The errors of Intelligent Design – Intro (Guest Post)
The argument from Design has a long history. Philosophers and religious thinkers alike have observed the world and attributed design to the natural order surrounding them. If the world and universe exhibit design then by implication a Cosmic Designer is the source. The Designer, according to Plato, was the Demiurge (a cosmic architect); within the Christian tradition, the designer is the God of the Bible. Texts such as the beautiful poetry of Psalm 19 and the argument presented by Paul to the Romans (Chapter 1) seem to compliment this idea of Design. These passages have lead theologians to promote a natural theology, where God is known not only through the revelation of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible but also through the natural ‘book’ of the created order.
With the work of Darwin and natural selection, natural theology took a major body blow. Paley’s watchmaker analogy was left struggling as naturalistic interpretations seemed to make God surplus to requirements.
Arising from the USA in the mid-90s, the modern Intelligent Design movement attempts to provide a scientific basis for Design. Its main proponents are William Dembski, Michael Behe (of Darwin’s Black Box fame) and Stephen Meyer. Using concepts such as irreducible complexity they claim to have found organisms that could have no possible evolutionary for-bearer. These organisms are complex of their own accord and thereby, it is argued, originate from ‘a Designer’. ID thinkers claim this theory is another valid response to the evidence in exploring our origins and as such should be taught alongside evolutionary theory in schools and academic institutions.
In these posts I will argue Intelligent Design fails on three fronts:
- Poor Science. The theory fails to meet the requirements of being a valid scientific theory.
- Poor theology. The theory, often presented by some evangelical Christians as an apologetic in an attempt to ‘prove’ God, represent serious problems concerning the biblical and theological witness of God as Creator and how we attain knowledge of Him. I will argue ID plays into the hands of atheistic scientists such as Dawkins.
- Poor Politics. The theory has emerged and grown from the hotbed of American politics (the ID debate has had little impact here in the UK) couched in the conservative/liberal battle for God playing a role in public life. Viewing ID from the context of the battle between Church and State and the debate surrounding the teaching evolution in schools will throw light on the controversy.