An Evolving Battleground

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Dan S. over at WithChrist.org has recently been writing on the rising profile of Intelligent Design (ID) and its impact on secularists and scientists around the world. Intelligent Design's premise is simple: something or someone created the Earth, the Universe, and everything in between. ID advocates have high ambitions; at the very least, their goal is to put Intelligent Design on equal footing with the theory of evolution, from high school science classrooms to university research labs.

While its deductive (and intuitive) logic is vastly superior to evolution, which stands weakly upon inductive reasoning and circumstantial evidence, Intelligent Design faces a Herculean task of turning back decades of secular brainwashing. And while creationism may be ipso facto intelligent design, Intelligent Design is not the same thing as creationism. ID is frequently mocked because it's confused with Creationism, just as Catholicism is mocked because it's confused with Christianity. For believers, the question is, will Intelligent Design ultimately ally itself with a Biblical worldview, or does it have an altogether different agenda?

Back in 1512, when the famed Italian artist Michelangelo finished his masterwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — highlighted by The Creation of Adam (see image above) — Biblical creationism was the origin science in the Western world. The father of modern science, Sir Isaac Newton (himself a creationist), would not be born for another 130 years. Modern science prided itself on testing its theories under real world conditions (empiricism). This new philosophical climate would lay the groundwork for English naturalist Charles Darwin, who, after developing evolutionary theory in the mid-19th century, himself admitted it had failed to live up to the scientific method. 150 years later, that hasn't changed. Nonetheless, evolution holds enormous philosophical appeal for natural man, as it gives him license to break God's rules. Darwin's contemporary and ally, English philosopher Herbert Spencer — whose ideas helped shape modern secular ideology — once commented, "For myself, finding that there is no positive evidence of evolution...I adopt the hypothesis until better instructed."

In the 20th century, secularism has managed to separate religion, particularly Christianity, from public relevance. Christianity, by and large, has acquiesced, which is why many in the Christian arena have lauded Intelligent Design's organized, scientist-supported efforts. There are some caveats to keep in mind in spite of such promise. Many ID advocates remain evolutionists (of some form or another), just as many confused Christians remain evolutionists — the key difference being, ID doesn't require the God of the Bible to be the Creator, just some kind of Maker. However, things are so bad in schools today, this is hailed as progress.

It is also interesting to see the convergence of Intelligent Design's increasing popularity with the rise of ecumenical/New Age Christianity. Both play fast and loose with matters of doctrine and theology. Since ID is a scientific theory, should this matter? Perhaps not, but it does mean Intelligent Design can be used by people to seek alternative spiritual paths. Most religions of the world already have some kind of divine origin explanation. Because of its philosophical shallowness, ID could fit in very well with a one world religion concept.

Because evolution has behind it the full weight of the established secular religion, it has a distinct advantage over Intelligent Design when it comes to appealing to sinful man. Nonetheless, ID is likely to gain traction at a popular level, for the Last Days will see people who have a form of godliness but deny its power (cf. 2 Timothy 3:5). Therein lies Intelligent Design's great attraction: it's almost like the real thing (creationism), but not enough to really upend man's solipsistic view of himself. We see the same kind of substitutionary spirit in Christian churches today.

Creation science is real and not an oxymoron, but ID advocates are just as likely to ghettoize it as they are to combat evolution. Science is not the enemy of Christianity — our proud natures are. Although secularists and academics like to talk about the "battle of ideas," the real battle is always spiritual (cf. Ephesians 6:12).

For further information on Intelligent Design, see WithChrist.org's ID page. Also, Answers in Genesis responded to the Intelligent Design Movement in an article originally published in 2002.

8 comments:

Anonymous said... on 12/11/2005 12:23 PM  

You write, "It is also interesting to see the convergence of Intelligent Design's increasing popularity with the rise of ecumenical/New Age Christianity."

I guess I've missed this "convergence." New Age Christianity is largely, if not entirely, pantheistic. The god behind ecumenism is only a 'half-notch' above.

"Both play fast and loose with matters of doctrine and theology."

"Play fast and loose..."? The New Age movement simply rejects special (biblical) revelation. It lays no claim for being "biblical" in the evangelical sense of the term. By definition, Intelligent Design doesn't exist to address issues of "doctrine and theology."

"Since ID is a scientific theory, should this matter? Perhaps not, but it does mean Intelligent Design can be used by people to seek alternative spiritual paths. Most religions of the world already have some kind of divine origin explanation."

I respectfully disagree. It's just the opposite. ID limits rather than expands the options of "people to seek alternative spiritual paths." Eight of the world's eleven major religions don't have an Intelligent Being at the core of their systems. Their "some kind of divine origin explanation" collaspes when compared with the specific evidence the ID movement is seeking bring out. So to be logical, the scientific evidence supporting ID would mitigate against any and all pantheistic systems, including New Age.

"Because of its philosophical shallowness, ID could fit in very well with a one world religion concept."

?? Does the 'general revelation' spoken of by Paul in Romans 1:20 also "fit in very well with a one world religion concept"?

"Philosophical shallowness"? What? You got to be kidding. I suggest that you do some in-depth reading--specifically, any of the works of the leading ID advocates.

bellacqua said... on 12/13/2005 3:41 PM  

Dear Anonymous,

I think what the RG Editor was trying to convey was a tendency with the ID propenents to water down Scripture, as is the tendency in many circles to do these days, in an effort to help make Christianity more palatable to the world at large. Though ID may be quite different from evolution, it still "misses the mark" by not saying which god created the universe (even though clearly to Christians there is no debate). And if, according to the Christian tenets, there is only one God, it's important to talk about who that is. I would agree that there is trepidation (due to downright attacks) on the part of some scientists and educators, etc, to shy away from laying this other fact out on the table. But the truth is, we are commissioned to not deny Him, nor the basic fact that Christ is the Way, Truth, and Life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Are you saying proponents of ID never do so, that is, shy away from suggesting that God is the creator of the universe? That there is no difference between ID and creationism?

Anonymous said... on 12/16/2005 5:52 PM  

"I think what the RG Editor was trying to convey was a tendency with the ID propenents to water down Scripture, as is the tendency in many circles to do these days, in an effort to help make Christianity more palatable to the world at large."

Your evaluation is simply foolish conjecture. If your interest is motive, why not read the clear statements articulated by ID proponents--e.g. The Wedge of Truth, Phillip E. Johnson.

"Though ID may be quite different from evolution, it still 'misses the mark' by not saying which god created the universe (even though clearly to Christians there is no debate)."

It is clear by your comment that you're sadly confused as to the purpose and role of ID--probably because you've read very little. No mark is being "missed" except yours.

Creationism moves beyond ID by adding biblical special revelation to the equation. Consider the wild possibility that there's room for both.

Dan S said... on 12/17/2005 9:43 AM  

Maybe a few observations may be in order.

RG writes, "ID advocates have high ambitions; at the very least, their goal is to put Intelligent Design on equal footing with the theory of evolution, from high school science classrooms to university research labs."

From my reading (albeit limited) of their literature, the goal of ID is the reestablishment of "honest" science, a "science" which does not mandate naturalism as either a starting or ending point. At its core, ID seeks to supplant the current narrow definition of "science," with one that is more open to reality. While there may be both social and political consequences, ID's goal appears (at least to me) more basic than your editorial portrayal.

RG writes, "Intelligent Design faces a Herculean task of turning back decades of secular brainwashing."

I'm not sure what or who might be the origin of this "task," but none of the ID sources I've read posit this as their goal. Again, at their label conveys, ID seeks to allow for the possibility of "intelligent" causality, rather than randomness and chance. For Christians like myself who appreciate ID, our hope is to counter the secular forces which are seeking to render Romans 1:20 ineffectual in the here-and-now.

RG asks, "...will Intelligent Design ultimately ally itself with a Biblical worldview, or does it have an altogether different agenda?"

For me, RG's question begs two questions.

1) Based on its current stated goal, WHY must ID ally itself with "a Biblical worldview"? Why cannot it serve its own limited purpose?

2) What "altogether different agenda" could ID possibly have? The tone of the paragraph infers something hidden and sinister. The question appears partially answered by RG's effort to infer ID's promotion of a nominal theism (para 4) or even an "convergence" with ecumenical/New Age Christianity (para 5). As anonymous pointed out above, this interpretation seems strained.

RG concludes, "Therein lies Intelligent Design's great attraction: it's almost like the real thing (creationism), but not enough to really upend man's solipsistic view of himself."

As a Creationist who appreciates ID, I'm unwilling to accept the 'either/or' choice. To use an analogy, why must I choose between either a wrench or a hammer? Cannot both serve their respective purpose?

Anonymous said... on 12/19/2005 11:28 PM  

Buried deep in the (regrettably) turgid prose, the point of the article was not to imply some kind of sinister conspiracy by ID scientists or proponents but rather to contemplate a possible scenario where ID, the science, is used as part of a broader package of 'common sense' philosophy — a 'what if?'

Dan S. and Anonymous have endeavored to clarify the motives/purposes of ID's constituency. They will find no argument here. Again, the point was not to question the motives of those currently shepherding ID, but to consider its potential abuse, not by principled scientists or believers, but by demagogues and the like.

In any case, your articulate responses are appreciated. I rather like Dan's toolbox metaphor. But perception is the key for these kinds of things. How does the public at large assimilate new or recycled theories? That won't be in the hands of scientists and intellectuals, no matter how pure their motives are.

Lastly, Anonymous, I point you to this verse: "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Matthew 12:34)

Sillie Lizzie said... on 4/08/2006 8:39 AM  

There is evidence that "intelligent design" is both compatible to and inspired by proponents of the occult theosophical movement we now know as "New Age" movement.

http://www.blavatsky.net/darwin/

One needs look no further than Mdme. Helena Blavatsky's "The Secret Doctrine" to find the inspiration for "Intelligent Design". It is clearly articulated as a counterstrategy to both naturalistic "chance" macroevolution as well as biblical creationism, but to bolster the "gnostic" claims of advanced "seers" and "sages".

Some of these posters are obviously ignorant of what they speak when they deny this.
http://sillielizziesrock.blogspot.com

Anonymous said... on 6/09/2006 6:04 AM  

Just plain sillie...

The "intelligent design" of the theosophy movement is not similar to the views advocated by today's ID scientists. Yes, the term is the same, but it's an apples and oranges comparison.

Rather than suggesting conspiratorious "linkage" (a common mindset for ex-occultists who come to Christ, and then see the Devil and demons at work in just about everything), dizzy lizzie should document the specific page references in today's ID literature to support her assertion that today's ID leaders are stealth theosophists.

Should be simple enough...

Anonymous said... on 6/09/2006 11:34 AM  

From the AIG website:

"Of course, in practical terms, starting with the powerful design arguments which the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) has helped to reawaken (and has formalized in modern terms) can be a very useful tool for ‘opening discussion’, especially in circles where mentioning the Bible would instantly plug the hearer’s ears. Many of us in Answers in Genesis (AiG) have actually been partially using the ‘wedge’ tactic of the IDM for years individually. That is, we may, in certain settings, seek to gain a more ready hearing through initially focusing on less controversial aspects of Biblical Creation."

 

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