Spotted Horses: Real or a Figment of Someone’s Imagination? (Article based on book by Roddy Bullock)
When cavemen drew spotted horses, were they using artistic license, creating mythical figures, or drawing realistic representations of what was outside their caves? New DNA studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggest that the cavemen were engaged in artistic realism. That is, spotted horses actually were present in Southern France during the Stone Age.
But notice something. The scientists investigating the drawings never asked the question, “Were these depictions of spotted horses a result of water erosion over time, not due to human action, and thus not representing anything?” They did not. Rather, the scientists assumed that, because the drawings are complex and conform to a pre-existing pattern (spotted horses), they were intelligently designed. And thus, the research looking for DNA evidence of actual prehistoric spotted horses in Southern France continued.
It is worth considering whether the cave painting situation might be analogous to what is observed in biological systems. Most of the scientific community assumes that non-intelligent, non-teleological processes led to the complex codes present in DNA, which Bill Gates described as “like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” But, intelligent design advocates suggest that it is more logical to acknowledge that extreme complexity, when combined with specificity, might indicate design.
Roddy Bullock, the author of a very readable book, The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science, seems to agree. Mr. Bullock is a patent lawyer who analyzes scientific data, weighs evidence, and thinks logically for a living. In his story, Jenny’s fifth grade class takes a field trip where they are shown the natural wonders found in a local cave: stalactites, stalagmites, and–cave paintings. The twist in the story is that the university professor leading the trip insists that the paintings are only “apparent paintings,” that is, created by natural processes, not painted by a painter. This claim is eerily similar to what is espoused by Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, and other neo-Darwinists: living creatures only exhibit “apparent design.” Jenny’s efforts throughout her high school and college career to enlighten the professor and others to the possibility that there may be another way to look at things, and the response of the “experts,” is reminiscent of what is going on in science today.
However, dogmatism and slavish adherence to consensus opinions do not advance good science, based on impartial evaluation of evidence. Bullock, like those who would like to silence him (and Jenny), definitely has a particular bias, but his book gives much food for thought. Sign up to donate $20/month to AITSE, get a FREE copy of The Cave Painting, read it, and let us know what you think!