Intelligent Design Theory and Biola
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Biola University has taken an active interest in the achievements of the intelligent design community since the early years of ID. Stephen Meyer held plenary sessions on intelligent design at the university’s faculty workshop in fall, 1993. In 1996, five years after Phillip Johnson’s groundbreaking book Darwin on Trial appeared, Biola hosted the “Mere Creation“ conference. This was the “first major international conference on design theory” (Thomas Woodward, Doubts About Darwin: A History Of Intelligent Design, Baker, 2003, p. 171). Key papers from the conference were published in Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design, InterVarsity Press, 1998).
A second conference was held at Biola in 1999. Entitled “After Materialism,” this conference brought together fifty ID scientists to discuss “A New Science for a New Century,” and some of the implications of Intelligent Design.
In 2002, many of the same scientists gathered again at Biola for the Research and Progress in Intelligent Design (RAPID) conference. The conference began with a public presentation on ID that drew over two thousand people. Intended to provide a forum for peer discussion of frontier research, the rest of RAPID proceeded within small working groups of scientists who cultivated collaborative relationships for research.
Fall 2003 saw the start of the Master of Arts program in Science and Religion (MASR) at Biola University (www.biola.edu/scienceandreligion). This program offers an interdisciplinary course of study that addresses the scientific, theological, philosophical and historical issues raised by ID, Darwinism, and other viewpoints that impact the goals and limitations of science. The MASR program is committed to tracking and influencing important new developments within science such as intelligent design theory.
In April 2004 Biola’s MASR program hosted “ID and the Future of Science,” a national public conference that drew over four hundred attendees to discuss key issues in the sciences that are impacted by design theory. One highlight of this conference was a banquet honoring Phillip Johnson, which was attended by Will Provine, Michael Ruse, Lee Strobel and other friends and friendly critics of ID. Many of the talks were video recorded and are available at http://www.arn.org/arnproducts/videos/v053.htm.
Biola University and the MASR program look forward to promoting fruitful discussion and to building rapport between the scientific and evangelical communities.