The View From 1776

George Gilder on Intelligent Design

Information-technology guru George Gilder explains why Darwinian materialism is an unsatisfactory paradigm of the world.

Barton Bennett drew my attention to a Jerusalem Post interview with Mr. Gilder that is published on the Discovery Institute website.

A few excerpts:

Darwinism is a materialist theory, according to which ideas are mere epiphenomena of material forces. Indeed, Darwin did not understand genetics. He actually imagined that inheritance was conveyed by chemical reactions ? that the chemicals blended between the two parents in some way. In information theory, which is really the basis of most of my own analyses, chemical blending can?t carry information. The key rule in information theory is that it takes a low entropy ? a predictable carrier ? to bear a high-entropy message. Now, even DNA can?t explain the larger question [of the meaning of life on earth]. Because, for example, we share a very high percentage of our DNA with the tulip and the garden slug.

As for ?survival of the fittest? ? random mutations and natural selection ? it, too, explains very little. What random mutations and natural selection can explain is the way bacteria adjust or respond to antibiotics. This is a demonstrable case which can actually be studied. What it shows is that bacteria change, but do not improve. And if a bacterium happens to change, it does so in a way that nullifies the effect of a certain antibiotic. Then it multiplies, according to the rules of natural selection, and you get a bacterium with that change. But that bacterium doesn?t evolve into some more complex, multicellular creature.


I said that intelligent design allows the possibility of God. It doesn?t specify God, or dictate God, define or put God in a box, but it does show that the universe is hierarchical. And hierarchy points to a summit. The summit remains enclosed in fog, but this doesn?t exclude the possibility that behind the fog is a divinity that we, through our faith, might worship. The hierarchy itself orients us to aspire and to aim for higher levels of being, consciousness, complexity and intelligence, rather than seek to follow our animal natures down into a pit of futility and degradation…. A belief in God is essentially a belief that good will prevail, rather than entropy and futility and evil, which is the message of much of 20th-century literature and art.


The greater good [contemporary writers and artists] proclaim is pleasure ? that the pursuit of pleasure yields pleasure and therefore is good. I believe that pleasure is an epiphenomenon of the pursuit of good, rather than being something that can be directly pursued by the indulgence of your appetites.


I?m a religious person. So are the Darwinians religious people: They believe in an anti-religion of materialism that liberates them to pursue pleasure any way they wish. It?s the highest purpose of their existence. They thus believe in a random, futilitarian universe where ? if they?re existentialists ? they might imagine that occasionally a heroic human being could assert some purpose above the froth of randomness, but in general, we?re all doomed to decay and destruction. That?s pretty much the philosophy, and it?s debauched a whole century of intellect. I think we?re going to transcend it in the 21st century.

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