Creationism By Any Other Name

I was surprised by the furor about Intelligent Design. Decades ago I was introduced to Thomas Aquinas’s proofs, from reason, of the existence of God, and Intelligent Design seems to be a rather mild variation on his theme of causality. The difference is that Aquinas, reasoning to the necessity of an ultimate uncaused cause, did not, over 700 years ago, hesitate to call it God. The advocates of Intelligent Design, however, seem to have found a door, but deny that there is anything beyond it; or, having filled a glass from the kitchen faucet, declare the liquid within to be tasteless, odorless, colorless, with a formula of HOH, and a specific gravity of exactly 1.00, but shrink from admitting it’s water, although everybody knows it is. Did they think they would fool someone by insisting that Intelligent Design was not a religious belief?

Certainly they did not fool judge John Jones. Regardless of the unconstitutionality, even absurdity, of a federal judge deciding what is or isn’t appropriate to a school curriculum, Jones was absolutely right about one thing: he called ID "creationism in disguise." (He also warned that ID was not science, as though truth could only be learned via the scientific method. Well, the law is not science, either!)

Had the proponents of ID boldly asserted a belief in Creationism, they would hardly have been alone. Many scientists have found that the ultimate truth of their investigations is Theism. Kurt Gödel, a friend of Einstein, and author of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, found that the more he discovered about the physical universe, the greater his belief in God as its creator. Sir John Eccles, Nobel laureate in medicine, is resolutely Christian, and sees no impediment to his beliefs posed by science. The same can be said of Henry Schaefer III, author of Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? His answer is unequivocal: coherence! Sir John Polkinghorne gave up his career as a physicist at Cambridge and took holy orders, working as a parish priest, declaring no conflict between quantum physics and Christianity. Sir Anthony Flew, one of England’s most outspoken atheists of the 20th century, acknowledged a belief in God about a year ago, pointing out that the order found throughout the universe simply could not have arisen from chance.

It is ironic that non-believers, not believers, were the ones who, by rejecting it, affirmed where ID was leading. Their rejection was absolutely necessary, lest they set foot on a path that would, inevitably, lead where they didn’t want to go. Having reached a verdict, they could not acknowledge the worth of any contradictory evidence.

It could be said of believers, as well, that, having reached their own verdict, they would support it with whatever evidence lent affirmation; but there’s a difference. If I know of a place called Chicago, want to go there, and follow the correct route, I’ll end up in — Chicago. If, on the other hand, I’ve never heard of Chicago, or deny its existence, and have no desire to go there at all, if I somehow find myself there, I’ll be in — Chicago. Know of it, believe it, desire it — or not — Chicago IS. And you can find yourself there, even if by accident.

An argument from intelligent design, in one form or another, has been around since the thirteenth century, and probably earlier than that. It didn’t convince unbelievers then, or now. So be it. But if you don’t believe, don’t justify that position by claiming that your breakfast appeared on the table when the eggs somehow scrambled themselves and climbed onto your plate.

And, in any event, have a blessed and happy new year!

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.