Intelligent Design – Still a Matter of Faith

In the debate between secular humanist scientists and biblical literalist creationists, some creationists have offered what they see as a compromise – Intelligent Design (ID).  ID has been seen by many believers as a good way to deal with the otherwise unbridgeable contradictions between the discoveries of science and the claims biblical literalists say are the scientific truths of the Genesis creation story.   Because some believers accept the truth of secular science regarding the age of the earth and the mechanism of evolution, they have wanted to find a way to reconcile the discoveries of science with the Genesis story of creation.   Since there are some “gaps” in evidence for the theory of evolution, believers have proposed ID as the key to fill the gaps and explain the unfolding of the universe.  Secular scientists criticize ID as a “God of the gaps” idea, whose need shrinks with every new scientific discovery that fills one of the existing gaps in our knowledge.  

All of this introduction, which is simply restating this old debate, to get to the point of this blog.  While Intelligent Design seems like a good solution to many believers as they synthesize their beliefs from the bible with their knowledge of science, it has not proven itself to be a very useful tool for evangelism and outreach to secular scientists and atheists.  So while believers take comfort in it, if our goal is to preach the Gospel to all nations and peoples, we must be aware that ID is not convincing to many secular scientists and non-believers because it is not science.  Take for example the concluding comments of Harvard’s sociobiologist E.O. Wilson in his book written as an outreach to biblical literalists, THE CREATION: AN APPEAL TO SAVE LIFE ON EARTH:

“Much as I would like to think otherwise, I see no hope for compromise in the idea of Intelligent Design.  Simply put, this proposal agrees that evolution occurs but argues that it is guided by a supernatural intelligence.  The evidence for Intelligent Design, however, consists solely of a default argument.  Its logic is simply this: biologists have not yet explained how complex systems such as the human eye and spinning bacterial cilium could have evolved by themselves; therefore a higher intelligence must have guided the evolution.  Unfortunately, no positive evidence exists for Intelligent Design.  None has been proposed to test it.  No theory has been suggested, or even imagined, to explain the transcription from supernatural force to organic reality.  That is why statured scientists, those who have led in original research, unanimously agree that the theory of Intelligent Design does not qualify as science.  …  it is a dangerous step for theologians to summon the default argument of Intelligent Design as scientific support for religious belief.  …. In science, as in logic, a default argument can never replace positive evidence, but even a sliver of positive evidence can demolish a default argument.”

Wilson says the very glory of science is to propose theories and to prove or disprove them.  He says the person who could prove through scientific method the existence of God would gain instant fame and recognition.  So he dismisses the idea that scientists are simply closed minded to God, and says that instead since no theory or test has been proposed to prove ID’s claim of a God, it is de facto not science. 

My only point in this blog is to say as comforting as ID is to believers to help them reconcile biblical faith with secular scientific truth, ID at this time is not an effective evangelistic tool with which to bring the Gospel of Truth to secular scientists and atheists.  Let us not blind ourselves to scientific truth because we find ID reassuring to our shaky faith.  ID remains totally unconvincing to secularists.  And instead of us committing ourselves to ID as science and then trying to convince scientists that ID is science, we are better off acknowledging that ID belongs to the realm of faith not science.   Otherwise we believers are once again going to find ourselves trying to offer as truth something which science rejects – just like the biblically based claims that the earth doesn’t move, that the sun circles the earth, that the earth is the center of the universe – and we will be placed again in the odd position of arguing against the truth, and we will not bring secularists to faith in God.  It will simply be a modern version of the Copernicus/Galileo controversy all over again, and the Pope already apologized for that debacle.