Intelligent Design

The Center for Science and Culture

Photo by Luca Baggio

What Brings a World into Being?

Since their inception in the 17th century, the modern sciences have been given over to a majestic vision: there is nothing in nature but atoms and the void. This is hardly a new thought, of course; in the ancient world, it received its most memorable expression in Lucretius' On the Nature of Things. But it has been given contemporary resonance in theories--like general relativity and quantum mechanics--of terrifying (and inexplicable) power. If brought to a successful conclusion, the trajectory of this search would yield a single theory that would subsume all other theories and, in its scope and purity, would be our only necessary intellectual edifice. Read More ›

US Commission on Civil Rights Hearing

Proceeding’s summation by then sitting board member Robert P. George: “Authentic education plainly requires fair consideration of all reasonable points of view. It is disturbing that there are efforts to exclude from the curriculum responsible criticism of Darwinism. There is nothing to be lost, and everything to be gained, from free and open inquiry.” Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Read More ›

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Sunlight pierces through the clouds

The Act of Creation

For Homer the act of creating poetry is a divine gift, one that derives from an otherworldly source and is not ultimately reducible to this world. This conception of human creativity as a divine gift pervaded the ancient world, and was also evident among the Hebrews. In Exodus, for instance, we read that God filled the two artisans Bezaleel and Aholiab with wisdom so that they might complete the work of the tabernacle. Read More ›
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Nature's Destiny by Michael J. Denton

Nature’s Destiny

While others search the skies for extraterrestrial life, Michael Denton has examined the recent discoveries in all the sciences to ask — Could life elsewhere be substantially different from life on Earth? Drawing on a staggering knowledge of physics, biochemistry, geology, and evolution, Denton builds a step-by-step argument for human inevitability. Life requires water, DNA, and protein; it can only Read More ›

Teaching the Origins Controversy

One can hardly imagine a more contentious issue in the American culture wars than the debate over how biological origins should be taught in the public schools. On the one hand, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Center for Science Education, and the American Civil Liberties Union have insisted that any departure from a strictly Darwinian approach to the …

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no focus. the fabric behind her. silhouette and shadow. child with his hand against the fabric, please help. domestic violence concept.
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The Revenge of Conscience

Things are getting worse very quickly now. The list of what we are required to approve is growing ever longer. Consider just the domain of sexual practice. First we were to approve sex before marriage, then without marriage, now against marriage. First with one, then with a series, now with a crowd. First with the other sex, then with the Read More ›

Objections Sustained

Objections Sustained is a collection of essays by UC Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, also the Program Advisor to Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. In the first half of the book, Johnson presents nine short chapters about Darwinists and Darwinism. Johnson first takes aim at the myth that science and religion occupy completely separate realms. This myth, formally approved Read More ›

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Saint Augustine of Hippo, Church on the Mount of Beatitudes
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Abusing Theology

Abstract: According to Howard Van Till, the early Christian fathers Basil and Augustine taught that life appeared as a consequence of creaturely capacities which God bestowed on the world from the beginning, in contrast to special creationism, which teaches that God intervened in the creation to make living things. To reconcile Christian faith with modern science, Van Till advocates recovering “the historic creationist tradition,” which he characterizes as the “forgotten doctrine of Creation’s functional integrity” taught by Basil and Augustine. Basil, however, believed that God intervened in the creation to make living things, and was thus a special creationist. According to Augustine, God created everything simultaneously and placed causal principles into the creation which subsequently produced creatures in time. But Augustine proposed his theory of causal principles to emphasize that every species was created in the beginning by a special act of God, and he denied that creaturely capacities could produce anything new. Therefore, Van Till’s “forgotten doctrine of Creation’s functional integrity” has no basis in Basil’s theology, and its emphasis on creaturely capacities is alien to Augustine’s theology; so “the historic creationist tradition” is not what Van Till represents it to be.


Some Christians believe that the major features of living things could not have arisen through Darwinian evolution, but must have been specially created by God. Physicist Howard J. Van Till criticizes this position on the grounds that it relies on a “God-of-the-gaps” who must “act directly in the course of creation’s formative history to compensate for gaps or deficiencies in the capacities of created substances.” According to Van Till, the world is characterized instead by “functional integrity,” meaning that it “has no functional deficiencies, no gaps in its economy of the sort that would require God to act immediately.”1

Van Till maintains that his position is rooted in the theological writings of St. Basil of Caesarea and St. Augustine of Hippo. According to Van Till, these two early Christian fathers taught “that at the beginning God created, from nothing, all substances and forms, but that the forms of creatures became actualized only in the course of time. Most importantly, these creatures appeared in the course of history not as a consequence of some new, direct and ‘special’ act of God (an ‘intervention’), but as the consequence of created substances employing their God-given capacities to bring about in time what the Creator had in mind from the beginning.”2

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Literature Survey June 1998

Darwin’s Theology Robert J. Richards, “The Theological Foundations of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution,” in Experiencing Nature, P.H. Theerman and K.H. Parshall, eds. (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997), pp. 61-79. Most historians of science take Darwin at his word in the Autobiography: although he believed in God and special creation as a young man, “disbelief crept over me at a very slow Read More ›