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Double-crossing the Cross: The Intel on Intelligent Design

“It takes an unusual person to write an unusual book. Double-crossing the Cross is indeed such a book in that it passionately upholds a belief in God and His sovereignty while accepting the power and beauty of science – in particular, evolutionary biology. And Mike Anderson is, likewise, an unusual person, with training in evolutionary biology, philosophy of science and theology, and a life-long and passionate concern for communicating that science and theology are complementary with different goals. It was Billy Graham who said: “I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption”.

Both science and redemption are features of Double-crossing the Cross, which is a rewarding panoply of insights spanning from ancient Greek philosophy to modern evidence. Its central focus is a critique of ‘intelligent design’ on both biblical and scientific grounds.

Mike brings to the reader a richness of critical thought, sprinkled with allegorical allusions that bring things to life. Quiet and humble in manner, Mike has wonderful clarity of thought, communicated with gentleness, brevity and wit.

I have long been an admirer of Mike Anderson’s earlier books, but became more intimately exposed to his thoughts when I had the privilege of working with him and a team of theologians, clergy and scientists in what came to be called the ‘Waterberg Dialogues’, spearheaded by Philip Calcott and under the auspices of African Enterprise and Michael Cassidy. These involved a series of workshops that brought together people to explore how science (and evolution in particular) can be reconciled with Christianity. It was a humbling education, for it was undertaken in a spirit of reverence and open-mindedness, and all of us emerged with new insights and a fresh appreciation that both reinforced our faith and stretched our scientific and Biblical knowledge. Mike was a central player in presenting his views on the centrality of the Cross, and his concerns that intelligent design has too narrow a view to capture the essence of Christ and the Cross. While tackling the weaknesses of intelligent design, Mike is also fearless in upholding his belief in an all-powerful God.

Enjoy the book: you will find it both intellectually rewarding, and a balm for the soul.”

George Branch, Emeritus Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town

“Mike Anderson doesn’t ignore the scientific problems with the intelligent design program here, but his focus is on theology. Starting with the basic belief that God makes himself known to us in the event of the cross, he makes the case that supposed evidence for design in nature cannot help lead to that belief and may in fact get in its way. “The bloodied God Incarnate,” he reminds us, “was not some dispassionate intelligence.”“

Revd Dr George Murphy (pastor, theoretical physicist and adjunct faculty member at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus. Author of The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross.

Double-crossing the Cross:

The intel on intelligent design

Mike L Anderson

Published by Shakespir

Copyright 2016 Mike L Anderson

ISBN 9781370472581

Discover other titles by Mike L Anderson at Shakespir.com

http://www.Shakespir.com/profile/view/mikelanderson

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non- commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. This ebook is freeware and may not be sold.

Unless otherwise stated, quotations from the Bible are taken from Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright © 1978 by the International Bible Society, New York.

To conserve trees, please try to avoid printing this document.

Dedication

This book is dedicated to all my prayer and financial supporters.

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to God for my pastors Revd Colin Bishop, Bishop Frank Retief, Revd Ross Anderson and Revd Brian Anderson for their Christ-centred preaching. The very helpful comments, criticisms and encouragement of fellow presenters Prof George Branch, Dr Phil Calcott, Dr Mike Jarvis and the Revd Dr Earnest Lucas are greatly appreciated. Lastly, I want to say a big thank-you to Dr Andrew Potts for our asymmetric friendship. He introduced me to spiritual depth, classical guitar and P.G. Wodehouse. I introduced him to stout.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Creation according to the cross

Intelligent design according to the cross

I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except …

The power and it intelligent

Science according to the cross

Scientism according to the cross

Religious scientism according to the cross

The intelligent designer according to the cross

The intelligent designer is naturalised

The intelligent designer is scientifically obsolete

The intelligent designer is an intermittently active demigod

Intelligent design according to the Bible

Intelligent design according to the school of hard knocks

Evolution according to the cross

Evolution according to science

The genesis of a geeky god

Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover

Thomas Aquinas’s First Cause

Newton’s Periodic Interferer

Paley’s Anatomical Artificer

The Secondary Culprit

The Molecular Meddler

The Information Injector

The intel on intelligent design

About Mike L Anderson

Other titles by Mike L Anderson

Notes

Introduction

At the turn of the millennium a discovery was made that must “be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science” and “rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrödinger, Pasteur, and Darwin.”^^1^^ Or so it was claimed. That discovery is intelligent design. According to proponents, their “fundamental claim is that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information rich structures of biology and these causes are empirically detectable.”^^2^^ Professor of law Philip Johnson, who is regarded as the prime mover of the intelligent design movement, says, “I am not speaking of a God who is known only by faith and is invisible to reason, or who acted undetectably behind some naturalistic evolutionary process that was to all appearances mindless and purposeless. That kind of talk is about the human imagination, not the reality of God. I speak of a God who acted openly and who left his fingerprints all over the evidence.”^^3^^

The discovery is potentially very significant because it seems to provide empirical evidence of a Creator. Is intelligent design a stupendous scientific discovery with significant theological implications? Or is it pseudo-theology, pseudo-science and a passing fad? Read on. This book undertakes to evaluate intelligent design both biblically and scientifically. It is a companion to my The Creator on the Cross: Science in the light of Christ and him crucified. That book provides the biblical underpinning to this one and is best read first. This one provides the application to intelligent design. Both come out of presentations given at the Science and Biblical Faith Christian leadership summit in April and May of 2015 and hosted by Africa Enterprise. While intelligent design will be critiqued biblically and scientifically, the focus here will be a specific critique on the basis of the cross as the heart of the gospel message. The cross is central to properly understanding the Creator because the cross is so central to Christian theology. This has to be stressed because as theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg says, “It is a commonplace that Christian theology is concerned with that kind of knowledge about God that is obtained through Jesus Christ. But it is not a commonplace that the cross of Jesus is the criterion for the authenticity of such knowledge.”^^4^^ From a Christian point of view we cannot understand the Creator outside of an understanding of the cross.

One of the most important biblical doctrines is that God is Creator. However, because the Bible also teaches that God is unfathomable, understanding him as Creator from looking at the world has its pitfalls and many, as we will see later, fall into them. Our concept of God as Creator needs to be informed by his clearest revelation of himself. But where is that clearest revelation?

Though creation certainly reveals God ((Romans 1:20)), it is not his greatest self-revelation. Jesus on the cross is. How do we know this? From the mouth of Jesus himself. As discussed in The Creator on the Cross, Jesus says that through his death we “will know that I am the one I claim to be” (John 8:28).^^5^^ It is on the eve of his execution that he says, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him” (John 13:31).^^6^^ Right after saying this, Judas goes out to betray him. Later that evening Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (John 17:1). John Stott explains, “According to John’s gospel Jesus referred to his death as ‘glorification,’ the event through which he and his Father would be supremely ‘glorified’ or manifested.”^^7^^

Given the importance that Jesus attaches to his crucifixion, it is no wonder that New Testament scholars and theologians say such things as the cross is “the ultimate demonstration of the nature of God,”^^8^^ “the supreme revelation of Jesus as God’s Son,”^^9^^ “the absolute center of God’s revelation to humanity,”^^10^^ “the central thing in the New Testament”^^11^^ and “the definitive theophany [manifestation of God].”^^12^^ James Edwards notes, “The death of Jesus on the cross is thus not a defeat but the consummation of his mission and the climactic revelation of his identity as the Son of God.^^13^^ Leon Morris says, “The crucifixion is no denial of the exaltation of Jesus. In fact, paradoxically, the crucifixion is the exaltation…the hour of his suffering is paradoxically the hour of his greatest glory.”^^14^^ Robert Kolb says, “Not in flight beyond the clouds, but in the dust of the grave God has come to tell it like it is about himself and about humanity.”^^15^^ Alister McGrath says, “The ‘crucified God’ — to use Luther’s daring phrase — is not merely the foundation of the Christian faith, but is also the key to a proper understanding of the nature of God. The Christian can only speak about the glory, the wisdom, the righteousness and the strength of God as they are revealed in the crucified Christ.”^^16^^

The incarnation (Hebrews 1:1-3), the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3) and the resurrection (1 Peter 1:21) are all very important according to Scripture, but according to Jesus it is the cross that is central. It is not when Jesus is delivered, transfigured or resurrected that he will draw all people to himself, but when, as he says, “I am lifted up from the earth” (John 12:32-33). The only memorial Jesus ever instituted (communion) was not to remember his birth, transfiguration, resurrection or ascension, but his death (Luke 22:17-20).

John Stott sums up the relationship between the incarnation, the resurrection and the crucifixion very well, “I think we need to get back to the fact that the cross is the center of biblical Christianity. We must not allow those on the one hand to put the incarnation as primary, nor can we allow those on the other hand to put the primary focus on the resurrection. Of course, the cross, the incarnation, and the resurrection belong together. There could have been no atonement without the incarnation or without the resurrection. The incarnation prepares for the atonement and the resurrection endorses the atonement, so they belong always together. Yet the New Testament is very clear that the cross stands at the center. It worries me that some evangelicals do not focus on Christ crucified as the center. Of course, we preach the whole of biblical religion, but with the cross as central.”^^17^^

If Christ crucified is God’s greatest self-revelation, then it is to the cross that we must especially turn for insight into not only redemption but also into how to relate the Creator to science, evolution and in particular for this book, so-called intelligent design. Indeed, the cross is, as theologian Ron Osborn has pointed out, “the complete revelation of who God is as both Creator and Redeemer.”^^18^^ Theologian Jurgen Moltmann says, “The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology. It is not the only theme of theology, but it is in effect the entry to its problems and answers on earth. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ”^^19^^ Scientist-theologian George Murphy says, “The work of theology must begin on Calvary, where God is paradoxically revealed just at the point where God is most hidden.”^^20^^

A crucicentic approach will enable the Christian to think truly biblically about intelligent design, in principle, without necessarily having to know a great deal of scientific detail. From a Christian point of view, then, intelligent design must be evaluated first on the basis of the cross and only second on the basis of science. The latter is important since we have a responsibility to honour the God of all truth, but it is the former that is most vital. Crucicentrism is not a new-fangled idea. Alister McGrath argues compellingly that Martin Luther’s theology of the cross was a medieval theological method that brought about the Reformation when he applied it to the matter of justification.^^21^^

Creation according to the cross

God is the Creator of all things according to the Apostle John. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). If all things were made through God, then what about that wooden cross that stood on Calvary? Did he make that? John 1:3 seems to require us to accept that God created the very instrument of torture upon which his Son died. How could God’s creatorship possibly be reconciled to his holiness at the cross?

The Bible tells us. Consider Acts 2:23, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Here, in one breath the Bible puts the Father and the means he uses to accomplish things together as if they could not possibly compete. God sovereignly and wisely created the cross using human instruments as his agents. The cross endorses creation.

As explained in The Creator on the Cross there is a cross-shaped pattern to natural and divine agency in the world. Along the horizontal axis, wicked humans are the natural or proximate cause of the cross. Along the vertical axis, God as Creator is the supra-natural or ultimate cause of it. The Cross compels us to radically distinguish the vertical axis of divine action from the horizontal axis of natural causation. Not the slightest deviation from the perpendicular will do. To put it in the words of Thomas Aquinas, “The same effect is not attributed to a natural cause and to divine power in such a way that it is partly done by God, and partly by the natural agent; rather, it is wholly done by both, according to a different way, just as the same effect is wholly attributed to the instrument and also wholly to the principal agent.”^^22^^ There has to be an explanation for the death of Jesus that leaves God so utterly superfluous as a natural cause of it that his holiness remains thoroughly untainted by even the slightest hint of sin. His death is natural in the sense of complement to supranatural and unnatural in the sense of artificial or human-caused. Humans are only empirically privy to the horizontal axis. The vertical axis remains firmly within the concealed domain of God. As mere creatures, we need to be humble enough to admit it.

Douglas Spanner said it very well, “The Bible provides itself, in effect, with a naturalistic [horizontal] explanation of the death of Jesus Christ – priestly jealousy, an individual’s resentment, social unrest, foreign domination. Given these (and a few other common circumstances) the secular historian would be quite satisfied that he knew why events took the course they did. Yet, the Biblical writers robustly affirm that there is a truth taking precedence over any naturalistic explanation – that this happening was both in broad outline and in fine detail God’s [vertical] doing, the central act of his plan for ‘reconciling the world to himself.”^^23^^

Intelligent design according to the cross

If the cross endorses creation, what does it say about intelligent design? We have seen that intelligent design claims that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”^^24^^ Let us see whether intelligent design holds up when that “certain feature” happens to be the cross. From a merely human standpoint does not that first Good Friday in history look very bleak indeed? Could any human creature have detected God’s hand at the cross with mere reason outside of God revealing it? The issue here is not whether the cross is designed in the sense of created for a purpose since the Bible is clear that Christ’s death is foreordained (Acts 2:23), but whether humans have the intellectual (or spiritual) faculties to detect that design empirically (apart from special revelation).^^25^^ Even with the Old Testament, Caiaphas and the other religious leaders could not do it. The Apostle Paul said, “No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8). Humanly speaking, it was necessary for these rulers not to be able to detect God’s hand at the cross for God to accomplish his redemptive mission. To put it differently, it was God’s design that humans would not be able to detect his designs! When the High Priest, Caiaphas, said prophetically, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50), he did not realise what the prophecy meant. He understood his statement politically, not spiritually.

And Peter and the other disciples could not detect God’s designs either. When Jesus foretold his murder, Peter took him aside and rebuked him, “Never, Lord! … This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22) Jesus responded to Peter in perhaps his strongest language ever, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23). The religious enemies of Jesus who wanted him killed and this friend of Jesus, who didn’t, perhaps have more in common than they realised. Peter’s response was well-intentioned and equally religious – it just wasn’t Christian in the crucial sense. It took a few more blunders before he started to get it.^^26^^ As theologian Edward Schroeder has said, “In the crucified Christ we see that God acts in creation in contradiction to what men naturally and reasonably expect, especially in contradiction to man’s religious expectations.”^^27^^

If the religious leaders who had the benefit of the Old Testament and the disciples who had the benefit of knowing Jesus in person could not detect God’s vertical hand in the cross how could scientists (say) be able to do so within the capacities of their profession? Would it not be an attempt to give their profession revelatory credence? Neither religious nor scientific acumen is able to do it.

According to the Apostle Paul, it requires revelation. God’s wisdom has to be specially revealed by him. Paul says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:11-13).

Remember the cross is where God has acted most clearly in history – this is God’s greatest self-revelation. There is no shred of empirical evidence that God the Father was involved at the cross. If the Father did not leave his fingerprints at the scene of his greatest self-revelation, how can we expect to find them elsewhere? If we could not empirically detect God’s hand at the scene of God’s greatest revelation, how are we going to detect God’s hand in living things?

It isn’t that humans haven’t come up with a device to detect God. We have. The irony is that we were not trying to find God, but defy him. That device is the wooden cross at Calvary. Could God have more clearly and emphatically communicated the utter futility of human ingenuity – whether it be intellectual, scientific, philosophical, theological, religious or moral – in detecting the divine hand? Deep down, this is not a message I really want to hear. I would rather flatter myself with the thought that, to some extent at least, God can be intellectually managed. But the Gospel demonstrates the thorough inadequacy of the human intellect in reaching an Inscrutable God. It exposes such efforts as a veritable tower of Babel. We do not empirically detect God. He reveals himself to us. According to Scripture we come to know God only on his terms – by grace through faith. The cross was intelligently designed – by humans – it was cleverly (and foolishly and wickedly) contrived for causing a lingering and painful death. While humans were intelligently designing the cross, God was wisely and undetectably creating it using those very human instruments as his agents. How the wisdom of God has exposed the folly of humans! Does the cross not expose the prevalent conceit of equating intelligence with wisdom? The cross reveals God and it also reveals humanity. It declares that the unaided sinful intellect of human creatures is thoroughly incapable of fathoming a Holy Creator. That is the divine intel on intelligent design! To say otherwise it to double-cross the cross and intelligent design has done that. In one fell swoop the cross distinguishes Creation from intelligent design, endorses the former and exposes the latter.

If it wasn’t for the cross we could boast about our intelligence in discerning Divine Wisdom. The terms of the Gospel preclude any basis for boasting. The Lord says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (1 Corinthians 1:19). And the Apostle Paul comments, “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, [and scientists demand scientific evidence?] but we preach Christ crucified …” (1 Corinthians 1:20-22a). God designed things so that we would not be able to detect his designs and would not have a basis for human self-glory.

I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except …

Intelligent design proponents have a strategy. Their lobby group, the Discovery Institute, has produced the so-called Wedge Document that says, “If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points.”^^28^^ The irony here is that the tree is also a motif for the cross and intelligent design has (humanly speaking) undercut that. If intelligent design is successful it will indeed be the thin edge of the wedge – not for “materialistic science” which carries on regardless – but, as we will see, for the message of the cross.

Unlike Peter with his less than effective use of a sword, we followers today cannot try to prevent the crucifixion of Jesus, but we can ignore it or de-emphasise it. Peter’s “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you” becomes our “Never Lord! This should never have happened to you.” Note the ‘Lord.’ Indeed it is the Lord’s followers that all too often ardently avoid the centrality of the cross. The Corinthian church fell into this trap by emphasising human reason and human leaders over Christ. Paul’s response is to remind them that Jesus Christ is the only foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) and to say, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The Apostle Paul still needs to be heeded.

In a striking example of how the followers of Jesus can de-emphasise the cross, theologian Ron Osborn mentions the book Creation, Catastrophe, and Calvary: Why a Global Flood is Vital to the Doctrine of Atonement, which says much about “geological columns, radiometric dating, and the Hebrew language but very little is actually said about Calvary or the person of Christ, despite the book’s title. Calvary here is a kind of theological abstraction tagged to the conclusion of our scientific and linguistic reasoning and our systematic theology. The implication of creationist arguments such as these is that Genesis 1 actually tells us everything we need to know about the creation without any reference to the cross whatsoever, which only becomes necessary once we arrive at Genesis 3 and the human fall. Literalism of this kind is creation without the cross.”^^29^^

Intelligent design, in particular, downplays the cross. Phillip Johnson, in Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, only mentions the cross once and then only to assert that it is incompatible with “evolutionary naturalism.”^^30^^ Dembski, in Intelligent Design – the Bridge Between Science & Theology, also only mentions the cross once and then only to assert that evidence of design does not challenge it.^^31^^ Actually, as we have already seen, it does. In 1996 Phillip Johnson and others convened the “Mere Creation” conference at Biola University. Forrest and Gross say, “The importance of this conference for the subsequent development of the Wedge cannot be overestimated.”^^32^^ With twenty mostly Christian academics as contributors and nearly 500 pages, the phrase “intelligent design” came up 95 times in the published proceedings. ‘Jesus’ appeared merely five times and ‘the cross’ appeared only once – again to assert that intelligent design poses no challenge to it.^^33^^ The index had an entry for Chief Inspector Clouseau and crop circles, but none for Christ or the crucifixion. ‘Mere’ is right and ‘Creation’ should be in lower case.

the power and it intelligent

What is the result of de-emphasing Christ and him crucified? You are left with a movement that says, in effect, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except merely the power and it intelligent.” Dembski freely admits, “Intelligent design is theologically minimalist. It detects intelligence without speculating about the nature of the intelligence.”^^34^^ Intelligent design proponent Stephen Meyer refers to it as “the causal power of intelligent design.”^^35^^ He explicitly says, “The theory of intelligent design does not claim to be able to determine the identity or any other attributes of that intelligence.”^^36^^ He is consistent - the terms 'holy' and 'love' never appear in his book. 'Humble' does appear, but only with reference to bacteria and the garden pea. Biochemist Michael Behe says, "Possible candidates for the role of designer include: … an angel-- fallen or not; Plato's demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travellers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being." ^^37^^

Philosopher George Mavrodes points out that it is not uncommon for the definition of god arrived at by the design program to make “no mention of goodness or any similar virtue.”^^38^^ Cardinal Newman said in 1870, “Design teaches me power, skill and goodness [meaning workmanship not moral goodness] —not sanctity, not mercy, not a future judgment, which three are of the essence of religion.”^^39^^ Philosopher Robert Pennock notes the irony that the political strategy of the intelligent design movement leads followers “to deny God in the public square more often than Peter did.”^^40^^ In the intelligent design movement all you have inferred is an anonymous entity with skills and without character.

Dembski has gone so far as to say that “intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”^^41^^ Elsewhere he says, “Information in turn is just another name for logos ... Information -- the information that God speaks to create the world, the information that continually proceeds from God in sustaining the world and acting in it and the information that passes between God's creatures -- this is the bridge that connects transcendence and immanence.” ^^42^^ How does this make the deity much greater than a very fast computer with a very large database? While blinding with science, intelligent design smuggles in a concept of God that is unworthy of him.

Of course, intelligent design proponents are being minimalist as a strategy to combat materialism in the science classroom. But what is wrong with the strategy of spreading the message of the cross by word of mouth? Do they really think they can improve on God’s strategy? Jesus said that it was when he was lifted up that he would draw all people to himself (John 12:32). Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16). Isn’t the power of God enough without trying to enlist the help of state education?

The Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” This does not mean any answer will do. 1 Peter 3:15 begins with, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” The New Testament does not know of any apologetic outside of an emphasis on Christ and him crucified.^^43^^

And do they really think their precedent will stay in the classroom? Christian evolutionary biologist Joan Roughgarden says, “If intelligent design succeeds as a movement, Christianity will be hurt. Intelligent design says the facts of nature offer a better testimonial to God than the Bible does. It will substitute science for the Gospels. The weekly sermon will be about new data on the biochemistry of flagella, not on Jesus’ parables.”^^44^^

I saw the way things could go at a three-part seminar series on origins at a local church that advertises itself as Bible-believing. The speaker, a scientist with impressive credentials but outside of biology stated his purpose as defending the “concept of the Christian God.” What he actually gave was a barrage of science of very mixed quality in which intelligent design was mentioned a lot, but the name of Jesus or the cross was not mentioned even once! What message does this send to the seeker? Is it not “Jesus may be the founder of the Christian faith, but its real foundation is science and reason?” While he dazzled Christians with “science” he smuggled in a concept is unworthy of God.

Dembski has enthusiastically supported the so-called Bible code^^45^^ which does a similar thing. According to the code one can uncover hidden messages in the Bible by skipping letters in intervals that can be thousands long. Dembski thinks it “may provide evidence for God’s existence that would have convinced even a Bertrand Russell.” And what does the code supposedly establish? According to one of the main protagonists, “If the Bible code proves one thing, it is that a non-human intelligence really does exist, or at least did exist at the time the Bible was written.”^^46^^ The Bible code has been thoroughly debunked by mathematicians^^47^^ and Bible scholars.^^48^^

Is it not a serious injustice to God to call him an intelligent designer or non-human intelligence? Is he not so much more in his omniscience and love and sovereignty and holiness and everything else about him? Denis Alexander notes that “The biblical descriptions of God contain many rich metaphors, but ‘designer’ is not one of them.”^^49^^

The wooden cross of Calvary demonstrates that it is entirely possible for humans to intelligently design something without character – without, for instance, compassion or wisdom. And would you call the Mona Lisa intelligently designed? This is hardly fair to the artist who poured so much of his whole being into his painting. How much more does God do what he does with all of his being? We see this commitment most clearly at the cross – the bloodied God Incarnate was not some dispassionate intelligence. At the cross we see most clearly – in action – an integration of God’s attributes and character. However, this principle applies to everything God does. We must never separate God the Creator from God the Holy one, God the Just from God the Loving, God the Omnipotent from God the Humble, God the Gracious from God the Truthful and God the Omniscient from the God the Wise. Oliver Barclay notes, “If God is perceived as essentially the Great Designer, that is greatly to diminish our idea of him, because it concerns only one limited aspect of his character.”^^50^^

Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”^^51^^ This is our lot as humans since God is unfathomable Spirit. Instead, of accepting our lot we can, as intelligent design proponents are want to do, manufacture our own lights. There is a sobering warning in Isaiah to those who would so do.

“Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.

But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”^^52^^

The word for ‘fires’ here is actually ‘sparks.’ It is a pathetic image especially two millennia after Jesus has announced that he is the Light of the World.

Knowing the Creator according to the cross

Perhaps you are acutely aware of your creaturely limitations and are intellectually daunted by the prospect of reaching up to the Creator through the cosmological, teleological or intelligent design arguments and responding to the counter-arguments. Perhaps you are acutely aware of your sinful nature and are morally daunted by the prospect of facing the Awful Holiness of God. Perhaps you are tired of squabbles between religious leaders, and are spiritually daunted by the prospect of discerning between the myriad voices. Perhaps you sense that using human reason to infer a designer, though seductive because it flatters our intellectual pride, may curse us with a perpetual intellectual treadmill. There is always the worry that our arguments or evidence will someday be found wanting by someone cleverer or Someone Cleverer. And then, even if it were possible to muster the brute intellectual power to grasp the Creator, perhaps you wonder about facing Holy Omniscience in all his Terrible Glory.

Perhaps there is another, spiritually safer way? There is a revealing passage in the Old Testament that anticipates it. Moses, on Mount Sinai, recklessly tells God, “Now show me your glory” (Exodus 33: 18). Most of us will never come this close to basking in God’s glory, but will still play at being what Martin Luther called ‘a theologian of glory.’ Gerhard Forde explains that theologians of glory “think one can see through the created world and the acts of God to the invisible realm of glory beyond it …”^^53^^ They “operate on the assumption that creation and history are transparent to the human intellect, that one can see through what is made and what happens so as to peer into the ‘invisible things of God.’”^^54^^ God replies to Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Instead, God says, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” and “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen” (Exodus 33: 19-23).

In the idiom of the Hebrews, the front represented the past because it could be seen and the back represented the future because it couldn’t – the passage is prophetic.^^55^^ For early Christian commentators such as Augustine the ‘back’ of God was commonly understood to pre-figure the Lord Jesus Christ.^^56^^ For Bernard of Clairvaux, the ‘back’ of God is his gentle love shown on the cross – it is God’s lowliness or shadow.^^57^^ Other Bible versions have ‘back parts’ for ‘back,’ which frankly, seems rude. Martin Luther, in thesis 20 of his Heidelberg Disputation, has it, “He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and hind parts of God seen through suffering and the cross.”^^58^^ Gerhard Forde notes that “God … actually prevents Moses from seeing his glory. To be sure, that is on the one hand a gracious act since no one can look on God’s face and live. But for a theologian of glory it is on the other hand a supreme put down… In Luther’s mind here is the suffering, despised, and crucified Jesus that takes the place of God’s backside.”

The prophetic message is this: A day will come when God will make a way for us to see him in all his goodness without us having to die. That way is through the rudeness of Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus will die so that we don’t have to. A prophecy in Zechariah refers to the very same event, “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.” In this passage Joshua the High Priest stands before the Lord in filthy clothes that represent his sin. The Lord rebukes his accuser, has his filthy garments removed, and says to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then the Lord says to Joshua that he and his associates are symbolic of things to come (Zechariah 3:1-10). In Christ crucified, these things have come.

God has made a spiritually safe way to himself, not through a ‘theology of glory’ but a ‘theology of the cross.’ Luther explains, “For because men put to wrong use their knowledge of God which they had gained from his works, God determined on the contrary to be known from sufferings. He sought to condemn that sort of knowledge of the things invisible which was based on a wisdom from things visible. So that in this way those who did not worship God as made known in his works, might worship him behind his sufferings.”^^59^^ Theologians of the cross obtain their knowledge of God through Christ’s efforts at Calvary and do not try to manufacture fine clothes and put them on themselves.

This is a very different way of knowing. Rosalene Bradbury says, “The theologian of glory learns from natural methodologies that the knowledge of God can be reached speculatively; the theologian of the cross learns from the cross that God ultimately reveals the knowledge of himself in the crucified Christ. The theologian of glory looks towards the invisible things of God with the eyes of the intellect; the theologian of the cross looks towards the visible things of God with the eyes of faith.”^^60^^ Moltmann says, “To know God in the cross of Christ is a crucifying form of knowledge, because it shatters everything to which a man can hold and on which he can build, both his works and his knowledge of reality, and precisely in so doing sets him free.”^^61^^ The theologian of the cross is set free from trying to use mere creaturely human intelligence to detect the Creator’s designs. There is now no need for anxiety over whether one’s theology or science will be found to be suspect because one’s knowledge of God has a completely different foundation.

The Apostle Paul was such a theologian. He resolved “to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul resolved to know nothing before the Corinthians, but he also resolved to know nothing before God. Paul’s trust was not in how much he knew, but in Who he knew. Elsewhere he says, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ …” (Philippians 3:7-8).

What Luther calls a ‘theology of the cross’ expresses it too fancily. What is meant is a response of trust towards a Person on a cross. The Bible calls this trust ‘faith.’ “Faith is an attitude whereby a man abandons all reliance in his own efforts to obtain salvation, be they deeds of piety, or ethical goodness or anything else”.^^62^^ This ‘anything else’ includes intellectual effort. Indeed, Jesus praised God that the wise and learned struggled to fathom the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 11:25-26). Paul warned Timothy of those who were “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

So, we do not know the Creator through knowledge we have inferred from our own intellectual effort. We know the Creator by putting our trust in the One who has come down to us. The person of faith does not confidently cling to his own adequacy, but confidently clings to the adequacy of Christ on the cross. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). The Truth that saves is not found in print, but in a Person. It is God’s design that we come to know the Creator through faith in Christ crucified.

Science according to the cross

In the Creator on the Cross a hypothetical forensic scientist, Professor Richard, is commissioned to establish the cause of death of Jesus. He returns saying, “I find no shred of forensic evidence that God was involved in the death of Jesus.” Professor Richard is an atheist, his science is purely materialistic and yet, as Christians, we should be extremely happy with his findings. We would not want God’s name to appear on the death certificate. If it did, God would be culpable for the death of his own Son. The cross requires that forensic scientists be unable to find God as a natural cause and be able to find a total, complete, fully naturalistic account of the death of Jesus. The cross endorses science.

Scientism according to the cross

If the cross endorses science, what does it say about scientism? Professor Richard is not just a scientist who happens to be an atheist – he tries to use science to defend his atheism. So he adds, “God was not involved in the cross.” Now he is going outside his expertise as a scientist and far beyond science’s legitimate scope. Professor Richard’s ministerial use of his intelligence in determining the horizontal cause of death of Jesus is perfectly appropriate. He goes wrong when he tries to magisterially use his intelligence to adjudicate on whether God was involved at all at the cross. He has now left the horizontal axis and is trying to speak about the vertical one. He is speaking as an ontological naturalist or materialist ideologue. This is a metaphysical position, not a scientific one. What he is expressing is a kind of scientism – an ontological scientism. He is implying that the only reality that exists is the one to which science has access.^^63^^ It can also be seen a kind of inept theologising in the guise of science.

How do we know Professor Richard’s statement is false? Not because science says so, but because the Bible does – Jesus was handed over to his murderers by “God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23). God’s involvement in the cross has not been discovered by us through science, but revealed to us through Scripture. Education is a very good thing, but you do not need a PhD in philosophy, theology or science to dispose of scientism and naturalism and materialism. The cross does it. The cross exposes scientism.

Religious scientism according to the cross

Now imagine that some scientifically-orientated believers are unhappy with Professor Richard’s determination. So they bring in their own equally brilliant forensic expert, Dr William. He goes away, returns later and reports, “I have carefully examined the cause of the death of Jesus. The evidence implicating Romans and Jews is not watertight. For instance, the fact that blood and water (lymph) flowed when the Roman soldier pierced the side of Jesus indicates, medically, that Jesus was already dead. So, the soldier cannot be held culpable on this basis.” Dr. William is quite right – there is nothing wrong with his forensics.

Now Dr William is not just a scientist who is also religious. He tries to co-opt science to defend his religious views. So, he adds “Professor Richard came to his conclusions not because of the scientific evidence, but because of his atheistic or naturalistic presuppositions. He cannot fully explain, forensically, who caused the death of Jesus. So, there are scientific grounds for believing that God must have been involved in the death of Jesus after all. We reject atheistic forensic science in favour of theistic forensic science.”

Notice that what Dr William is doing here is as much scientism as Prof Richard’s rejection of God’s involvement at the cross because it is “as a misuse (or misapplication) of the facts and/or methods of science.”^^64^^ In Dr William’s case it is a form of religious scientism. Dr William needs the death of Jesus to be naturalistically undetermined for him to believe that God was involved at the cross at all. Dr William is too affected by the theological significance that he imagines forensic science has. It is tricky to ascertain the exact culpability of individuals in the death of Jesus. Judas had a role in betraying him. The temple guards had a role in arresting him. The Jewish leaders had a role in handing him over to Pilate. Herod had a role in returning him back to Pilate. Pilate had a role in handing him over to be crucified. The Roman soldiers had a role in nailing him to the cross and lifting it up. But, the Christian has no vested interest in which way the evidence goes. Whichever way it goes, Jesus still died by the foreordained plan of God for the forgiveness of sins. Sure, Dr William wants to give credit to God for the cross, but he is going about it in entirely the wrong way. His approach is thoroughly self-defeating at many levels. I will mention just a few here.

First, it makes God look evil. If he succeeded with his approach, God would become culpable for the death of his Son.

Second, it makes God look tiny. Dr William has tried to plug up the holes in forensic science with God. The result is that the more successful the forensic science becomes the smaller God looks. From the perspective of the cross, what a thoroughly inadequate and unbiblical view of God this is! This is the so-called god-of-the gaps that theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer repudiated. He wrote in a Nazi prison, “how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”^^65^^ And it is also a disservice to science and intellectual endeavour. Philosopher Robert Pennock explains, “To point out that we are ignorant of the scientific explanation is hardly good reason to conclude that God is the explanation. To call upon God to plug our explanatory gaps is tantamount to intellectual indolence. No doubt God could plug these or any purported gap, but surely God has better things to do.”^^66^^

Third, what Dr William has done is to conflate the distinction between divine and natural agency so that the axes are not perpendicular to one another. What we are left with is not the cross of Calvary, but an oblique one called the Crux Decussata or St Andrews cross. Tradition has it that St Andrew was crucified on such a cross at his own request because he felt he was unworthy of dying on the same type cross that his Lord had died on.

For all his good intentions, Dr William has an abysmal theology of divine agency. He would have benefited from theologian Austen Farrer’s warning against thinking about divine agency in such a way that “we degrade it to the creaturely level and place it in the field of interacting causalities. The result can only be … monstrosity and confusion.”^^67^^ The cross exposes religious scientism.

As you may have guessed, intelligent design proponents are today’s equivalent to the hypothetical Dr William. Intelligent design is a form of religious scientism. As we shall see, the cross disposes of the intelligent designer.

The intelligent designer according to the cross

The intelligent designer is naturalised

The intelligent designer is naturalised in the sense that it is possible for the naturalist to discover empirical evidence for him. Dembski writes, “How then do we determine whether God has so arranged the physical world that our native intellect can discover reliable evidence of him? The answer is obvious: put our natural intellect to the task and see whether indeed it produces conclusive evidence of design in nature.”^^68^^ Phillip Johnson calls this position “theistic realism” saying, “A theistic realist assumes that the universe and all its creatures were brought into existence for a purpose by God. Theistic realists expect this “fact” of creation to have empirical, observable consequences that are different from the consequences one would observe if the universe were the product of nonrational causes …”^^69^^ Others call this position theistic science.^^70^^

Intelligent design proponents seem driven by the angst that unless the Creator and his purposes can be proven scientifically, he cannot exist. So, they try to locate God within the chain of natural causes using nature and reason.

Let us apply our “natural intellect” to God’s greatest self-revelation and see where it gets us. Jesus could have died purposelessly as a mere man in a universe that is not created. How does one distinguish, empirically, this death from the actual one where he died “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23). There is nothing empirically observable in his death itself that could lead one to decide between these two options. God revealed by Scripture has emphatically arranged Calvary so that our mere natural intellect cannot discover reliable evidence of him.^^71^^ The point to note here is that God’s greatest self-revelation was not divorced from the natural order of things. God worked through the natural order. This is why the cross is a model for how God acts in the physical world in general and should guide all our thinking about the physical world. Intelligent design proponents seem to compartmentalise Calvary as if it took place in purgatory.

The intelligent designer is naturalised whereas the Creator revealed by Scripture is transcendent. Intelligent design is not so much a claim about divine intelligence as it is about the capacity of human intelligence to discern it. Joan Roughgarden warns that the phrase “intelligent design” is pretentious. Who are we to give God an intelligence test, to measure his IQ? Saying that God is “intelligent” invites the sin of idolatry.”^^72^^ Intelligent design proponents are, in the words of philosopher Robert Pennock , “… reducing God to a scientific object, placing God in the scientific box.”^^73^^ He adds that “Christians would be wise not to even start down the dead-end road of … theistic science, for it is unlikely that they would find a naturalised God to be worthy of worship.”^^74^^ C.S. Lewis puts it this way in Mere Christianity, “We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is. Since that power, if it exists, would not be one of the observed facts but a reality which makes them, no mere observation of the facts can find it….If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe – no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house.”^^75^^

The intelligent designer needs room to act whereas the Creator revealed by Scripture does not. One proponent says, “If the evolutionary process is guided, then it no longer is Darwinian. And if the evolutionary process is unguided, it allows no room for God. Logically, not even God can guide an unguided process.”^^76^^ Apply his thinking to Calvary and you would have to conclude that God was vertically absent at the cross. The major presupposition of this thinking, as theologian-philosopher Smedes explains, “is that God and world are competing with each other. If everything is scientifically explainable (in e.g. causal or mechanistic terms), then there is apparently no room for God to act.”^^77^^ But the fact that from the human perspective God’s redemptive plan was a mystery (1 Corinthians 2:7- 8), did not keep it from been preordained.

This is the consequence of collapsing the vertical axis into the horizontal. “The main problem with ID” says theologian John Haught, “is that, ironically, it shares with evolutionary materialism the unfounded belief that only one authoritative kind of explanation is available to us today – namely, the scientific – and so feels compelled to push impatiently a metaphysically and theologically loaded notion of “intelligent design” into a logical space that is entirely too small for it.”^^78^^ Philosophers call this a category mistake.

Intelligent design proponents are labouring under the self-flattering, populist common sense perspective that truth about God is manifest to the natural human intellect.^^79^^ The truth about the God revealed by Scripture is manifest indeed, but not to the natural human intellect. It is God who has manifested the Truth to the spiritually discerning. Paul says, “… these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-14).

Paul stresses the inadequacy of the natural intellect saying, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate”” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). That it cost God an enormous sacrifice to reveal himself does not square with the cocky notion that truth about him is manifest to the natural human intellect!^^80^^

Notice that the term ‘design’ has multiple meanings. As an ordered arrangement of form, anyone – sinner and believer alike can empirically detect it in the wooden cross at Calvary as well as in livings things. Biologists will often use the term quite legitimately in this uncontroversial sense. To make the category mistake of smuggling theological categories into the meaning of design, as ID proponents do, is another matter entirely. Using empirical science to try to detect divine action and purpose is to elevate science into a role it cannot perform. As theologian Alister McGrath points out, “design is something inferred [on metaphysical grounds], not something observed.”^^81^^

In trying to defend God scientifically, intelligent design proponents have ended up defending a naturalised agent on the same level as other natural causes and who bears scant resemblance to the Creator revealed by Scripture. If God did not intelligently design the cross and yet created it, he certainly does need to design life in order to have created it. From the perspective of the cross, theistic science is really pseudo-theistic scientism.

The intelligent designer is scientifically obsolete

We have seen that for a forensic scientist to ignore God while investigating the horizontal cause of death of the Jesus is far from impious. It is merely to recognise ones creaturely limitations in trying to penetrate the inscrutability of God. To use philosophical language, the cross justifies scientists being methodological naturalists – they should investigate the causes of natural phenomena without invoking God as a possible explanation. Theologian-scientist George Murphy says it well, “Now if God is hidden in his supreme revelation [the cross], should we perhaps expect God to be hidden in the everyday occurrences of the world.”^^82^^ It is because God is horizontally hidden in ordinary occurrences that scientists should be methodological naturalists when investigating causes of natural phenomena – they should not consider God as if he were a rival hypothesis.

Intelligent design proponents have a problem with methodological naturalism. Phillip Johnson, for instance, describes it as “a doctrine that insists that science must explain biological creation only by natural processes, meaning unintelligent processes. Reference to a creator or designer is relegated to the realm of religion, and ruled out of bounds in science regardless of the evidence.”^^83^^ Dembski and McDowell say, “According to methodological naturalism, science must restrict itself solely to blind natural causes working by unbroken laws of nature… But what justifies limiting scientific inquiry merely to blind material causes? And how do we know that empirical inquiry into the natural world can uncover only the effects of such causes and not design? The only way to answer these questions is to begin with an open mind and examine whether nature bears the marks of design. Intelligent design leaves this option open without prejudging the conclusion. Methodological naturalism, by contrast, excludes the possibility of design before any consideration of the evidence.”^^84^^ Thus they see methodological naturalism as a dogmatic and arbitrary prejudice and imply that only science can tell us whether we are justified in limiting scientific inquiry merely to blind material causes.

They are wrong on all these accounts. They would have a point if we weren’t sitting two thousand years after a crucial line of evidence. C.S. Lewis notes that “Christianity is not the conclusion of a philosophical debate on the origin of the universe: it is a catastrophic historical event … it is itself one of the awkward facts which have to be fitted into any system we make.”^^85^^ Any properly Christian theology of science must consider the evidence of Calvary. It is the cross that closes the intelligent designer option and tells us that we are perfectly justified in limiting scientific inquiry merely to blind material causes. It is ironic that Christian proponents complain that methodological naturalism does not allow them to consider an intelligent designer when in their scientism, they fail to consider the crucified Creator – the most significant line of evidence in all of history! They are just not crucicentric enough. Dembski has written, “The point to understand here is that Christ is never an addendum to a scientific theory but always a completion.”^^86^^ Jesus is neither an addendum nor a completion to the horizontal axis. He vertically makes the horizontal axis even possible.

Some scientists critical of intelligent design think proponents have a point. Edis Taner writes, “Methodological naturalism cannot be used as an ID-stopper. If it is to fail, ID should be allowed to fail as a scientific proposal.”^^87^^ Sure, scientists can let intelligent design fail as a scientific proposal, but Christians should let it fail first as a theological proposal.

And proponents would have a point if we weren’t sitting hundreds of years after very successful science. Methodological naturalism “is not dogma;” says Robert Pennock, “it continues to be accepted in part because of its success – it works.”^^88^^

The intelligent designer is an intermittently active demigod

Phillip Johnson says, “Darwinian evolution is by definition unguided and purposeless, and such evolution cannot in any meaningful sense be theistic.”^^89^^ In the words of Denis Alexander the intelligent design “literature gives the impression that there is something inherently ‘naturalistic’ about certain aspects of the created order and not about other aspects, and such thinking appears to stem from a very inadequate doctrine of creation. In biblical creation theology, the natural order is seen as a seamless web of God’s creative activity … within this framework of a robust biblical theism, there is nothing in the created order without exception that is not created and sustained by God [italics mine].”^^90^^

Let us see where Johnson thinking takes us at Calvary. Was the cross created and sustained by God? This is certainly the case according to biblical theism. But intelligent design proponents would have to find in the cross one of those inherently ‘naturalistic’ aspects of the created order since Jesus died by blind natural causes. The agents that effected Christ’s death and our redemption did not have a clue about what they were doing. The Apostle Paul said, “None of the rulers of this age understood [God’s secret wisdom], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). By their own logic intelligent design proponents would have to deny the divine foreordination of the cross. Their god is looking like an intermittently active demigod.

The death of Jesus is unique because here is God Incarnate dying. But death itself is the common experience of God’s creatures. The cross shows that the God revealed by the Bible participates in the ordinary even when that ordinary is full of pain and horror and death. Nature is what God does ordinarily. Miracles, such as the resurrection, are what he does extraordinarily. If the sun were to rise for the very first time this morning we might all be jumping up and down celebrating an extraordinary miracle. Because it happens every day we do not give it much thought. We are too affected by the extraordinarily spectacular and so we think that God is absent in the regularity and ordinariness of life. As Oliver Barclay has pointed out, “To the biblical writers the processes of ‘nature’ that science is exploring today are as much the work of God as the existence of the world itself.”^^91^^ There is a cross-shaped pattern to divine and natural agency that applies to the whole created order.

And this includes the lives of ordinary people. From a pastoral perspective, intelligent design is unhelpful. Ordinary people facing the pain, horror and death that comes to us all need to be assured that while we cannot detect God’s designs on our life, he is yet unceasingly active, causing all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28).

Intelligent design proponent Dr William Dembski finds it surprising that theologians have a harder time than scientists in accepting intelligent design.^^92^^ It isn’t surprising when you consider that theologians have something that scientists, as scientists, do not have – the light of the cross. In particular, it is theologians of the cross such as George Murphy and John Haught that have the hardest time accepting intelligent design. Dembski has recognised the centrality of the cross, writing in a chapter entitled The reach of the Cross, “God’s goodness in creation begins and ends with the Cross of Christ.”^^93^^ Well said. What is odd is that he does not extend the reach of the cross to intelligent design. If he did he would grasp that Calvary disposed of it, in principle, two thousand years ago. As we have seen, intelligent design proponents downplay the significance of the cross in relation to science. This is why the Intelligent Designer looks so different to the Creator. The Intelligent Designer is, at best, merely super-intelligent in human terms. The Creator is holy, all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful as supremely revealed at the cross.

Intelligent design according to the Bible

We saw earlier that intelligent design proponents create the impression that processes that can be explained naturalistically somehow leave no room for the Creator. The biblical view gives a vastly different picture of a God who does not need “room to act.”

Oliver Barclay summarises it well, “This title ‘the living God’ is often used by the biblical writers to stress that God is active in the world … To the biblical writers the processes of ‘nature’ that science is exploring today are as much the work of God as the existence of the world itself. It is he who sends the seasons, as he has promised, so that when he is thanked for the harvest it is not just for the fact that there is the cycle of life that gives a crop, but that in his goodness this has happened once more. God is the Great Provider; hence the word providence.”

Jesus himself stressed this day-to-day providence of God, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 15:17). And the living God’s work is not around but through natural processes. Donald Mackay comments, “When Jesus asserts for example that God feeds the sparrows, he does not seem to imply anything extra to, or incompatible with, a physical explanation of sparrow-feeding. He rather suggests that when we have finished analysing it in mechanical terms, there is fresh sense to be made of the same pattern of events in a complementary way…”^^94^^ Whether it is sparrow-feeding or human-redeeming, there is consonance between God’s creative activity and his redemptive mission in Jesus at Calvary. The cross is both the model and the culmination of God’s providential care.

A naïve and literalistic reading of isolated Bible passages might suggest that creation was an event some time in the past or a series of intermittent interventions.^^95^^ A very different view is obtained by taking the Bible as a whole including the New Testament and John 1:1-3, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” The doctrine of creation is, in the words of theologian Robert Jenson, that “The world at any moment would not be did not God will it.”^^96^^ Or, as Thomas Aquinas expressed it, "As it depends on God's will that he brings things into being, so it depends on his will that he keeps them in being; for he keeps them in being only by always giving them being. Therefore if he withdrew his action from them they would return to non- existence." ^^97^^ There is an enormous difference between the biblical idea of the living God and the intelligent designer.

It is by reading into isolated passages taken out of context that proponents manage to extract an intelligent designer from the Bible. Favourite verses include Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” and Psalm 8:3-4, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them …”^^98^^

This defence flounders for several reasons. First, it has been noted for some time that Paul and David were addressing themselves to Tom, Dick and Harry using ordinary reasoning long before science got off the ground. Richard Bube said, “Scientific mechanisms were generally not within the purpose of Scriptural writers who aimed to present a revelation in terms understandable by all men in all times.”^^99^^ Intelligent design on the other hand, tries to^^100^^ speak to the scientifically erudite. But God does not avail himself especially to the elite. In the very next chapter Paul says, “For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11). Indeed Paul says elsewhere, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Jesus himself says, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things [of the kingdom of God] from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do” (Luke 10:21).

Second, Paul presumes prior knowledge of Christ. Paul says in Romans 1:16 -17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed-a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”” And Paul does not tarry with reasoning from the created order, but turns to the righteousness that “is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22). Similarly, David begins and ends with what the readers already knew about God from revelation, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1, 9). How pale the intelligent designer looks next to the Lord of Lords!

Third, Paul mentions creation in the context of judgment not salvation. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” The very best that intelligent design arguments could do is to heap condemnation on those so persuaded. The Creator arrived at through a theology of glory is as Edward Schroeder says, “… the God of law, of judgment, of wrath, of condemnation, finally, of death.”^^101^^ He is bad news. The good news is that the gracious Creator revealed in Jesus brings redemption.

Fourth, Paul is actually criticising the natural knowledge of God because it leads to idolatry. He says, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:22-23). As George Murphy says, “Paul argues in Romans 1 that sin causes people to misinterpret evidence for God in creation and to attribute it to idols.”^^102^^

Reasoning from nature to an intelligent designer is just not in the mindset of the Hebrew writers. We will see later that intelligent design is an ancient Greek import. Modern day proponents have read what they have wanted into the biblical text.

Those in the intelligent design movement are trying to do the impossible with just nature and their intelligence – they are trying to discover God and without the benefit of revelation. They are a little like the characters in a play by Shakespeare trying to discover the author. We are on a far better footing doing theology of nature than natural theology.^^103^^

Intelligent design proponents are mere creatures trying to empirically investigate the action of a Creator-sized God. The object of their efforts is a reduced specimen-god amenable to scientific investigation. The irony is that what they are trying to prove has already been revealed once and for all. Jesus is the creature-sized Creator. God Incarnate has left his fingerprints on the cross – in his own blood. God has left us with the best basis for faith in him at extreme cost to himself. Looking elsewhere is a slap in the bloodied face of Jesus.

Intelligent design according to the school of hard knocks

Intelligent design does not only flounder at the cross, but with life in general. My daughters Rachel and Sharon are intelligent and beautiful young women. Rachel made the Dean’s honour roll at university. Sharon is a gifted musician who can play no less than eight musical instruments and sings like an angel. Maybe it is just the proud father speaking, but it is easy to think of them as knitted together in their mother’s womb and fearfully and wonderfully made – not by just any old deity, but the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Are they intelligently designed?

There is a problem. Rachel had congenital hypothyroidism. She should have been a cretin with an IQ of less than 80. Sharon had a latent jaw defect. Finding scientific evidence of God’s hand in their formation would make him responsible. Calling them intelligently designed doesn’t quite cut it. Instead, they were wisely created. God created them through natural processes and intelligent medical agents using hormonal treatment in Rachel’s case and an elaborate surgical procedure in Sharon’s. Again we see a cross-shaped pattern between divine agency on the one hand and medical and natural agency on the other. Looking at Rachel and Sharon now, you would never think that anything had ever been wrong. The very same species that cruelly killed Jesus has compassionately helped to make them the stunning women they are today and God foreordained this all along. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). How do I know all this? Not because I, with my natural intellect, am able to detect God’s vertical hand in the womb and in their lives. I know this because I am looking at them not with just my reason, but with the Bible, the cross, and the Holy Spirit.

Evolution according to the cross

If intelligent design does not square with the gospel, does evolution? For some, it is the thought of God using evolution that is the problem. Philosopher of biology, David Hull asks, “What kind of God can one infer from the sort of phenomena epitomized by the species on Darwin’s Galapagos Islands? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror.” And the answer he gives: “The God of the Galapagos is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.”^^104^^ For Hull, evolution provides a decisive test of God’s character.

Some could argue that God’s creatures may be lacking in either innocence or sentience so that this suffering is either deserved or diluted in some way or both. However, Jesus, the Flawless One, had no such disability. Animals are certainly innocent because they do not have the capability that humans have in choosing between good and evil. How much more innocent is Jesus who chose good over evil? Yet the truly Innocent One suffered and died unjustly under God’s set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). “It is natural to ask how a God who is all-good and all-powerful could create the type of world in which processes involving massive loss, death, and extinction would be involved in the development of life” says George Murphy. “But things look different if we view evolution from Golgotha – the place of the crucifixion.”^^105^^ Golgotha is a greater test of the character of God than the Galapagos.

The One the Father abandoned was not only innocent, but also his very own Son. And he sent him not only to die, but also to a humiliating, lingering, tortured death. And he sentenced him not only to physical death but also to spiritual death. God joined men in cursing his very own Son. “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) Jesus was deeply aware of this curse. He cries, “My God, My God why have you abandoned me.”

What abandonment. What a terrible way to die. What excruciating pain. What waste. What contingency. What kind of God can we infer from the cross? If evolution is a threat to the character of God, how much more so is the brutal fact of the cross?

A university lecturer once wrote to me echoing the view of many, “How could the God of love use such a terrible mechanism [evolution] to create us and say “…it is good…”? Do you honestly think this will advance the cause of Christ?” My response was that by his argument, “Calvary is precluded. How could the God of love use such a terrible mechanism as the crucifixion of His innocent and only Son to save us and call it good news? Do you honestly think this will advance the cause of Christ?” He did not reply. He had failed to reflect on evolution in the light of the Gospel.

If he had, he would have seen, as has been said many times, and recently by evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala in his Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion, that evolution comes to God’s rescue. Just as God used wicked men in achieving his salvation plan, so he has used evolutionary processes in making the extraordinary diversity of life. Just as God cannot be held culpable for the torture and death of his Son and yet is our redeemer, so God cannot be held culpable for all the suffering and death in the evolutionary process and yet is our maker. The key is to understand the cross-shaped pattern to divine and natural agency. Ayala says, the “design of organisms need not be attributed to the [vertical] immediate agency of the Creator, but rather is an outcome of [horizontal] natural processes.”^^106^^ Or, to put it in terms of Donald Mackay’s author analogy, “…it would make no sense to hold Shakespeare guilty as an accessory to the murder committed by Macbeth!”^^107^^

The gospel puts evolution in perspective. Evolution is very far from being the greatest “challenge” to God. The cross is that and God has more than survived the cross.

Evolution according to science

To put it simply, there are two scientific questions concerning evolution. The first is how does evolution happen? This is the question about mechanism or process. Is natural selection a sizeable driving force in the origin of the diversity of life on earth? The second is did evolution happen? This is the historical question. Are all organisms descended from a common ancestor? Note that both these questions belong to the horizontal axis. Vertically, we know from the Bible that Jesus is the Creator of all things. If natural selection were to turn out to be scientifically unsatisfactory, we would need to look for other natural mechanisms to account for the diversity of life.

Concerning mechanism, natural selection, Darwin’s basic idea, is simple. There are two basic ingredients – heritable variation and selection. Darwin noticed that there is a great deal of variation in living things that is passed from one generation to another. Here the range and colour and pattern in just one species, the harlequin ladybird beetle:

Now, it does not have to be the environment doing the selecting unconsciously. Humans could be doing it consciously. This is artificial selection and here is the result^^108^^:

While these breeds are genetically one species, it is mechanically impossible for a male Chihuahua to mate with a female Great Dane. Artificial selection has produced this divergence from a wolf in less than tens of thousands of years. This is a mere twinkle in evolutionary time. Did Jesus create the Chihuahua and the Great Dane or did humans breed them? The answer is yes to both. Some anti-evolutionists such as Ken Ham deny that dog breeds were created by God because they were developed by humans. He is being both anti-creation and anti-evolution at the same time. And he is being inconsistent. It is still evolution whether it is natural or artificial. And notice that from God’s point of view the artificial evolution here is perfectly natural as opposed to supra-natural – it was not a miracle. It is just that the instruments God used in creating dog breeds happen to include humans. There is nothing theologically controversial here. Ken Ham and others create conflict because they can not or will not understand the cross-shaped pattern to divine and natural agency.

What we call natural selection is evolution happening outside of conscious involvement of humans. We have seen that artificial selection is very effective. How effective is natural selection?

Microbiologist Richard Lenski and co-workers cultured populations of the bacterium Escherichia coli in a nutrient-poor medium containing citrate. In effect, they were saying to the bacteria, “Adapt or die.” The bacterium cannot use citrate as a carbon source under aerobic conditions. It took thousands of generations and multiple mutations, but a citrate- using variant did indeed evolve in one of their populations. ^^109^^

Lenski and colleagues have also seen the effectiveness of selection in the field of Artificial Life using self-replicating computer programs that can mutate and evolve. They found that the evolution of complex behaviours can emerge from the evolution of simpler ones.^^110^^ Now there is a ready objection to this claim. Programmers could have smuggled intelligence into the computations. While this may be true for some systems,^^111^^ it is easily refuted in more sophisticated systems by the fact that digital organisms sometimes outwit their programmers! Some developers are biologically naïve. The characteristics of evolved artificial life organisms surprise and educate them! For instance Jeffrey Ventrella admits, “It may have been hubris which originally caused me to anticipate more anthropomorphic limb- stroking” in advanced populations in his aquatic artificial life organisms. ^^112^^ Instead he got non-limbed undulating forms – fish.

Other people are biologically more initiated but are less than adept in other departments. The characteristics of evolved artificial life organisms surprise and educate them! One system I was playing with had flying creatures on widely separated islands with rich food sources. I fully expected flightlessness to evolve. It didn’t. Instead I got, in effect, flying camels. I had forgotten to switch on energy expenditure for flight and evolution exploited the oversight.^^113^^ Engineers are even harnessing the power of natural selection using genetic programming and are patenting “design” solutions that do not have a human inventor and which no one yet understands!^^114^^

To further see the power of natural selection, consider a study done on the Italian Wall Lizard that lives on islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Five breeding pairs were relocated from a sparsely vegetated island to a densely vegetated, uninhabited island and left for 36 years. Researchers found that the lizards had adapted to the change in conditions by becoming more vegetarian. Mass increased by 138% and stomach weight by 324% amongst numerous other changes including a brand-new feature - caecal valves. ^^115^^ All this happened in half a human life-time! The results, as the following table shows, were stunning!

It could be objected that bacteria remain bacteria and Italian Wall Lizards remain lizards – all that has been shown is microevolution – it is not as if a reptile has become a mammal.

Let me tell you the story of a perceptive housefly. A housefly only lives for a month. No housefly has ever seen a toddler becoming an adolescent, or an adolescent becoming an adult. From their point of view you get baby creatures and toddler creatures and adult creatures that live in an interesting symbiotic relationship. One day a housefly gets the bright idea that maybe the different forms are merely stages of the same species. So each night over a two week period (which represents half his life), he measures a sleeping baby. He notices a very slight change (almost a millimetre in two weeks) which he presents to his fellow house flies. They point out sure, while there has been a change, it is miniscule. The baby remained a baby. He spent half his life to discover a change of a fraction of a millimetre when humans measure in the hundreds and thousands of millimetres

This story illustrates an important point – one must distinguish the rate of change from the extent of change. Even a small rate of change can lead to a large extent of change over time. The macro in macroevolution refers to the extent of change not the rate of change. The question is whether microevolution is fast enough to account for macroevolution? The observed rate of change in these lizards is in 1000’s of units (the darwin) and not unusual for field studies. By comparison, the rate of change in the fossil record averages 0.6 – Indeed, Gingerich says that a microevolutionary rate of 400 darwins which has been observed in field studies “is sufficient to change a mouse into an elephant in 10 000 years … evolution on a microevolutionary scale is invisible in the fossil record, but this does not preclude microevolutionary processes operating over geological time from producing macroevolutionary change on the longer time scale. Microevolution and macroevolution are different manifestations of a common underlying process.”^^116^^ Present-day processes and rates of evolutionary change, as determined by experimental and field studies, are several orders of magnitude faster than that required for the observed change in the fossil record.^^117^^ Microevolution is very rapid. In terms of extent of change, microevolution should be called macroevolution and macroevolution should be called microevolution. Yes, the Italian Wall Lizard has remained a lizard, but it is a noticeably different lizard and evolving fast in one direction under sustained selective pressure.

The real puzzle was why macroevolution is so slow. G.C. Williams expressed it thus, “The question of evolutionary rate is indeed a serious theoretical challenge, but the reason is exactly opposite of that inspired by most people’s intuitions. Organisms in general have not done nearly as much evolving as we should reasonably expect. Long-term rates of change, even in lineages of unusually rapid evolution, are almost always far slower than they theoretically could be.”^^118^^

The seminal work of Peter and Rosemary Grant on the Galapagos finches reveals the reason. Unlike in the case of the Italian wall lizard, these researchers stayed on the island for three decades. They discovered that bill depth evolved very rapidly (26 000 darwins!) over a few years in the late 1970’s.^^119^^ However, in subsequent years the direction of change fluctuated so that the overall change over the three decades was relatively low (see accompanying figure). Selective pressure varied due to alternating periods of wet and drought. Organisms have the potential to evolve very rapidly, but unless there is sustained directional selection they may go through periods of relative stasis.

Ridley^^120^^ may have overstated things somewhat when he said, “We can conclude that the known mechanisms of population genetics can comfortably accommodate the fossil observations.” However, the point that natural processes can account for the fossil observations is unaffected whether or not the mechanisms of change are fully known.

Evolution through natural selection is doing rather well scientifically. This does not mean that natural selection is the whole story. Actually, many mechanisms are being discovered behind evolutionary processes (such as horizontal gene transfer and epigenetics), but these are all natural. There is a controversial theory called adaptive mutation that even says that mutations may be less random and more purposeful than conventional evolutionary theory allows. Whichever way this goes, it would be a theological mistake to seek support here for divine purpose or design. There is no scientific warrant for believing that supra- natural intervention is needed to account for the evolution of diversity of life. Looking for deficiencies in the horizontal axis to justify the vertical one is very much a lost cause and a great disservice to the Ground of all causes. From a theological point of view occasional intervention is actually sub-Christian because, as Aubrey Moore pointed out as long ago as 1889, it “implies as its correlative a theory of ordinary absence”.^^121^^

What has been shown above is that natural evolutionary mechanisms are perfectly capable of explaining macroevolution. But has macroevolution actually happened? Is there any evidence, for instance, that mammals did, in fact, evolve from reptiles? The story is rich in details, but here is a very simplified account. One crucial feature distinguishing reptiles from mammals is their jaw hinges. The accompanying diagrams^^122^^ show that reptiles and mammals use a different pair of bones in the jaw joint. If mammals evolved from reptiles there should be something transitional between these forms in the fossil record.

Can you imagine what such a form would look like? Anti-evolutionist Duane Gish can’t. He writes, “No one has explained yet … how the transitional form would have managed to chew while his jaw was being unhinged and rearticulated.” Notice that Gish is not asking what does the evidence show, but what is reasonable to suppose. Imagine taking this approach to Jesus and asking, “How is it possible for someone to be both God and man at the same time?” This is not an appropriate attitude for a mere creature to take! God can do what humans find inconceivable. The question has to be what is the evidence? Here is a mammal-like reptile:

It has a double jaw joint. There are indeed transitional forms linking reptiles to mammals. Here is just one line of very compelling evidence that mammals have evolved from reptiles. There are hundreds of mammal-like reptile forms. The evidence is abundant.

It was God’s design that his people should leave Egypt, where they living as slaves, and come to live in the Promised Land so that his Son would be born and die there. The shortest distance between two points, is of course, a straight line. It should have taken the Israelites days^^123^^ to reach their destination – instead it took 40 years! Their journey was clearly not intelligently designed in the sense of a specific detailed plan of an engineer or architect. This takes nothing away from God’s wisdom or sovereignty – God achieved his purposes through instruments that did their own thing including meandering off the straight and narrow!

Living things similarly bear all the hallmarks of an un-engineered, higgledy-piggledy history. An especially clear example is the laryngeal nerve in the giraffe. This is a branch of the vagus nerve to the larynx. The shortest distance between two points is, of course, a straight line. One would expect the laryngeal nerve to take the shortest route as indicated in the accompanying figure.

The actual route is very odd. It takes a detour of four metres all the way down the neck, around a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus then all the way back up to the head (see accompanying figure). The circuitous detour of the recurrent laryngeal nerve looks ridiculous as intelligent design, but makes perfect sense in light of evolutionary history. In fish, without necks, the road takes a direct route from the brain to the gills. As the neck lengthened in higher vertebrates, what was initially a slight detour became increasingly more absurd. For details, see Ridley.^^124^^

There are other traces of the past found in living things. Consider whales, for instance. Despite having just two limbs, whales are classified as Tetrapods (meaning four limbs). Biologists do this because they believe whales have evolved from land animals. What made them think this in the absence of fossil evidence? The answer is tiny relict leg bones in the pelvic region (indicated by an arrow in the accompanying diagram) that are not used at all for locomotion, but now used to anchor muscles that manoeuvre the male genitalia.^^125^^ It is easy to account for these structures as reflecting an evolutionary past.

For a long time there was no fossil evidence of any transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic environment in whales. Then, in the 1990’s the evidence came in thick and fast. The very interesting Ambulocetus natans (see accompanying reconstruction^^126^^) was a whale with four legs! The later Rodhocetus had smaller hind legs but large enough for waddling like a seal. The later Basilosaurus, Protocetus and Indocetus all had hind legs that were too small to walk on. The later and more recently discovered Prozeuglodon had tiny 15 cm legs on its 5 m body. Eocetus arose still later and had lost its hind legs entirely.^^127^^ Transitional forms between whales and their ancestors now abound. Besides the morphological and fossil evidence,^^128^^ there is also molecular evidence that places hippopotamuses and whales (and dolphins, porpoises) into the same group.^^129^^

We have seen relict anatomy, but there are also relict genes. One called GULO codes for an enzyme, gulonolactone oxidase that produces vitamin C in many animals. Both humans and chimpanzees have a non-functioning version of this gene. This is why humans get scurvy if they do not get enough vitamin C in their diet. The pseudogenes are in the same position in their DNA. It looks to all the world as if humans and chimps have inherited this pseudogene from a common ancestor with a vitamin C-rich diet so that the gene was free to mutate without ill effects.^^130^^

The priests that wanted Jesus killed didn’t have the authority to kill him and Pontius Pilate who had the authority didn’t want to have him killed. For God to achieve his redemptive plan, he needed to create a geographical intersection between these two parties at the time of the incarnation. And he did. This redemptive biogeography was certainly fore-ordained, yet it has a coherent geo-political explanations that are perfectly natural. Similarly, there are coherent biogeographical explanations for the distribution of fossils that are also perfectly natural – there is no need to resort to intelligent design. For instance, fossil remains of the land reptile Cynognathus are found in the central parts of South America and across the Atlantic in central Africa. Fossil remains of the freshwater reptile Mesosaurus are found in the southern parts of South America and across the Atlantic in southern Africa (see following figure). This wide distribution seems odd – we don’t see a similar distribution for iguanas and anacondas.

What is going on? It starts to make sense (see following figure) when you add Alfred Wegener’s Continental Drift theory to evolutionary biology. These reptiles arose and radiated during the Triassic and Permian periods (200 – 300 million years ago) when South America and Africa were contiguous.

The crucial point to note is that there is a convergence between all these disparate lines of evidence from different fields. It is as if there are independent witnesses in a court of law whose testimonies are telling the same evolutionary story. I have given here only a very tiny smattering of the vast amount of evidence for evolution – evidence that God has created. If we hold to the high view that God has created all things, surely we will feel under compulsion to take the scientific evidence very seriously indeed. The evidence overwhelmingly favours an evolutionary history for life on earth. While there may be spirited disagreement over relatively minor details, there is no controversy in the scientific community over the broad outline of evolutionary theory.

The genesis of a geeky god

We have seen that the cross demolished intelligent design two thousand years ago. So, where did the notion come from? We will see that the short answer is from intelligent but sinful creatures doing the best they can with nature and reason and without the benefit of Christ, the Bible or modern science. We will also see that modern intelligent design gets its theological inspiration far more from ancient Greek thinking than it does from the Bible. We will see that in their case it takes some intellectual gymnastics to defend their geeky concept of the Creator. We will also see their double standards – if intelligent design proponents approached the gospel evidence the way they approach the scientific evidence they should never have become Christians.

Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover

Socrates was the first to formulate the argument from design, but it was Aristotle a century later that very largely provided the impetus and epistemological underpinning for modern variants of the argument. Aristotle argued that since things move because other things move, there must be an Unmoved Mover (otherwise there would be an infinite regress). The Unmoved Mover (UM) is the supreme deity. What Aristotle is doing can hardly be called a hearty and grateful acknowledgement of the Creator. Drozdek points out, “Theological issues are mentioned by Aristotle only in passing and play primarily the role of illustration, metaphor and noncommittal reference to something the reader already knows from everyday life. For Aristotle, theology is of little importance; it is a barely existing domain because others do that or because the consistency of his system requires it. But this is always done half-heartedly, tersely, not-infrequently even disdainfully… The supreme deity, the UM is assumed to solve a problem of the beginning of motion and has no religious significance. By introducing the UM into his system, Aristotle wants to resolve the problem of the first mover, but he ascribes to his UM the smallest possible role.”^^131^^

Notice that this deity is arrived at through nature and reason alone – in Aristotle we have a proto-deistic scientism. Tyson points out, “Where knowledge is taken as grounded in perception, then Aristotle’s view of what little knowledge we can have of the divine can be understood as essentially perception derived, and the divine becomes at least functionally for the purpose of limited human knowledge, naturalistic.”^^132^^

And what does this so derived deity look like? The Unmoved Mover “is so separated from the world that it does not even know that the world exists. Its impact on the world is a side effect of its own existence … any providential aspect is missing from this deity.”^^133^^ For Aristotle “when it comes to the world’s continued functioning, there is no divine oversight, planning or enforcement.”^^134^^ “God’s activity … must be pure contemplation.”^^135^^ Matthew Wood says, “The impassive, unfeeling, uninvolved god of Greek philosophy is not the God of the Hebrew Bible, and cannot be the God of Christian understanding either. This we see most clearly at the cross, when the final veil is drawn back, and we see God suffering with us and for us.”^^136^^ For Aristotle, the providential vertical axes are missing. The contrast between the Unmoved Mover and the Creator revealed in Christ is very great.

Thomas Aquinas’s First Cause

Aristotle’s thinking was introduced into Western culture through Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas tried to amalgamate Aristotelian thought and Christian theology. He distinguished what he called the First Cause from secondary causes, recognizing the First Cause as the transcendent and immanent Creator God of the Bible and secondary causes as God’s instruments. Perhaps the term ‘Cause’ was unfortunate because he did not mean it in anything like the sense of ‘natural cause’. Aquinas is not infrequently misunderstood by scientists in this regard.

For Aquinas, “God is the ground of all being, all life and all motion … Apart from his power of motion (primary causality), nothing can move, change, act or bring about effect.”^^137^^ This is why many philosophers and theologians prefer to speak of vertical ‘grounds’ in contrast to horizontal ‘causes.’ Physicist-theologian John Polkinghorne said it well, “Theology has always insisted that God is not a cause among causes or an object among objects. His relation to the world is wholly different from that of any of its participants. God is properly to be understood as the ordainer and guarantor of natural laws.”^^138^^

The re-discovery of Aristotle by Aquinas was a mixed blessing. During the Enlightenment, natural philosophers rightly took on board Aristotle’s emphasis on observation of nature and reason but then partially misapplied this method to theology and eschewed Revelation. The result was modern deism. God became an inference from nature and a remote and impersonal deity that initiated the cosmos and left the universe to run on its own according to natural laws.

Newton’s Periodic Interferer

Isaac Newton came to be influenced by deism, writing, “When I wrote my Treatise about our system I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity.”^^139^^

Newton realized that his Law of Gravitation only partially accounted for the earth’s orbit. Minor perturbations from other planets cause instability. He concluded that the earth needs a divine push every few thousand years to keep its orbit stable. The philosopher Leibniz lampooned his periodically interfering god of the gaps, “God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time: otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.”^^140^^ A century later, Pierre-Simon Laplace’s work “Celestial Mechanics” made considerable headway using a phenomenon called resonance to provide a natural and satisfying explanation for why the planet orbits did not require periodic divine intervention. Napoleon is reputed to have asked him why his treatise did not mention God. Laplace, who fully believed in the Creator, replied, “I have no need for that hypothesis.” What Laplace was rejecting was not God, but a god hypothesis that is a rival to his celestial mechanics. Dawkins welcomes what he thinks is the demise of God saying, “In any of its forms the God hypothesis is unnecessary.”^^141^^ Stephen Meyer in an essay entitled The return of the God hypothesis, laments “the publication of Laplace’s Treatise and its fully naturalistic account of celestial origins” saying, “In it, Laplace sought to explain the origin of the solar system not as the product of divine design, as Isaac Newton had done, but as the result of purely natural gravitational forces.”^^142^^ Neither Dawkins nor Meyer differentiate properly between the Creator and the god hypothesis.

Newton’s religious impulses certainly helped motivate his science. His scientific genius was less helpful to him spiritually. Newton was a Unitarian. Theologian Pannenberg points out that Newton’s theology had “no relationship to the doctrine of the Trinity.”^^143^^ His Periodic Interferer was not the Creator who revealed himself supremely in Christ. This illustrates the perils in going to scientists, as scientists – however brilliant – for a faith-sustaining theology.

Paley’s Anatomical Artificer

In the 18th century, the theologian William Paley argued that if you came across a stone, you could easily imagine how it could arise purely through natural processes - through erosion from wind or water. On the other hand, it would be preposterous to imagine that a watch with its complex arrangements of parts could arise through natural processes. A watch implies an intelligent designer. Living things, with their far greater complexity, must imply an even greater Designer. Paley was no ignoramus and a powerful communicator. Darwin was a great admirer of his Natural Theology as is Richard Dawkins who regards himself as a neo- Paleyan. Paley's argument is intelligent and seductive. Is it compelling? If so, he has refuted the Biblical concept of God! It is easy to see why by asking, “Did God make the watch?” Biblically, we know that he did. However, for Paley to be consistent he would have to conclude that God did not make the watch. This is because the watch did not appear miraculously out of thin air. From God's perspective the human agents that produced the watch are as natural as the wind and the watch is as natural as a stone. From a properly biblical perspective, just because we can account for the watch in natural terms does not mean God did not create it. Paley's Intelligent Designer is looking like a Demiurge - only making some things while other things, such as stones and watches are excluded.

It was the philosopher Immanuel Kant, a contemporary of Paley, who pointed out that the intelligent design argument does not lead anywhere close to the Creator. He wrote, “This proof can at most, therefore, demonstrate the existence of an architect of the world, whose efforts are limited by the capabilities of the material with which he works, but not of a creator of the world, to whom all things are subject. Thus this argument is utterly insufficient for the task before us- a demonstration of the existence of an all-sufficient being. If we wish to prove the contingency of matter, we must have recourse to a transcendental argument, which the physicotheological [i.e. natural-theological] was constructed expressly to avoid.” ^^144^^

Strictly speaking, Paley’s argument was that we have a greater basis for believing that a living organism was made by God than we do for a stone. His argument still flounders. The greatest basis we have for believing that God made anything is that he made the cross and yet the cross was not designed by him. He is the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16). Paley’s argument leaves us with a designer that is less than the God who supremely revealed himself in Christ.

If the wind and water were conscious agents, it might go to their head that they were instrumental in the creation of the stone on the beach. But they need to remember that they are mere instruments in God’s hands. He remains the Creator in the primary sense. Since intelligent design proponents and other anti-evolutionists are conscious agents it tends to go to some of their heads that they, like God, are intelligent agents. As we have already seen, Ken Ham thinks that because humans developed poodles, they were not created by God. He still has the temerity to call himself a creationist! God created the poodle as much as he created the stone, the watch and us. William Dembski makes the fundamental contrast between natural causes on the one hand and intelligent agents on the other.^^145^^ He is also a little too affected by his intelligence. The proper contrast is between natural causes on the one hand and the Supra-natural Ground of all causes on the other. It is natural, I suppose, to be tempted to bracket ourselves off with God in contrast to nature, but when you consider that God turns the minds of rulers wherever he wishes (Proverbs 21:1),^^146^^ in relation to sovereign Creatorship we belong firmly in the realm of nature. Farrer puts it this way, “Human minds, being themselves creatures, are parts of Nature …”^^147^^

Theologically, the problem with Paley’s designer is that it makes God look evil. Christian palaeontologist Peter Dodson points out, “If the Designer gets credit for all the good things, then the same Designer should be condemned for all the bad design and just plain malevolence in nature. Intelligent design is dubious theologically as well as dubious scientifically.”^^148^^ The Intelligent Designer designs parasites and viruses. The Creator is holy.

Richard Dawkins mentions the case of a former atheist and minister of religion who came to faith after reading a National Geographic article on the exquisite co-adaptation between an orchid and a wasp-pollinator. To the minister it appeared wonderfully designed. It must have had a designer. That designer is God. If this sounds positive, consider that Dawkins writes, “My clerical correspondent of the previous chapter found faith through a wasp. Charles Darwin lost his with the help of another.”^^149^^ The trouble is that there are many organisms that appear exquisitely designed to cause pain, horror and death. The wasp parasite Odynerus has one of the most grisly life-styles. The mother creates a cement cell, fills it with two dozen or so caterpillars and suspends her egg in mid-air from a thread. Unlike other wasps, she does not paralyse the prey caterpillars. Upon hatching the larva hangs from the thread. It takes a bite from the caterpillar and then shoots up the thread to avoid the thrashing of the victim. When all is quiet the larva will descend again for a second bite. The caterpillar is slowly eaten alive.^^150^^ Surely death by myriads of army ants is a mercy by comparison!

Parasitism is not a fringe life-style. There are more parasites than free- living forms and they are very widely distributed in animal and plant groups. This indicates that they are ancient and not a recent consequence of the moral fall of humans. Far from being degenerate organisms, they are extremely well adapted and successful in their lifestyle. How do we reconcile parasitism with design? Charles Darwin in his characteristic sensitivity to the suffering of even the littlest creatures (he wouldn’t allow a worm to die a lingering death on the end of a fish hook) wrote, "I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [parasitic wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice." ^^151^^

There are other problems with Paley’s argument. Logically, the trouble is misuse of analogy. The analogy of the watch breaks down in key respects. The philosopher David Hume famously argued,^^152^^ if you are going to employ this analogy, why infer just one Designer? Why not many, since many humans are behind the design of a watch? And why not infer that the Designer has eyes, a nose and a mouth? The argument presumes that God is similar to humans. But, “The more we make God like a human agent the more we run the risk of falling into anthropomorphism”^^153^^ says logician Nicholas Capaldi.

Scientifically, the problem with Paley’s argument is that anatomical structures are far better explained by evolution than by design as we have already seen, for instance, in the case of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Paley, of course, lived before Darwin and was trying to do the best he could with the science of his day. Dawkins rightly says, “If you think of it as the product of design, the recurrent laryngeal nerve is a disgrace.”^^154^^ But Dawkins thinks this is a reflection on God – he cannot be disabused of his notion that God is some sort of scientifically falsified celestial wetware engineer with only a measure of intelligence. The devout do not need to overreact. We can be glad that Dawkins has effectively demolished the Anatomical Artificer who bears scant resemblance to the Biblical Creator, but this had already happened by the middle of the 1800s as historians of science have pointed out.^^155^^

Now Dawkins, as we have seen, does not distinguish between the Biblical Creator and the intelligent designer. He writes in The Blind Watchmaker, “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.’” For Dawkins, that somebody was Darwin, who “made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”^^156^^

Dawkins is like the hypothetical forensic scientist Prof Richard in The Creator on the Cross who says, “I find no shred of forensic evidence that God was involved in the death of Jesus” (nothing wrong with that) but then adds, “God was not involved in the cross.” Prof Richard’s intellectual fulfilment is empty, not because his science is wrong but because his theology is. God is in a transcendent or vertical relationship to the world. He isn’t at all a scientific explanation for the design of that pole that stood on Golgotha, but he is a very good ultimate explanation for it. For Dawkins, there is only one kind of explanation – the scientific – the sum total of reality exists along only one axis. Predictably, the term “transcendent” never appears in his book.

The Secondary Culprit

After Paley and Darwin, you might think intelligent design would have been laid to rest. Imagine a clever modern-day someone who zealously wants there to be forensic evidence for God’s involvement in the world. Imagine this someone not having a background in theology or biology and overreacting to The Blind Watchmaker. What you get is Law Professor Phillip Johnson, the father of the modern intelligent design movement. Johnson recounts that after reading Dawkins and Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, “I guess almost immediately I thought this is it. This is where it all comes down to, the understanding of creation.”^^157^^ Perhaps this is why Dawkins should get some credit for the emergence of the modern version of the movement. Indeed, Dembski wrote in an email to Dawkins, “I know that you personally don't believe in God, but I want to thank you for being such a wonderful foil for theism and for intelligent design more generally. In fact, I regularly tell my colleagues that you and your work are one of God's greatest gifts to the intelligent- design movement. So please, keep at it!” ^^158^^

Johnson has reacted to the atheistic scientism of Richard Dawkins with a religious scientism of his own. He wrote, “Scientific naturalists are not necessarily opposed to “the existence of God,” provided that God is defined as an unreachable First Cause and not as a Creator who takes an active role in nature or human affairs.” For Johnson, God must be active as a secondary cause to be really active at all. Hence the quote mentioned earlier, “I am not speaking of a God who is known only by faith and is invisible to reason, or who acted undetectably behind some naturalistic evolutionary process that was to all appearances mindless and purposeless. That kind of talk is about the human imagination, not the reality of God. I speak of a God who acted openly and who left his fingerprints all over the evidence.”^^159^^ Do that with Calvary and the AIDS virus and you are left with God the Secondary Culprit. Perhaps this helps to explain why Johnson denies that HIV causes AIDS!

Johnson cannot accept a purely natural account for the history of life and so he uses all his legal and rhetorical acumen to try to discount the evidence. The result is remarkable intellectual gymnastics. It would be ridiculous to argue that if most Jews were not in Christ’s lineage then perhaps all were not. I’ve changed the particulars, but this is Johnson’s form with the fossil evidence. He writes, “If our hypothesis is that mammals evolved from therapsids [mammal-like reptiles] only once … then most of the therapsids with mammal-like characteristics were not part of a macroevolutionary transition. If most were not then perhaps all were not.”

Scripture, of course, teaches that Jesus is fully human and fully God. It would be ridiculous to argue that Jesus is on the whole God-like rather than human-like on the basis that he had the authority to forgive sin while playing down that he got thirsty, hungry and died like the rest of us. This is Johnson’s form with Archaeopteryx, the transitional form between reptiles (strictly theropod dinosaurs) and birds. After noting only one or two reptilian and several avian features in Archaeopteryx he declares it to be “on the whole bird-like.”^^160^^

Now Richard Dawkins uses gymnastics of the straw man kind to deny the existence of God, asserting that he is a “scientific hypothesis about the universe” in his book The God Delusion.^^161^^ He has, of course, refuted a god that Christians do not believe in except, perhaps, for a few intelligent design proponents.^^162^^ Very basic theology, and not just Christian, teaches that God is distinct from and transcendent to his creation. Similarly Johnson has, as many have pointed out, used straw man arguments in denying the evolutionary implications of the fossil evidence. He says, “The notion that mammals-in-general evolved from reptiles-in- general through a broad clump of diverse therapsid lines is not Darwinism. Darwinian transformation requires a single line of ancestral descent.” He has refuted a confused position to which evolutionary biologists do not actually hold. The tree of life is really a bush. And it is populations that evolve, not reptiles-in-general.

It is only a Secondary Culprit god that would need to worry about the success of evolution. Dawkins and Johnson are fighting over a god that no Christians should believe in.

The Molecular Meddler

We saw earlier that tiny leg bones in whales point to their having four-limbed terrestrial ancestors. What tactic could an intelligent design proponent use in avoiding the implications of this evidence? He could point to gaps in our knowledge elsewhere. Since we only know in part, this tactic is always available. It has been termed “Gish’s law” after the anti- evolutionist Duane Gish. The biochemist and intelligent design proponent Michael Behe uses this tactic. In 1994 he complained " ... if random evolution ^^163^^ is true, there must have been a large number of transitional forms between the Mesonychid and the ancient whale. Where are they?”^^164^^ Less than a year later three transitional species were found.

Behe tried the same tactic in response to the evidence for the evolution of the eye saying, “Darwin persuaded much of the world that a modern eye evolved gradually from a simpler structure, but he did not even try to explain where his starting point-the relatively simple light-sensitive spot-came from.”^^165^^ His argument is that big complex things may be accounted for by evolution, but little, less complex things need an Intelligent Designer. He seems to think that his biochemistry field is theologically privileged in a way that gross anatomy is not. His designer has an even tinier job than Paley’s – he has gone from the notion of an Anatomical Artificer to a Molecular Meddler. Paley attributed larger anatomical structures such as the eye to God’s design. When these became explained through biological evolution, Behe desperately tries to find a job for God in designing miniscule structures.

The Molecular Meddler is another god of the gaps. The God of the Bible, on the other hand, is behind all things in nature whether huge or tiny – not as a demiurge designer, but as the Creator. The biggest problem that Christians should have with Behe’s thinking is not with his science, as bad as it is, but with the theology. It is just not nearly Christian enough.

Would it be possible for humans to invent a technology sufficiently powerful to kill God himself? Some might argue that this is inconceivable so it did not happen. This is an argument from personal incredulity. If, as Christians, we applied this consistently we would have to conclude that Calvary did not happen. We cannot rule out the possibility that God could find a way to limit himself so that even our feeblest technology would do the job. Behe falls into same kind of fallacy with respect to evolution.

Consider the poster-child of the intelligent design movement – the bacterial flagellum. This is a rotating swimming structure composed of about fifty interlocking parts (see the accompanying figure).^^166^^ Behe describes it as an “extraordinary molecular machine” and says no scientist has ever published a model to account for its gradual evolution.^^167^^ It is what he calls “irreducibly complex.” He says, “… any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.”^^168^^ Therefore it could not have evolved. His argument is superficially seductive. Is it sound?

Biochemist Kenneth Miller and philosopher Robert Pennock amongst others have thoroughly debunked it. Behe struggles to understand a concept in biology called scaffolding. To the naïve, a natural arch has to appear fully formed because a partially formed arch would collapse from lack of support. Of course, a natural arch doesn’t start as an arch, but as a rocky outcrop. The base of the outcrop acts as scaffold keeping the arch up while erosion does its work. Did God make the natural arch? Yes. Did he use natural processes to do so? Yes.

Similarly, the rotary bacterial flagellum was built on a scaffold. As Miller points out, take away most of its parts leaving just ten and you are left with a structure that is still able to function. It just has a different function – it now happens to be a toxin injecting mechanism called the Type Three Secretory System.^^169^^ In this way evolution overcomes imagined insurmountable hurdles through the principle of “functional change in structural continuity.”^^170^^ Miller, in his Finding Darwin’s God concludes that “Michael Behe’s purported biochemical challenge to evolution rests on the assertion that Darwinian mechanisms are simply not adequate to explain the existence of complex biochemical machines. Not only is he wrong, he’s wrong in a most spectacular way. The biochemical machines whose origins he finds so mysterious actually provide us with powerful and compelling examples of evolution in action. When we go to the trouble to open that black box, we find out once again that Darwin got it right.”^^171^^ Behe is arguing from personal ignorance. He creates the impression that there is a single stand-alone bacterial flagellum. Actually, the rotary eubacterial flagellum has clear links to a host of locomotory and secretory systems.^^172^^

It is odd that intelligent design proponents do not understand the scaffold. Of all people, Christians should. Jesus Christ was hung and his church built upon one that has long since decayed. While wicked humans were using the cross for one function, the Father was co-opting it for another – our redemption. Here, at the macro-level, God forever, and in principle dealt with the issue of his relationship to natural agents. Why should it be any different at the micro-level – in biochemistry? Is it not a little egocentric for Behe to think that God should specially intervene within his field? In contrast, biochemist Ken Miller is modest about what his field can offer metaphysically, saying, “You can live a full and meaningful life without knowing anything about it!” Elsewhere Miller has said, “Scientifically, that self-sufficiency [of nature] can be identified, tested, theorized, and explored, but its meaning and the reason for its existence cannot be explained or even addressed by science.”^^173^^

Furthermore, if God designed the bacterial flagellum, why did he not design the toxin injecting mechanism? This system is used by the bacterium that causes plague leaving at least a third of Europeans dead in the 14 century. Behe is making God look tiny and evil. Indeed, he is perfectly happy to do so. Elsewhere Behe writes, “Here’s something to ponder long and hard: Malaria was intentionally designed. The molecular machinery with which the parasite invades red blood cells is an exquisitely purposeful arrangement of parts.”^^174^^ But, Behe is wrong. He cannot or will not understand evolution. For instance, Kenneth Miller has shown that Behe keeps presuming that evolution works through simultaneous mutations, whereas it works through sequential mutations.^^175^^

And he cannot or will not understand a properly biblical view of the Creator. Did God create the bacterial flagellum and the Type Three Secretary System? Yes. Did he use natural processes to do so? Yes. Did he intelligently design them? No.

The Information Injector

In his book No Free Lunch William Dembski (the same one who says Jesus = info) says natural causes cannot generate what he calls complex specified information^^176^^ and so complexity requires an intelligent information injector. They may be small, but at least Behe’s Molecular Meddler designs things, Dembski’s Injector designs information – which is not even a thing.

What we have here is another negative god-of-the-gaps argument. Stephen Meyer tries to avoid this charge and misuse of analogy by claiming that intelligent design can be formulated positively through the uniform and repeated experience of what human intelligent agents do.^^177^^ According to him it becomes an inference to the best explanation. Firstly, this claim is disingenuous. Proponents frequently do use god-of-the-gaps arguments – the bacteria flagellum is a classic case in point.^^178^^ Secondly, this argument fails at avoiding misuse of analogy. All our uniform and repeated experience of what intelligent agents do happens along the horizontal axis (this is why proponents keep trying to find God’s action along this axis) whereas God acts along the vertical. They have created a god in their own image. The cross emphatically demonstrates that God does not act the way human intelligent agents do.

Dembski has elevated his claim into a Law of Conservation of Information and says he has found a mathematical justification for it. But, he has yet to impress the mathematical community. Mark Perakh and Richard Wein find it mathematically flawed.^^179^^ Jeffrey Shallit and Welsley Elsberry call it pseudomathematics and say his “complex specified information is an incoherent concept.”^^180^^ But we do not need to get into the maths to realise that there is something fishy going on – perhaps the “Law” is better called a Whim.^^181^^ You may have heard of the apocryphal story that it is aerodynamically impossible for bumble bees to fly. One flying bumble bee is all you need to show that it is possible for the creatures to fly after all. Are there any counter-examples to the Law of Conservation of Information? Indeed there are. We have already seen examples in Lenski’s digital organisms and in citrate metabolising bacteria, but there are many others.^^182^^ We can leave it to mathematicians to say what that something is, but there has to be something wrong either with Dembski’s maths and/ or with its misapplication to the richness of real biology.

It would be ridiculous to argue that the Gospels do not constitute new revelation because the texts merely contain, rearranged, the same old letters and words that are found in previous writings. I’ve changed the particulars, but this is the form of argument of the intelligent design proponent Scott Minnich. A fellow of the Discovery Institute, he and his co-authors tried to pooh-pooh the novel evolution of citrate metabolising capacity in E. coli by claiming the adaptation did not generate any new genetic information and only required expanded expressions of existing structures.^^183^^ Their argument echoes that of the lawyers for the Ford and Chrysler car manufacturers. Robert Kearns, inventor of the intermittent wiper system, took them to court for patent infringement. The lawyers argued that the device contained no new components. Kearns argued that his invention was a new and non-obvious combination of parts. Kearns won and was awarded $40 million.^^184^^

Dembski claims that when artificial life programs appear to generate specified complexity what has actually happened is that programmers have smuggled in preexisting specified complexity.^^185^^ We have already seen why this is wrong, and he makes many technical mistakes in claiming so,^^186^^ but one crucial reason he gets muddled is that he does not understand the sense in which programmers stand in a vertical relationship to their programs.^^187^^ It is true that artificial life requires sophisticated computers and intelligent programmers, but information was not injected horizontally to ensure that the artificial life organisms became adapted. To say otherwise is to conflate distinct levels of description. The adaptations of artificial life can be entirely explained along one axis – the internal logic of the computer program – without recourse to the external computer or the programmer. This does not mean we do not need programmers; it means we should not evoke them along that axis. If we become conscious of the programmer along the horizontal axis it is because there is something wrong with the program. We have to call up the programmer to announce a bug and he has to intervene to fix it. It is the program that runs seamlessly that is the best credit to the programmer.

Similarly, Dembski thinks that the adaptations of living things cannot be explained through natural processes and that an intelligent designer must have smuggled in information. This may be a compliment to the ancient Greek pantheon of gods, but it is hardly one to the biblical concept of the Creator because it suggests that creation has a “programming bug.”

Dembski’s Information Injector is deceptive. We saw earlier that humans and chimps have inherited the GULO pseudogene from a common ancestor. The alternative is that humans and chimps did not evolve, but that a designer injected information into them to create the impression that they did!

From Aristotle onwards the program of deriving a designer from the natural order using just the natural human intellect produces, at best, a merely super-duper intelligent deity. With the success of science this god has become the failed hypothesis. How far removed is this deity from the God revealed in the Bible. Intelligent design is a disservice both to God and to science.

The intel on intelligent design

Take an actor, give him false but impressive-sounding credentials and let him give a complex, technical but unintelligible lecture to a highly educated audience. What will happen? The experiment has been done. “Dr.” Fox gave the talk entitled, “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education,” to a total of 55 people. From a survey administered after the lecture, it was found that the audience thought the talk was clear and stimulating. None of the subjects realised it was nonsense.

For a time and even to a highly educated audience, blinding with science (and perhaps theology) is a cunning strategy. Is intelligent design merely disingenuous tactics? Or is it a stupendous scientific discovery with significant theological implications? The evidence surveyed here exposes intelligent design as very bad science and very bad theology masquerading as the real deal.

The “science” supporting intelligent design is deeply flawed. It is not a productive scientific research program and has failed to win over the scientific community. Indeed, intelligent design proponents have admitted under oath that “there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.”^^188^^ The inappropriately named “Discovery Institute” is, as indicated earlier, merely a lobby group for the intelligent design movement – they have yet to actually discover anything. Looking for deficiencies in the horizontal axis to justify the existence of an intelligent designer is scientifically bankrupt.

And it shows. Intelligent design “theory” makes rather nebulous predictions such as somewhere on the causal chains leading up to complex specified information there is an unspecified intelligent designer at work. While proponents like to make a song and dance about complex specified information, what they don’t do is make complex specified predictions. Evolutionary biologists do so and in most stunning ways. For instance, William Hamilton’s kin selection theory, predicts that colonies of eusocial insects with single-mated queens should favour rearing queens over drones. For colonies with multiply-mated queens it should be the other way around.^^189^^ These predictions have been abundantly confirmed in many species.^^190^^

Intelligent design proponents’ treatment of science is atrocious, but pales next to what it does to the Creator. We have seen how it makes him look as small as the putative stop-gaps in our scientific knowledge, as deceptive as the designer of pseudogenes and as evil as the designer of the malaria parasite.

This is the aftermath of collapsing the axes of the cross. There are several ironies here. We have Christians in the design movement championing human intelligence in discerning the vertical axis when it was human intelligence that placed Christ on a pole. We have Christians desperately and misguidedly trying to find the hand of God in the horizontal axis when all the while God Incarnate’s bloodied hands were on one. We have Christians trying to “defeat scientific materialism with its destructive moral legacy”^^191^^ but how is personal moral responsibility going to be fostered by a mere anonymous intelligence? Furthermore, it has been established in court that the ambassadors for that intelligence are amoral in the strategies they employ.^^192^^

It is dubious, but the very best that intelligent design could do is to provide information about God, when from the perspective of the cross the important thing is to know him. The apologetic fixation of intelligent design with technical, complex information is way off beam. The only thing of a technical nature at Calvary was provided by humans hostile to God – the wooden cross. (Thankfully, the resurrection has left no possibility that any DNA of Jesus would remain behind to be scoured for signs of intelligent design!) God’s greatest self-revelation was simple and paltry in information content and yet so deeply rich in meaning and significance. Indeed, the simplicity of this revelation was prophesied: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). And its significance? Yet, at the cross, as John Stott says, “we see the justice, love, wisdom and power of God. It is not easy to decide which is the most luminously revealed, whether the justice of God in judging sin, or the love of God in bearing the judgement in our place, or the wisdom of God in perfectly combining the two, or the power of God in saving those who believe. For the cross is equally an act, and therefore a demonstration, of God’s justice, love, wisdom, and power. The cross assures us that this God is the reality within, behind and beyond the universe.”^^193^^

The final utterance of Jesus conveys the completion of both his redemptive and revelatory mission in just three words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The job is done. It is unnecessary, futile and arrogant to try to use human intelligence to magisterially reach into God’s vertical domain when he has reached down to us. That is the divine intel on intelligent design! The irony is that in inappropriately trying to be intellectual in the vertical domain, intelligent design proponents are intellectually marginalised in the horizontal. Their considerable collective intelligence would be more appropriately spent in ministerially spreading the message of the cross, theologically in extending its reach and scientifically in unapologetically filling the closing gaps in the horizontal axis. The cross teaches that God holds us responsible in this axis.

New Testament scholar James Edwards notes that before Calvary, Jesus “stifled speculation about his identity because all such pronouncements were premature. Not until his death on the cross can anyone rightly understand who Jesus is …”^^194^^ It was a Roman soldier without scientific or religious credentials that looked up at the cross and said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). Why? Edwards says, “The fact that the passion and death of Jesus on the cross evoke the confession of the centurion indicates that he, by divine revelation, has been granted the mystery of faith in Jesus as the Son of God.”^^195^^ In terms of knowing God, this unschooled, pre-scientific pagan was far better off than an Aristotle with his design argument. To go back to design after Calvary is to double-cross the cross.

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About Mike L Anderson

Mike has a PhD in the philosophy of evolutionary biology from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has taught philosophy of science at Wits and taught evolution and coordinated a graduate course in religion and science at the University of Cape Town. He is a writer and educational software developer and plays Starcraft.

Other titles by Mike L Anderson

The Creator on the cross: Science in the light of Christ and him crucified

A Horde of Humbugs

Bee Wise

According to Jesus?

Is Jesus an Evolutionist?

http://www.Shakespir.com/profile/view/mikelanderson

Notes

1 Behe, M. (1996) Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Free Press, New York, p. 233.

2 Dembski, W. A. (1999) Intelligent Design – the Bridge Between Science & Theology. InterVarsity Press, Downer Grove, IL p, 106.

3 Johnson, P.E. (1997) Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, p. 23.

4 Pannenberg, W. (1988) A Theology of the Cross Word & World 8(2):162-172.

5 New International Reader’s Version

6 The Message.

7 Stott, J. (1986) The Cross of Christ. IVP, Downers Grove, p. 204.

8 Bergant, D. and R.N. Fragomeni (2001) Preaching the New Lectionary. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, p. 450

9 Edwards, J. R. (2002) p. 483.

10 Boyd, G.A. (2003) Is God to Blame?: Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, p.35.

11 Denney, J. (1973) The Death of Christ. The Tyndale Press, London. P. 156

12 Gorman, M.J. (2009) Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology. Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 35.

13 Edwards, J. R. (2002) The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. p. 475.

14 Morris, L. (1965) The Cross in the New Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p.167.

15 Kolb, R. (2002) Luther on the Theology of the Cross. Lutheran Quarterly Volume 16:443-466.

16 McGrath, A. E. (1985) Luther’s Theology of the Cross. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, Massachusetts, p.1.

17 Mohler, A. (2011) Between Two Worlds: An Interview with John R. W. Stott. http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/08/08/between-two-worlds-an- interview-with-john-r-w-stott/ Cf. “The cross is the greatest event in the history of salvation, greater even than the resurrection. The cross is the victory, the resurrection the triumph; but the victory is more important than the triumph, although the latter necessarily follows from it. The resurrection is the public display of the victory, the triumph of the Crucified One. But the victory itself was complete. "It is finished" (John 19:30).” Sauer, E. (1951) The Triumph of the Crucified. Paternoster Press, London, p. 32.

18 Osborn, R. (2010) The Literal Meaning of Genesis and the Cross of Christ. Spectrum . http://spectrummagazine.org/article/news/2010/02/05/literal-meaning- genesis-and-cross-christ.

19 Moltmann, J. (1974) The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. SCM press, Ltd., London, p. 204.

20 Murphy, G.L. (1998) The Theology of the Cross and God’s Work in the World. Zygon 33(2): 221-231.

21 McGrath, A. E. (1985[_)_]

22 Quoted in Tanner, K (1988) God and Creation in Christian Theology: Tyranny and Empowerment? Fortress Press, Minneapolis, p.93.

23 Spanner, Douglas C. (1987) Biblical Creation and the Theory of Evolution. The Paternoster Press, Exeter, Devon, pp. 13-14.

24 http://www.discovery.org/id/faqs/#questionsAboutIntelligentDesign

25 Dembski distinguishes design from purpose (Dembski, W. A. (1998) Introduction In Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design. W. A. Dembski (Ed.). Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove. Illinois, p. 18), but as we will see later, the cross shows that humans are empirically privy neither to divine design nor divine purpose.

26 See Matthew 26:75 and Galatians 2:11-14.

27 Schroeder, E H (1968) Theistic evidences in contemporary protestant theology, Proceedings of the Twenty-third Annual Convention, Catholic Theological Society of America, Washington, D.C., pp 45-53.

28 http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.pdf

29 Osborn, R. (2010) The Literal Meaning of Genesis and the Cross of Christ. Spectrum . http://spectrummagazine.org/article/news/2010/02/05/literal-meaning- genesis-and-cross-christ

30 Johnson. Phillip E., 1997. Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, p. 111.

31 Dembski, W. A. (1999) p. 111.

32 Forrest, B. and Gross. P.R. (2004) Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Edge of Intelligent Design. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 20.

33 Dembski, W. A. (1998) Introduction In Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design. W. A. Dembski (Ed.). Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove. Illinois, p. 20.

34 Dembski, W. A. (1999) p. 107.

35 Meyer, S.C. (2009) Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. HarperCollins, New York, pp. 165-166.

36 Meyer, S.C. (2009) pp. 428-429.

37 Behe, M. (2003) The modern intelligent design hypothesis. In God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. N.A. Manson (ed.), Routledge, New York, p. 276.

38 Mavrodes, G. I. (1995) ‘Polytheism’ In The Rationality of Belief and the Plurality of Faith: Essays in Honor of William P. Alston W. P. Alston and Senor, T. D. (Eds.), Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, p. 264.

39 Newman, J. H. (1973) The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. 25, ed. C. S. Dessain and T. Gornall. Clarendon Press, Oxford. p. 97.

40 Pennock, R.T. (2006) DNA by Design? Stephen Meyer and the Return of the God Hypothesis In Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA. W.A. Dembski and M. Ruse (Eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 130 – 148.

41 Dembski, W.A. (1999) Signs of Intelligence: A Primer on the Discernment of Intelligent Design. Touchstone Magazine. July/August, Volume 12(4): 76-84.

42 Dembski, W. A. (1999) p. 233.

43 Paul’s address at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:22-33) is sometimes erroneously used to justify natural theology. The idea is that Paul omitted Scripture, defending theism instead through nature and Greek philosophy. A close look at the text shows that Paul’s address was not an introduction, but a response to questions and was sandwiched between use of Scripture (Acts 17:17-19, 31). See Spencer, S.R. (1988) Is Natural Theology biblical? Grace Theological Journal 9(1): 59-72, Wright,R.K.M. (2003) Does Acts 17 Support the Natural Theology Theory? Journal of Biblical Apologetics 9(6):6-10.

44 Roughgarden, J. (2006) – Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an evolutionary biologist. Island Press, Washington, DC. p.99.

45 He writes, “Indeed, the same highly improbable, independently given patterns that appear as the equidistant letter sequences in the Bible Code appear in biology as functionally integrated (“irreducibly complex”) biological systems, of the sort Michael Behe discussed in Darwin’s Black Box.” Dembski, W. A. (1998) The Bible by numbers. http://www.firstthings.com/article/1998/08/004-the-bible-by-numbers

46 Drosnin, M. (1997) The Bible Code. Touchstone, New York, p. 97

47 Brendan McKay, Dror Bar-Natan, Maya Bar-Hillel and Gil Kalai (1999) Solving the Bible Code Puzzle http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/~drorbn/Codes/StatSci.pdf, Simon, B. The Case Against the Codes http://www.wopr.com/biblecodes/TheCase.htm, Hasofer A. M. Torah Codes: Reality or Illusion http://www.bigfoot.com/~perakh/fcodes/hasofer.htm

48 Heiser, M.S. The Bible code myth. www.michaelsheiser.com/Bible %20Code%20Myth.pdf, Tigay, J.H. The Bible "Codes": A Textual Perspective. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jtigay/codetext.html

49 Alexander, D. (2001) Rebuilding the Matrix: Science and Faith in the 21st Century. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 332.

50 Barclay, O.R. (2006).

51 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV).

52 Isaiah 50:10b-11.

53 Forde, G.O. (1997) On being a theologian of the cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 12.

54 Forde, G.O. (1997) p. 72.

55 Lipton, D. (2008) God’s back! What did Moses see on Sinai? In The Significance of Sinai: Traditions About Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity. George J. Brooke, Hindy Najman and Loren T. Stuckenbruck (Eds.), Konininklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands, pp. 287-311.

56 Lipton, D. (2008) p. 293.

57 Tomlin, G.S. (1998) The Medieval Origins of Luther’s Theology of the Cross. Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 89:22-40.

58 Quoted in Forde, G.O. (1997) p. 78. Forde says that English translations have,‘manifest things’ of God but the original Latin is ‘posteriora Dei’ which is transliterated ‘back’ or ‘hinder parts’ of God.

59 Luther, M. (1962) The Heidelberg Disputation. In Luther: Early Theological Works. James Atkinson, (Ed. & Trans.), SCM Press Ltd, London, p. 291.

60 Bradbury, R. (2012) Cross Theology: The Classical Theologia Crucis and Karl Barth’s Modern Theology of the Cross. James Clarke & Company, Cambridge, p.36.

61 Moltmann, J. (1974) p. 212.

62 Morris, L.L. (1982) New Bible Dictionary. J.D. Douglas (Ed.) Inter-Varsity Press, Leceister, England, p. 366.

63 Stenmark, M. (1997) What Is Scientism? Religious Studies. 33(1)15-32.

64 Bolger, R.K. (2012) Kneeling at the Altar of Science: The Mistaken Path of Contemporary Religious Scientism. Pickwick Publications, Eugene, OR. p.16.

65 Bonhoeffer, D. (1971) Letters and Papers from Prison. Letter to Eberhard Bethge, 29 May 1944, Touchstone, New York.

66 Pennock R. T. (1999) Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, Cambride, Massachusetts p. 172.

67 Farrer, A (1967) p. 62.

68 Dembski, W. A. (1999) Intelligent Design – the Bridge Between Science & Theology. InterVarsity Press, Downer Grove, IL p, 111.

69 Johnson, P.E. (1995) Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, pp. 208-209.

70 Moreland, J.P. (1994) Theistic science and methodological naturalism. In The Creation Hypothesis. J.P. Moreland (Ed). InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, pp. 41-46.

71 The death of Jesus had to be specially predicted by God, interpreted by him and Jesus has to be raised to vindicate its significance.

72 Roughgarden, J. (2006) pp.98-99.

73 Pennock R. T. (1999) p. 303.

74 Pennock R. T. (1999) p. 307.

75 Lewis, C.S. (1944) Mere Christianity. William Collins Sons & Company Limited, Glasgow, p.32.

76 Chapman, B. (2008) An Intelligent Discussion about Life. The Seattle Times, April 17, http://www.discovery.org/a/4522

77 Smedes, T.A. (2006). Intelligent Design & Theology: What Place for the Creator? Presentation at AAR Conference, Washington D.C.

78 Haught, J. (2006) Darwin, Design, and Divine Providence. In Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA. W.A. Dembski and M Ruse (eds.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. p 237.

79 Dembski admits the indebtedness of intelligent design to Thomas Reid’s common sense realism. Dembski, W. A. (2000) Intelligent Design Coming Clean. http://www.discovery.org/a/534 Mathew Guest traces the link between common sense realism and creationism including intelligent design. Guest, M. (2009) The plausibility of creationism : a sociological comment. In Reading Genesis after Darwin. Stephen C. Barton, S.C and D. Wilkinson (Eds.). Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 217-236. However, populist conceptions of common sense realism bear little resemblance to Thomas Reid’s nuanced and pluralist philosophy. Alston, W.P. (1985) Thomas Reid on Epistemic Principles. History of Philosophy Quarterly 2(4): 435-452.

80 The manifest theory does not even hold up for empirical truth as Karl Popper, Norwood Hanson and other philosophers of science have shown. See, for instance, Popper, K. (1972) Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, p. 7, Thiel, J. E. (1994) Nonfoundationalism. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, pp. 12-24.

81 Alister E. McGrath, A.E. (2011) Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK, p. 197.

82 Murphy, G.L. (2002) Cosmology, Evolution and Biotechnology. In Bridging Science and Religion. Peters, T. and G. Bennett (ed.). SCM Press, Albans Place, London, p. 210.

83 Johnson, P. (1999) Response to Denis O. Lamoureux. In Darwin Defeated? P.E. Johnson and D. Lamoureux, Eds.) Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, B.C., p.50.

84 Dembski, W.A. and S. McDowell (2008) Understanding Intelligent Design. Harvest House Publishers, Euegene, Oregon. p. 90.

85 Lewis, C.S. (1940) The problem of Pain. William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., Glasgow, p. 12.

86 Dembski, W. A. (1999) p. 207.

87 Taner Edis writes, “Methodological naturalism cannot be used as an ID-stopper. If it is to fail, ID should be allowed to fail as a scientific proposal.” Sure, but we can let it fail first as a theological proposal since it is not merely science (see Edis, T. (2003) Grand Themes, Narrow Constituency In Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. M. Young and T. Edis (Eds.), Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, pp. 9-19).

88 Pennock, R. T. (2011) Can’t philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited. Synthese 178 (2):177-206.

89 Johnson, P.E. (1996) What is Darwinism? http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/wid.htm

90 Alexander, D.R. (2009) After Darwin: Is Intelligent Design Intelligent? In Theology After Darwin. Northcott M. and R.J. Berry (Eds.), Paternoster Press, Carlisle, UK, pp. 22 – 40.

91 Barclay, O.R. (2006) Design in Nature. Science & Christian Belief 18:49-61.

92 Dembski, W. A. (2004) The Design Revolution; Answering the Toughest Questions about Design. IVP, Downers Grove, p. 24.

93 Dembski, W.A. (2009) The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee, p. 14.

94 Mackay, D. M. (1958) Complementarity II Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 32:105-122.

95 For biblical scholarship on Genesis see, for instance, Lucas, E. (2001) Can we believe Genesis today? The Bible and the questions of science. Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, England and Walton, J.H. (2009) The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ilinois.

96 Jenson, R.W. (2004 ) Aspects of a Doctrine of Creation. In The doctrine of Creation. C.E. Gunton (Ed.) T & T Clark, International, London, pp. 17-28.

97 Quoted in Mascall, E.L. (2003 ) Continous creation. In Creation: A Reader Astley, J. Brown,D. and A. Loades (Eds.) T & T Clark, Ltd., London, p. 20.

98 See for e.g. Phillip E. Johnson, P.E. (1997) Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, p. 113, Dembski, W. A. (2004) The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design. InterVarsity Press, Downer Grove, IL p.39, Richards, J.W. (2001) Proud Obstacles and a Reasonable Hope: The Apologetic Value of Intelligent Design In Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design . W.A. Dembski and J.M. Kushiner Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 52, http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/is-the-bible-bad- theology/, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/01/lets_examine_th102471.html

99 Bube, R.H. (1971) Towards a Christian view of science. Journal of the American Science Affiliation 23:1-4. See also Lamoureux, D. A. (2014) Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution. The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, England.

100 I said intelligent design tries to speak to the erudite because it has not succeeded. Intelligent design proponents have admitted under oath that “there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.” Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Trial transcript: Day 12 (October 19), AM Session, Part 1”. TalkOrigins Archive http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12am.html

101 Schroeder, E H (1968) p. 49.

102 Murphy, G. L. (2016) Dissecting religion and science through the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod lens http://luthscitech.org/dissecting- religion-and-science-through-the-lutheran-church-missouri-synod-lens/

103 Theologian Wolfhart Panneberg asks, “Can there be at all something like a theology of nature? It is not only skepticism informed by natural science which opposes any attempt of this kind. From the point of view of theology one may also pose this question only with suspicion and disquiet.” Pannenberg, W. (1993) Toward a Theology of Nature: Essays on Science and Faith. John Knox Press, Westiminster, p.72.

104 Hull, D.L. (1991) The God of the Galapagos. Nature 342: 485 -486.

105 Murphy, G. L. (2001) Chiasmic Cosmology and Creation’s Functional Integrity. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 53(1): 7-13.

106 Ayala, F. J. (2007) Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, p. 159.

107 Mackay, D.M. (1988) Christian priorities in science. In “The Open Mind and Other Essays, M. Tinker (Ed.). Inter-Varsity Press, England, p 223.

108 Adapted from Desaix83, d'après le travail de Rytis Mikelskas, ???????? [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

109 Blount, Z.D., Borland, C.Z. and R. E. Lenski (2008) Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105(23): 7899-7906.

110 They note, “Populations of digital organisms often evolved the ability to perform complex logic functions requiring the coordinated execution of many genomic instructions.” Lenski, R.E., Ofria, C. Pennock, R.T and C. Adami (2003) The evolutionary origin of complex features. Nature 423:139-144.

111 Those with an explicit fitness function do not have genuine emergence.

112 Ventrella, J. (1996) Sexual Swimmers: Emergent Morphology and Locomotion without a Fitness Function In From Animals to Animats 4: Proceedings of the Fourth International on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior. Maes, P., Mataric, M.J., Meyer, J., Pollack, J and S. W. Wilson. The MIT Press, Cambidge, Massachusetts, pp. 484-493.

113 Even I, with my limited programming skills, managed to get metamorphosis evolving as a strategy to deal with transient resources.

114 Koza, J.R., Keane, M. A. (2003) Evolving Inventions. Scientific American, February Issue, pp. 40-47.

115 Herrel, A. et al (2008) Rapid large-scale evolutionary divergence in morphology and performance associated with exploitation of a different dietary resource. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105(12): 4792-4795.

116 Gingerich, P.D (1983) Rates of evolution: effects of time and temporal scaling. Science 222: 159-161,

117 Gingerich, ibid., Reznick, D. N. and C.K. Ghalambor (2001) The population ecology of contemporary adaptations: what empirical studies reveal about the conditions that promote adaptive evolution. In Microevolution Rate, Pattern, Process. A.P. Hendry, M.T. Kinnison (eds.) Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 183-198, Raup, D.M (1987) Major features of the fossil record and their implications for evolutionary rate studies. In Rates of Evolution, K.S.W. Cambell and M.F. Day (Eds). Allen and Unwin Publishers, Ltd, London, Minkoff, E.C. (1983) Evolutionary Biology, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, Massachusetts, pp. 319-333. See also Grant P.R. (1986) Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s Finches, Princeton University Press, Princeton for an account of the remarkable rapidity of microevolutionary change.

118 Williams, G. C. (1992) Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges. New York, Oxford University Press, p.128.

119 Grant, P.R. and B.R. Grant (2002) Unpredictable Evolution in a 30- Year Study of Darwin's Finches. Science 296:707-711.

120 Ridley, M. (1993) Evolution. Blackwell Science, Inc. Cambridge, Massachusetts p. 507.

121 Quoted in Peacocke, A. (1986) God and the New Biology. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, p. 82.

122 Addapted from Moore, J. A. (1984) Science as a Way of Knowing – Evolutionary Biology. American Zoologist 24:467-534. Used with the permission of Brett J. Burk, SICB Executive Director, 1313 Dolley Madison Blvd. Suite 402,McLean.

123 “It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road” (Deuteronomy 1:2).

124 Ridley, M. (1993) Evolution. Blackwell Science, Inc. Cambridge, Massachusetts pp. 343-344.

125 Dines, J.P., Otárola-Castillo, E., Ralph, P., Alas, J., Daley,T., and A.D. Smith (2014) Sexual selection targets cetacean pelvic bones. Evolution 68(11): 3296-2206.

126 By Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com)

127 Gingerich, P.D., B. Holly Smith and E.L. Simons (1990) Hind Limbs of Eocee Basilosarus: Evidence of Feet in Whales. Science 249:154-157. Thwessin, J.G.M., S.T. Hussain and M. Arif (1994) Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Aquatic Locomotion in Archaeocete Whales. Science 263:210-212 and Gingerich, P.G., D.E. Russell and S.M. Ibrahim Shah (1983) Origin of Whales in Epicontinental Remnant Seas: New Evidence from the Early Eocene of Pakistan. Science 220:403-405, Thewissen, J.G.M. and S, Bajpai (2001) Whale Origins as a Poster Child for Macroevolution Bioscience 51(12)1037-1049, Gingerich, P.D. (2002) Progress on the Evolution of Whales. Geoscience News, February.

128 Lihoreau, F., Boisserie,J., Manthi, F.K and S. Ducrocq (2015) Hippos stem from the longest sequence of terrestrial cetartiodactyl evolution in Africa. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7264

129 Orliac,M., Boisserie, J., MacLatchy, L. and F. Lihoreaua (2010) Early Miocene hippopotamids (Cetartiodactyla) constrain the phylogenetic and spatiotemporal settings of hippopotamid origin Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(26)11871-11876.

130 Fairbanks (2010) Relics of Eden – the powerful evidence of DNA. Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, pp. 53-54.

131 Drozdek. A. (2007) Greek Philosophers as Theologians: The Divine Arche. Ashgate Publishing Ltd., Hampshire, p. 183.

132 Tyson, P. G. (2013) Faith’s Knowledge: Explorations Into the Theory and Application of Theological Epistemology. Pickwick Publications, Eugene, OR. pp. 31-32.

133 Drozdek, A. (2007) p. 176.

134 Sedley, D. N. (2007) Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity. University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 168.

135 Sedley. D. N. (2007) p. 169.

136 Wood, D. Matthew’s Terrifying Christmas Story In Imagining Matthew D. Spalding (Ed.) Anglican Church, Diocese of Perth, p.18.

137 R C Sproul (1997) What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p.174.

138 Polkinghorne, J.C. (2007) One World: The Interaction of Science and Theology. Templeton Foundation Press, West Conshohocken PA, p. 78.

139 Quoted in Ratzch, D. (2010) The Religious Roots of Science. In Science and Religion in Dialogue M.Y. Stewart (Ed.) John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, p. 66.

140 Quoted in Brown, C. (1984) Miracles and the Critical Mind, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. P. 75.

141 Dawkins, R. (2006) The God delusion. Transworld Publishers, London, p. 68.

142 Meyer, S. (1999). The return of the God hypothesis. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 11(1): 1-38.

143 Pannenberg, W. (1993) Toward a Theology of Nature: Essays on Science and Faith. John Knox Press, Westiminster, p. 65.

144 Kant, I. (1900) Critique of Pure Reason. The Colonial Oress, New York, p.351.

145 See Dembski (1999) p. 105.

146 In Biblical idiom, the heart was the seat of the intellect, the liver the seat of the emotions.

147 Farrer, A. (1948) The glass of vision: The Bampton lectures of 1948. Dacre Press, Westminster, p.3.

148 Dodson, P. (2009) Is Intelligent Design really intelligent? In Science and Religion in Dialogue M.Y. Stewart (Ed.) John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, p. 240.

149 Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. Weidenfield & Nicholson Publishers, London. In reality, as Dawkins notes, Darwin’s gradual loss of faith had complex causes. The death of his beloved daughter Annie was a major influence.

150 Crompton, J. (1948) The Hunting Wasp. Collins, St. James Place, London, pp.192-193.

151 Quoted in Gould, S.J. (1983) Hen’s Teeth and Horses Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History. Penguin Books, Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, pp. 41-42.

152 Hume, D. (1948) Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Hafner Press, New York, p. 37-41.

153 Capaldi, N. (1987) The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Prometheus Books, New York, p. 115.

154 Dawkins, R. (2009) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Simon and Shuster, Inc, New York, p.356.

155 “By the middle of the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin’s concept of natural selection would evacuate the design argument as Paley presented it.” Brooke, J.H. (1991). Science and religion : Some historical perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 197.

156 Dawkins, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, p. 6.

157 Stafford, T. (1997) The Making of a Revolution. Christianity Today, December 8, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1997/december8/7te016.html

158 Madeleine Bunting, M. (2006) Why the intelligent design lobby thanks God for Richard Dawkins. The Guardian. March 27, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/mar/27/religion.schools

159 Johnson, P.E. (1997) Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, p. 23.

160 Johnson, P.E. (2010) Darwin on Trial. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ilinois, p. 104.

161 Dawkins, R. (2006) The God Delusion. Bantam Press, p.2.

162 Intelligent design proponent J.P. Moreland is one example. He says that God is “not necessarily a religious concept.” Moreland, J.P. (1987) Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 209.

163 “Random evolution” is another straw man. Natural selection is a powerful anti-chance mechanism.

164 Behe, M.J. (1994) Experimental support for regarding functional classes of proteins to be highly isolated from each other. In Buell, J. and V. Ahern, (Eds.), Darwinism, Science or Philosphy? Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Richardson, Texas, p.61.

165 Behe, M.J. (2006) Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical challenge Evolution. Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York. p. 18.

166 Used with permission from Miller, K. R. Refuting ID: Flagellum.

167 Behe, M.J. (2006) p. 72.

168 Behe, M.J. (2006) p. 39.

169 Miller, K. R. (2006) The Flagellum Unspun: The Collapse of “Irreducible Complexity” In Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA. Dembski W.A.and M. Ruse (eds.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridgem pp. 81-97.

170 Gould, S. J. (1977) Ever since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History . Penguin Books Ltd., Middlesex, p. 110. The concept was previously called preadaptation, but because of its teleological overtones is now termed exaptation. Gould, S.J. and E.S. Vrba (1982) Exaptation -a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology 8:4-15.

171 Miller, K.N. (1999) p. 160.

172 Musgrave, I. (2003) Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum. In Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. M. Young and T. Edis (Eds.), Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick., pp. 72-84.

173 Miller, K.N. (1999) p. 258.

174 Behe, M.J. (2007) The Edge of Evolution – the Search for the Limits of Darwinism. Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, p. 237.

175 Miller, K.R. (2014) Edging Towards Irrelevance: A commentary on recent claims by the Discovery Institute on the evolution of drug resistance in malaria. http://www.millerandlevine.com/evolution/behe- 2014/Behe-2014.pdf

176 Dembski, W.A. (2007) No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. Rowman & Littlefied Publishers, Inc., Maryland, p.162.

177 Meyer, S.C. (2009) Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. HarperCollins, New York, p. 169.

178 Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt: the Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligence Design is an extended god-of-the-gaps argument. He claims that Darwinian evolution cannot account for the rapid appearance of multicultural life in the Cambrian.

179 Perakh, M. (2004) Unintelligent Design. Prometheus Books, New York, Wein, R. (2002) Not a Free Lunch But a Box of Chocolates: A critique of William Dembski’s book No Free Lunch http://www.talkorigins.org/design/faqs/nfl/

180 Shallitt, J. and Elsberry, W. (2003), Playing Games with Probability: Dembski’s Complex Specified Information. In Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. M. Young and T. Edis (Eds.), Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, pp. 121-138.

181 Wein points out that by Dembski’s own admission, small amounts of Specified Information can be generated by natural processes, so what we have is not a law, but, at best, a limit.

182 For instance, an increase in information theoretic measure of neural complexity was demonstrated in Larry Yaeger’s Polyworld. Yaeger, L. Griffith, V. and O. Sporns (2008) Passive and Driven Trends in the Evolution of Complexity. Artificial Life 11:725-732.

183 Van Hofwegen, D.J., Hovde, C.J. and S.A. Minnich (2016) Rapid evolution of citrate utilization by Escherichia coli by direct selection requires citT Journal of Bacteriology. doi:10.1128/JB.00831-15

184 Pollard, J. (2010) Boffinology: The real Stories Behind our Greatest Scientific Discoveries. John Murray Publishers, London

185 Dembsi, W.A. (2007) p.183.

186 See , Elsberry, W. and Shallitt, J. (2003) Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski’s “Complex Specified Information” www.talkreason.org/articles/eandsdembski.pdf, Wein, R. (2002), Rosenhouse, J. (2002) Probability, Optomiszation theory and evolution. Evolution 56(8)8:1721-1722, Elsberry, W. R (2008) The Real Weasel in JavaScript http://austringer.net/wp/index.php/2008/10/24/the-real-weasel-in- javascript/, Wilkins, J., and Elsberry, W. (2001) The Advantages of Theft Over Toil: The Design Inference and Arguing from Ignorance, Biology and Philosophy 16: 709-722, Schneider, T.D. (2001) Rebuttal to William A. Dembski’s Posting and to His Book No Free Lunch. https://schneider.ncifcrf.gov/paper/ev/dembski/, Schneider, T.D. (2001) Dissection of A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information. https://schneider.ncifcrf.gov/paper/ev/dembski/Montanez.Marks2010.html

187 Of course, from God’s perspective, programmers stand in a horizontal relationship to their programs. Ultimately God created computer programs using human instruments to do so. The programmer/program analogy does not walk on all theological fours. My artificial life can exist independently of me, but nothing can exist independently of God.

188 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Trial transcript: Day 12 (October 19), AM Session, Part 1”. TalkOrigins Archive http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12am.html

189 Strassmann, J.E. and D.C. Queller (2007) Insect Societies as Divided Organisms: The Complexities of Purpose and Cross-Purpose. In In the light of evolution: Adaptation and Complex Design. Avise, J. C. and F. J. Ayala (Eds.), The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 145-163.

190 Sundström L., Chapuisat M., and L. Keller (1996) Conditional manipulation of sex ratios by ant workers: A test of kin selection theory. Nature 274:993-995, Queller D.C. and Strassmann J.E. (1998) Kin selection and social insects. Bioscience 48:165-175, Chapuisat M. and L. Keller L (1999) Testing kin selection theory with sex allocation data in eusocial Hymenoptera. Heredity 82:473-478.

191 This is a stated goal of the wedge document: http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.pdf

192 Judge John Earl Jones stated in his ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover. Trial, “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.” https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District/6:C urriculum,_Conclusion

193 Ibid., p. 226.

194 Edwards, J. R. (2002) The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. p. 483.

195 Edwards, J. R. (2002) p. 481.


Double-crossing the Cross: The Intel on Intelligent Design

  • ISBN: 9781370472581
  • Author: Mike L Anderson
  • Published: 2016-11-23 08:20:15
  • Words: 27354
Double-crossing the Cross:  The Intel on Intelligent Design Double-crossing the Cross:  The Intel on Intelligent Design