Intelligent Design: an introduction

It is undoubtedly significant that the first words of the first book in the Bible affirm that the universe was created and that God is the creator. Genesis chapters 1 and 2, however, are by no means the only such affirmations in the Scripture. There are 19 passages of significant length and specificity that affirm God's creation of the earth and universe. There are 193 shorter passages that present God as the creator. There are 13 passages indicating that God reveals himself faithfully through the creation. There are numerous passages in which God establishes authority over the universe by right of His creation of it. God's creation of the universe is amply and definitively attested to in the Scripture.

Of particular interest among the many affirmations of creation is Romans 1:18-23. This passage indicates that human beings, both ancient and modern, have knowledge of God. This knowledge is the result of humankind's observations of the universe and humankind's God-given rational thought processes. Moreover, it is implied that God has given us the ability to know Him intuitively. Knowing God in this way does not require an understanding of the structure of the universe, or the distance to the stars, or the existence of microorganisms. One can know, with reasonable certainty, that God exists. To deny or suppress this knowledge results in the judgment that humans bring upon themselves through a reversion to idolatry. It is apparently necessary for human beings to worship. If people will not worship God, they worship images of their own making, or humans themselves and their intellect.

With the findings of modern science before us, we may wonder why God cannot be more definitively proven or, in a sense, discovered. The instruments of science have made it possible for us to discover so many things. We have found that God cannot be discovered--as one might discover a new comet, or a new continent--but the existence of God can validly be inferred from evidence. Indeed, the mounting evidence is so compelling that modern people are facing the same problem as the ancients. Can one, with impunity, simply deny what one does not wish to accept? This can be done, for a time, but never without consequences. Indeed, scientists and philosophers are rethinking the modern evidence and affirming at least a rudimentary belief.

      What is this evidence? Space does not permit a full treatment, but books have been written, some of which are included in the brief bibliography of this article. One particularly potent argument is based on the "probability boundary" (one "chance" in 1050 or, conservatively, 10150 ). Beyond this boundary, random chance cannot be sustained as an explanation for the occurrence of highly improbable events. The evolution of complex organisms falls into this category. Biological structures must be minimally complex in order to function at all, and such complexity cannot be explained by contingency. Another line of evidence is found in the very existence of the earth, with the features necessary to become a habitat for life. Life is dependent on a number of finely tuned factors. At least twelve such factors must be correct to within a narrow margin, and there they are: all in place and all correct. Consideration of the micro-universe of the cell and the macro-universe of planets, stars, and solar systems, both permits and essentially requires the concept of design--intelligent design.

The intellectual history of humankind is marked by the development of ideas. Typically, when an idea has gained acceptance by the ruling elite, competing ideas are effectively silenced. Occasionally, there is a paradigm shift and the old formulation is attacked at its roots. When this occurs, there is a predictable pattern of response. At first, the new idea is treated as unworthy of notice; perhaps even amusing. If the idea continues to be promulgated, its supporters are marked as dangerous. The defense of the reigning view is swift and vigorous. If the new idea gains a foothold, it may be regarded as possible. If the idea obtains general acceptance, history is rewritten to establish that the ruling elite "knew it all along."

For example, the new universe of Copernicus and Galileo required a complete rethinking of the then politically and theologically correct doctrine of geocentric astronomy. Geocentric astronomy had powerful protectors. The new view was suppressed for a time, but this suppression could not be sustained in the light of new discoveries and observations. The response of the power structure provides a classic example of the way in which new ideas are received. The idea of intelligent design is at this point. Is it preposterous, or dangerous, or may it be possible?

      In subsequent articles, we will discuss the developments in science that have brought us to this point. We will discuss the theory of evolution and what the ruling elite really mean by the term. Finally, we will present a brief outline of the evidence for intelligent design, and point the reader to sources for continued study.

Suggested Readings

Dembski, William A. The Design Revolution. Downers Grove, Illinois:  InterVarsity Press, 2004. [Regarded the best defense of intelligent design in print.]

Hunter, Cornelius G. Darwin's God--Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press,  2001. 

Moreland, J.P., ed. The Creation Hypothesis. Downers Grove, Illinois:  InterVarsity Press, 1994. [A series of essays on creation, design, philosophy of science, and scientific evidence.]

Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004. [The results of a series of interviews with scientists of note in six major scientific disciplines.]