Thursday, April 3, 2014
Intelligent Design, Causality, and Apologetics
Recently I read a couple of posts over at Anchor Apologetics that deal with ID and the principle of causality. The articles in question were posted by two different people on two separate occasions. Both articles are a perfect example of what has gone wrong in Christian apologetics. As a consequent of the ID article, I found myself disputing the concept of a supernatural origin of all things that exist with a professing Christian of all things. This points up to the fact that the Church needs to get its head on square and remove faithless men who are filled with arrogance and contradictory ideas out of the community if they refuse to repent. The purpose of this post is to spend a few words on the terribly flawed approach of the use of ID and Causality in our attempt to defend Christian theism.
First, I want to examine the Intelligent Design argument. Intelligent Design (ID) says nothing more than that the universe displays the characteristics of intelligent design. That is all the theory itself claims. Scientists examine the workings of the physical universe and conclude that it gives the appearance that it was designed by an intelligent mind or minds. It can say nothing more than this. The article over a Anchor Apologetics makes the point that (presumably positive) ID should not be accused of being religiously oriented. It is science. It is not based upon some religious text. Now, Melissa Cain Travis, Assistant Professor at Houston Baptist University, implies that it is a positive thing that ID has no religious skin in the game, so to speak. She says ID is based on evidence from nature, not from a religious text. This argument is intended to answer opponents who call ID religion in disguise.
Professor Travis then moves to her second point, namely, that ID is not inconsistent with evolutionary theory. One can hold to both. ID only denies that life came to be spontaneously and without design. In other words, God could have created things exactly the way science claims. The attempt to appease science seems to be readily apparent by this point. We can have evolution and God seems to be the point of Travis' argument. Travis believes she has defended ID, evolution, and Christianity all at the same time. It is a lofty goal to attempt to defend evolution and Christianity at the same time and in the same article. Does Travis succeed in her attempt?
First of all, is ID even consistent with Christian theism? What do Christians believe about creation? What do we believe about God? ID is only consistent with the view that the universe appears to have been designed by some intelligent thing(s). It does not prove this to be the case. ID has nothing to say about the Christian God of the Bible. It makes no claims as to who this designer was. ID makes no claims about the nature of this designer other than it was powerful enough or smart enough to create our universe. The question any Christian should ask is this: how could such a weakened and inferior view of the Divine ever lend support to what we already have in divine revelation? ID is such a weak hypothesis about the designer of the universe that it is several steps removed from the God revealed in Scripture.
Second, the real goal here is to accommodate evolution, not prop up Christian theism. Since evolution is the demand of the day, anyone rejecting evolutionary theory is immediately marginalized. In order to neutralize this marginalization, the approach is to make Christianity and evolution compatible with one another. However, such a move is devastating to the Christian faith. Time does not permit me to list all the reasons why this is the case. But I will provide one of the most basic reasons for my position. Scripture is clear that death entered the world through sin. It was by sin that death passed upon all living creatures in the physical world. ID, in its attempt to accept evolutionary theory must deny the basic Christian tenet that death came by sin. Evolutionary theory claims that death existed prior to human beings. But if Scripture is correct, this is impossible. Christ came to redeem from sin and to give life, life that sin had taken. The ripple effect for redemption is more like a Tsunami. Christian doctrine collapses if evolutionary theory is correct. Hence, we either must reject ID or pervert the clear and plain teachings of Scripture if we are to accept ID. This is precisely what the Christian cannot and will no do. Since ID requires the Christian to give a fundamental tenet of the faith, how could any apologist ever consider it a good tool for the apologetic toolbox? Since ID cannot reconcile evolutionary theory and Christian theism with destroying Christian theism and replacing it with a sort of agnostic, general theism, it should be rejected as a viable alternative for any Christian to embrace.
The second article I wanted to comment on concerns the supposed support for Christian theism from the principle of causality. The first problem with causality is that there is no way to draw a line from cause to God regardless of how clever one might be. It is rationally impossible to leap from cause to, therefore, God. Second, that there cannot be an infinite series of causes is not without controversy. Some claim that there could be such a series. In addition, why does the cause of the universe have to be infinite and eternal? In addition, as Mike Butler points out in his article on this subject, there is no reason for us to suppose that there is only one cause of the universe. There could be two or a thousand. Philosophically and logically speaking, there is no reason for one to reduce such a cause to one. And if we are going to reason along these lines, Butler also points out that every unique event could have its own unique cause. Why do all the events have to trace back to one ultimate cause?
Christian theism is built upon the fact of divine revelation. We are confronted with the divine self-disclosure in nature each and every day. This disclosure is both external, in the world all around us, and internal, pressed indelibly upon the human conscience. Christians are privileged in the fact that they have been especially enlightened by the act of special disclosure in Scripture. That God is present everywhere about us, and that human knowledge of His presence is inescapable is attested by Scripture in the most plain and reasonable sense possible. Christians do not need to default to inferior arguments of finite human reason in order to defend the faith. Doing so demonstrates a seriously weak faith in my estimation. One that seemingly says I cannot or will not take God at His word. There is no higher proof for the truth of Christian theism that can be found outside of the proof of divine revelation in Scripture.