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Intelligent Design & Creationism

Intelligent Design is Re-Labeled Creationism


In reviewing the history of religious opposition to evolution generally and the Intelligent Design movement in particular, Judge Jones found a clear continuity between the two. He thus concluded that Intelligent Design as introduced into Dover schools is simply the newest format used by religious opponents of evolution to get their religious beliefs introduced into schools and to get evolution kicked out.

First, he compared two copies of the text recommended by Intelligent Design supporters for the students, Of Pandas and People, and discovered that in just about every instance where some variation on “creation science” had appeared in the earlier edition, someone had simply replaced it with a variation on “Intelligent Design.”

    (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID;

    (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and

    (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards.

Content wasn’t changed, just the words used. What other conclusion can one draw form this except that creationism, creation science, and Intelligent Design are all essentially the same thing? The Foundation for Thought and Ethics, publisher of Pandas, insists that the absence of these words entails the absence of that religious ideology, but this simply isn’t a credible claim.

Second, Judge Jones found that the arguments used by supporters of Intelligent Design are much the same as those used in the past by defenders of creationism:

    ID uses the same, or exceedingly similar arguments as were posited in support of creationism. One significant difference is that the words “God,” “creationism,” and “Genesis” have been systematically purged from ID explanations, and replaced by an unnamed “designer.”
    Demonstrative charts introduced through Dr. [Barbara] Forrest show parallel arguments relating to the rejection of naturalism, evolution’s threat to culture and society, “abrupt appearance” implying divine creation, the exploitation of the same alleged gaps in the fossil record, the alleged inability of science to explain complex biological information like DNA, as well as the theme that proponents of each version of creationism merely aim to teach a scientific alternative to evolution to show its “strengths and weaknesses,” and to alert students to a supposed “controversy” in the scientific community. In addition, creationists made the same argument that the complexity of the bacterial flagellum supported creationism as Professors Behe and Minnich now make for ID.

The Intelligent Design movement did not develop as part of some abstract debates about philosophy, because scientists felt a need for a new way to explain natural phenomena, or through the give-and-take of academic scholarship. No, it was created almost single-handedly by Phillip Johnson, who decided that secularism and materialism were dangers to American society:

    Phillip Johnson, considered to be the father of the IDM, developer of ID’s “Wedge Strategy,” which will be discussed below, and author of the 1991 book entitled Darwin on Trial, has written that “theistic realism” or “mere creation” are defining concepts of the IDM. This means “that God is objectively real as Creator and recorded in the biological evidence . . .”

Phillip Johnson did not create Intelligent Design from scratch, though — he wasn’t a theologian or scientist. He was, however, a former lawyer and knew how to frame even lousy arguments in a positive manner. He reworked standard scientific creationism, abandoned the language which he knew the courts would focus upon as religious, and presented it with a new and fancy label.

So far, it hasn’t worked.

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