KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–With another record-breaking semester of student enrollment, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary kicked off its spring semester with academic convocation Jan. 24.
The spring semester, which officially started Jan. 23, saw 158 new students enrolled in classes at Midwestern. Total headcount to date for the year — 713 –- was up 25 percent from the same time last year.
“We are thankful to the Lord for His continued blessings on Midwestern Seminary,” Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts said.
During the ceremony, Radu Gheorghita, Midwestern Seminary’s associate professor of biblical studies, officially signed the Baptist Faith and Message. Gheorghita was elected to the faculty in 2005.
Roberts recalled meeting the Romanian native, then a teenager, for the first time in Europe.
“Dr. Gheorghita is one of the evangelical world’s finest biblical scholars,” Roberts said. “We are delighted to have him on the MBTS faculty.”
Headlining the convocation ceremony was noted intelligent design expert William Dembski, who is the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Explaining the concept of Intelligent Design, Dembski compared it to looking at Mount Rushmore, the national memorial located in South Dakota that displays the granite faces of four American presidents. From looking at the monument, it’s unmistakable that there was a designer or architecture behind the massive sculpture, he said.
“Wind and erosion did not create that rock face,” he said. “It required an intelligence. In this case we know who the intelligence was. It was an eccentric artist named Gutzon Borglum.”
Intelligent design, the scientific movement that has aroused debate and court battles across the nation and in school systems, is simply the “study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence,” Dembski said.
“You see patterns all over the place that are best explained as a result of intelligence,” he said, pointing to Mount Rushmore as well as Stonehenge, an ancient circle of stones located in England.
“We have no idea who was responsible for it [Stonehenge]. And yet the configuration of those rocks also decisively implicates design,” he said.
Scientists seeking to make the case for intelligent design, he said, are exploring living organisms in order to find patterns of design that can’t be explained by the slow, gradual, step-by-step changes of an organism’s development cited by evolutionary theory.
“The question is, ‘Can we look in biological systems and find evidence of design there?’ — and not just the appearance of design but actual design” he said.
One of the most exciting areas for this research, he said, is being done in molecular biology –- and in particular, the single cell.
“Inside the cell, there’s really been a revolution in molecular biology in the last 30 years,” he said. “We need high-tech engineering principles and knowledge to even understand what’s going on inside the cell.”
With the rapid advancement of science and technology, scientists now can look into the world of the cell –- something Charles Darwin, writing in the late 1800s, was not able to do –- and examine it on a molecular level, Dembski said.
The discoveries, he said, have been fascinating. Dembski and other intelligent design scientists point to the “bacterial flagellum” as the leading example in the debate for the theory’s validity.
The bacterial flagellum is a “bi-directional, motor-driven propeller inside the cell that can spin up to 100,000 rpm and change direction in a quarter turn.”
“Most engineers would drool over this.”
One biologist, he said, describes the bacterial flagellum as “the most efficient machine in the universe.”
According to Dembski, evolutionary scientists have a “daunting” task in explaining how this component of the cell has evolved according to evolutionary theory and not by design. If just one of its components is not intact, he said, the bacterial flagellum cannot function –- a scientific term known as “irreducible complexity.”
“This is not an isolated system that intelligent design has pointed to,” he said. “Biology is pervaded at the subcellular level with them. These machines are absolutely necessary for life to exist at all. And yet there are not [any] detailed Darwinian accounts for any of these systems.
“It’s a pervasive problem for the theory.”
Dembski believes that as more research is published in support of intelligent design “this whole materialistic worldview will come tumbling down.”
The key, he said, is the inadequacy of evolution’s “creation story,” or account for how the world began.
“If your worldview starts with a problematic origin story, everything else is going to be infected,” he said. “I think this is what we’ve seen with this materialistic worldview.”
Intelligent design, Dembski said, does not and cannot replace the Gospel.
“Intelligent design is not the Gospel,” he said. “If you want the Gospel, read Luke. Read the Gospels. The Gospels will tell you about Christ and redemption in Him.”
But, he said, Intelligent Design does have an important function in the defense of the faith.
“It is a stand-alone scientific program that can sweep away this materialistic worldview,” he said.
“It’s not the whole story. It’s not a big package deal. It’s focused on some very narrowly constrained issues.”
“[But] in doing that it’s focusing a laser on precisely where things need to be addressed.”
Dembski spoke to more than 1,500 at the University of Kansas on Jan. 23, the night before Midwestern Seminary’s convocation ceremony, making the scientific case for intelligent design.