Although I am not an authority on “Intelligent Design,” due to a very strange mystery over 40 years ago, along with some very curious high school students, we discovered the “ID” concept before it was named “Intelligent Design.” In a collective act of brilliance, the students questioned the efficacy of the traditional educational model of “massive memorization of minutiae” and subsequent mental regurgitation. Instead, they envisioned a high school advanced biology curriculum that featured creative, critical and investigative thinking.
They named the Class “Biodesign” and dedicated it to “the illimitable freedom of the human mind.” Of course, this included exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. They discovered that he was a brilliantly creative biologist, however he was not a god and his theory had some major flaws.
After 40 years of exploring “biodesigns” I compiled some of the highlights in a book titled “Biodesign Out For a Walk.” Some readers have suggested that chapters 10 and 11 should be edited as a balanced curriculum addendum for high school biology classes. In the back of the book is a reference list of over 100 books that we used for guidance. Here are my top ten favorites.
1. “The Immense Journey,” by Loren Eiseley. This is one of the finest science books ever written. The book is about biology/anthropology/evolution; it is not a book about philosophy, religion or human spirituality, however all of those topics are understandably intertwined. Among the many awards Eiseley received was the Pierre Lecomte du Nouÿ award, presented to writers who described the overarching themes that unite science and religion.
2. “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin.” It is absolutely numbing that high school and university biology teachers almost universally ignore or obfuscate Darwin’s admission that he had no clue about human evolution.
3. “The Great Evolution Mystery” by Gordon Taylor. This is an excellent book and objectively approaches some remaining mysteries about evolution. He points out that Darwin’s Theory cannot explain “organs of extreme perfection”, like the human eye and brain.
4. “Alfred Russel Wallace; A rediscovered life.” Although this wasn’t published until after I retired, it is an excellent review of how Darwin and Wallace agreed and disagreed and corroborated many ideas that our students discovered. Wallace pointed out that Darwin had no explanation for the human “gifts” of musical, mathematical and artistic genius. They are not consistent with Mendel’s laws of genetics; therefore their origin remains a mystery.
5. “The Wilderness World of John Muir.” John Muir may be the greatest naturalist the world has known. This book was a huge part of the class, because many of the student revelations occurred in wilderness areas of Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Muir was the founder of the Sierra Club and regarded as “father” of the US National Parks Service. His life and work serve as a spiritual beacon for scores of millions of Nature enthusiasts. “From the dust of the earth, from the common elementary fund, the Creator has made Homo sapiens.” Does this involve “Intelligent Design”?
6. “Religions—Values and Peak Experiences“, by Abraham Maslow. Maslow, a noted psychologist, suggested that the study of human “spirituality” should be included in a “suitably enlarged” high school biology curriculum. He cited ways that, if done properly, the studies need not violate Constitutional laws separating Church and State.
7. “The Road Less traveled.” by Scott Peck. This book was on the NY Times best-seller’s list for over 10 years. Peck addressed the importance of balancing human physical, mental and spiritual components to achieve a harmonious life.
8. “Walden,” and “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.” by Henry Thoreau. Many students observed (as Eiseley warned) that many evolutionary scientists have distorted scientific evidence in order to support their agnostic or atheistic beliefs. However, their greatest concern was with Thoreau’s cautionary reflection:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
They understood his warning that materialism, scientism and soulless pursuits were potential threats to their spiritual growth.
9. “The Soul of The World.” This little book is one of the most beautiful books in my library. It includes some of Eric Lawton’s amazing photographs of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Each photo is matched with some of the most profound poetry and wisdom as well as marvels and wonders of our planet.
10. “As a Man Thinketh.” by James Allen. James Allen’s philosophy became possible when liberal Protestantism discarded the stern dogma that man is sinful by nature. Instead it suggested the optimistic belief in man’s innate goodness and divine rationality. This reversal of doctrine, according to William James (the father of American Psychology) was the “greatest revolution of the 19th Century.” It was part of a move toward reconciliation between science and religion following Darwin’s publication of “The Origin of Species.” Darwin himself, hinted at the change in belief in “The Decent of Man” where he wrote: “the highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.”
Although I have studied “Intelligent Designs” for over 40 years, I have more questions now than answers. This is not discouraging, however, because I am in the company of some of the great minds.
Meister Eckhart, 13th Century mystic, theologian, philosopher suggested: “The deepest secrets of life will not be discovered by science.”
Louis Thomas, author of, “Lives of a Cell,” suggested that a single cell is so complex that humans will not be able to fully comprehend or reproduce its functions.
Roger Sperry: Nobel Prize winner for pioneering “split-brain” brain research. He correctly pointed out that evolutionists have not explained the origin of human values, consciousness or free will. “Materialist science couldn’t cope with any of them, even in principle. It’s not just that they are difficult. They are in direct conflict with basis models. Science has had to renounce them—to deny their existence or say that they are beyond the domain of science.”
Albert Einstein wrote: “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of that or that element. I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.” (Intelligent Design)?
Loren Eiseley concluded “The Immense Journey:” “I do not think, if someone finally twists the key successfully in the tiniest and most humble house of life, that many of these questions will be answered, or that the dark forces which create lights in the deep sea and the living batteries in tropical swamps, or the dreaded cycles of parasites, or the most noble workings of the human brain, will be much if at all revealed. Rather, I would say that if “dead” matter has reared up this curious landscape of fiddling crickets, song sparrows, and wondering men, it must be plain even to the most devoted materialist that the matter of which he speaks contains amazing, if not dreadful powers, and may not impossibly be, as Hardy has suggested, ‘but one mask of many worn by the Great Face behind.’”