On February 7, 2005, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece, “Design for Living” by Michael J. Behe (also available at Discovery.org and other unusual sites. The author makes the point that the concept of intelligent design has been widely misrepresented and does not depend on religious faith.
Michael Behe is a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, a Seattle-based organization that supports the intelligent-design movement. Here is an excerpt from his article:
Rather, the contemporary argument for intelligent design is based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic. The argument for it consists of four linked claims.
The first claim is uncontroversial: we can often recognize the effects of design in nature. For example, unintelligent physical forces like plate tectonics and erosion seem quite sufficient to account for the origin of the Rocky Mountains. Yet they are not enough to explain Mount Rushmore.
Of course, we know who is responsible for Mount Rushmore, but even someone who had never heard of the monument could recognize it as designed.
Which leads to the second claim of the intelligent design argument: the physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology. This is uncontroversial, too. . . .
The next claim in the argument for design is that we have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn’t involve intelligence. Here is where thoughtful people part company.
Darwinists assert that their theory can explain the appearance of design in life as the result of random mutation and natural selection acting over immense stretches of time.
Some scientists, however, think the Darwinists’ confidence is unjustified. They note that although natural selection can explain some aspects of biology, there are no research studies indicating that Darwinian processes can make molecular machines of the complexity we find in the cell.
Scientists skeptical of Darwinian claims include many who have no truck with ideas of intelligent design, like those who advocate an idea called complexity theory, which envisions life self-organizing in roughly the same way that a hurricane does, and ones who think organisms in some sense can design themselves.
The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. . . .
Personally, I find the intricacies of life and the universe to be so clever and even inspiring that it is difficult to escape the natural testimony of a design. Yes, there is a Designer – and He’s awfully good at what He does.
(Thanks to Walter Reade for calling my attention to the Behe article.)