I have read a lot of articles against intelligent design, written by scientists and science education lobbyists. Common to most articles is the claim that intelligent design is just a backdoor approach for religious fundamentalism that is aimed to close off scientific inquiry.1 Are ID proponents really anti-science, religious zealots who want to impede scientific advance?
The intelligent design movement is not any one unified group of individuals, but a diverse assortment of religious and non-religious groups that seek to answer the question, "Is there evidence of design in the universe?" Intelligent design, as it is currently defined does not seek to identify the designer. So, technically, I am not an ID proponent, since I am an old earth creationist who used to be an atheist. My studies in the 1970's convinced me that there was a Creator who made the universe and at least the first life forms on earth. Since that time, science has progressed a lot, and the evidence in support of an intelligent Creator has become more solidified.
Different ID proponents have different intentions. Most believe that scientists should be free to follow the evidence wherever it leads, including possible theological implications.
In discussing intelligent design with Phillip Johnson a few years ago, his strategy was to win the public opinion poll. He thought ID people should not fight about the age of the earth (i.e., translate as "not seek the truth"), but should remain united to promote the overall concept. When I suggested that we provide a testable ID model, he said that we should not acquiesce to the methods of the evolutionists. Needless to say, I, and most design proponents, do not believe that truth is irrelevant to the ID question. It is the "big tent" approach of some ID proponents that gives intelligent design a bad name.
Is ID Real or just "God of the gaps"?
The fact is that there is evidence to suggest that there is design in the laws and composition of the universe, and possibly in the biochemical pathways and molecular machines of living beings. Naturalistic materialism2 says that this evidence is really just "appearance of design," and not real design. Accordingly, the appearance of design is just a natural function of the human brain in looking for patterns. According to naturalistic materialism, this appearance of design will disappear as more evidence is revealed. In essence, all design arguments are of the "God of the gaps" variety. However, in several areas of research (e.g., design of the universe, origin of life, and genetics), the "gaps" are increasing as more evidence is uncovered.3 This fact suggests that the "gaps" are not really gaps, but actual evidence of design, since God of the gaps implies that the evidence should decrease the number of gaps as more evidence accumulates.
Is ID anti-science?
It is the increasing evidence for design that encourages ID proponents that they are on the right track. We certainly don't want to stop scientific investigation now that the evidence is accumulating in our favor. Most of us have a science background. In my case, molecular biology research is how I earn my living. We look forward to learn more about how God created the universe and life on earth. We have nothing to fear from science, so bring it on!
The red herring
The anti-intelligent design movement is concerned about where intelligent design will lead. The most vocal of their members are avowed atheists, who hate religion and wish to exterminate it altogether. Since the evidence is swinging against them, the are now resorting to emotional arguments to attempt to garner support against intelligent design. Michale Shermer says intelligent design proponents "have no interest in doing science at all."1 John Rennie says that intelligent design "would close off inquiry with nonanswers." Both statements are gross generalizations that do not apply to the vast majority of design proponents. These red herring arguments are designed to do one thing—get the reader to hate the "evil" intelligent design proponents. The anti-intelligent design movement is running scared, since their vision of a God-free world is collapsing all around them.
Intelligent design proponents are interested in science, and relish the idea of increasing scientific research into areas that address the question of whether there is evidence for design in the universe. For the most part, we are scientists who love our work. However, we don't appreciate the red herring argument suggesting that we want to stifle scientific inquiry and are only interested in the promulgation of religious belief. Jesus said we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. More science? Bring it on!
- God of the Gaps - Do All Christian Apologetics Fall Into This Kind of Argument?
- Book Review: Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design
- Book Review: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
- Why are Christians So Stupid? - Does the Bible Teach Blind Faith?
- Is God Real? Does Science Answer "Is There a God?"
- Evidence for the Fine Tuning of the Universe
- Extreme Fine Tuning - Dark Energy or the Cosmological Constant
- The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System
- Is the Chemical Origin of Life (Abiogenesis) a Realistic Scenario?
- Origin of Life Theories: Metabolism First vs. Replicator First Hypotheses
Intelligent Design 101 is a short, good introduction into the arguments for intelligent design theory from leaders in the field. If you have hesitated to buy one of the more specific books on intelligent design because of fear of getting lost in the technical discourse, this is a good way to get introduced to all the areas of discussion without getting bogged down in too many technical details. Once you have finished this book, you will be ready to take on some of the more detailed aspects of the theory, with an understanding of the basic concepts and issues. More...
Reasons To Believe's third in a series of books proposing a testable creation model takes on the origin and design of the universe. Previous books, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off and Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man, examined the origin of life on earth and the origin of mankind, respectively. Creation As Science develops a biblical creation model and compares the predictions of this model compared to a naturalistic model, young earth creationism, and theistic evolution. This biblical creation model is divided into four main areas, the origin of the universe, the origin of the Solar System, the history of life on earth, and the origin and history of mankind.
The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael Behe
Darwin's Black Box author Michael Behe takes on the limits of evolution through an examination of specific genetic examples. Behe finds that mutation and natural selection is capable of generating trivial examples of evolutionary change. Although he concludes that descent with modification has occurred throughout biological history, the molecular devices found throughout nature cannot be accounted for through natural selection and mutation. Behe's book claims to develop a framework for testing intelligent design by defining the principles by which Darwinian evolution can be distinguished from design.
- "Intelligent design creationists, by contrast, have
no interest in doing science at all." (Michael Shermer.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Ben Stein Launches a Science-free
Attack on Darwin. Scientific American April 9, 2008.)
"It's one of the many ironies of Expelled that Ben Stein says he wants this movie to free people to ask questions about science, but the ID theories he defends would close off inquiry with nonanswers." (John Rennie. Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed. Scientific American April 9, 2008.)
"A leading science education expert, testifying in a federal trial over the teaching of evolution in a York County school district, said yesterday that introducing intelligent design into the science classroom is "detrimental" to learning." (Amy Worden. Expert: Teaching Intelligent Design Impedes Learning. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.)
"Scientists must stop ignoring 'Intelligent Design'�religious prejudice disguised as intellectual freedom" (Pat Shipman. Being Stalked by Intelligent Design. American Scientist.)
- Materialism refers to the atheistic belief that only material things exist (e.g., there is no spiritual realm at all), and does not necessarily refer to the desire to acquire material goods.
- For specifics, please see God of the Gaps - Do All Christian Apologetics Fall Into This Kind of Argument?
- And He [Jesus] said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' (Matthew 22:37)
Today's New Reason to Believe
Integrating Science and Faith
- 01/26/2015 02:28 AM
Meaningful Purpose Leads to Improved Health
Why are you here? What purpose is there for you in this world? These kind of deep-seated philosophical questions often crop up as people approach and enter adulthood. When I was a child during the late ’60s and early ’70s, I heard stories of young adults’ attempts to “find themselves” amid California’s hippie culture. As … Continue reading
- 01/22/2015 02:53 AM
Did Neanderthals Make Art?
When it comes to art, there’s often no accounting for taste. Art critics and philosophers aren’t the only people who debate what is or isn’t art; anthropologists do as well. This debate has significant consequences for understanding the origin of art and, ultimately, the origin of humanity. Many anthropologists consider artistic expression a defining feature … Continue reading
- 01/19/2015 02:07 AM
The Oldest Art in the World
What is the value of art? The French Bohemians of the nineteenth century asserted that art’s true worth is found in the act of artistic expression: “Art for the sake of art.” There is something provocative about this idea. All human beings have the compulsion to create—to make art for its own sake. Perhaps we … Continue reading
- 01/15/2015 02:41 AM
Thank God for Icy Greenland
Did you know that if it were not for Greenland and all its ice we couldn’t be here? Our large population and high technology requires that we be living in between two ice ages in a 100,000-year ice age cycle at a time when the Sun is most stable and releasing the least amount of … Continue reading
- 01/12/2015 03:57 PM
Thank God for Hungry Hippos
On one of my ministry trips to Africa I observed hippopotamus footprints along the banks of a river. My guide told me that as soon as the Sun drops low in the sky all the hippos exit the river and spend the evening, night, and dawn hours foraging for food on the land. As soon … Continue reading
- 01/08/2015 02:19 AM
Gamma-Ray Burst Research Reveals Fine-tuning
According to many science fiction movies, life thrives throughout the universe. Star Wars recounts long-past battles in “a galaxy far, far away.” In Contact, Ellie Arroway travels through wormholes to Vega where she encounters aliens who have billions of years of history. More recently, Interstellar depicted the search for planets in remote galaxies that could … Continue reading
- 01/05/2015 02:13 AM
Evidence Indicates the Moon Is Made of Cheese
For centuries scientists have wrestled to explain the origin of the Moon. Popular theories include a giant impact event (in which a Mars-sized object collided with Earth and ejected debris formed the Moon), Earth rapidly spinning such that a part of the crust flew into space, Earth capturing a body floating from the solar system, … Continue reading
- 12/29/2014 02:02 AM
Challenge Your Mind in the New Year
When most people think about New Year’s resolutions things like diet and exercise usually come to mind. However, there is another important sphere of life that needs reflection and discipline—the mind. Undoubtedly, everyone can benefit as much from mental exercise and a healthy consumption of good books, as from physical exertion and good eating habits. … Continue reading
- 12/22/2014 02:47 AM
Celebrating Christmas with RTB
In his classic story A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens describes the Advent season as “a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time.” At RTB, Christmas certainly is a good time with plenty of homemade treats to share and a joyous annual party to anticipate. We are reminded constantly of God’s goodness to us in … Continue reading
- 12/18/2014 02:23 AM
The Wisdom of Biochemical Systems
New Year’s Day will soon be upon us. That means it’s time to come up with a few resolutions. Any commitment to lose weight won’t last long. Maybe, I’ll read through the book of Proverbs in 2015. More wisdom would be good. The advice Solomon imparts stemmed from his experience and time spent in careful … Continue reading
Last updated April 24, 2008