What Every Christian Should Know About Intelligent Design

What Every Christian Should Know About Intelligent Design

G. E. Smith — Jan. 26, 2004

Introduction

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desire, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Within the last ten years a movement called Intelligent Design (ID) has sprung into the field of science and entwined itself into the creation/evolution debate. Its proponents (who like to be called “design theorists”) have attempted to formulate a fully scientific theory as a positive alternative to Darwinism. On the surface, their intentions seem credible, however the nature of their theory undermines the authority of Scripture and attacks the sovereignty of God. Design theorists are, in fact, not even creationists. For many reasons, it would appear that those at the helm of this movement are ashamed of the Gospel. As those who profess faith in Christ and rely on the authority of Scripture and the sovereignty of God, we Christians cannot be ashamed of the Gospel, but must stand on Genesis and shout with a mighty voice, “I believe, and this will I defend.”

Intelligent Design: on the surface

While evolution denies the existence of God, ID acknowledges that some sort of intelligence is necessary to explain much of what we see. Design theorists have put it this way: “Intelligent Design begins with the observation that intelligent causes can do things which undirected natural causes cannot.”1 One arena in which ID plays itself out is in the classroom. Some folks get really excited believing it to be a colossal victory for Christianity and/or creationism if ID can be taught in biology class alongside evolution. This cannot be so as ID is neither Christian nor creationist (see below).

Some of those favourably disposed towards ID have seen pieces of ID’s downsides. For example, they recognise that ID does not give a name to the intelligence, but they have been content to justify ID with one-liners such as, “We can’t always win the battle with the first step,” or “ID may not be perfect but it is progress.” However, ID does not view itself as a first step. And, the author would submit, if ID is progress, it is not progress for the Kingdom of God. It attacks the basic tenants of Christianity too much for that.

Many people who are favourable towards ID don’t get past the surface. The rest of this article will deal with what is underneath ID and the dangers inherent in this movement.

Design theorists are not creationists

So far from being creationists, design theorists are rabidly anti-creation. William A Dembski uses scathing words whenever he refers to six-consecutive-24-hour-creation-day creationism calling it “narrow”2 and insinuating that it is intellectually bankrupt. Dembski claims that “Intelligent Design is compatible with everything from the starkest creationism to the most subtle and far-ranging evolution,”3 while making it clear that a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is way too conservative to fit within his definition of ‘the starkest creationism.’ He has said, “Design is not young earth creationism.”4

Dr Hugh Ross, Ph.D., views creationism as negative. Believing that God created the universe and all that is in it in six, 24-hour periods is so repugnant to him that he has reinterpreted Genesis 1 and 2 and so contorted Scripture to fit within his evolutionary beliefs.5 His radical manoeuvring complete, he now is able to say with perfect impunity (from his point of view) that:

“Genesis offers this explanation for the survival of large animals: God repeatedly replaced extinct species with new ones. In most cases the new species were different from the previous ones because God was changing Earth’s geology, biodeposits, and biology, step by step, in preparation for His ultimate creation on Earth — the human race.”6

This idea that God was continuing to perform creative acts like this is not supported by Scripture and must be called for what it is — heresy.

In a nutshell, those design theorists who appear to be spearheading the ID movement are evolutionists. The faults they find with evolution (or to be precise, Darwinism) are:

“…[Darwinism is] hopelessly entangled with naturalism.”
“…Darwinism [is] an inadequate framework for biology.”7

“Design theorists’ beef is not with evolutionary change per se, but with the claim by Darwinists that all such change is driven by purely naturalistic processes which are devoid of purpose.”8 However, their ‘beef’ is based on scientific and philosophical grounds. They find no fault with evolution on Biblical grounds.

The authority of Scripture

Design theorists would find no fault with evolution on Biblical grounds for two reasons:

They believe theology and biology have nothing to say to one another, that the two realms are completely separate and shouldn’t be mixed. “The design theorists’ critique of Darwinism begins with Darwinism’s failure as an empirically adequate scientific theory, and not with its supposed incompatibility with some system of religious belief. Critiques of Darwinism by creationists have typically conflated science and theology. Design theorists will have none of this.”9 This is obviously contrary to Scripture and cannot be a part of a Biblically consistent Christian worldview. “There are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is the reality of God, which has become manifest in Christ in the reality of the world.”10 Scripture contains ramifications for the various areas of life such as ethics and biology and to continue in an area while ignoring those ramifications is to proceed blindly and in ignorance. “[The Apostle] Paul recognized that man cannot compartmentalize aspects of his life into boxes marked ‘sacred’ and ‘secular.’ He understood not only that Christianity was both a worldview and a religion, but also that all worldviews are religious by definition.”11 Thus evolution is part of a religious worldview as much as creation is a part the Christian worldview.

Science is more authoritative than Scripture in their minds. While one might have a hard time actually finding a design theorist who would say it like that, it is clear from other things they say and believe that at the base of their thinking is the fundamental belief that science is more intellectually respectable and therefore carries more weight.

Design theorists acknowledge that for our secular culture “the only universally valid form of knowledge…is science”12 and that “religion in particular is seen as making no universal claims that are obligatory across the board.”13 Instead of realising that these beliefs are humanist and not to be accepted by Christians, they seem content to operate within this context. This would certainly explain their desire to rid ID of any semblance of ‘religion’ and ensure it is recognised as a truly scientific theory.

From what I’ve read, it would appear to me that if there seemed to be a discrepancy between scientific data and Scripture that they would say the error was in Scripture so highly do they place science. Take for example the following quotes from Dembski:

“Some critiques of evolutionary theory are nothing more than religious. Thus to reject evolutionary theory simply because it conflicts with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 cannot constitute a scientific critique of evolutionary theory.”14

“It is one thing to hold as a faith commitment that an intelligence underlies the world, but then be unable to read the book of nature in a way that makes this intelligence evident. It is another thing to look at the world and find features in it that can be reliably correlated with intelligent agency. In the latter instance, attributing the world to an intelligent cause is no longer simply a faith commitment, but actually constitutes a scientific inference.”15

“The important question is whether there are good scientific reasons [not religious reasons] for thinking that an intelligent cause is at work in the universe.”16

What Dembski is saying implies that we need science in order to prove Scripture. Sola Scriptura is certainly not any part of his mantra. He appears to find or anticipates irregularities or contradictions between the ‘book of nature’ and Scripture and yields to science to straighten us out on which is really correct. These dangerous statements of his are made because he, like other design theorists, work from the world to Scripture not visa versa. Indeed, “Intelligent Design presupposes neither a creator nor miracles,”17 and this presupposition attacks directly the sovereignty of God.

The sovereignty of God

God is sovereign. He created all; He knows all; He foreordained all; and watches over His creation with care and love. Not a hair can fall from your head with out it being the will of our God and Father in heaven. We are not even to worry about simple, mundane things such as what we are to wear or eat as God has worked this out for us. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”18

With the sovereignty of God evident in every blade of grass and every turn of the seasons how can one look at creation, ignoring the voices of the rocks, which cry out the name of God, and presuppose that God does not exist? However, this is exactly what design theorists have done.

“Intelligent Design presupposes neither a creator nor miracles.”19

In the face of general and special revelation, design theorists fail to presuppose God. They claim that this move separates their theory from religion and makes it one of science. Well, we know that religion and science cannot be properly separated in this way. Your science will always be determined by your religion. Your religion biases you. It makes you interpret reality in a certain way. Scripture guides us to see reality as God created it. They also believe that denying the existence of God at the beginning gives them intellectual respectability. Let us think about this for a moment. If there is no God then there is no Designer, no design and therefore no meaning to the world. The end of this train of thought is a quagmire of chaos, confusion and despair. One will find oneself there with not even the tools to get one out. After all, once you say there is no meaning, then words, like everything else in the absence of God, don’t mean a thing. And when life has no meaning, the only option left is to end it. Does one wonder why so many products of the evolutionary school system commit suicide? They are just being consistent. Is this intellectually respectable? No, it is foolish.

The foolishness does not end there. When design theorists finally get to the point of acknowledging a form of intelligence they stop short of asking who is this intelligence and who am I in relation to it? The questions “Who is God?” and “Who am I in relation to God?” are of course fundamental to all of life. To continue doing research as a Scientist without resolving these issues is to proceed blindly.

“[Intelligent Design] detects intelligence without speculating about the nature of the intelligence.”20

Not only is this to proceed blindly, but it is to proceed with the sovereignty of God torn to shreds. In effect one is saying “The fact that there is a designer has no impact on the design and has no implications for what I’m about to do.” And “I can do anything without recourse to this intelligence.”

Friends, we cannot be led into this type of thinking. It is dangerous and its path leads straight to hell.

“For ever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth and it abides. They continue this day according to your ordinances.” Psalm 119v89–91

The intelligence is not (and cannot be) identified

The ‘intelligence’ cannot be identified and ID cannot be called Christian while design theorists fail in two points:

To presuppose God; and,
Once intelligence has been acknowledged, to ask who is God and who am I in relation to Him.

Since within ID the intelligence cannot be identified with the God of the Bible it fails to give glory to God. In fact, the intelligence could be anything and is not even limited to one intelligence. This is indicated in the way the design theorists talk. “Organisms are the product of an intelligence [emphasis added].”21 Dembski said this just like a Greek might say ‘a god’. We Christians of course would say ‘God’.

The big issue for design theorists is deciding what parts of nature are a result of intelligence and what is a result of natural processes. To think that any part of this world was the result of natural processes is to believe that parts of nature are unregulated by God or outside of God’s realm.22 Not only does this contradict the truth of God’s Word, it also posits a force bigger than God out there…and I guess you’d have to call this Mother Nature. Feminists should love ID. In fact, design theorists’ definition of the ‘starkest creationism’ is “God intervening at every point to create new species.”23 Either their use of the word ‘intervening’ was just a bad choice, or they really believe that a force greater than God exists. This force was in motion and God interfered by stepping in to do some creative acts. It has been put another way: “The many transitional forms seen in the fossil record suggest that God performed more than just a few creative acts here and there, letting natural evolution fill in the rest.”24 This reveals the name of their higher force: “natural evolution.” If you believe this about God then the god you believe in is not a sovereign god. This is blasphemy and heretical.

Let us put this aside for a moment and assume that it is necessary for us to decide what parts of nature are the result of intelligence and what parts are a result of natural processes. Design theorists say that we are able to know that something is caused by intelligence because of the presence of information. This information makes intelligence empirically detectable. Frankly, this sounds like us saying to God: We know you exist because of the presence of information. If we fail to find information, however, then we have to deny You. You, God, only exist because of information. We are back again at the point of having to say “this is blasphemy and heretical.” The fact is, God created the information. By His grace, He allows us to discover it. Are we to pervert His creation so much so as to turn it into a tool to prove (on our terms) or disprove His existance?

Comic

Evolutionists do have the corner on the market. Design theorists covet that corner. Yet they realise that it is God who stands in their way of achieving that corner. God is not palatable to the average intellectual. So they minimise God’s impact, effect, part and power when it comes to creation/the origin of the universe as they describe it. On the other hand, evolution has huge gaping flaws and the one thing that will reconcile them all is the idea of a designer and a design. So they have God without the consequences of God…but then do they really have God?

Men or Mice?

Seeking intellectual respectability and being a fashionably ‘all encompassing’ and ‘tolerant of all positions’ type of theory seems to hold more value for design theorists than pleasing God or obeying His word.

They will argue from nature that intelligence exists and yet, they will not argue from Scripture.

Oh, for shame.

Design theorists were on the right track for a moment when one asked hypothetically: “If you’re a Christian, what is the theological payoff of Intelligent Design.”25 They seem to recognise that something is lost in the gaining of ‘intellectual respectability’. But isn’t losing the authority of Scripture and sacrificing the sovereignty of God too high a price to pay?

My friends, there is too much at stake to be ashamed of Scripture: “If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”26

Are we men or are we mice? Do we have the courage and tenacity to hold to the truth of Scripture despite persecution and belittling from scholars and acadamians? Be encouraged, for “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”27 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”28

Realise that hardship is part and parcel of our pursuit of Godliness and thank God for the difficulties which enable Him to shape and mould you more like Christ. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”29 “Yes, and all who desire to lead a Godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”30

Conclusion

Intelligent Design is not Christian, is anti creationism and is unbiblical. It stems from a refusal to examine the issue of who God is and who one is in relation to God. Intelligent Design contains many of the characteristics of humanism and is not in the least bit glorifying to God. As Christians we must not compromise God’s truth. We can and must stand on the authority of Scripture. and follow Jesus example to speak with authority. We must maintain our belief in the Genesis account. Do not falter. Speak with conviction. God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them in six, 24-hour periods.

“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” 2 Timothy 3v13–14

Notes on the Author: G E Smith is a native born Palmerstonian. “I inherited my love of philosophy and debate from my father who homeschooled me. Most of my education consisted of my Dad discussing things with me. From history to religion and politics to economics — we discussed it all. When I came across the Intelligent Design movement I was horrified and became determined not to let anyone I knew accept the theory blindly.” G E Smith works for the Home Education Foundation and is active in importing books to sell in New Zealand on Christian living.

Contact the Author: G E Smith, 4 Tawa Street, Palmerston North, New Zealand
or

1 Quoted from page 2 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

2 Quoted from page 7 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution and Design.

3 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

4 Quoted from page 2 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution and Design.

5 Dr Ross distinguishes between organisms with a body size of less than one centimeter and those with a body size larger than one centimeter. He believes that mathematically evolution is only problematic for those organisms whose body size is larger than one centimeter.

6 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by Dr Hugh Ross, Ph.D. entitled Summary of Reasons to Believe.

7 Both quotes from page 2 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

8 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution and Design.

9 Quoted from page 5 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution and Design.

10 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3v16. For references relating to the authority and reliability of Scripture, refer to Isaiah 40v8, Matthew 5v18, 24v35, Mark 13v31, Luke 16v17, 21v33, Acts 1v1–3, 2 Peter 1v16, Rev 22v18–19.

11 Quoted from “Bonhoeffer, Dietrick,” by H Burtness in Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics, ed Carl F H Henry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), page 67.

12 Quoted from page 13 of “The Battle for Truth” by David A Noebel.

13 Quoted from page 10 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution and Design.

14 Quoted from page 4 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled Teaching Intelligent Design as Religion or Science?

15 Quoted from page 5 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled Teaching Intelligent Design as Religion or Science?

16 Quoted from page 5 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled Teaching Intelligent Design as Religion or Science?

17 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

18 Proverbs 16v33.

19 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

20 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

21 Quoted from page 1 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

22 “For design to be a fruitful scientific concept, scientists have to be sure they can reliably determine whether something is designed.” Quoted from page 2 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

23 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

24 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by Dr Hugh Ross, Ph.D. entitled Summary of Reasons to Believe.

25 Quoted from page 3 of an article taken from Origins.org website by William A Dembski, Ph.D. entitled The Intelligent Design Movement.

26 2 Tim2v12b. See also 2 Timothy 1v8–12 and 2 Timothy 2v15.

27 Matthew 5v10.

28 1 Corinthians 10v13.

29 2 Timothy 2v3.

30 2 Timothy 3v12.