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
- 03/30/2015 02:07 AM
Soft Tissue in Mollusk Fossils and the Case for a Young Earth
When it comes to science-faith discussions, the age of the earth is one of the most contentious topics among evangelicals and conservative Christians. Most of the scientific debate surrounding this issue centers on astronomy and geology, but young-earth creationists have recently turned to biology to make their case for a young earth. One prominent argument … Continue reading
- 03/26/2015 02:24 AM
How We Keep Our Eyes on Target
They say it’s harder to hit a moving target. The difficulty increases even more if the weapons platform is moving, too. Consider the tank chase scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indy manages to avoid the guns on a lumbering tank by never staying put. Unless on very flat and horizontal terrain, World … Continue reading
- 03/23/2015 02:42 AM
Does Science Make the Case for God, or Not? (Part 1 of 2)
Does science make the case for God, or not? It depends on whom you ask. Author and TV host Eric Metaxas argued the affirmative position in a recent (December 2014) Wall Street Journal piece.1 A month later in response to Metaxas’ article, the New Yorker published an opposite position2 from theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss. Rather … Continue reading
- 03/19/2015 02:40 AM
Blood Moons: An End-Times Sign? (Part 2 of 2)
Popular Bible preacher John Hagee has authored a book and produced a movie by the same name, Four Blood Moons (in theatres March 23 only). On the film’s website the San Antonio megachurch pastor states, “The heavens are ‘God’s billboard.’ He’s been sending signals to earth, and we haven’t been picking them up.” In part … Continue reading
- 03/16/2015 02:15 AM
Blood Moons: An End-Times Sign? (Part 1 of 2)
Four Blood Moons, a theatrical one-night event scheduled for March 23, 2015, and based on Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee’s New York Times bestseller of the same name, has garnered attention. I’m featured briefly in the film as a skeptic of Hagee’s central claim that a sequence of four total lunar eclipses signifies that “world … Continue reading
- 03/12/2015 02:10 AM
Twisted Evidence for Early Life
Anyone working on a home improvement project knows how important it is to have “the right tool for the right job.” This maxim also applies to science. Scientists need the right scientific tools if they ever hope to advance our understanding of the natural world. Perhaps no group of scientists has a greater need for … Continue reading
- 03/09/2015 02:56 AM
Early Life Was More Complex than We Thought
Is Genesis scientifically credible? According to the common narrative in our culture, scientific advance has rendered Genesis (and other creation accounts found in the Bible) untenable. Yet, if the Genesis creation “days” are viewed as long periods of time and the proper frame of reference is identified (Earth’s surface), remarkable agreement emerges between the Bible … Continue reading
- 03/05/2015 02:04 AM
Q&A: Were Dinosaurs Reptiles?
From Jerry in Los Angeles, CA I’m reading your book Navigating Genesis. On page 66 you say, “Given that dinosaurs were reptiles, not mammals…” Wait a minute! I thought it was shown decades ago that dinosaurs were not. They were warm blooded and some were feathered. I thought it was common knowledge that dinosaurs were not … Continue reading
- 03/02/2015 02:45 AM
Q&A: Could “Fresh” Dino Tissue Survive for Millions of Years?
From Nate in Fullerton, CA: Recently I’ve been referred by some young-earth creationist friends to a couple of articles about a Tyrannosaurus rex tooth and a Triceratops-type horn that both underwent an autopsy showing (relatively speaking) “fresher” organic material. Does this affect the time line for the existence of dinosaurs? I appreciate the thought put into this … Continue reading
- 02/26/2015 02:14 AM
Q&A: Are Dark Matter and Dark Energy Just “Props” for the Big Bang?
From Gavin: I always enjoy and profit by listening to RTB’s scholars discussing and interviewing others on various creation-science, theological-philosophical, and biblical topics. I am interested to hear what you have to say about the following. A commentator on a young-earth creation (YEC) website said, I am very impressed with the way YEC cosmologists have … Continue reading
Last updated April 24, 2008