What is Intelligent Design?

Contrary to what we hear sometimes, Intelligent Design is not an article of faith, like justification by faith or the virgin birth of Christ. If someone holds to Intelligent Design, it does not mean that he is a Christian, or even particularly religious.

Intelligent Design is a conceptual model that explains things like the variety of creatures on Earth and their similarities to one another. There is plenty written about it, but Roy Spencer’s explanation is both objective and easily understood.

Intelligent Design has not been well received in parts of the media and many academic circles, because it is an alternative to the popular model of evolution. Why not? Some have defined science as something that excludes God in every way possible. This definition has been forced upon the public school system under the principle of “separation of church and state,” making evolution the only model that students must learn about.

While the academic champions of evolution defend this in the name of good science and good politics, it’s really bad science and bad politics. Good science requires an objective comparison between competing models. Good politics in the United States requires that the government not prohibit the free exercise of religion, nor establish one by forcing a faith-based system upon public school students. Instead, evolution is taught as accepted fact with nary a mention of intelligent design, though belief in either requires some amount of faith.

A movie is being released (tomorrow, I think) called “Expelled.” In it, Ben Stein presents the case against the poor science and poor politics, probably better than I’ve done here. It will probably be worth discussing, especially with high school teachers, administrators, students, and parents.

Another Excellent College Choice for Christian Youth

After high school, I decided to attend a college that was most of the way across the country from my family. Some people look for something like that, seeking independence right away. Others don’t, having a hard time separating from their parents, brothers, and sisters. Here’s a college possibility across the country from Oregon, even further than our own Bethany Lutheran College. However, it promises to be an excellent school, of classic ivy-league quality, but centered entirely upon the Christian faith. The provost is a Lutheran professor whom I’ve met at the Worldview Seminars that were hosted at the Marvin Schwan Retreat Center in northern Wisconsin. He has authored [several excellent books][books], including *The Spirituality of the Cross* and *God at Work*. As for the distance between Oregon and Virginia, in these days of cell phones and online communication, the two states are not as separated as they were ten years ago.

[books]: http://www.cph.org:80/cphstore/Find.asp?searchOpt2=All&find_part_desc=veith&x=0&y=0

The college is [Patrick Henry College](http://www.phc.edu). If any youth in our churches or other Christian teens would like to check it out, the college has a [summer leadership camp program][camp] with attractive topics.

[camp]: http://www.phc.edu/teencamps/default.asp

I do recommend that students consider Bethany Lutheran College, which is a well-respected, 4-year liberal arts school that our synod owns and operates. However, it’s good to have more than one good choice. If I were still in High School at this point, I would strongly consider Patrick Henry College in my top three or four possibilities.

The Journey to Faith

The world around us has many different ideas about religion. We know from holy scripture that the true religion is a matter of revelation rather than discovery. In Matthew 11:27, Jesus said, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” The book of Hebrews begins, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” So genuine religion includes the faith that Jesus Christ is God the Son, that He has reconciled us to God through His atoning death, and that we will all share in the resurrection from the dead that began on Easter.

Meanwhile, the world around us can’t really appreciate all of this, so it considers any belief in God as true religion. That’s not surprising, and it’s one of the reasons we are here: to enlighten the world with the truth that God has revealed.

One of the things we see in the experiences of people around us is that God does not necessarily bring utter enemies of religion to full-blown faith in one step. There are three prominent examples of His working bit by bit. One has already resulted in saving faith for the individual, and the others may well be on the same path. It is certain that God wants all of them — and us — to believe the truth and through faith in Christ, to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

The former atheist who is now in heaven is C.S. Lewis. You might find his writings to be edifying, as many people have. Among other things, he is the author of *The Chronicles of Narnia*, now being made into motion pictures. Lewis was a notable defender of the faith, after his conversion. He believed that God was always working on him, bringing him closer and closer to the true religion through many experiences and influences, especially the Word of God.

Another former atheist in the news is Anthony Flew, who has become a theist instead. You can read [an interview with him][flew] on the Internet. A theist is not the same thing as a Christian. It means that Flew believes in God, that He exists. While it is not a saving faith, it is a step closer to the true religion.

[flew]: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf

The third example is Francis S. Collins, a well-respected genetic scientist, and head of the Human Genome Project. He has [a book][collins] in which he shows the evidence that supports his decision to believe in God. For Collins, science and faith may be harmonized, so that he believes that God created us through a process of evolution. It is a reasonable theory, but comes from the mistaken notion that religion can all be discovered. We can understand the mistake, because some parts of religion *can* be discovered (Psalm 97:6, Romans 2:14-15), and indeed, have been discovered by Lewis, Collins, Flew, and others. However, the point comes quickly where our natural reason fails us, and to learn more, we must turn to what God has revealed.

[collins]: http://books.google.com/books?id=JcMCmBnpHGsC&dq=Francis+S+Collins&hl=en

For example, the main purpose of the Bible is to reveal our Savior from sin and death (John 20:31). Before we are ready for that revelation, we need to understand what sin and death really are. Genesis chapters 1-8 show the origin and early effects of these things, pointing out that death did not exist, for human beings anyway, until sin entered the world. We only know this because God has revealed it to us, and no human could discover it on his own. Yet the theory of theistic evolution — that God created us through a process of evolution — relies upon death as the mechanism by which evolution gradually progresses. Either theistic evolution must be wrong, or Genesis 1-8 must be wrong. One is the result of human discovery and reasoning, and the other is what God has revealed.

At some point, I anticipate that God will lead people like Flew and Collins to realize the importance of divine revelation, and that faith is really a trust in that revelation, rather than a trust in what we have seen and discovered for ourselves. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Purpose

When you awaken in the morning, you may already know why you should get up. Then again, you may not know why. The warmth of your blankets is comfortable. Sleep is pleasant. Do you have a purpose today that would draw you out of bed, get you dressed, breakfasted, and ready for action? Not everyone is the same.

Some days you may wonder what is the point of living, of caring, of finishing your work. It seems that at a certain age between 13 and 20, we begin to ask this question, sometimes with a bitter or sarcastic spirit: “What is my purpose?”

If you have asked this question, it may be some comfort to know that you are not the first. The holy Bible was written by the hands of many men, but all of those writings were intended by God to teach us, even now. One of the writers was a powerful King, who had many flaws of his own. You may know Solomon as the king who settled a dispute between two women over a baby. Solomon ordered the baby cut in half for them, and the woman who was not its mother was willing to let this happen.

King Solomon also applied his wisdom to our question of purpose. The result is the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon considered all the things in the world that are precious in the sight of human beings: property, family, friends, the natural world, society, amusements, work, and so forth. His conclusion: all of it is mere vanity in the end, filled with no enduring value, like a puff of wind. Though we may enjoy some things for a while, they will soon fade away, and even the memory will be forgotten.

We want to have some meaningful purpose in our lives. Yet Solomon wrote that the best we can do is to find pleasure in our work, knowing that it will not endure beyond the grave. Maybe that’s enough to get you up and going each day, and maybe it isn’t.

What we really need is to know that our lives can have value beyond the pleasure of the moment. Can they? Yes, they can. While our own efforts and pleasures always lead to nothing in the end, God’s works always endure, despite appearances. For example, the Christian Church has survived thousands of years, outlasting mighty empires, though most of the time it seemed on the brink of collapse. It will outlast this world. So if we want meaningful purpose and value, we will find it in the purpose and will of God.

The Bible’s chief message is twofold. First, it shows us human beings that we have been born into a great rebellion against God. It’s not hard to see when we honestly consider our own hearts. Do we always submit to the will of God, or do we sometimes prefer our own ways? I find that my own heart *always* prefers its own ways, resulting in many other inward and outward sins. Already in Genesis 6:5, God perceived this condition in mankind.

The other part of the Bible’s chief message is the main point of the whole Bible. God has reconciled rebellious mankind with Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. His demanding justice was met, and all our guilt was punished. We are restored to Him, and will live eternally. You and I have been freed from the power of death, and are invited to participate in God’s work even here on earth. His work is meaningful, and His purpose is to bring the blessings of Christ to our neighbors on earth.

God calls us to many vocations: in the family, in society outside the home, at our churches, and elsewhere. Those callings — as long as they are godly callings and don’t contradict His Word — *are* the purpose of our lives here on earth, and our life in heaven is the conclusion.

You can see how rich are the gifts that come from the cross of Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we have a reason to get up each day. Because of Him, we can lie down each night, content that we have done something meaningful. Thanks be to God.

The Word of God Endures Forever. VDMA