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Is the intelligent design movement one that is good for the Christian faith?

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I think the intelligent design movement is a great thing for the Christian faith because they no longer have to say because the Bible says so in the science class room they can now try to prove an intelligent designer without the use of the Bible even though it does help.

I am going to answer definitely "yes" to this for the same reason that I believe Physics, Astronomy and rigorous philosophical debate are excellent for the Christian faith.

The Bible clearly teaches about an orderly universe and an orderly world, and an orderly life to be lived. Physics, astronomy, and the comparison of various worldviews have all confirmed both order and purpose for me as I seek to know the Bible and also to engage the secular world's version of how things came to be, and how things ought to be. The Bible teaches us to love God with all of our heart and all of our mind. See JP Moreland's excellent book: Love Your God With All Your Mind: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Your-God-All-Mind/dp/1576830160

I have heard some Christians denounce ID because "our great God needs no justification" or because "child-like faith is sufficient enough" or because the particular flavor of ID does not match up exactly to their theology. But I do not see how these justifications are Biblical or fair to ID theory, because ID really has nothing to do with the Bible (but it could certainly be used as evidence to support what the Bible says (so could physics and astronomy, by the way). Christian objection to ID can also stem from well-meaning Christians buying into mainstream Darwinian claims and argument from authority rather than getting to know the merits of ID on their own. I have heard this called the "Judge Jones said it. I believe it. That settles it." argument against ID. Finally, the implications of a theory, or the philosophical leanings of the person espousing a theory do not disqualify a theory. Evidence disqualifies a theory. Period. If the implications of a theory were really able to DQ the theory, then Darwin loses that one too and we can all just go home and watch Sponge Bob and eat Cheeto's.

Caricatures and strawmen aside, ID is making some incredible strides right now. The general literature, peer reviewed material and actual empirical lab work are growing and giving us a much more accurate view of ID than we had just a few years ago. ID is making predictions such as the usefulness of previously unmapped regions of so-called "junk" DNA and now RNA. It is also casting a much brighter light on the much glossed over areas of materialistic evolution, and causing its proponents to really work a lot harder to sell their wares.

It all comes down to this: ordered, specified information.

Atheism has an issue with this specific type of information (the ordered, specified kind) because there is no known empirical answer for how it got here. No coherent theory for what mechanism started it, and what continues to sustain it.

Today we know of only one source for ordered, specified information, and that is intelligence.

ID is not about the search for the God Yahweh of the Bible. ID is a useful tool for discovering specified information and signs of intelligence in and around our world. It begins with evidence and works toward an intelligent cause. In this way, ID can help us to get past that first barrier of "Is there evidence for an intelligence beyond ourselves? ...Is there evidence for a God?"

Once we cross over that first barrier, we are then free to walk about the cabin and explore and test the evidence for theistic concepts such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Once I began to really dig into the foundational pillars of the various worldviews, I realized that there was only one that matched up beautifully and coherently with our special planet, and our special lives.

I literally followed the evidence to the cross.

No, I don't think it is. Most of the Intelligent Design movement's arguments (such as almost all of the examples offered for irreducible complexity) have been refuted and the movement is seen as ridiculous by most of the scientific community. I think ID has served to make Christianity less palatable to those in the field of natural science and the church as a whole has lost face to educated people outside the church. I know of people who have said they like many things about Christianity, but couldn't join because it would entail "intellectual suicide." When asked why, they usually cite Young-Earth creationism and the "science" of the ID movement as reasons.

I think you can believe in God as creator and sustainer of the world and affirm Darwin's theory of Natural Selection. I do. One is a theological and metaphysical statement and the other is a scientific and physical statement. Science can make no inferences about theology, and the same is true in reverse.

-John

I am going to reply here to a couple of John's claims above because they lack any supporting evidence and are then just left sitting there as though they are a finished product. Let's unpack a couple of them:

"Most of the Intelligent Design movement's arguments (such as almost all of the examples offered for irreducible complexity) have been refuted and the movement is seen as ridiculous by most of the scientific community."

Which ones in particular have been refuted, and to what degree? Solidly, roundly refuted, or are they hand-waved away without a charitable read? John is referring here to the pioneers of ID theory such as Michael Behe and William Dembski. But - when you actually read Behe and Dembski, you will find that their arguments are far from refuted. Rather than listen to hand-wavers that never seem to cite actual refutations, I suggest that readers actually read Michael Behe and check out the actual state of the debate by having a look at him in action doing battle with the Kenneth Millers and Eugenie Scotts of the humanistic, materialist "church." : http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

The ID movement is indeed seen as ridiculous by the mainstream science community because mainstream science has a dogma of its own which declares that no origin ideas with non-materialistic implications will be considered...ever. But as Michael Behe will quickly point out, this is a false and misleading rule. If it were truly held on to, then the Big Bang theory would have to cease to be invoked, and SETI research would have no basis for continuing on.

John's claim of "intellectual suicide" is unbelievably uninformed because even a casual read of either Behe or Dembski will cause you to realize that these guys are not only real, deep scientific thinkers, but they can eloquently state real empirical evidence for what they are claiming.

For a fascinating and eye opening reading experience, I recommend Michael Behe's "Edge of Evolution" :
http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Evolution-Search-Limits-Darwinism/dp/07432962...

By the way - no mention of a "young earth" in Edge of Evolution and that's because Behe believes in billions of years and common descent, so can we please dispense with the caricatures and ad hominem attacks?

I don't want to get in an argument regarding whether or not ID is a legitimate theory, but I will say this: I agree with Steve, read Behe, he is a very good and entertaining writer, and I have no doubt that he is a well-educated and intelligent man. However, also make sure to read people from both sides of the debate, as both sides tend to present their argument as though it is the only one possible. One author I would suggest is Michael Ruse, who has written several things on the topic. Also, you should read Darwin himself. There's a great Norton Critical Edition simply titled "Darwin" edited by Phillip Appleman which provides a good introduction to Darwin's writings and the context surrounding them as well as some information from the ID debate.

I would like to respond to a couple of things Steve has said about my post.

The ID movement is indeed seen as ridiculous by the mainstream science community because mainstream science has a dogma of its own which declares that no origin ideas with non-materialistic implications will be considered...ever.

Perhaps this is part of it, but from what I've read, most criticizers of ID take issue with the apparent "argument from personal incredulity" as Dawkins calls it. There is often (and I'm sure not always, I don't claim to be an expert in the ID literature) an assumption that if something hasn't been explained yet, then it can't be possible. Behe's arguments for irreducible complexity are all in this vein. We may not know how Natural Selection could result with these seemingly complex structures, but that doesn't mean that they are unable to be explained that way. Also, the ID movement doesn't necessarily have non-materialistic implications (it could be a highly advanced alien race designing life on earth) so this dogma need not apply to ID. Furthermore, science concerns itself only with the material, for it is the only thing we can empirically study. This doesn't mean that science denies the immaterial, it is just silent on the subject. And I have a couple questions for you on this: why would the Big Bang need to be abandoned? And how does SETI deal with the immaterial?

John's claim of "intellectual suicide" is unbelievably uninformed...

I was probably unclear here. I was not attacking the intellect of any who support ID, I was just reporting the reactions of some people I know to the ID movement. I'm sure that Behe and Dembski are very intelligent; I did not mean to claim otherwise. The use of the term "intellectual suicide" in this case refers to forcing one's self to deny something which seems blatantly true and is supported by the majority of those in the field in order to adhere to a religion. To these people, it seems intellectually dishonest to deny evolution, but they feel that they would have to join the ID movement in order to become Christians.

By the way - no mention of a "young earth" in Edge of Evolution and that's because Behe believes in billions of years and common descent, so can we please dispense with the caricatures and ad hominem attacks?

The reference to Young Earth Creationism was not meant to be a caricature of ID, but is another example of what some people consider "intellectual suicide." Some feel that to become Christian they must be Young Earth Creationists, thus committing (in their view) intellectual suicide. I'm well aware that ID does not posit a young Earth; I'm afraid you saw an attack that I did not mount, at least not intentionally.

I hope that clears things up for you!

-John

No - I am afraid this does not clear things up for me because the original question is this:

"Is the intelligent design movement one that is good for the Christian faith?"

John, you answered this:

"No, I don't think it is. Most of the Intelligent Design movement's arguments (such as almost all of the examples offered for irreducible complexity) have been refuted and the movement is seen as ridiculous by most of the scientific community."

But, when I challenged you on this and other claims, you passed those claims off on others, and then said you were not an expert on the ID literature. Then you again made a completely false claim about what Michael Behe uses for argument here:

"an assumption that if something hasn't been explained yet, then it can't be possible. Behe's arguments for irreducible complexity are all in this vein."

If you had indeed read Behe, you would know that he simply does not reason or write this way. What he does say is that guys like Michael Ruse should not be allowed to say "I have the goods, and there is no debate" when they actually do not have "the goods." Behe sticks to empirical, falsifiable science to make this point clear. His study of the malaria virus is not exactly "entertaining," but it is extremely well thought out and backed by actual lab data.

So - going back to the original question, which is asking if ID is good for the Christian faith, it's totally cool with me if your answer is "no." But, to then make claims about writers and literature that are contrary to what they actually said gives me the impression that you took your points from Michael Ruse and not Behe.

I would challenge you to read Michael Ruse and Behe "Edge of Evolution" side by side. Then, honestly ask yourself, which one trails off into philosophy and metaphysics on a regular basis. Which one sticks to the lab and the data?

Web forum text cannot convey my honest and sincere respect to you, so I wish to say this and end it in love as a brother asking you to test the claims you have made here.

I haven't read "Edge of Evolution," I'll look into it. As far as whether I took my points from Ruse or Behe, you're right; I took my points from Ruse because I found him to be more convincing than Behe, just as you take your points from Behe because you find him to be more convincing, although I have read both (although not everything). I think we are going to have to agree to disagree, at least for now, but thanks for the discussion!

Hi John - Thank you for being honest about where your perception comes from. I applaud you for that. Here is one last thought I will leave you with, and then I'll exit the floor to others:

Heliocentrism was a pretty ugly topic for a pretty long time. People didn't like it much and many of them were in both mainstream science and mainstream religion of the time. Copernicus proposed the theory and Galileo later endorsed it.

To understand the concept and reasoning behind heliocentrism at the time, you would best be served by going to the people that proposed it. What sort of view of heliocentrism do you think you would get if you approached the church during those times and asked them what they thought of Copernicus and Galileo? Might it be skewed or biased?

The same is true of science in these times. Nothing much has changed - there is the reigning Darwinian paradigm - "the man with the microphone" as Greg Koukl would put it, and then there's Michael Behe publishing "Black Box" back in 1996.

Michael Ruse is a rather brilliant author who also happens to be an ardent atheist. He's not a molecular biologist, but he is a very sharp-witted philosopher who is firmly committed to a doctrine called methodological naturalism. There is simply no room for faith in any "god" within Ruse's worldview, and he makes that clear.

The question at the top of this page simply asks this: "Is the intelligent design movement one that is good for the Christian faith?"

I would be very careful about asking atheist philosopher Michael Ruse his opinion on ID and its affect on my faith. That would be like Little Red Riding Hood asking the big bad wolf if it's really okay to come in for tea and cookies.

Michael Ruse and his philosophy can be seen here (though this is not his official site):
http://www.rationalatheist.com/biographies/Michael_Ruse.html

Michael Behe scientifically defending his concept of irreducible complexity can be found here:
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=1214

For a very revealing exchange between Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett, have a look here:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-ruse-dennett-brief...

Do you honestly want to ask this man if ID would be good for your Christian faith?

I pray God's great power of discernment and wisdom for you, John
Steve Cherry

Not trying to be contentious, but there are problems with some of the Intelligent Design theories. I believe it is wise to look at the views of different God fearing scientists. I watched the you tube 2008 video of Dr Francis Collins (2 hours long) when he was at UC Berkeley. I appreciate his fair overview of different views including ID. He seemed to embrace Augustine's view of "gray areas' in which we might disagree. I agree with Him that we do not need to argue about each little thing. Evidence from research supports most of the Bible.

Most of us agree in the evidence of historical Savior who lived a life without blame, was raised from the dead and lives even now. My only apprehension with Dr Collins was the absence in his talk of the value of worshipping the Creator, though it looked apparent that He stands in awe. His manner was approachable and humble. Also, he seemed to downplay the value of being connected in a Christian community which offers the balance and accountability to sharpen our views. Just as our bodies are complex, we need each other to really live out our faith and beliefs so that others are reached.

At the Apologetics Seminar at Bayside Church, I enjoyed hearing about the integration of science and faith from J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig and others. I don't have a problem that science does not support a few things in the Bible, ie: creation per Genesis 1 or 2 and The Flood. That's not bad.

As Christ said, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another." In John 17, He asked the Father that we all could be united in love for the purpose of reaching the world. I appreciate this forum, conversantlife, and I hope that our desire for good and the diversity of ideas will sharpen all of us.

I think it is a good idea though. I like the concept by the way. - Carmack Moving and Storage