Intelligent Design (ID) theory fails both scientifically and theologically.
Unlike the creationists, ID advocates permit belief in evolution as descent
with modification over time. Unlike research scientists, however, ID advocates
are not satisfied with naturalistic explanations. They claim that Darwinian
principles such as random variation combined with natural selection do not
suffice as explanations for development of one species from a previous species.
They refute gradual change in evolution, claiming that nature is incapable of
self-organization, incapable of gradually developing new and more complex
organisms. What is required, says Intelligent Design, is
the intervention of a transcendent designer. Punctuated into the process of
gradual change are leaps in complexity caused by a supernatural intelligence.
Intelligent interventions into nature are virtual miracles, not subject to
naturalistic explanation. Robbed from restricting itself to naturalistic
explanations, Intelligent Design theory would prevent scientists from pursuing
science as they know it.
What ID actually does is provide a philosophical reflection on enigmas or
gaps in evolutionary history, reflection that suggests the existence of a
transcendent designer. Such analysis or speculation functions as proof for the
existence of God. This is a legitimate enterprise for a philosophical
theologian. If it would turn out that ID provides a valid argument for Gods
existence, ID advocates should be congratulated. But, in the meantime, we need
to call this what it is, namely, philosophical speculation. It is not research
science into biology, nor does it contribute to laboratory science.
Intelligent Design theory falls short on theological grounds too. Although
ID does not claim to be a full theological scheme, it leaves us with a
misleading picture of God. The intelligent designer who intervenes falls far
short of the intelligent and compassionate God of the Christian faith. The
alleged intelligence of the intelligent designer borders on the laughable.
According to ID, God would need to intervene in evolution for nature to produce
complex systems such as the eye, which is designed for seeing. Now, if God
designed the eye, then why do so many of us need to wear glasses? If God
actually designed the human eye, why could God not have done a better job?
Inadvertently, ID describes a God of only modest intelligence engaged in rather
marginal tasks. This is a trivial picture of God.
What is missing is not only divine intelligence but also divine compassion.
The God Christians read about in the Bible is a redeeming God. NRS John 3:16 "For God so loved the
world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not
perish but may have eternal life. If this passage describes the God in whom
Christians place their faith, then one might ask of the intelligent designer:
why did you not design the world so that we could see without glasses? Why did
you fail to design a world so that we could avoid being victims of predators,
diseases, stupidity, sin, and death? If God intervened at various stages in
evolutionary history, then why did God sidestep taking redemptive action? Why
did God design a natural world in which predators eat prey every day, and where
90% of species have gone extinct? Why believe in a God who could design nature
better but willed not to do so? The theological failing of ID is that its
intelligent designer becomes a trivial God so lacking in compassion that the
nature we inherit is blood red in tooth and claw, as the poet Alfred Lord
Tennyson once wrote.
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| Contributed by: Martinez Hewlett and Ted Peters