Intelligent Design People Don’t Get Theology, Either

Father Michael Holleran over at Discover Magazine’s Science and Religion blog:

I would like to suggest, however, is that mature theology is also very far from intelligent design, which I consider to be a particularly unfortunate, maladroit, and problematic notion, at least as it is commonly presented and understood. It is true that the fifth argument of St. Thomas Aquinas for the existence of God is based on the design and governance of the universe. Yet theologians themselves noted, long before Richard Dawkins, that the argument is hardly cogent, and probably better serves as a reflection (in a double sense) of faith by believers than as an effort to persuade unbelievers. In addition, according with Stephen Jay Gould’s insistence on the paramount role of chance in evolution, a priest friend of mine often takes the case a seemingly irreverent step further: with all the chance, chaos, entropy, violence, waste, injustice, and randomness in the universe, the project hardly seems very intelligent! Do we imagine that God is intelligent in basically the same way that we are, just a very BIG intelligence and “super-smart”? And “design,” once again, evokes the watchmaker who somehow stands outside the universe, tinkering with his schemes at some cosmic drawing board. How could God be outside of anything or stand anywhere, or take time to design anything?

All of this is mind-numbingly anthropomorphic, and what seems to be irreverent and blasphemous is actually the only way to avoid being so. As I already suggested in my blog, we are perhaps not aware of the radical purgation of our concept of God that is incumbent upon us, whether necessitated by the challenges of science, or by those of our own theology and spiritual growth. Unfortunately, the most fervent people are often the most naive: the monks of the desert in the fourth century got violently upset when traveling theologians suggested that God did not have a body.