In July the UK Centre for Intelligent Design organised three webinars on the topic of design in virology.
Three distinguished presenters (Prof. Michael Behe, Dr Jonathan McLatchie, and Prof. Hugo van Woerden) with expertise in academic research, teaching, and public health gave fascinating insights into the molecular structure, biochemistry, and function of viruses, including Covid-19.
Their detailed diagrams of the structure and operation of viruses gave an overwhelming impression of design.
Intelligent Design proponents such as Dr Behe argue that the patterns of design in nature are not just ‘apparent’ (as critics argue) but real and intended.
The criteria for design involve not just complexity, but precise specification – a feature of the genetic material of all living things.
However, many scientists still resist the idea of design in nature. Such a stance is based on the unproveable philosophy of naturalism: a belief which excludes the possibility of supernatural causes and accepts natural processes alone.
But there remains a troubling question. Why would a Designer allow viruses which kill?
Dr Behe offered two interesting responses. Firstly, viruses have positive functions in nature – controlling bacteria and stimulating immune systems, for example.
Secondly, some creatures can turn harmful – lions can attack and snakes can bite. These ‘undesirable’ features of some living things do not negate evidence of design. However, these considerations take us deep into philosophy and theology.
Perhaps C. S. Lewis’s profound comment is relevant: ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’
Dr Alistair Noble