What Every Christian Should Know About Intelligent Design, Part 2

What Every Christian Should Know About Intelligent Design, Part 2

Genevieve Smith — Jan. 27, 2004

Review

(With some extra bits thrown in just for fun!)

Intelligent Design (“ID”) is a theory held out by those who call themselves “Design Theorists” to counter Darwinism. Darwinism is the theory based on Charles Darwin’s work. It relies on naturalism to function and is popularly called ‘evolution’. Naturalism — the idea that all we see has resulted from natural causes as opposed to supernatural causes — is the doctrine of origins that design theorists are trying to fight. However, design theorists don’t wholly disagree with natural causes. Their main concern is with the total ban on or exclusion of intelligent causes by the Darwinists. ID says that the intelligent causes behind the universe are empirically detectable, meaning that if a person uses certain methods, they will be able to reliably ascertain whether something has come about from intelligent causes or from natural causes.

What ID does not do is identify who or what the intelligent cause is and what implications that may have for us. Design theorists say that a belief in the supernatural is not necessary in order to believe in ID.1 They don’t rule out the possibility that the intelligent causes could be non-supernatural causes.1 Design theorists like to separate themselves from theistic evolution (and rightly so, as it is a terribly flawed idea), from the idea that ID is religious (I maintain that all ideas are religious) and from the creation science movement. They believe that the creation science movement is dead (this is the movement which includes folks like Dr Henry Morris, Duane Gish and Ken Ham) and that it is not intellectually respectable. Design theorists have been heard to describe creation scientists as redneck, Bible-thumping simpletons,2 cultural pariahs,3 and unsavoury associates.3

Introduction

Within the ID movement I’ve been able to identify three main groups: the first group, desiring to accrue to themselves intellectual respectability, want Darwinists to admit that intelligent causes could be the answer for some or all of what we see in the world. They deny wanting to use ID as a ploy to cajole people into the Kingdom of God and neither do they have aspirations to see it taught in the schoolroom. This group is at the helm and is leading the movement. It is characterised by the likes of William Dembski and Origins.org. The second group wants desperately to see ID in the schoolroom. They want it to be taught as a positive alternative to Darwinism and, I suppose, an alternative that doesn’t close the door on there being some kind of purpose in life for us all. This group also denies that ID is a Christian theory or that the implications of ID point people to the Scripture. Those involved in this second group would be the likes of the Intelligent Design Network.4 The third group is the grassroots of the movement. These people are not the intellectual greats in the universities or those involved in education but are your average Joe-Christians who think they can use some of the design arguments to lure people to Christ or at least get them thinking. Their primary objective is evangelism.

Through these articles on ID, I hope to show:

  1. that the aim of the first two groups of design theorists of currying intellectual respectability from secular society’s academic elite is not worthy of a follower of Christ; and,
  2. that ID is faulty as a tool for evangelism. (I’d also like to critique the idea of teaching ID on an equal platform with Darwinism in the state classroom, but I don’t think I’ll have room. For those of us homeschooling, though, it is a non-issue.)

ID Speaks for Itself

Quote one

“ID has no liturgy or form of public worship, no clergy or people ordained for religious service, no observance or religious holidays, no sacred text, and no churches or other religious institutions. Intelligent design, unlike religion, takes no position on the existence of God or gods, does not require belief in God or gods, takes no position on any theory of morality or code of ethics, presents no opinion as to an afterlife, and holds no opinion on the ultimate meaning of life or the universe.

“Additionally, intelligent design does not teach that the universe was created by God, that the universe was created suddenly out of nothing, that the earth’s geology can be explained primarily by the occurrence of a world-wide flood, or that the earth is old, or young.”1

Quote two

“The [ID] movement is not focused on proving the Genesis account or any other religious precept or doctrine. It has no sacred texts or doctrines. Its primary focus is to remove the scientific censorship of the evidence of design so that origins research can proceed without religious or philosophic bias.”5

Quote three

“Nowhere do I see that [the ID movement] is attributing creation to a deity.”6

Quote four

“Human actions are a case in point: ‘Just as humans do not perform miracles every times they act as intelligent agents, so there is no reason to assume that for a designer to act as an intelligent agent requires a violation of natural laws.’”7

Quote five

“[The ID movement] is more consistent with the scientific data [than Darwinism] and, importantly, is not driven by any prior philosophical commitments…Adherents to [ID] are no more compelled to embrace a specific deity than Darwinists are to deny one…[The ID movement] sets no a priori boundaries to the possible explanations for the existence of life and the universe.”8

Quote six

“ID presupposes neither a creator nor miracles. It detects intelligence without speculating about the nature of the intelligence. ID is compatible with everything from the starkest creationism (ie God intervening at every point to create new species) to the most subtle and far-ranging evolution (ie God seamlessly melding all organisms together in a great tree of life)…If you’re a Christian, what is the theological payoff of ID? It is important to realise that ID is not an apologetic ploy to cajole people into God’s Kingdom. ID is a scientific research program.”9

Quote seven

“Design is not young earth creationism. This is not to say that there are no young earth creationists who are also design theorists…but…design theorists are willing tacitly to accept the standard scientific dates for the origin of the earth and the origin of the universe (4-5 billion years and 10-20 billion years) and reason from there…The design theorists critique of Darwinism in no way hinges on the Genesis account of creation…There is nothing in design theory that requires a narrow hermeneutic for interpreting scripture. Indeed, design theory makes neither an explicit nor an implicit appeal to Scripture.”10

Quote eight

“Ask any leader in the design movement whether ID is stealth creationism, and they’ll deny it. All of us agree that ID is a much broader scientific program and intellectual project… The boundaries of ID are not limited to theism. I personally have found an enthusiastic reception for my ideas not only among traditional theists like Jews, Christians and Muslims, but also among pantheists, New-Agers, and agnostics who don’t hold their agnosticism dogmatically. Indeed, proponents of ID are willing to sit across the table from anyone willing to have us. That willingness, however, means that some of the people at the table with us will also be young earth creationists. Adversaries as well as supporters of my work constantly point to my unsavoury associates [and ask me to distance myself from their disreputable company].”3

ID Is Not a Christian Movement

Referring to quotes one and two above; it is plain that design theorists have taken great pains to ensure it is understood that ID is not a Christian movement. The comments made in the two quotes point to ID being Godless and completely unbiblical. Now refer to quote eight. New-Agers and the like have enthusiastically received ID. My question is, in joining the ID movement, are they (New Agers, etc.) compromising their intellectual position by coming onto Christian turf, or are we compromising our Christian intellectual position by adopting a thoroughly secular position and then trying to argue our case using secular presuppositions? ID is not a neutral position: it is a secular position. When Christians adopt the ID parametres, we are dropping our unique, Biblical weapons and going into the debate unarmed.

ID Is Intellectually Dishonest and Thoroughly Secular

In quote five, it states that ID is not driven by any prior philosophical commitments. But this is nonsense. The fact that they strenuously separate themselves from the creation science movement shows conclusively that they are driven by very strong although not very clear philosophical commitments.

Now Dembski has said that “ID presupposes neither a creator not miracles.”9 So let us look at this for a moment. He has also explained in his articles the problem for design theorists in deciding whether something has been designed or not. If it has been designed, that would indicate a designer; but if it hasn’t, then it must come from natural causes. But how to discover whether something has been designed? Having to dwell on questions such as these is a backward step for Christians and for science. God has already revealed in the Scriptures that all things are designed: by Him. As a result we should be streaks ahead in our science.

Referring to the quotes again shows that the ID movement gives no framework for the nature of the intelligence. It refuses to say whether it is natural or supernatural, male or female, one or many. Once ID acknowledges the presence of intelligence, it fails to answer the questions, “Who is the intelligence and who am I in relation to it?”

ID appears to require one to leave his religious faith at the door to the science lab. One cannot consciously do this with the true Christian faith and remain a Christian. To deny God in the lab is to cut the lab off from reality. Being separated from reality is a definition of insanity.

To go along with all this, design theorists must be simpletons, or they are deceived or deceivers. Whichever it is, Christians would be well advised to stay far away.

ID Is a Faulty Tool for Evangelism

An effective tool for evangelism will lead us to the God of the Bible, show us our sin and misery and convict us of our need for the Saviour. ID does not and will not do any of this. And in fact, design theorists don’t want ID used as an evangelistic tool (refer again to quote six). Christianity is unique. Design theorists do all they can to deny that the ID movement could point to a unique God, a unique Saviour. Instead, they are happy that ID attracts pantheists and New-Agers (refer to quote eight). The design theorists themselves make the ID movement unusable as an evangelistic tool by thinking Christian evangelicals.

Conclusion

Intelligent Design is not Christian, is anti-creation science and is unbiblical. Within the theory is a refusal to examine the issue of who God is and who one is in relation to God. And, since ID does not identify our God and Father in heaven as the Creator of the universe, it fails to give glory to God. This is a big problem since glorying God is our purpose here on earth.11 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

About the Author: Genevieve 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.” Genevieve Smith works for the Home Education Foundation and is active in importing books to sell in New Zealand on Christian living. She may be contacted at: 4 Tawa Street, Palmerston North, New Zealand, or .

1. Ernest H Richardson Pratt, “Is Intelligent Design A Religion?”, www.intelligentdesignnetwork.com, p. 1.

2. John H Calvert & William S Harris, “Ending the War Between Science and Religion”, www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org, p. 1.

3. William A Dembski, “Intelligent Design Coming Clean”, http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_idcomingclean.htm, p. 2.

4. www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org

5. John H Calvert, William S Harris & Jody F Sjogren, “A Rebuttal to ‘Intelligent Design the New Stealth Creationism’”, www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org, p. 2.

6. Marcus L Scarbrough, “As I See It: An Open Mind Reveals We Are Not Here By Chance”, www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org, p. 1.

7. “But Doesn’t Intelligent Design Refer to Something Supernatural?”, www.arn.org, p. 1.

8. William S Harris, “Darwin or Design?”, www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org, p. 1.

9. William A Dembski, “The Intelligent Design Movement”, www.origins.org, p. 3.

10. William A Dembski, “What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution and Design.”, www.origins.org/articles/dembski_theologn.html.

11. Westminster Shorter Catechism, Psalm 86v9; Isaiah 60v21; Romans 11v36; 1 Corinthians 6v20 & 10v31; Revelations 4v11.