Intelligent Design

You know when you see the Panama Canal that it was not created by chance. It was the result of intelligent design and its causal agent was man. In this world there are other things and intelligent based processes and we know that man was not the causal agent.

Intelligent Design is a way to explain observations and the findings of scientific inquiry that suggest the involvement of a causal agent. Examples are the creation of the universe and the earth as well as biological and chemical processes at the cellular level life forms. These processes seem to operate as the result of “built in” information. If it is information that drives these processes it implies a causal agent having intelligence. We in the Christian community see the evidence for an intelligent causal agent as evidence for God.

Intelligent Design is not universally accepted. Some see it as a way to cleverly invoke theological arguments into a domain traditionally dominated by scientists who advocate random chance or natural selection as the explanation for making life possible. It is seen as anti-evolution. Which in a way it is. However, scientific findings from the 20th century have cast a great cloud over evolution as a means to exclusively explain the origin of life by chance or natural selection particularly when it comes to many cellular processes.

In the universe particularly as it applies to making life possible on earth the fine-tuning of many physical constants suggests an intelligent design. The number of physical constants is open to interpretation but there is a minimum of 22. If any of these physical constants were to deviate from their narrow range life on earth would not be possible

Gerald Schroeder has referenced calculations by mathematician Roger Penrose concerning the precision required for the energy and conditions distribution at the moment of the big bang to produce an environment suitable for life. The likelihood of these conditions being met is only one chance in ten to the power of 123. That is one chance out of a billion, billion, billion repeated more than a billion billion times, a number larger than the time the universe has existed. (1)

In regard to the origin of life the genetic code of DNA constitutes a set of rules that allows the living cell to engage in the synthesis of specific proteins essential for human life. The synthesis can be broken down into 4 essential steps called transcription, initiation, elongation and termination. Sounds simple? Hardly! Each step is exquisitely precise and so complex that invokes the thought that a designer must be behind it. Comparisons of the genetic code to the binary code of computers have been made but the genetic code is far more sophisticated. In the computer world those that design are called programmers. In the DNA world the programmer is referred to as a causative agent or designer, an intelligent one at that.

In the above example each step in protein synthesis is essential and the omission of any step would result in failure of DNA to do its function. Further, the failure at any step to carry out that step exactly as required results in protein or genetic modification to the extent that failure in one’s health can be a result. Consider that there are 75,000 enzymes in the human. Many of them are proteins and very large ones at that. The probability that any of them could be produced by chance is impossible. The agnostic British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who coined the term ‘Big Bang” stated it succinctly, “… interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question… “ Life cannot have had a random beginning”. He calculated the chance of obtaining 2000 enzymes in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000. (2)

There are numerous other examples in living systems such as chemical mechanisms of actions that govern biological functions of such complexity that formation of function by chance seems so remote it must be considered impossible. Bodily functions such as sight, hearing, taste, smell, muscle movement, blood coagulation, heart rate, metabolism etc., are each of such complexity and precision that an intelligent causative agent is suggested.

The science is convincing that design has to be seriously considered to be behind much of what we see cosmically and biologically. It is also revealing weaknesses in evolution as the sole explanation of life.

For a more thorough analysis of Intelligent Design refer to the works of William Dembski (3) and Stephen Myer. (4)

Intelligent design goes beyond the design of complex life support systems. Intelligent Design also infers Intelligent Intent or Purpose. Designers design to create a product that has a purpose. The product is a result of a creative process that produces the product according to the design. The creator can be the original designer. The resulting creation or product carries out the original intent of the designer.

The Intelligent Design sequence can be applied to God’s creation. Ephesians 1:4-10 describes God’s Intelligent Intent or Purpose and Genesis Chapter One describes the design and creative process used to produce the final product of a habitable planet and human beings made in the image of the Creator to carry out the Creator’s purpose or will.

We will continue this discussion in future posts but in the meantime the website and the book To Know With Certainty(2017) has related discussions.

(1) Schroeder, Gerald L. The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom. New York: Free Press, 2009, p 192-3.

(2) Hoyle, Fred and N. Wickramasinghe, Chandra, Evolution from Space, Aldine House, London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981, p. 24.

(3) Dembski, William A. and Wells, Jonathan, Dembski, William A., ed. The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems. Dallas: Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 2008.

(4) Meyer, Stephen E. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. New York: Harper Collins, 2009.