Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Who or what is the designer?


A creationist on one of the listserves to which I subscribe wrote:

Ken Miller and Rick Wood (skeptic and host of the radio program audiomartini) claim to have more respect for young earth creationists than ID proponents because “at least they are upfront about what they believe.” According to them, everyone knows what the real purpose of ID is: it is to advance belief in God. What, then, is the problem with acknowledging it? So why not just be up front and put to rest the accusation of dishonesty?

Here is why in fictional monologue:

  1. ID scientist, (insert Behe, Minnich, Dembski, anyone) is it true that you are a Christian and believe in God?
  2. Is it true that one of the tenets of Christianity is to make disciples of all nations?
  3. Although I acknowledge your claim that ID does not say who the designer is, you do in fact have a personal belief that it is God, correct?
  4. Although I can agree that you are attempting to make observations and religiously neutral hypotheses, the conclusions ultimately will point to a supernatural intelligent designer correct?
  5. Then even though you claim to be using science alone, I don’t believe that your motivation is only to advance science but instead are only hiding your real motivation to convert people.

Points 4 and 5 are problematic. Let’s cut to the chase: Is the designer responsible for biological complexity God? Even as a very traditional Christian and an ardent proponent of ID, I would say NOT NECESSARILY. To ask who or what is the designer of a particular object is to ask for the immediate intelligent agent responsible for its design. The point is that God is able to work through derived or surrogate intelligences, which can be anything from angels to organizing principles embedded in nature.

For instance, just because I hold to both Christian theism and ID doesn’t mean that God directly designed and implemented the bacterial flagellum by specifically toggling its components. It could well have happened by a process of natural genetic engineering of the sort envisioned by James Shapiro. The design would be no less real, but God’s role in the design would be distant, not proximal.

Philosophers have long distinguished between primary and secondary causes. The problem is that under the pall of methodological naturalism, secondary causes have been identified with purely materialistic processes. But it’s perfectly legitimate for secondary causes to include teleological processes. I develop all this at length in THE DESIGN REVOLUTION.