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A More Intelligent Design
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.

Meanwhile, 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.

As presented 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 majesty.

Why Must the Great Law Maker Be Seen as the Great Law Breaker?

In 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:

A 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.

God and Science
The online edition of Charles Henderson's book on the relationship between religion and science

Intelligent 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.

Stem Cell Research: Are We Messing With Powers and Prerogatives of God?
The South Korean researcher who won world acclaim as the first scientist to clone a human embryo and extract stem cells recently resigned as director of a new research center, citing the ethical problems associated with his work. Some of the same issues were cited by President Bush in 2001 when he limited federal funding for such research. We look at the issues involved in the ongoing debate. Background: When Does Life Begin?

The Bible and Modern Science: Are They In Conflict?
Wisdom comes not in choosing the Bible over science, but rather to taking the insights of both science and the Scriptures with equal seriousness.

Galileo's Pals
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.

Is a Bird Flu Pandemic the Sign of the End?
Some are predicting the end is near; others are banking on it. Let's take a long view of biblical prophecy.

When Does Life Begin?
Is there a biblical view of when life begins? There certainly is, and the answer might surprise you.

God and the Hurricanes

 

Charles Henderson

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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, 2005).
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.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.