There’s a new theory in the debate over the beginning of the universe–Intelligent Design Theory (IDT).
No longer do truth-seekers have to limit themselves to choosing between Darwin or the Bible for explanations for life’s first days.
Proponents of this theory, led by a group of academics and intellectuals, accept that the earth is billions of years old, not the thousands of years suggested by a literal reading of the Bible, according to a New York Times article.
However, they dispute the idea that natural selection, the Darwinian explanation for evolution, is enough to explain the complexity of life on Earth. That complexity, they argue, can only be attributed to the work of an “intelligent designer.”
The identity of this intelligent designer is left up to the imagination, but critics of the theory said it amounts to “stealth creationism” subtly promoting God as that designer.
The designer may be much like the biblical God, proponents said, but they are open to other explanations, the Times reported. Some alternatives include the possibility that life was seeded by a meteorite from somewhere else in the cosmos or the new age philosophy that the universe is suffused with a mysterious but inanimate life force.
The Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think tank in Seattle, Wash., promotes the theory “as a strategy for defeating what they regard as the immoral materialism of modern science,” according to an article on Salon.com.
IDT’s leading proponent, Michael Behe, brings a greater intellectual respectability to the movement by means of his impeccable credentials, Salon.com reported. Behe holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.
A devout Catholic, Behe never resorts to theological arguments. Instead, he relies on meticulous reasoning to infer that the observable complexity in living things can only be explained by the existence of an intelligent designer, Salon.com’s article read.
Behe told the Times he believed that certain intricate structures in cells, involving the cooperative action of many protein molecules, were “irreducibly complex,” because moving just one of the proteins could leave those structures unable to function. If the structure serves no function without all of its parts, Behe asked, then how could evolution have built it up step by step throughout time?
“Evolutionary biologists maintain that the arguments of intelligent design do not survive scrutiny, but they concede that a specialist’s knowledge of particular mathematical or biological disciplines is often needed to clinch the point,” read the Times article.
“I would use the words ‘devilishly clever,'” said Jerry Coyne, professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, speaking of the way the theory is constructed, according to the Times. “It has an appeal to intellectuals who don’t know anything about evolutionary biology, first of all because the proponents have Ph.D.s and second of all because it’s not written in the sort of populist, folksy, anti-intellectual style. It’s written in the argot of academia.”
Behe, William Dembski, member of the Baylor University faculty, and Phillip E. Johnson, professor emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley Law School, are regarded as the intellectual fathers of the design theory movement.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.