Del Ratzsch has written an excellent philosophical book on the role of design in science, called Nature, Design, and Science. It would be difficult for anybody to walk away from reading that book thinking that design (supernatural or not) has no place in science. His conclusion is basically that there are no good philosophical reasons to exclude supernatural design from being a legitimate part of science.
I am sometimes suprised at some of the objections people raise in order to keep the idea of supernatural design out of science. One that was recently brought up by Serge at Imago Dei was the “bad design” objection. The “bad design” objection is basically the idea that humans can think of “better” ways to design things in nature (e.g., the human knee), therefore to say that an infinitely wise, perfect God designed these less-than-perfect things makes no sense.
The first thing to note is that this isn’t an objection against design itself, but rather it is an objection to who would make the type of design that is seen. If I say that I could design a better human knee than the one I currently have, that in no way implies that the one I currently have isn’t designed. A separate argument would have to be made for why it isn’t designed.
If anything, the “bad design” objection is a theological objection and not a scientific one. Serge mentions this when he gives three reasons why the “bad design” argument isn’t a good one:
1. Arguments from bad design are not scientific arguments, but theological ones. Gould never explains why he knows how a “sensible God” would tread if one did exist, which he denies.
2. How does Gould wish to scientifically verify the terms “odd arrangements” and “funny solutions”. Does he have some form of repeatable experiment to prove “funnyness”? How does he wish to show that the “oddness” of certain biological organisms equals “bad” design? It is these terms that Gould grounds his “proof” of evolution.
3. The argument presupposes that if God exists, he would create us with a perfect design. However, there is no reason to assume, especially in Christianity, that God had an obligation to create us in a way that was perfectly designed.
I think the biggest problem lies in a misunderstanding of the concept of perfect as it relates to God. Roy Clouser mentions in both The Myth of Religious Neutrality and Knowing with the Heart that the common understanding of perfect when talking about God is that of “the greatest degree possible.” For example, under this understanding of perfect, when we say that God is perfectly loving, it would mean that he is loving in the highest possible way. Clouser argues that this is a very Platonic way of speaking about perfection and that the Biblical view of God’s perfection is that of being unfailing. Under this view, when we say that God is perfectly loving, we are saying that God is unfailingly loving.
I think it makes the most sense Scripturally and I think it helps solve the question of why humans don’t have perfect spheres for heads (although, PacMan may be the perfect video game).