Fingerprints of a Designer

  "Design," write Union University professors, Dr. Jimmy Davis and Dr. Harry Poe, "has generally been regarded as a code word for Christianity, though . . . it is one of those rare features of faith common to virtually all religions." Davis and Poe make a great team of writers on the intelligent design of the universe. Poe, a theologian and the first Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union, examines how philosophers and religions have recognized the design features of the world from ancient times and helps the reader understand how worldview has often been an important, if unrecognized, influence in scientific inquiry. Davis, professor of chemistry and associate provost of Union, guides the reader through the complexities of cosmology, math, physics, chemistry, and biology, pointing out the difference between actual science and the worldview behind the science. They begin with religion and philosophy, showing that design arguments for the existence of God go back at least as far as Plato in Western thought and are common throughout the world. Design arguments, however, fell out of favor after Darwin offered a naturalistic explanation for the variety of living things. But in the last decade, the old argument has gained new life in what is being called today intelligent design. Davis and Poe go on to show how intelligent design is based on the implications of recent scientific discoveries and has arisen among scientists working in a number of fields. There are evidences of design throughout creation. Davis and Poe examine topics from the atomic structure of carbon to the shape of birds' beaks and from pollination to DNA. They point out the irreducible complexity and sheer beauty of all creation. My favorite example of theirs is water. The water that's everywhere has a unique molecule and unexpected characteristics. Using chemistry principles, they point out, we would expect water to be a gas at room temperature, not a liquid. We would expect ice to sink rather than float. And we would expect water to be toxic and/or corrosive. If water followed the trends of similar chemicals, life on earth would be impossible. If water were a gas at room temperature, the atmosphere would be too dense. If ice didn't float, aquatic life would die in the winter. And if water were toxic, earth would be a wasteland. Does that prove intelligent design? No, but the uniqueness of water is just one indication of a world carefully balanced to sustain life. Most Christians are not in a position to appreciate the research on which intelligent design is based. As a result, we tend to cave in as soon as someone with scientific credentials speaks to the issue. And we don't recognize that there always comes a point where the scientist stops talking about science and starts talking about philosophy or theology. Our job is to see where his basic presuppositions kick in. Davis and Poe make a great case, explaining why increasing numbers of scientists believe in intelligent design. Their book, Designer Universe, will definitely stretch your thinking. But with a topic so central to biblical worldview and so many issues facing our culture, the stretch will do you -- and the neighbors you talk to -- good. For further information: Jimmy H. Davis and Harry L. Poe, Designer Universe: Intelligent Design and the Existence of God (Broadman & Holman, 2002). Learn more about intelligent design by visiting the Discovery Institute's website. The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center (IDEA) fosters conversation about intelligent design among students, educators, and other interested parties. On August 2-5, 2002, the American Scientific Affiliation is holding a conference at Pepperdine University, titled "Christian Pioneers in Science," on the roles of faith and science. Registration is available here (requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader). You may also call 978-356-5656, or fax 978-356-4375; e-mail; or mail: P.O. Box 668, Ipswich, MA 01938-0668.


Chuck Colson


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