Why Doesn’t Intelligent Design Identify the Designer?

This comes up quite a bit: Casey Luskin at Evolution and News discusses it here:

Note that in the article, it says: Thomas Woodward, an ID historian and scholar of rhetoric, explains the principled reasons why the current biological evidence allows us to detect intelligent design, but is insufficient to allow us to identify the designer:

There is no “Made by Yahweh” engraved on the side of the bacterial rotary motor — the flagellum. In order to find out what or who its designer is, one must go outside the narrow discipline of biology. Cross-disciplinary dialogue must begin with the fields of philosophy, sociology, history, anthropology, and theology. Design itself, however, is a direct scientific inference; it does not depend on a single religious premise for its conclusions.(Thomas Woodward, Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent Design, p. 15 (Baker Books, 2006).)

Note that Woodward says “In order to find out what or who its designer is, one must go outside the narrow discipline of biology. Cross-disciplinary dialogue must begin with the fields of philosophy, sociology, history, anthropology, and theology.”

I previously said in my article, The First Question in Discussing the Existence of God

I still think it is fine to follow what Randy Newman calls the “plausibility factor.” Newman says:

Isn’t it reasonable to believe that a God who created us could, if he wanted to do so through the vehicle of inspired writing?” In other words, does it make sense that God should provide a revelation of Himself to humanity? -Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism, pg 127-128.

If we go ahead and say “yes” to the following question, we then can ask if God has revealed Himself in the course of human history, when and where has He done this? We can look at religious texts and see if they pass the tests for historicity.  Thus, we enter the domain of historical apologetics. Remember, all revelatory claims have to be taken on a case by case basis. We need to evaluate the evidence for each claim in its own historical and religious context.

For example, former atheist Anthony Flew said the resurrection of Jesus was the best attested miracle claim that he had seen. Another aspect of the historical argument is the argument from prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy does take a good bit of exegetical work and we don’t want to jump into it too lightly. See more here: : The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case  for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

So What the Heck is Salvation?

Many years ago when I was seeking God and asking questions about the Gospel, I had two zealous Christians walk up to me and say “Are you saved?” Now at the time I had no idea what they meant. But later on, someone told me these two Christians were concerned about the salvation of my soul. Since then, I have done more exegetical work on the topic of salvation in the Bible. Thus, salvation is much more extensive than the fire insurance Gospel that Christians are trained to pitch to people. You can see a introduction on the topic here by Bakers Online Dictionary of Theology.

Most recently I have been reading Joel B. Green’s Salvation: Reframing New Testament Theology.

Just yesterday, I was approached by some young teenagers who were our evangelizing in the downtown area where I live. They asked me “what is salvation?” I responded by saying salvation is to enter into the rule, or realm of God. And Jesus is the King who allows you to do this. Now I could of responded in a number of ways to their question. But after this response, they look puzzled. They assumed I was going to say salvation is to be ‘saved’ from heaven or hell. But I think the discussion of the kingship or kingdom of God is important. Here is what Green says;

“To speak of “God’s kingdom” is immediately to raise questions of language.  In recent decades, some have objected to the use of the word “kingdom” because it possesses inherently masculine connotations; for this reason, some have chosen to translate the Greek word βασιλεία (basileia) with the English term “reign” instead. This is both helpful and unfortunate. It is helpful insofar as it underscores the important insight that βασιλεία (basileia) often refers to God’s powerful rule, God’s activity in the world.  However, it overlooks the key observation that in the Gospels, God’s kingdom has an inescapably spatial sense. In fact, the single most frequent action that happens with respect to God’s kingdom is that it is “entered” (Matt 5: 20; 7: 21; 8: 11; 19: 23, 24; 21: 31; 25: 34; Mark 9: 47; 10: 23, 24, 25; Luke 18: 17, 24, 25; John 3: 5), with the corollary that people can be “in” (Matt 5: 19; 11: 11; 13: 43; 18: 1, 4; 20: 21; 26: 29; Mark 14: 25; Luke 7: 28; 13: 28, 29; 14: 15; 22: 16; 22: 30) or “out” (Matt 23: 13) or “not far from” (Mark 12: 34) the kingdom; additionally, when the kingdom appears as the subject of verbs, the kingdom is said to “come,” “draw near,” and so on. Accordingly, “kingdom” is more than “reign,” for it also includes the notion of “realm.” Also problematic is the ease with which the translation of βασιλεία (basileia) as “reign” allows us to reduce God’s work to the “life of the spirit” or to God’s activity in people’s hearts or to restrict the reach of God’s activity as though God’s rule were present and active only among those people who have submitted to God’s reign. Moreover, although it is true that βασιλεία (basileia) possessed hierarchical and masculine connotations in Roman antiquity, this did not keep Jesus from using the term in ways that actually subverted those connotations. If “masculinity” was correlated in the Roman world with the exercise of power and self-control, for example, then Jesus’ claim that “God’s kingdom” belongs to little children must surely have been shocking.”

Green goes onto say:

“How might Jesus’ contemporaries have understood “God’s kingdom”? Granted that, as in most other areas, Second Temple Judaism had room for a variety of views concerning the kingdom,  we can nonetheless summarize four central features. First, to speak of God’s kingdom is to speak of God’s activity— creating, providing, leading, sending, calling, liberating, judging, conquering, caring— and God’s domain, inclusive of the whole cosmos, though centered on Israel. If God’s kingdom was understood as a reality of present existence, then eschatological hope would center on the future, cosmological revelation of God’s already-present reign. Second, God’s kingdom entailed a vision of God’s universal, peaceable rule. God’s rule spells justice, the triumph of righteousness and establishment of peace in the world, shalom. Accordingly, many would have heard in references to God’s kingdom an eschatological hope focused on God’s coming in power to restore and vindicate God’s people. Third, the disclosure of God’s kingdom necessarily evokes response from God’s subjects, responses cast either as allegiance or rebellion, responses that provide the basis for royal judgment. Fourth, and finally, the Gospels situate Jesus within those currents of Second Temple Judaism that tied the actualization of God’s kingdom to a hope in God’s raising up an anointed king, the Messiah. What is the relationship of these expectations to Jesus’ ministry? Are these hopes actualized in Jesus’ coming? The only possible answer is equivocal: Yes and No. We must say yes because this is precisely what the Gospels broadcast, that Jesus not only shares these expectations but actually regards them as being actualized in his ministry. Christ, anointed king, who announces and enacts the kingdom. Wherever Jesus is engaged in ministry, there God’s kingdom is on display. We must answer no because Jesus did not perform in the expected way.

According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, even John the Baptist was baffled by the direction of Jesus’ mission: Where is the anticipated fiery judgment on Israel’s enemies (Matt 3: 11-12; 11: 2-3; Luke 3: 16-17; 7: 18-20)? If we follow the Gospels, then, we realize that Jesus interpreted his mission from within Israel’s story against the backdrop of the Roman Empire. Jesus’ advent as God’s anointed king, then, marks the decisive disclosure of God’s royal rule, together with the consequent unmasking of all rules, all authorities, all powers that would compete with God’s sovereignty. The time of restoration was at hand, evil was being exposed and rolled back, peace with justice was being established throughout the world, and God was present to rule: all in Jesus’ ministry.”-Green, Joel B. Why Salvation? (Reframing New Testament Theology, Abingdon Press.

Also, feel free to read our article called Why Jesus is Qualified to be the “Messiah”: A Look at “The Reign of God” in the Bible

The Use and Abuse of Typology in Messianic Prophecy

In his latest book, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Knowing God Through the Old Testament Set), Christopher Wright describes the importance of typology and how it is used in relation to prophecy. He says:

The word typology is sometimes used to describe this way of viewing the relationship between the Old Testament and Jesus. The images, patterns and models that the Old Testament provides for understanding him are called types. The New Testament equivalents or parallels are then called antitypes. – Wright, Christopher J. H,  Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Knowing God Through the Old Testament Set)  InterVarsity Press.

Some of the features of typology are the following:

  1. The prophets did not so much make singular predictions but gave themes or patterns and that these themes have several manifestations or fulfillments in the course of human history.
  2. The type and the antitype have a natural correspondence or resemblance. The initial one is called the type (e.g., person, thing, event) and the fulfillment is designated the antitype..
  3. The type has historical reality (e.g., Paul declares that Adam “is a figure (a type) of him that was to come”, i.e., the Messiah).
  4. The type is a prefiguring or foreshadowing of the antitype. It is predictive/prophetic; it looks ahead and points to the antitype.

Let me give some examples of typological prophecies which fall under three headings:

Institutions

1.The Passover, for instance, with its spotless lamb (Exodus 12:5) which was slain without any bones being broken (12:46).  In this case, the Passover Lamb in the Jewish Scriptures is the type while the antitype is the Messiah (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7), who was without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19) and who was slain  and also had none of his bones broken (John 19:33ff).

2.The feast of the firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10), i.e., Shavuot was a celebration in which the initial produce of the harvest was offered to God as a token of the full crop to follow. In this case, the type (the Feast of first fruits) is fulfilled in the antitype which is the resurrection of the Messiah who is the “first fruits” offered to God (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).

3.The Tabernacle and Temple were both central features of the Jewish sacrificial system. They both were initiated by God and were a means where the Jewish people could approach God. In the Bible, the Shechinah is the visible manifestation of the presence of God in which He descends to dwell among men. The Shechinah glory is seen in a variety of visible manifestations such as light, fire, a cloud, the Angel of the Lord, or a combination of all of these. The glory of God would descend in both the Tabernacle and Temple as well.

Therefore, in relation to the coming of the Messiah, the Shechinah takes on greater significance in John 1: 1-14. As John says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “Dwelt” ( σκήνωμα), means to “live or camp in a tent” or figuratively in the New Testament to”dwell, take up one’s residence, come to reside (among).” So i John 1:14 literally says,” the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. Therefore, both the Tabernacle and the Temple were types in the Jewish Scriptures that are fulfilled in the anti-type which is the person of Jesus.

Persons

The Binding of Isaac Story

The Binding of Isaac or the “Akedah” tells the account of when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Because of Abraham’s faith God would be able to resurrect the slain Isaac. The sacrifice of Isaac is the type in that the Messiah is the antitype in the following respects: (1) They both involve the sacrifice by a father of his only son; (2) They both symbolize a complete dedication on the part of the offerer; (3) It speaks of both a death and resurrection.

King David

Even though we have already mentioned this King David was was type of the Messiah in that he was a son of God in the sense of being a Davidic King who was a ruler and who had an intimate relationship with God. But the role of King David pointed towards a greater king who is the antitype- the Messiah.

Let’s look at Romans 1:1-5

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We see the following:

Paul says through the resurrection, Jesus is installed (by God) as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). Paul is not saying Jesus is being appointed as The Son of God is a change in Jesus’ essense. The appointment is not in terms of his nature but in terms of his work as a mediator—the messianic age has dawned. Jesus is the Lord—the anti-type of the previous “sons” in the Old Testament (Adam, David, Israel).

Melchizedek

Melchizedek was both king of Salem and a priest of God—at the same time (Genesis 14:18-20)and a a type of  Messiah.  Jesus as the anti-type  began to reign on David’s throne and to simultaneously function as our high priest (cf. Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:12, 13; Hebrews 5:5-10; 6:20; 7:1-17).

Wright goes on to discuss the abuse of typology in Christian circles.  I have seen a lot of this myself. He says:

The older view of typology fell into disfavor because it was solely concerned with finding “prefigurations” of Christ all over the Old Testament. The idea was that the central feature of a “type” was that it prefigured Christ. But this was handled not as something observed afterward in the light of Christ but rather as the very reason for existence of whatever was being regarded as a “type.” So a “type,” in this view, was any event, institution or person in the Old Testament that had been arranged by God for the primary purpose of foreshadowing Christ. This had two unfortunate side effects. First, it usually meant that the interpreter of the Old Testament failed to find much reality and meaning in the events and persons of the Old Testament in themselves. There was no need to spend time understanding and interpreting the texts in their own Israelite historical context and background or to ask what they meant to those people at that time. You could just jump straight to Christ, because that is where you would find the supposed “real” meaning. This ends up with a very “Platonic” view of the Old Testament. That is, it is really only a collection of “shadows” of something else. Such a way of reading the Bible devalues the historical reality and validity of Old Testament Israel and all that God did in and through and for them. Second, this kind of typology had a tendency to indulge in fanciful attempts to interpret every detail of an Old Testament “type” as in some way a foreshadowing of some other obscure detail about Jesus. Once you had severed the event, institution or person from its actual historical roots in Israel, then the details would no longer be seen as simply part of the story as the Old Testament narrator told it. Since the “real meaning” was actually to be found in Jesus and the New Testament, all the details must have some hidden significance that could be applied to Christ. preacher to bring such meanings out, like a magician bringing rabbits out of a hat to the astonished gasps of admiring readers or listeners. All the colored threads of the tabernacle could signify something about Jesus. The five stones that David picked up represent the five wounds of Christ, or the five loaves he used to feed the crowd, or the five ministries that Christ has given to the church. He took them out of a stream, which was the Holy Spirit. And so on. This way of handling the Hebrew text is quite rightly now regarded as invalid and subjective.- Wright, Christopher J. H,  Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Knowing God Through the Old Testament Set)  InterVarsity Press.

Conclusion

Typology is a helpful way of understanding how God worked with Israel’s history and how it relates to the person and work of Jesus. However, as Wright says, we need to exercise caution in our own approach to the use of typology.

Frank Turek On Why People Reject God

Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case

I found this to be an outstanding quote from apologist Frank Turek. I have had Frank come to our campus a couple of times. He says:

“I am not saying that an atheist’s motivation proves that atheism is false  — someone can have the wrong motives and still be right. What I am saying is that many atheists don’t want Christianity to be true. I’ve seen this firsthand among atheists on college campuses. When I sense hostility during the Q& A period of an I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist presentation, I normally ask the questioner, “If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?” On several occasions I’ve had atheists yell back at me, “No!”

(Frank responds) No? “Wait, you claim to be a beacon of reason, yet when I ask you if something were true would you believe it, you say ‘no!’ How is that reasonable?” It’s not. That’s because reason or evidence isn’t the issue for such people. They don’t have an intellectual objection to Christianity  — they have an emotional, moral, or volitional objection. They’ve been hurt by Christians or think they’ve been let down by God. But more often, as several atheists have admitted, they simply don’t want to give up their autonomy and submit their will to God. They are not on a relentless pursuit of the truth, open to following the evidence where it leads. They’re on a happiness quest, not a truth quest. They reject Christianity because they think doing whatever they want will make them happy. So it’s a heart issue, not a head issue. It’s been said that this kind of atheist is looking for God as much as a criminal is looking for a cop. This resistance affects all of us at times. When we want to be our own gods, we’re not open to accepting the true God. Pascal put it this way, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” Girlfriends, boyfriends, and maintaining your independence can be very attractive. Pascal’s insight may also help us answer the questions we posed at the end of chapter 1. Namely, why are atheists such as Dawkins and Krauss open to deism but not theism? And why are Dawkins and several other atheists open to admitting that the evidence points to an alien intelligent designer of the first life but not to God? I could be wrong, but it sure seems that the answer is right here: morality and accountability. A theistic God brings such demands, but an alien or a deistic god does not. What other reasons could there be? What reasons do you have for what you believe? Are you following the evidence where it leads? Honestly? Or are you more interested in believing what you find attractive? To be fair, this sword cuts both ways. Many people are Christians not because they’ve investigated the evidence, but because they find a heavenly Father and eternal life attractive. The difference is  — although many Christians don’t know it  — abundant evidence exists for their beliefs. So Christians can say with confidence that while some atheists have the attitude, “There is no God, and I hate him,” Christ had the attitude, “There are atheists, and I love them. In fact, I died for them. ” Frank  Turek, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case (p. 113).

Resources on the Supreme Court’s Same Sex Marriage Decision

Granted, this is being discussed everywhere, here are some of the latest reading resources on this hot topic.

Ryan Anderson: Judicial Activism From Supreme Court on Marriage. Here’s How to Respond (Note:, they are only at 1,128 comments).

John Piper: So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity

Robert Gagnon: Here is an article by the premier Biblical scholar on the topic: American Tragedy: Now Gird Up Your Loins

Frank Turek: Why the 14th Amendment Can’t Possibly Require Same-Sex Marriage: (this was written before the decision).

Wintery Knight: How will gay marriage affect my marriage?

Discussing Marriage: The Conjugal and Revisionist Views of Marriage

Michael L. Brown: Thank You, Justice Kennedy

Should Marriage Be Limited To One Man And One Woman?