FAQs: What Is Intelligent Design?

States are weighing whether public schools should teach intelligent design alongside Darwin's theories. What is ID all about?

What is intelligent design (ID)?

Intelligent design is the theory that living things show signs of having been designed. ID supporters argue that living creatures and their biological systems are too complex to be accounted for by the Darwinian theory of evolution, and that a designer or a higher intelligence may be responsible for their complexity.

What do ID proponents believe about evolution?

Many ID proponents do not quarrel with most of Darwin's original claims about evolution. They do, however, believe that random genetic mutation and natural selection cannot account for certain biological phenomena, such as the human eye or the body's blood clotting mechanism. ID supporters argue that for these systems to arise via a gradual series of mutations is statistically impossible, which implies that a designer may have guided the process.

Is creationism the same thing as intelligent design?


No, although many critics of Intelligent Design conflate the two.

Creationism usually refers to the theory or belief that God created the universe and human beings in six days as recorded in the Bible's first book, Genesis.


In the United States today, some creationists--called Young Earth Creationists--accept the Genesis account literally and believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old, basing their calculations on the genealogies in the Hebrew scriptures. Young Earth creationists believe God created humans directly; humans did not evolve from other species.


Others, seeking to reconcile the Bible with modern science, believe that each Genesis day may have represented several billion years. (Gerald Schroeder, a physicist and Orthodox Jewish scholar, has


what the time spans may be.)

Intelligent design does not posit that the universe was created in six days; it does not contradict the commonly-held scientific view that the universe has been in existence for about 14 billion years. ID also does not challenge the idea that humans developed over time as a result of evolution.

However, critics of intelligent design have called it "creationism in a lab coat," saying that to point to an intelligent designer as the cause of certain biological systems is to abandon scientific inquiry. They argue that, over the decades, science has frequently closed "gaps" and explained previously inexplicable phenomena.

What are the origins of intelligent design theory?

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