In my book Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology, I remark that ID is the logos theology of John’s Gospel in the idiom of information theory and I also refer to Christ as the completion of science. Barbara Forrest and others have gotten a lot of mileage out of these quotes, using them to argue that ID is just religion masquerading as science.
I would like here to indicate why these quotes do not undercut ID’s scientific program. Indeed, the quotes derive from a book explicitly about the dialogue between science and religion — as the subtitle and publisher (IVP) make clear. In the very first paragraph of the preface, I indicate that ID is three things:
- A scientific program for understanding the effects of intelligence in nature.
- A program of cultural renewal.
- A way of understanding divine action.
In that book, I address each of these aspects of intelligent design. In thus describing the broader implications of ID and connecting them to my worldview, I’m not doing anything unusual. Indeed, evolutionists have been doing the same for evolution right along. For instance, Barry Lynn, who heads Americans United for Separation of Church and State, remarked on a Firing Line program in 1997 that in the beginning was the word and the word was EVOLVE! (See bottom of page 2 here.) Thus he also sees the logos theology of John’s Gospel as relevant to this debate, though where he goes with it is quite different from where I take it.
Actually, one will be hard pressed to show that ID is religion based on my logos quote. Many biblical scholars agree that the author of John’s Gospel drew inspiration from the Stoics in identifying Christ with the logos. The logos of the Stoics was an intelligence operating in nature that gave form to the world of matter — this parallels ID’s refutation of materialist reductionism and its emphasis on the indispensability of intelligence in structuring the natural world.
As for the Christ-the-completion-of-science quote, critics invariably omit a crucial qualification that I make in the text, namely, that as the completion of science, Christ does not play a practical role in the day-to-day outworkings of science. I state this explicitly on pp. 209 and 210. In referring to Christ (and we are talking here about the Cosmic Christ, the logos of John’s Gospel, the intelligence ultimately responsible for the designs in the world — though this intelligence may act through intermediate teleological organizing principles) as the completion of science, I am using completion in a technical sense, by analogy with the way the real numbers complete the rational numbers. Just as applied mathematicians never uses anything other than rational numbers and can in any given calculation dispense with the real numbers, so too working scientists, even brilliant ones, can and often do dispense with Christ. The significance of Christ as the completion of science is metaphysical, not empirical.
If critics like Barbara Forrest are to be believed, I would have done ID better service by never getting a seminary degree or exploring what I take to be the theological implications of ID. Is it that a subset of my work (like The Design Inference) holds up under general scrutiny, but that when it is embedded within my larger corpus, it suddenly loses credibility? Isn’t it instead that individual arguments and claims must stand on their own merits?
Fair-minded people, of course, understand the point.