Saturday, March 29, 2008

ID: The Anonymous Designer

The theory of evolution is under attack! In recent years, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has gained much momentum in challenging Darwin's theory and attracted quite a bit of media attention, drawing heavy fire from committed evolutionists in the process. Perhaps nowhere is the controversy more evident than in the school board battles that have arisen across the country over the permissibility of mentioning ID as a scientific alternative to evolution in the public school classroom. One such controversy occurred in Kansas in 2005.

"Teaching Origins Objectively"1 is a very condensed video record of over twenty hours of testimony on the validity of ID as a scientific alternative to Darwinism. Twenty-three experts in fields of science and education testified before the Kansas State Board of Education, attempting to show that there is a controversy, that there are scientific problems with evolutionary theory, and that those problems should be taught in the classroom as part of the students' science education.

Though I was already familiar with the ID movement and some of the main proponents of it, seeing some of the faces and hearing some of the stories of some of the less well-known players put it in a different, more personal light. I'm sure several of them risked their careers or reputations by testifying, but they were willing to take that risk for the sake of exposing the problems with evolutionary theory and also the discrimination faced by scientists and educators who dare to question Darwin.

Creationists can sympathise with those in the ID movement who face such discrimination, especially when their objections are falsely painted as being purely religious and they are falsely accused of having no scientific basis for their arguments. The truth is, while most creationists would consider those in the ID movement as allies, and applaud their accomplishments, Intelligent Design is not creationism, no matter how often the media tries to portray them as the "new creationism" or "creationism revamped."

Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion; it argues for a designer purely from science and common sense, without attempting to identify the designer. This leaves it open for the designer to be God, Allah, the ancient Greek gods, or whoever or whatever you desire him or she or it or them to be. For that reason, many creationists distance themselves from the movement. They argue that while ID is commendable for challenging Darwin, it does not go far enough. Failing to identify the designer with the Creator God of the Bible is not consistent with the goals and ideals of creationists.

Creationists strive to start from the Bible and build their entire understanding of the world around them based on that foundation. ID starts with science, and while it does present independent confirmation of the creationist position, it does not inherently share the same foundation. Of course, many Christians and creationists are involved in the movement, and some of the leaders would personally believe that the designer is the God of the Bible; but the theory itself leaves that open.

I personally believe that this is very dangerous, particularly in our post-modern society where atheistic naturalism is increasingly being abandoned in favor of New Age ideas and Eastern mysticism.2 More and more people are rejecting the idea that matter is all that exists, and embracing the idea of a spirit world, other dimensions, spirit guides, etc. An idea that attacks atheistic naturalism without strongly supporting Biblical creation at the same time could easily be adopted and modified to fit those New Age beliefs.

It is manifestly evident that Satan and his forces are deeply involved in New Age type beliefs. They can be expected to take an idea like ID and use it to their advantage, causing even greater deception than outright atheism does. Atheistic naturalism stresses logic, proof, and science. Since these are matters of objective truth, and since all truth is consistent with the Bible, atheism can be addressed on its own terms. Though an atheist believes that he is right and the Christian is wrong, he at least recognizes that it is either one or the other. New Age mysticism, on the other hand, focuses on feelings and personal experience, which cannot be objectively analyzed. To him, all truth is relative, hence he would say that both of us can be right, even though we hold completely different and contradictory beliefs. It is hard to logically expose error to someone with such a mindset.

Decades ago, C. S. Lewis wrote, in The Screwtape Letters (speaking through the Demon Screwtape),
"I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us [demons] (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy [God]."3

Intelligent Design could easily play a significant role in that transition. Indeed, there are people who claim that alien civilizations were our "intelligent designers." There is even a group that advertises its teachings as "intelligent design for atheists."4 It is interesting to note that the group is one of the many "UFO cults" that have arisen in recent years. Particularly interesting, considering the strong connection between UFO beliefs and demonic deception, as I've written about before.5

Satan's ultimate goal is to get as much of humanity as he can to worship him instead of God. He wanted to usurp God from the very beginning, and has been trying to ever since. While atheism is obviously a tool of Satan, it has the obvious drawback, from his standpoint, that atheists do not believe in Satan either. Yet perhaps Satan found it expedient to use atheistic naturalism as an intermediate tool to rid man of the notions of God and the supernatural, so he could eventually plant seeds of belief in himself (though perhaps under a different, more attractive name) while at the same time excluding belief in God. Hence the rise of post-modernism, with its spiritual and occultic emphases. Once you throw intelligent design into the mix, you end up with Screwtapes' recipe for deception: "Intelligent Design for atheists."

I fear Bible-believing Christians are being placed in a difficult situation. Yes, ID is a powerful ally against one of the most formidable foes we face today. But could ID itself be an even more formidable foe we will have to face tomorrow? I fear we are being put in a similar position to the Allies in World War II: allying with communism to fight fascism, befriending a greater evil to destroy a lesser one.

So while we applaud ID for its courage to stand up to Darwinism, and rejoice in the victories gained, let us be very careful in our dealings with the theory. (And perhaps I should make it clear here that I am not talking about the people involved in the ID movement but rather about the idea itself.) Let us take care that the idea used to depose the old enemy is not used to support a newer, stronger enemy. And let us always make sure to let the glory go to whom it belongs, the Almighty Creator God of the Bible, the Intelligent Designer.

1. The DVD can be found on

2. See, for instance, the article
here, or the website Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet for more information. Kjos Ministries also has some good information on this topic.

3. C.S.Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961), 33.

4. The Raelian Movement.

5. See "SETI-The Search For a New God" and "ET: Nothing New Under the Sun."

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