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Why biblical creationists should study Design — Universe by Design

Why would a Biblical creationist be interested in the Design argument? Isn’t enough for a creationist to know “God did it?”. No! God also wants creationists to know the level of His genius, and that is where the Design argument has benefit for creationists. Design research will glorify the Creator in ways revealed theology cannot.

universe by design by danny faulkner
To illustrate: a creationist could say “God created birds” but a Design theorist could say “God made birds and there is genius in the design of flight…” The Design theorist then shows the genius of the Creator rather than merely asserting “God did it”.

Scripture doesn’t describe every design in the universe. There may be designs out there remaining to be discovered. Things a Biblical creationist might gloss over in the study of the universe may one day be found to be suggestive of design. It may be that God did not intend we discover all of His designs via scripture alone, but by studying His works.

If creationists are called to declare the works of God, part of that means discovering the designs in nature that are not described explicitly in the Bible: (like the bacterial flagellum, the DNA code, the properties of the moon etc.).

Like an engineer reverse engineering a device he already knows is designed, he may not realize that some of the features may conform to designs he doesn’t not yet recognized. It may be important, for example, for him to discern whether what he is looking at is:

1. a broken design
2. a real design that just looks like a broken design
3. an illusion of design

I accept biology is designed, but nobody knows the entire catalogue of designs which God has placed in the biosphere. Design theory can help identify those designs. In that context, CSI is a credible tool for creationists.

If there are broken designs in biology, or steganography in biology, this may have medical research implications. It cannot be deduced from scripture alone! There may be designs in the cosmos which scripture won’t describe explicitly, but which the Design argument can detect.

Faulkner is one of the few leading creationists that also advocate the Design argument, and he seems to understand the Design argument as a separate line of thought than mere creationism. Creationism descends from scriptural theology, whereas the Design argument proceeds from natural theology. Even Eugenie Scott observed the obvious differences between creationism (that comes from scripture) vs. ID (that comes as interpretation of physical evidence):

ID is a lineal descendent of William Paley’s Argument from Design (Paley 1803,)

Eugenie Scott
NCSE

One of Faulkner’s essays has an interesting observation in Angular Size of the Moon…An argument for Design that is supportive of some Design arguments and cautious of other Design arguments:

For some time this author has been concerned with the design argument in astronomy. In discussing biological systems, the design argument can be very powerful. For instance, if gross properties of the earth, such as atmospheric composition or gravity were altered, life would be impossible. If the sun’s size and temperature or the earth’s orbit were different, life would again be endangered. The same can be said for atomic properties of matter, such as the many bonds that carbon can form, or the status of water as the universal solvent, or the unique property of water expanding upon freezing. In short, the design argument is a demonstration that nature must be as it is, or else life as we know could not exist. Even evolutionary scientists have recognized this fact and have coined the term the “anthropic principle” to describe it (Barrow and Tipler, 1986).

Creationists often attempt to extend this very powerful design argument to astronomical topics as discussed here. But the design argument for the earth-moon system presented here is a much weaker one than is usually presented for biological systems. If the earth-moon system were not unique, or if total solar eclipses did not occur, life would not be imperiled. In other words, while the earth-moon system may demonstrate the Creator’s imagination and concern for our enjoyment, it must not be thus for our existence.

Just as Barrow and Tipler define weak and strong anthropic principles, perhaps creationists should adopt the terms weak and strong in discussing design arguments. Many of the astronomical design arguments, including the one discussed here, would be of the weak variety. Even more basic would be a definition of design and a methodology in consistently applying the design argument. At this time it appears that this definition and methodology do not exist, because most people assume that design is readily recognized. If this is the case, then two criticisms readily come to mind. First, many may see design where none actually exists. Second, a sort of circular reasoning may develop where people see design because they know that it must exist, while others of the different persuasion fail to see the evidence.

It is hoped that other creationists join in the discussion to define and refine the design argument.

Faulkner is also author of Universe by Design. Amazon describes it:

The universe was created with purpose and reason; and modern science with all of its experiments, exploration, and sophistication has never proven otherwise.

Danny R. Faulkner, Ph.D. , is a Full Professor at the University of South Carolina, Lancaster, where he teaches physics and astronomy. He has published about two dozen papers in various astronomy and astrophysics journals.

Faulkner is keynote speaker at the upcoming Creation Astronomy Conference at Concordia University in Wisconsin July 8 – 11, 2013. If any of the readers are attending, look for me there, I just decided to go since my schedule freed me up.

[posted by scordova to assist the News desk with content and commentary through 7/7/13]

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7 Responses to Why biblical creationists should study Design — Universe by Design

  1. 1

    YEC biblical creationists who think about these things love to see excellent arguments for why nature reveals the truth behind the bible on origin matters.
    Design arguments in fact would be easily presented in YEC talks as long as well done.
    Its not just about proving things but about a high level of intellectual investigation and discussion for a modern population.
    YEC creationists who pay attention of in the general herd want the same high quality of lesson as in any other subject the people care about.
    In fact they want to make the case to friends, family, countrymen about the truths of creationism.
    Many YEC read the famous ID authors though knowing they are not Genesis creationists.

  2. Design research will glorify the Creator in ways revealed theology cannot

    But ID isnt religion. Oh no no no.

  3. @Graham2

    Design research will glorify the Creator in ways revealed theology cannot

    But ID isnt religion. Oh no no no.

    By that logic music is a religion because of Mozart’s “The Requiem”. Art, too, must be a religion. A painter’s brush isn’t a preacher any more than his technique is a liturgy. They are tools without expression. Meaning is only derived from the end product, and not by the tools themselves.

  4. TSErik,

    Exactly!

  5. I am an unabashed YEC. The news that Dr. Whitcomb purportedly criticizes ID because it doesn’t glorify Jesus Christ as the creator is very disappointing to me.
    ID is not theological and doesn’t need to be. Many sciences are not theological. Chemistry, for example, provides a body of tools and methods that enables the understanding of complex carbon molecules and much else. Chemistry does not specifically glorify Jesus Christ as the creator.
    But as a Christian YEC, the study of Chemistry animates for me increasing wonder and admiration of the Creator I know. How wonderfully atoms and molecules are put together! Chemistry doesn’t have to overtly point to Christ the Creator for me. My background in biblical theology does that for me. All educated men should study theology and understand its implications in every field of study.
    Darwinism is really more of a theology than a science. Darwinism DOES try to dictate my understanding of the natural world according to its theology.
    ID is more of a science than Darwinism precisely because it does NOT dictate a theology. ID simply provides tools and methods that enable me to understand complex biological structures withOUT theology. As a Christian YEC, I draw on my background in biblical theology to infer the name of the Designer, but ID does not dictate that answer.
    I am sad for Dr. Whitcomb if what has been reported is true. He criticizes neither chemistry, nor mathematics, nor aeronautics, nor ANY other body of science.
    To me his criticism is a sign of arrogance before the Creator–the Creator hasn’t done it right. More, his is a sign of willfulness no less than Darwin’s. We must see it “his” way and apparently his way alone. Such an attitude engenders ingratitude rather than gratitude, in my opinion.

  6. Thank you glennj.

    We read of all the factions in the Corinthian church 2000 years ago. God’s people are just as flawed and bickering as back then.

    One reason ID is close to my heart is that God used unbelievers to keep me in the Christian faith when it was failing. For example, one of my professors, a Darwinist who as vigorously opposed ID had this to say:

    If I were a religious man, I would say that everything we have learned about life in the past 20 years shows that we are unique and therefore special in God’s sight.

    James Trefil

    I know people are praying for him. He sees that there is something special about the universe, but there seems a darkness over his heart.

    Writings like Trefils were the inspiration for the ID in cosmology argument. God used unbelievers in very powerful way to turn me into a creationist. When even they had to confess wonder at the design of the universe and life, I knew Design wasn’t just my imagination.

  7. I would suspect that every thoughtful creationist accepts the notion of God as an intelligent designer. I think many creationists bristle at Intelligent Design movement for not being theistically centered. They would be more comfortable/favorable where God is asserted more directly. Also, I think they would distinguish divine design from human design in that design springs from God’s omniscience, not engineering, testing and refinement.

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