04/04/2007 01:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Totalitarianism of Creationists

Creationists and scientists are looking at the same data--a planet full of living creatures of extraordinary complexity, coexisting in a biological and ecological system of even greater complexity. The creationist looks at all this and thinks it could only have come about as the conscious creation of a humanoid intelligence--some sort of über-authority--that it would be impossible for this sort of thing to evolve on its own.

Creationists don't believe in democracy--don't believe that a complex system can arise spontaneously, without a dictator. One wonders why they are so virulently anti-communist, since they share the same deep commitment to centralized power. Creationism says order cannot evolve from interaction among equals.

The great visionary Mary Parker Follett called democracy a form of self-creating coherence, and this tendency toward spontaneous integration by living things is fundamental in nature. It's also a deeply spiritual concept for many people, but anathema to most mainstream religions, which are, at their core, deeply authoritarian.

While creationists assume complexity can only be created by an intelligent authority, biological observation shows us that intelligence actually arises from complexity. Lewis Thomas points out, for example, that a single ant wandering about in aimless circles seems the height of stupidity. It's only when you're confronted with one of those long columns, running all the way from your garden into the house, up the stairs, into your cat's dish or honey jar and back again, that you can say intelligence is at work. But whose? There's no dictator ant. Alone every ant is as stupid as the next. Creationists seem to believe, not only in a dictator god, but in a micromanaging dictator god, who not only busies himself with the petty concerns of billions of humans, but also has to make sure the ants get to my cat's food dish.

One wonders why the concept of spontaneously evolving orderly systems, which we see everywhere in nature, is so frightening to creationists. They must feel awfully out of control in their personal lives.