What Is the Intelligent Design Movement?
Christianity and Science: Part 5 of 12
- Patient/doctor story: “What do you know?! Dead men bleed after all!”
- Assumptions can determine how we interpret evidence, shutting down certain possibilities.
- Controversy over Intelligent Design highlights this problem; points us back to our assumptions.
What Is Intelligent Design?
- 1960: The Genesis Flood launches young earth creationist movement
- Subsequent years: old earth creationism becomes a distinct movement (not Darwinian)
- YEC and OEC proponents spent much time/energy fighting each other; Darwinists watched.
- 1991: Philip Johnson publishes Darwin on Trial, launching Intelligent Design movement.
- New strategy: make minimal theological claims & unite in critique of Darwinism.
- Names associated with ID: Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, John Lennox etc.
- Natural features give evidence of design, implying involvement of an intelligent mind in nature.
- The identity of this mind is left open.
EXAMPLE ARGUMENTS OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
(1) Irreducible complexity
- Mousetrap has numerous interlocking parts, all of which are necessary to serve any purpose.
- Some biological features have the same kind of structure, only more complex.
- Human eye: cornea, pupil/iris, lens, retina, optic nerve, brain; all must work together.
- Evolution requires micro-changes that offer advantages; but how could the eye have evolved?
- The eye shows features of being designed for a specific purpose.
(2) Biological information
- Complexity of the cell is staggering; this was not known in Darwin’s day (Berlinski quote)
- DNA is encoded information; information implies intention/intelligence
- Can you think of any other example in which coded information is produced naturally?
- DNA appears to be designed for a specific purpose.
(3) Fine tuning
- Imagine dozens of radio dials, all of which have to be set precisely to get a signal.
- If all are set precisely, you would assume someone has done that meticulous work.
- Some ID proponents argue that the universe is like that: gravity, ratios, nuclear force, etc.
- Example: ice is less dense than water; freezes from the top down.
- The universe and earth seem to be designed for a specific purpose.
KEY CONCEPT OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
- Teleology: the natural world exhibits evidence of purposeful design.
- Darwinism rules this out of court; nature is always random.
- Scientific community has responded to ID by saying it’s not science.
Is Intelligent Design True Science?
WORLDVIEW AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE
- Worldview issue: personalism vs. impersonalism
- Reigning paradigm in science: impersonalism (religion must be sealed off)naturalism
- Is the impersonalist approach to science a “neutral” one? No. There is no neutrality.
- Why should teleology be part of science? For God’s glory: Rom 1:18-32; teleology in nature.
- Theistic evolutionists who see God’s wisdom revealed in nature are (thankfully!) inconsistent.
OBJECTION TO INTELLIGENT DESIGN AS SCIENCE
- Objection: ID is a “God-of-the-gaps” theory.
- But ID is not a claim built on ignorance; it is a rational conclusion drawn from evidence
- Example: Two archaeologists find a stone with symmetrical proportions, curved edges, tip
- One concludes: “It’s an arrowhead.” The other: “It must have been formed naturally.”
- One approach is clearly better, and it all depends on your assumption going in.
- The Darwinist has gaps too; he fills them with Darwinian imagination.
- “That rock could have been carved into that shape by erosive forces of water over time.”
- Punctuated equilibrium: a “Darwin-of-the-gaps” hypothesis to account for the fossil record.
- Evolutionary theory is helpful for understanding changes within different forms of life.
- But as an explanation for all species, it has serious problems.
- The main way it has dealt with those problems: “Anything else is not science!”
- But deciding what is/is not science is a philosophical question, not a scientific one.
- We must not approach science without asking bigger questions about what our assumptions are.