One of the most consistently stupid “journalists” writing on the subject of science and intelligent design has to be Melanie Phillips. I commented two years ago on another horrendous anti-science piece of hers: Idiot Journalist is the new enemy of reason. Now she’s back again writing in the Spectator, with a piece entitled Creating An Insult To Intelligence – actually a highly accurate headline considering what she wrote under it.
Listening to the Today programme this morning, I was irritated once again by yet another misrepresentation of Intelligent Design as a form of Creationism. In an item on the growing popularity of Intelligent Design, John Humphrys interviewed Professor Ken Miller of Brown University in the US who spoke on the subject last evening at the Faraday Institute, Cambridge. Humphrys suggested that Intelligent Design might be considered a kind of middle ground between Darwinism and Creationism. Miller agreed but went further, saying that Intelligent Design was
nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable.
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.
The court was”simply wrong”? What, because you say so? And why was Miller’s testimony “muddled”? Because you didn’t like it? Or because you didn’t understand it? In any case, the court was not “wrong”, simply or otherwise. The court was shown evidence (actually, virtual proof) of the link between creationism and ID. The transitional version - cdesign proponentsists – was discovered.
Put simply, the ID book Of Pandas and People that was discussed at the Dover trial was originally a unashamed creation book called Creation Biology. (You know it’s a creation book because it has the word “Creation” in the title. You’re welcome.) Just after the Supreme Court ruling against creation science in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Disco Tute decided to remake the book as an ID book, rewriting large parts of it to make it all “sciencey” and not creationism at all. No, really. But unfortunately for them, they were in such a hurry to do so that in changing the wording in one place from “creationists” to (presumably) “intelligent design proponents”, they morphed the two phrases and the book actually included the words “cdesign proponentsists”. Apparently they believe in a designer but not in a spell checker. Hilarious. Click the NCSE’s Missing Link discovered! for a detailed explanation of what they did. Also, The Panda's Thumb's Missing link: “cdesign proponentsists”.
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.
Which is funny, because
cdesign proponentsists (excuse me) intelligent design proponents don’t do any science. Instead they write long whiney articles about why ID is too science.
Creationism, whose proponents are Bible literalists, is a specific doctrine which holds that the earth was literally created in six days. Intelligent Design, whose proponents are mainly scientists, holds that the complexity of science suggests that there must have been a governing intelligence behind the origin of matter, which could not have developed spontaneously from nothing.
So how did the existence of this “governing intelligence” result in there being matter? According to IDists, the designer designed stuff. Stuff that could not have evolved. So after he had designed it, surely he must have implemented his design? But how did he do this, if the “matter […] could not have developed spontaneously from nothing” as Phillips writes? Didn’t the designer have to “create” the matter? If not, where did it come from? And if the designer did create matter, how is this not “creationism”? Obviously it’s not literal six day creationism, but who said creationism had to be literal six day creationism as in Genesis? Regardless of whether ID has its roots in religious creation or not (it does, but even if it didn’t), it’s still creationism. Clearly it’s more than just “design” (intelligent or otherwise). Somewhere along the line, the designer had to create stuff too.
The confusion arises partly out of ignorance, with people lazily confusing belief in a Creator with Creationism.
A bit like how people lazily confuse the appearance of design with belief in a designer.
But belief in a Creator is common to all people of monotheistic faith – with many scientists amongst them -- the vast majority of whom would regard Creationism as totally ludicrous. In coming to the conclusion that a governing intelligence must have been responsible for the ultimate origin of matter, Intelligent Design proponents are essentially saying there must have been a creator.
There you are - “there must have been a creator”. Told you.
The difference between them and people of religious faith is that ID proponents do not necessarily believe in a personalised Creator, or God.
Well, yes they do, but even if they didn’t, it’s still creationism. It’s still “magic man did it”.
As a result, both Creationists and many others of religious faith disdain Intelligent Design, just as ID proponents think Creationism is totally off the wall. Yet the two continue to be conflated. And ignorance is only partly responsible for the confusion, since militant evangelical atheists deliberately conflate Intelligent Design with Creationism in order to smear and discredit ID and its adherents.
No, we conflate them because they are the same. If they want it to be science they need to do some science. Then they need to write it up and present it for publication in a science journal. Then have it peer reviewed, and stuff like that. But that’s too hard. Instead they just want to whine about how mean scientists are for calling them creationists. Boo hoo.