What does Christ have to
do with It?
of Intelligent Design, and an Alternative View
3/19/06 Wrestlers, National
Dr. George Murphy, Pastor
and Physicist, Ted Davis and others in the ASA
Dr. James Houston,
founder of CS Lewis Institute
Writings of the
Reformation era, including Calvin, Luther, Francis Bacon and the Westminster
Tanzella-Niti of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in the Vatican
Dr. Jim Miller of the
Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith
Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford
Sir John Polkinghorne,
Anglican priest, the President of Queens' College, Cambridge University, and
former Professor of Mathematical Physics
1. Intelligent Design is a form of Natural
The question is, how can mankind attain true knowledge of God?
Faith and reason: which
Credo ut Intelligam - Anselm
No man can boast of
attaining knowledge of God; it is a gift, by grace through faith. The philosophers in Athens scoffed at
Paulís message. If the Jews or
Romans had understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
Intellego ut credam -
Abelard, Pope John Paul II
Thomas Aquinas - Argument
from Design, 13th century
The wonders of nature
provide manifest evidence of design; design implies a Designer.
He referred to the ìmoral
convenienceî of Revelation -- that is,
such revelation was convenient, because of sin, though theoretically
John Paul II's Encyclical
Fides et Ratio
(14.9.1998) dedicates ample space to the issue of the "natural knowledge
of God", as both an ascending pathway of reason towards faith as well as a
descending pathway from Revelation toward the universality of reason,
simultaneously offering a link between the two routes.
One form of the Argument
from Design: the God of the Gaps
History: Newton (1687)
The planetary orbits are
accounted for by the law of gravitation, but minor perturbations from other
planets disturb the orbits causing them to be unstable or chaotic and they will
decay in a few thousand years. So,
every so often God pushes the earth in just the right way to keep it stable. This is proof of Godís existence,
because if this didnít happen we wouldnít be here.
There are variations in
the orbits, but they are bounded and not chaotic.
One day, the French mathematician Laplace
presented his newest, most extraordinary work, Celestial Mechanics, to the
emperor Napoleon. The emperor said, "Monsieur Laplace, they tell me you
have written this large book on the system of the universe and have never even
mentioned its Creator." Laplace is said to have answered, "Sir, I
have no need of this hypothesis."
In so saying, Newtonís gap was filled
with an improved scientific explanation.
Complex, precise design implies a designer - beginning of Intelligent
Darwin tried to deny the need for design by finding a natural way for
design to emerge. In the minds of
many, this triggered the culture war, although it really goes back to the
2. Intelligent Design Today
Senior Fellow of the
a Leading light of the ID
Author of ìIntelligent
Phil Johnson, Defeating
Darwinism by Opening Minds
"I therefore put the following simple proposition on the table for
discussion: God is our true Creator. I am not speaking of a God who is known
only by faith and is invisible to reason, or who acted undetectably behind some
naturalistic evolutionary process that was to all appearances mindless and
purposeless. That kind of talk is about the human imagination, not the reality
of God. I speak of a God who acted openly and who left his fingerprints all
over the evidence."
that demands a verdict.î All kinds
of legal terminology is used in this context.
God of the Gaps theology creates competition between science and
In its extreme form, it
assumes that natural explanations exclude God. (Methodological Naturalism = Naturalism). Any filling in of gaps counts as points
against God. This tragic
assumption pits science and faith against each other. Scientific theories and God are mutually exclusive. Phil Johnson takes this view. So do atheist materialists
like Dawkins and E.O. Wilson and many in the past.
These people characterize
the relationship between science and faith as imperialism. Both sides are trying to take over all
of the territory.
Dembski continues to defend the God-of-the-Gaps argument.
ìThere is no precise line of demarcation for deciding when a search is
to be given up and when the object of a search is to be denied existence. Nevertheless I would offer a necessary
condition. The failure in practice
to discover a thing is good reason to doubt the thingís existence only if a
diligent search for the thing has been performed.î Dembski, ID, p. 245
But how do we know when a diligent search is completed? When a gap is permanent and not merely
a temporary one? We donít. And I am especially suspicious of
alleged gaps in biology, which is a very young science. We only discovered DNA 50 years ago,
only sequenced the human genome 5 years ago. Every issue of Science magazine
reports important new discoveries in biology.
Another concern is that like any gap argument is trying to prove a
universal negative statement. This
is a practical impossibility.
ìThere are no WMD in Iraq.î
3. Intelligent Design and Christ
Theî Big Tentî
ID is usually vague as to
the actual character of the intelligent designer. They want to keep the tent big and wide enough to embrace
all kinds of belief and unbelief, and they want their views taught in public
schools. However, in his book
Dembski is clearly interested in focusing on Christ to make his case for ID.
Dembski: a Christian ID
The Logos of John 1
In his chapter on ìThe
Act of Creationî, Dembski again refers to Christ. He discusses John 1, which highlights the word logos.
Greek philosophers did
use logos to
cosmic design or reason or plan.
Augustine said that the
Platonists had some conception of the logos, but not the distinctively
Christian claim that the Word was made flesh.
Dembski affirms that the
became flesh and dwelt among usî.
But what he really wants to get to is his favorite topic, information
"Information theory is just
another name for logos. This is an information-rich universe.... Information -- the information that God
speaks to create the world, the information that continually proceeds from God
in sustaining the world and acting in it and the information that passes
between God's creatures -- this is the bridge that connects transcendence and
immanence. All of this information
is mediated through the divine Logos,
who is before all things and by whom all things consist (Col. 1:17). The crucial breakthrough of the
intelligent design movement has been to show that this great theological truth
-- that God acts in the world by dispersing information -- also has scientific
content. Information, whether
divinely inputted or transmitted between creatures, is in principle capable of
being detected via the complexity-specification criterion." [p. 233]
Christ is the Logos, and the Logos is information theory. This is the main theological point of
Dembski's book. Information is the
mediator between God and the universe, between God and man. And this is not meant to be an analogy,
but a reality.
Now idols are some
tangible or creaturely thing that is set up to serve as a substitute or channel
or mediator to God. But the
Scripture says that ìthere is one
mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.î (I Tim. 2:5) Not information
The only connection
Dembski makes between Christ and science is based on an analogy to number
In these passages,
Dembski makes no mention of the crucial feature of Christís mission: the
4. Theodicy in ID
Definition: If God is
good and all-powerful, why is there suffering and death? Why do bad things happen to good
Design arguments donít
help to understand suffering and death
things like HIV, the malaria parasite and the influenza viruses are killers of
millions of people. (picture)
Life appears to be full
of pragmatic strategies for exploitation, parasitism, disease, cancer, and
death. Design is morally
(Dawkins presses these points hard in his books.)
Saying the Fall explains
everything is not very satisfactory.
There is plenty of fossil evidence of death occurring all the way back
to the beginning of life on earth billions of years ago. (fossil)
Designerî God might be malicious.
5. Intelligent Design and the Bible
Romans 1:18-20 - the justification for all Christian
approaches to natural theology.
What does Romans 1 really
As with all forms of
natural theology, the Reformers argued that the noetic effects of sin were
sufficient to suppress the saving knowledge of God apart from Special
Revelation. That is why they were
without excuse, and that is why Special Revelation is necessary, and why faith
in Christ is necessary for salvation, which is the main thesis of the whole
book of Romans.
vain for us, therefore, does Creation exhibit so many bright lamps lighted up
to show forth the glory of its Author. Though they beam upon us from every
quarter, they are altogether insufficient of themselves to lead us into the
right path.î - Institutes Book 1 Ch. 5
Suppose we already
believe in God. Can we then find
evidence in nature to prove or support Godís existence?
Of course -- itís
everywhere: through the eyes of faith
ìEarth's crammed with
heaven, And every common bush afire with God; And only he who sees takes off
his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.î
Author: Elizabeth Barrett
Source: Aurora Leigh (bk.
Still not proof or support - e.g. the evidence of a Big Bang
does not prove or support our faith, but the Big Bang is consistent with the Bible story. Because it doesnít rule out other
On closer examination of
Dembskiís many allusions to Christ, it is revealing to see what he leaves
out. Namely, the cross. Philosophers and intellectuals just
donít seem to know what to make of this.
The only analogy that Dembski came up with to relate scientific theories
to Christ is a rather obscure one based on number theory. Later he described the relationship
between the Creator and the Logos in terms of information theory. We are always making God into our favorite images,
instead of letting Christ define what we mean by God.
6. The Reformed Alternative to Natural
In the midst of Athenian
Greek philosophical speculation about the nature of God, Paul intruded on the
scene and interrupted the civil discussion with a gruesome and scandalous story
The Crucified Christ is
I Cor. 1
18: For the word of the cross is folly
to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of
19: For it is
written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the
clever I will thwart."
20: Where is
the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not
God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21: For since,
in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God
through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
22: For Jews
demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
23: but we preach
Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
24: but to
those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the
wisdom of God.
25: For the
foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than
A different starting
point for theology
Theology starts at the
foot of the cross
Luther: ìTrue theology
and recognition of God are in the Crucified Christ. Our understanding of who God is and how God is active in the
world should begin from the cross and the resurrection of the Crucified.î
This is a radical
departure that brings in the character of Christianity with full force. Not generic theism with the cross and
resurrection tacked on but is Trinitarian to the core. The cross negates any idea that God's
self-revelation must conform to our standards of what is fitting for God.
So instead of starting
with reason and science, or instead of starting with Genesis, the Reformers
take Jesus Christ as the starting point for access to the knowledge of the true
character of God.
Jesus is much more than a
designer. Much more than a channel
of information. In Christ God made
a Son of Man, who can therefore relate to us in every way, including in our
suffering and grief as well as our joy.
Jesus is our personal Savior, our Lord and Redeemer who walks with us
through life day by day.
Christ is the foundation
I Cor. 3: 10: According to the grace of God
given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man
is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it.
11: For no
other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus
Creationists think they
are the most Biblical of Christians.
They say that ìcreation is
the foundationî. But the Bible
claims that Christ is the foundation.
No other foundation can be laid for knowledge of God, of ourselves, of
the universe. Christ is the solid rock, all else - including creation itself
- is sinking sand.
A God who hides
In Christ God is
paradoxically hidden, because there is nothing more remote from the beauties of
creation than a man hanging dead on a tree as a criminal.
More verses from Matthew
on how Jesus suppressed the evidence:
Matt. 12:15b - 19
Matt. 12:38 - 40
Matt. 13:10 - 13
Isa. 45:15 ìTruly you are
a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.î
Why? So that your faith
might not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God -
I Cor 2:1-5
A God who empties himself
Phil. 2:6-8: Christ, though he
was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be
exploited, but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human
form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death--even death
on a cross.
Theologians refer to this
as Kenosis -
The nature we observe is
consistent with this description of God.
Theodicy comes right at
Christ the Crucified is
on the side of the losers in the struggle for existence.
Christ identified with us
and all of life in his suffering. Hebrews 4:14: Since then we have a great high
priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold
fast our confession.
15: For we have
not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who
in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16: Let us then
with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and
find grace to help in time of need.
Natural history is His
If the creation is to be
consistent with the character of the true God revealed in Jesus Christ, who
made it, then we should expect such a revelation to be characteristic of Godís
work in general.
He is hidden, he
deliberately left no fingerprints.
New life and new
creatures emerge out of death and destruction. 2 Cor. 5:17
Evolution is consistent
with this kind of a Creator. This
doesnít mean that evolution is true.
It just means that evolution is one possible description of
biology. It could be wrong. Either way, the existence of God is not
The Creatorís interaction
with the universe
So how does God interact with the
James Houston: ìThe verb 'bara', to create, is deliberately used here, indicating
also that all analogies using human metaphors - make like a potter, create like
an author, shape like a sculptor, compose like a musician - fail, for how is
God said to 'create'? For in the
sense of his transcendent power He brings all into being out of nothing."
"No infinite amount
of time - even the 20 billion years now being postulated for the 'Big Bang'
hypothesis for the origin of the universe - nor any infinite amount of space,
can help us to conceive the ineffable mystery of the Creator and His eternity
of being. When we talk of God as
'Creator' and of 'knowing Him', we are thus introducing a qualitative
difference that no amount of scientific data can either prove or disprove. It is an altogether different way of
Is there design and
purpose in this universe? Yes, but
it is not like a human design.
Eph. 1: 7-10 - Godís plan
for the fullness of time
There is one truth, but
its unification is not to be found on earth, but ultimately in Christ, who is
the truth, the Logos, the design, the purpose of everything.
There are real,
irreducible mysteries in theology: Alister McGrath
ìThe category of
ëmysteryí plays a particularly important role in any discussion about theological
closure. The key point here is
that the category of ëmysteryí affirms both the coherence of a multi-levelled
reality, and its complexity, which is such that its meaning cannot be totally
determined by any one writer or era.
As a result, what one generation inherits from another is not so much
definitive answers as a shared commitment to the process of wrestling.î
Solo scriptura, solo fide
It is our faith that
opens the door to knowledge of God, not proofs or evidence.
Heb. 11:6: ìAnd without
faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must
believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.î
ìWhat meets our eyes
denotes neither a total absence nor a manifest presence of the divine but a
presence of a God who conceals himself.
Everything bears this stamp.î
ìThe heart has reasons
that reason knows nothing of.î
Freedom to believe or
ìGod seems to prefer a
balance of evidence, with reasons to believe and disbelieve, so a person's heart
and will (not coerced by overwhelming evidence) can make the decision, and so
we can develop a "living by faith" character with a trust in God
serving as the foundation for all thoughts and actions of daily living.î
Craig Rusbult, a
Christian chemistry teacher
Donít make such a tight
connection between God and evolution that you believe supporting one detracts
from the other. We donít have to
find fault with science in order to justify our faith. This is faulty reasoning. Stop obsessing about evolution.
There are Christians on
both sides of the evolution question. There are atheists on both sides. The
critical, decisive antidote to the threats of naturalism is faith in Christ,
not attacks on Darwin.
This is good news. Faith in Christ crucified sets us free
from sin. It also sets us free
from the fear of science and new discoveries. We are released to enjoy all the wonders of the universe that
science is revealing every day.
microevolution; there is no controversy about this. Take microevolution seriously and teach it in schools. We ignore it at our peril. This is the process that generates new
viruses that have the power to kill millions.
We may soon need to draw
upon our faith in order to comfort each other in the face of a pandemic. Letís unite around our faith in Jesus
Christ, who suffers along with us.