This series is from RJS…
This is the fifth in a series of posts looking at the book The Language of God by Francis S. Collins, Director, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Part Three of this book deals with faith in science and faith in God – reconciling the conflict.
Before we go further let me point out that all Christians in science, including Dr. Collins, including me, believe that God created the world intelligently, with design and purpose. Intelligent Design as commonly discussed today is something different – and to this we now turn.
The concept of Intelligent Design (ID) developed in large part as a response to three basic propositions: (1) the popular approach to evolution promotes an atheistic world view and thus must be resisted by believers; (2) evolution is fundamentally flawed and cannot account for the complexity of nature; (3) if evolution cannot explain irreducible complexity then there must be an intelligent designer who stepped in at the appropriate times to provide the necessary components.
ID is challenged however, on both scientific and theological grounds. First: ID can not be proven, it can only be falsified. Thus it is philosophically interesting, but scientifically useless. Second: statistical and probabilistic arguments are suspect. Historically such arguments have simply highlighted ignorance – indicating that some natural piece of the puzzle was as yet lacking or misunderstood. Third: it seems likely that many examples of irreducible complexity are not irreducibly complex after all. In particular Dr. Collins outlines the cracks that are appearing in the suggestion that the blood clotting cascade, the eye, and the bacterial flagellum provide examples of irreducible complexity. Answers are not currently available for all proposed examples – but do we really want to base our understanding of the world on “gaps” which may, but more likely will not, remain gaps in the future?
Dr. Collins also suggests that ID results in an unsatisfactory view of God as creator – because it denies what he sees as “the almost unimaginable intelligence and creative genius of God” in the very nature of our God-given world.
These considerations lead to a couple of questions for conversation.
I am sure that some who read this will disagree with some of the points made, so … Is “Intelligent Design” a useful concept? What flaws might there be in the above argument?