The God of Intelligent Design Theory is Not Intelligent Enough
Wanted: A More Intelligent Design
Unfortunately, proponents of "intelligent
design," set themselves up in opposition not only to the "theory of evolution,"
but to the spirit of scientific inquiry itself. In our day and time many millions,
perhaps the majority of Americans, believe that there is a war going on between
science and religion. And as President George Bush once put it, one must choose between one "side" or the other.
it is well understood within the world of science that evolutionary biology has
opened up vast, new fields of understanding, not only about the origins of life
of this planet, but about the factors that contribute to our thriving. Far from
being "just a theory," understanding of the elemental processes that have led
to the proliferation of life on this planet, including the structure of DNA that
undergirds it all, is a most wonderful blessing for all those who are truly interested
in promoting, protecting, and enhancing life itself. And this includes believers
and unbelievers alike.
Those who are truly "pro-life" will also be "pro-science"
whatever their religious convictions or lack thereof may be.
by its leading advocates "intelligent design," is offered as an "alternative"
to the science of evolutionary biology, and the principal argument marshaled in
its support is a thinly veiled appeal to ignorance. Because there are gaps in
the fossil record, because it is difficult to imagine how a process of random
variation could lead to such amazing things as human sight, because theories of
evolution have failed to answer every question that one might ask about the origins
of life, then there must be something beyond our understanding that explains it
all. Ergo, an intelligent "designer" who has intervened or continues
to intervene in the natural order to bring forth life in all of its mystery and
Why Must the Great Law Maker Be Seen as the Great Law Breaker?
all of this what emerges is a notion of a Designer who works to dismantle the
design that we see at work all around us, in us and through us, and a Creator
who is at war with Creation. Was God not capable of designing a universe in which
life could emerge in an orderly way, according to the rules and laws that the
Almighty established in the first place? Those of us who affirm both the discoveries
of science and a strong notion of a living God, have long concluded that the greatest
testimony to the intelligence of the Designer is this: that all that we see and
all that we know has emerged in such an orderly way that it can be understood,
and more deeply appreciated. And one of the ways in which the world can be understood
is through rational, scientific inquiry. To be sure, those who understand the
workings of human DNA or the molecular structure of the atom, can use that understanding
for good, or for ill. Atomic energy is both a blessing and a curse. Cloning can
be used in the treatment of illnesses, and in the reduction of life itself to
a commodity. The choices presented by our scientific discoveries are daunting
and sometimes frightening. And they drive many of us to seek a source of wisdom
beyond our present understanding.
The God of Intelligent Design Theory
is Not Intelligent Enough
Still, for those who appreciate both the insights
of science and the deep truths of religious tradition, the greatest evidence of
an intelligent designer is the intelligibility of nature itself. And the more
one appreciates the complexity and mystery of those natural processes in which
we live and move and have our being, the more wonderful the ways of God appear
to be. At the end of the day, "intelligent design theory," fails not
because there is no Designer, but because the God implied by such theories is
not intelligent enough. And the good news is this. We are blessed to live in a
world that is open to both our understanding and our praise. In such a world there
is room for seekers who do their work in the laboratories of science and those
who work the depths of the human soul. My hunch is that the deepest truths will
emerge as the scientifically inclined and the religiously inspired among us work
together to discover an even more intelligent design.
For further reading:
Christian Case For Evolution
As in the case of trying to prevent
students from seeing some movies, television shows, or websites, there is nothing
more likely to inspire interest in evolution than suggesting it is a dangerous,
tempting and forbidden topic – on a par, for example, with sex. But more important,
Christians should be encouraging the study of science in general, and evolutionary
biology in particular. Far from presenting a threat to faith, science can reinforce
and strengthen it. Here's why.
The online edition of Charles Henderson's book on the relationship
between religion and science
Design vs Evolution: A False Dichotomy Apparently the long standing
controversy over "creation science" has been upstaged by the newer confrontation
between advocates of "intelligent design" and evolution. President Bush brought
the authority of his office to bear upon the topic with his recent comment that
"intelligent design" should be taught "alongside" evolution
in public schools. "Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people
can understand what the debate is about," said the President. Those who frame
the conversation between science and religion as a debate or confrontation, have
it wrong. And the mistake can be costly to both science and religion. Here's why.
Ever wonder how it happens that a man condemned by the Catholic
Inquisition ends up having a monument raised in his honor in one of Italy's most
important cathedrals? In the story of Galileo's heresy trial, there are important
lessons for today concerning the relationship between science and faith.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.