• What is Creationism and Intelligent Design?

    This is an older piece I wrote for another publication back on July 9, 2009.

    For readers who are unaware of this movement that’s been an almost constant fixture in American life since the mid 1800’s I’m going to give some brief background information to get everyone up to speed.

    Creationism, and its most recent form, Intelligent Design (I.D.), is a religiously based movement that is a reaction to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution that has been attempting to find scientific evidence for “Creation” ever since Darwin published his most famous book On the Origin of Species in 1859.

    What exactly is “Creation”? It is a belief that God (most notably the Christian God here in the states; other religions, such as Islam, replace the Christian God with their particular god) created all life in seven days, which takes Genesis, the first book of the bible, literally.

    One of the first publications about “Creation Science” (another term for Creationism) was from 1961 with the publication of John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris’s Genesis Flood, which sought to find scientific evidence for the great flood as told in the bible.

    Fast forward several years to the 1880’s and 1890’s and this is when many Christians began to become very alarmed with the idea of evolution gaining greater and greater acceptance, and even before then began protesting that evolution was being taught in our public schools. This caused many religiously-minded parents to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools, which they accomplished in several states.

    One Christian in particular, William Jennings Bryan, a Presbyterian layman and a three-time Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States, condemned evolution because it preaches that “man has a brute ancestry” and how it’s “substituting the law of the jungle for the teachings of Christ.” [1]

    Many Christians believed that a belief in evolution would cause a lack of morality and would be disastrous to society, and to Christianity itself.

    Unfortunately, things have not changed much since that time.

    Fast forward again to 1987 with the court case Edwards v. Aguillard, in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it was unconstitutional for Creationism to be taught in schools. [2]

    This was a devastating blow to the Creationists but they weren’t done yet and had other tricks up their sleeve. In the early 1990’s a new theory cropped up; it was called Intelligent Design. It’s proponents argued that life was “too complex” to have evolved only through naturalistic means, and that life required some kind of “intelligent agent” or “designer” to help the natural processes along. Most of the arguments used by Intelligent Design proponents are the same as the Creationists, the only difference being they don’t admit (at least most of them [3]) that the “intelligent agent” is the Christian God. They do this to skirt the 1987 Supreme Court ruling because everyone knows that Creationism is religion in disguise and isn’t true science. In order to get around the ruling they simply deny Intelligent Design is religiously motivated at all, but they’ve failed at this as well, which I’ll get to in the next piece.

    In reality Creationism and Intelligent Design are very much alike. Only the details differ. For example, there are “Old Earth” and “Young Earth” Creationists. Old Earthers accept that the earth is roughly four and a half billion years old, while Young Earthers follow the bible religiously (pun intended) and believe that the world is roughly six to eight-thousand years old. Intelligent Design proponents agree that the earth is old and do not take the bible literally, however there are some who take the bible literally. Both Creationists and I.D.ers use essentially the same tactics. Just as in the 1800’s many Intelligent Design proponents believe that evolution is responsible for moral decay [4] and that if you teach children in schools that they’re basically upright apes, then they will act like animals. This same argument is in use today by many advocates of I.D., of course, no theorist has been able to come up with any data proving this.

    Probably the greatest similarity is the fact that both Creationism and I.D. attempt to undermine good science and inject supernatural explanations in favor of materialistic ones, but this is a completely illogical view since no I.D. advocate has been able to demonstrate that there is anything but a completely naturalistic world.

    In the second piece, I will address the Intelligent Design movement’s underhanded tactic to sneak religion into schools and go into more detail about their views.


    1. The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, by Ronald L. Numbers; 56

    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._Aguillard; accessed 2-3-13

    3. One person who clearly admitted the religious nature of Intelligent Design is Percival Davis, co-author of Of Pandas and People, a Creationism textbook masquerading as a science book.

    4. http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2001/0306news.asp – Another school shooting in America: What’s needed to bring healing to this land?, by AIG-US Executive Director, Ken Ham; accessed 2-3-13

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    Article by: Arizona Atheist