Intelligent Design

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Intelligent Design

What is Intelligent design?

Intelligent design (ID) is a modern movement based on findings in science that, according to ID adherents, suggest that many of the discovered molecular machines in biology are so irreducibly complex that they must have been intelligently designed. The primary icon of the Intelligent design movement is the Bacterial Flagellar Motor, images of which can be found here.

Unlike religious creationism Intelligent Design adherents divorce it from religion and sacred texts so it can gain legitimacy as a scientific theory as opposed to a pseudo-scientific religious theory. Proponents of ID claim that it suggests intelligent causes, but that naming the source of those causes is not part of ID Theory. According to ID critics, the main proponents do this to prevent legal issues involving separation of church and state: they claim that ID is religion disguised as science.

See Scripture and Science in Conflict?: An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer by Stephen Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute. See also the Nature article Biological theory: Postmodern evolution? about the "Altenberg 16" (meeting at "the Woodstock of evolution!") which has given rise to claims that evolution is "a theory in crisis"; also discussion of it by Prof. Larry Moran here.

Is Intelligent Design a theory?

Intelligent Design is not a generally accepted theory (not yet, anyway) it is usually treated as an idea and an inference. Proponents of Intelligent Design, however, call it "Intelligent Design Theory," and seek to put it into a form that does not require interventionism (i.e. special creation) in nature, they are chiefly concerned with detecting design in nature. Proponents of Intelligent Design are mostly mainstream liberal Christians, believing Theistic Evolution or Old Earth Creation. Many of these types of creationists have given their support to "Intelligent Design Theory" (IDT) and in the US at least they are pushing for critiques of Darwinism, in the hopes that one day IDT will be considered a real alternative to Evolution. There are many flavours of IDT. Most of them accomodate evolution and Common Descent (sometimes limited, sometimes UCD).

In general ID theorists believe the Bible is a theological work and not historical, and it is to be re-interpreted as knowledge progresses. This is especially so when it comes to Old Testament. With no Biblical limits on ID theorists theology, it can never be falsified. The most famous ID theorists are Michael Behe, who is a Roman Catholic and William Dembski who is a Baptist. There are no known Christadelphians associated with IDT work, although there is interest in it on the part of those who generally adopt the Design Argument as a support to faith.

Is ID invalid because critics claim its inspiration is theological?

Critics of Intelligent Design call IDT "The New Creationism", "Stealth Creationism" or "Neo-creationism". The critics assert that the only reason their opponents propose Intelligent Design "theory" is to "smuggle religion" or to help promote the validity of religious ideas in the classrooms of North America. Many critics of Creationism in the United States are vehemently opposed to the teaching of religious ideas in schools on scientific, logical, philosophical and other idealogical grounds. Most scientists consider IDT pseudo-science.

There are many flavors of IDT, the common thread being intelligent agency. The source or sources of this intelligence is unnamed — but according to critics of IDT they all want to legitimize God in some way. This may well be correct, in that their motivations appear to stem from their theological beliefs; but IDT could include creation by the intelligent agency of humans or aliens creationism just as well. IDT does not limit itself to the idea of a single creator, and avoids questions of biogenesis. IDT literature shows that God is thought of as either 1) A non-interventionist creator, as the prime mover infusing creation with knowledge and letting the cosmos evolve on its own or 2) an interventionist agent, either a) the creator of the first living cell(s) 4.5 billion years ago or b) a special creator rather like the Christian God of Old Earth Creationism. Although IDT could embrace theories of Young Earth Creationism, most of its main proponents disdain YEC ideas.

Biblical objection to ID: If the Bible says it is impossible to prove that God exists (see The place of scientific experience) then would people who trust the Bible still be impressed by Intelligent Design arguments? Emu

IDT proponents try to distance it from being a proof of God, and merely say its a proof of interference- from space aliens, or whatever. Raelions like ID for this reason.

Scientific objections to ID:

Steven Gey speaking at a AAAS meeting reviewed in Science & Theology News said: "The idea that ID is science fails because the theory cannot be empirically tested, it does not appear in peer-reviewed journals and it is not accepted by the vast majority of scientists."

"creationism in a cheap tuxedo" — Richard Dawkins The God Delusion p. 113

See also some notes at Design Argument and God of the Gaps

Questioning the assumptions behind scientific objections:

There are those who hold the opinion that the objection to ID as a "God of the gaps" argument is invalid and stem from fallacies of equivocation, naturalistic bias and/or improper understanding of Intelligent design theory. --Mordecai 19:38, 26 Apr 2004 (EST)

See also:

A very negative view of the Intelligent Design Movement

The American Prospect, Survival of the Slickest

From the paper's introduction:

It must take guts to be a "young-Earth" creationist. After all, imagine rejecting virtually all of modern science based on a literal interpretation of Genesis. Imagine opening yourself up to ridicule by insisting that Adam and Eve lived alongside the dinosaurs, Dinotopia-style, and that Noah crammed brontosauruses onto the Ark — necessary inferences if you think the Bible is true and that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago. Sure, these views are way outside the scientific mainstream (though polls suggest nearly half of Americans may hold them). But young-Earth creationism is so rigid in its adherence to religious doctrine that there's almost a kind of perverse integrity to it.

Unfortunately, it's hard to say the same for the much more polished — and less openly religious — group of anti-evolutionists who have recently upstaged young-Earthers in the public eye. These "Intelligent Design" (ID) theorists, as they call themselves, are epitomized by Stephen C. Meyer, an anti-Darwinian philosopher who made the following appeal to The American Prospect: "People with liberal credentials ought to understand what we're up against. This is an entrenched establishment."

— etc. Well worth reading if you're impressed by the "Intelligent Design" ideas. — User:Bruce