It has been a long time since questions related to the existence of God has gotten as much press as the Intelligent Design issue is now getting. Every major news magazine has had multiple articles on the I.D. movement, and it has gotten a large number of pages of comment in scientific journals of every discipline and at every level. Unfortunately, most of the publicity has been negative. This is not too surprising to see in the media, but it is disturbing when it starts showing up in reputable scientific journals that have traditionally not been antagonistic to belief in God. The villains causing the antagonism in this case are not all atheists, and in fact apologetic journals like Science and Theology News, The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, and Science and Spirit have joined the chorus of voices opposing the I.D. movement as science to be taught in schools.

  Before going any further in this discussion, we would like to emphasize that the material presented by people like Michael Behe is a wonderful apologetic. What that sentence means is that the work by the primary Intelligent Design scientists is wonderful material to convince the skeptic that there is purpose and design in the world around us and that chance is an invalid mechanism to explain the creation of the world as we see it. In our materials we use design as a means of discussing whether the cause of the creation is blind, rote, mechanistic chance or whether it is a personal intelligence that created the creation with purpose. What we do not do and what should not be done is to use the Intelligent Design material as a means of doing science, or determining what science should and should not investigate. The idea of using I.D. as a means of doing science is an extreme view, and that is what the critics of the I.D. movement in the media are pointing out.

We are all aware that there is a major potential problem in the world with a virus that causes avian flu. The virus is in birds and in China especially, there have been some humans who have contracted the virus. Our understandings of how natural processes work have enabled us to know that there is a possibility that this virus could mutate and become a major threat to human life. We know this because we know from science that there are mechanisms in the genetic make-up of living things that allow mutations to happen and that a virus can change and become very different in the way it acts than how its ancestors acted. This is a kind of factual evolution, and it is at the basis of a lot of what is done in the world of medicine today. There is nothing in this that contradicts the Bible or that denies that intelligence was involved in the design of life. This adaptability is what allows man to develop agriculture in a way that augments his food supply. It has allowed life to exist in a variety of habitats, and is vital to our understandings of how man should manage resources.

The problem with some I.D. promoters is that they would attempt to deny all of this. If you say that God created the virus as is and that no change can take place, you are simply in error factually. If you say that this kind of change might occur, but that more complicated changes cannot and therefore should not be investigated, you have stopped research and stifled investigations that might be very important. There was a time when people said that the earth was flat and that no ship should sail out toward the horizon because it would fall off. Revelation 7:1 was used to justify telling researchers they should not investigate the horizon, but stay in sight of land. If no one had ever sailed beyond what he could see, what would have happened to the progress of mankind? We smile at that today, because we realize that people were misunderstanding Revelation 7:1, and in fact there are biblical passages that imply the earth is round, but man's misunderstandings cannot be allowed to stop the research of what is true.

Much of this is done with a feeling that evolution is the issue to be dealt with. Part of the problem here is not understanding what evolution is and confusing the fact of evolution with various theories of evolution. All of medicine recognizes the kind of change that we are concerned about with the Avian Flu. In the Bible we see Jacob doing things with Laban's flocks that incorporate the same ideas. We should never stop a research project in science just because we think it may conflict with our religious understanding. If the thing that is being researched is in conflict with something in the Bible, either the search will prove that it is not in conflict; or we will find that, when we investigate the Bible, we are misunderstanding the passage.

Intelligent Design is not a method of doing science. We will not use it to build a new drug to fight cancer or to make a new rocket. As new drugs and new journeys to other worlds are produced, what is discovered will agree with and support faith in God and in the Bible as His word. Much of the criticism and ridicule of I.D. is due to the fact that it is being applied incorrectly to things it is not able or intended to address. Let us use the discoveries of science to help us see God's wisdom and design in the world; however, let us not assume that somehow our inability to understand what God has done will lead us to develop a cure or a new device that will benefit mankind.

--John N. Clayton

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