The Big Gray Elephant & Intelligent Design

For years, Bible-believing creationists have been attempting to reverse the hegemony of Darwinism in the minds of those who practice the natural and biological sciences. Most of these efforts have been futile. But in 1996 a book by Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, entitledDarwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, demonstrated the overwhelming argument for the existence of God from design (viz., the “teleological argument,” as it is called). He did this by demonstrating something he calls “irreducible complexity,” a fact backed up by the scientific method that demonstrates that even the smallest of organisms are so complex and interdependent that they could not possibly have evolved as the Darwinists claim.


Since the book first appeared, it has caused quite a stir. It is an excellent book with captivating and sensible arguments. The various mental illustrations Behe uses are simple but effective. Not the least of this book’s qualities is its refreshing openness, paralleled with its accurate critique of the closed-minded stance of the Darwinists. The following is an apt example:

“Imagine a room in which a body lies crushed, flat as a pancake. A dozen detectives crawl around, examining the floor with magnifying glasses for any clue to the identity of the perpetrator. In the middle of the room, next to the body, stands a large gray elephant. The detectives carefully avoid bumping into the pachyderm’s legs as they crawl, and never even glance at it… Textbooks say detectives must ‘get their man,’ so they never consider elephants.”


When it comes to origins, of course, God is the “large gray elephant” the detectives (viz., the naturalists) are ignoring. For example, the 1995 official Position Statement of the American National Association of Biology Teachers (hereafter referred to as NABT) pronounced the general understanding of its members when it said: “The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments” (cited in Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, 1997, p. 15). The updated version of this statement, now revised to include Intelligent Design (ID), reads, in part: “Science teachers must reject calls to account for the diversity of life or describe the mechanisms of evolution by invoking non-naturalistic or supernatural notions, whether called ‘creation science,’ ‘scientific creationism,’ ‘intelligent design theory,’ or similar designations.” (


Nevertheless, Behe, who is no “scientific creationist,” has been vilified as a camouflaged “scientific creationist” who is simply trying to sneak his overtly religious agenda into the science classroom under the guise of Intelligent Design (the updated NABT quote mentioned above reflects this). Truth is, professor Behe is a staunch believer in the scientific method and, as such, he does not *specifically* look to religion for the answers to the questions surrounding origins. Instead, he has concluded that biochemical machines are so irreducibly complex that they must have been designed—either by God, or by some other higher intelligence, and this makes his findings even more compelling in the ongoing culture wars. As it said on the flyleaf:

“For Darwinian evolution to be true there must have been a series of mutations, each of which produced its own working machine, that led to the complexity we can now see. The more complex and interdependent each machine’s own parts are shown to be, the harder it is to envision Darwin’s gradualist paths. Behe surveys the professional science literature and shows that it is completely silent on the subject, stymied by the elegance of the foundation of life. Could it be that there is some greater force at work?”


To those of us who believe in God, the answer to the origins of the universe and man is God. On the other hand, the naturalists, who by default must believe that “nature is all there is,” cannot admit to any possibility of a God/Intelligent Designer, as this would sound the death knell for their philosophy/religion. After all, this debate never was about the Bible vs. Science, as naturalists have successfully couched it over the years. It is, instead, a debate concerning the beliefs of theism and naturalism. Unfortunately, naturalists have been successful in depicting their view as the *only* basis for contemporary science. As such, theirs has been the only religion permitted in the science classrooms of America.


So, the playing field has been uneven for many years now. Even so, Intelligent Design’s success in stirring up favorable sentiment for a fair telling of both sides of the origins story has been greatly appreciated, for under such a system, investigators could once again begin to take note of that big gray elephant in the room. If this were to happen, then the one true God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the One who acted openly and left His fingerprints all over the evidence, could once again be glorified in our public schools. And if this ever happened, the Almighty might be disposed to continue blessing this nation in spite of all the reasons He has not to.