In this popular treatment of intelligent design, Senior Discovery Fellow William Dembski combines his Ph.D. in philosophy and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago with his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary to elucidate how the scientific theory of intelligent design interacts with his personal Christian faith.
Dembski explains that design is empirically detectable in nature by seeking for specified and complex information. Choice is the primary characteristic of intelligent action, for “intelligent agency always entails discrimination, choosing certain things, ruling out others.” (pg. 144) By analyzing the patterns produced by such choice, Dembski constructs reliable criteria by which we recognize when intelligent choices have been made.
Dembski then peers at design theory through the lens of his personal Christian faith. After discussing various models for the interface between science and religion, he decides that the best model concludes that science and religion provide “epistemic support” for one another. A trained theologian and philosopher, Dembski is careful to distinguish between “epistemic support” and “rational compulsion,” explaining that even established scientific theories like the Big Bang can provide epistemic support for the Christian doctrine of creation, even if they do not mandate belief in Christianity.
Dembski views the scientific theory of intelligent design in a similar fashion. Design theory provides epistemic support for Christianity, while it does not mandate belief in such. Thus Dembski acknowledges that a scientific approach to studying design in nature has innate limitations, for design theory “nowhere attempts to identify the intelligent cause responsible for the design in nature” because “the nature, moral character and purposes of this intelligence lie beyond the remit of science” (pg. 246).
For those interested in understanding both the scientific nature of intelligent design and also its support and limitations for theological investigations, this book is a must read.