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5 of 12 in a series about Christianity and Science.

What Is the Intelligent Design Movement?
Christianity and Science: Part 5 of 12

- Patient/doctor story: “What do you know?! Dead men bleed after all!”
- Assumptions can determine how we interpret evidence, shutting down certain possibilities.
- Controversy over Intelligent Design highlights this problem; points us back to our assumptions.

What Is Intelligent Design?
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
- 1960: The Genesis Flood launches young earth creationist movement
- Subsequent years: old earth creationism becomes a distinct movement (not Darwinian)
- YEC and OEC proponents spent much time/energy fighting each other; Darwinists watched.
- 1991: Philip Johnson publishes Darwin on Trial, launching Intelligent Design movement.
- New strategy: make minimal theological claims & unite in critique of Darwinism.
- Names associated with ID: Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, John Lennox etc.

BASIC IDEA
- Natural features give evidence of design, implying involvement of an intelligent mind in nature.
- The identity of this mind is left open.

EXAMPLE ARGUMENTS OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
(1) Irreducible complexity
- Mousetrap has numerous interlocking parts, all of which are necessary to serve any purpose.
- Some biological features have the same kind of structure, only more complex.
- Human eye: cornea, pupil/iris, lens, retina, optic nerve, brain; all must work together.
- Evolution requires micro-changes that offer advantages; but how could the eye have evolved?
- The eye shows features of being designed for a specific purpose.

(2) Biological information
- Complexity of the cell is staggering; this was not known in Darwin’s day (Berlinski quote)
- DNA is encoded information; information implies intention/intelligence
- Can you think of any other example in which coded information is produced naturally?
- DNA appears to be designed for a specific purpose.

(3) Fine tuning
- Imagine dozens of radio dials, all of which have to be set precisely to get a signal.
- If all are set precisely, you would assume someone has done that meticulous work.
- Some ID proponents argue that the universe is like that: gravity, ratios, nuclear force, etc.
- Example: ice is less dense than water; freezes from the top down.
- The universe and earth seem to be designed for a specific purpose.

KEY CONCEPT OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
- Teleology: the natural world exhibits evidence of purposeful design.
- Darwinism rules this out of court; nature is always random.
- Scientific community has responded to ID by saying it’s not science.

Is Intelligent Design True Science?
WORLDVIEW AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE
- Worldview issue: personalism vs. impersonalism
- Reigning paradigm in science: impersonalism (religion must be sealed off)naturalism
- Is the impersonalist approach to science a “neutral” one? No. There is no neutrality.
- Why should teleology be part of science? For God’s glory: Rom 1:18-32; teleology in nature.
- Theistic evolutionists who see God’s wisdom revealed in nature are (thankfully!) inconsistent.

OBJECTION TO INTELLIGENT DESIGN AS SCIENCE
- Objection: ID is a “God-of-the-gaps” theory.
- But ID is not a claim built on ignorance; it is a rational conclusion drawn from evidence
- Example: Two archaeologists find a stone with symmetrical proportions, curved edges, tip
- One concludes: “It’s an arrowhead.” The other: “It must have been formed naturally.”
- One approach is clearly better, and it all depends on your assumption going in.
- The Darwinist has gaps too; he fills them with Darwinian imagination.
- “That rock could have been carved into that shape by erosive forces of water over time.”
- Punctuated equilibrium: a “Darwin-of-the-gaps” hypothesis to account for the fossil record.

- Evolutionary theory is helpful for understanding changes within different forms of life.
- But as an explanation for all species, it has serious problems.
- The main way it has dealt with those problems: “Anything else is not science!”
- But deciding what is/is not science is a philosophical question, not a scientific one.
- We must not approach science without asking bigger questions about what our assumptions are.

 

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On February 4th, we will add an additional 8:15am morning worship service on most Sundays during the fall and spring semesters. Due to this schedule adjustment, our Sunday School classes will now be incorporated into our Sunday evening schedule.