Today will be sermon twelve in my serious on the evolution/creation debate.  Last time we discussed genetic information. We saw that it is information within the genes of cells that lead to their development into the various body parts that make up a particular organism whether plant or animal.  We discussed DNA, RNA, nucleotides and chromosomes. We saw how all these components are involved in carrying and disseminating information. 

       We discussed human thought and how brain chemistry is involved in thought expression. We looked at a number of Scriptures that indicate there is a non physical element present in humans called spirit and it is this non physical element that operates to facilitate thought which in turn is expressed through the workings of brain chemistry. 

       Lastly, we revisited the phenomenon of irreducible complexity and saw how this phenomenon is highly indicative of intelligent design being involved in the creation of life forms.  Today we will discuss in detail the concept of intelligent design.

      Intelligent design (ID):

       Intelligent design has become an acronym for the teaching that there is conscious, cognitive intelligence behind the existence of the material universe and life.  This teaching does not attempt to define the nature of this intelligence but simply postulates there is sufficient evidence that such intelligence exists and therefore this approach should be equally considered along with other postulations as to origins. 

      The scientific community, by and large, dismisses intelligent design as not testable and therefore unscientific. While most evolutionary biologists admit to the appearance of design in living organisms, it is concluded that such appearance of design is illusionary.  It is believed that variations caused by genetic mutations combined with natural selection can produce the same result as that of an intelligent designer.  Darwin wrote that "there seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course in which the wind blows."

       It is interesting that theistic evolutionists tend to malign intelligent design and yet believe God initiated the evolutionary process which would require at least an initial intelligent design by God to produce this process. Those who admit to such initial  intelligent design creating the evolutionary process also believe this is as far as such design goes and that subsequent to such design, all life forms have come about through random mutation/natural selection.

       A common criticism of ID is that it is a "God of the gaps" theory.  For example, when an observation is made of the appearance or function a body part that can't readily be explained by any natural process, it is concluded that God must have made the part. This conclusion is seen as inserting God into the process when it simply may be that we haven't yet discovered a natural explanation for the body part.  The gap is seen in our present level of understanding and not in a gap that needs to be filled by the insertion of a supernatural Being. All gaps are seen as gaps in our understanding of natural processes.      

       A corollary criticism of ID is that proponents of ID see an intelligent designer making some things but not other things. ID proponents will readily admit that natural selection working on random variations does create evolutionary change. Yet these same ID proponents believe that a supernatural agent exercising intelligent design is involved where a naturalistic explanation is questionable. Here again ID proponents are charged with implementing a "God of the gaps" approach. It is questioned that if evolution is believed to be responsible for the existence of some organisms why can’t it be seen as being responsible for all organisms?  This is a reasonable argument.  

        As I said at the beginning of this series, I will not be arguing that evolution doesn't occur. Evolution, as a mechanism whereby various life forms come to be, is a demonstrated fact. There are multiple millions of differing plants and animals extant on planet earth. There are millions more that have previously inhabited the earth and have become extinct. These differing life forms weren't all created during the six days of creation week. Various dynamics of evolution such as natural selection working on variations caused by genetic mutation, phenotypic plasticity and hybridization have all played a role and continue to play a role in the development of the tremendous variety of different life forms historically and presently seen on our planet.

      The debate is not whether evolution has occurred and is occurring. The debate is whether evolution occurs devoid of supernatural involvement as believed by atheistic evolutionists.  The debate is whether evolution occurs with only minimal supernatural involvement as believed by theistic evolutionists. The debate is whether evolution occurs with a lot of supernatural involvement as is believed by progressive creationists and others in the creationist community. This is where the issue of intelligent design comes into play. 

       Atheistic evolution is based on an a priori assumption that only unguided natural processes are responsible for life and the physical universal. A priori knowledge is knowledge that is acquired independently of any particular experience.  This a priori approach to origins arbitrarily sets limits on what kinds of explanations are allowed. Explanations postulating ID are dismissed outright on the basis they cannot be empirically demonstrated to be true. It is assumed ID cannot be scientifically validated.  As I will demonstrate below, this is a bogus argument. I will show that the proper approach to origins should be based on posterior knowledge which is knowledge based on experience. 

       It is believed that postulation of intelligent design runs contrary to the scientific method. Since it is assumed the scientific method is the only way to arrive at the truth of a matter and since it is assumed the concept of intelligent design cannot be supported by the scientific method, it is concluded intelligent design is an un-provable concept and should be discarded as an explanation of origins.  Is this a valid conclusion?  Let’s examine the scientific method and see if the concept of intelligent design is as disconnected from this method as claimed and let us see if evolutionary theory is supported by the scientific method as claimed.

   The scientific method:

      The scientific method involves a basic approach to determining the truth of something.  It begins by making an observation of some phenomenon and, based on the dynamics associated with such phenomenon, proceeds to draw tentative conclusions about the cause of that phenomenon.  This is usually called a hypothesis.  This hypothesis is then used to make certain predictions as to how the phenomenon functions or comes to be.  These predictions are then tested through experiment or observation and the hypothesis is modified or left as is based on the results of the experiments or observation.  Experiments and observation are often repeated many times to insure the results are the same. 

       When such experimentation and/or observation consistently produce the same result, the hypothesis becomes a theory and provides a coherent set of propositions which explain the particular phenomena being investigated. If repeated testing and observation continues to support the theory, it is accepted as being valid beyond reasonable doubt and is used as a framework whereby other observations are explained and predictions are made.

       Here is a simple example of applying the scientific method:  Say you have an electric toaster. You place a slice of bread into the toaster and drop the bread down into the toaster basket and nothing happens.  You then notice the toaster isn’t plugged into an electrical outlet. You proceed to plug the toaster into an electrical outlet and in a minute or so you observe that the slice of bread pops up toasted.  You have made the observation that placing a slice of bread in a toaster connected to an electrical outlet results in that slice of bread being toasted. 

       You now form a tentative conclusion, called a hypothesis, that when you plug in the toaster to an electrical outlet, your slice of bread gets toasted.  You now need to test your hypothesis.  Will you get a toasted slice of bread the next time you place such bread into a plugged in toaster and every time thereafter?  If you do, you now can theorize that you will get a piece of toasted bread every time you perform this procedure.  If you see this happening on a consistent basis over a period of time, your theory is seen as valid beyond reasonable doubt and can be used as a framework whereby other observations are explained and predicted.

The scientific method and intelligent design:

      The scientific community often accuses intelligent design advocates of being unscientific because it is believed intelligent design does not meet the standards of the scientific method. It is believed that intelligent design cannot be tested as a means whereby life forms have come to be. Therefore, it is believed intelligent design should not be taught as a mechanism of origins. Furthermore, it is believed the concept of intelligent design is intrinsically associated with the supernatural and therefore is a faith based concept that cannot be scientifically demonstrated to be true.  Therefore, it is believed intelligent design should not be taught in public educational institutions.  Is this a valid perspective?  

       The scientific method is used to establish a level of probability that something is true.  Using the scientific method as outlined above, let’s consider intelligent design at the human level.  We observe material objects and events coming into existence on a constant basis. By observing the dynamics of their existence, we see events and material things designed and manufactured (created) as a result of intelligent activity performed by living, cognitive human agents. Therefore, we can develop the hypothesis that intelligent design is responsible for the existence of material objects and events.

       This hypothesis can then be tested by observing humans exercising intelligent design leading to the creation of objects and events.  Based on the observed relationship between intelligent design and the production of various objects and events, we can purpose the theory that human intelligent design is responsible for the coming into existence of material objects and events.  If repeated testing and observation continues to support the theory, it is accepted as being valid beyond reasonable doubt and can be used as a framework whereby other observations are explained and predictions are made. This last tenet of the scientific method is very important as you will see.     

       As should be obvious, our theory of human intelligent design becomes an obvious truth based on the mammoth amount of evidence available. The evidence for intelligent design at the human level is ubicquous.  It is found everywhere in the human experience.

       Since the evidence is overwhelming as to the connection between human intelligent design and the existence of material objects and events, a prediction can be made that the agents of such intelligence, and the materials they use in design and creation, were themselves produced by intelligent design and creation. This is in keeping with the scientific method which allows for a theory accepted as being valid beyond reasonable doubt used as a framework wherein observations are explained and predictions are made about other things. In view of the evidence seen at the human level, it is reasonable to infer that intelligent design is the mechanism at work throughout the universe.  It is a universally observed phenomenon that information arises from conscious intellectual activity.

       Therefore, it should be considered scientific to postulate that living intelligent cognitive agents called humans were designed and created by a living, intelligent cognitive source.  Humans, expressing cognitive intelligence have designed and created countless objects using materials found on and in the earth.  Why should it be considered unscientific to postulate human intelligence which produces design and creation of what is designed were not themselves designed and created by a conscious, cognitive intelligence? 

       In our technological age humans have designed information systems that are truly extraordinary. Some of these systems appear to virtually think for themselves. But we all know this isn’t the case.  Their appearing to think for themselves is illusionary. All such information systems have been designed by human intelligence to do what they do. They not only have the appearance of design but are indeed designed.

       It has been readily admitted by evolutionary biologists from Darwin to Dawkins that biological organisms have the appearance of design.  Yet these same biologists insist the appearance of design in biological organisms is illusionary because they believe natural selection acting on random mutation of chemical elements can fully account for the appearance of design without direction from an intelligent source. The massive evidence of intelligence design associated with the creation of physical things is totality ignored as predictive of intelligent design being a dynamic in the appearance and development of life forms or the existence of the physical universe.

       It seems indeed odd that the scientific community is so inflexible in their refusal to admit to the possibility of intelligent design being behind the existence of the physical universe and life forms when the whole of human experience is one of intelligent design producing countless objects and events including massive and complicated information systems as seen in our generation.  Yet something as complicated and complex as life forms is seen as coming into existence devoid of a cognitive intelligent agent being responsible for such complicated and complex life forms.  

       Evolutionists often argue that genetic similarities between living organisms is evidence of their having common ancestry with other organisms. Organisms having similar parts are seen as proof of one organism evolving from another organism. Shared biological similarity is seen as indicative of inherited traits from a common ancestor.

       However, shard traits are a much greater evidence for common design, not common ancestry. Humans frequently use the same parts to meet functional requirements of different devices. Cars, Trucks, airplanes and bicycles all have wheels. Wheels are common to all such vehicles. No one would conclude these vehicles evolved from a common ancestor that had wheels. Why should it be seen as difficult to conclude that a supernatural agent used the same or similar components in the design of different classes of living organisms?

      Furthermore, the concept of common ancestry for living organisms must show a close structural relationship between the body parts of one organism and organisms from which such organism is believed to have descended.  Yet this is often not the case. For example, the construction of the human eye is very similar to the construction of the eye of a squid. Yet squids and humans are not anywhere close to being seen as being of similar construction in any other way. These short of anomalies are frequently found among biological organisms.

       Rather than admit to the very strong possibility of such "anomalies' resulting from a intelligent designer using the same or very similar design in the creation of different classes of organisms, Darwinists call this "convergent evolution" where two very different organisms independently evolved the same biological structure. 

       However, the concept of "convergent evolution" runs contrary to Darwinian evolution which requires a reasonably close structural similarity between evolving organisms. This concept also runs contrary to the belief that evolution runs in a straightforward liner line where it is believed to be highly improbable that the same evolutionary pathway would repeat itself.  Yet we find such repetition to be frequent among organisms.  

       It is instructive that a 2007 study entitled "Mapping Human Genetic Ancestry” revealed that 23% of the human genome contradicted the standard association made between humans and apes.  In a 2012 study entitled "Insights into Hominid evolution from the Gorilla genome Sequence," it was revealed that 30% of the gorilla genome contradicts the standard ape to human ancestry. Recent genome sequencing has revealed thousands of so-called "orphan genes," a term that describes genes that show no sequence similarity to other known genes. This should not be the case if universal common descent is the manner in which life forms have come to be.

       The Darwinists can't have it both ways. The concept of "convergent evolution" and the findings of significant divergence in genomes between organisms thought to be related pretty much destroys the Darwinian "tree of life" concept which is to say it destroys the concept of universal common ancestry.  

        The scientific community claims proponents of intelligent design have not published peer reviewed articles supporting their theory and therefore their theory is unscientific. When articles are published in scientific journals in support of intelligent design, the editors of such journals are taken to task for publishing such material because it is claimed intelligent design is unscientific. The circular reasoning here should be apparent.

       Furthermore, it should be understood that establishing the truth of something should not be based on artificially determined parameters of investigation such as the scientific method or whether there are peer reviewed articles published that are based on such method.  Determination of truth should be based on dispassionate and objective examination of all dynamics associated with an issue and allowance of the evidence to determine level of belief.  Truth should always be considered as provisional in so much that one should always be open to an objective reexamination of an established paradigm when challenged to do so.

       It is sometimes argued that science must be based on the assumption there exists no powers that cannot be defined in naturalist terms.  It is believed science must be based on natural law and natural law must be defined as what can be observed and tested.  It is believed anything outside of this approach is only speculation and should not be considered scientific.

       This position is problematic in so much as it fails to recognize that, although natural law can be observed and tested, its origin cannot be identified through such observation and testing. One can observe and test the law of gravity. Such observation does not identify where the law of gravity came from or how it is sustained. While the testing of a proposition is vital to establishing its validity, test results can be used to infer the validity of additional propositions which may not be able to be tested in like manner.  If science truly seeks to understand reality, it must not set arbitrary limits on investigation.  

       Science establishes validity on the basis of demonstrating that a phenomenon can be repeated over and over again, producing the same result.  The phenomenon of human intelligence producing design is constantly being repeated and constantly producing the same result which is creation of material objects and events. The repeated occurrence of the appearance of objects and events due to the exercise of human intelligent design provides overwhelming evidence to this being a mechanism whereby things come to be. All of human experience demonstrates information is generated by conscious cognitive human agents exercising intelligence.  Why then is it considered unscientific to seriously consider that intelligent design is necessary to produce the material universe and life?

   Evidence beyond reasonable doubt:

       The establishment of the truth of something should be based on a preponderance of evidence and evidence beyond reasonable doubt. The preponderance of evidence is that conscious intelligent humans are responsible for the design and creation of objects and events.  This is an overwhelming and undeniable truth of human history. Therefore, it is extremely likely that conscious intelligence of some kind is the source for the design and creation of human intelligence and the physical elements used by humans. In reality, intelligent design, as an explanation for the existence of the physical universe and life, is based on a much more sound scientific footing than is the Big Bang Theory or Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian evolution. 

       Neo-Darwinism postulates life arose from non-living sources and gradually developed over many millions of years through random mutation and natural selection.  Because of the great amount of time required, this process cannot be repeated in a laboratory setting nor can it be observed.  It can only be hypothesized on the basis of mutational/natural selection theory, conjecture as to how fossil containing sedimentary strata came to be and disputed dating methods of fossils and the rocks they are found in.

       When all the challenges to evolutionary theory discussed in this series are taken into consideration, to conclude that evolution devoid of any supernatural involvement is the sole explanation of origins becomes highly problematical and a virtual absurdity.

       On the other hand, intelligent design of life and the material universe is a highly probable truth based on the observation that intelligent design is a readily observed phenomenon and is at work on a continuous basis throughout the entirety of human history. While this does not provide absolute prove this process was responsible for the origin of life and the physical universe, it provides a very high level of probability that this is the case. In this respect, intelligent design is more scientific than evolution as an explanation of the origin of life and the material universe.

       In view of the discussions presented in this series, it is reasonable to conclude intelligent design is responsible for the creation of a number of body types having informational systems enabling them to replicate and expand into a variety of organisms within established parameters of reproduction.  It is likewise reasonable to conclude the constituents of the physical world that are used by human intelligence to design and create were themselves designed and created by a powerful intelligence.  

 Where are we at?

      So where are we at in our quest to determine the origin of life and the physical universe?  We previously discussed irreducible complexity which demonstrates the virtual impossibility of all body parts gradually coming into existence over millions of years of evolutionary development.  Irreducible complexity virtually demands the involvement of an intelligent designer.

       We have seen how intelligent design is the most probable explanation of origins and how such intelligent design is behind the development of basic body parts that make up living organisms. We have looked at numerous dynamics associated with the evolution of organisms and the age of the earth with its millions of differing organisms both extinct and extant.

       It should be apparent that the millions of diverse organisms seen in the fossil record were not all created in the six days of creation seen in Genesis nor have they all evolved in 6 to 10 thousand years as believed by young earth creationists. While some dating of fossils has been problematic, the number of dating methods being used all point to living organisms being extant on planet earth far longer than 6 to 10 thousand years.  There is sufficient fossil evidence that life forms have been extant for a much longer period of time.

       There is also strong evidence for the earth and the universe having been created millions of years ago. I discussed some of this evidence in previous sermons when we looked at starlight and how caves with their stalactites and stalagmites are formed.

       Can a creation of the earth and life forms occurring millions of years ago be harmonized and coordinated with the Genesis creation account? Next week we will return to the Genesis creation account and take an in-depth look at the so called “gap theory” and how it may provide the answer to the apparent conflict between science and the Bible as to the age of the earth, universe and life forms.