Dluxe's World

Thursday, March 13

The Limits of ID

As the previous post (well, the comment, actually) shows, I'm feeling 'ranty' today... I was exchanging emails with a good friend regarding teaching people in our church last night. In one message, he mentioned this:
I had a woman [at work] this week tell me that she did not matter and that she only lived to not disappoint her daughter. Her life ended when her husband left her 20 years ago. She said that she loved her husband and expected the same in return. She acknowledged that there was a design to marriage and family and that her husband had violated that design when he left her and now her life had no meaning. I said if there was a design then surely she must acknowledge a designer and that perhaps the designer was the origin of her meaning. Her reply was, "but my parents are dead." This is the kind of depressive thinking I see too often.

There's a lot to say about that. But, I just want to rant on one narrow slice for a moment. I think that Christians are being far too enthusiastic about embracing Intelligent Design as a gadget for evangelism.

I remember Ravi Zacharias mentioning that life has four big questions that we are seeking to answer:
  • Origin (Where did I come from?)
  • Meaning (Why am I here?)
  • Morality (What is right/wrong, or good/evil?)
  • Destiny (Where am I going?)
Using intelligent design as an apologetic platform is fundamentally flawed, in my opinion, because it only seeks to answer the first question. Let's assume that I am sitting down with a skeptic here at my office... Through a winsome presentation of ID theory, there is a breakthrough in their mind and they begin - perhaps for the first time - to see and acknowledge the presence and intervention of a Designer.

If I pick up my cup of coffee and go home now, what have I accomplished? This person is aware of a Designer with no idea of the Designer's identity or how to connect to him/her. I haven't gone far enough in bringing this person towards a revelation of who God is. Now, I understand that not everyone in the ID community picks up their coffee and leaves. Still, the stock mantra of ID doesn't go far enough.

ID is also universalist in nature. If my friend leaves our coffee time believing for the first time in a designer, what happens when the Mormon missionaries show up on his doorstep that evening? The argument for design in isolation is just as effective for them to use as a means of drawing my friend towards a false gospel as it could be towards drawing my friend to the true Gospel.

Two people in our church are doing biology studies here at the college. They informed me that a Muslim scholar, Harun Yahya, had produced a book called the Atlas of Creation and sent copies to nearly all the life sciences professors at major US universities. In the 'About the Author' section of the 1st edition, you read the following:
The Prophet's seal on his books' covers is symbolic and is linked to their contents. It represents the Qur'an (the Final Scripture) and Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and grant him peace), last of the prophets. Under the guidance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet [may God bless him and grant him peace]), the author makes it his purpose to disprove each fundamental tenet of irreligious ideologies and to have the "last word," so as to completely silence the objections raised against religion. He uses the seal of the final Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), who attained ultimate wisdom and moral perfection, as a sign of his intention to offer the last word.
All of Harun Yahya's works share one single goal: to convey the Qur'an's message, encourage readers to consider basic faith-related issues such as God's existence and unity and the Hereafter; and to expose irreligious systems' feeble foundations and perverted ideologies.

What is to prevent me from following Allah as a result of ID argumentation? I read this book, was convinced, and it pointed me to Allah, right? Maybe the Designer was Allah. Or maybe Vishnu, or maybe even Xenu & L. Ron? Intelligent design points to our Creator, but leaves it up to our sinful minds to identify and seek Him.

The trick is that the Bible says we already know God and willfully suppress the knowledge of Him so we can go on in rebellion. What is to prevent that same sinful impulse from leading me to the altar of 'another god'?

Lastly, I fear that ID might allow us - or even motivate us - to escape from the offense of Christ's work on the cross. Paul says this in 1 Corinthians:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men...

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:2, ESV)
I can't help but believe that there inside of every true Christian is a nagging voice which reminds us that, without the Gospel, people will perish. They need to hear, and they won't hear unless someone speaks to them (Romans 10). So, we feel that urge to speak but know that what we have to say will be offensive and uncomfortable. As a result, we selfishly look for ways to speak while not offending - to silence the nagging feeling inside without alienating the person in front of us. So, we speak in broad terms of a Creator and design without getting to the hard issues of our sin and need for redemption.

We must preach the Gospel. With only a knowledge of a Creator, people stand condemned in their sins. With only an acknowledgment of design, a hurting world is left to cast about in an attempt to find relationship with their Creator - all the while being driven apart from Him by their sin.

If we want to comfort the hurting and redeem the lost, we must bring the only message that truly can bring lasting change and fulfillment to someone's life.

Let's revisit the woman in our first example... When someone confesses their life has no meaning, can we please be bold enough to take them by the hand and say something like this:

Let me tell you what I believe... I believe that there is a loving God who made everything we see. He crafted the whole world, including every cell in your body, with His hand. But instead of running to Him, the Bible tells us that we have all rebelled against God. We have taken His laws, that He gave for our good, and broken them in our own selfish interests. God is just and pure, so our lawbreaking deserves punishment.

The incredibly good news is that God loves you so much that, rather than punish you for your rebellion, He chose to punish His only Son. So, Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again so we can be brought back to God. Our sentence has already been served by another.

If you want meaning, find life in the only one who can give you that... Look to the cross where God demonstrates His love for rebels like you and me, believe, and live!

Now, look. I say that as much out of aspiration as anyone. I certainly don't embrace evangelistic moments the way that I should... But my point is that I believe the Holy Spirit is just as capable of converting someone's heart with a 'naked' presentation of the Gospel as He is able to draw them using Intelligent Design arguments. If that's true (and it is), can't we just get to the main thing and trust the details to God?

ID, though awesome and cool, cannot being people to Christ. If we win people to Intelligent Design with no recognition of Jesus, then we haven't won them to anything yet. We must be faithful to answer all the important questions, and the Gospel in itself does that.

It's offensive, but it's true. And God honors to proclamation of the glory of His Son. So, let's speak boldly and rationally. Not the other way around.

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  • about the Atlas of Creation, I've received it and I think that it is an amazing job on the arguemant of evolution. I used to be a rock hard evolutionist but my mind has changed. Cos' even in the microscale, there no proofs, but only arguements and hypothesis. I think Harun Yahya rocks man!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:06 PM, March 13, 2008  

  • Yes I read atlas of creation by Harun Yahya too. The content is far beyond the dreams of creationists I know till now.
    For your information: Allah and God in Bible are the same. Because in aramic language (which Jesus talks) the word was "ALLAHA" used for God. And for the old testament and in jewish it is "ELOAH"(single) or "ELUHIM"(plural). The word GOD has no historical value that can be related to orginal scriptures.
    So we are talking about the same GOD in all three "divine" religions who is ALLAH.
    Dr Stevens

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:19 AM, March 14, 2008  

  • Dr. Stevens,

    Thanks so much for coming here and posting... I appreciate it and hope you'll come back!

    That said, I do need to respond (in love, I pray) to one of your comments:
    Allah and God in Bible are the same.

    I must firmly disagree. The God of the Bible (Yahweh, for means of distinction) and the god of the Qu'ran (Allah) cannot be one in the same since they flatly contradict each other.

    At the center of this is the person of Jesus. In addition to confirming the authority of the Torah and Psalms, the Qu'ran itself affirms that the biblical gospels are from God (Surah 5:46-47).

    But consider what is said in the Gospels! Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father:

    "[Jesus said] I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

    In fact, the Qu'ran even calls him "faultless" (Surah 19:19)! And it is correct on this point. Jesus was faultless so he could pay for our sins and satisfy God's wrath:

    "The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!' "(John 1:29)

    Because he died for our sins, Jesus alone is the gateway to God the Father... He is both the Son of God, and God the Son.

    "And the Word [who was with God and was God,] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

    Now, these statements are the highest blasphemy to a Muslim. But I believe with all my heart that this is the truth: God the Son moved into human history in order to pay the death penalty for our sins. He is more than a prophet. He is Lord and Christ.

    The centrality of Jesus in Christianity makes it a completely different faith than Judaism, Islam, or any other religion in the world. While we may have much in common, we are worlds apart.

    I pray, by God's grace, you'd see Jesus for who He is - the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins.

    In closing... When I first read your comment, I immediately thought of this passage from the first Christian sermon in the Book of Acts:
    “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it...

    [David] foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
    " (Acts 2:22-24, 31-33)

    May the Spirit who testified to the Christ then testify in both our hearts today...

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 1:51 PM, March 14, 2008  

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