Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why Intelligent Design Hates the term Creationism

I have often said the power to define is the power to rule the argument. You give me the ability to mandate what words mean, and I will define the words to cause my position to win. Amongst librarians (I am told) the argument rages as to whether a Dictionary should be a description of what common usage of a word is, or a law as to what a word must mean. Does it follow society or force society?

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.
3. “Creationism Intelligent Design is X.

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?


  1. Great post, Dagoods, and you are correct! Creationism and Intelligent Design are the same thing. Now we can confidently say that Evolution and Atheism, according to Dawkins, is one and the same also. Regards.

  2. You may have heard the one about how the Creationists texts that had been corrected to reflect "Intelligent Design" had a few mistypes that read something like "creaIntelligent designtionism", which kind of exposes the editors as simply replacing one word with another, and in a few cases failing to do so cleanly.

    On the Frontline episode about this issue I think they called "creaIntelligent designtionism" the "missing link" from Creationism to Intelligent Design.

  3. Here's the thing, Jim:

    One can accept the theory of evolution and believe in God and vice versa (want proof? Right here!).

    One can be an atheist (i.e., not believe in a god) and accept the theory of evolution and vice versa. Plenty of examples round here.

    One cannot be an atheist and accept a "theory" that a supernatural intelligent designer god created the universe. Similarly, one cannot believe a supernatural intelligent designer god created the universe and be an atheist.

    See the difference?

    Yes, unless you have the bizarre idea that Richard Dawkins is the dictator of all people who accept evolutionary theory.

    If so, then I'll raise you an Eric Rudolph speaking for all pro-lifers. All pro-lifers are ergo terrorists because this one outspoken terrorist is a pro-lifer.

    I don't believe it, but then I'm one of those crazy Christians who have no problem with evolution.

  4. You know I had to speak up here, right? :)

    If you are going to be imprecise in your definitions, I suppose it's okay. As an example, "manufacturing" is defined as the use of tools and labor to make things for use or sale. Therefore, a person who owns a lettuce farm is a "lettuce manufacturer" ... right? Well, not quite. We'd likely see a distinction between a farmer and a manufacturer. One uses the natural processes of growing things and the other puts them together ... unnaturally. I'm speaking in shorthand here, but I think you get the idea. There may be similarities and even links, but they are not the same.

    The other problem is the connotation. We use to have a phrase, "Call a spade a spade." The term "spade" referred to a specific type of digging instrument, a kind of shovel. However, when "spade" became a slang term used as an unkind reference to a particular ethnicity, the entire meaning shifted and polite company could no longer refer to that kind of digging instrument ... because of the connotation of the term. Consider the word "epithet." The dictionary says that the term simply means "any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality." Harmless enough. But that's not how we use the term. Instead, we use it as "a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc." We should be careful, then, how we use the term "epithet."

    So, when you refer to "creationist," you mean it as a sort of epithet. You use it with derision. "Oh, you ID folks, you're just creationists in disguise." And the general sense is "anyone who believes in Creation is either ignorant of the facts or stupid." You may or may not have said those very words, but I've seen it enough to know the general sense of it.

    Creationism is indeed Intelligent Design. However, it is possible for someone to believe in Intelligent Design without 1) ending up with Creationism or 2) ending up with Christianity. The latter should be obvious since most religions believe in Creation, but the former appears to be less clear. If you have, for instance, a Theistic Evolutionist, you've got the difference between a manufacturer (Creationist) and a farmer (Intelligent Design without Creation). A Theistic Evolutionist will hold that an entity outside of the natural realm (we call that supernatural) played a part in guiding or directing the natural processes that occurred to produce what we see now as Evolution. Now, Darwinian Evolution specifically rules that out, so you ("you" referring to "Darwinian Evolutionists") would be at odds with the Theistic Evolutionists, but only in the term "theistic." This kind of Evolutionists simply sees guidance rather than Creation, and there is a difference. Note also that there are those who argue that DNA was "planted" here and that is the explanation for life on this planet. Again, that is Intelligent Design (where DNA is the intelligence) without God. It is possible to have ID without God.

    I am obviously one who would classify myself as believing in Intelligent Design. And I wouldn't flinch from saying I believe in a Creator as well. No problem there. In fact, I'm not a big advocate of Intelligent Design because it serves no purpose to my belief system. It doesn't get you to God. It doesn't get you to Christianity. It doesn't get you anywhere except to admit the possibility that there might be something outside of what we can measure. Big deal. There is no distinction between Creationism and ID (because to believe in Creation is necessarily to believe in Intelligent Design), but I still see a possible distinction between ID and Creationism.

  5. Jon: The actual mistake was "cdesign proponentsists".

    Stan: And the general sense is "anyone who believes in Creation is either ignorant of the facts or stupid.

    Or lying.

    [Intelligent Design] doesn't get you anywhere except to admit the possibility that there might be something outside of what we can measure.

    No. Intelligent Design is uniformly presented by leading cdesign proponentsists as a scientific theory. If ID were to refer to something outside what we can measure, it would no longer qualify as a scientific theory; it would, in the jargon, be not even wrong in a scientific sense.

    And admitting to any possibility is trivial. I admit that everything not logically contradictory is possible by definition. So what? Even logical contradictions might be possible in some difficult-to-imagine sense; logic is just a language game that seems to map well to how the world works, at least at the classical level.

  6. Flycandler,

    You are the interesting “gray market” in this debate. There are many theists who are also persuaded by the proofs for evolution. Curiously, to Intelligent Designers—it’s like you don’t exist. A problem step-child locked in the attic who will hopefully keep quiet until needed.

    While I hear IDers say they are only talking about design—their focus has been on the mechanism. Evolution. You are welcome to join the ID crowd—just shut up about your holding to evolution.

  7. Stan,

    Our conversation was the impetus for this blog entry; of course you are welcome to join in.

    I am sorry if there is an undercurrent of unfriendliness in our discussion, but you are astute enough to ascertain I do not care for the creationist argument. Primarily (as pointed out by The Barefoot Bum) because it involves so much lying. I will attempt to keep this as amicable as possible, but if I occasionally let slip frustration due to the dishonesty, I hope you understand it is not directed at you in any way. More at the Hams and Johnsons and Morris’.

    If you think there is some bad connotation or derision with the term “creationist” you might want to take it up with the Intelligent Designers. See, the scientific community has, for some time, considered creationism pseudoscience—not science. Worthy of derision. And has treated it with derision and contempt. This is quite old news. Prior to Edwards, such treatment was considered a badge of honor for the creationists. “Persecution” proves the creationist must be on to something, right?

    And then Intelligent Design comes along. It sidles up to science and says, “Hey—we’re with you! We aren’t creationism; we are intelligent design. We aren’t creationism; we are science. We aren’t creationism; we are something different, better and worthy of consideration.” The death-knell for creationism was when fellow Christians decided to equally treat it with derision and contempt!

    You, Stan, are at least honest enough to say you are not a big advocate of Intelligent Design, partly because of its divesting itself of any god. But this is also why “creationism” has become even more isolated and disdained: Because ex-creationists now call themselves “Intelligent Design” and in order to get in bed with the enemy (those holding to evolution), and create what they think is a mutual enemy in the term “creationism.” “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” sort of idea.

    I still use the term, because I see no difference between creationism and intelligent design. Normally, in order to better communicate with people of differing position, I concede to use their terms. (For example, I will use “Pro-life” or “Pro-Choice” whereas I prefer “anti-abortion” and “pro-abortion.”) The reason I still use the term “creationist” is that I hope beyond hope the person will look up and see there really IS no difference.

    Let’s talk about the definitional differences between “Intelligent Design” and “creation science.” If you will allow me, I will put it in the form of aVenn Diagram. (Remember those circles in math class? A big circle titled “Animal” with a smaller circle within titled “Dog” to show “All dogs are animals, but not all animals are dogs.”?) I understand the concept being promulgated that “Intelligent Design” is the big circle, and entirely within this big circle is a smaller circle titled “Creation science.” Meaning all creation science is Intelligent Design, but not all Intelligent Design is creation science. There is an area within the big circle of Intelligent Design, but outside the small circle of creation science which makes up the difference.

    Everyone with me so far?

    But simply drawing circles and making declarations is not enough. We have to define these circles. And in defining the small circle, we see the creationists themselves define it as “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency…[and so on]” O.K. And how do Intelligent Designers define ID? Uh-oh, the same way! “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency…[and so on.]” If the definitions are the exact same—the circles must be the exact same, too.

    If I define dogs as “four-legged creatures who bark” and then define animals as “four-legged creatures who bark”—there IS NO smaller circle “dogs” within a larger circle “animals”—they are two circles exactly on top of each other!

    While you talk about imprecise definitions, Stan—I used the very definitions given by the creationists and intelligent designer. Their definitions. What they say. And the simple point left unaddressed was that they are the same. Are you stating those definitions (given by the proponents of the claims) are incorrect? Why? What IS the correct definition of “creation science”? or “Intelligent design”?

    Worse, both groups use the same terms, the same bad quotes, the same professors, and the same arguments.

    I will go one step further, though. Dissect what is in that area of the large circle of “Intelligent Design,” but NOT in the small circle of “creation science.” The only items proposed are aliens or time travel. I will leave time travel, since that is so rarely talked about and makes problems of its own.

    Are they kidding me? Seriously? Aliens?!

    Intelligent Designer: Look—you scientists didn’t take us seriously when we said ‘God did it.’ Well, now we have a new proposal—‘Either God did it or aliens did it.’ See how much more serious and scientific we are? See how we added ‘aliens’ so it is no longer just creation science? NOW we should be respected in the scientific community. ‘Cause we believe in aliens.


    Now, I haven’t seen the movie “Expelled.” You have, so you are better informed on this than I. My understanding, from reading Dawkins, is that part of his interview was edited to make it appear as if he believed aliens planted life on this planet.

    Whether that is true or not, I have a question for you: Did Stein mock Dawkins for this claim of aliens? If so--WHY?

    The claim of aliens is (apparently) the ONLY thing differentiating Intelligent Design from creation science. It is the ONLY thing “legitimizing” it so the proponents can claim it belongs in the science community. And they are mocking it? Talk about ironic humor!

    I defy anyone to find an article, blog, posting, or writing in which a person who holds to Intelligent Design questions Stein’s mocking the alien claim as being self-refuting, since Intelligent Design claims it is aliens which separate it from creation science. One article.

    Does anyone know of a single Intelligent Designer who does NOT believe a god is the creator, but that it was aliens? I don’t. A single Intelligent Designer who is in that large area outside of “creation science”?

    One of the single biggest confusions in this debate is between abiogenesis and evolution. If I proposed aliens as a resolution for natural abiogenesis, would I be taken seriously?

    Intelligent Designer: How did life form? How did abiogenesis occur?
    Me: Aliens planted it.

    Now, is the next statement from the IDer going to be?:

    IDer: Hmmm… Good point. WE believe aliens could have done it.


    IDer: Aliens? Seriously? Bwahahahahaha…

    Never try to sell what you wouldn’t buy. If you don’t think aliens is a good answer for questions concerning life, neither should I. Yet that is EXACTLY what Intelligent Design is trying to pawn off on us to show how they are legitimate science.

    I like the Dover opinion. I think it should be required reading for every person engaged in this debate. A demonstration of how a non-partial determinate views the claims being made. What the IDers discovered is that it is one thing to sell books to millions of people who already believe. To make claims of a difference of definitions to those who want there to be a difference in definition. To preach to the choir.

    It is a different kettle of fish to attempt to sell the same arguments to someone who is NOT partial either for or against you. “Aliens” was a non-starter. The entire opinion could probably be summed up in four words, “We are not stupid.”

    Jon Stewart made a humorous statement demonstrating Intelligent Design’s attempt to extract itself from creationism: “Put simply, Intelligent Design says life on earth is too complex to have evolved without some kind of guiding hand. They are not saying it’s God, just someone with the basic skill-set to create an entire working universe.”

    Again, if I come across too harsh, or unfriendly, I do not mean to direct it at you, Stan.

  8. I'm willing to remove ID from the science table. It cannot be tested, confirmed, or falsified. Are you willing to remove Darwinian Evolution from the science table? No, maybe not all of it, but the part that makes theological claims? If "falsifiable" is the test for "science" and Darwinian Evolution includes the claim that it occurs by random events through undirected accidents, exactly how are you going to falsify that? It would seem to me that fair is fair and these would need to be dropped from the definition of Evolution.

    Let me know when that happens. ;)

  9. Dagoods, I posted three reports on Guillermo Gonzalez's record here. They are neutral, con, and pro in that order. The harshest thing that Pharyngula could say is that he didn't "understand" the tenure process and that "academia was hard to break into". His record shows him to be a veritable workhorse in expanding our knowledge of astronomy, particularly other solar systems.

    So he goes off and co-authors a book on why he believes the placement of earth in the cosmos is the perfectly designed home for life to flourish. Thus he's denied tenure because, as Hector Avalos puts it, "ISU doesn't want to be known as an 'intelligent design' school'"

    Now if you feel that Iowa State barred him unfairly for his philosophy you are on the side of Ben Stein.

    On Flycandler, you said he was a "gray market" - a Christian who believes in Evolution. However, one can believe in the science of Evolution while rejecting its theology i.e. we are seeing God's way of bringing forth life. But if Fly adheres to the idea that it CANNOT be guided by God nor could it have originated from a God then he is holding two mutually exclusive points of view. Thus you can see why other Christians might dismiss it complements of the law of non-contradiction. So "some Christians are fine with Evolution" doesn't hold water. As you would normally be the first to admit, some Christians are indeed confused. Cheers.

  10. Stan, are we changing the subject? I was actually interested in how you would deal with the aliens thing, and the same definitions, and Stein mocking Dawkins for aliens. Ah well… (Why is this tactic so common? When we ask about the premises of Intelligent Design, the response is how evolution is wrong…)

    Its not so much I want Intelligent Design off the table, it is that I want an answer to a very simple and basic question: “What test do we use to differentiate a designed object as compared to a non-designed object?” Funny how many times I ask that (and I would think it should immediately pop out of any Intelligent Design theorist mouth, since it is the crux of their belief) and cannot get an answer.

    I did read your blog entry Asking Questions. I was going to post a comment, but thought it probably better to not. I really have no idea where you are getting your definition of “Darwinian Evolution.” Odd it is “the Evolution of the day” (your words) yet there are only two places on the internet which use this particular definition! Your linked site (a medical dictionary?) and your blog entry. That’s it. (For comparison, a google of “definition evolution” brings up 3.1 Million hits!

    If you want a Definition there are a few different ones. That second link gives some of the evolution of the definition of evolution! While they do use the term “undirected” and “accident” you might look at these articles on Random Genetic Drift and ”Evolution by Accident”

    For all of me, go ahead and drop “random events” and “undirected accidents” from the definition of evolution. *shrug* As near as I can tell, these two terms were only in the definition you use. Not the one scientists use.

  11. Jim Jordan,

    Can you show me where evolution and atheism are defined by its proponents using the exact same words?

    I will answer your job question in a blog entry later.

    Do you believe your God-concept instituted certain processes to occur without his every intervention? Like photosynthesis, or plate tectonics, or rotation of planets? That your god could put into place certain items and objects which would interact with each other as designed, i.e. form molecules upon contact, or slow electron movement upon temperature drop?

    Or does your God-concept have to actively push ever single electron in every single atom in every single molecule in every single object on every single planet, moon, star, asteroid, etc. in every single planetary system in every single galaxy in the entire universe?

    Not to mention moving time (somehow) and light and energy.

    I’m not asking if your God could intervene to change a process, but if that God could create a process which would flow naturally (for lack of a better word) on its own?

    If so—why couldn’t such a God create a process like evolution? I am not seeing the mutual exclusion between Christianity and evolution.

  12. Or alternatively, they tell you that you do not actually believe what you actually believe in (see the post "The Wrong Sort").

    To speak to my own religious persuasion, whether one believes in Christianity has little or nothing to do with whether one thinks that God had to consciously design every single chemical reaction prior to creating the universe. What makes a Christian is a belief in Christ (hence the name, duh).

    Yet, for some, Christianity has been moved away from faith to a series of political litmus tests. The conversations go like this:

    A: "I believe that Jesus Christ was the physical manifestation of God and lived among humans."
    B: "But you don't angrily object to any mention of Charles Darwin! YOU'RE NOT REALLY A CHRISTIAN!"

    A: "Wait.. I believe that Jesus died on the cross but overcame death and is still with us spiritually."
    B: "But you don't think that OB/GYNs who perform abortions should get the death penalty! YOU'RE NOT REALLY A CHRISTIAN!"

    A: "Now hold on, I believe in a triune God--three distinct persons that are inextricably linked--Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
    B: "But you don't think that all Jews and Muslims are hellbound and must be converted! YOU'RE NOT REALLY A CHRISTIAN!"

    Meh. I'm used to it. I grew up Presbyterian in the South, hearing about why I was not really a Christian because my parents had me baptized as an infant and I made no public declaration of a Personal Decision To Accept Jesus Christ As My Personal Lord, Savior and Trainer.

    And yes, the "gray market" is much larger than a lot of people realize. In addition to the mainline Protestants, it includes, well, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ISLAM.

  13. Dagoods, how can one make the obvious more obvious? If Fly subscribes to the idea that there is no design, then he does not believe in a designer. I can attest to the fact that he is vehemently opposed to ID [we've fought over it on other blogs and here, too, I think], yet he believes in God. Those are mutually exclusive concepts.

    Dagoods wrote---If so—why couldn’t such a God create a process like evolution? I am not seeing the mutual exclusion between Christianity and evolution.

    1) He sure could create the process of life. 2) Theistic evolution and Christianity are at odds but Darwinian evolution is. I already said that [spelled it out in my 12:17 pm post].

    But of course what is theistic evolution but Intelligent Design? It's all semantics. It's all the same evidence and there are two schools of thought. Why would one school seek to attack the other?

    Dagoods---Do you believe your God-concept instituted certain processes to occur without his every intervention?

    Not sure where this idea came from. No. Although He would have to be aware of all things, God is not a Manic depressive Manipulator. He is a Designer.

    In the end, and I hope you point this out in your blog entry, Gonzalez was opposed by his peers not based on his work but his philosophy.

    Fly wrote--And yes, the "gray market" is much larger than a lot of people realize.

    You can say that again ;-! Unfortunately, we're not talking majority rule here but logic.

  14. Changing the subject? I don't think so. You don't think that Intelligent Design can be considered Science. I'm willing to give you that point. Why you think I need to offer a test for falsification is beyond me because I'm not arguing that the nation's Biology Professors should teach ID. Why I would want to oppose someone who suggests "Maybe it was aliens" or defend someone who laughs at it is beyond me. Those two can have their own discussion. I was simply protesting that Intelligent Design requires Creationism.

    And, seriously, when someone makes the nonsensical claim that "Evolution results in Atheism", are you going to have to defend against that? You just point out, "That's stupid." Then why should I have to defend against stupid things people say from "my side"? They're stupid things.

    So, when I refer to ID, I refer to "the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence." It's similar, in fact, the Evolution. The fact that Evolution cannot answer how we got from inorganic to organic doesn't negate Evolution. That's not the point. Neither is it the point of ID to locate the "I" behind the "D".

    (Oh, by the way, on Dawkins and aliens, what he said was something to the effect that it was possible that aliens planted life here. He made no claim to believe it himself. He did emphasize without any possible exception that that life evolved without God. And, as I recall, the "ridicule" received for suggesting such a possibility was a "knowing look" from Stein to the camera.)

  15. If Fly subscribes to the idea that there is no design, then he does not believe in a designer.

    At first, I thought Jim was engaging in that exact same old chestnut, but then I realized that we're not talking about the same thing.

    Who ever said God is a designer? No, I don't think that God sat down and worked out all the math, because (for among many other reasons) GOD DOESN'T HAVE TO. I would imagine one of the benefits of being omnipotent is not having to do the tedious bits.

    There's an assumption of design (which always somehow comes back to looking at that same animation and saying "I don't understand this, therefore it must be divine in origin!"), which necessarily requires a designer, who gets relabelled "God". Human beings design complex mechanisms; therefore all complex things have some sort of designer who thinks like we do. This is that same Scottish Common Sense crap that I was talking about in the post on postmodernism. For people who complain about relativism, they are sure bound and determined to get God to fit in that human-shaped box.

    Genesis' verbal construction in the first creation narrative is the command to "be". God is not described as personally putting things together. Things are told "be" and lo and behold, there they are.

    And no, Jim, I'm not talking about majority rule. That's one of your favorite arguments for why Christianity is so much "better" than Judaism. I'm pointing out that the "gray market" is not nearly as small as evangelicals and fundamentalists would like it to seem.

  16. Stan, you're making no sense.

    Intelligent design can be differentiated from other explanations for life on Earth by the simple fact that it claims a supernatural intelligent designer that created said life.

    Yeah, it's creationism. Even if it leaves the identity of the creator anonymous to make it more politically palatable, it is still relying on some sort of supernatural creator god. I could even build an argument (see above) that this intelligent designer god is not the God described in Genesis. Is Intelligent Design now some sort of idolatry?

  17. Psst, Flycandler, call 911.... Hit 2 for English and then 9....

    Actually, I don't know where to begin to reply to that view so I'll rest my case.

  18. Fly,

    If someone (say a Dawkins-type -- not a religious type) claimed to believe that aliens from another galaxy came to Earth and set up the mechanisms (such as DNA, organic life, that kind of stuff) that would naturally progress to the existence we see now, couldn't it be termed "Intelligent Design"? (At least, that's what Dawkins suggested it could be termed.)

    How about this? Creationism definitely falls within the realm of Intelligent Design. No doubt. In fact, it's likely that the vast majority of Intelligent Design falls under the area of "creationism" in general. The problem I'm having is in the requirement that all use of the term "Intelligent Design" mandates Creationism. Theistic Evolution, for instance, doesn't look at all like "Creationism". It looks like guided Evolution. It is highly probable that Intelligent Design is Creationism, but not necessarily. (There is, for instance, a fundamental difference between a Maker and a Guider just as there is a fundamental difference between a Manufacturer and a Farmer.)

  19. Here, try this.

    From Wikipedia: "The term creationism is generally used to describe the belief that creation occurred literally as described in the Book of Genesis (for both Jews and Christians) or the Qur'an (for Muslims). The terms creationism and creationist have become particularly associated with beliefs about the time frame of creation, conflicting with scientific understanding of natural history, particularly evolution." It's a funny thing. Almost any dictionary I go to defines "creationism" as the literal belief in the biblical story of creation.

    Okay, so let's be more broad in our approach. What is the root? "Create," of course. To create is first and foremost "to cause to come into being; to cause to be; to bring into existence." So what if someone has a particular set of beliefs that hold that a supernatural being took what was in existence and shaped it, pushed it, prodded it? This being didn't "cause to come into being" or "bring into existence", but simply guided the process, you know, like Evolutionary Biologists do today when trying to demonstrate speciation. (That's not a complaint.) They interbreed plants or animals until they produce one that cannot interbreed with the originals. It's a new species! They created a new species! Oh, wait, I guess that's not Evolution. No, that is Evolution with a guide. It isn't "creationism", the literal belief in the biblical story of creation. But it is Intelligent Design.

  20. But before we go to wikipedia (which doesn’t help you, by the way) or Webster’s or Bob’s dictionary, I would like to know how you all respond to the problem within Of Pandas and People.

    Look, if I want the definition of paleontology—I go to the source. See what paleontologists define it as. If I want the definition of law—see how lawyers define. Evolution—what scientists say. And if I want the definition of Intelligent Design, especially in relation to creationism, I go to what the Intelligent Designers say.

    And what we see is the Intelligent designers used the exact same definition as creationism. Literally crossing off the word “creationism” and inserting the word “Intelligent Design.” Literally removing cognates of “creation” and inserting “Intelligent design.” Almost 150 times! The Intelligent Design folks say the definition of Intelligent design is the exact same as creationism.

    I didn’t pull some random definition from one (1) person holding to intelligent design. I didn’t compare one (1) definition with what some blogger said. I looked at precisely the Intelligent Design community did. (Remember, actions speak louder than words.) And they utilized the exact same definition.

    Now, before we move this debate elsewhere, and start looking up dictionaries, and ignore this fatal admission—how do we address the actions of Intelligent Designers who modified Of Pandas to reflect Intelligent Design uses the same definition as creationism?

    How do you explain this one away?

    Or is this so “stupid” it is not worthy of a response? Then call me stupid and show my stupidity, I say!

  21. Just to be clear, my reference to "stupid" was that it would be stupid of me to try to defend something I didn't believe just as it would be stupid of you to try to defend against other people's stupid statements. It was the defense that was stupid, not the defender. I didn't mean to imply in the least that you are stupid. Never crossed my mind.

    I suppose I'll just let you have your way here. You won't admit that "creationism" carries a sense that links directly to Christianity and, consequently, to "foolish" in your vernacular. I won't admit that "Intelligent Design" is absolutely "Creationism" at all.

    What I find here is what I seem to find in far too many places -- I'm asked to defend other people's views. I'm asked to defend other people's definitions. I am, for instance, one of those "evil Calvinists" so talked about these days that seems, somehow, to disagree horribly with so much of what is touted as "Calvinism". So I'm told I need to explain why they believe what they believe instead of defending what I believe. As a Christian I'm asked to explain why someone centuries ago did something rotten in the name of Christianity and how I could defend that. I can't. It was rotten. Why would I? And I'm required to defend something I don't believe instead of what I believe.

    It's the same thing here. I tried to go to neutral ground to find mutually agreeable definitions of terms because "the rabble" will come up with all sorts of stuff. It's apparently not going to happen and if I cannot explain how ID can be tested in the lab (which I don't think it can) or why someone tinkered with Of Pandas and People (which I don't have a clue and cannot imagine trying to explain or defend), my understanding of ID and the difference between ID and Creationism is not only wrong, it's likely a lie. I'm covering up at best. Okay. I get it. The real truth is that I've reached out to Wikipedia and all those other dictionaries, changed their definitions, and made my point because I'm afraid of the lawyers.

    Sorry. This doesn't seem like a reasonable discussion. I'll back off.

  22. Stan,

    Oh, I wasn’t worried about being called stupid. Didn’t think you had (or would.) Just saying I was begging for an answer of any sort.

    And this is simplicity itself. If you don’t know, then say you don’t know why Intelligent Designers would use the same definition as creationism in Of Pandas. Not all that hard.

    But I will ask you to do something which might be hard. Can you understand why, when we such a change, and see it covered up and see it denied, but then it comes out to the light of day…can you understand why we think “creationism” is, in all reality, defined the same as “intelligent design?” That this is mere subterfuge, born out of Edwards?

    Can you understand why we might think that?

    Further, can you understand why, when someone like you comes along and says, “ Oh, I don’t think intelligent design and creationism is the same” we might question, along the same lines, as to whether this is more of the same? Why we might ask what the difference is and use Of Pandas as an example where a similar claim was debunked?

    You did say something puzzling:

    Stan: You won't admit that "creationism" carries a sense that links directly to Christianity and, consequently, to "foolish" in your vernacular.

    I do not think Christianity is foolish. I do not think ALL Christianity is foolish. Too broad of a statement. I certainly think some things within Christianity are foolish. (At communion eating unleavened bread to “conform” to what Jesus ate, but not synonymously drinking wine comes to mind…) And, to be fair, I think some things in Christianity are deceitful.

    Is this why you don’t like to say creationism is the same as Intelligent Design? Because you fear it will appear foolish for being linked to Christianity? I can assure you, Intelligent Design manages to appear quite foolish on its own without any need of linkage to Christianity OR creationism! (Read Behe’s testimony in the Dover Trial. Not a stellar moment for ID. ‘Course the other star experts refusing to appear is not stellar either.)

    [P.S. Former Calvinist myself.]

    O.K. Now that Of Pandas is cleared up, let’s look at those other dictionaries:

    Wikipedia Creationism is a religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created in their original form by a deity (often the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) or deities, whose existence is presupposed….Since then, renewed efforts to introduce teaching creationism in American public schools in the form of flood geology, creation science, and intelligent design have been consistently held to contravene the constitutional separation of Church and State by a succession of legal judgements. [sic] [emphasis added]

    If we are to use Wikipedia, parts of this open-user base say intelligent design is a “form of” creationism.

    Standford Dictionary of Philosophy At a broad level, a Creationist is someone who believes in a god who is absolute creator of heaven and earth, out of nothing, by an act of free will….Let us now try to tackle the somewhat complex issue of the relationship between Intelligent Design Theory and traditional Creationism, as discussed earlier in this essay. In significant respects, they are clearly not the same. Most Intelligent Design Theorists believe in a long earth history (even the scientific estimation of a universe of about 15 billion years in age) and most accept overall common descent. In a recent book, The Edge of Evolution , Michael Behe has made this point very clear indeed. However, there are major overlaps, sufficient to encourage some critics (myself included) to refer to Intelligent Design Theory as "Creationism-lite."

    Is “Creationism-lite” better than “creationism?”

    Free Online DictionaryBelief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible.

    Point for you.

    About.com Creationism is the religious doctrine, opposed to naturalistic evolution, that life on this planet was created by a special, unique act of God.

    No literalism to the Bible or Christianity here

    Encarta the belief that God created the universe

    Point for me, until you produce those alien-believing Intelligent designers!

    I am not seeing a consistency that “creationsim” is always linked to a literal interpretation of Genesis. Some dictionaries say it does, some say it does not. Thought I would pop over to the Center for Science & Culture of the Discovery Institute and see what it has to say:

    To the question, “4. Is intelligent design theory the same as creationism?”

    The answer: “No. Intelligent design theory is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the "apparent design" in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. 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.” here

    While I know you would say the “intelligent cause” within that sentence is not necessarily a god—I go back to the same question. Is there really any Intelligent Designer who is claiming no god is in the back of this thing?

    Can you understand why the judge, in Dover looked at the Intelligent Designers and said, “Seriously? You expect us to buy you are not talking about a god?”

    And frankly, I am surprised all the OEC’s are not up in arms over being told they no longer believe in a Creator, since they don’t believe in creationism. I would think most (if not all) Roman Catholics would be shocked to discover, according to the Discovery Institute, they no longer believed in a Creator or creationism.

    How is it the Discovery Institute got to be the one to define “creationism,” I wonder?

  23. PLEASE don't drag poor ol' John Calvin into this mess!

    I've actually been making a Calvinist argument against "intelligent design". "ID" presupposes a God who is not omnipotent and not sovereign and has to design things and make plans the way humans do.

    I find it fascinating that "ID", which is pretty transparently a means by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians of getting creationism to pass legal scrutiny, has so distorted God by making God into a bland, unoffensive dude in a white lab coat with a pocket protector, that God has been replaced with an "intelligent designer god".