty tank.

I’ve watched and sometimes publically participated in the ‘controversy over evolution’ that has been going on mainly in the United States over the past decade. This includes meeting and/or corresponding with most leaders of the Intelligent Design Movement, visiting the Discovery Institute as a curiosity, as well as reading, researching and debating views proposed by ‘new atheists’ on-line. I’ve published academic papers, attended and presented speeches at scholar conferences on evolution, creation and intelligent design. During that time I’ve been struck by a few basic observations.

First, the field of psychology shows us that many people, if not most people, are caught up in what is called ‘confirmation bias.’ We are not ‘neutral’ observers when it comes to values, ethics, ideals and beliefs. People tend to agree with news items, scientific ideologies or opinions that support their already accepted views and reject those that do not easily sync with their strongly or even loosely held perspectives.

Everyone thinks they are ‘intelligent,’ to one degree or another. One finds very few people who actually think they are un-intelligent and un-qualified to assess new information, data or points of view. This is by virtue of having studied ‘science’ in some ways at school or privately on the Internet. There is so much ‘scientific’ information available nowadays and everyone can ‘possess’ some, by applying their independent rationale and faith in interpretation, like a new Protestant reading their own Bible (cf. Steve Fuller’s notion of ProtScience, 2010).

This has led, secondly, to a basic conclusion: ‘the controversy’ involving evolution really isn’t predominantly about biology. It’s not about geology, either. It’s not about botany. It’s not about ecology or ethology. The most challenging and influential problems with ‘evolution’ involve human morals, ethics, meanings, goals, purposes, dreams and choices. This is what matters most to people; not what biologists do in their labs or out in the field.

Does ‘design’ belong in biology? Does ‘evolution’ belong in human-social sciences? These are questions that surprisingly few people seriously ask themselves in the age of interdisciplinarity; instead they make often unwarranted assumptions. Of course, concepts born in one field may sometimes freely travel to another. But I’ve noticed a disturbing lack of discernment about what belongs where and why, when it comes to the topic of evolution as a science and as an ideology called ‘evolutionism.’

Can we speak of ‘non-evolutionary’ processes or origins? Yes, I believe we can. The key is this: evolution is a type of change, but change is not a type of evolution. Change is the master category. Evolution is a second-tier category philosophically speaking, when it comes to peoples’ sense of life, their emotions, goals, hopes and dreams. Yet many people are uninterested in philosophy nowadays, which also contributes to the evolutionary monopoly over ‘change.’

So, what do we call non-evolutionary types of change that involve human beings? Here is a game-changing answer: Call it ‘human extension.’ In the fields where opposition to universal evolutionary ideology is most ripe, a solution is found that can push the evolutionistic jack-in-the-box back to where it belongs. It’s time to start the conversation again; now that the Darwinistic jack has sung its song.

Human extension is an approach built for The Matrix (film) generation and the information-electronic age. It acknowledges extension cords, extension services and the extension of contracts and phones. These are not mere ‘evolutions.’ We live our lives knowing that nuclear holocaust is an ever-present real possibility, not just a warning that our parents faced in their youths. Catastrophe or flourishing ‘extends’ from decisions people make to actively change the world for better or for worse.

Those who would oppose ‘human extension’ will expose their dedication to a worldview that denies free will and tries to exhaust the creative power of human choice. Those who would embrace it will discover a way to overcome the controversy surrounding evolution as science, philosophy and/or as (a)theology. The most important thing is to open up dialogue space that has not been possible with the antinomy between ‘evolution’ and ‘creation’ or ‘intelligent design’ and its suggestive implications.

Human extension cuts across the divide between ‘theistic evolution’ or ‘evolutionary creationism,’ i.e. those who believe that the Creator God/Allah/YHWH mysteriously guides the processes of change-over-time that we observe ‘in nature,’ and ‘intelligent design’ advocates, who believe that ‘science’ can be said to ‘prove’ that ‘design’ is not just imaginary, but real ‘in nature.’ The focus on human extension shows how ‘design’ and ‘creativity’ are observable features of human growth, change and development, suggesting ‘evolution’ is destined to become an obsolete term outside of biology and other natural-physical sciences.

Human extension can change the discussion about ‘evolution’ and ‘creation’ in ways that move beyond the 20th century debates onto a new playing field. The solution to the puzzle of what ‘evolution’ means to people and how it is inevitably limited as an ideology is to be found in sociology.


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E-mail: gregorisandstrom@yahoo.com

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