I just finished watching the documentary Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed,with actor/comedian Ben Stein as the host. He is seeking to expose the barrier that has been created by neo-Darwinians (esp. in the academy), and their goal to mute any dissent from the Darwinian ‘gospel’. In years past I have read quite a bit of the Intelligent Design (ID) stuff, and find it very intriguing and compelling.
Now I realize that there are many Christians (at least the more academic kind) who really do not appreciate what ID has to offer. I am sure there are various reasons for that, including being associated, whatsoever with the Creationist movement; and if this is the reason, then that is a shame, since this would only be to buy into the public relation campaign to tar and feather (poison the well and caricature) ID as a sophisticated front for “Creationism” — and not the positive actual-working scientific model that it is (e.g. see William Dembski’s work on specified complexity, etc.). So this may represent one wing of Christians who protest, but then there is another wing, and this is the side I want to focus on more.
There may be those Christians who dislike Intelligent Design because of theological reasons. They may look at ID as a movement that promotes an negative approach to God. They may be concerned that ID, through their scientific research, are to out prove God’s existence, and subsequently provide us with an idea of “Godness;” which can then be tied to the God of the bible (if the person is Christian). These kinds of Christians might not like to think that the God of the bible could be conceived of, philosophically, prior to meeting the God disclosed in the person of Christ (who is trinity). This could mean that God becomes shaped and determined to be who He is by His creation, making his attributes, and even his essence a predicate of nature — instead of vice versa. In other words, their fear would be that this approach would not place God before and above creation, but would make his existence a product of creation.
Do you understand this fear? I do, and if this is what the Intelligent Design movement was out to do — if they were actually “theologians” and not “natural scientists and philosophers” [by training] — and if they were trying to “prove” God’s existence as the basis of theological and evangelical communication; then I would protest as well. But they are not! As intimated, they are trained scientists and philosophers, who through their scientific inquiry have realized that intelligent fingerprints are all over the created order; and as a result have been working on real scientific models that identify intelligent causation (versus blind and random happenstance) embedded within organic reality, as an adequate source for describing the natural phenomenon they are discovering.
Is the intelligence they are discovering the God of the Bible? As Christians, we say, definitely! Some of these scientists (in ID) do not identify the “intelligence” as the Christian God, but instead and idea of god in unitarian terms, as found in the Jewish and Muslim faiths (for example). So this illustrates the inadequacy of natural science’s ability to identify the true God, instead it only has the capacity to identify an idea of godness — revelation claims are responsible for identifying the true God.
So, is the Christian who is leery of ID (for the theological reasons I note above) justified in their leeriness? They could be, but I do not believe they have to be. Certainly a Christian ID scientist or philosopher could take the God attested to by natural discovery and science, and attach this “discovered god” to the God of the Bible, methodologically and theologically (so Thomism) — and this would be wrong for reasons noted above. But, could not this same scientist start with Christian/trinitarian assumptions about God, and fruitfully engage in their scientific research; and glory in and worship the God who has redeemed all of creation in Christ? I think they could (I am not sure many do this, or think about this, in these terms). It is a matter of intention, and method. Do they see the God revealed in Christ as the methodological starting point and framework wherein their science is situated, or do they start with their science, and discovery, and fit God into the mold of “intelligence” they have discerned in creation? If the latter, then I would not support the methodology of Intelligent Design — theologically — if the former, then I would. Even if the latter, of the two just mentioned, was the paradigm followed by Christian ID’rs, this would not nullify, for me, their findings; it would just mean that I would disavow their findings as a legitimate basis for establishing the shape (or some like essence) of the Christian God of the bible.
I would imagine that the way philosophy has been imbibed by the church (i.e. church councils like Nicaea, Chalcedon, Constantinople, etc.) to articulate God’s being (like neo-Platonism), could serve as heuristic for thinking about this. In other words, the relationship between the God discovered by “Intelligent Design science,” and the God disclosed by Christ correlate because the Christian God is the God who creates (but not in the Thomistic sense). Hence the God of “Intelligent Design” can be pretexted out of the intelligent design context, and realized to be who He really is in a Christian novum (‘new’ context). So that even if the God that Intelligent Design has ‘discovered’ does not necessarily, or even fit the God of the bible (given His trinitarian and primary nature); this discovery can be co-opted by Christian theology, which properly and positively frames God for who He really is (relative to Creator/creature distinction, and relative to His one and three/three and one nature). Follow this link: Correlation In Theology for what I am trying to get at (just trying to think synthetically here 😉 ).
And if you are not tracking with anything I have said above, what do you think about Intelligent Design? I hear many people make assertions about its findings, scientifically, but when I hear why they think they are lacking, I typically am dissatisfied by their response.
Antony Flew, prominent twentieth century atheist converted to theism (read about that here), primarily as a result of the findings of Intelligent Design (though not solely), in 2004. What this illustrates, for one thing, is that ID on its own will not introduce somebody to Christ, or the God of the bible, necessarily; but, again, it can certainly be used by the LORD to break down walls that might make someone more susceptible to the Gospel — but then again, it could just erect new walls, that are just as solid as the atheist ones (okay I need to stop while I am ahead 😉 ).