Twelve years ago every major news magazine had multiple articles on the Intelligent Design Movement, and it was getting many comments in scientific journals of every discipline and at every level. Unfortunately, most of the publicity was 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. In this case, the villains causing the antagonism were not all atheists. Apologetic journals like Science and Theology News, The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, and Science and Spirit joined the chorus of voices opposing the teaching of ID in school science classes.
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. I mean that the work by the primary Intelligent Design scientists is wonderful material to convince the skeptic that there is design in the world around us and that chance is an invalid mechanism to explain the creation of the world. In our materials, we use design as a means of discussing whether the cause of the creation is blind, mechanistic chance or whether a personal intelligence created the cosmos for a purpose. What should not be done is to use the Intelligent Design as a means of doing science, or determining what science should and should not investigate. The idea of using ID as a means of doing science is an extreme view, and that is what many critics of the ID movement have pointed out.
Our understanding of how natural processes work has enabled us to know that viruses can mutate and become a major threat to human life. We know this because science has learned that there are mechanisms in the genetic makeup of living things that allow mutations to happen. This is a kind of factual evolution, and it is at the basis of much of what is done in the world of medicine today. That does not contradict the Bible, or that deny that intelligence was involved in the design of life. This adaptability built into the design of life is what allows us to develop agriculture in a way that augments the food supply. It has allowed life to exist in a variety of habitats, and it is vital to our understanding of how we should manage resources.
The problem with some ID 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. 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. Human misunderstanding cannot be allowed to stop the research to find what is true. Part of the problem here is not understanding what evolution is and confusing the fact of evolution with various theories of evolution. Medical science recognizes the kind of change that we are concerned about with influenza viruses. In the Bible we see Jacob doing things with Laban’s flocks that incorporate the same ideas.
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 are developed, and new journeys to other worlds are taken, what we discover will agree with and support faith in God and in the Bible. Let us use the discoveries of science to help us see God’s wisdom and design in the world. Let’s not assume that somehow our inability to understand what God has done will lead us to develop a medical cure or a new and beneficial device.
–John N. Clayton © 2017