On solid ground: evolution versus intelligent design

Posted: Aug 04, 2005 12:00 AM
 President Bush sent reporters into a tizzy this week by saying that he thought schools ought to teach both evolution and intelligent design. Students ought to hear both theories, he said, so they “can understand what the debate is about.”

Well, the usual critics jumped all over the president, but he’s absolutely right. Considering all competing theories was once the very definition of academic freedom. But today, the illiberal forces of secularism want to stifle any challenges to Darwin—even though Darwin is proving to be eminently challengeable.

Take biochemist Michael Behe’s argument. He says that the cell is irreducibly complex. All the parts have to work at once, so it could not have evolved. No one has been able to successfully challenge Behe’s argument.

In fact, the scientific case for intelligent design is so strong that, as BreakPoint listeners have heard me say, even Antony Flew, once the world’s leading philosopher of atheism, has renounced his life-long beliefs and has become, as he puts it, a deist. He now believes an intelligent designer designed the universe, though he says he cannot know God yet.

I was in Oxford last week, speaking at the C. S. Lewis Summer Institute, and had a chance to visit with Flew. He told a crowd that, as a professional philosopher, he had used all the tools of his trade to arrive at what he believed were intellectually defensible suppositions supporting atheism. But the intelligent design movement shook those presuppositions. He said, however, on philosophical grounds that he could not prove the existence of the God of the Bible.

In the question period, I walked to the microphone and told him as nicely as I could that he had put himself in an impossible box. He could prove theism was the only philosophically sustainable position, but he could not prove who God was. I said, “If you could prove who God was, you could not love God—which is the principle object of life.”

I admitted that I had once gotten myself into the same position. I had studied biblical worldview for years and believed that I could prove beyond a doubt that the biblical worldview is the only one that is rational, the only one that conforms to the truth of the way the world is made. But that led to a spiritual crisis of sorts, when one morning in my quiet time I realized that while I could prove all of this, I could not prove who God was. I began to worry: When this life was over, would I really meet Him?

Some weeks later, as I describe in my new book The Good Life, it hit me that if I could prove God, I could not know Him. The reason is that, just as He tells us, He wants us to come like little children with faith. If you could resolve all intellectual doubts, there would be no need for faith. You would then know God the same way that you know the tree in the garden outside your home. You would look at it, know it is there, and that’s it, as Thomas Aquinas once said.

Faith is necessary because without it you cannot love God. So as I said to Dr. Flew, if you could prove God, you couldn’t love Him, which is His whole purpose in creating you. He later told me that I have raised a very provocative point that he would have to give some thought to.

So, I hope you will pray for Antony Flew—a gentle and courageous man who appears to be seeking God. And we should remember that if this brilliant man can be persuaded out of his atheism by intelligent design, anyone can see it. Those of us contending for the intelligent design point of view, which now includes among our ranks the president of the United States, I’m happy to say, are on increasingly solid ground.