Intelligent design is usually considered a theory about how the world was created with divine purpose, but increasingly this concept is taking on the form of a religious and social movement.
In a special issue devoted to intelligent design , the conservative ecumenical magazine Touchstone (July-August) claims that the theory represents a “new paradigm” in science that will “revolutionize the way we view creation, the cosmos, and ourselves.” Phillip Johnson, law professor and critic of Darwinism, calls the movement the “Wedge,” and says its basic aim is to show how Darwinian evolution is a philosophy rather than scientific fact. He cites such thinkers and writers as Michael Behe, William Dembski and himself as its primary architects.
In another article, writer Nancy Pearcy says intelligent design is naturally attractive to a wide range of believers since it only requires rejection of “naturalistic evolution;” most of the intelligent design thinkers support some form of evolution. The polls also show widespread questioning of Darwinian evolution, according to Pearcy.
But the real promise of intelligent design may be found in the social arena, according to writer John G.West Jr. The view that moral beliefs are the products of heredity or environment (or adaptations from evolution) has paved the way for moral relativism, he writes. Thus, discrediting and disproving such “scientific materialism” will defend traditional morality and the sanctity of human life.
Leading the effort to spread the message of intelligent design in the broader culture and particularly among political and academic leaders is the conservative Discovery Institute. The Seattle-based think tank has started a Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture which publicizes intelligent design views and also funds scientific research.
(Touchstone, P.O. Box 410788, Chicago, IL 60641)