Talk:Intelligent design/Archive 1

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Amorphous Part 1

ID/IDT discussions seem always to speak of god as the putative intelligent designer. This is curious, since a plurality of intelligent designers fits what we know of the universe much better than a single designer. The only basis we have for judging evidence of design is by analogy with humanly designed things. The universe as well as various of its parts are very complex systems. Some characteristics of human design of complex systems: it's done by a design team, not an individual; different members of a design team have different abilities and areas of expertise; they disagree among themselves and make compromises; the designed systems require testing, preliminary models, beta versions, etc.; the resulting systems always have bugs in them and require regular tinkering, adjustments and improvements; design teams don't do their designing from scratch - they use some off-the-shelf components, and rely to varying degrees on data gathered by others. All this fits much better with the hypothesis that the universe (or life, or . . .) was designed by a group or many groups of finite, fallible designers working with pre-existing materials than it does with the hypothesis of single super-designer-creator.

In addition, some human design teams have good purposes and goals, others bad or sometimes evil ones. By analogy, given the presence of both good and evil in the world, one should extrapolate that the intelligences that designed the universe included both good guys and bad guys. FW

Sure, maybe God talked over his ideas with the angels or even let them try their own experiments. A heavenly design team. I'm open-minded on this detail. But as I reject dualism, I can't agree with your combination of good guys and bad guys (as creators). Ed Poor

Pretty sure this [? the ID/IDT distinction?] is wrong. ID surely believes the opposite. However, it might be true of Creationism in general, or some aspect of it.

However, the term 'intelligent design' has a broader usage than that given in the Intelligent Design Theory. It can refer simply to the belief that God designed the universe, without any specific claim as to how or when he did so. Many people consider this belief entirely compatible with standard Darwinian evolution, with no divine intervention -- life could be produced by a purely natural process, evolution, designed by God.
Hmmm, hold on, I'm confused! There are two articles in this encyclopedia--one on "Intelligent Design Theory", which is what you are referring to as ID, and "Intelligent Design", which is this article. They are meant to be separate articles so as to distinguish between ID and a general idea of some sort of intelligent design lying behind what happens in the universe. I think that the paragraph you removed belongs here in this article, unless you are arguing that these two articles need to be merged or otherwise you think that this article doesn't need to exist, in which case you should just delete the entire article.

ID specifically rejects standard Darwinian evolution, if I recall correctly. (Perhaps it's time for me to hit the books again, instead of shooting from the hip.)

As far as I know - the term "Intelligent design" covers a variety of beliefs that range from outright rejection of Darwinism, to complete acceptance of it. What all variations have in common is the notion that God created life, by virtue of creating the scientific processes which generated life. Creationism is distinct in that it says that God created life directly, and did not resort to scientific processes per se. One variation says that Darwinist "natural selection" is invalid, and that God directs the improvements of evolution specifically. Another says that evolution occurs completely as scientifically understood, but only because "God wills it that way". - MMGB

The article does not clearly distinguish between intelligent design and creationism. The terms look synonymous in some places, or perhaps their meaning is shifting.

Maybe we need a chart with categories such as:

  • believes God was involved in creation of the various species
  • believes in some sort of evolution
  • accepts the Darwinian theory of evolution completely
  • believes that God created/initiated life on earth

These would be overlapping categories, and the various terms could be defined in reference to them. --Ed Poor

However, the term "intelligent design" has a broader usage than that given in the Intelligent Design Theory. It can refer simply to the belief that God designed the universe, without any specific claim as to how or when he did so. Many people consider this belief entirely compatible with standard Darwinian evolution, with no divine intervention -- life could be produced by a purely natural process, evolution, designed by God. God might merely have written the laws of physics, or chosen the fundamental constants, and left the universe to run like clockwork afterwards. The belief that the laws of the universe were constructed to allow for the existence of intelligent life is known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

Above not about ID per se, but creationism in general. Ed Poor

If Intelligent Design "Theory" does indeed attribute design to "God", how does it define this property? The multitude of possible definitions and interpretations makes this statement irrelevant. If ID"T" does indeed use the term "God" without definition, then it should not be labeled a theory, even if it calls itself so. Otherwise, include the definition or a more appropriate term ("unknown creating entity"). I would suspect that such terms already exist, given that IDT likes to pretend that it is "scientific".

Ed: What ever happened to the division into one article on Intelligent Design, and one article on Intelligent Design Theory. The above is an entirely accurate statement which belongs in an article about intelligent design. "Intelligent design"; can refer simply to the belief that God designed some aspects of the universe; the "intelligent design" you talk about is a specific theory about how God did so (i.e. individually designing species, causing them to come into existence from earlier species). You are confusing a specific theory with a general bunch of theories. Some intelligent design theories are entirely compatible with Darwinism, e.g. that suggested by the argument for the existence of God based on the values of the cosmological constant. -- SJK

  1. I never liked the division into ID and IDT, what was it for?
  2. The general idea that God simply created the universe isn't called ID or IDT. Also, ID isn't about the universe, but only species of life.
  3. I think your last sentence is true if you substitute "creationist", as in "Some creationist theories are entirely compatible with Darwinism" if you include Deism as creationist.

Ed Poor

No, the general idea that God *created* the universe isn't called intelligent design -- but the idea that God *designed* the universe with some purpose in mind is. You are ignoring that there are multiple meanings to the term "intelligent design" -- it can refer both to the specific theory you are referring to (intelligent design of species), and the more general idea I mentioned.

An example of an intelligent design theory, is that God chose the cosmological constants so that intelligent life could exist. Another example is what you call "intelligent design theory", where God designs each species. Both of these are intelligent design theories, although yours is indeed often referred to as "Intelligent Design Theory" as if the other intelligent design theories didn't exist. Which is why we had two articles -- one to talk about theories involving intelligent design in general, and another to talk about the specific theory you refer to.

Also, deism is neither creationist nor non-creationist. Deism says God created the universe and then had nothing more to do with it. He could have created it in six days and then had nothing more to do with it. And he could have created it fifteen billion years ago in the Big Bang and then had nothing more to do with it. Deism also says that God doesn't cause miracles or answer prayers; and it is entirely possible to believe in miracles and the answering of prayers and still accept Darwinian evolution (so long as you don't claim the creation of life as one of the miracles.) -- SJK

SJK, as I said, the terms "God" and "theory" do not fit nicely into an encyclopedia article. Define God or replace it with a better term. Otherwise I think I'll change "theory" to "belief".

IDT is a "theory" in a general sense. In a general sense, theory and belief are synonyms. Now in a more specific sense, they are not synonyms; a theory implies other things as well (e.g. testability). IDT claims to be a theory in this sense also. So in any case, it is a theory, at least in the broad sense, and possibly even in the narrower sense as well. (I'd prefer to give them the benefit of a doubt, and call it a theory, if thats what they claim it is; then the article can point out why some people think it isn't really a theory, despite its title.)

Secondly, use of the word "God" in encyclopedia articles about religious and semi-religious topics is inevitable. Even if the word has no clear definition at all (which at times I myself have thought might be the case), we still have no choice but to use it. -- SJK

Amorphous Part 2

Sure, people may say "it's just a theory", but in an encyclopedia, when we use the term "theory", we should use it in the scientific sense to separate theory from fiction and beliefs. Otherwise, should I also write an entry about the "Superman / Lois Clark theory"?

So if IDT claims to be a theory in the scientific sense, which I presume, does it refer to "God" without defining it? Then it should be characterized as a "belief set which claims to be a scientific theory (see pseudoscience)". But I'll be nice and just change theory into belief until someone comes up with better data.

I vote for restoring the deleted paragraph. There is absolutely no reason to remove that text given the current division into two articles, one on "Intelligent Design" and the other on "Intelligent Design Theory". Otherwise, what is the point? Is this article supposed to be a clone of the other one? Or are we to have two similar articles on the same subject? If not, then we need to restore the deleted paragraph. -- Egern

Added theological objections to some forms of intelligent design theory. --Chenyu

Thanks to the person who made the recent edit, there seems to be some good content there. However, could you restrict your commentary to this tage page rather than putting it inline? --Robert Merkel

It is unclear why this was thought to distinguish ID from other forms of creationism

Regarding the above sentence, Intelligent Design is not actually a form of creationism. It is the scientific hypothesis that life shows evidence of having been designed. It does not speculate further than that.

It's like if you open your refrigerator and see a hunk of cheese with certain marks in it. You might say to yourself, "That looks just like somebody took a bite out of the cheese!"

It's a crucial distinction, because many advocates are trying to discredit (and thus dismiss) ID by branding it as Creationism. The legal ramifications, which should go in an evolution controversy article, are that teaching a religious idea in goverment-funded schools in a way that indoctrinates schoolchildren can be regarded as an violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In other words, the government can't make anyone believe in a particular religion.

Ed Poor, Friday, April 26, 2002

The reason people are labeling Intelligent Design as Creationism is that the ID supporters are pretty clear about their motivations when they're talking to each other (on the record; nobody is bugging their phones or claiming to read minds) or to Christian groups; they only trot out the "it's science, and doesn't necessarily mean god" line when they're talking to school boards. They intend ID as a "wedge" for getting Christian ideas into public schools.
And if it's intended as a scientific theory, what does it predict? And where are the scientific papers exploring it? Vicki Rosenzweig


Some other forms of creationism generally do accept natural selection but restrict its workings to within [never-defined] "kinds". As with the other two points, ID is studiedly noncommital about its positive claims.)

Because ID is not a form of creationism (or at least it claims not to be), and it is actually scientific creationism (creation science) which plays word games with the "kinds" quibble. ID is entirely straightforward.

In fact, I see a continuum of 4 POVs.

  • Evolution: entirely scientific, but arguably mistaken
  • ID: entirely scientific, but at best proto-science
  • Creation Science or Scientific Creationism: definitely pseudo-science
  • Creationism: purely a statement of religious faith, not a scientific claim

Ed Poor 07:14 Jul 23, 2002 (PDT)

Almost the entire article is a critique of ID from the evolutionist POV. Please include a bit more about ID itself. Also, please refrain from the "science vs. ID" verbiage. Just write what what leading scientists say about it: pseudoscienc, disproven or whatever. No need to call names... Ed Poor 15:35 Jul 24, 2002 (PDT)

Daniel Sabo 19:57:05 PDT, Aug 3, 2002
I rather strongly agree with that sentiment. Although I would contend "pseudo-scientific" and the over use of "claim" where "contend" or "believe" would be more neutral qualify as name calling.

A scientific critique of ID which includes phrases like "this has happened several times during the course of evolution" is surely begging the question. Is there a better way to word this? user:Paul - 8th August

Would a move towards brevity be welcome? I feel the page could do with being about 2/3 its current length, at most, and if the arguments were more succinctly stated (though obviously they're complex) we could let them speak for themselves rather than listing every possible objection and counter as we grapple towards a NPOV.

I'd be happy to do it and I know I should be bold when editing, but this is a rather contentious topic. What do you think? Mswake 10:39 Aug 5, 2002 (PDT)

Yes, please shorten this! I have seen some of your other rewrites, and I think you are rather good at summing up an issue. --Ed Poor

So, I just read an excellent Usenet [trashing] of an evolutionist's review of a book by a pro-ID writer named Behe. This review threw into relief two main ideas:

  1. There's a lot of sophistry and double-dealing going on.
  2. This article needs work.

Basically what it came down to was this: The evolutionist uses a lot of hand-waving arguments to dismiss Behe's criticism of modern evolutionary theory. The trasher makes excellent arguments pointing out that, well, evolutionary theory has shitloads of holes in it as it stands, and it CAN'T explain things, or even come close. So, there's half of the sophistry.

But, it also made clear that you very rarely read any positive arguments for design - that is, okay, maybe life is irreducibly complex and there's no alternative but design, but how did design happen? Can we deduce what the sequence of events was that led to the modern day? What exactly did the Designer do? And when? What does ID theory have to say about these questions? This is something that this article ought to answer, I think, rather than being a critique of evolutionary theory, which even an atheist evolutionist could do. Graft 00:29 Oct 16, 2002 (UTC)

Amorphous Part 3

This article is remarkably long and redundant.

ID agrees to some extent with the theory of evolution, accepting the principle that after a new species has come into existence, its survival or extinction depends on its ability to compete with other forms of life (see natural selection). However, ID adherents immediately part company with evolutionists over this same point. ID adherents and evolutionists alike believe that small changes can accumulate to create distinctions of breeds, such as Chiuhuahua and Saint Bernard. But evolutionists believe these changes can lead to the establishment of a new species, while ID adherents claim that this is impossible. This is the biggest difference between intelligent design and the theory of evolution, and apparently an irreconcilable one.

This was in the introductory section. It's fine, but the exact same points are made later on, under "Intelligent Design and the Theory of Evolution"

--Ryguasu 04:54 Jan 3, 2003 (UTC)

This article looks like a hopeless mess. I don't think it's going to get anywhere while there remains much confusion about the terms Creationism, Intelligent Design, Intelligent Design Theory, Creation Science, and Scientific Creationism.

We have the following complications:

  • Some people seem to use all the terms interchangeably, while others find this troublesome.
  • Some people think Intelligent Design and Intelligent Design Theory are interchangeable, while others disagree.
  • Some people think that, while there could be a non-faith-based Intelligent Design Theory, almost everyone who claims to support such a theory actual has ulterior motives, theological in character.
  • Some people think "intelligent design" is used as a synonym for deism, while others disagree.
  • Perhaps some of these terms are synonyms in some cases but not all. For example, it might be the case that Creationism and Intelligent Design Theory are synonyms in the popular media, but not in the publications of Intellgent Design Theorists.
  • Perhaps all of these terms have multiple senses.

To make things worse, contributors to this article have not done much to mention names of people who actually hold any of these views, which might make it easier to pin down who said what.

In light of all this, I'm not sure separate articles on Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Scientific Creationism make sense. Why can't we discuss everything in the articles on evolution. Perhaps we can cover each sticking point (e.g. should we trust geologists about the age of the earth?) separately, indicating who believes what, and dispense with these labels that seem more confusing than edifying?

Alternatively, perhaps we should (somewhat) arbitrarily pick a particular individual/book as the defining statement of Intelligent Design Theory, describe that one person/book in this article, and discuss how it differs from other people who invoke the term "intelligent design" towards the end?

--Ryguasu 05:18 Jan 3, 2003 (UTC)

I think this article has merits on its own - the effort to mount an ID-based challenge to evolution is important enough that it deserves separate treatment from the evolution article, which is complex enough on its own. As to proponents of ID, I don't know of any other than Michael Behe (who wrote "Darwin's Black Box") but seems to be a good resource for finding out more. Graft

I think this article does a reasonably good job of presenting ID as a load of twaddle for the supersitious, credulous and weak-minded. I'm still baffled how, in light of this, there are people out there who actually believe it -- Tarquin 19:35 Jan 3, 2003 (UTC)
Judging by some of the half-baked twaddle that turns up on these and similar pages from time to time, I'm suprised that you're suprised Tarquin :-) user:sjc
Call me an eternally-surprised optimist ... -- Tarquin
What Graft says implies that we should move the stuff that's not so compatible with Behe to another article. That sounds like it has the potential to make this article coherent. Are there objections to this? Alternatively, people before have argued that "Intelligent Design" and "Intelligent Design Theory" should be separate articles. One idea would be to put Behe-like stuff (and replies thereto) in "Intelligent Design Theory", and make "Intelligent Design" a short page designed to disambiguate all the conflicting senses in which the term ID is apparently used. Would either of these bother anyone? --Ryguasu
At one time there were two articles but they were merged for some reason. See [1]. I'm all for the separation if the results are better but unless the articles are about a proper noun their titles should be lowercased. --mav

Can someone attribute the final bit in the intro, re: "a big problem for opponents of ID is etc., etc.,"? The logic of this "problem" seems pretty specious to me, and I'm not sure that it's a real consideration for most people. I think a bigger problem is the fact that very few ID theorists (well, none as far as I know) have set out a model for how the designer operated - i.e., what did the designer actually create, and how did things change from then to now. Of course, this is just my opinion, and I wouldn't want to attribute this to all "opponents of ID"... so we shouldn't necessarily do this for the "now you have to prove god" dilemna either, right? Graft

The below text was deleted.

The generally accepted view of evolution is based on two premises. Variations occur in the genetic makeup of organisms, and through the process of natural selection, the most fit of those variations survive while the others eventually die out. (There are other forces at work in evolution, e.g., genetic drift, but it is natural selection plus random mutation that typically are criticized by ID proponents.) Intelligent design differs from the rest of creationism by agreeing somewhat with Darwinian evolution.
Intelligent Design accepts much of evolutionary theory, but differs in one crucial aspect -- it insists that there is empirical evidence that an intelligent designer or designer has been at work in the history of life. ID proponents are typically avoid identifying the designer, but for most of them there is no serious doubt that it is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic concept of God.

RK's recent change to this article is contrary to my understanding of Intelligent Design. For example, he changed "Intelligent Design accepts much of evolutionary theory" to "Intelligent Design rejects the basis of of evolutionary theory".

Your understanding of ID adherents is overly optomistic. Every ID adherent I have ever met absolutely rejects all the basic findings of science in regards to biological evolution; they reject the idea that life can evolve from non-living biological molecules (abiogenesis) and they reject the idea that simple unicellular organisms can evolve into complex multicellular organisms like animals, in general, and humans, in particular. ID adherents only accept the extremely minimal position that microevolution occurs. I guess to religious fundamentalists, this is seen as a "compromise", and in their minds, they might truly believe that they accept much of evolutionary theory. Yet to any science-minded person who accepts the existence of biological evolution, their position rejects the most important and most signigicant parts of evolutionary theory. RK 23:31, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I suggest we say:

  • What aspects of evolutionary theory does ID accept
  • What aspects of evoutionary theory does ID reject

We can then allow the reader to decide the degree to which ID is in accordance with evolutionary theory, rather than telling them, either way. Martin 12:36, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Martin 12:36, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)
I disagree with the tack that ID is a Bible-based belief, and that only Judeo-Christians can believe in ID. There's no reason to believe in a Christian god in order to accept the argument from design, and many other people in the world make use of this argument. Even if there is substantial or near-total overlap in who promotes ID and Christianity this does not mean that ID is a Bible-based belief, only that the inspiration for advancing this philosophy comes from proponents' Christian beliefs. Graft 16:54, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)
There is a big difference between "should" and "is". In practice, ID is almost universally Bible based or Bible inspired belief. People from non-Christian and non-Jewish backgrounds, or those who are not influenced by Christianity or Judaism, usually do not become ID adherents in any appreciable number. Intelligent Design, as the movement exists today, is a mostly Christian phenomenon. They themselves usually admit to having Christian beliefs, and they have come to their ID position by believing in traditional Christian teachings (sometimes Jewish teachings) about the Bible. I am not sayin that this should be true. We can, of course, point out that some people could come to similar ID-like conclusions independently of Christianity. I am sure that some do. However, such people do not seem to be a part of the semi-organized ID movement, which is currently mostly populated by fundamentalist American Christians, usually Protestant. RK 23:31, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)
The theory of intelligent design is not the same as "the semi-organized ID movement". I would assert that members of many other religions (although probably not very many non-religious people) believe in intelligent design. For instance, go ask a Muslim if he believes that the world was created/designed by an intelligent Being. All Muslims must surely believe this and, in fact, all Christians must as well, and not just fundamentalist Protestants. In addition, intelligent design does not by definition reject evolutionary theory (although it is likely that everyone, or very nearly everyone, who rejects evolution believes in intelligent design). Creative evolution is an intelligent design position. All intelligent design says is that an intelligent person created the universe. This is certainly a traditional Biblical belief, and certainly most members of the "semi-organized ID movement" got their belief from the Bible, but this position is far from being unique to Judeo-Christian Scripture. kpearce
Agreed. RK
The vast majority of other religionists do not believe we were designed by little green men. If they have any sort of creationist opinion, they attribute any design to whatever sort of gods they imagine. You can't claim it is not a religious claim and also claim most religionists believe in it. Fairandbalanced 02:22, 19 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Also the statement "Those who approach the issue with a totally open mind can see how evolution is clearly true, and is perhaps the method that the 'intelligent designer' used to create life" is miles from being npov. Everyone must agree, at the very least, that there are a number of people who believe that open-minded analysis of the facts leads to an anti-evolution ID position, and that evolutionists are often accused of being every bit as dogmatic as creationists. Thus this sentence shows terribly blatant bias to one side of a controversial issue. The fact that this is the oppinion of a large majority of "experts" makes no difference, as there do exist "experts" (research scientists, science professors, etc.) who take the other side. I've made an attempt to correct both of these problems. kpearce 02:26, 5 Aug 2003 (UTC)
A number of people believe that open-minded analysis of the facts leads to the conclusion than a UFO crashed at Roswell. It is still gibberish.
I totally disagree. Anyone who believes that "evolutionists" are as dogmatic as creationists is idiotic, and a closet creationist themselves. Debating the existence of biological evolution is like debating whether the Earth is flat or not. RK 02:36, 12 Aug 2003 (UTC)