Stephen E. Jones

My frequently asked questions (FAQs) and
answers to objections about intelligent design (ID)

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The following are my frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers to objections about intelligent design (ID). This is a work-in-progress.

  1. What is Intelligent Design (ID)?
  2. Is ID creationism?
  3. Objections to ID
    1. `ID does not explain the origin of the designer'
    2. `ID cannot be falsified'
    3. `ID is not science'
    4. `ID is an argument from ignorance'
    5. `ID is merely the Bible's story of creation camouflaged in scientific language'

  1. What is Intelligent Design (ID)?

  2. Intelligent Design, or ID, is a secular scientific theory that intelligent causation is necessary to explain certain features of the natural world; and the evidence of that intelligent causation is empirically detectable:
    "What then is Intelligent Design? Intelligent Design begins with the observation that intelligent causes can do things which undirected natural causes cannot. Undirected natural causes can place scrabble pieces on a board, but cannot arrange the pieces as meaningful words or sentences. To obtain a meaningful arrangement requires an intelligent cause. This intuition, that there is a fundamental distinction between undirected natural causes on the one hand and intelligent causes on the other, has underlain the design arguments of past centuries. ... What has emerged is a new program for scientific research known as Intelligent Design. Within biology, Intelligent Design is a theory of biological origins and development. Its fundamental claim is that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology, and that these causes are empirically detectable. To say intelligent causes are empirically detectable is to say there exist well-defined methods that, on the basis of observational features of the world, are capable of reliably distinguishing intelligent causes from undirected natural causes. Many special sciences have already developed such methods for drawing this distinction-notably forensic science, cryptography, archeology, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (as in the movie Contact)." (Dembski W.A., "The Intelligent Design Movement," Reprinted from Cosmic Pursuit, Spring 1998. Access Research Network, November 15, 1998)
    "Called intelligent design (ID), to distinguish it from earlier versions of design theory ... this new approach is more modest than its predecessors. Rather than trying to infer Godís existence or character from the natural world, it simply claims `that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information- rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable.'" (Hartwig M., "What is Intelligent Design?," Frequently Asked Questions about Intelligent Design, Access Research Network, 2003)
    "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and are not the result of an undirected, chance-based process such as Darwinian evolution." ("Primer: Intelligent Design Theory in a Nutshell," IDEA Center, 2005)
    "The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion." ("Intelligent Design," Intelligent Design Network, Inc.)
    "But what exactly is the theory of intelligent design? Contrary to media reports, intelligent design is not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins-one that challenges strictly materialistic views of evolution. ... the theory of intelligent design holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause. The theory does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it does dispute Darwin's idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected." (Meyer S.C., "What is Intelligent Design?," National Post of Canada. December 1, 2005. Discovery Institute News, December 18, 2005) [top]
  3. Is ID creationism?

  4. No. ID is not creationism:
    1. Unlike creationism, which is based on the Bible or other sacred text(s), ID is based solely on the evidence of nature:
    2. "Unlike creationism, intelligent design is based on science, not sacred texts. Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. Instead, intelligent design theory is an effort to empirically detect whether the `apparent design' in nature observed by biologists is genuine design (the product of an organizing intelligence) or is simply the product of chance and mechanical natural laws." (West J.G., "Intelligent Design and Creationism Just Aren't the Same," Discovery Institute-Center for Science and Culture: Seattle WA, December 1, 2002)
      "The first misunderstanding is that intelligent design is based on religion rather than science. Design theory is a scientific inference based on empirical evidence, not religious texts. The theory proposes that some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause as opposed to an undirected process such as natural selection. .... While intelligent design may have religious implications (just like Darwin's theory), it does not start from religious premises." (West J.G., "Intelligent design is sorely misunderstood," Seattle Post- Intelligencer, August 9, 2005)
      "Is creationism the same thing as intelligent design? No, although many critics of Intelligent Design conflate the two. Creationism usually refers to the theory or belief that God created the universe and human beings in six days as recorded in the Bible's first book, Genesis. In the United States today, some creationists--called Young Earth Creationists--accept the Genesis account literally and believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old, basing their calculations on the genealogies in the Hebrew scriptures. Young Earth creationists believe God created humans directly; humans did not evolve from other species. Others, seeking to reconcile the Bible with modern science, believe that each Genesis day may have represented several billion years. (Gerald Schroeder, a physicist and Orthodox Jewish scholar, has calculated what the time spans may be.) Intelligent design does not posit that the universe was created in six days; it does not contradict the commonly-held scientific view that the universe has been in existence for about 15 billion years. ID also does not challenge the idea that humans developed over time as a result of evolution. ("FAQs: What Is Intelligent Design?," Beliefnet, May 9, 2005) [top]
    3. Leading creationist organisations recognise that ID is not creationism::
    4. "Creationists know that intelligent design theory is not creationism. The two most prominent creationist groups, Answers in Genesis Ministries (AIG) and Institute for Creation Research (ICR) have criticized the intelligent design movement (IDM) because design theory, unlike creationism, does not seek to defend the Biblical account of creation. AIG specifically complained about IDMís `refusal to identify the Designer with the Biblical God' and noted that `philosophically and theologically the leading lights of the ID movement form an eclectic group.' Indeed, according to AIG, `many prominent figures in the IDM reject or are hostile to Biblical creation, especially the notion of recent creation .' [Wieland C., "AiG's views on the Intelligent Design Movement," August 30, 2002]. Likewise, ICR has criticized ID for not employing `the Biblical method,' concluding that `Design is not enough!' [Morris H.M. , "Design is not Enough!", Institute for Creation Research, July 1999] Creationist groups like AIG and ICR clearly understand that intelligent design is not the same thing as creationism." (West J.G., "Intelligent design is sorely misunderstood," Seattle Post- Intelligencer, August 9, 2005). [top]
    5. Critics of ID falsely conflate it with creationism, as a tactic to more easily discredit ID:
    6. "Recent news accounts about controversies over evolution in Ohio and Georgia have contained references to the scientific theory of `intelligent design.' Some advocates of Darwinian evolution try to conflate `intelligent design' (ID) with `creationism,' sometimes using the term `intelligent design creationism.' [e.g. Pennock R.T., ed., "Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics," MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 2001] In fact, intelligent design is quite different from `creationism,' as even some of its critics have acknowledged. University of Wisconsin historian of science Ronald Numbers is critical of intelligent design, yet according to the Associated Press, he `agrees the creationist label is inaccurate when it comes to the ID movement.' Why, then, do some Darwinists keep trying to identify ID with creationism? According to Numbers, it is because they think such claims are `the easiest way to discredit intelligent design.' [Ostling R.N., "Ohio School Board Debates Teaching 'Intelligent Design'," The Washington Post, March 14, 2002 ] In other words, the charge that intelligent design is `creationism' is a rhetorical strategy on the part of those who wish to delegitimize design theory without actually addressing the merits of its case." (West J.G., "Intelligent design is sorely misunderstood," Seattle Post- Intelligencer, August 9, 2005) [top]


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Created: 29 December, 2005. Updated: 3 September, 2006.