Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Fundamental Flaw with I.D. (and How to Fix It)

Buried in the text of this American Chronicle article about the I.D. controversy are a few intriguing quotes which - in my view - expose one of the major flaws in the I.D. movement.

The author of the article, Kazmer Ujvarosy, interviews Mike Keas, who teaches in the Master of Arts program in Science and Religion at Biola University and is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

According to Mike...

"ID theory today does not invoke a supernatural form of intelligent agency. Mere intelligent causation is the defining inference of 21st-century ID theory. The exact character of that intelligence, ID advocates insist, is not a scientific question.”

Then later, Mike says...

"Whether the designing intelligence is human, alien, the mind of a living universe, or an intelligent being beyond the cosmos is not an issue that can be effectively addressed through scientific inquiry. Other academic disciplines are better suited to plumb the depths of such fascinating questions.”

This leaves Kazmer to ponder...

"So we are told by ID theorists in no uncertain terms not to depend on them for illumination regarding the inferred intelligence’s exact identity. ID is strictly about design detection. It’s outside the scope of ID to speculate about the intelligence responsible for design in nature, or about the methods of the designer. This leaves us in the dark, and we have no choice but to cast light on the inferred intelligence’s identity without the help of ID theorists."

I think this is an important dialogue which reveals the self-imposed limits of the I.D. movement - needlessly crippling its ability to jump from an intriguing news item to a major challenge to the current scientific/social paradigm.

In Chapter 9 of The Mustard Seed, Heather Manning elaborates...

"This paradigm shift - as remarkable as it is - will be, for most people, nothing more than a curiosity unless it is accompanied by a personal life philosophy - a new approach to living in light of this revolutionary information. That's why I've constructed this idea of 'spiritual rationalism,' which includes the concepts of self-interest, integrity, and love - everything I've explained here today."

Bottom line: The scope of I.D. needs to expand beyond the question of "Is there a Designer?" and examine the following questions: "What is the nature of that Designer?" and then, "What does that mean for the individual and society?"

As it stands today...if a person reads a few stories about I.D., and only retains the following message: "Don't bury God yet; there's still a good chance He might exist," then the potential growth of I.D. itself is limited for 2 reasons.

First, at the risk of pointing the obvious, the vast majority of people in this country are Christians.

Whether or not they are serious enough about their faith to earn that title is another story, but in their own minds, they are sincere Christians. And therefore, while the I.D. story is intriguing, it is ultimately irrelevant. They know the Bible is true. They knew that before I.D. And, should I.D. ever be disproven, they will know that AFTER I.D.

Second, that message will not penetrate the small (but rapidly growing) segment of the population (especially among young people) who are agnostic (but open to religion - as long as it's not Christian fundamentalism.

Why? Because they've already had their fill of Christian fundamentalism, and they don't care for it much. If the message of I.D. is "there might be a God," and their only conception of God is the one propagated by Christian fundamentalists, then young people will reluctantly return to the dreary swamp of agnosticism.

That's why I don't want I.D. to be a "high-tech, modern" path to Christian fundamentalism. I want the tools that make I.D. "work" (a respect for reality and reason - regardless of the ideological consequences) to be adopted in all facets of our life - from personal ethics to faith.

I want a rational form of ethics; I want a rational faith. Something that nourishes the mind AND soul.

Intrigued? Go here for more.


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