Thursday, November 05, 2009

Creationism and Intelligent Design: Scientific and Theological Difficulties

Creationism and Intelligent Design: Scientific and Theological Difficulties

David H.  Bailey
4 Nov 2009


Many religious believers today are comfortable with the notion of an evolutionary process over many millions of years as Gods means for achieving the creation.  In other words, they believe that while God governed the creation in some sense, it proceeded largely by natural laws and processes that can be uncovered by diligent research.  An open-ended philosophy of this sort is entirely consistent with modern scientific knowledge, and for many (the present author included), the war between science and religion ends here.

A recent report by the National Academy of Science observed, Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience ...  Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.  The report adds, Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution.[1] Among the notable and openly God-fearing scientists cited in this report are Francis Collins (Director of the U.S.  National Institutes of Health and former Director of the Human Genome Project), Kenneth Miller (a well-known biologist and co-author of the most widely used biology textbook), and George Coyne (former Director of the Vatican Observatory).

Others in modern society (often but not always associated with conservative religious movements) insist on a more traditional view of the creation.  Many of these persons further believe that there is scientific evidence to support such a view.  In a 2004 poll, 45 percent of Americans agreed that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.[2] In a 2005 poll, 42 percent of Americans agreed that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.[3] Such persons have been drawn to the creationist movement and still are, although today the intelligent design (ID) movement has been growing in popularity.

Typical of recent creationist literature is the declaration that millions of years of evolution not only contradicts the clear teaching of Genesis and the rest of Scripture but also impugns the character of God.[4] ID literature is more accepting of modern science, but still holds that Darwinian evolution is scientifically faulty, and cannot be reconciled with Judeo-Christian theism.[5]

This paper will examine the creationist and intelligent design movements from both a scientific and a theological perspective.  This discussion is framed for adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), although much of this analysis is independent of any particular religious denomination.

1 National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, Science, Evolution and Creationism, The National Academies Press, Washington, 2008, pg.  12.

2 Gallup Poll, 2004, available at (this and all other URLS in this paper were verified on 4 Oct 2009):

3 Pew Forum survey, 2005, available at

4 Ken Ham, Couldnt God Have Used Genesis?, 1 May 2009, available at

5 John G.  West, Is Darwinian Evolution Compatible with Religion?, 22 Aug 2007, available at

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