A long time ago my wife and I decided to build a house on some property we owned. So… we dumped piles of wood, thousands of nails, loads of concrete, stacks of glass window panes, and other building supplies onto the lot. Then we waited. After many years the materials slowly combined themselves into various shapes and constructs. Gradually they formed a two story house with a full basement!
“That’s ridiculous!” you say. Houses don’t build themselves, no matter how long you wait!”
How true. All buildings require highly trained architects who design the construction plans and print them on charts called blueprints. The building contractor then carefully follows the architect’s design point by point to form the structure. Teams of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, brick layers, roofers, and other skilled workers must follow the contractor’s directions perfectly to bring the construction to its ultimate completion.
In the last century, biologists discovered that the building blocks of life on earth are far more complex than any manmade building ever could be. They discovered that even a single living cell contains incredibly complex microscopic chemical patterns of DNA, RNA, enzymes, and other molecules necessary for life to exist and reproduce. Many scientists are so amazed by this intricacy of design that they are convinced that life, like a large building, could not have happened by chance, but needed a designer.
These scientists, many of whom are associated with an organization called the Discovery Institute, are part of an exciting new field of scientific study called Intelligent Design Theory (IDT). The word “intelligent” refers to the ability of a conscious agent to think, plan, and organize information rationally and reasonably. For example, the fact that you can read this article means it had an intelligent writer (though his wife and kids may sometimes disagree) and that you are an intelligent person capable of interpreting it.
IDT scientists have discovered in their research that the fine details and interwoven constructions of all living things must have had a planner. They follow the biological evidence which they believe clearly infers that life had an intelligent mind as its originator and designer. In a sense they are saying that the living world had an architect who made the blueprints for life, provided the materials for it to be formed, and then carried out its construction.
Actually this is not all that new an idea. Most life scientists prior to the late 19th century were theists and thus believed in an intelligent designer. Unfortunately, the scientific establishment in America, and most other countries today, is committed to the naturalistic worldview. In fact, many of them absolutely refuse to even acknowledge that IDT is a valid scientific option. That remains true even as the naturalistic explanations for how complex life has developed, such as Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, have failed to provide objective evidence to support their concepts. For example, Darwinists have never been able to explain the enormous gap in the geological fossil strata between the pre-Cambrian and Cambrian periods (known as the Cambrian Explosion).
Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University, is the director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute. In his new book, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (New York: Harper Collins, 2013), he analyzes the dead ends that various naturalistic theories have hit trying to explain how the Cambrian Explosion may have happened. Meyer then states, “Thus, despite its potential for disturbing the materialistic sensibilities of many scientists, it is hard logically to avoid the conclusion that the design hypothesis actually provides a better explanation for key features of the Cambrian event.”
ID theorists do not attempt, in their writings, to explain just what the intelligent agent is that is the architect of life. All they want to do is make the point that materialistic operations are insufficient to account for the complexity and information programed into life forms. As Meyer says, “Although the theory of intelligent design infers that an intelligent cause played a role in shaping life’s history, it does not say how the intelligent cause affected matter. Nor does it have to.”
We might add that neither does IDT say who the intelligent cause may be. Certainly, however, the ID theorists and their critics understand the metaphysical implications of their ideas. That is why naturalists are so adamant in their attacks on IDT. And its advocates realize that ID, at the very least, implies a supernatural origin of life. For them, that is the ultimate heresy and a concept they cannot and will not accept.
The Bible, of course, maintains that life had a Designer and Creator long before Intelligent Design Theory was ever imagined. Scripture establishes that the greatest intelligence of all made everything that exists, including the earth and all life on it. As Colossians 1:16 says, “…because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him” (HCSB). So IDT, while not explicitly or uniquely Christian in its perspective, certainly is consistent with a Theistic worldview. We therefore applaud the work of the Discovery Institute and other IDT researchers.
© 2013 Tal Davis