So, in a series of short texts, I hope to address a few of these myths, which seem convienient backup for atheistic ideas, but are, in fact, not true. Maybe I should add an apology or disclaimer here, as I certainly do not say everything that probably should have been said or written for a treatment of the issue that is not superficial. If you want to react, you are welcome to email me. In your email, please tell me if you allow me to quote you (with your name or anonymously) on my website. My email address is hansb at cs.uu.nl.
So, now 'myth 1':
"Intelligent Design is just Creationism in disguise"
In the Creation versus Evolution debate, several authors from the Evolution side attack Intelligent Design in the following way. They first explain what all is wrong with Creationism, e.g., science clearly shows that the earth is billion years old, instead of the less than 8000 that creationists say that the earth is old. In addition, one often reads that Intelligent Design is a 'plot' to get creationism back into science, through a backdoor, through a disguise.
For instance, in a famous ruling by an US judge on a question whether intelligent design could be teached on a high school (here you can read the full text), you see explained in several pages that Intelligent Design should be seen as a form of creationism.
An objective observer would know that ID and teaching about gaps and problems in evolutionary theory are creationist, religious strategies that evolved from earlier forms of creationism. (Quote from judge ruling from Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover School District, et al. case.)
A report at the council of the Europe Parliament (not accepted by the way), stated
Creationism in any of its forms, such as 'intelligent design', is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.
The Assembly calls on education authorities in member States to promote scientific knowledge and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline.
(If you want to read the full text of this report, see here. Fortunately, this document was not accepted. I think the document is a sad example of intolerance. For instance, the maker of the document believes that creationism is a threat to human rights. I think believing and disbelieving creationism and/or evolution are both human rights; stating that an opposing scientific or religious view is a threat to human rights is the threat itself.)
Thus, the (I think) myth is that Intelligent Design is just a strategy by creationists to give fundamental Christian ideas a scientific look. But is it?
Indeed, you read this more frequently: Christians who oppose to the Intelligent Design ideas, because they see important differences to their own viewpoints. And indeed, they are correct, in the sense that Creationism and ID are different.
Creationism assumes a 'young earth' - an earth that is about 7000 years old. Intelligent design follows 'science' in assuming that the earth is about 7 billion years old.
Creationism assumes the individual creation by God of each of the species. ID assumes that some species were formed as derivations of other species, but tells that the evolution process of mutation and selection is not a sufficient explanation of the formation of the different species. Basically, ID tells us that when we look to the complexity of the universe (and that includes much more than just the different species, e.g., also the mass of the universe, the fact that ice floats, etc.) then we can see traces of design, and assume as a most likely explanation that behind this complexity, there was an intelligent force that designed things.
Creatonism takes as starting point for the ideas and findings the Bible, while ID starts with science. If it looks like that science and the Bible contradict each other, the creationist will believe the Bible, and the ID-supporter science. (To the previous sentence, I must add that it is only partially true - in more than one way. I could write much more here, but this would make the text even longer.)
I think these are quite large differences. I thus think that it is unjustified to identify ID and Intelligent Design. That is about as silly as to identify humanism and communism, as they both are world views based on atheism.
Let me give a typical example. The amount of the mass of the universe is just large enough that planets are formed, but not too large, otherwise the universe would have collapsed directly. The fact that the mass is just of the right amount to make the formation of life possible is one of the arguments of ID to point to a Designer; this is a kind of argument that a creationist would not use.
Hans Bodlaender, email@example.com, July 2007Hans Bodlaender is a Dutch computer scientist, working on the area of algorithms. These views are his personal and private opinions. Hans is member of an evangelist church in his home town, near Utrecht. He is married and has three children. He was born in 1960. More of his texts can be found on this website via this link.