Re: What does ID mean?

William B. Provine (
Sun, 19 Apr 1998 12:19:22 +0100

Dear Bob,

No evolutionist I know argues that life came or evolves by chance. Nor any
cosmologist argues that the universe evolved by chance. Indeed, such organic or
physical evolution by chance would be ludicrous and if the choice were "chance"
and "design," I would pick "design" anyday.

The real choice is between "chance and determinism" and "design." Because
mutations do not occur by chance (their effect might be chancy with regard to
adaptive value), nor chromosomes separate by chance in the evolution of sexual
breeding animals, etc, chance plays a generally small role in the evolution of
animals and plants. You might want to call the visitation of a large bolide from
space as "chance." But of course that too is governed by known deterministic
properties. At the quantum level, some processes may very well be described as
"chance." I don't really know but quantum mechanical determinancy has been pretty
well damped out by 3 and one half billion years of organic evolution.

So to describe evolution as governed by "chance" is truly wrong, and the
juxtaposition of "chance" and "design" is a guaranteed winner for design, since
the governance by chance is nonsensical.

Chance and necessity (a typical word for determinism) taken together in their
natural proportions is a much stronger choice to me than "design" of any kind. And

at the present time in modern science, chance and necessity is the null
hypothesis. Religious though may disagree and say that "design" is their null
hypothesis. That may be, but modern science proceeds differently.

Warm wishes, Will