Why I Support Intelligent Design

June 21, 2008 at 1:43 pm 47 comments

I don’t have a problem with intelligent design (ID). In fact, I believed in something like intelligent design when I was a kid and it allowed me to be both a creationist (believing God created the universe) and to accept science and evolution (God set the ball rolling, set up the rules, and used evolution as a tool). Eventually this led to me dropping the creationist beliefs.

I do support ID as a philosophy because it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution. Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not. I for one would like that to include at least a rudimentary acceptance of evolution as a concept. And since ID is basically a “God of the gaps” theory, it will eventually collapse under scrutiny by those who take the time to think, and the individual may be left with naked evolution.

Literal young earth creationism on the other hand, is part of a mindset that does not leave much of a window for thought at all, and it is a much more insidious philosophy.

I can live with people thinking that God started the evolutionary ball rolling, and even with the idea that he tinkers with it a little bit — as long as they keep their religious beliefs out of public school science classrooms, unless they actually scientifically discover verifiable evidence of God’s tinkering. And so far, ID proponents have not done any real science. They seem to think that PR is adequate, that if they can get enough people on board, then they can skip the hard work of actually doing science.

A lot of bloggers find ID to be nothing more than a deceitful way to disguise creationism and get it into the classroom. While that may be the intention of people like Michael Behe, William Dembski, and other ID evangelists, I don’t think it’s true of the average Christian sitting in the pew. I’ve never found lay Christians to be anything like televangelists or well-known preachers. They are much more honest. If they want creationism to be taught in public schools, they will come out and say so. And it will get thrown out as the blatant constitutional violation that it is, just as it did in Dover when the ID evangelists were outed by the school board members who could not, or would not, hide the fact that their goal was entirely religious in nature.

I support ID but not in the science classroom. However, even if ID were taught in public schools, the world would not end and America would not turn into a third-world country. All kinds of garbage has been and is still being taught in public schools. Yes, I want to improve education, but I’m really tired of all the fear mongering of the left and skeptics over this stuff. I spent half of my life being afraid of liberals and secularists dragging the world to hell and I most certainly am not going to spend the second half of my life being afraid of conservatives and religionists dragging the world to hell. Let’s get a grip on the actual severity of these problems and stop blowing everything out of proportion.

I should clarify that I define intelligent design the way I believe most Christians do, as a form of theistic evolution. I in no way promote or condone the ID political movement that is striving to get creationism taught in public schools in the United States, nor do I support the work or goals of the Discovery Institute, Michael Behe, or William Dembski.

- writerdd


Cross posted on Skepchick

Entry filed under: writerdd. Tags: , , , , , .

Since god didn’t create the matter, where did it come from? Scientific Method vs. Creationist Method

47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ck  |  June 21, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    … I would suggest you replace “ID” with “theistic evolution” before you get flamed. The words aren’t interchangeable and your article makes a lot more sense if you make that change….

    (And no, most Christians do not define ID as theistic evolution, sorry!)

  • 2. ck  |  June 21, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I forgot to add the link:

    http://tinyurl.com/3gvns7

    Just use Google, please!

  • 3. orDover  |  June 21, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    … Seriously?

  • 4. The de-Convert  |  June 21, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    ck/orDover,

    writerdd added the following to her post based on the comments on SkepChick. I think this clarifies the concern:

    I should clarify that I define intelligent design the way I believe most Christians do, as a form of theistic evolution. I in no way promote or condone the ID political movement that is striving to get creationism taught in public schools in the United States, nor do I support the work or goals of the Discovery Institute, Michael Behe, or William Dembski.

    Personally, I enjoy posts that shows that we maintain an open mind and don’t trade Christian fundamentalism for another form of fundamentalism. If we do, we’ve achieved nothing.

    Paul

  • 5. orDover  |  June 21, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    I read the addendum.
    I preferred bug_girl’s post, where she said that, “Telling religious people–and I have had students from all sorts of religions, not just Christianity-–that they don’t have to give up a core tenet of their life to learn about evolution is sometimes the only way to make progress.” That’s a little less inflammatory.

  • 6. ck  |  June 21, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I understand the clarification, I’m disagree with “as most Christians do.” And, if they do, they’re simply wrong. Like saying “I understand the immaculate conception to be the birth of Jesus without sin, like most Catholics do.” Okay, but it isn’t!

    Why not just change the terms to be clearer? That’s why I’m baffled. No more from me…

  • 7. writerdd  |  June 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Why not change the terms? Because this is just a cross post and I don’t have time to rewrite it. Also, I think that most Christians that I know do conflate ID and theistic evolution and until I find out differently for myself, I am not uncomfortable with what I’ve written. If people get bent out of shape over the terminology I use, that’s their problem, not mine. But I added a note at the end because that was fast and it addresses the point in question directly.

  • 8. The de-Convert  |  June 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I do agree that ID probably does not equate to “theistic evolution” for most Christians. However, I think the point here is that ID is at least an opening for fundies to consider theistic evolution hence a good thing.

  • 9. writerdd  |  June 21, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I would like to do a poll or survey asking a bunch of Christians these questions, to be answered off the top of their heads with no research. I am not interested in what people can look up, but what they think off the cuff. And there are no right or wrong answers in this sense.

    What is intelligent design?

    What is theistic evolution?

    What is creationism?

    Are any of these the same or do any of these overlap a lot? If yes, please explain.

    If anyone here can help me find a way to reach a large group of Christians to do this survey, I’d really appreciate it.

  • 10. TheNerd  |  June 21, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    “I support ID but not in the science classroom.”

    I agree – it should stay in the philosophy or world literature classes, where it belongs.

    As far as the survey in comment #9 goes, I would love to see the results of that research. I confess I haven’t thought of the difference between ID and TE. I would hate to shoot my mouth off on the wrong topic one of these days!

  • 11. Blog Jumper  |  June 22, 2008 at 6:14 am

    I have always understood ID as…evolution with a purpose, or in other words, “theistic evolution”. I have never personally known anyone who thought ID and Young Earth Creationism were one in the same. I’m not saying that no one thinks that way, but I would be willing to bet that the majority of ID minded Christians have no issues with evolution.
    I absolutely believe that ID/Creationism should not be taught in public school science classes. But the discorse over this issue at blogs such as Bad Astronomy is so over the top, they end up hurting the cause they care so much about.

  • 12. Stephen P  |  June 22, 2008 at 6:38 am

    ID is one of those subjects that one can’t really discuss without first defining what one means by it. There are (at least) the following possible connotations:

    1. What the Discovery Institute presents as ID;
    2. What the Discovery Institute really means by ID;
    3. What fundamentalists seem to think ID is;
    4. What mainstream Christians seem to think ID is.

    Since ID was dreamt up the DI, only the first two really matter, though the other two shouldn’t be ignored completely.

    1. DI presents ID (or used to; I gather they’re making less and less effort to keep up the pretence) as a scientific hypothesis which states that some intelligent designer was involved in life getting to where it now is. What that scientific hypothesis exactly is remains so vague that it has never had the slightest credibility. It’s hard to think that any well-informed person would consider ID in this sense to have any merit, particularly considering the next point.

    2. As is now pretty well-known (see the Dover trial transcripts for many of the details, and the Panda’s Thumb for the rest), ID is actually just the umpteenth creationist front – creationism in a pilfered lab coat. It thus has everything that is wrong with creationism, but with an extra layer of deceit on top. It is originally a flavour of old-earth creationism. However the DI (except Behe) is now soft-pedalling that, due to the fact that most of the support and funds for the DI now seem to be coming from YECs.

    3. YECs recognise that ID is a creationist front, but have somehow failed to spot that it’s OEC. Consequently they are happy to support it.

    4. Many mainstream Christians seem to think (as mentioned above) that ID is pretty much the same thing as theistic evolution. The DI (Dembski in particular) vigorously denies this. So one has the choice of either assuming that the DI knows what it is talking about (in which case the mainstream Christians are simply wrong about ID) or they don’t (in which case ID is a waste of time).

    More recently ID, as propagated by the DI, has become little more than a method for vandalising science education in schools.

    So, in summary, theistic evolution may (or may not) have some merit, in the sense that writerdd intends. But whichever way one looks at it, it is extremely hard to find even the slightest whisker of merit in ID.

  • 13. writerdd  |  June 22, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Stephen P, I agree with most of what you say except this, “Since ID was dreamt up the DI, only the first two really matter, though the other two shouldn’t be ignored completely.”

    I actually think the last two are more important than the first two. It doesn’t matter what the DI wants ID to mean if fundamentalist and mainstream Christians see it as something else entirely.

  • 14. Stephen P  |  June 22, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    writerdd: thanks for your response. The issue here is a bit reminiscent of arguments such as whether Christianity is defined by the bible, or whether Christians are free to redefine it. In this case however the original inventers of ID are stll alive and active. It seems to me that the nature of ID is determined by their words and actions (complicated of course by the fact that their words and actions are not consistent.) If they say ID differs from theistic evolution – and it seems to me that it does – then I think it fair to say that the mainstream Christians referred to have not made the effort to understand what ID is, and so their views are not very important.

    But it’s not an important point. We can agree to differ.

  • 15. thebadastronomer  |  June 25, 2008 at 1:55 am

    I take pretty serious exception to being called a “fear-monger”. That implies someone who is exaggerating the risk, and I don’t do that. I make it very clear just what the risk is.

    The term Intelligent Design has a very specific meaning, and it’s creationism revamped to circumvent the Constitution. That was the key issue ion the Dover case, and while you might personally consider it to mean something else, it has a very different meaning to millions of other people.

    Teaching it in any form is unconstitutional. Not to forget wrong.

  • 16. Cthulhu  |  June 25, 2008 at 10:20 am

    thebadastronomer,

    Hi Phil – good to see you here! I am taking your side on the fear-mongering – ID is a direct attack on science. At the same time I agree with writerdd on one thing…exposing Christians to science and evolution in particular is a good thing, If more Christians did not fear science and actually tried to understand evolution, we might see less cases like Dover. Just my 2 cents…

    Cheers…

  • 17. M  |  June 27, 2008 at 1:16 am

    I think that while ID is not valid science (at least from what can be determined at this time), I do believe that one of the motivations to get ID into the science classrooms is due to the recent trend in the past few decades to associate anything that is “true” with Science and anything that is “speculation” with Philosophy. The Post-Modern movement really screwed up education and allowed for this sort of thinking to progress and make other fields of study seem like arbitrary nonsense, while Science is the Queen.

    I think if people were more educated and more diversely educated that many of the narrow minded views we have today in respect to science, philosophy, and religion would be solved and we might actually practice real tolerance and rational discourse.

  • 18. Cthulhu  |  June 27, 2008 at 2:59 am

    M,

    I would be OK with a comparative religion course taught in public school – just keep creationism out of the science curriculum.

  • 19. Anonymous  |  August 7, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    “The origin and maintenance of sex and recombination is not easily explained by natural selection. Evolutionary biology is unable to reveal why animals would abandon asexual reproduction in favor of more costly and inefficient sexual reproduction. Exactly how did we arrive at two separate genders-each with its own physiology? If, as evolutionists have argued, there is a materialistic answer for everything, then the question should be answered: Why sex? Is sex the product of a historical accident or the product of an intelligent Creator? The current article reviews some of the current theories for why sexual reproduction exists today. Yet, as these theories valiantly attempt to explain why sex exists now, they do not explain the origin of sex. We suggest that there is no naturalistic explanation that can account for the origin and maintenance of sex.”

  • 20. Anonymous  |  August 7, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    It posted before I finished typing. Is the last sentencen true?

  • 21. Obi  |  August 7, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    No comprendemos alguno sobre este sujeto, ergo el Dios hacelo…

    Jajaja.

  • 22. Obi  |  August 7, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Y no, el ultimo frase no es verdad. Todo el parrafo es tonto.

  • 23. silentj  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Actually, sexual reproduction is pretty integral to the process of evolution for its role in producing genetic variation. Even though the numbers go down, the variations allow for species to better handle their conditions.

    Less, but stronger.

    For a similar reason, we don’t reproduce with our family members.

    The actual act of sex we see now evolved just as the structure of the organisms who have sex evolved.

    Which brings up another great point:

    Maybe the deconversion porn mentioned last week would be flash animations of single cell organisms gettin’ they freak on.

  • 24. ubi dubium  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Anonymous (Please create a username to identify yourself. It helps.).

    If asexual reproduction were really more efficient, then that’s mostly what we would see in nature, because those creatures would have outcompeted the others. But we don’t. A creature that rarely or never exchanges DNA with others produces offspring that are essentially clones of the parent. Without any variability built in, they are all equally succeptible to such challenges as diseases or climate change. Something that wipes out one can easily wipe out them all. Sexual reproduction allows for a population to have an inherent variability, such that, when a new challenge comes along, some individuals are better at surviving it than others, and so the population can adapt. The advantages of variability are so important to survival of species that you rarely see an organism larger than a bacterium without sexual reproduction. (Even modern bacteria, without any gender, occasionally swap bits of DNA. They just do it by other means.)

    Plus, remember that sexual reproduction began as a simple exchange of genetic material among single-celled creatures. Nothing fancy or complicated at first – that took a long time to develop.

  • 25. ubi dubium  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    SilentJ

    We were writing pretty much the same thing at the same time, I think.

    Here’s a wonderful old animated movie called Evolution that includes single-cell organisms “gettin they freak on”. It makes its point, and it’s also really funny!

  • 26. Obi  |  August 8, 2008 at 9:36 am

    The last sentence is the very worst part of the whole paragraph, to be honest. “We don’t have an explanation now…ergo God(s).” I mean, damn. You’d think that humans would have learned to stop doing that by now.

  • 27. Rover  |  August 8, 2008 at 11:28 am

    De Cons:
    My wife asked that question about reproduction. Apparrently a web site has a challenge out there that if you can prove that going from an asexual (a life form being both male and female) form to “seperate sexes” is beneficial or even possible they will give you x amount of dollars. As you probably figured out I am not a scientist, but I think that is the jist of the question. Sorry for the “anonymous” part.

  • 28. Obi  |  August 8, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Rover –

    It’s obviously possible, because it happened. One down. It’s beneficial, because sexual reproduction increases genetic diversity, because of the process of crossing over during meiosis as well as the fact that two different sets of genetic code are being drawn from. Second down.

  • 29. Rover  |  August 8, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Buenos Días! Obi,

    You can claim you money at trueorigin.org.

    Here is some more of what they have to say.

    The evolution of sex (and its accompanying reproductive capability) is not a favorite topic of discussion in most evolutionary circles, because no matter how many theories evolutionists conjure up (and there are several), they still must surmount the enormous hurdle of explaining the origin of the first fully functional female and the first fully functional male necessary to begin the process. In his book, The Masterpiece of Nature: The Evolution of Genetics and Sexuality, Graham Bell described the dilemma in the following manner:

    ‘Sex is the queen of problems in evolutionary biology. Perhaps no other natural phenomenon has aroused so much interest; certainly none has sowed as much confusion. The insights of Darwin and Mendel, which have illuminated so many mysteries, have so far failed to shed more than a dim and wavering light on the central mystery of sexuality, emphasizing its obscurity by its very isolation.’[1]

    Hasta luego!

  • 30. The Apostate  |  August 8, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Rover,
    Here is a list of Creationist claims, with responses, i case you were interested. It might help with some perceived hurdles of evolution.

    I really encourage looking into the works of evolutionists – many Christians have found that evolution can even make their faith stronger. It is great to know how nature works. Evolution, for example, does not require organisms to be initially “beneficial” in order to survive. It simple requires a stable system to thrive.

  • 31. Anonymous  |  August 8, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    You can claim your money at trueorigin.org.

    Rover—

    Good luck :) Normally those who are so positive evolution has been “proven” are the last to show up and claim any prize money for actually proving it is the case.

  • 32. Rover  |  August 8, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Anonymous

    have you met Obi?

  • 33. Obi  |  August 8, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    *sigh*

    Human beings are such strange creatures…
    Instead of pointing out unanswered questions in our knowledge and then saying “Hoho, but you don’t have so-and-so knowledge yet, ergo we will place God(s) in this gap”, go out and actively try to learn how exactly sex came about if you’re so interested in knowing it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This type of silliness has been going on for thousands of years, and each and every time science has filled in a gap, detractors of it (the majority of the time they’re those who cling to shaky religious beliefs for their very lives) will concede their defeat due to overwhelming evidence, only to forget their defeat and move on to the next gap only to have science fill it in, on and on to the present with this gap.

    It’s only a matter of time before this gap gets filled in, there is a momentary lull, and then the process resumes and continues ad infinitum. Damn.

  • 34. Oleander  |  August 8, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Obi—

    So then, are you going to go to trueorigin and collect your money?

  • 35. Oleander  |  August 8, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Speaking of Intelliegent design I’d like to relate a rather interesting story:

    My next door neighbor is an atheist. Hilariously, he taught his macaw to say “There is no god. There is no god. Awk!!” But just yesterday a cat broke into their house through a doggie-door and literally came within inches of killing the poor bird. The neighbor lady, a dear pentecostal 80 year old, heard the commotion and rushed in, saving the bird from certain death. Miraculously, the bird started saying “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Awk!!”

    Do you think it’s change of verbal expression is due to some divine intervention, or just a natural step in the evoutionary process?

  • 36. Oleander  |  August 8, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Speaking of Intelliegent design

    I should say intelligent. :)

  • 37. Obi  |  August 8, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Oleander –

    (1) Why would I want their money? They most likely wouldn’t acknowledge valid scientific explanations anyway, as is evidenced by the fact that they disregard the research of universities, governments, and research organizations all over the world.

    (2) I hope your little anecdote was just for fun, and not meant to provide evidence for any supernatural being(s). Hopefully it wasn’t. ;)

  • 38. The Apostate  |  August 8, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Oleander,

    Do you think it’s change of verbal expression is due to some divine intervention, or just a natural step in the evoutionary process?

    lol, or perhaps it is the Pentecostal penchant to be fervent liars and exaggeraters whenever it comes to anything religious. I am sure you heard this story from the mouth of the dear old Pentecostal lady.

  • 39. Dingo  |  January 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I need help. I have recently begun the process of de-conversion. I am increasingly convinced that I have been wrong about God. I am a very influential person in my church. and If I did de convert it would impact my church. My Pastor wants me to meet with a scientist from a well know Univeristy who will supposedly convince me that Evolution is false.
    Can you help me with some difficult questions to ask him or referr me to some websites that can help me refute his claims. I am not a scientist so I will be at a great disadvantage. Any help would be appreciated.

  • 40. Ubi Dubium  |  January 4, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Dingo -
    Welcome! Please come join us in the forums as well (just click on “community site” under “navigation” and register.) We have lots of discussions like this over there.

    Some of my favorite websites on evolution are Pharyngula, The Panda’s Thumb, Greg Laden’s Blog, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation. I’m sure some of the other regulars here have other suggestions specifically directed at refuting creationism.

  • 41. orDover  |  January 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Another great site is Talk Origins. They have a very useful database with quick refutations to Creationists’ favorite fallacies and some very long in depth articles containing the physical proofs of evolution.

    Just remember, just because someone is a professor doesn’t make them an expert on everything, and it doesn’t guarantee that they have the ability to think critically. And just because one professor tells you evolution is false doesn’t mean he’s right. His opinion flies in the face of both the general scientific consensus and mountains of hard evidence.

  • 42. orDover  |  January 4, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Oops, it looks like the Talk Origins url has changed. Try this instead–> http://toarchive.org/.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  January 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Dingo:

    Along with others I invite you to pop over to the forum site too. It’s a good place for the back-and-forth that you’d probably want for your discussion.

    Others have already given you some good sites to go to for info on the ev side of the cre/ev debate. If you post any specific questions that your are flummoxed by, we could probably give you some input/ideas/directions.

    I’d like to know if the cre/ev issue to the main issue for you in your de-conversion process. Is it, or is it just what your pastor focused on? What other matters are you dealing with?

    Best to you in this process. We all know it’s difficult.

  • 44. dingo  |  January 5, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    thanks for all the great links. I will let you know how it goes.

  • 45. enigma  |  January 5, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Hey dingo,

    there are a lot of informative youtube channels that provide excellent material for evolution… It helped me out a lot.

    youtube users: cdk007, thunderf00t

  • 46. enigma  |  January 6, 2009 at 12:04 am

    take special note of cdk007′s series on “Why Christians Must Deny Gravity”… It is perhaps the most simple, yet powerful argument against a young earth I’ve ever come across.

  • 47. noneePhomarie  |  July 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    gcorle http://extremeperformanceinc.com/ expxqe

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