by Jay Johansen | Aug 26, 2005
I recently saw two news stories appearing on the same day that on the surface were unrelated, but I was struck by a connection.
The first story was about the space shuttle. During the last shuttle launch, a piece of foam broke off the big external tank and struck the underside of the shuttle, causing some minor damage. A similar incident two years before resulted in another space shuttle, Columbia, burning up on re-entry, with the total destruction of the craft and the deaths of all on board. In 1986 a flaw in a rubber seal resulted in the destruction of the shuttle Challenger. So NASA was taking this seriously. They discovered that there was a piece of the filler material that goes between the insulation sticking two inches out from the bottom of the shuttle. They weren't sure if this would be a problem, but they weren't taking any chances: It had to be fixed. Two misplaced inches of a cloth-like material on a four and a half million pound, billion-dollar plus spacecraft, and it might be enough to result in the total failure and destruction of the vehicle.
The second story was about efforts to present Intelligent Design theory in schools. Intelligent Design says that living things are far too complex to have originated by chance: there must have been some intelligence behind it. (The implication is that this intelligence is probably connected to the idea of "God".) Evolutionists reject this idea as so ridiculous that it should not even be allowed to be mentioned in schools. They insist that life originated through the chance process of mutations.
Understand that "mutations" are random damage to genes, resulting in random changes in the creature's offspring. Evolutionists believe that this random damage sometimes results in improvements. They concede that all mutations actually observed have been harmful, but, they believe, every now and then a mutation results in an improvement.
When the shuttle was hit by a stray piece of foam, did NASA engineers speculate on how this might result in a design improvement to the vehicle, that it might now be more efficient or have a more sophisticated guidance system? Hardly. The only question was whether the damage would be minor and harmless, or fatal. And that clearly wasn't a paranoid fear: similar damage has already proven fatal twice. Do you believe that there is any possibility at all that such random changes would somehow make the shuttle better?
Even the simplest living creatures (with the possible exception of viruses) are more complex than the space shuttle. And yet we are expected to believe that living creatures can be improved by throwing cosmic rays and toxic chemicals at them. Sure. And I think that rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new car, I'll just throw rocks at my Chrysler until it turns into a Mercedes.
© 2005 by Jay Johansen