Sunday, February 22, 2009
... "is not that [it] is wrong." So begins the 14th installment of Gordon Glover's video series on Christian education, evolution and folk science. Following that disclaimer, he proceeds to explain why a Bible-believing Christian like himself rejects the teaching of Intelligent Design in the science classroom. Christians are often perplexed when they hear of fellow believers (such as Glover and myself) who accept evolutionary science, but who oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design. The following image from Glover's presentation helps to bring the issue into focus. It is a quote from Isaac Newton, who did so much to advance our understanding of gravity and the laws of motion. While Newton understood planetary movements better than most of his contemporaries, there were aspects of these movements which he found baffling and inexplicable. In the face of such insurmountable mysteries, he made the mistake of turning to Intelligent Design, and divine intervention for an explanation.
In one sense, what Newton said may be true. But what he meant was that the mysteries of our Solar System could only be understood in terms of God's constant active power. Of course, we now understand the physics of our Solar System, and we see how God has put into place natural laws and phenomena by which these movements are governed. We no longer feel a need to appeal to the constant supernatural intervention of "an intelligent and powerful Being." We can be thankful for scientists like French mathematician and astronomer, Pierre-Simon Laplace, who rejected Newton's Intelligent Design theory and continued to pursue scientific investigation of the astronomical data. Laplace helped us to see how God was able to construct a Solar System which did not require his active supernatural intervention to "make it work". Of course, we all take Laplace's explanations for granted, today.
No believer I know rejects the idea of intelligent design, if by that we mean God is the ultimate architect and Creator of the entire cosmos. But many of us do reject the so-called "scientific" theory of Intelligent Design which is a thinly-veiled attack on evolutionary science. We are grateful to Laplace for refusing Newton's science-stopping explanation. And in the same spirit, we say "press on" to the evolutionary scientists of today (with many Bible-believing Christians among them) who continue to fill out our understanding of the natural history of life on earth. Their work will only be done unfettered by the philosophically and religiously driven theories of Intelligent Design.
The point is this: intelligent design may be good philosophy, and sound spiritual reality; Intelligent Design is bad science.
If this topic interests you (or angers you!), I recommend Gordon's discussion of Intelligent Design in Lessons 13 and 14 of his series.