On a new ID the Future episode, philosopher Jay Richards responds to Mark Vernon’s charge that intelligent design is bad theology. No, Richards says, the charge itself is based on bad theology, bad reasoning, and a faulty understanding of both intelligent design theory and theism. First, in the context of biology, the theory of intelligent design doesn’t specify the identify of a designer or the specific means of causation. It merely makes an argument to intelligent design as the best explanation for certain features of the natural world.
Second, even if it did involve arguing that the designer was God and that God had intervened at particular points in the history of the cosmos, such as in the origin of life or the emergence of human beings, it would hardly be blasphemy. Far from it. It would be orthodox theism, an outlook shared by theists as diverse as Christians, Jews, and Muslims, just to name a few. Under theism, God is understood as free and able to create both ex nihilo (out of nothing) at the beginning of creation, and within the created order. God, Richards says, “is under no obligation to conform to Mark Vernon’s rules of tidiness and propriety.” Vernon has mistaken a narrow deism for theism and then charged theists with blasphemy for considering God free to act within the created order. Download the podcast or listen to it here.
Richards’s commentary is taken from his concluding essay in the anthology Signature of Controversy: Responses to Critics of Signature in the Cell (Discovery Institute Press), available for purchase here. Richards is a senior fellow of Discovery Institute and co-author, with Guillermo Gonzalez, of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.