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Intelligent design

From Academic Kids

Template:TOCright Template:Dablink Intelligent Design (or ID) is a highly controversial claim holding that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent designer, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. Most ID advocates state that their focus is on detecting evidence of design in nature, without regard to who or what the designer might be. But ID advocate William Dembski in his book "The Design Inference" [1] (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/evolution.html) lists God or an alien life force as two possible options. The scientific community does not recognise ID as a scientific theory and considers it to be creationist pseudoscience.

Contents

ID in summary

ID was born out of opposition to the theory of evolution and is investigating whether or not there is empirical evidence that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent agent or agents. Proponents of ID study objects in an attempt to isolate what they call signs of intelligence — physical properties of an object that necessitate design. Examples being considered include irreducible complexity, information mechanisms, and specified complexity. Many design theorists believe that living systems show one or more of these signs of intelligence, from which they infer that life is designed. This stands in opposition to naturalistic theories of evolution, which explain life exclusively through natural processes such as random mutations and natural selection.

William Dembski, one of ID's leading proponents, uses the example of Mt. Rushmore to provide an analogy to the underlying premise of ID:

"What about this rock formation convinces us that it was due to a designing intelligence and not merely to wind and erosion? Designed objects like Mt. Rushmore exhibit characteristic features or patterns that point us to an intelligence."--The Design Revolution, pg. 33.

The Intelligent Design movement, which began in the mid-1990s, is closely associated with the Center for Science and Culture, an organization that counts most of the leading ID advocates among its fellows or officers. The movement claims ID exposes the limitations of scientific orthodoxy, and of the secular philosophy of Naturalism. The ID movement has attracted considerable press attention and pockets of public support, especially among conservative Christians in the US.

Critics call ID an attempt to recast religious dogma in an effort to force public schools to teach creationism in schools, and ID features notably as part of a campaign known as Teach the Controversy. The National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education assert that ID is not science. While the scientific model of evolution by natural selection has observable and repeatable facts to support it such as the process of mutations, gene flow, genetic drift, natural selection, and speciation, the "Intelligent Designer" in ID is neither observable nor repeatable. This violates the scientific requirement of falsifiability. ID violates another cornerstone of the scientific method called Occam's Razor by creating an entity to explain something that may have a simpler and scientifically supportable explanation not involving outside help.

Critics contend that ID is attempting to redefine natural science.[2] (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/naturalism.html) Natural science uses the scientific method to create a posteriori knowledge based on observation alone (sometimes called empirical science). Intuition is extremely important in natural science, but the scientific method holds nothing to be true until it can be observed repeatedly. The idea that some outside intelligence created life on Earth is a priori (without observation) knowledge. ID proponents cite some complexity in nature that cannot yet be fully explained by the scientific method (for instance, abiogenesis, the generation of life from non-living matter, is only partially understood by science). They intuit that an intelligent designer is behind the part of the process that is not understood scientifically. Since the designer cannot be observed, it is a priori knowledge.

This a priori intuition that an intelligent designer (God or an alien life force) created life on Earth has been compared to the a priori claim that aliens helped the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids [3] (http://server1.fandm.edu/departments/Philosophy/staticpages/Murray/Providence.pdf),[4] (http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/timesleader/news/opinion/11448226.htm),[5] (http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2001-07-04/news/letters_2.html). In both cases, the effect of this outside intelligence is not repeatable, observable, or falsifiable, and it violates Occam's Razor as well. Empirical scientists would simply say "we don't know exactly how the Egyptians built the pyramids" and list what is known about Egyptian construction techniques.

Origin of the term

Template:Creationism2 The phrase "intelligent design", used in this sense, appeared in Christian creationist literature, including the textbook Of Pandas and People (Haughton Publishing Company, Dallas, 1989). The term was promoted more broadly by the retired legal scholar Phillip E. Johnson following his 1991 book Darwin on Trial. Johnson is the program advisor of the Center for Science and Culture and is considered the father of the intelligent design movement.

What Intelligent Design is not

Intelligent Design is not and does not claim to be an alternative theory replacing mutations, gene flow, genetic drift, natural selection, or speciation. All of these have been observed in laboratories and in the field. For example, humans have themselves created many new species and have observed new species appearing in nature. [6] (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html)[7] (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html) This is contrary to how ID is sometimes characterized by both supporters and critics.

ID as a movement

Main article: Intelligent design movement

The Intelligent Design movement is an organized campaign to promote ID arguments in the public sphere, primarily in the United States. Intelligent design proponents strive to eliminate both methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. ID movement proponents allege that science, by relying upon methodological naturalism, demands an a priori adoption of a naturalistic philosophy that dismisses out of hand any explanation that contains a supernatural cause. Principal ID proponents have stated a goal of greatly undermining or eliminating altogether methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism with the teaching of evolution in public school science, and thus secure recognition of creationist claims of scientific legitimacy by opening the door to supernatural explanations.

The intelligent design movement is largely the result of efforts by the conservative Christian think tank the Discovery Institute, and its Center for Science and Culture. The Discovery Institute's wedge strategy and its adjunct, the Teach the Controversy strategy, are campaigns intended to sway the opinion of the public. They target public school administrators and policy makers to facilitate the introduction of intelligent design into the public school science curricula and marginalize mainstream science. The Discovery Institute acknowledges that private parties have donated millions for a research and publicity program to "unseat not just Darwinism, but also Darwinism's cultural legacy."[8] (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/01/06/ahmanson/)

Critics note that the principal ID proponents share an explicit religious vision, that the Discovery Institute as a matter of policy obfuscates its agenda, and claim that these facts prove the movement's "activities betray an aggressive, systematic agenda for promoting not only intelligent design creationism, but the religious worldview that undergirds it." [9] (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/wedge.html) They go on to portray ID as the latest attempt at "stealth creationism".

Intelligent design debate

The intelligent design debate centers on three issues:

  1. whether the definition of science is broad enough to allow for theories of human origins which incorporate the acts of an intelligent designer;
  2. whether the evidence supports such theories; and
  3. whether the teaching of such theories is appropriate in public education.

ID supporters generally hold that science must allow for both natural and supernatural explanations of phenomena. Excluding supernatural explanations limits the realm of possibilities, particularly where naturalistic explanations utterly fail to explain certain phenomena. Supernatural explanations provide a very simple and parsimonious explanation for the origins of life and the universe. Proponents claim that the evidence strongly supports such explanations, as instances of so-called irreducible complexity and specified complexity appear to make it highly unreasonable that the full complexity and diversity of life came about solely through natural means. Finally, they hold that religious neutrality requires the teaching of both evolution and intelligent design in schools, because teaching only evolution unfairly discriminates against those holding the Creationist beliefs. Teaching both, ID supporters argue, allows for a scientific basis for religious belief, without causing the state to actually promote a religious belief.

According to critics of ID, not only has ID failed to establish reasonable doubt in its proposed shortcomings of accepted scientific theories, but it has not even presented a case worth taking seriously. Critics of ID argue that ID has not presented a credible case for the public policy utility of presenting Intelligent Design in education. More broadly, critics maintain that it has not met the minimum legal standard of not being a "clear" attempt to establish religion, which in the United States is forbidden by law. Scientists argue that those advocating "scientific" treatment of "supernatural" phenomena are grossly misunderstanding the issue, and indeed misunderstand the nature and purpose of science itself.

Between these two positions there is a large body of opinion that does not condone the teaching of what is considerd unscientific or questionable material, but is generally sympathetic to the position of Deism/Theism and therefore desires some compromise between the two. The nominal points of contention are seen as being proxies for other issues. For example Richard Dawkins, a very prominent spokesman for evolutionary theory, has argued that evolution disproves the existence of God. Many ID followers are quite open about their view that "Scientism" is itself a religion that promotes secularism and materialism in an attempt to erase religion from public life. This larger debate is often the subtext for arguments made over Intelligent Design.

Irreducible complexity

Template:ID

Main article: Irreducible complexity

The term was coined by biochemist Michael Behe in his 1996 book Darwin's Black Box. The irreducible complexity argument holds that evolutionary mechanisms cannot account for the emergence of some complex biochemical cellular systems. ID advocates argue that the systems must therefore have been deliberately engineered by some form of intelligence. Irreducible complexity is defined by Behe as:

"...a single system which is composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."--(Behe, Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference).

According to the theory of evolution, genetic variations occur without specific design or intent. The environment selects variants that have the highest fitness, which are then passed on to the next generation of organisms. Change occurs by the gradual operation of natural forces over time, perhaps slowly, perhaps more quickly (see punctuated equilibrium). This process is able to create complex structures from simpler beginnings, or convert complex structures from one function to another (see spandrel). Most ID advocates accept that evolution through mutation and natural selection occurs, but assert that it cannot account for irreducible complexity, because none of the parts of an irreducible system would be functional or advantageous until the entire system is in place.

Behe uses the mousetrap as an illustrative example of this concept. A mousetrap consists of several interacting pieces—the base, the catch, the spring, the hammer—all of which must be in place for the mousetrap to work. The removal of any one piece destroys the function of the mousetrap. Likewise, biological systems require multiple parts working together in order to function. ID advocates claim that natural selection could not create from scratch those systems for which science is currently not able to find a viable evolutionary pathway of successive, slight modifications, because the selectable function is only present when all parts are assembled. Behe's original examples of irreducibly complex mechanisms included the bacterial flagellum of E. coli, the blood clotting cascade, cilia, and the adaptive immune system.

Specified complexity

Main article: Specified complexity

The ID argument of specified complexity was developed by mathematician, philosopher, and theologian William Dembski. Dembski uses the term specified complexity to denote a property that makes living things unique. He claims that specified complexity is present when there exists a large amount of specified information:

  • High information, low specificity. For example, the 10-character structure "dkownl xel". According to Shannon's theory of information, a random string of letters contains the highest possible information content, because it cannot be compressed into a smaller string. However, the random nature makes the string without meaning, and thus non-specified according to Dembski. (Note that "meaning" does not play a role in Shannon's information theory.)
  • High specificity, low information. For example, the 10-character structure "aaaaaaaaaa". The sequence has low information because it can be compressed into a smaller string, such as "10 a's" . However, because it conforms to a pattern it is highly specified.
  • Specified information. For example, the 10-character structure "I love you". According to Dembski, this has both high information content, because it cannot be compressed, and specificity, because it conforms to a pattern (grammar and syntax). In this case, the pattern it conforms to is that of a meaningful English phrase, one of a selection of strings which together make up a small fraction of all possible arrangements. In living things, the "pattern" that molecular sequences conform to is that of a functional biological molecule, which make up only a small fraction of all possible molecules.

Dembski defines complex specified information (CSI) as something containing a large amount of specified information, which has a low probability of occurring by chance. He defines this probability as 1 in 10150, which he calls the universal probability bound. Anything below this bound has CSI. The terms "specified complexity" and "complex specified information" are used interchangeably. Dembski and other proponents of ID argue that specified information is best explained by design and is therefore a reliable indicator of design.

Fine-tuned universe

Main article: Fine-tuned universe

ID proponents use the argument that we live in a fine-tuned universe. They propose that the natural emergence of a universe with all the features necessary for life is wildly improbable. Thus, an intelligent designer of life was needed to ensure that the requisite features were present to achieve that particular outcome. Opinion within the scientific community is still divided on the "finely-tuned universe" issue, but this particular explanation and assessment of probabilities is rejected by most scientists and statisticians.

Within mainstream physics this is related to the question of the anthropic principle, whose weak form is based on the observation that the laws of physics must allow for life, since we observe there is life. The strong form, however, is the assertion that the laws of physics must have made it possible for life to arise. The strong form is a distinctly minority position and is highly controversial. (See also cosmology)

Criticisms of arguments

Scientific peer review

One of the scientific community's chief oppositions to ID is the perception that ID proponents are attempting to "end run" the Scientific method.[10] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#Peer_review_evaluation), either by not submitting to peer reviewed journals, or by setting up "peer review" that consists entirely of ID supporters. Proponents of ID explain the reason for their absence in peer-reviewed literature is that papers explaining the findings and concepts in support of ID are consistently excluded from the mainstream scientific discourse.[11] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#Scientific_method_and_the_practice_of_science) They claim this is because ID arguments challenge the principles of Philosophical naturalism and uniformitarianism that are accepted as fundamental by the mainstream scientific community. Thus, ID supporters believe that research that points toward an intelligent designer is often rejected simply because it deviates from these "dogmatically held beliefs", without regard to the merits of their specific claims.

According to their critics, this is an ad hominem attack, designed to cover over the lack of success in creating scientifically testable or verifiable data or theory, by claiming that there is a conspiracy against them. Critics of ID point out that this is an argument commonly used by advocates of pseudoscientific views (most notably by UFO enthusiasts), and that the perceived bias is simply the result of ID being unscientific and inadequately supported. A notable exception to this explanation for lack of published, peer-reviewed writings is William Dembski, who claims in a 2001 interview that he stopped submitting to peer-reviewed journals due to their slow time-to-print and that he makes more money from publishing books [12] (http://chronicle.com/free/v48/i17/17a00801.htm).

To date, the intelligent design movement has only succeeded in publishing one article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories (http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2177)(Meyer, Stephen C., Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Jan. '05. Please note: Since its publishing, the article was removed from the journal's website. The link provided is hosted by the Discovery Institute.) The journal subsequently disowned the paper. The author is the Program Director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the major organization promoting ID. The journal issued a public statement (http://www.biolsocwash.org/id_statement.html) explaining that the Meyer paper did not go through the journal's approved peer review process and does not meet the scientific standards of the journal. This assertion has been denied (http://www.rsternberg.net/Procedures.htm) by Richard Sternberg, who was managing editor at that time. Critics of Meyer's paper believe that Sternberg himself may be biased in this matter, since he is a member of the editorial board of the Baraminology Study Group, an organization with a creationist agenda. The Baraminology Study Group's official position is that Sternberg is not a creationist and acts primarily as a skeptical reviewer.[13] (http://www.bryancore.org/bsg/clarifications.html) A critical review of the article is available on the Panda's Thumb website.[14] (http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html)

The vast majority of practicing biologists oppose Intelligent Design. The Scientific community does not regard the argument over ID to be of the same kind as, for example, differing theories on how particular traits evolved, or even in the realm of scientific speculation, the way, a hypothesis of exogenesis might be considered as a plausible scientific speculation. The failure to follow the procedures of scientific discourse, and the failure to submit work to the scientific community which withstands scrutiny is regarded by the critics of ID as a strong argument against Intelligent Design being considered as "science" at all.

Irreducible complexity - criticism

Critics of ID point out that the IC argument only makes sense if one assumes that the present function of a system must have been the one that it was selected for. But the concept of cooption, in which existing features become adapted for new functions, has long been a mainstay of biology. Many purported IC structures have functional subsystems that are used elsewhere. ID advocates have often reacted to this by trying to define an "IC core", or by changing the number of parts required for an IC system. Critics have claimed that these instances of "moving the goal posts" show that IC is not a clear concept that can be objectively applied. While Behe has considered cooption, he rejects it as unlikely, which critics contend is an unwarranted dismissal.

The IC argument also assumes that the necessary parts of a system have always been necessary, and therefore could not have been added sequentially. But something which is at first merely advantageous can later become necessary. For example, one of the clotting factors that Behe listed as a part of the IC clotting cascade was later found to be absent in whales[15] (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=9678675), demonstrating that it isn't essential for a clotting system. Many purported IC structures can be found in other organisms as simpler systems that utilize fewer parts. These systems may have had even simpler precursors that are now extinct.

Perhaps most importantly, evolutionary pathways have been elucidated for IC systems such as blood clotting, the immune system[16] (http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/Evolving_Immunity.html) and the flagellum[17] (http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum_background.html). If IC is an insurmountable obstacle to evolution, it should not be possible to conceive of such pathways -- Behe has remarked that any such plausible pathways would defeat his argument. Computer simulations of evolution also demonstrate that IC can evolve. [18] (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12736677&dopt=Abstract)[19] (http://www.embl.org/aboutus/news/press/2004/press28oct04.html) ID advocates respond by saying that proposed models for the evolution of IC structures are not detailed enough, or cannot be tested. They also dismiss computer simulations as biologically unrealistic.

Specified complexity - criticism

The conceptual soundness of Dembski's SC/CSI argument is strongly disputed by critics of ID. First, specified complexity, as originally defined by Leslie Orgel, is precisely what Darwinian evolution is proposed to create. It is not enough for Dembski to take a property of living things and arbitrarily declare it to be a reliable indicator of design; he must also provide compelling reasons why no natural processes could create such a property. According to critics of ID, by taking this burden of proof on himself, that is, to prove a negative, he must show not merely that there is no explanation currently accepted, but that no such explanation is possible within the framework of genetics and natural selection.

Additionally, Dembski confuses the issue by using "complex" as most people would use "improbable". He defines CSI as anything with a less than 1 in 10150 chance of occurring naturally. But this renders the argument a tautology. CSI cannot occur naturally because Dembski has defined it thus, so the real question becomes whether or not CSI actually exists in nature. To demonstrate this, Dembski would need to show that a biological feature really did have an extremely low probability of occurring naturally by any means, an enormously difficult (perhaps impossible) task that would require definitively ruling out all potential theories, including those that may not have been thought of yet. In general, Dembski does not attempt to do this, but instead simply takes the existence of CSI as a given, and then proceeds to argue that it is a reliable indicator of design. Among the many criticisms of this approach is the problem of "arbitrary but specific outcomes". For example, it is unlikely that any given person will win a lottery, but, eventually, a lottery will have a winner. To argue that it is very unlikely that any one player would win is not the same as proving that there is the same chance that no one will win.

Further, mathematicians have pointed out that Dembski's information theory is flawed, that many of his examples that he claims cannot be compressed further, in fact can be. For example, the 10 byte phrase "I love you" can be written "luv u"; or, in context, even the three bytes of "ily" will convey the same message; and the ASCII art "heart" symbol "<3" even conveys the same message in two bytes. The genome similarly has redundancy and reliability built in, which makes its information content much lower than the number of base pairs used. In addition, the space sampled by an evolutionary process is a restricted set of the total possible genetic combinations. Only genetic sequences which result in reproducing organisms and are connectible through small deviations to other reproducing organisms are possible. This is a significantly smaller set than the total possible genetic combinations, which places significant inaccuracies in arguments which use the total possible combinations.

Fine-tuned universe - criticism

Template:Cosmology ID proponents assert that we live in a "finely-tuned universe". They hold that the natural emergence of a universe with all the features necessary for life is wildly improbable. Thus, an intelligent designer of life was needed to ensure that the requisite features were present to achieve that particular outcome. This argument is a variation of the strong anthropic principle.

Critics of both ID and the weak form of anthropic principle argue that they are essentially a tautology; life as we know it may not exist if things were different, but a different sort of life might exist in its place. The claim of the improbability of a life-supporting universe has also been criticized as an argument by lack of imagination for assuming no other forms of life are possible (see also carbon chauvinism).

Based on the unproven idea that some of the universe's initial conditions might have been different, Stephen Hawking and James Hartle have shown that from the initial conditions of the universe, that is, the moment immediately after the Big Bang, a large number of types of universe could have formed. The type of universe that we live in is called a Hartle-Hawking type universe. According to their calculations, the chance that a Hartle-Hawking universe forms is over 90%. Thus, the chance that our particular universe formed may be small, but the chance that a universe of the same type, with stars, planets and the other elements required to create life as we know it would come out of the Big Bang is over 90%, not improbable at all.

Recent advances in cosmology have put forth the mathematical possiblity of a multiverse. This would allow many types of universes to simultaneously arise, of which ours is one possibility. Although multiverse theories currently lack falsifiable predictions, some astronomers believe that gravity may leak into other dimensions, providing the first observable data to support these theories.

"Stealth creationism"

In the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Edwards v. Aguillard, the teaching of creationism science classes in public schools in the United States was ruled unconstitutional, as it was found to violate the Establishment clause of the Constitution. Phillip E. Johnson, considered the father and architect of the ID movement, acknowledges that the goal of the movement is to promote a theistic and creationist agenda cast as a scientific concept. [20] (http://www.christianity.ca/news/social-issues/2004/03.001.html)

Accordingly, critics observe that the Discovery Institute and its allied organizations are merely stripping the obvious religious content from their anti-evolution assertions as a means of avoiding the legal restriction on establishment.[21] (http://www.leaderu.com/pjohnson/world2.html) They argue that ID is simply an attempt to put a patina of secularity on top of what is a fundamentally religious belief.[22] (http://ebd10.ebd.csic.es/pdfs/DarwSciOrPhil.pdf) One that is driven largely by the unwillingness of many people to accept that the world evolves by understandable, verifiable and describable means.

The basis for this argument rests, first, on the nature of many ID arguments being updated versions of old teleological attacks on evolution. These include the "watch requires a watchmaker", "lack of intermediate steps" and "improbability" arguments. According to critics of ID, all of these arguments rest on a fundamental disbelief in evolution, which rests, in turn on an unstated belief in something else.

"What designed the designer?"

By raising the question of the need for a designer for objects with irreducible complexisty, ID also raises the question, "what designed the designer?" By ID's own arguments, a designer capable of creating irreducible complexity must also be irreducibly complex. Unlike with religious creationism, where the question "what created God?" can be answered with theological arguments, this appears to create a logical paradox, as the chain of designers can be followed back indefinitely, leaving the question of the creation of the first designer dangling.

One ID counter-argument to this problem invokes an uncaused causer - in other words, a deity - to resolve this problem, in which case ID reduces to religious creationism. At the same time, the postulation of the existence of even a single uncaused causer in the Universe contradicts the fundamental assumption of ID that a designer is needed for every complex object. Another possible counter-argument might be an infinite regression of designers. However, admitting infinite numbers of objects also allows any arbitarily improbable event to occur, such as an object with "irreducible" complexity assembling itself by chance. Again, this contradicts the fundamental assumption of ID that a designer is needed for every complex object, producing a logical contradiction.

Thus, according to opponents, either attempt to patch the ID hypothesis appears to either result in logical contradiction, or reduces it to a belief in religious creationism. ID then ceases to be a falsifiable theory and loses its ability to claim to be a scientific theory.

Argument from ignorance

Some critics have pointed out that many points raised by Intelligent Design Theorists strongly resemble arguments from ignorance. In the argument from ignorance, one claims that the lack of evidence for one view is evidence for another view. Particularly, Michael Behe's demands for ever more detailed explanations of the historical evolution of molecular systems seem to assume a dichotomy where either evolution or design is the proper explanation, and any perceived failure of evolution becomes a victory for design. In scientific terms, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" for naturalistic explanations of observed traits of living organisms.

Political issues

Dover, PA case

In 2004, Dover, Pennsylvania, passed a law requiring the teaching of Intelligent Design. Dover contends that Intelligent Design is not creationism, and its being taught does not have a "clear intent" to establish religion. The standard for which was established in Edwards v. Aguillard for determining whether a requirement to teach particular material is an unconstitutional violation of the First amendment and Fourteenth amendment. A hearing in Federal District Court is scheduled for next September.

Cobb County School District

Selman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al created controversy in the arena of creation and evolution in public education.[23] (http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/13/evolution.textbooks.ruling/) Stickers were placed on text books stating that evolution was a theory and not a fact.

Theological debate

Materialism versus spirituality

Intelligent Design's most vociferous supporters and critics sometimes portray the debate as between science and faith, and by implication that Intelligent Design speaks for everyone who believes in a higher power, or higher powers. However, this is not the point of view of many others. Theology, assuming such a power, draws implications about that power from the observed world which that power is said to have created. In the view of theologians, Intelligent Design then, implies a certain nature of its designer. This leads to the question as to whether Intelligent design is "good theology" as well as the question as to whether it is "good science". While the Discovery Institute is very careful to phrase its arguments in secular terms, not all ID supporters are so carefully neutral. Focus on the Family, which has funded a pro-ID documentary, argues that "Secularists have dismissed Christianity as an acceptable intellectual option." [24] (http://www.family.org/fofmag/pp/a0021018.cfm) and argues that "Intelligent Design" promotes their views on Christianity.

However, Pope John Paul II issued the following statement [25] (http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm) in an address entitled "Truth cannot contradict Truth":

"The moment of transition to the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection, while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator's plans."

The statement argues that the role of spiritual value is defined by philosophy and theology, not by science. In the message, John Paul II references possible theories of evolution, which leaves the door open to divinely guided evolution, but within the context of "theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person."

This position then is potentially compatible only with those forms of Intelligent Design which presume spirituality, and which presume teleological intent to produce Man from the intervention, since "Man is the only creature for which God cares of himself". But is incompatible with Intelligent Design that is absent these qualities, and with any form of pure materialism.

Nature of the designer

Although the Intelligent Design movement is often portrayed as a variant of Bible-based Creationism, many ID arguments are formulated in secular terms. Most ID arguments do not depend on Biblical fundamentalism. They do not explicitly state that their adherents accept the Bible's accounts, they do not explicitly state that God is the designer, but the designer is often implicitly hypothesized to have intervened at so many different points in time and space (sometimes even outside of time and space) that only God or an extremely capable, long-lived and persistent alien culture could fulfill the requirements.

The key arguments in favor of the different variants of ID are so broad that they can be adopted by any number of communities that seek an alternative to evolutionary thought, including those that support non-theistic models of creation although the designers might be different. For example, the notion of an "intelligent designer" is compatible with the materialistic hypotheses that life on Earth was introduced by an alien species, or that it emerged as a result of panspermia, but would not be with the designer(s) of the "fine-tuned" universe.

Likewise, ID claims can support a variety of theistic notions. Some proponents of creationism and intelligent design reject the Christian concept of omnipotence and omniscience on the part of God, and subscribe to Open Theism or Process theology. It has been suggested by some opponents that ID researchers who believe that an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God is the designer may face an additional burden of proof beyond the standard claims of the ID movement, by having to additionally demonstrate that the designs themselves are flawless and anticipate all eventualities. Existing evidence poses many difficult challenges for the advocates of omniscient, omnipotent design, for example:

  • the poor ability of the human body to repair spinal cord injuries
  • the inability of the human body to grow replacement limbs
  • the failure to anticipate the demands of a plentiful, sedentary lifestyle leaving the human body vulnerable to chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and atherosclerosis
  • the poor design of the human eye, which places the optic nerves on the "wrong" side of the retina, unlike that of the octopus
  • using the same genetic code for various species making it dangerously easy to transmit viruses across species' barriers
  • the requirement of a lower temperature for mammalian spermatogenes that results in the carrying of the testicles externally in a more vulnerable position
  • brain-imaging researchers find that 2−8% of ostensibly "normal" research subjects have "clinically significant" findings, such as tumors, malformations or serious disease (J. Illes et al. J. Magn. Reson. Imag. 20, 743−747; 2004).

Some of these ID researchers would instead argue that this is fallacious in that, when compared to that of an all-knowing God, our own knowledge is insignificant, so features that may appear flawed to us, are actually perfect to God; or that benevolence does not imply the need for physical perfection in Creation.

See also

Further reading

Pro-ID

Anti-ID

External links

Pro-ID

Anti-ID

Neutral

Miscellaneous

Young-Earth creationist comment

ID and education

Scientific databases

Anyone reading this online Encyclopedia can just as easily conduct an online scientific literature search to read about the relative scientific merits of evolution and creationism:

  • PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi)
  • sciencedirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com/)

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