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Intelligent Design & Ignorance - Intelligent Design as Deliberate Ignorance

What do Intelligent Design Apologists Claim to be Ignorant of... And Why?


Intelligent Design is presented as a legitimate scientific alternative to evolutionary theory. There are many problems with this but one deserves more attention: Intelligent Design apologists literally have no idea what they are talking about. They claim the universe and life were intelligently designed, but cannot explain who or what this designer was, what characteristics it had, how it operated, why it designed, or anything else relevant. They don't even propose any means for acquiring such knowledge and appear uninterested in trying. It's all a mystery, which helps show that it's religion not science.

The Identity of the Intelligent Designer is Unknown

The exact origin of the "intelligence" supposedly behind the "design" is completely unknown. Perhaps the most fundamental question is whether the "intelligence" comes from a single, solitary source or whether it comes from multiple sources. If it comes from multiple sources, do they work together in concert towards a common goal or is the design a product of disorganized activity? If the latter, are those sources working towards different and perhaps contradictory goals or are they working towards no goal at all such that the results are more accidental than deliberate? Indeed, are those multiple sources even all independently intelligent or is the intelligence an epiphenomenon of the non-intelligent sources' common activities?

The Characteristics of the Intelligent Designer is Unknown

There are a multitude of further unanswered questions about the characteristics of the "intelligence" behind the "design." Is it mortal or immortal? If the former, is it still alive? Has it ceased to exist for any reason? Is it part of some larger group or species or is it unique, one-of-a-kind? Is it animal, vegetable, mineral, or something else? Can it be seen, felt, heard, smelled, or physically detected in any way? Indeed, does it have any sort of physical existence or is it entirely non-physical? If non-physical, how is a non-physical existence compatible with "intelligence" when everything we know about intelligence links it with a physical brain?

The Nature of the Intelligent Designer is Unknown

Just what is meant by "intelligence" here anyway — a simple knowledge of facts, raw IQ points, an "emotional intelligence," or something different entirely? Or maybe all the above? Has this "designer" gotten "more intelligent" over time? Can it get more intelligent in the future or is it currently as intelligent as it is capable of being? Has there ever been anything more intelligent? Is it possible for anything to be more intelligent? Could the intelligence be lost over time, for example due to some sort of dementia? What is the origin of this intelligence — is it inherent in the nature of the designer or was it something acquired or developed through experience? Did it go to school to learn design?

The Location of the Intelligent Designer is Unknown

Just where is the "designer"? That's an important question because part of what makes a good scientific theory is some idea of where we should expect to find the things or events we're talking about. This is the only way to devise valid tests to identify them. Is the designer located on some planet, in a nebula, or in a black hole? Does it move around much? Was it in a different location when it "designed"? Does it benefit from being in one location rather than another? Can it be detected in one location but not another? Can we find evidence of its presence in some place after it has moved on to a new location? Has it ever even been in a location in our universe at all? If not, how could it have influenced events in our universe?

The Origin of the Intelligent Designer is Unknown

Since this "intelligent designer" is supposed to explain where we and the universe came from, where did this designer itself come from? What sort of hyper-intelligent designer might have created it? Was the designer itself designed or an accidental by-product of some other act? Did it originate fully-formed or did it develop and evolve over time? The exact same standards used by intelligent design apologists to argue for the existence of an "intelligent designer" must be applied to questions about the origin of that designer, which would invalidate any attempt to claim that origins of a designer must remain a "mystery" or even that it doesn't need an origin in the first place.

The Site where the Intelligent Designer Created is Unknown

Was the creation of life performed over a distance or "in person"? If the latter, how did the designer get here and where did it go? Is this the only planet where an act of creation occurred or has it happened on multiple planets? Were they all done either in-person at a distance, or some combination? Is there a difference between the two in what can be created and how? Did the designer prefer one? Is it only capable of one? If this is the only planet, then why? Is this the only place where it was possible? Were other possible locations rejected? If this is not the only planet, does life on other planets use the same DNA characteristics as life here? If not, why not and why do we have this sort of DNA?

The Time when the Intelligent Designer Created is Unknown

When exactly did the creation of life occur? Was it accomplished in one swift act or did it take some period of time to finish? If the latter, how much time and why? Was it successful the first time around or did life fail, requiring the designer to start over multiple times? Was it successful enough to keep going on its own or did it ever require further adjustments to ensure that life would continue? Did it proceed as expected or planned or has it ever veered off track? If the latter, did the designer make adjustments to put life back on the right track or was it just let go? Has a predetermined time-limit been set for life or will it be allowed to continue indefinitely?

The Means Used by the Intelligent Designer to Create is Unknown

Was the creation of life achieved through prior manipulation of natural conditions so that life would be certain to develop naturally or was it achieved through direct interference with natural events which could never have given rise to life on their own? Was the means of creation technological (accomplished with tools), personal (use of "hands" directly) or perhaps magical? Was there a variety of possible means to choose from, or was there only one possible option available to the designer? If the former, why were particular means chosen over others and how? In fact, was life created through just one means or were multiple used — perhaps as part of some process of experimentation?

The Reasons or Goals of the Intelligent Designer are Unknown

If this designer is responsible for the origin of life on Earth, did it accomplish this through a deliberate act that was aimed at the goal of creating life or was it an accidental side-effect of some other act? If the creation of life was the goal, why was this goal chosen — what is it about "life on Earth" that was considered desirable? What is desirable about life regardless of where it exists? Was it an end in itself or a means towards some other goal? Was it perhaps done out of sheer boredom? Was it aware of what it was doing at the time and, if so, does it still remember or even care?

What Sort of Life the Intelligent Designer Created is Unknown

Life is a pretty broad group encompassing a huge diversity of members — everything from simple viruses and bacteria to complex elephants and humans. There is even disagreement over where, exactly, the line between life and non-life should be drawn. So if some intelligence "designed life," what exactly did it design? Did it design everything we think of as part of the category "life," or only some of it? If the latter, did it design something that has come and gone, that exists now, or something that is yet to come? Or was it really just "life in general" that was desired while the details (the specific life forms) were irrelevant or uninteresting?

Life vs. Non-Life

Was the same designer responsible for both life and non-life? If so, why? And is one more important than the other? Was non-life even "designed" at all and if so, how do we tell one way or the other? One of the arguments for the existence of a designer is that "life" looks different from non-life — that life has characteristics of design which non-life lacks. However, if everything, life and non-life, has been "designed," then both have characteristics of design and this argument fails. We would have nothing to compare "designed" things against to tell that they are "designed."

What Is Known?

Although the above are generally treated by Intelligent Design apologists as unknown mysteries, the truth is that they actually believe they do know most of this because they identify the alleged designer with their particular god. They have to play dumb and pretend that it's a mystery in order to pretend that they aren't actually pushing a religious ideology. Admitting that they know the identity, nature, and goals of the unnamed "designer" would mean admitting that they aren't doing real science. As noted above, though, keeping so much a mystery instead of using science to discover all this important data also effectively reveals that they are doing religion, not science.

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