Evolution or intelligent design, science or faith? Those are the questions that shape chp 4 of Randall Balmer’s Thy Kingdom Come. Once again, his points sharpen the debate as they create controversy. Here are his central claims:
First, evangelicals “resisted Darwin’s evolutionary theory, first by asserting the literal, historical accuracy of Genesis, then through legislation, next by trying to discredit evolution itself, and, most recently, by trying to advance something called ‘intelligent design’ ” (110).
Second, intelligent design is a conclusion/theory that the facts of science are so ordered that their best explanation is an intelligent design/designer.
Third, “faith” has never been enough for the advocates of ID (intelligent design); they want to prove their claims, garner academic respectability, and wedge their view into textbooks and institutions of higher learning.
Fourth, Balmer’s conclusion: “The attempt to ‘baptize’ creationism or intelligent design as science, moreover, demeans both religion and science by confusing the categories. Paradoxically, when the Religious Right asserts that intelligent design is science, it implies that faith in God or in the reliability of scriptures is inadequate, that it needs the imprimatur of the scientific method” (133-34).
Fifth, the goal is academic respectability for ID so that “America’s institutions of higher education could once again serve to propagate the faith” (135). He goes after George Marsden in this section of the chapter. Balmer contends faith belongs in the home and church and that institutions of higher education are platforms where all operate at the same level.
But, sixth, ID “is religion, not science, and the proper venue for the propagation of faith is the home or the church, not the university” (138).
Here’s his confession: “As a believer, I have no problem accepting that God, in some way that I cannot fully explain, is responsible for the created order, but that is an assertion of faith, not a conclusion vindicated by scientific inquiry, for I know of no experiment to test empirically for the presence of God” (139).