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What is Intelligent Design?


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April 02, 2018 9:52AM

Intelligent design is basically the opposite of evolution. It says that all life was designed by an "intelligent agent" and did not evolve. It has been widely disregarded as pseudoscience by the scientific community because it makes untestable claims, although it is readily accepted by the religious community. It is synonymous with creationism. AnswerIntelligent design is the premise that all things were created by a superior intelligence. It is a natural rebuttal to atheism (there is no god) and evolutionism, and asserts that a superior being created all things.

Actually, this concept has been around since long before Darwin. Most ancient societies believed in a creator deity.

Great scientists throughout history have believed in a superior creator:

Anaxagoras (500-428 BC) has been called "the father of intelligent design."

William Paley's pocket watch analogy in 1802 said that if you find a pocket watch in a field, you assume it was made by an intelligent being, not that it developed out of natural forces without design.

Charles Darwin's Origin of Species published in 1859, proposed that natural selection, coupled with small mutations over many years explained the development of various species. Even so, Darwin was influenced by Paley and wrote:

"Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty, or rather impossibility, of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species."

Later, after the death of his daughter, Darwin had doubts about God, and described himself as an agnostic.

Albert Einstein, in his book The World As I See It, stated that the harmony of natural law "Reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."

In a letter to a child who asked if scientists pray, Einstein wrote "Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-- a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble." January 24, 1936; Einstein Archive 42-601

The modern ID movement began with a textbook called Of Pandas and People by Percival Davis and Dean H. Keaton, published in 1989. Questions about the development of the concept exist. Some believe it was formulated to restore creationism to education without contesting the separation of church and state issues.

Today's ID proponents believe that natural selection is insufficient to explain the development of such complex systems as those that are present in our animal and plant life. They disagree with what evolutionists call their evidence, noting that there are no intermediate stages for such complex organs as the eye.

Darwin himself pointed out "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." Each slight modification would have to have some benefit to the animal or plant to enhance its chances of survival, in order for natural selection to work.

ID differs from Creationism in several key aspects. ID scientists believe that the earth is much older than 6000 years. They do not assign a specific name to the intelligence that they believe designed the universe. Creationists believe in a god; ID scientists may or may not.

Their goals are to study the origin of animal and plant life without what they see as the assumption that the development had to occur without outside influence.

Answer It is an attempt at providing a supernatural rationale that denies evolution.

Answer Intelligent design is a name applied to a line of thinking that proposes that there are biological structures that are best explained as the result of an "intelligent designer" and not as a result of evolution (natural selection). The basis of the idea is that there are biological structures extant that have no known precursors in nature, and, therefore, could not have arisen as a result of evolution, but could only have been "created whole" by an intelligent designer.

This theory (and note that it is not a scientific theory) is being touted by supporters (like the Discovery Institute) as an alternative to natural selection, and, as such, should be taught in the public school science curriculum. It is, in fact, a political tool designed to end run the constraints of the Constitution as regards the separation of church and state. Intelligent design is unmistakably rooted in theology, and scientists and scientific organizations almost uniformly regard it is pseudoscience. Many organizations condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

In the First Amendment we find the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, the "religion clauses" of the Constitution. They prohibit the Government from establishing a national religion or of supporting one set of religious beliefs over another. And because intelligent design was shown to be an extension of theological ideas, and was also demonstrated to lack any scientific merit, it may not be taught in any public school curriculum. The decision by the U.S. District Court in Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District was a clear indictment of both intelligent design and of those who attempted to force it upon the science teachers in Pennsylvania's Dover Area schools.

Intelligent design is yet another tool used in the wedge strategy in an attempt to sway public opinion and "change the moral fabric" of society. The "scientific research" conducted by supporters has (not surprisingly) fallen short of the mark, and it has been rejected for inclusion in mainstream scientific publications. Yet the supporters persist, though much of their rhetoric is aimed at merely tearing down scientific ideas rather than presenting anything substantial as an alternative. And many scientists have made the mistake of just turning their backs on intelligent design and its supporters.

The idea of avoiding giving any credibility to a "bad idea" by refusing to engage or debate it is a good one. But not in this case. When the zealots supporting intelligent design are attempting to tear down good science with bad criticism, science is obliged to defend itself by the sternest means. Science should not stand quietly by and be villainized for "denying God" or any other such nonsense. Science is not in the business of attempting to prove that God does not exist; science is not the enemy of religion. But if religion wants to fight science on scientific grounds, it will have to do a lot better than what the Discovery Institute is doing with its intelligent design. A whole lot better. Only science can disprove science. Nonscience or pseudoscience cannot.

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November 16, 2015 8:07PM

Intelligent design is the view which holds that the complexity of living things points to the Creator, not to chance mutations. See also:

Is there evidence against Evolution

Can you show that God exists

God's wisdom seen in His creations

More about God's wisdom