Careful, there…. “intelligent design” can mean two quite different things.
First, and most popular in some circles, is the idea that evolution may be occurring much of the time, but that in addition God kinda “sticks his finger in” (my phrase) to stop, start, or alter what is happening. Science tends to object to this on rather simple grounds: there’s no evidence for that happening.
Second, and more tenable to folks who think scientific objections to the above have merit, is the idea — simply put — that all that exists is “intelligently designed” in the sense that an intelligence outside of it (a God) brought it into existence. God’s involvement with evolution would not necessarily be deism’s idea — that he built and wound up the universe and then kinda walked away. Instead, God is so closely enmeshed with creation that no “poking” of it is necessary or even comprehensible.
Years ago, J. B. Phillips (I think?) said “Your God is too small!” Perhaps sometimes we also make him too big. If he can’t be spotted monkeying with a bacterial flagellum’s construction, then he must not exist. What if God’s intelligence is closer, not farther away, than we think? What if evolution itself has theological dimensions, including the nature of suffering and of love?
I’m a rank layperson here re both science and theology. But I say let’s roll with the second category. As my Dearling and I were discussing this morning, “The heavens are declaring the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Even that ol’ rascal Antony Flew, whose Atheism near the end of his life gave way to a grudging Theism, figured that out.
But there is one last wrinkle. We do not learn God’s Name via nature. Reason may (should, I would argue) take us as far as being able to say, “No universe this complex could have come about by sheer chance; some intelligence lies behind it.” But natural reason will not take us even to Monotheism. As classic Christian theology suggests, we require God Himself to speak — to reveal himself — to know not merely that he / it exists, but rather who he is, what his nature is, whether or not he desires, loves, requires something of us. And through such a revelation we will also learn far more about who we are, what it means to actually be a sentient self in a universe where such sentience seems otherwise a most cruel joke.
There is a leap of faith involved…. or if you will, a falling in(to) Love involved. All three of the world’s largest monotheistic religions go that far.
Shall we go farther? God Incarnated into his own creation is the Christian scandal, and the Christian glory. If you want to know what this pilgrim believes…. read the Gospel of Luke (the God of women and the poor), then the Gospel of John (the God of the Cosmos and Agape Love). God came to human beings in embodied, human form. I leap toward this God because I fall and am falling in love with Him.
Your path isn’t my path. The way to Christ is a narrow path, but not the same for any of us. God bless you in your own journey toward your own leap… which sometimes requires repetition.
Great job Jon but you should have mentioned Lamoureau.
What exactly do you mean by “What if evolution itself has theological dimensions, including the nature of suffering and of love”?