Non-Interventionist Intelligent Design

| | Comments (0)
I noted that the notion of ID does not require interventionism, but I had trouble finding specific assertions either pro or con from ID proponents themselves (although this excellent, and very long, article, about the philosophy of science and the evolution debate, agrees with me).

So, I pulled out a book I read over a decade ago (how time flies), called The Creation Hypothesis, edited by J.P. Moreland, a professor of mine. It's a well-known book in ID circles. The foreword is from Phillip E. Johnson, and it includes a chapter on Intelligent Design by William Dembski. All are prominent ID proponents, and all believe in interventionism.

Moreland notes in the introduction:

Second, [as a response to the idea that evolution proves design is implausible], theists can grant, for the sake of argument, that the general theory of evolution is true, and go on and build a design argument based on broader features of order and purpose, even on the existence of the mechanisms of evolution. It can be claimed that evolution merely explains how God designed the living world; it does not remove the need for a Designer. This response grows stronger the more we discover that living things are even more complicated than was believed to be the case during the time of Darwin. As the intricacy of organisms becomes more apparent, it becomes less plausible to believe that the processes of evolution could mindlessly produce life, and it becomes more plausible to believe they were guided by an Intelligence in such a way as to overcome the improbabilities of life arising in the first place.

The main problems with this response are that it is hard to square with the early chapters of Genesis and with the empirical facts of science itself. So while the response could be adopted merely for the sake of argument, the authors of this book do not utilize it.
(Emphasis added.)

There are two points I wish to highlight here. First, Moreland explicitly acknowledges that such a view constitutes a design by an intelligence. Being that this is only 1994, the phrase "Intelligent Design" is not often used, even by authors in this book (except Dembski), but clearly Moreland is saying that this is a reasonable alternative response to naturalism.

Second, his only objections to it are not on the grounds that it doesn't fit Intelligent Design, but that it doesn't fit his theology, nor science; but the former objection is irrelevant to the idea of whether the idea is properly a part of what is known as Intelligent Design (which is explicitly nontheological, as stated by most of its proponents), and the latter is simply an argument against Darwinism itself.

So in the opinion of the editor of one of the most prominent ID collections in the last 20 years, it seems to me that my definition of ID as being not specific to interventionism is perfectly reasonable.

Also, just because that is my definition of ID, that doesn't mean that I don't believe in interventionism. I don't, but that's only because I am unconvinced. It is why I prefer a notion that doesn't limit me: I believe God designed us, but I have no clue when and how. Maybe God intervened along the way, possibly by just BOOM creating humans, and maybe it happened gradually through a natural process that God designed. I don't know, but either way, I am convinced God designed us.

I find the non-interventionist explanation a bit more compelling though, for two reasons. First, because I believe God created a universe we can understand. Maybe not one we can figure out the origins of, but one that we can figure out since then. Maybe I am wrong, of course, but that's the idea that has driven science for thousands of years, until recently: that God is order, and created order, and we can discover that order.

Second, because I just don't see why God would need to be an interventionist. Not that I need to be able to for it to be true, of course, but God is certainly powerful and knowledgable enough to design it beforehand -- as the preacher Henry Ward Beecher said in the 1800s, in response to Darwin, "design by wholesale is grander than design by detail" -- so why the need to intervene?

My next post: the TV show "The 4400" as an analogy to non-interventionist Intelligent Design! Or not. Just imagine it.

Leave a comment

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by pudge published on August 31, 2005 3:35 PM.

use Perl; FAQ Updated was the previous entry in this site.

Dear Log is the next entry in this site.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.