Monday, June 17, 2013

The Theory of Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Evolution

Recent talk of the theory of intelligent design raises several questions.  Is it a form of Creationism?  Is it more of a theological argument than a scientific study?  Do intelligent design theorists believe in God?  These questions are answered in my Study Guide on The Theory of Intelligent Design from Knowledge Box Central.  In this article, I would like to briefly answer these questions and tell what the theory of intelligent design is and is not.
There have been many answers to the question, “Where did this world come from?”  The Ancient Greeks believed it involved a clash between the gods and the Titans, and some recent ideas have included an early visit from aliens or perhaps a “great spaghetti monster.”  The two mainstream ideas, however, that have had churches and public schools at odds with each other for some decades, are Creation and Evolution. 
Creationism says simply that God created the world as is depicted in the Bible.  Many Creationists believe a “young earth” theory, which means they believe that the earth was created in six literal days as told in the book of Genesis, and that the earth is only about 6,000-10,000 years old, which is an estimate of the timeline of events in the Bible from Creation until the present day.  Creation scientists begin with the supposition that the Bible is true and that God did create the world.  They then investigate scientific evidence which supports the Creation theory and which otherwise supports the literal truth of the Bible, which is why they often also include a lot of scientific information about Noah’s Ark and The Great Flood.  Does their religious bias make them any less scientific?  Certainly not.  “Science” is the pursuit of knowledge, mainly through objective evidence that is observable and repeatable.  While the act of Creation cannot be repeated by man, Creation scientists study objective evidence that is in the world using the scientific method and arrive at their conclusions.  Some people who do not share their starting suppositions, however, will not share their conclusions.
The same could be said of the theory of Evolution.  Evolutionists believe that the world was brought about by a series of random occurrences and the process of natural selection.  They begin with the supposition that there is no God, and so an alternate theory of origins must be found scientifically.  Because natural selection supposedly only happens in very small changes over a large span of time, they reason that the earth must be billions of years old.  This is the “old earth theory.”  Again, the origin of the Universe cannot be observed or repeated, so like the Creationists, the Evolutionists are also studying the evidence available to them to arrive at their conclusions.  No theory of origins can be scientifically proven, because there is no way to go back and see what happened or to repeat it.  All of the scientists are researching evidence available today for clues to our origins.  Some people who believe in God, but who believe the scientific evidence points to Evolution, reason that God may have created the world through Evolution, which would still require the earth to be billions of years old, and which would mean that the story in the Bible is figurative rather than literal.
Recently, a third alternative to the way we study the evidence has gained following.  The theory of intelligent design, by definition, “holds 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.”  (  It can be illustrated by the famous example of a watch found in the woods.  A man is walking through an uninhabited wood when he sees a watch lying on a stump.  Does he think, “Oh my, look how neatly all the pieces of the inner workings of this watch came together through random processes out here in the woods, and happened to fall together to construct this perfectly-working watch?”  It is much more likely that he would believe that the watch was evidence that a person had been through those woods before and had left the watch, and furthermore, that the watch was designed by a clockmaker who had the intelligent capabilities to design such a thing.  How much more should we look at this world and at living things and reason that such complexity must have been designed by an intelligent designer.
Our earlier question was:  what is the difference between Creationism and intelligent design theory?  The difference is the starting point.  While Creationists begin with the assumption that God did indeed create the world and we are researching evidence of that fact, intelligent design theory begins with the scientific evidence and follows where it leads.  The theory itself does not use the Bible as evidence.  These scientists research objective evidence and conclude that it does point toward the existence of an intelligent designer rather than to the natural and random processes of Evolution.  The scientific theory itself stops short of naming the Designer.  Is it then anti-Christian or anti-Creationism?  No.  It simply does not deal with the theological implications of the conclusion.  Many books have been written about intelligent design theory and are listed under “suggested resources” in the Study Guide.  Some of them were written by Christians and overtly state that the Intelligent Designer is God, while others stick only to the scientific theory.  Intelligent design theorists may include Christians, Jews, Muslims, and scientists who have not claimed a faith but who believe in the possibility of an Intelligent Designer.  They also include those who believe in both the “old earth” and the “young earth” theories.
At this point, before you purchase the Study Guide, you may be wondering what the leaning of the author is.  Truthfully, I am a young-earth Creationist.  I believe that the Bible is true and literal, and I believed that before I had any scientific evidence of it, so I fit the definition of a Creationist.  In today’s world, however, we deal with all kinds of people, sometimes including our own children, who are not convinced that the Bible is infallible.  Sometimes saying, “because the Bible tells me so” is not enough evidence for a scientific-leaning mind.  I teach Intelligent Design Theory as a science class because it deals with scientific theories and evidence both for and against Evolution and Creationism.  I believe it is good for us to teach this objective study to our students.  For those who believe in Evolution, I believe you may find there is a lot of evidence that you were not taught in school and at which you may want to at least take a second look.  For those who believe in Creation but have not studied a lot of the scientific evidence, these are tools your children will need during a secular education in today’s world, especially if they go on to study science at a University.  And if you already know a lot about this subject, this Study Guide will give you an organized way to teach it, complete with lapbook templates and/or journaling pages.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to know Pat Robertson's view on the Intelligent Design Theory. I was working on my MA degree in Religion at Liberty University in the 1990's. I purchased a book by Phillip E. Johnson called Darwin on Trial to do research and liked it. I would like to see more literature on this theory.

    Charles E. Miller,BA,Old Dominion University; MA, Liberty University