Intelligent Design And The Contemporary Christian -- By: John Mark Reynolds

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:1 (Spring 2007)
Article: Intelligent Design And The Contemporary Christian
Author: John Mark Reynolds

Intelligent Design And The Contemporary Christian

John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and Director of the Torrey Honors Institute and Professor of Philosophy at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has writ ten numerous scholarly and popular articles, and he lectures and blogs frequently on philosophy and cultural issues. Dr. Reynolds is the author of Towards a Unified Platonic Human Psychology (University Press of America, 2004) and has co-edited(with J. P. Moreland) Three Views on the Creation and Evolution Debate(Zondervan, 1999).

A Modest Idea: Intelligent Causation

Are biological structures the product of intelligent agency or not? Theorists in the “intelligent design movement” believe there is sufficient evidence to answer in the affirmative. Amazingly, even the suggestion of this idea is enough to set off a “culture war” in many parts of the world.

The notion that biological structures show evidence of intelligent design is as old as human thought. This idea was common to religious theories about the origin of life, but many non-religious thinkers also attributed biological structure to a designer. As we shall see, Plato defended design arguments and until the time of Darwin such defenses were standard in many biological works by eminent scientists.

The first scientists were overwhelmingly believers in intelligent design in nature, a fact that nobody disputes. This is not surprising given the appearance of the biological world. Even a critic of design like Richard Dawkins must concede that the biological world appears designed. Given the intricacy of biological structures, their frequent similarity in appearance to human built machines, and the seeming improbability of their chance construction, the possibility of design is difficult to dismiss.

Intelligent design has a long and respectable history in science, but recently it has fallen on hard times. Of course, many people are sincerely convinced that design theory is not useful based on their understanding of philosophy of science and the state of scientific evidence. They are opposed to the idea of intelligent design because they think it is wrong.

Sadly, unlike many minority positions in philosophy (one thinks of the idealism of Berkeley) where dissent is tolerated, opposition to design is not confined to modest arguments against its usefulness or plausibility, but comes with cultural and professional sanctions and heated rhetoric as any Internet investigation will quickly demonstrate. Why does the mere mention of design infuriate so many scientists and philosophers?

First, many scientists and philosophers are committed to the worldview of naturalism. One sociological featur...

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