Ben Carson on Evolution and Intelligent Design - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Ben Carson on Evolution and Intelligent Design

As illustrated by one of the clips shown at the beginning of Bill O’Reilly’s October 12 interview with Ben Carson, Carson’s views on evolution and intelligent design will be a major target for the mainstream press during this presidential campaign, especially if his popularity continues in ascent. (For readers who are not sure what “intelligent design” (ID) is all about, I recommend a short introductory piece I wrote for Human Events in 2013.)

The most detailed exposition of Dr. Carson’s views on this topic that I can find are in a 10 minute interview done by Discovery Institute, the leading think tank on intelligent design, in 2013 (here is the audio). While Discovery’s David Klinghoffer takes issue with Carson on a few points in this recent article, Klinghoffer concludes: “Might we have put some of that a little differently if we had the time and opportunity to compose a written response?… Sure, but for a casual chat with an interviewer, that’s not bad.”

In the interview, Dr. Carson is asked how he felt about the letter signed by 500 faculty and students at Emory University protesting his invitation to deliver the commencement speech there in 2012 because of his views on evolution. He replies, “I just felt that some people tend to be extraordinarily closed-minded, and cannot consider that anything other than what they believe is true.” Later in the interview, though, Carson’s trademark politeness comes out as he emphasizes how he tries to be respectful of those who disagree with him on this topic, even when they are not very respectful of his views. Carson also discusses how his familiarity with the human brain as a neurosurgeon influenced his rejection of Darwinism as an adequate explanation for the incredible complexity of life.

In the interview, Dr. Carson critiques the major argument for evolution:

The evolutionists look at the similarities that you see in the various life forms and they say, because this creature and this creature share the same type of digestive system or the same type of structures in their head, that clearly one evolved from the other. I don’t know how clear that is. Because if you have an intelligent designer, why wouldn’t he use a basic structure, that works, on multiple different creatures, just like an automobile manufacturer. General Motors — same basic chassis for Chevrolet, a Buick, a Pontiac, or a Cadillac. And yet they’re all different and one did not evolve from the other. And why would you have to go and completely change the motor, the chassis, and all the other infrastructure because you’re creating a different model. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

While he will no doubt be ridiculed for this analogy, I made a similar analogy in a 2000 Mathematical Intelligencer article “A Mathematician’s View of Evolution,” comparing the evolution of life as documented in the fossil record (“most taxa appear abruptly…gaps among known orders, classes and phyla are systematic and almost always large,” according to Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson) to the 20 year evolution of my partial differential equation solving computer program, PDE2D. I even used Carson’s evolution of automobiles analogy in a more recent article, “In Biology as in Technology, Similarities Do Not Prove the Absence of Intelligent Design.

Carson continues, to give the main argument against Darwinism:

And I think one of the most damning pieces of evidence against evolution is the human genome. You can see that you have a very complex, sophisticated coding mechanism — four different amino acids in various sequences that give you millions of different genetic instructions, very much like computer programming, which uses a series of zeros and ones, and different sequences but it gives you very specific information about what that computer is to do.

Well this is at least twice that complex because instead of just two digits we have four digits, repeating in different sequences but always resulting in the same things unless there is a mutation. And if there is a mutation it tends to lead toward degeneration rather than improvement.

Carson is making the same basic argument as made by many scientists at a 2011 Cornell University meeting, that natural causes degrade information, they never create it; see this 2014 Human Events story on the meeting: Biological Information: New Perspectives from Intelligent Design. The Discovery Institutemakes the same point in a powerful new video, “The Information Enigma.

While Carson’s views on evolution and intelligent design are certainly contrary to those of mainstream science, and look for the mainstream press to continue to attack him as ignorant on these topics, anyone who examines the links I have provided above (and others linked from them) will discover that Ben Carson is in good company, at least on the key issues.


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