Intelligent Design Colloquium
The Greenville Religion and Science Society (GRASS) sponsored a colloquium this past Wednesday, May 1, with author and noted speaker, Dr. Jack Collins. Dr. Collins, author of Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?, presented the topic “Is Intelligent Design Bad Theology?” to Greenville College students and faculty.
Dr. Collins is a professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He went to MIT for his B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science and Systems Engineering, as well as Faith Lutheran Seminary for his M.Div., and the University of Liverpool for a Ph.D. in Hebrew linguistics. In addition to his many years of study, Dr. Collins has authored numerous books studying the creation story in Genesis.
Intelligent Design is a commonly accepted theory in the faith community used to explain the role of God in creation and human existence. The belief has come under scrutiny though, due to its resemblance to “God of the gaps” theology. Dr. Collins began the colloquium by defining the controversial belief, which often becomes a catch-all term for creation arguments that pull from literal interpretations of the Genesis account, varying to degrees of theistic evolution. What is Intelligent Design then, you ask? A basic definition given by Stephen Meyer, scholar and advocate of ID, would go something like this: “a theory about life’s origins that challenges strictly materialistic theories of the origin of the world.” ID accepts some forms of evolutionary theory, but also points to complex systems and gaps in the evolutionary record as evidence that a higher being must have intervened during the process of creation.
To illustrate the appeal of Intelligent Design, Dr. Collins proposed the instance of a person walking alongside a mountain. If that person were to discover a watch along the path, it would be fair to infer that a hypothetical watchmaker must have designed the watch, rather than the watch evolving from the force of time or in some other manner. In this light, the theory of an Intelligent Designer becomes much more accessible.
Collins is careful to point out the flaws that come with a belief in ID. The theory lends itself to propose “God created this, because it is ‘design,’ while God is not responsible for that, because it is not ‘design.’” He also cautions against appealing to areas of ignorance for assertions in God, and resting faith on an absence in knowledge.
What we do know is that the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of man (and what we call reason and will) remain a mystery. In a quote by Michael Heller, “science gives us knowledge; religion gives us meaning,” Collins invites us to determine for ourselves which creation scheme best accounts for natural observations. “There is no reason to suppose that God has not left traces of his craftsmanship,” says Collins.
The objective of GRASS is to stimulate meaningful and gracious conversation on issues relating to faith and science. “Is Intelligent Design Bad Theology?” provided a thought provoking discussion on this current scientific and theological debate.