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
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Redundant Blood Supply to the Brain Shows Good Engineering
“Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Commander Jim Lovell’s famous, though often misquoted,1 words mark the epic struggle of the disabled Apollo 13 mission, called a “successful failure” because while the three-man crew never reached the Moon, they did return to Earth safe and sound. Following his now-iconic statement, Lovell described their situation to NASA’s ground … Continue reading
- 09/18/2014 02:41 AM
Four Essentials of Science Apologetics
One of our goals at Reasons to Believe is to equip Christians to defend their faith with “gentleness and respect” per 1 Peter 3:15. In our emotionally charged culture, making a persuasive case for something as controversial as Christianity is easier said than done—but it can be done. Such a case rests on sound arguments … Continue reading
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Are Humans Special?
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The Amazing Disappearing Hominid!
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- 09/08/2014 02:59 AM
Did Humans Cause the Global Extinctions of Mammals?
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- 09/04/2014 02:15 AM
Q&A: Did Petroleum Deposits Result from Inorganic Sources?
Ben in Missoula, MT While studying geoscience, I came across the theory of petroleum abiogenesis. From my understanding petroleum abiogenesis hypothesizes that petroleum deposits, although seen with biological organisms and lithified microorganisms, have an origin primarily from non-organic sources deep within the earth. This clearly has significance to the public concern of running out of … Continue reading
- 09/01/2014 02:55 AM
Q&A: Does the Moon’s Shallow Dust Layer Support a Young-Earth Model?
From Nathan in Newry, Northern Ireland A young-earth creationist pastor at one of the churches I regularly attend attacked my scientific viewpoint in one of his sermons. He said that NASA scientists tried to aim Apollo 11 so that it landed on the side of the crater because the scientists were scared that the lunar … Continue reading
- 08/28/2014 02:05 AM
Q&A: How Did Human Disease Originate?
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- 08/25/2014 02:01 AM
Is Forgiving-and-Forgetting Good for You?
Have you ever felt that things were just not right, that you were not at peace? Have you ever realized that perhaps a conflict with a friend or acquaintance had caused some ongoing hurt, and you had not yet done anything to repair that relationship? Or worse, you experienced a slow burning anger that wouldn’t … Continue reading
- 08/21/2014 02:02 AM
The Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way
How would the world look if you saw only gamma rays? Instead of the normal tapestry of colors, everything would appear rather uniform and mundane. Lifting your gaze upward would reveal an uneven glow with a bright band corresponding to the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. This largely unchanging picture—unaffected by day or night—of … Continue reading
Last updated April 24, 2008