Here is a textbook example of how to discuss what it means to “teach the controversy”. Casey Luskin does a great job of diffusing the “anything other than accepted Darwinist dogma is religious in nature!” argument that is rather common among the high priests of Darwinism.
A large amount of change in our cultivated plants, thus slowly and unconsciously accumulated, explains, as I believe, the well-known fact, that in a vast number of cases we cannot recognise, and therefore do not know, the wild parent-stocks of the plants which have been longest cultivated in our flower and kitchen gardens. If it has taken centuries or thousands of years to improve or modify most of our plants up to their present standard of usefulness to man, we can understand how it is that neither Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, nor any other region inhabited by quite uncivilised man, has afforded us a single plant worth culture. It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that given to the plants in countries anciently civilised.
In the first part of Darwin’s famous book it should be noted that Darwin understood selection in light of animal and plant breeders. And in the section above it is clear that Darwin thought that intelligent beings were the chief agents the selection of genetic traits. It is also worth noting that Darwin thought that purpose or intentionality, even if “slowly and unconsciously accumulated”, was a central part of his theory of natural selection.
So when modern proponents of Darwin’s theory like Richard Dawkins advocate Natural Selection as the alternative to blind chance on one hand and design on the other, it seems fair to question what real reason we have to conclude that the selecting is not done according to a definite design and by intelligent agent(s).
I recently ran across a two part article on Uncommon Descent which attempts to answer the question of what practical use intelligent design serves in our pursuit of scientific truth.
Part 1 opens up with a provocative and succinct statement that “Every science works as much from its limits as it does from its potentials.” John then goes on to outline a 5 point argument against the open-endedness presupposed in a pure Darwinian system:
In order for evolution to be open-ended (i.e. work in environments which it did not have in mind beforehand) it must be on a Universal system (a system which can be programmed open-endedly)
Universal systems are chaotic
Chaotic systems are characterized by chaotic mappings between input configuration and results
Natural selection assumes a fairly continuous mapping between input configuration and results
Therefore, evolution cannot be open-ended, because navigating such a chaotic mapping would require design, and not having such a chaotic system would violate the notion of being open-ended in #1 & #2.
He then goes on to outline how, according to Turing, logical constraints on the input and outputs of systems necessitate a closed, as opposed to open, system of biological development.
In the second part the logic surrounding software development is compared to the apparent biological system at work and we are presented a very compelling argument, again, necessitating a closed rather than open system.
It looks like ID can actually help us out a lot when deciding where to look for the next big scientific breakthrough. Perhaps there’s a reason after all why the pioneers of science came from a Judeo-Christian ethic. As the initial statement indicates, we would do well to examine the potential of any philosophy that lies behind our scientific inquiry.