Intelligent design was formulated in the s, primarily in the United States , as an explicit refutation of the theory of biological evolution advanced by Charles Darwin — From this premise , they inferred that no such system could have come about through the gradual alteration of functioning precursor systems by means of random mutation and natural selection , as the standard evolutionary account maintains; instead, living organisms must have been created all at once by an intelligent designer. Intelligent design was widely perceived as being allied with scientific creationism , the notion that scientific facts can be adduced in support of the divine creation of the various forms of life. Supporters of intelligent design maintained, however, that they took no position on creation and were unconcerned with biblical literalism.
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Intelligent design ID is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God , presented by its proponents as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins".
Though the phrase intelligent design had featured previously in theological discussions of the argument from design ,  its first publication in its present use as an alternative term for creationism was in Of Pandas and People ,   a creationist textbook intended for high school biology classes. The term was substituted into drafts of the book, directly replacing references to creation science and creationism , after the Supreme Court 's Edwards v.
Aguillard decision barred the teaching of creation science in public schools on constitutional grounds. Dover Area School District trial, which found that intelligent design was not science, that it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," and that the public school district's promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
ID presents two main arguments against evolutionary explanations: irreducible complexity and specified complexity , asserting that certain biological and informational features of living things are too complex to be the result of natural selection.
Detailed scientific examination has rebutted several examples for which evolutionary explanations are claimed to be impossible. ID seeks to challenge the methodological naturalism inherent in modern science,   though proponents concede that they have yet to produce a scientific theory.
In , evolution was not a topic of major religious controversy in America, but in the s, the Fundamentalist—Modernist Controversy in theology resulted in Fundamentalist Christian opposition to teaching evolution, and the origins of modern creationism. Young Earth creationists YEC promoted creation science as "an alternative scientific explanation of the world in which we live".
This frequently invoked the argument from design to explain complexity in nature as demonstrating the existence of God. The argument from design, also known as the teleological argument or "argument from intelligent design", has been advanced in theology for centuries. His version of the watchmaker analogy argued that, in the same way that a watch has evidently been designed by a craftsman, complexity and adaptation seen in nature must have been designed, and the perfection and diversity of these designs shows the designer to be omnipotent, the Christian God.
In the United States, attempts to introduce creation science in schools led to court rulings that it is religious in nature, and thus cannot be taught in public school science classrooms.
Intelligent design is also presented as science, and shares other arguments with creation science but avoids literal Biblical references to such things as the Flood story from the Book of Genesis or using Bible verses to age the Earth.
Barbara Forrest writes that the intelligent design movement began in with the book The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories , co-written by creationist Charles B. Thaxton , a chemist, with two other authors, and published by Jon A. Buell's Foundation for Thought and Ethics. In March , Stephen C. Meyer published a review of the book, discussing how information theory could suggest that messages transmitted by DNA in the cell show "specified complexity" specified by intelligence, and must have originated with an intelligent agent.
Intelligent design avoids identifying or naming the intelligent designer —it merely states that one or more must exist—but leaders of the movement have said the designer is the Christian God.
The Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District court ruling held the latter to be the case. Since the Middle Ages , discussion of the religious "argument from design" or "teleological argument" in theology, with its concept of "intelligent design", has persistently referred to the theistic Creator God. Although ID proponents chose this provocative label for their proposed alternative to evolutionary explanations, they have de-emphasized their religious antecedents and denied that ID is natural theology , while still presenting ID as supporting the argument for the existence of God.
While intelligent design proponents have pointed out past examples of the phrase intelligent design that they said were not creationist and faith-based, they have failed to show that these usages had any influence on those who introduced the label in the intelligent design movement.
Variations on the phrase appeared in Young Earth creationist publications: a book co-written by Percival Davis referred to "design according to which basic organisms were created". In , A.
Wilder-Smith published The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution which defended Paley's design argument with computer calculations of the improbability of genetic sequences, which he said could not be explained by evolution but required "the abhorred necessity of divine intelligent activity behind nature", and that "the same problem would be expected to beset the relationship between the designer behind nature and the intelligently designed part of nature known as man.
Aguillard , Dean H. Kenyon defended creation science by stating that "biomolecular systems require intelligent design and engineering know-how", citing Wilder-Smith. Creationist Richard B. Bliss used the phrase "creative design" in Origins: Two Models: Evolution, Creation , and in Origins: Creation or Evolution wrote that "while evolutionists are trying to find non-intelligent ways for life to occur, the creationist insists that an intelligent design must have been there in the first place.
The most common modern use of the words "intelligent design" as a term intended to describe a field of inquiry began after the United States Supreme Court ruled in June in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard that it is unconstitutional for a state to require the teaching of creationism in public school science curricula.
A Discovery Institute report says that Charles B. Thaxton, editor of Pandas , had picked the phrase up from a NASA scientist, and thought, "That's just what I need, it's a good engineering term. Meyer was at the conference, and later recalled that "The term intelligent design came up Of Pandas and People was published in , and in addition to including all the current arguments for ID, was the first book to make systematic use of the terms "intelligent design" and "design proponents" as well as the phrase "design theory", defining the term intelligent design in a glossary and representing it as not being creationism.
It thus represents the start of the modern intelligent design movement. Buell,   and by William A. Dembski in his expert witness report for Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The National Center for Science Education NCSE has criticized the book for presenting all of the basic arguments of intelligent design proponents and being actively promoted for use in public schools before any research had been done to support these arguments.
One of the authors of the science framework used by California schools, Kevin Padian , condemned it for its "sub-text", "intolerance for honest science" and "incompetence".
The term "irreducible complexity" was introduced by biochemist Michael Behe in his book Darwin's Black Box , though he had already described the concept in his contributions to the revised edition of Of Pandas and People. Behe uses the analogy of a mousetrap to illustrate this concept.
A mousetrap consists of several interacting pieces—the base, the catch, the spring and the hammer—all of which must be in place for the mousetrap to work. Removal of any one piece destroys the function of the mousetrap. Intelligent design advocates assert that natural selection could not create irreducibly complex systems, because the selectable function is present only when all parts are assembled.
Behe argued that irreducibly complex biological mechanisms include the bacterial flagellum of E. Critics point out that the irreducible complexity argument assumes that the necessary parts of a system have always been necessary and therefore could not have been added sequentially. Furthermore, they argue, evolution often proceeds by altering preexisting parts or by removing them from a system, rather than by adding them.
This is sometimes called the "scaffolding objection" by an analogy with scaffolding, which can support an "irreducibly complex" building until it is complete and able to stand on its own. In , Charles B. Thaxton, a physical chemist and creationist, used the term "specified complexity" from information theory when claiming that messages transmitted by DNA in the cell were specified by intelligence, and must have originated with an intelligent agent.
He provides the following examples: "A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified. Dembski defines complex specified information CSI as anything with a less than 1 in 10 chance of occurring by natural chance. Critics say that this renders the argument a tautology : complex specified information cannot occur naturally because Dembski has defined it thus, so the real question becomes whether or not CSI actually exists in nature.
John Wilkins and Wesley R. Elsberry characterize Dembski's "explanatory filter" as eliminative because it eliminates explanations sequentially: first regularity, then chance, finally defaulting to design. They argue that this procedure is flawed as a model for scientific inference because the asymmetric way it treats the different possible explanations renders it prone to making false conclusions.
Richard Dawkins , another critic of intelligent design, argues in The God Delusion that allowing for an intelligent designer to account for unlikely complexity only postpones the problem, as such a designer would need to be at least as complex.
Intelligent design proponents have also occasionally appealed to broader teleological arguments outside of biology, most notably an argument based on the fine-tuning of universal constants that make matter and life possible and which are argued not to be solely attributable to chance. These include the values of fundamental physical constants , the relative strength of nuclear forces , electromagnetism , and gravity between fundamental particles , as well as the ratios of masses of such particles.
Intelligent design proponent and Center for Science and Culture fellow Guillermo Gonzalez argues that if any of these values were even slightly different, the universe would be dramatically different, making it impossible for many chemical elements and features of the Universe , such as galaxies , to form. Scientists have generally responded that these arguments are poorly supported by existing evidence.
Stenger and other critics say both intelligent design and the weak form of the anthropic principle are essentially a tautology ; in his view, these arguments amount to the claim that life is able to exist because the Universe is able to support life. Life as we know it might not exist if things were different, but a different sort of life might exist in its place. A number of critics also suggest that many of the stated variables appear to be interconnected and that calculations made by mathematicians and physicists suggest that the emergence of a universe similar to ours is quite probable.
The contemporary intelligent design movement formulates its arguments in secular terms and intentionally avoids identifying the intelligent agent or agents they posit. Although they do not state that God is the designer, the designer is often implicitly hypothesized to have intervened in a way that only a god could intervene. Dembski, in The Design Inference , speculates that an alien culture could fulfill these requirements.
In , philosopher of science Robert T. Acknowledging the paradox , Dembski concludes that "no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life. Beyond the debate over whether intelligent design is scientific, a number of critics argue that existing evidence makes the design hypothesis appear unlikely, irrespective of its status in the world of science.
For example, Jerry Coyne asks why a designer would "give us a pathway for making vitamin C , but then destroy it by disabling one of its enzymes" see pseudogene and why a designer would not "stock oceanic islands with reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and freshwater fish, despite the suitability of such islands for these species".
Coyne also points to the fact that "the flora and fauna on those islands resemble that of the nearest mainland, even when the environments are very different" as evidence that species were not placed there by a designer. Odd designs could, for example, " Intelligent design proponents such as Paul Nelson avoid the problem of poor design in nature by insisting that we have simply failed to understand the perfection of the design.
Behe cites Paley as his inspiration, but he differs from Paley's expectation of a perfect Creation and proposes that designers do not necessarily produce the best design they can.
Behe suggests that, like a parent not wanting to spoil a child with extravagant toys, the designer can have multiple motives for not giving priority to excellence in engineering. He says that "Another problem with the argument from imperfection is that it critically depends on a psychoanalysis of the unidentified designer. Yet the reasons that a designer would or would not do anything are virtually impossible to know unless the designer tells you specifically what those reasons are.
Johnson puts forward a core definition that the designer creates for a purpose, giving the example that in his view AIDS was created to punish immorality and is not caused by HIV , but such motives cannot be tested by scientific methods. Asserting the need for a designer of complexity also raises the question "What designed the designer?
But, in assessing the value of an explanation, these questions are not irrelevant. They must be balanced against the improvements in our understanding which the explanation provides. Invoking an unexplained being to explain the origin of other beings ourselves is little more than question-begging. The new question raised by the explanation is as problematic as the question which the explanation purports to answer. The intelligent design movement is a direct outgrowth of the creationism of the s.
The movement is headquartered in the Center for Science and Culture, established in as the creationist wing of the Discovery Institute to promote a religious agenda [n 11] calling for broad social, academic and political changes. The Discovery Institute's intelligent design campaigns have been staged primarily in the United States, although efforts have been made in other countries to promote intelligent design.
Leaders of the movement say intelligent design exposes the limitations of scientific orthodoxy and of the secular philosophy of naturalism. Intelligent design proponents allege that science should not be limited to naturalism and should not demand the adoption of a naturalistic philosophy that dismisses out-of-hand any explanation that includes a supernatural cause. The overall goal of the movement is to "reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview " represented by the theory of evolution in favor of "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions".
What is Intelligent Design?
Receive emails about upcoming NOVA programs and related content, as well as featured reporting about current events through a science lens. Phillip Johnson: I would like to put a basic explanation of the intelligent-design concept as I understand it this way. There are two hypotheses to consider scientifically. One is you need a creative intelligence to do all the creating that has been done in the history of life; the other is you don't, because we can show that unintelligent, purposeless, natural processes are capable of doing and actually did do the whole job. Now, that is what is taught as fact in our textbooks. And to me it's a hypothesis, which needs to be tested by evidence and experiment.
The Flaws in Intelligent Design
Intelligent Design is very different from science. Though the idea deals with phenomena in the natural world, research in this area does not bear any of the other hallmarks of science. What is "Intelligent Design" Creationism? Hayes, photo by Elizabeth H. White, M. Intelligent Design: Is it scientific? Intelligent Design has been defined by its proponents as the idea that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.
Intelligent design ID is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God , presented by its proponents as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins". Though the phrase intelligent design had featured previously in theological discussions of the argument from design ,  its first publication in its present use as an alternative term for creationism was in Of Pandas and People ,   a creationist textbook intended for high school biology classes. The term was substituted into drafts of the book, directly replacing references to creation science and creationism , after the Supreme Court 's Edwards v. Aguillard decision barred the teaching of creation science in public schools on constitutional grounds. Dover Area School District trial, which found that intelligent design was not science, that it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," and that the public school district's promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Defending Intelligent Design
How do we recognize design? How do we realize that something has been put together intentionally by an intelligent agent? What is intelligent design? Our minds recognize the effects of other intelligent beings when we see the purposeful arrangement of parts, such as the letters and words in a book. Or, the intentional design of something like Mt.