Saturday, January 31, 2009

Intelligent Design Creationism

During the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial the question of whether Intelligent Design Creationism was really creationism was a hot issue. Professor Barbara Forrest's testimony put to rest any doubts on that score.

You can read the trial transcript on the TalkOrigins website. In this excerpt she is addressing the various editions of the creationist book that is now called Of Pandas and People.
You'll notice that the word "creation" has an ending, it has an "-is" ending. That is so that the counter will pick up any cognate of that word, creationist or creationism, that both will be counted, and here we're looking for the term "intelligent design" rather than just "design." What this indicates is that you see the same thing in these drafts. In the early drafts you see the use of the term "creationism" and its various cognates. Not very much use at all of the term "intelligent design." In fact, in Creation Biology it's zero times. And then subsequent to the version 1 of Pandas 1987 you see a steep decline in the use of the term "creation" and its various cognates, and you see a very sharp rise in the use of the term "intelligent design" in that second version of Pandas of 1987.

You can see that creationism morphed into Intelligent Design. The biggest shift occurred in 1987 when the US Supreme Court ruled, in Edwards v. Aguillard, that creationism was religious and couldn't be taught in public schools. The replacement of "creationism" with "intelligent design" was a political move designed to make belief in a creator sound less religious.

It's not a surprise that old-school creationism became Intelligent Design Creationism. After all, the same players were involved and 99.99% of those who advocate intelligent design also believe in a creator God. All this is old news to most of you but it bears repeating from time to time.

What's surprising is that there are Intelligent Design Creationists who deny that they are creationists. Usually they try and restrict the term "Creationist" to the Young Earth Creationism of the biblical literalists but the evidence in "Pandas" is conclusive. The Intelligent Design Creationism in Of Pandas and People is clearly derived from creationism.

Here's an example of our most famous Doctor IDiot (Michael Engor) bending over backwards to make a fool of himself in Reviewing Jerry Coyne. He's pushing the claim that there's no connection between "creationism" and "intelligent design."
Dr. Coyne misunderstands the history of this issue. Regardless of whether or not creationism has undergone an “evolutionary” process, ID isn’t on the historical continuum with creationism. Creationism is the opinion that Genesis is more or less literally true as science. Many Christians hold to that view, and they have my respect, but I (and the vast majority of I.D. advocates) disagree.

Intelligent design is the opinion that design is empirically detectable in biology, and that it is the best scientific inference to explain many aspects of biology, especially the genetic code and the complex molecular machinery inside cells. I wasn’t a creationist, ever. I was a Darwinist, for most of my life, until I looked closely at the evidence. Most ID advocates have had similar experiences. Most ID advocates were never creationists, and ID is not creationism nor is it derived from it. In fact, ID has been criticized by the creationist community. ID is an appeal to evidence in the natural world, not an appeal to Biblical revelation.
Hmmm ... "ID is not creationism nor is it derived from it." I guess Michael Engor has never read anything about that little episode in Dover only four years ago.

I believe that Michael Egnor is a creationist. I think he believes in a God who created the universe. I will continue to call him an Intelligent Design Creationist—as opposed to a Young Earth Creationist—unless he's willing to deny the existence of a Creator.1

1. Who, coincidentally, just happens to be the intelligent designer as well.


  1. One can define an "ideal" IDism as the claim that biology was designed by someone(s), and leave it at that. It's also scientifically pretty useless, as it carefully avoids trying to investigate the nature of the Designer(s). In fact, Behe even discourages such investigation in his first book. Of course, scratch an IDist and nine times out of 10 you'll find a creationist of some stripe. The prominent ID mouthpieces like Egnor are always trying to walk the fine line between ID-as-creationism, and the vacuousness of "ideal" ID. Only their uncritical supporters are fooled.

  2. The Ignorant IDiot aka Michael Egnor has clearly beaten a hasty retreat, bested/worsted and bruised from his debates with Steve Novella. In the early stages of this one-sided debate the Ignorant Idiot used to talk about empirical observations, but when Novella pointed out that he was not using data collected with some of the latest equipment, he switched over to the speculations of philosophers! And now the IDiot claims that creationism is a recent idea. Looks like the man never heard of Bishop Usher! I am sure Egnor is that ignorant!

  3. Larry, you didn't mention the transitional fossil from straight indilluted Creationism to ID: cdesign proponentists. Wasn't that the ultimate nail in the coffin of the lie?

  4. Something tells me Dr. Egnor makes a slight understatement when he says the vast majority of I.D. advocates don't think Genesis is more or less literally true.

    Like when Stephen Meyer recently stated that the Cambrian explosion lasted less than 5 million years. A slight understatement. Just a little.

  5. And, as Ken Miller admits, even he believes that the Creator "tweaks" the genes at critical times to lead to planned mutations.

    Creationists include everyone who is religious.

  6. And, as Ken Miller admits, even he believes that the Creator "tweaks" the genes at critical times to lead to planned mutations.

    Creationists include everyone who is religious.

    Well, yes and no. Some religious people (strains of Bhuddism, for example) don't believe in creator god(s). But Miller (and Theodosius Dobzhansky, among other scientists) are "creationists" within that broad meaning.

    But Egnor is half right. Within the arena of American constitutional law, "creationist" has a more restricted meaning. Where he goes wrong is in asserting that ID doesn't qualify within the restricted legal definition. That definition is, roughly, "someone who argues that the government should assert that the existence of a creater god is true." It is the attempt to use the government to promote the religious belief in a creator god that separates "creationists" from the broader category of "believers in a creator god." Specifically, creation "science" and ID advocates want the public schools to teach in science classes that the creator god has been scientifically demonstrated.

    In order to circumvent the constitutional prohibition of government promotion of religion, IDeologists, as Larry notes, try to hide the fact that their "Designer" is a creator god, which is why Forrest's evidence was so devastating to their position. As far as the legal definition is concerned, they are no less "creationists" than Henry Morris or Duane Gish. They are just marginally more sophisticated about being disingenuous.

  7. Like when Stephen Meyer recently stated that the Cambrian explosion lasted less than 5 million years. A slight understatement. Just a little.

    I forgot to mention that Mr. Meyer testified at the Kansas "kangaroo" evolution hearings that he's an expert on "the origin of the first life in the Cambrian phylum." He says he works "at the other end of the history of life". No argument from me.

  8. Posters might possibly be interested in Matthew Chapman's book Trials of the monkey, an account of the Dover trial. Chapman is a great great grandson of Charles Darwin.

  9. If you go back to the intelligent design ideas of Paley, prior to the latest IDiocy, they are almost always considered to be creationism. Creationists claimed Paley as one of their own, and Paley wasn't shy about calling labeling the Great Designer as "the Creator." This despite the fact that Paley was not a young earth creationist or a Bible literalist.

    So is there a difference between today's ID and Paleyism? Well, sure, in that Paley actually considered his Designer to be like an "architect" or "artificer," that is to say, he really did believe that God designed akin to the manner that humans do, and not as evolution occurs.

    What of that, though? Paley, the cleric, was rather more scientific in his claims than are Behe and friends, but clearly they've avoided every positive falsifiable claim for ID because they know that positive claims for ID have been falsified. Other than that they're trying to claim that structures that look for all the world to have evolved rather than rationally designed were designed in spite of that fact, it's the same old creationism of Paley.

    The fact is that creationist Paley was saying that the designer is understandable, as "architect" or as "artificer," while today's IDiots are claiming that god is utterly inscrutable and beyond prediction and investigation. So in that sense, they are rather more creationist than was Paley. Yet we're not supposed to call them creationists, despite the fact that Paley has traditionally been called a creationist.

    OK, so they utterly fail to persuade regarding that, what arguments do they have that are persuasive? I have seen none, except those meant to cozen the naive.

    Glen Davidson

  10. John,

    Creationism makes no sense outside the Abrahamic tradition - the only one that can properly termed a religion. Buddhism being a dharmic tradition doesn't concern itself, like its older stablemate Hinduism, with creationism. All three - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism (the tradition that invented atomism, combinatorics, and infinity) about 4k years back decided that speculation leads only to infinite regress and is hence silly.

  11. The Ignorant IDiot aka Michael Egnor tells us exactly what IDioT design is: "Intelligent design is the OPINION ... " (note excruciatingly painful emphasis, OPINION !!!). NO scientific experiments, NO scientific method, nothing whatsoever that could remotely under any circumstances possibly be construed as science!! Aren't the Idiots just so intelligently designed?


  12. Creationism makes no sense outside the Abrahamic tradition - the only one that can properly termed a religion. Buddhism being a dharmic tradition doesn't concern itself, like its older stablemate Hinduism, with creationism.

    How interesting then that I have actually met a Hindu creationist. I am more concerned with what actually exists than with you own standard of what is "proper."

    A short timeline is not a concern with the Hindu cyclical concept of time. But he, with a college education in an engineering field (not one related to biology), believed that all species were separately created. Perhaps more amazingly, he also seemed to be a vitalist.

    As in Western traditions, a great deal of variety exists in Eastern traditions. Some sects are more abstract and philosophical than others.

  13. At Wikipedia:

    Hindu views on evolution

    Hindu views on evolution include a range of viewpoints in regards to evolution, creationism, and the origin of life within the traditions of Hinduism...