Friday, November 25, 2005

What is Intelligent Design?

Like all orthodox Christians, I believe God created the universe. It's right there in line two of the creed. For anyone to deny this basic fact is to deny that they are Christians. So, all Christians including me, are creationists and all Christians believe the universe had an intelligent designer. The Pope said that recently when he stated that the universe was an "intelligent project" (link to story).

But when we are talking about evolution, the words get muddled up. A young earth creationist is one who believes that the words of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are a scientific description of how the world came to be. So, I suppose by adding "young earth" to "creationist" (often abbreviated to YEC) we have an unambiguous term. Or we would if atheist polemicists would stop trying to muddle it up. Take this article from the Guardian where the writer is trying to make out that anyone who challenges evolution is in the same boat as a YEC. Atheists like to call Intelligent Design proponents neo-creationists to try to weaken the ID movement by tarring them with the YEC brush.

My problem is I can't get a definition of Intelligent Design. I thought it meant that an intelligent agent had intervened at some point in history to do the work that evolution could not do. In that case, I think it is wrong and a typical 'God of the Gaps' argument. I also think it is bad theology because it implies that God couldn't design a universe in the first place to do what he wanted it to do. However, ID proponents have been saying to me that, in fact, ID includes any evidence for design in the universe as a whole. In other words, an advocate of ID is the same thing as an orthodox Christian. This is unhelpful because we no longer have a term for people who believe intelligent intervention was necessary to fix evolution's problems or get life started.

So, at the risk of being confrontational, I will use the term Intelligent Design proponent to mean specifically those people who advocate intelligent intervention in history and not those who believe that God did all his design work at creation. I do this because we need exact terms or play into the hands of atheists who want all Christians to be labeled as creationist.

Comments or questions? Post them at Bede's dedicated yahoo group.

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