The end of [contemporary] Intelligent Design?

Here is an interesting article on the failings of contemporary Intelligent Design arguments.  Folks like me who have great sympathy for traditional design arguments have always been frustrated by the hijacking of this argument by the contemporary irreducible complexity/god of the gaps ID movement – a movement which undermines science and, frankly, undermines one of the best arguments for the existence of God.  For those that are put off by contemporary ID arguments, don’t write off Thomas and other traditional design theorists with the same stroke.  Aquinas’ design argument is strengthened by the success of science, not weakened by it.  Here is a passage from the article:

“The emphasis in early Christian writings was not on complexity, irreducible or otherwise, but on the beauty, order, lawfulness, and harmony found in the world that God had made. As science advances, it brings this beautiful order ever more clearly into view.  … … But whereas the advance of science continually strengthens the broader and more traditional version of the design argument, the ID movement’s version is hostage to every advance in biological science. Science must fail for ID to succeed. In the famous “explanatory filter” of William A. Dembski, one finds “design” by eliminating “law” and “chance” as explanations. This, in effect, makes it a zero-sum game between God and nature. What nature does and science can explain is crossed off the list, and what remains is the evidence for God. This conception of design plays right into the hands of atheists, whose caricature of religion has always been that it is a substitute for the scientific understanding of nature.”

Author: Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

4 thoughts on “The end of [contemporary] Intelligent Design?”

  1. There are four excellent books related to this topic, written by 20th and 21st Century scientists who are also deeply religious. Intelligent design need not mean creationism; evolution need not mean lack of intelligence.

    “The Language of God,” by Francis S. Collins (Free Press/Simon & Schuster 2006). Dr Collins was head-Human Genome Project. He believes that faith in God and science can co-exist and be harmonious.

    “Let There be Light,” by Howard Smith (New World Library 2006). Dr. Smith is a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center. He explains how modern study of the cosmos complements the Kabbalah.

    “Intelligence in Nature,” by Jeremy Narby (Jeremy P. Thatcher/Penguin 2005). Dr. Narby has a doctorate in anthropology. He makes a reasoned connection between shamanistic beliefs and modern science.

    “Quantum Questions / Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists” (Shambala Publications 2001), edited by Ken Wilber. This book includes lengthy essays by Heisenberg, Schroedinger, de Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli, and Eddington.

    These books, among others on psychology, psychiatry, biology, neurology, physics, and astronomy, were helpful in preparing my e-book at and balanced the input of the five major religions and their mystics.


  2. Physicists are searching for the “creator”; they call it the Higgs boson. Evolution came later. To say evolution is not intelligent or lacks design is to deny recent discoveries of microbiology and astrophysics. Before you reject ID entirely, read the 40 books on psychology, biology and physics in the bibliographies of my e-book at If we were to completely dismiss that which we didn’t understand, progress in science and technology would come to a halt. It is the mysteries of life that drive researchers onward.


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