Home » Intelligent Design » Why intelligent design is not a tool for Christian evangelism

Why intelligent design is not a tool for Christian evangelism

Just recently, I had occasion to write to a Christian university student who is sympathetic to the idea that the universe shows evidence of intelligent design, but afraid to defend that view for fear of ruining his academic career. So he wants to do Christian evangelism instead, on the theory that evangelism will help in the long run.

Maybe it will. But not if the evangelized people decide to live in a two-tier universe, one of which is materialist and the other is – well, whatever the materialists allow them to indulge themselves in.

I do not claim that God guided my words or that I received any special message from heaven when I replied, more or less as follows, with explanatory comments interspersed:

I am a Roman Catholic Christian and appreciate and support your desire to do evangelism. My concern – as I am sure you will understand – is that intelligent design only demonstrates that materialist atheism is not true. It does not provide a basis for the distinctive doctrines of Christianity.

[Christians argue specifically that God became as we are that we may be as He is. That is not a self-evident proposition and in any event it will not become more evident from studying the fine-tuning of the universe or life forms. Fine-tuning only shows is that materialism is obviously not true.]

So there is a good intellectual reason for keeping the two concerns as separate as possible.

To me, determining the identity of a designer is like trying to find out who wrote a disputed book.

[My background is in English literature. Suppose two authors are proposed: "Harry" and "Wayne":]

If I can show that Harry did not write it (because he was only three years old when the book was first referred to in other works), I have not therefore proven that Wayne DID write it.

Indeed, I had better not be hasty. Further research may turn up the fact that Wayne died two years before events referenced in the book occurred. So we know Wayne didn’t write it either (or else that someone interpolated those passages for some unclear reason).

All I really know is, the book did not write itself. It had one or more authors. But further positive identification requires a new line of evidence.

And so it is with ID and Christianity.

We know that, contrary to the preposterous claims of materialists, the universe did not create itself.

But what follows? It would be absurd to claim a copyright on design, purpose, or intelligence in the universe on behalf of Christianity. No, that realization is the immortal heritage of every human being.

Now, as a traditional Christian, I think (no big surprise here) that Christianity offers the best account of the human condition. But in doing so, I leave the  quarks and neutrons and naked mole rats aside, and ask people to consider what we know of our own lives. What lies between what we are and what we know we should be – and what can possibly bridge the gap?

In matters of this sort, intelligent design is not the answer. It only prevents us from evading the question.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

43 Responses to Why intelligent design is not a tool for Christian evangelism

  1. My concern – as I am sure you will understand – is that intelligent design only demonstrates that materialist atheism is not true.

    A better way of saying it might be the materialist accidentalism that is the dogma of the scientific establishment. I think it is appropriate to point one can be an atheist and IDer.

    Of course, I’m not.

    And your point is well taken.

  2. Denyse, I don’t agree.

    Here you touch on the distinction between “general” revelation and “specific” revelation, both of which are taught in Christian doctrine.

    Psalm 19 says the heavens declare the glory of God. This is the general revelation. You are correct that the heavens do not name the specific name of the God whose glory they declare, but the fact that they declare the glory of any God means they declare that God exists.

    The Bible declares the glory of the triune God of the Trinity. This is the specific revelation. The specific revelation is supported by the general revelation. Our faith in the God specifically revealed in the Bible is increased because we can see the works of a God manifest in the heavens.

    In the same way, ID is general revelation. It does not reveal the specific God of the Bible, but it makes the God of the Bible more believable because it makes it more likely that a God exists at all.

  3. I echo BarryA.

    Most people associate ID’s designer with the Triune God.

    But! I also agree with you in that it doesn’t really solve anything and Biblically “general revelation” doesn’t bring anyone to Jesus w/o the Gospel. ID in its purist form has nothing to do with the Gospel (ie its good science), and people for thousands of years have believed in some designer but have refuted God just as easily as materialists of this age.

    But! It is a good primer and helps open ppls heart who have been stuck under materialism and evolution, for the Gospel. In my evangelism exp., this subject is a big hurdle and must be faced head on and that’s where ID comes in.

    Last thing is that the Apostles performed many miraculous signs and I’m sure Paul was quite the apologist himself, but ultimately reason only proved futile. I always think of the pharisees and the Roman guards who believed the resurrection of Christ, yet did not come to accept Him. If that can’t convince people, ID can’t.

    Well in the end I guess I agree with both of you. :)

  4. I also agree with Barry,

    Proof of the existence of God is central to Christian apologetics, and therefore a part of Christian evangelism. ID offers a proof of a designer, which certainly is evidence for the existence of God because I’d say that philosphically… logically… God makes the most sense for the identity of the designer).

  5. When Pasteur disproved abiogenesis and Lematrie proposed the Big Bang, I’ll grant they were serving the Lord, giving glory to God and providing a good Christian witness, but they weren’t evangelizing.

    We Christians have to understand that while ID is not in conflict with our faith, it is not our faith.

    One can believe in a New Age (or Old Age) pantheon of gods, with its inherent superstitions, and still be an IDer.

    The necessity of ID is that the dogmatic materialist accidentalism of the scientific establishment is conclusively wrong and must be rebutted.

  6. Cosmological and biological ID are complete no-brainers, so Denyse asks the only relevant remaining question:

    What lies between what we are and what we know we should be — and what can possibly bridge the gap?

  7. Tribune7
    “while ID is not in conflict with our faith, it is not our faith”

    You are right, ID does not require faith. ID is an inference to best explanation.

    Evangelism on the other hand, the proclamation of the good news with the hope of eliciting conversion, is specifically tied to the person and work of Jesus.

    ID has found design and inferred a Designer/s. As in the days of the first evangelists, some will still hear the message of Jesus and not be touched, both IDers and non IDers.

    I think ID’s principle role in evangelism could be at best, to open the closed mind of a materialist to the need to look for a Designer.

    People are evangelised through the Word of God shown in words and actions. Evangelism is a lot harder than convincing people that the flagellum must be designed.

    If John 3:16 is found coded in our DNA, or a high resolution crucifix is seen in a distant constallation that will be another matter.

    Until then it’s hard work and fearless love that are needed.

  8. One might be able to make some additional progress, however, by asking which worldview most closely matches the ID construct: materialism, pantheism, monotheism, etc.

    Other observations in general revelation could include:

    Unity and diversity. There is great diversity in creation, but a unifying genetic code. There is wonder and variation in the heavens, but considerable progress towards a unifying physical theory. Does this hint at the trinity.

    Good and evil. Some would see imperfect design. Others would see a battle.

    Again, which worldview(s) match best?

  9. I’m with Denyse, Tribune7 & idnet. You can be an IDer and an atheist, agnostic, deist, Muslim, new ager, etc.

    ID makes theism and therefore Christianity more plausible but conflating ID and evangelism is to the detriment of both IMHO.

    Thanks for bringing this up Denyse.

  10. “Maybe it will. But not if the evangelized people decide to live in a two-tier universe, one of which is materialist and the other is – well, whatever the materialists allow them to indulge themselves in.”

    Great point. Beyond revelation, there is also the question of freedom. If the Materialist view rules, than all spiritual pursuits are works of imagination and falsehood. As such, the dogmatic Materialist simply defines it to be dangerous, and therefore first constrains it, and then prohibits it.

    ID, on the other hand, by its very nature, encourages freedom. Only in freedom do we inquire and explore, since design implies purpose, and purpose infers meaning.

  11. I agree with Barry. I would also point out that there is nothing in either ID or Christianity which would preclude the Designer from identifying Himself in one or more of His designs. Actually, He already has done so, revealing the Gospel in an instance of CSI found in Nature.

  12. ID does not require faith.

    Exactly, Idnet!

    Somebody on one of the threads about whether atheism is a religion listed several reasons why ID is not a religion or faith, and pretty much wrapped up the debate.

  13. Douglas,

    “Actually, He already has done so, revealing the Gospel in an instance of CSI found in Nature.”

    What’s this in reference to?

  14. 14
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    As a Catholic, Denyse is consciously or unconsciously in tune with the natural law tradition (see here and here ). This explores the idea that we can learn something about ourselves and God by exploring nature. It understands the working out of nature to be part of the unfolding of the Divine plan.

    However, it goes further and explicitly incorporates uniquely human dimensions into the scope natural law. Uniquely human characteristics such as conscience, morality, social responsibility and human rights are also part of natural law theory, which allows itself to explore the “law written on human hearts.” So natural law theory is much more than just an extension of physics and chemistry and what we might normally consider “natural laws.”

    The natural law tradition is explicitly non-atheistic: it recognizes God as the creator of natural law.

    At the same time, I think it could also be said that it is non-Biblical in the sense that (like ID) it does not explicitly use biblical references to support its notions and conclusions. This was done deliberately, partly in support of evangelization: some people will listen to a more neutral natural-law-based argument that might be turned off at first mention of Christianity or the Bible.

    Natural-law-base evangelization can be the first step on the way to Christian evangelization. But as has been mentioned here, the two are distinct.

    ID and the natural law tradition are therefore very friendly with each other. However, these, too, are distinct: whereas ID is based on observation and analysis of the objective world, natural law includes “objective” observation and analysis of the subjective world.

  15. Could someone explain to me how anything Denyse said is in disagreement with Barry.

    From my reading of Denyse’s post, all she is saying is that ID indicates there is a designer and that intelligence is very powerful, but we cannot use that information alone to point to any one interpretation of God, especially the Judeo Christian God.

    We come to an understanding of that God through lots of means and science is only one small part of that understanding.

  16. How does something being designed dispute materialism? A beehive is designed. Bees aren’t immaterial. There seems to be some hidden assumption that intelligence is immateral. Perhaps a problem in definition of terms.

  17. Saying that ID is a tool for Christian apologetics is using the implications as causes (i.e., “ID was invented to spread the Word!”). ID relies on scientific evidence and nothing else. The fact that it is in agreement with general theism is a secondary issue. IN this case, Philosophy comes after the evidence.

    In the materialistic camp, it’s just the other way around: Philosophy comes BEFORE the (suposed) evidence. The darwinian myth is the logical outcome of a pre-belief in naturalism, not a conclusion you arrive due to the empirical evidence.

  18. How does something being designed dispute materialism?

    Good point. It doesn’t. It does, however, dispute accidentalism.

    OTOH, the accidentalists who oppose ID fight tooth and nail to keep from being labeled accidentaists (NATURAL SELECTION IS NOT RANDOM yada yada yada).

    OTOH, the strident dogmatic, you-believe-in-the-flying-spaghetti-monster opponents are all materialists.

    A discussion on terms might be warranted.

  19. While material beings such as bees design things, the bees themselves are designed. So, at the start of the process, is there not a need for an immaterial designer? This is basically the conclusion Plato came to — there must be an immaterial Mind (aka God in some religious traditions) from which emmanated those designed beings, some of which, e.g., humans and bees, could then create “secondary” designs.

    Otherwise, we are back to accidentalism, are we not?

  20. It was asked,”How does something being designed dispute materialism?”

    If the something is a beehive, perhaps it doesn’t – at least not initially.

    There are only certain ways bees CAN design a hive, left to themselves.*

    If the something is a universe, however, we must know that there is an intelligence beyond or apart from or behind ours. Doubtless, greater than ours.

    In this atmosphere, the materialist looks busily for a way it could all have just sort of happened.

    - Denyse

    *It is a separate question how bees came to discover even this way to build a hive, without assistance. I suspect there is enough in the insect world alone to sink Darwinism, but that is a topic for another time.

  21. To me the only purpose ID serves other than being a very interesting topic in itself is to refute materialism.

    It gets rid of Darwinism and any other materialist arguments for life. Where you go from there depends on lots of things which I believe few here would agree on.

  22. “It gets rid of Darwinism and any other materialist arguments for life.”

    As far as life on Earth is concerned it does, but the materialist could still claim that life elsewhere in the universe came about through Darwinian mechanisms, and then designed and sent life to Earth. Or, they could even claim there are many universes, and life came about through RMNS in one, and then they sent life to this universe. Don’t think many people would buy these explanations, but atheism/materialism would probably survive.

  23. Does ID rebut materialism?

    Not according to the mission statement so to speak.

    IOW, it is a tenet of ID that one can be an atheist who holds that everything in existence is ultimately going to be found to be material but that life obviously was designed. This materialist would say unindentfied space aliens dunnit.

    Now, I don’t this is reasonable and it is out and out irrational when the materialist insists he is not a man of faith, which they seem to invariably do, but it is not refuted by ID.

  24. ID has no theological implications other than there exist(ed) at least one incredibly intelligent being.

    It does not point to any specific interpretation of what the intelligence’s motives are/were. In other words it does not support any particular religious point of view. It certainly does not support Christianity or the concept of a triune God in any way over other religions.

    Anyone who links ID with Christianity in any way could be doing Christianity a disservice because it is preventing the argument from getting disseminated.

    I really like the argument by EndoplasmicMessenger that maybe the evangelization has to take place in steps and any attempt to go to a final step immediately is counter productive

    The natural law argument actually has more to say on the issue of the designer’s intentions than ID does and has been around for centuries.

    So maybe the goals are

    1. Getting Darwin and materialist claims out of science education and into philosophy courses where it can be compared to claims against it. One has to understand how we got to this position in the first place as part of the argument to preclude it in science education.

    2. Explore other areas that relate to intention behind design such as natural law in philosophy classes.

    3. Let the people decide on the theological implications in various religious platforms. But be emphatic that there is no religious association between ID and any form of religion. Those who do may be undermining the religious argument.

    If atheists wish to continue their merry way, then let them but get rid of their hold on the indoctrination processes in society.

  25. For what it’s worth, Pat Boone quotes Tom DeRosa, creationist, about how Darwin affected his perspective on God and religion:

    http://worldnetdaily.com/news/.....E_ID=53967

    [His encounter with Darwin in college led to that decision. "There was a point where I became so rebellious that I yelled out, 'No God!' I remember saying, 'I'm free, I'm liberated,'" DeRosa recalled. "I can do what I want to do; man is in charge! It was pure, exhilarating rebellion!"]

  26. I imagine what I am about to say may not be particularly popular. Let me make it clear in advance, then, that this is only my own thinking, and I am not trying to convince anyone else of anything. I’m quite prepared and happy to read (civil) responses as to why others may feel I’m incorrect.

    It seems to me that it is difficult to square ID, as a scientific way of viewing the development of life, with the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the Bible (and I imagine the Quran, though I know little of Islam). An all-knowing, all-powerful God could have chosen any method He wished to create living things, including evolution. The fact that we may not be able to understand how various features could have resulted from evolution is not a fully effective counter-argument, since the Deity could have allowed evolution to take a course that passeth our understanding.

    The best that might be said (it seems to me), assuming the existence of an all-powerful, all-wise Deity, is that such-and-such feature looks designed to us, to the best of our inferior knowledge. But this is opinion, not scientific principle. Scientific principle (again, it seems to me) requires that we be able to say something constitutes logical *proof* of design, not merely that it is consistent with an *opinion* that the feature is designed.

  27. Mats

    “In the materialistic camp Philosophy comes BEFORE the (suposed) evidence. The darwinian myth is the logical outcome of a pre-belief in naturalism, not a conclusion you arrive due to the empirical evidence.”

    I think we need to give Darwin and others credit for a significant degree of intellectual honesty, if indeed we expect them to do the same for us. I would argue that Darwin was postulating a mechanism that could explain data that he observed in a different way from the individually created model that was held by some in his day. Darwin let God have a few sentences in his book but he felt that God would probably not be very necessary.

    It is the EVIDENCE that is accumulating every day, that refutes Darwins feeling that God played a very small part in the design of living things, that ID addresses We come from an open position on materialism. If the evidence points to a necessary intelligence, we will run with that. If it points to some other intrinsically material and plausible mechanism, we will run with that. Many religious people still believe that material causes are sufficient for life but that those material causes are some how superintened over by God.

    Jerry

    “To me the only purpose ID serves other than being a very interesting topic in itself is to refute materialism”

    ID does not have to have a purpose. ID is either TRUE or FALSE. What is the purpose of gravity? With regard to evangelism, it may be true that ID serves to refute materialism, but this is a result of the TRUTH of ID, not the purpose of the truth of ID itself.

    “ID has no theological implications other than there exist(ed) at least one incredibly intelligent being….. It certainly does not support Christianity or the concept of a triune God in any way over other religions. … be emphatic that there is no religious association between ID and any form of religion.”

    It can be argued that if atheism is refuted by ID then theism is supported by ID.

  28. How does something being designed dispute materialism? A beehive is designed. Bees aren’t immaterial. There seems to be some hidden assumption that intelligence is immateral. Perhaps a problem in definition of terms.

    I echo this sentiment completely. I find that many design proponents subtly imply that intelligence has a supernatural component. And that finding out that, say, a human designed something overthrows materialism? Hardly. I don’t think that we can simultaneously say that the designer need not be a deity (or supernatural) and that it must be.

    ID in its purest form is not the Christian religion, but it is often protrayed as such, even by some of the design proponents themselves. The school board in Dover, despite the Discovery Institute’s warnings, seemed to think that ID was creationism. We should fight the ab-use of ID as a religious idea as well.

    If the something is a universe, however, we must know that there is an intelligence beyond or apart from or behind ours. Doubtless, greater than ours.

    This is supposing that the universe needed to have been designed, but if only life on this planet was designed, how are you going to know if you don’t separate the two when considering design? I think materialistic darwinists and theistic IDists are both afraid to step outside their comfort zones and think that it was something other than what they are used to. But the IDist is honest in knowing there’s a problem with the paradigm.

  29. idnet,

    Your point “It is the EVIDENCE that is accumulating every day, that refutes Darwins feeling that God played a very small part in the design of living things, that ID addresses” is well taken.

    And this is linked to the take away with ID. People tend to think in integrated terms, and themes run through their overall view of life. So, up to this point, it did not matter so much whether they believed in God, but rather that God was not intimately involved in what matters to them, since material forces, once set in motion, took care of all the details. In other words, if our desires and sex drive and psychology and everything else is a result of natural forces, what the heck, God is a great sentiment to accept or dismiss.

    But ID upsets the apple cart. Suddenly at the very heart of our condition and existence is this super-intelligence that designed purpose into organisms. Physical purposes, yes. But then, integrated thinking leads us to conclude that morality and virtue and character are part of the design intention.

    In other words, we go from no real guidance system to a guidance system that is indeed built into us. We don’t just make it up as we go along. A daunting reality to deal with indeed.

  30. In so far as ID acts as a bulldozer, destroying materialism, a Christian, myself included can use it as pre-evangelism or in apologetics. Does more work need to be done than destroying materialism? Of course.

  31. The only thing that will shatter materialist delusion in any one person is if they actually experience a non-material realm. Ideas like intelligent design may inspire a search for higher planes of existence, but ideas alone will not confer true knowledge. One needs direct experience of these realms to acheive the happy state of gnosis. In my opinion, only such empirical truth will make us genuinely free.

    Best regards,
    apollo230

  32. The only thing that will shatter materialist delusion in any one person is if they actually experience a non-material realm. Ideas like intelligent design may inspire a search for higher planes of existence, but ideas alone will not confer true knowledge. One needs direct experience of these realms to acheive the happy state of gnosis.

    Well said apollo230

  33. My contribution to this discussion is simple-minded.

    My “future career” is now past. In retirement, do I regret maintaining intelligent design from the start? Do I wish I had not spent 42 years arguing? Do I lament that I did not make so many friends with the “herd”?

    Frankly, I found much more of a warm friend in my appeal to the transcendent, yet immanent, Supernatural than with cold, inert Singularities.

    Truth, like evangelism, (IMO) ought to appeal to everything seen or unseen, imaginable or not. Truth comes not by specialized revelations, but common information available to all, in any age. Everything created (animal, vegetable, or mineral) needs redemption.

    The intention of Triple-collusion as One has the _whole_ Universe in His hands. Design, intent, singularity, chance, or recursion are but a minuscule fraction.

    Hiding truth, any and every truth, IMO, is not the Way for evangelism.

    That doesn’t mean to say that 2+2=4 or life=design necessitates a religious “whip”.

    “Truth dazzles slowly or every man be blind”, said America’s greatest poet, Emily Dickinson.

  34. How do we coherently map our (entire) world? What tools are allowed? Hmm . . .

    I have to give PZ props for his moxie.
    His smallish, collapsed world, he wants to be “foxy.”
    Tho’ he’d confine every school
    To the phenomenal rule
    Of a stripped naturalism quite reduced and quite boxy.

    Imagine if PZ saw Bruce at the Roxy?
    Creativity and harmony rocking him down to his socksies –
    Producing un-scalable joy?
    “No! Another creationist ploy!”
    Cries a purpling PZ with a raging hypoxia.

    I encourage ID folks to stick like epoxy
    To all ways of knowing, direct or by proxy.
    No need to be fancy;
    Just enjoy consonancy!
    (Read abstracts, research, and of course, “Orthodoxy.”)

  35. I think Aquinas might say that ID can open up the possibility of God’s design, but that this kind of scientific truth cannot supplement belief (in The Interior Acts of Faith).

  36. BarryA, “The Bible declares the glory of the triune God of the Trinity”

    Some of us who may accept the Bible might not accept *that* particular view. (Triune God.) This might not be the place for such a statement, but who am I.

  37. As someone who has been monitoring and participating in evangelism, in my experience, ID is a significant influence in someone becoming a Christian about 2% of the time.

    Maybe about 15% of the time (at best) it is significant in keeping someone in the Christian faith or at least a theist. I would fall in the latter category. Those numbers are guestimates based on people I’ve met and personal experience.

    In 2003, I gave a talk to the Freethinkers at JMU for 4 hours. I simply talked science and only passingly talked about my faith. One student asked me what books she should read. Her mother diapproved of her interest in Christianity, so there was not parental incentive for her to join the church whatsoever.

    Realizing she would tend to distrust Christian literature, I recommended two ID staples written by agnostics:

    1. God and the Astronmers by Jastrow

    2. Evolution a Theory in Crisis by Denton

    I asked 30 people pray for her.

    She immediately read Jastrow. 6 weeks later she became a Christian of her own free will with many tears. I found this out when, to my great surprise, I saw her in a church I was visiting …

    Months later, she told me the information I communicated to her broke down the last major hurdles in her conversion. The pro-ID biology and science majors in her circle of friends have been important in shielding her from de-conversion attempts by her Darwinist professors….

    But that was only one conversion in three years of doing quiet evangelistic work with the Freethinkers. However, 15% of the Freethinker group at JMU from 2003-2006 were nominal Christians. ID and creation science were highly influential in keeping these in the Christian faith.

    Being able to prove ultimate truth is logically impossible, and ultimate truth is reachable only through faith (as the great Mathematician Godel perhaps unwittingly demonstrated). However, some statements are more reasonable and consistent with the facts than others.

    I recall one Freethinker biology student went from atheism to agnosticism by the time she was about to graduate. She confided that it’s too hard to keep believing the universe is some mindless, pointless accident. I had little to do with her reaching that conclusion. The complexity of biology is a powerful empirical witness against mindless origins of life…

    However, despite these small numbers, if 2% are converted and the 15% retained through ID, I would argue the great indirect value of converting the 2% and retaining the 15% is significant as these tend to be the intellectuals.

    Think about the intellectual leaders of the church, the ID movement, the creation science movement and how many were converts of one sort or another. The impact of these numerically small number of conversions is disproportianate in its effect on the church or any other movement for that matter.

    Also consider the opposite. The effect of losing certain people from the church, particularly the intellectual class has had a devastating effect. How many of the intellectual foes of the church were former devout Christians, starting with Charles Darwin himself. So the 15% retention level of intellectual capital is very important.

  38. While I agree that being a Christian believer requires faith, I consider my faith to be an “intellectual faith.” That is, that much of what I believe to be true isn’t just accepted blindly, but because it makes the most sense to me. Faith basically fills in the gaps.

    What I mean is, 1) God or a creator seems most logical to me. 2) monotheism seems most logical to me. 3) The historicity of the Gospels and the witnesses of Christ’s miracles ring true to me, etc. etc. 1+1+1+1 = 4. When I add it all up it points me in a direction. Faith takes over from there. I accept Christianity as the one true religion, not on faith alone. But faith is a big part of my belief. However, I think my faith could easily be shattered if I found too many flaws in my beliefs. Because then why have faith in what I do, instead of something else? I need a reason to put my faith in something.

    I didn’t grow up Christian and became a Christian as an adult. Apologetics played a big part in molding my faith and ultimately making me realize that Christianity was true. Logical arguements for the existence of God, arguements for the historical truth of Gospel, etc. etc. all played a big part in my conversion from a lax theist to a devoted, faithful Christian. And if those arguement failed, I’d have likely kept seeking.

    This is why I believe ID is a tool in evangelism. It (in some form) helped me come to the truth.

  39. As someone who has been monitoring and participating in evangelism, in my experience, ID is a significant influence in someone becoming a Christian about 2% of the time.

    I hope no one took my comments to think I was saying ID was a waste of time. (Think of what that would make me considering the time I spend on this board.)

    Christians with the gift to pursue scientific and and philosophical matters (i.e. Pasteur, Faraday, Aquinas) have an obligation to do so.

    But Christianity is not synonymous with ID.

  40. 40
    Inquisitive Brain

    Because ID is based on observation of the physical world, it has inherent limitations regarding the non-physical.

    It seems to me that ID makes opening the theistic door one possible option, but ID does not open the door to the transcendent God.

    Currently, ID could serve as a starting point, but nothing more. ID can start on the path to the conclusion that a transcendent God is the designer, but this is done by progressing far beyond the epistemic minimalism of ID, and using philosophy to infer that the intelligent cause is beyond this universe (and not some materially-based intelligence in our universe or a different universe), then use theology to surmise that the intelligent cause is God (and not some other philosophically possible immaterial agent).

    Many conclude the designer must be God by default, but only by making epistemic leaps. A thorough step-by-step adjudication of the issue by knowledge, reason, evidence, and logic may lead to the conclusion that the designer is God, but something besides ID brings the person to the final conclusion.

    Once someone concludes ‘God,’ they have departed the proper epistemic boundaries of ID.

    ID could be considered ‘general revelation,’ but only if the person has already decided, by reasoning not provided by ID, that what is being expressed in the universe is God’s proximate or remote work.

    Some ID theorists might think God is the designer, and think that the design of life is the result of miraculous intervention, but ID does not take them there.

    Frequent trangression of the epistemic minimalism of ID seems to be one reason so many critics think that ID is religion or creationism.

  41. Of course ID is limited in regards to evangelism, but the title of the blog is “Why intelligent design is not a tool for Christian evangelism.”

    I’m arguing. Yes… it is a tool. I believe in can be used in apologetics — which itself is just a tool.

    Evangelism is tricky (obviously) because people come to the faith for different reasons. I came to believe because of what I saw as overwhelming evidence of the existence of God and what I saw as the truth of the Bible.

    I believe ID does give confidence in the truth of the existence of God and therefore is a tool in evangelism. — Can you preach ID on a corner and hope to convert people to Christianity, of course not. But, I bet that many of the books written by ID authors have converted some – probably first to theism and then as they continued to seek, Christianity.

    Yes, it’s just a starting point, but it’s still a tool!

  42. As always, I go to William Paley’s “watchmaker” thesis: if you find a pocket watch in a field, you KNOW (=infer) that a watchmaker made it.

    But you only know THAT a watchmaker made it. WHICH watchmaker made it is another question altogether. The principal difference between science and religion is that science answers the first question and religion the second–that is, that science draws the logical conclusion from a given bit of evidence, but religion ultimately requires a leap of faith.

    Still, ID theory can be a useful tool for evangelism inasmuch as it gives the nonbeliever everything he needs to make that leap.

  43. 43

    Okay, I see the points being made here and as I said I agree.

    But I would add that ID is a tool of evangelism more similarly to the way a flower in a meadow is a tool of evangelism, as opposed to some sort of natural theology. Natural theology assumes particular things about the characteristics of God before nature is viewed. In my understanding, the formulations of ID like IC, SC, and PEH do no such thing.

Leave a Reply