Intelligent Design = Biblical?

Is intelligent design a biblical concept? Many Christians would answer “yes.”

Yet, the concept of an intelligent designer does not necessarily lead a person to believe in God. William Dembski has written a great deal about intelligent design, and he pointed out this reality: “Even if a theory of intelligent design should ultimately prove successful and supersede Darwinism, it would not follow that the designer posited by this theory would have to be a transcendent deity or for that matter real in some ontological sense. One can be an antirealist about science and simply regard the designer as a regulative principle—a conceptually useful device for making sense out of certain facts of biology—without assigning the designer any weight in reality.”[1]

As Christians this should give us reason to pause and reconsider our support of intelligent design. Can we really be behind a theory that only gets us an undefined designer? The designer  could be the God of the Bible . . . but intelligent design theory would also be compatible with multiple gods working together in the design of the universe. Or the god of ????

Basically, intelligent design does not lead to belief in the God of the Bible. Thus Christians should be wary in their support of intelligent design.

[1] William Dembski, No Free Lunch (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2001), 365.

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One Response to Intelligent Design = Biblical?

  1. bekahcubed says:

    You make an interesting point–and one that I agree with–when you argue that intelligent design is not Biblical. It is for this reason that I am not a believer in “Intelligent Design” per se.

    At the same time, it is exactly the a-religiosity of Intelligent Design that makes me advocate Intelligent Design as a scientific theory.

    The way I see it, science (at least the so-called “natural sciences”) is an attempt to explore and understand the workings of the universe using the “scientific method” of hypothesis and falsification. Science is restricted in its scope to that which can be observed and falsified. As such, broad swaths of information are by necessity a-scientific. Science may be able to describe the Mona Lisa’s attributes and, through scientific tests, figure out which components of the painting make the Mona Lisa such an enigma–but no scientist can tell us why daVinci used the colors he did or why he chose to use which brushstroke. Similarly, science (as I defined it above) can describe the details of creation but not the intent of the Creator. For that, one must ask the Creator Himself. For that, one must move from science (as defined above) to “religion”, from general revelation to specific revelation.

    On the other hand, this does not mean that science (observable, falsifiable information about general revelation) cannot reveal something about the Creator. In fact, Scripture makes clear that creation does “pour forth speech” (Psalm 19:2) and that God’s nature is so apparent in creation that “men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). So I think the Christian need never fear the honest observations of science.

    What has often placed Christianity and science at odds (at least since the Enlightenment) has been the a priori assumption of scientific naturalism–that the physical world is all there is. This assumption is deliberately a-theistic, denying the necessity of a creator and performing all sorts of gyrations (in defiance of Ockham’s razor) in an attempt to explain things that are best explained by invoking a creator/designer.

    Intelligent design is simply science without the assumption of scientific naturalism–and this, I agree with wholeheartedly. Yes, it cannot discover the fullness of Biblical revelation. If it could, special revelation would have been unnecessary. But Biblical revelation and general revelation being works of the same Author, they are not in contradiction with one another. Furthermore, while the science of Intelligent Design does not make an a priori assumption of WHO the designer is, I am confident that the designer who will be revealed through honest study of nature is none other than the God of the Bible.

    For this reason, I advocate the study of Intelligent Design (that is, scientists exploring the world without the assumption of scientific naturalism) and the teaching of Intelligent Design (that is, teachers teaching that scientific naturalism is not the only lens through which to view the natural world). In fact, I’d much rather have Intelligent Design taught in the public school system than any other explanatory theory (including Biblical creation.) I realize that’s somewhat shocking–but the truth is, I’d rather not have secular teachers trying to teach theology. For one thing, many (most?) wouldn’t know what they were talking about and would likely botch it. But above that, in a nation with freedom of religion, if Biblical creation were taught in the school system, there would be nothing stopping the teaching of any other religion’s creation myth. Actually, it might even necessitate that every alternate option be taught. This, I consider to be anathema.

    Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is not teaching any one religion’s theology–it’s merely encouraging teachers (and students) to look at the world without the assumption of scientific naturalism. And once the power of the great lie has been broken, the truth that creation proclaims will be more easily seen. “The heavens declare the glory of GOD” (Psalm 19:1)

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