Uncovering the Intelligent Design Movement

[The following is an article I wrote on the Intelligent Design movement for an apologetics class I took a year and a half ago.]

There is a movement in the science world today that is gaining much attention and press. Intelligent Design (hereafter referred to as ID) has an appealing name to those of us who believe the Bible is God’s Word and take Genesis as a literal historical account. Yet, many of us don’t really know much about it other than what we hear from the secular media. What should we know about ID? Is it just a new name for Biblical creationism? In this article I’d like to give you a brief overview of the good and bad aspects of this movement and how we, as Bible-believing Christians, should view and act towards it.

The Discovery Institute, a home for the ID movement, describes ID as such – “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.[1] ID proponents are challenging the theory of neo-Darwinism and naturalism that has a firm hold in all fields of scientific inquiry. They use many solid scientific arguments that dispute the theory of evolution in biology. This is great because these philosophies and theories stand in direct opposition to the Bible. They can see the problems with biological evolution and thus suggest that there is a designer. They are working to get the weaknesses and issues with the evolutionary theory taught alongside evolution in schools.[2] This is important because evolution is taught as fact and any challenges to it are looked upon as silly and unscientific.

While there are some good aspects to the ID movement, it also has some serious problems. ID is really only concerned with biological evolution. They can see the issues of naturalism in biology but they are blind to its effects in other areas such as geology and astronomy. They do not believe evolution and design are totally incompatible. So while they support showing the weaknesses of the evolutionary theory, they wouldn’t show (or even believe) it’s weaknesses in all areas of science. In a quote from the IDEA[3] Center’s article - “It should be noted that although ID and evolution are compatible on the general level (i.e. life could be the result of both evolution AND Intelligent Design), on the specific case-by-case level, intelligent design is NOT compatible by evolution.[4] The vast majority of ID proponents believe in certain parts of evolution as attested to by Michael Behe, a leading proponent of ID – “For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it.[5] This should be a cause of concern for us as billions of years and common descent go against the clear teaching of the Bible. Not only do they believe in some aspects of evolution, but they also believe that only some things were designed. So, it is absolutely not true that ID claims that ‘everything is designed’. Indeed, a main purpose of ID is exactly to find ways to reasonably distinguish between what is designed and what is not.[6] This yet again goes against the clear teaching of Scripture that God has created everything, thus everything has been designed. John 1:3 states “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.[7]

The ID movement wishes to argue for design by science alone, leaving all religion out. They refuse to mention the Bible in their discussions. In a quote from the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture – “Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text.[8] They start with the universe instead of the Bible and abandon the authority of the Scriptures. This is a very dangerous place to stand. As Christians, we know that the Bible is our ultimate authority. The Bible tells us about God who is the true Designer, and how the world came to be. To abandon Scripture is to abandon truth and instead point people to a half-truth, which in the end is nothing more than a lie. If we truly believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, why would we not use it in our discussions on science and origins?

Yet ID is very adamant about not telling the identity of the designer they purport to believe in. Because they do not identify their “designer”, you are left to your own resources to discover the designer for yourself. Now that designer can be anything to anybody as Michael Behe puts it – “While I argue for design, the question of the identity of the designer is left open. Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel--fallen or not; Plato's demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being. … Nonetheless, as regards the identity of the designer, modern ID theory happily echoes Isaac Newton's phrase hypothesis non fingo.[9][10] By not claiming the “designer” to be Creator God, they purposefully allow people to believe in false religions and ideologies without doing a thing to show them the truth. They also refuse to take the opportunity, not only to point people to God, but also to salvation through Christ. That is a very sad and serious thing to take into consideration as Romans 1:21 states – “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

It is argued that while ID is certainly lacking in some areas, many people will come to faith in God by seeing that there is design in nature. Could it lead there eventually for some people? I think it could for a few. However, just telling people there is a “designer” isn’t enough to bring them to salvation. Just looking at science doesn’t tell you about sin and redemption through the cross. Consider this quote from an article by Henry Morris – “The famous book, Natural Theology, written two centuries ago by William Paley, profoundly impressed Charles Darwin with the evidence of design in nature. But it didn't lead him to Christ. Instead, he embarked on a lifelong quest to find an alternative to the Christian God as an explanation of apparent design.[11] If you abandon the Bible and it’s Designer, you have no place to go to point people to the true hope found in Jesus Christ. And because people are sinful, fallen creatures they won’t naturally resort to the God of the Bible.

I believe ID’s weaknesses are such that we should not blanketly support the movement. We can use ID’s scientific research[12] to support the True Designer and point people to Him. They are another voice speaking out, in part, against the stronghold of evolution. Yet their failures in important areas are very serious problems for Bible believing Christians. They don’t fully deny evolution. They sadly refuse to point people to the Truth. Romans 1:28 says “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, They are not “religion-neutral” as they might lead people to believe. By purposefully and unashamedly not pointing people to the truth of the Bible and God, they then support every false religion people may come to believe. Because they abandon the Truth, ID is really just another way to view the world apart from God. Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’” (Psalm 2:1-3) As Henry Morris said “If the ID system has to be so diluted as to be acceptable to any religion or philosophy except raw atheism, then why bother?[13] If we support the movement, we support the erroneous views they hold and God is not glorified through that. Ultimately, ID will fail because it does not honor and glorify God. “There is no wisdom and no understanding, and no counsel against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)

[1] www.discovery.org/csc/topQuestions.php ; “What is the theory of intelligent design?”

[3] Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center

[4] http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1153 ; “Does intelligent design completely reject Darwinian evolution?”

[5] Darwin’s Black Box, pg. 5

[7] All Bible references are NASB

[8] http://www.discovery.org/csc/topQuestions.php; “Is intelligent design theory the same as creationism?”

[9] “Hypothesis non fingo” is Latin for “I frame no hypothesis”

[10] Michael Behe, "The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis," Philosophia Christi, Series 2, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2001), pg. 165

[12] “We do heartily commend the Intelligent Design scientists for the brilliant new arguments and evidences they have added to the traditional case for Intelligent Design.” Henry Morris in the article “Intelligent Design and/or Scientific Creationism” http://www.icr.org/article/intelligent-design-or-scientific-creationism/


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