What do Unity Principles have to do with "Intelligent Design"?
* The theology of intelligent design
Forget about the science for a minute. An interesting editorial by James H. Dee in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper in Texas makes the argument that intelligent design faces two serious theological challenges:
"… more serious objections can be raised against ID. There are two black holes at its core — the issues of purpose and causality, which do not generally turn up in discussions on either side of the controversy."
The second challenge, that of causality, is perhaps most important:
"The other black hole might be even worse, for it challenges the assumption, simply taken for granted in most ID theory, that the hypothetical designer is able to go from a mental concept to actual effects in the material world — i.e., that divine intervention is possible.
"…This is a serious problem not just for ID but for all forms of theism. The principal scientific challenge to religion comes not from the high-order concept of evolution, but from causality, which pervades the deepest nuts-and-bolts level of atomic reality.
"Pro-theists have argued, following Aristotle, that the only escape from an infinite recess of causes going backward in time is a First Cause (aka God). But anti-theists have countered that there is nothing logically impossible about such an infinity and that if everything must have a cause, then God also must have one. And it seems desperate to invoke the idea of a 'Quantum God,' explaining the obscure by the even-more-obscure.
"So, by an engaging paradox, the medieval theological principle called Occam's Razor — which is commonly translated to mean that the simplest answer is usually the correct answer — may be turned against the philosophy from which it arose. For if physical causality is both universal and sufficient, then God himself becomes superfluous and literally impotent — and ID theory loses its designer."
From a pragmatic perspective, at least, putting this question to supporters of intelligent design might pose something of a dilemma for ID opponents. The reason is that asking such questions might reinforce the suspicion of some ID supporters that the challenge to ID is, at root, metaphysical.
For much more on intelligent design, see the "Web exclusives" box at STNews.org.
This article was excerpted from The Daily Dose, (2/3/06) an email newsletter of the Templeton Foundation and its publication Science & Theology News.