Do you believe in Intelligent Design, and if you do or don't what's your main argument? None of my colleagues at my workplace believes in Intelligent Design. They all argue that it is a bunch of rubbish and a myth. I, however, do believe in it, because I know all things around us point to a creator, and an intelligent one in fact. One guy at work says that the human back is poorly designed, because it starts to break down and it has so many flaws. The tail bone has no known use. He also says that the bottom of the spine near the tail bone is at almost a 90 degree angle, indicating a descent from primates. Do you believe we have evolved from ape-like creatures to what we are now? I know you teach that were cavemen on earth, but do you believe that we evolved from primitive creatures? -- Chester Rivas (Toronto)
What is your opinion on Intelligent Design? Is it something that only scientists support, or do theologians and other Christian scholars support this as well? Does it deserve and receive much attention in academic circles? -- James Fischetti
ID is certainly receiving a lot of attention! Foremost advocates of Intelligent Design include Behe, Dembski, and Johnson.
You bring up several interesting questions! Intelligent Design (ID) claims that certain biological structures are so complex -- the term is irreducible complexity -- that it is more reasonable to posit that they were created or divinely directed in their evolutionary development than to believe that they evolved by mere chance. One feels the force of the idea when he reads Behe's now-famous Darwin's Black Box.
But as science discovers the mechanisms of evolution, ID will continually yield ground. What if God in his wisdom and providence operating through natural processes used evolution to create the present array of life? ID does not disprove evolution.
Another problem is that some creationists have erred very wide of the mark. Many of their arguments are scientifically flawed, yet with ID they are hoping to smuggle their brand of creationism into the atheist community, simply by giving it a new name. This will not do.
Last, ID is not the same as so-called "Scientific Creationism," which is committed to a young earth, opposes the possibility of human evolution, and tends to interpret the "days" of Genesis 1 as literal, 24-hour days. In my fascination with the subject, I began my own study some thirty-five years ago. The result is my 2004 book Genesis, Science & History.
As for the human back, it is well designed! Well designed does not necessarily mean perfectly designed. (I will decline to address the implications of the coccyx, which suggests prior evolutionary history. Even if the tailbone has no major function today, that doesn't mean it did not have great value in our past, perhaps even in our recent past. After all, who says every part of the body has to be useful at all times to all peoples?) Further, no creature was designed to live forever. Aging, deterioration and death are genetically programmed. Of course, when human beings carry unneeded extra weight, have poor posture, and otherwise abuse their bodies, it is surely not reasonable for us to blame the design -- or the designer! In short, the design of the biological world is intelligent indeed!
You might also encourage your workmates to read Michael Denton's brilliant Nature's Destiny, and perhaps his earlier Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, for some thoughts on design that avoid the pitfall of "intelligent design."
Further (this section added 2017):
- ID doesn't qualify as a scientific theory. Theories process data. But the spiritual world, which ID folks believe in (truth God justice good evil angels etc), isn't subject to empirical verification.
- All they're saying is that the world looks designed -- we all agree on that, and even some atheists admit it looks designed (anthropology principle). So ID aren't adding anything of value-- only muddying the waters.
- Sure, information implies intelligence. It's a compelling point but it isn't a scientific conclusion since it wasn't arrived at by doing science... Otherwise it would be repeatable in the laboratory
- IOW we don't need ID guys to tell us that our conclusions make sense. Further, they're really making a mess of the doctrine of the two books.
- Further thoughts in my Science DVD
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