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Intelligent Design or the Dreaded “Creationism”?

On the Darwin debate, minds are opening in England in some very prominent places. First, A.N. Wilson affirmed the Darwin-Hitler connection. Now at the London Spectator, Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, rebukes Darwinists for deceiving the public by persistently conflating intelligent design with Biblical literalist creationism.

She quotes Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller’s statement that ID is 

nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable.

Replies Phillips:

But this is totally untrue. Miller referred to a landmark US court case in 2005, Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, which did indeed uphold the argument that Intelligent Design was a form of Creationism in its ruling that teaching Intelligent Design violated the constitutional ban against teaching religion in public schools. But the court was simply wrong, doubtless because it had heard muddled testimony from the likes of Prof Miller.

Whatever the ramifications of the specific school textbooks under scrutiny in the Kitzmiller/Dover case, the fact is that Intelligent Design not only does not come out of Creationism but stands against it. This is because Creationism comes out of religion while Intelligent Design comes out of science.

She concludes:

Creationism and Intelligent Design are two completely different ways of looking at the world; and you don’t have to subscribe to either to realise the untruth that is being propagated — and the wrong that is being done to people’s reputations — by the pretence that they are connected.

Melanie Phillips, who is very smart, doesn’t with her testimony alone prove anything at all about whether ID theorists are right. But her example does suggest that there’s room for fair-mindedness on the issue.
Meanwhile in the U.S., many of us still have not received this particular memo. Maybe we are more intimidated by the social disgrace that goes along with being accused of being a “creationist” than we are interested in getting at the truth of what other people actually believe, whether we might agree with them or not.
Thus a somewhat well known American journalist responding to this blog queries me in an email edged with contempt, “Do you really believe that the earth (and the universe) is roughly 6,000 years old?”
I answered, “Now [name excised], this is very interesting. Why would you think that I think this about the age of the universe? I’m trying to get to the bottom of a mystery here.”
Of course, he never replied.
Isn’t this just the way it always goes? When a bunch of commenters demanded my midrashic source for same-sex marriage in ancient Canaan, strongly implying that I must be making it up, and then in a subsequent post I gave the precise source and its context, what was their response? Silence.
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Glen Davidson

posted May 1, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Paley is typically seen as a creationist because he attributed causal force to the “Creator.” Changing “Creator” to “Designer” in ID is not a very clever way to escape the charge of “creationism.”
However, Paley faulted the (non-darwinian) evolutionists of his day for having unfalsifiable ideas (that was not the language he used, yet it was essentially the same issue). By contrast, he posited a Creator who operated as an artificer or an architect, so such an idea at least could be falsifiable, and indeed, it was falsified by Darwin and others.
Since then, evolutionary theory that was theoretically falsifiable came into being, while “intelligent design” strove to move away from Paley’s falsifiability. Of course it doesn’t come out of science, and the fact that the bulk of ID proponents are more traditional creationists gives the lie to the idea that ID somehow opposes “creationism.” Concisely, ID comes out of religions with Creator gods, and seeks to abolish known causal explanations in order to leave room for magical creation of organisms (or why are no known design principles and practices ever invoked to explain life? Honest hypotheses of alien creators would expect rational thought processes to be evident behind their creations).
There are any number of good arguments in favor of calling ID “creationism,” certainly, but David relies primarily upon authorities, apparently because he does not understand science. So, even though this is a far weaker reason to call ID “creationism,” the godfather of ID explains the matter in his book:

Clearing up confusion requires a careful and consistent use of terms. In this book, “creation science” refers to young-earth, six-day special creation. “Creationism” means belief in creation in a more general sense. Persons who believe that the earth is billions of years old, and the simple forms of life evolved gradually to become more complex forms including humans, are “creationists” if they believe that a supernatural Creator not only initiated this process but in some meaningful sense controls it in furtherance of a purpose. As we shall see, “evolution” (in contemporary usage) excludes not just creation-science but creationism in the broad sense. By “Darwinism” I mean fully naturalistic evolution, involving chance mechanisms guided by natural selection.
(Source: Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (2nd ed.), Intervarsity Press, p.4 (footnote).)

Now the better short reason for calling ID “creationism,” or as some do, “intelligent design creationism,” is that the “Designer” is invoked merely as a magical “Creator,” indeed, as more inscrutable than Paley’s “Creator” was.
However, David is again relying upon inexpert opinions of highly biased people to claim that we ought to be “open-minded” about bastardizing language in service of the religious chauvinists, while Phillip Johnson is a far better authority on the meaning of such words. I do not at all accept his usage of “Darwinism,” in fact, yet considering that he uses such a biased term against biology only serves to underscore his usage of “creationism” and of “Creator” where said Creator “in some meaningful sense controls it in furtherance of a purpose.”
Glen Davidson

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Glen Davidson

posted May 1, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Of course, he never replied.
Isn’t this just the way it always goes? When a bunch of commenters demanded my midrashic source for same-sex marriage in ancient Canaan, strongly implying that I must be making it up, and then in a subsequent post I gave the precise source and its context, what was their response? Silence.

Oh, and David, my low estimate of the issues we’ve brought up regarding evolution and your misrepresentations of it that you have not answered, or at least not meaningfuly answered, is 1597. You may be right about certain critics, however, you leave yourself wide open regarding your numerous silences and evidentiary lacunae.
I’d mention your living in a glass house, but I’m sure that your glass house disappeared long ago, considering how many rocks you’ve lobbed thus far.
Glen Davidson

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posted May 1, 2009 at 9:26 pm

David: Thus a somewhat well known American journalist responding to this blog queries me in an email edged with contempt, “Do you really believe that the earth (and the universe) is roughly 6,000 years old?” I answered, “Now [name excised], this is very interesting. Why would you think that I think this about the age of the universe? I’m trying to get to the bottom of a mystery here.”
So, what do you believe about the origin of the universe and life, David? I’m not being contemptuous, and I honestly want to know. Both from the perspective of science and of religion, there is much still not understood about the cosmos, much that is still “a mystery”. On that we can agree.
However, I feel that you’ve never quite shown your hand, so to speak. This makes dialogue difficult, since it is difficult from what you’ve said so far to figure out where you’re coming from. You seem to deplore what you say are the effects of Darwinism (or better, the modern evolutionary synthesis), while at the same time admitting that its truth or falsity is a separate issue to be decided by science.
So, in the interests of clarification:
1. Do you take the opening verses of Genesis literally, or do you concede that they may be metaphorical?
2. Do you think the cosmos (or at least Earth) is about 6000 years old, or is it possible that it is much older?
3. Do you think that in principle, at least, that evolution could be compatible with the Tanakh, or do you think they are in conflict regardless?
4. If your answer to 3 is “religion and evolution are in irremediable conflict”, then on what grounds do you think so?
As I said, these are honest and sincere questions. As a gesture of goodwill and to help do my part towards dialogue, I will give my own beliefs on these:
1. While I consider the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired word of God, and Genesis in particular to have many deep and profound truths about God and man, I do not take the creation stories literally.
2. I agree with the best evidence of current science that Earth is about four billion years old, and the cosmos as a whole between eleven and twenty billion years old.
3. I think there is no incompatibility between the Tanakh (or the New Testament) and modern evolutionary theory. Evolution does not pose any problems for my faith.
4. Given my answer to 3, 4 is “not applicable”.
Once again, I really want to know. So what about it?

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Lucifer Peccatto

posted May 1, 2009 at 10:27 pm

The author of this post, David Klinghoffer, is a pseudo Jew. He read a few books on Judaism and suddenly he thinks he’s an expert on the Hebrew Bible and what it means to be a Jew.
The fact that anyone thinks he’s credible shows that our educational system in the U.S. is not doing its job.
I’ve read several posts by David and, as far as I can tell, he has no clue about being Jewish and he must have skipped school during science classes.
He is a proud member of the discovery institute; he’s too naive to realize that he’s a “token” added to their roster.

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posted May 2, 2009 at 8:37 am

Sorry, intelligent design is creationism, and this was demonstrated conclusively in the Dover trial, whatever this Miller ignoramus claims. The term “intelligent design” only started being used by formerly self proclaimed creationists when creationism suffered a defeat at the Supreme Court and the creationists realized the necessity of pretending they were a scientific rather that religious movement. That’s why part of the testimony at the trial consisted of the fact that in order to transform a former creationist “textbook” into an intelligent design “textbook”, all they did was replace the older term with the newer one.
Yes, there are differences between young and old earth creationists, but both groups often hide under the banner of intelligence design. This is why one of the self-proclaimed intelligent design supporters in the Dover trial refused to state what her beliefs were about the age of the earth. That says it all, frankly.

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Your Name

posted May 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

David exultantly wrote: “First, A.N. Wilson affirmed the Darwin-Hitler connection.”
I certainly hope you are aware of the much stronger Martin Luther-Hitler connection – take a look at and see if you can detect a connection.
And there is also a much stronger Christianity-Hitler connection: While neither Darwin nor evolution are mentioned in “Mein Kampf,” Hitler has a large number of quotes showing his strong support of an anti-Semitic brand of Christianity, such as:
“I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” or “Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews … The work that Christ started but could not finish, I — Adolf Hitler — will conclude.”

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Thomas Lee Elifritz

posted May 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Reality has a well known bias against religion.
If you don’t like it, that’s just tough.

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Denise Thorbjornsen

posted May 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm

It would seem to me that man is so busy trying to deny the very existance of their creator.Even our ancestors,the pilgrims,knew who to honor.The writers of the constitution knew who provided food,water,life,God Almighty.The reason they didn’t want religion in school or government was because of the pagan gods,buddah,allah,and other such irrational entities.God created everything we see.We should be willing to tell the truth to our children.Not some made up theories(i.e.,Darwins theory of evolution).Darwin denounced his theories on his death bed and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savoiur.Anyone with any intelligence can see that everything didn’t just get here out of some pond of ooze.It was created by God.In the end every knee shall bow and confess,that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.Submitting all things to God.As we ignore God’s holy word we will bring a lake of fire on our nation.God intends to burn everything up with a fervent heat.I know in my heart that God will spare those who live for Jesus Christ and God Almighty’s will.

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posted May 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Denise Thorbjornsen: Darwin denounced his theories on his death bed and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savoiur.
The idea that Darwin recanted his theory and/or converted to Christianity (or resumed it, since he had been raised Anglican) is a myth. Read this article, which is on an anti-evolutionist Christian website, for details.

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Dale Dean

posted May 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I don’t understand how much intellectual dishonesty there is in peoples comments–or just plain lying. First of all, just because Hitler makes a few comments about anti-semitic “Christians” doesn’t have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of “Christians” that abhorred his ideas and actions. And, just because he wrote it doesn’t make it true. What about his quote about Christ? Did Hitler even know that Christ was a Jew? And the Messiah said, to a gentile, in John 4:22, “You worship ?o?what you do not know; we know what we worship, for ?p?salvation is of the Jews.” The New King James Version. Does that sound like Messiah was anti-semitic? Doesn’t sound like Hitler had a very good understanding of the scriptures, at least not someone I would base any believe on. Let’s get real here.
So Darwin recanted on his death bed, if he did, it doesn’t take away the damage already done by his work. I have taken biology and Anatomy and Physiology course in college for the past two years and it amazes me how those in academia and the people that write the text books we have to use focus so much on evolution, when the idea has nothing to do with teaching science, at least honest science. How many of the comments on this blog are made by people that understand irreducible complexity. Try to make a car without first inventing the tools to put it together, or make the parts that make up a car, or even think up and design one for that matter. Same thing in the biological system, although a whole lot more complex. Or, how many mutations can you name that are ones that you would with on you or your children because they enhance your life? I have not been told of one. I find it quite strange that the evolutionists that write college level textbooks don’t through around all those wonderful mutations that enhance out lives, you know evolution at work. Or, the bacteria that mutate to make super bugs, yet put them in a natural environment and they can not compete with all the other natural occurring bacteria. The only survive in the, some what sterile, environment of a hospital. Ever hear of MRSA, what is it adapted too? A man made drug. Wonder how it would stand up against garlic? Guess what? It won’t survive. Praise the Creator not science, that created the problem to begin with.
Even Dawkins has been recorded as considering space aliens as our source of existence. Could be an evolutionist that isn’t too confident about the “theory”. Or, maybe he sees how ridiculous it is, seeing he also knows the chances of evolution happening are larger then all the atomic particles in the universe.
Also, the idea that the Bible cannot be taught in school, is just a modern atheistic idea that, is unconstitutional. Do you know that Bible classes where regularly taught in all the States of the USA for the first 150 years of the countries history? Did you know that the first or second act of the first congress of the united States was, printing Bibles? If it was unconstitutional, the founders of the country didn’t think so, just read some of their writings and you will see they full believed in the God of the Bible, or at least most of them did. Looks like the modern judges and the supreme court, ignore our history. Another example of intellectual dishonesty.
Enough said.

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posted May 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm

It was not a few sentences of testimony by Ken Miller that convinced Judge Jones that intelligent design is creationism.
Go read the testimony of Barbara Forrest, who (with Nick Matzke) discovered the “cdesignproponentsists” fossil in Of Pandas and people. Her previously published book, Creationism’s Trojan Horse (2004), documents over a thousand references, showing convincingly that ID sprang directly from creationism. In fact, the Kitzmiller defendants and the Discovery Institute employed every means, including personal smears, to disqualify Ms. Forrest as a witness. They did not object to any other witness. Obviously they feared her testimony and its supporting facts, rather than Ken Miller.
A new edition (Dec. 2006) of Creationism’s Trojan Horse includes a chapter on the Kitzmiller trial. It details the more recent political and religious goals of the ID movement.c3jsuv

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posted May 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Dale Dean says: “I don’t understand how much intellectual dishonesty there is in peoples comments–or just plain lying. First of all, just because Hitler makes a few comments about anti-semitic “Christians” doesn’t have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of “Christians” that abhorred his ideas and actions.”
The point is not whether there were Christians who opposed Hitler. The point is that Hitler himself used Christianity to justify his pograms.

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Your Name

posted May 3, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Only Hitler himself can execute his own program according to the dictate of his own heart and by his long studies of the matter whatever is the project or program,i believe Hitler or any of us took careful steps and procedures based on the gathering of facts and experiments or anything,we never come to a conclusion without undergoing all the process of obtaining a generalized truth or ideas, like Hitler,we all have a developing programs,we all have our own standards to meet before execution of a planned program,and let the project be tested,undergo all sorts of test to satisfy and meet Hitler’s goal before the execution of the said program.For as long as the program is safe,and can benefit Hitler,let Hitler be himself,besides,if we fail to meet our own standards,then satisfaction is not guaranteed and plans or any program eventually will never again be executed or planned.At the end of the day,Hitler himself will decide,Pass or fail,that doesn’t really matter anymore,
what matters most is if Hitler have done what he believes,that is why
Hitler is Hitler,he became great by living what he believed.

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Curt Cameron

posted May 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

Mr. Klinghoffer, you and Melanie Phillips are trying to distance ID from creationism, but it doesn’t work. You define “creationism” as belief in the Biblical account, that God created everything within the past 10,000 years or so, while to you “intelligent design” is the idea that God (or some unnamed intelligence that can only be God) created everything over some unspecified time, in unspecified ways.
However, to a scientist, those differences are insignificant – they’re both creationism.

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Tom Boughn

posted May 4, 2009 at 9:42 pm

A.N. Wilson is a very conservative Christian theologian.Melanie Phillips is bigoted conspiracy theorist crank I put on same level as Nesta Webster.I saw her on 700 Club ranting about Moslem immigrants were overwhelming Europe and planning to turn Europe in to an Eurostan,an European Moslem Empire.So to me putting any credence to this modern day Nesta Webster is ridiculous.

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Your Name

posted May 16, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Even if we would assume that this “designer” does exist, he would most like be malevolent judging by his creations and the way he treats them or at least the way he allows them to be treated.

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Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 11:59 am

The millions of years idea is the stupidest thing that i have ever heard, true science does not support it,what about the T-rex they found in montana with red blood cells it clear that the earth is young.In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.Genesis 1:1.

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