The reason that ID has failed as an apologetic is simple — it is the same reason that Tetris has failed as an apologetic. It is the same reason that Tennis has failed as an apologetic. It is the same reason that the Macarena failed as an apologetic. The reason?
ID IS NOT AN APOLOGETIC.
I know this is shocking to some people, but, amazingly, ID is about the science. I had a friend email me once and say, “you’re not doing any favors to religion with ID.” My response to him was that my primary goal with ID is to fix the science, not the religion. If science wants to push further, it has to have the tools to deal with the world as we find it. We find ourselves in a world of conscious beings, inventing, creating, thinking, and planning. Yet science, so far, has dealt only with the unplanned and automatic portions of it. In my view, there is a lot missing, and ID, by taking agency as a real causal force, can appropriately extend science to take into account agency as a causative force.
For origins, this means that anyone who comes up with a theory on the origins of the universe — especially biology — must not exclude such causes as well. For if it is a real causal force, operating distinctly from material forces, then it must either (a) have started somewhere, or (b) always been occurring. For someone to have a proper theory of origins, they must address either (a) or (b). If (b), then they have to tell what sorts of effects those causes had, and how they account for the world we now see.
Now, of course, some people (myself included) have and do integrate Intelligent Design as a part of apologetics. I also integrate Quantum theory as a part of apologetics, yet no one has yet argued that we should do away with Quantum Mechanics because people use it for apologetic purposes. I know of chemists who use chemistry for apologetic purposes. It’s even possible that the Big Bang was originally conceived out of apologetic purposes. The point, however, is that neither chemistry, nor quantum mechanics, nor the Big Bang, nor intelligent design are apologetics.
If the argument is that the founders of ID are the same people as Christian apologists, that is a stupid argument, especially given the history of science. Most of modern biology is founded by Christians who were doing science and apologetics simultaneously. However, the use of biology for apologetic purposes did not prevent other people from joining in.
ICR complains thus about Intelligent Design,
Does the earth’s Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, really need a mixed-bag of such religiously diverse experts from Presbyterians to Baptists to Catholic evolutionists to Moonies?
ICR’s criticism might or might not be correct if ID is viewed as an apologetic. But, as a science, it actually shows the relative independence of ID from apologetics. Certainly Jews, Presbyterians, Catholics, Baptists, Moonies, agnostics, and Buddhists have different approaches (and goals!) to apologetics. Yet ID comfortably contains all of them because ID is searching for a better science, not an apologetic outcome.
The fact that the ID research project suggests conclusions that are uncomfortable for materialists shouldn’t be a reason to abandon it as an academic discipline. After all, as Barrow and Tipler pointed out, physics research also suggests conclusions that are uncomfortable for materialists.
Likewise, the fact that ID’ers don’t engaged in argumentation from scripture isn’t any more surprising than the fact that chemists don’t do so either. ID’ers, like anyone else, might get their inspiration for an idea from scripture (this has fruitfully happened many times in science), but, at the end of the day, it is tested against the nature of nature as we find it. Sorry, ICR.
So, to both of you (atheists and the ICR) – feel free to join us! But don’t do so with a misunderstanding of what we are about.