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Michael Denton and Intelligent Design’s Big Tent

David Klinghoffer

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Something I greatly appreciate about the community around the theory of intelligent design is that it’s a big tent. Here is what I mean. In another excellent video from the Polish foundation En Arche, medical geneticist Michael Denton reflects on his reasons for doubting Darwin and affirming design, and how those interact with his religious views. The interview is in English:

A Sly Twinkle

Asked about ID and religion, Denton responds with a sly twinkle, “I’m on the edge of skepticism about theism myself.” He goes on, “As for your hint that you can only be an intelligent design [proponent] if you have some a priori theological or religious view, I disagree with that entirely because it doesn’t apply to me. Most of my life I have been pretty agnostic and would only describe myself perhaps as a backsliding Christian, though I’m not in any sense a fervent believer in a God, or the Christian God.” He describes his next big book, a magnum opus surveying the elements of fine-tuning in nature. Denton indicates how “that very strongly suggests there’s some intelligence behind the universe,” adding that “the overall picture of the cosmos looks to me as if it was fabricated for life, even for beings of our physiology and biology.” And yet he’s not a conventional theist. I have a lot of sympathy for this modest, minimalist, relaxed perspective.

It’s a wonderful strength of the ID community that the brilliant Dr. Denton, “on the edge of skepticism,” is as welcome as any theist. It is a strength not just as a measure of tolerance but because people who cannot agree on the details of a single theology, or any theology at all, do agree that nature gives an “overwhelming impression” (in Denton’s words) of design. That is a testament to the strength of the case for design.

A Pretty Significant Fact

Indeed as he recalls, his first book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, was one of the two that launched the modern movement that is critical of Darwin and open to design. The other was The Mystery of Life’s Origin by Charles Thaxton and his co-authors, which comes out in a updated version this month. Think about that: one of the two books that ignited the contemporary debate about Darwinism was authored by an agnostic. In rebutting stereotypes and clichés from ID critics, I find that fact to be pretty significant.

For more from the En Arche Foundation, see: