150 years ago the word “fly” meant either an irritating insect or an action a bird does. After the invention of the airplane, it became description of travel, as in “Are you flying to New York?” More recently the word culturally modified to mean cool: “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.”
Need I say how the words “gay,” “cool,” “hip,” and “dime” have gained new meaning?
And within the past 20 years, we are being told the word “creationism” has taken on a new meaning. But who is it that is telling us the definition has changed? Those who want to distant themselves from the word—Intelligent Designers! The why I will explore in a minute.
What is “creationism”? It is the process of “creating” something. To cause something to come into existence. We use it generally of human abilities (“create a new advertising slogan”), but within the theistic debate, it is limited to creating something from something. Or making something different.
Simply put, “creation” needs a “Creator.” It was what a creator does—creates. And the process by which the creator creates is called creationism. We think of it in terms of supernaturalistic creation, albeit it could be used in the vernacular for natural items appearing.
So what’s the big deal for a theist to say they believe in a Creator? Is there a single person who believes in a god, but that god did NOT create anything and believes this universe came about naturally? Why do theists shy away from the word “creationism” when they obviously embrace a creator?
I’ll tell you why—because of us. No, no! Not the “us” of the skeptics. Nor the “us” of those who are persuaded by evolution. Not the “us” of the scientific community.
The “us” as in lawyers. He he he—they are scared of the sharks of the courtroom.
Prior to 1968, laws were enforced in the southern American states, prohibiting the teaching of evolution. In Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), the Supreme Court struck down Arkansas’s statutory prohibition against teaching evolution. In order to preserve creationism, new laws were enacted to force “balanced treatment” by mandating creation science be given equal time to teaching evolution.
In the landmark case of Edwards v. Arkansas, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) the United States Supreme court held the requirement of teaching “creation science” along with evolution violated the Establishment clause. In essence, the teaching of “creation science” became dead in public schools. Can’t do it.
Now many times we hear the claim the post-Edwards society was the birth of Intelligent Design. While that may be true for many of the current proponents of Intelligent Design the argument from design has been with us for a long, long time. It is the teleological argument. Think of Paley’s watch. (1802)
What WAS born, post-Edward was a new term, “Intelligent Design” for the same thing—creationism or creation science. Once Edwards came down, it was clear anything labeled “Creationism” would be barred from the classroom. Therefore, creationists became intent on abandoning such a label.
We are very familiar with this tactic within the legal community. I’ll give you a big fat “for-instance.” For many years we did what we called “a plea under advisement.” Basically a defendant would plead guilty and if they were good for a period of time (while the judge considered the plea “under advisement”) the case would be dismissed. If the defendant was charge with another crime, the judge then “accepted the plea” and found the person guilty. The Michigan courts pointed out how there was no such thing as a “plea under advisement” under our statutes, and banned the practice.
No problem. Because we do have a thing called a “delayed sentence.” Instead of a “plea under advisement”--now the defendant pleads guilty, the judge “delays” sentence for a period of time, and if no new charges appear on their record, the prosecutor moves for a dismissal of the action.
Do you see the difference? You don’t? That’s because there isn’t any! We have performed the same pragmatic action only it isn’t “plea under advisement” (because that is banned)—it is a “delayed sentence” (because that is not banned.)
This is exactly what is happening here. “Intelligent Design” is the exact same thing as creation science. Only because “creation science” is banned from the schools, the creationist must no longer call it “creation science” and came up with a new phrase—“Intelligent design.”
The change was effectuated very efficiently: re-define “creationism” and then isolate it from our new term. All of a sudden “Creationism” is defined solely as a literalist young-earth creationist. (Often we see the added “Noahic flood” as well, further enforcing the literalism.) “Intelligent Design” means…well…something different. But certainly not “Creationism”! Because then they would be barred from teaching it from schools, according to Edwards.
However, as good as lawyers are at re-defining terms and finding loopholes in new definitions, we are equally adapt at seeing the obvious. We know when we do it. And we know when it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, and smells like a duck—calling it a dog does not make it anything but a duck.
When even the people trying to re-define the words, use the same meaning for the new term—it means the same thing. One of the fascinating evidences which came out in the Dover trial was the evolution of the creationist textbook “Of Pandas and People.”
In this textbook’s initial drafts, “creation” was defined as “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc,” Then Edwards was decided. “Creationism” was barred from the classroom. The textbook was modified, and a new term was introduced—“Intelligent Design.” Defined as: “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc,” No difference!
Approximately 150 times, cognates of the word “creationism” were replaced with the term “Intelligent Design” in the textbook after the decision of Edwards.
How stupid do they think we are? Honestly? Let me repeat this order:
1. “Creationism is X.
2. Edwards says you cannot teach Creationism.
And now they want to tell me “creationism” is not the same as “Intelligent Design”? The Dover decision displays it very nicely as to why we are just not that ignorant:
The concept of intelligent design (hereinafter “ID”), in its current form, came into existence after the Edwards case was decided in 1987. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child.
It is notable that not one defense expert was able to explain how the supernatural action suggested by ID could be anything other than an inherently religious proposition. Accordingly, we find that ID’s religious nature would be further evident to our objective observer because it directly involves a supernatural designer.
Although contrary to Fuller, defense experts Professors Behe and Minnich testified that ID is not creationism, their testimony was primarily by way of bare assertion and it failed to directly rebut the creationist history of Pandas or other evidence presented by Plaintiffs showing the commonality between creationism and ID.
Or, to put it another way—for all the Intelligent Designers out there: Please describe the mechanism by which an intelligently designed object came into being without a Creator. It is inherent within the term itself: Intelligent Design requires an intelligent designer! They admit it themselves.
The only people being fooled into thinking there is a difference between “intelligent design” and “creationism” are the creationists themselves.
But what’s new about that method?