What is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design

by professor emeritus Kjell J. Tveter, board member BioCosmos Africa Foundation

To understand Intelligent Design, it is necessary to present the prevailing view of science. In the Western World Natural Science is defined as the systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. The scientific community has decided that the interpretation of the results of such experimentation must be based on a naturalistic worldview. According to Naturalism there are only two forces in nature: The first being random reactions between matter and energy of the universe, and the second condition is that these reactions must take place according to the laws of nature. That means that, according to Naturalism our entire reality may be explained by chance and necessity. Naturalism postulates that there is no meaning, planning or purpose in Nature. However, when investigating Nature, we may find situations that are so complex that we intuitively find it difficult, if not impossible to accept that these natural causes might be sufficient reasons. The origin of the Universe – the Big Bang- represents such a situation where the blind forces of Nature cannot present a satisfactory explanation, since Nature is a result of the Big Bang and cannot be its cause.

In such cases we may ask the question: What is the best explanation? What is the best explanation for the Origin of the Universe? And the answer to that question is: Intelligent agency. This answer becomes even more substantiated by what is called “The fine-tuning of the Universe”. Several constants of Nature had to have exactly the values they have in order for the Universe to exist and to give conditions for life. It is highly unlikely that this fine- tuning may be due to randomness, and intelligent agency is a most likely.

Intelligent Design may be defined as the Science that studies signs of intelligence in Nature. What marks or signs in Nature are best explained by intelligent agency?

We have to divide Natural Science in two entities which we may call hard science and soft science. Hard science deals with dead nature, often called non-life, such as geology, electricity, magnetism, cosmology, oceanography, meteorology etc. Soft science is limited to life and biology. The naturalistic causes give an adequate and sufficient explanation of hard science. In contrast to dead matter like a stone that just exists, life is characterized by a huge variety of reactions which we call metabolism. Life is born, life reproduces, life depends on energy, life is very complex. Nine months before we were born, each of us consisted of one single cell that has been subjected to not billions, but billions upon billions of reactions. Since we were born healthy with no malformations or anomalies, all these myriads of reactions have happened in the correct order. We understand that the development of the embryo depends on large amounts of detailed and specified information. In this process genes had to be switched on and off correctly, creating the many different cell types that build up the organism. In the body a multitude of biochemical reactions happen every minute, and none take place randomly. A system of inherent information regulates and guides all the activities in organisms.

What do we know about the Origin of life? We know that life consists of the following building blocks: Proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. In addition, we know that none of these substances could arise spontaneously on the primitive earth. In spite of extensive research for some 65 years no one has succeeded in making life in the laboratory. Even the simplest cell we have knowledge about, is farther more complex than anything we humans have ever constructed. We understand that Science is not able to explain the Origin of Life. We may ask the question: What is the best explanation for the Origin of Life? Once more we have to resort to intelligent agency as the most plausible cause.

There are two areas in biology where Intelligent Design presents the best explanation.

The first area is called “Irreducible complexity”. Life depends on several complex structures that had to be present from the very beginning. They could not be the result of evolution over long periods of time. Such structures are composed of many proteins. If some of these proteins are removed the structure loses its function. The structure cannot be reduced. It cannot lose some of its basic components since this will make it functionless. Adenosine- triphosphate – ATP- is the fuel of life and is synthesized by a rotary engine composed of 30 proteins. All reactions taking place in the cell need energy, and without energy no biochemical reactions can happen. Therefore, this complex engine had to be present and functioning in the very first life. Every cell in life has thousands of motors that perform specific tasks that are necessary for sustaining life. We call this “the nano-machinery of life”. The blind randomness of naturalistic science is not able to present a reasonable explanation for this machinery that is best explained as an example of intelligent design.

The second area is called “Specified complexity”. The following sequence of letters is com- plex consisting of many letters, but unspecified: “aimolontrwavotsuaimairrcnokdomoni.” When the sequence is specified, it gives meaning: “I am looking forward to summer vacation”. We realize that specified and detailed information is example of specified complexity. All life is characterized by large amounts of specified information. The main part of that information is located in the DNA. The recipe for all the proteins in the body is present in the DNA, and constitutes the gene for that respective protein. Without this specified information there would be no life. Life depends on specified information.

It is important to comprehend that Naturalistic Science does not accept that this information is due to intelligent causation. However, all meaningful information has its origin in a mind. In the West Science is naturalistic, and therefore naturalistic scientists are compelled to believe that biological information is due to blind happenstance. We realize that the atheistic worldview trumps the scientific evidence. Since nobody has knowledge of information that has arisen spontaneously, the most obvious explanation for biological information is intelligent design.

In the Western World the theory of Evolution is accepted as the best explanation for the diversity of life. We have to understand that when an intelligent designer is rejected, one simply has to accept that blind chance is the only possibility. However, modern Science has demonstrated that the huge complexity of life and the highly regulated interactions between all components of life far surpasses what blind randomness may accomplish. Macroevolution has never been demonstrated, and should not be regarded as established evidence, and may be looked upon as an atheistic assumption. We must understand that Intelligent Design as a scientific theory is incompatible with Naturalistic Science and with the theory of evolution. The opposition against Intelligent Design is therefore strong and forceful.

Intelligent Design may thus be defined as the Science that studies signs of intelligence in Nature. It is important to underline that Intelligent Design is a branch of science, and not theology or philosophy. The purposes of a designer lie outside the scope of Intelligent Design. As a scientific research program, Intelligent Design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such.