Is Intelligence allowed?
Expelled UK Premiere sparks more debate
Published: 23 March 2010 (GMT+10)
On Saturday 27th February, I attended the UK premiere of Ben Stein’s film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. In a lively, fast moving and entertaining way, Stein makes a very serious point: any academic who dares to question Darwinian dogma risks censure, limited career prospects and, quite possibly, the loss of his or her job. After the film, there was a live debate, in which two proponents of Intelligent Design, Dr. Alastair Noble1 and Professor Steve Fuller2 faced two opponents of Intelligent Design, Professor Keith Fox3 and Professor Susan Blackmore.4
At one point, Blackmore, who flatly denied that there was any real problem with academic censorship, explained that one of the reasons she could not take ID seriously was that she was not aware of anything useful that had come out of it. As I listened to this, I recalled all the scientific blunders that could have been avoided if scientists had not been constrained in their thinking by the evolutionary paradigm.
The latest, of course, is the debacle arising from the erroneous belief in ‘junk DNA’. Believing most of the genome to have no function, being just a relic of our evolutionary past, medical researchers had ignored it, and missed many keys to how we could treat diseases arising from genetic disorders. According to John Mattick, Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Queensland, “the failure to recognize the implications of the non-coding DNA will go down as the biggest mistake in the history of molecular biology.”5 Had scientists believed the genome to be designed, it is most unlikely that they would have made this mistake.
Blackmore, presumably, is also unaware of the considerable body of evidence supporting the view that modern science was born out of a belief in a universe that had been designed. In his Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae, Kepler wrote of how his scientific work was driven by “the highest confidence in the visible works of God”, and he often interspersed his reflections on scientific method with biblical quotations on the wisdom, power and glory of God.6
Galileo wrote that “the book of nature is a book written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics”7 and referred to the divine Creator as a ‘craftsman’ and an ‘architect’, concepts which inspired him to conduct experiments so as to learn about God’s creation. Believing the human mind also to be the work of this Creator, he confidently pursued his research in the expectation that the mind created by God was capable of understanding at least some of the rest of his creation. According to Galileo, it was this Christian belief that the principles of the universe were fathomable that led Copernicus to postulate the simple theory that the earth revolved around the sun.8
For Robert Boyle, “the doctrine and belief in the Creator represented the very foundation of sound reasoning about the world”, and Newton “most explicitly endorsed the notion of a Creation once and for all as the only sound framework of natural philosophy.”9 In an essay written for the Royal Society, John Maynard Keynes said of Newton that “he regarded the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty.”10
According to Robert Hooke, the pioneer of microscopy, the more we magnify objects, “the more we discover the imperfections of our senses, and the omnipotency and infinite perfections of the great Creator”.11
That the faith of these creationists provided the basis for modern science was also acknowledged by the leading anthropologist and historian of science, Loren Eiseley:
“… the philosophy of experimental science … began its discoveries and made use of its method in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation … It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes it origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.”12
Keith Fox, who also argued against ID, is a theistic evolutionist. Apart from the violence that the doctrine of theistic evolution does to scripture, the logic behind Fox’s position amazes me—I just cannot see how someone can believe in a creator and deny ID. The theistic evolutionist argues that God used natural processes to create and, presumably, set up the universe with natural laws that inevitably gave rise to the kind of life forms he wanted to populate the earth, including man who was intended to carry His image. If so, then it follows that intelligence may be seen in the laws of nature, and what issues from these laws will also carry the mark of an intelligent origin. ID, then, would still be a valid premise upon which to pursue science.
Clearly, as a biblical creationist, I do not believe that God only used natural laws to create, but that the world and all life was made supernaturally. I have, however, also come to see evidence of design in the ‘character’ of the material world. Let me explain. As a young engineer, I would often meet technical problems in my work—manufacturing processes would not do what I wanted them to do, vibrations prevented mechanisms working properly etc—and I often questioned whether a solution actually existed. Could I spend many fruitless hours trying to solve a problem which had no solution? I was always encouraged by the senior engineers to keep going, however, and, without exception, always found an answer. Over time, I realised that their expectation that solutions would be found arose from their experience—over many years they had consistently found satisfactory ways round problems. They had seen a pattern! It occurred to me subsequently that the founders of modern science, such as Galileo and Newton, did not have the benefit of this experience. They persevered in their work because they believed in a Creator who had ordered the world in such a way that scientific research and engineering endeavour would be fruitful.
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)
References and notes
- Alastair Noble was Inspector of Schools and Head of Education Services in Scotland. Return to text.
- Steve Fuller is Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick. Return to text.
- Keith Fox is Professor of Biochemistry, University of Southampton. Return to text.
- Sue Blackmore is Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology, University of Plymouth. Return to text.
- Genius of Junk DNA, Catalyst, 10 July 2003. Return to text.
- Jaki, S., Science and Creation, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1986, p. 268. Return to text.
- Stark, R., For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts and the End of Slavery, Princeton University Press, Oxford, 2003, p. 165. Return to text.
- Jaki, S., ref. 6, p. 276–279. Return to text.
- Jaki, S., ref. 6, pp. 285 and 287. Return to text.
- Keynes, J.M., Newton, the Man. Essay read to the Royal Society, 1946. Cited in Stark, R., ref. 7, p. 173. Return to text.
- Harrison, P., The Bible, Protestantism and the rise of natural science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001, p. 174. Return to text.
- Eiseley, L., Darwin’s Century: Evolution and the Men who Discovered It, Anchor Books, New York, USA, 1961, p. 62. Return to text.