Did Richard Dawkins just endorse Intelligent Design?
I know it sounds pretty far-fetched, but yes Richard Dawkins came as close as it matters to endorsing the position of Intelligent Design.
You’ll find it in an astonishing interview with Ben Stein in the remarkable film ‘Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed’. At the very end of the film, available on DVD from NPN video and Amazon, there is this exchange between Ben Stein, the American presenter, and Richard Dawkins:
Ben Stein: Well then who did create the heavens and the earth?
Prof Dawkins: Why do you use the word ‘who’? You see you immediately beg the question by using the word ‘who’.
Ben Stein: Well then how did it get created?
Prof Dawkins: Well, um, by a very slow process.
Ben Stein: Well how did it start?
Prof Dawkins: Nobody knows how it started. We know the kind of event that it must have been. We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life.
Ben Stein: And what was that?
Prof Dawkins: It was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule.
Ben Stein: Right and how did that happen?
Prof Dawkins: I’ve told you, we don’t know.
Ben Stein: So you have no idea how it started.
Prof Dawkins: No, no, nor has anyone.
Ben Stein: Nor has anyone else.
Ben Stein: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in Darwinian evolution.
Prof Dawkins: Well it could come about in the following way. It could be that, eh, at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very, very, high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Ehm, now, that is a possibility and an intriguing possibility and I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the um detail, details, of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.
Ben Stein: (voiceover, not part of interview) Wait a second, Richard Dawkins thought Intelligent Design might be a legitimate pursuit.
Prof Dawkins: Um..and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe
Ben Stein: But, but
Prof Dawkins: But that higher intelligence would itself have had to have come about by some explicable, or ultimately explicable process, he couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously, that’s the point.
Ben Stein: (voiceover) So Professor Dawkins was not against Intelligent Design, just certain types of Designers, such as God.
Well, there you have it – ‘if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer…and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe’. In a nutshell, that’s Intelligent Design.
And interesting that Stephen Meyer calls his defining work on Intelligent Design ‘Signature in the Cell’. That book proposes that the digitally-coded information in DNA is evidence of an intelligent mind.
Intelligent Design holds that certain features of the natural and living worlds show evidence of having been designed and are not the result of blind and purposeless forces as maintained by pure neo-Darwinism. No more, no less. It’s intriguing that Richard Dawkins seems to agree, even though he previously maintained that ‘biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose’.
I have long wanted to ask Richard Dawkins this question: ‘If you don’t know how life began, how can you possibly know it is not designed?’ Something illogical there I think.
And the above interview gives me another question for him: ‘If you accept that there may be evidence of a higher intelligence elsewhere in the universe, how can you possibly know that it must have come into existence by some kind of ‘Darwinian means’’?
Well of course he can’t and what you are observing is a Darwinian or atheistic worldview that is superimposed on the evidence. The evidence is fairly clear – perhaps clear enough for Richard Dawkins – that there is evidence of design in the universe from which we may infer the activity of a higher, perhaps a supreme intelligence.
The science of all this is clear enough. It’s the implications of it that cause so much debate.
So, Prof Dawkins, if, as you suggest, there may be evidence in the biochemistry of the cell of a higher intelligence, why not join the quest for more honesty in science? If there is a higher intelligence detectable by science, is it not important to know about it? Should the scientific consensus not recognise that the missing element in the science of origins is the evidence for, as you put it, ‘a higher intelligence’ or ‘designer’?
Dr Alastair Noble
Director Centre for Intelligent Design
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