• Intelligent Design is Anti-evolution

    Some time ago, I had an online debate with a gentleman who both claimed that ID was not anti-evolution and in the very next sentence claimed that all I had to do to refute ID was to prove evolution.  Such irony. Anyway, this individual has been given a guest post a “popular” (as popular as ID blogs can get) ID blog saying the same thing… again.  So, I’m reprinting this from our debate (which was almost three years ago).  His opening statement is here.)  For those of you with a particularly obsessive personality can look here to see if he’s changed his thoughts about anything in the last three years.  My guess is no.  [Note: I would prefer you no go there, because it’s… how to put this… “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”.  And I don’t want to give them any more hits than they already get.  But if you want to, go ahead.]

    Intelligent Design is Anti-evolution

    Intelligent Design is anti-evolution.  That seems like such an innocuous statement.  It should be easy to look at what ID is, what it says, and then decide whether it’s anti-evolution or not.  Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.  You see, there is no real, formal, consistent definition of what Intelligent Design really is.  So we need start there.

    Intelligent Design proponents are quite skilled in modifying, editing, or changing the definition of ID that they are using quickly and subtly in order to avoid being caught out by cold, hard facts.  I have personally heard ID described as the designer created the universe and everything in it uniquely, the designer only creates new novel forms of life, the designer only creates things (living and non-) that are complex, and many variations of those three.

    My opponent’s responsibility here is to show that a single coherent and consistent definition of Intelligent Design exists.  If he doesn’t do that, then anything else he says is useless because it may or may not apply to what Intelligent Design actually is.  Once that single coherent, consistent definition of Intelligent Design exists, then and only then can a discussion about whether it is anti- or pro- anything can begin.

    I submit that, while no formal definition exists, all of the existing definitions and concepts cannot help but lead a rational person to the conclusion that Intelligent Design is anti-evolution.

    Printed Definitions

    Some say Intelligent Design is a scientific theory of origins.  Some say that it’s an unscientific farce.  All we know is… well, no one really knows what ID is.  Including the people who promote it.

    The proposition before us is, “Intelligent Design is anti-evolution”.  Before we really get started, let’s make sure we all know what ‘anti-‘ means.

    anti- (prefix)

    1. against; opposing: anticlerical ; antisocial
    2. opposite to: anticlimax ; antimere
    3. rival; false: antipope
    4. counteracting, inhibiting, or neutralizing: antifreeze antihistamine
    5. designating the antiparticle of the particle specified: antineutron

    I think it’s safe to dismiss the latter two definitions as specific meanings that don’t really apply in this case.  However, the first three definitions are all valid uses and, more importantly, they ALL apply in the fact that ID is anti-evolution.  ID opposes and is against evolution.  ID is the opposite of evolution.  ID is a rival to evolution.

    What is really fun about all this is I will not undertake to define evolution (as my opponent desperately wants me to, so he can attack that).  I will use only the words and statements of the proponents of Intelligent Design.  They are the ones who lead the movement. They are the ones who cannot decide on a definition of Intelligent Design or even what ID is supposed to say, do, or be.

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selectionID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.  http://www.uncommondescent.com/id-defined/

    (my underline, everything else is original) Wait, I thought ID wasn’t anti-evolution.  Natural selection is a part of evolution.  Most would say that it’s a major part of any evolutionary theory.  Yet, Intelligent Design, as found on Uncommon Descent (a blog “Serving the Intelligent Design Community”), is defined as being the opposite of or opposing natural selection.  Hmmm… I could stop there.  But that wouldn’t be as much fun.

     Intelligent Design: An hypothesis that some natural phenomena are best explained by reference to Intelligent Causes rather than to only Material Causes. As such, Intelligent Design is the scientific disagreement with, and the falsifying hypothesis for, the claims of Chemical and Darwinian Evolution that the apparent design of certain natural phenomena is just an illusion. Intelligent design can also be viewed as the Science of design detection applied to natural phenomena.


    (my underline, everything else original) This is the definition from the Intelligent Design Network, a group that “seeks institutional objectivity in origins science”.  Well, that “disagreement with and a falsifying hypothesis for [evolution]” is pretty strong language. In fact, that is number 1 in our definition of ‘anti-‘.  If ID is true, then ‘Chemical and Darwinian Evolution’ isn’t true.  That’s what falsifying means.  If X, then not Y.

    Well, those are two groups in the blogosphere regarding Intelligent Design.  Uncommon Descent used to be owned by William Dembski, so I’m guessing that what is written there was approved by him at some point.

    Before we talk with the actual leaders of the movement, let’s look at one other thing.  Of Pandas and People is the supplemental textbook that Intelligent Design proponents wanted to have kids use in Dover,Delaware.  What does it say about Intelligent Design?

    Q. Could you go, Matt, to P-652? And this is another draft of [Of] Pandas [and People] with copyright 1987?

    A. Yes.

    Q. And Matt, could you pull up the definition and the highlighted text there? That’s changed now, hasn’t it?

    A. Yes, there is a change.

    Q. Could you read the text of this definition section?

    A. “Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc.”

    Dover Trial Testimony – A = Dr. Barbara Forresthttp://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day6am2.html#day6am889

    This is taken directly from the transcript of the Dover/Kitzmiller trial.  In this section of testimony, Dr. Barbara Forrest is reading the definition of Intelligent Design from a draft of the book.

    Since parts of evolutionary theory states that life did not begin abruptly and that distinctive features were not intact when a new species was specially created (indeed that no new species were specially created), then this flies in the face of evolution.  It is the opposite of what evolution claims.  I don’t think anyone would agree that any version of evolution supports sudden creation and features already intact.

    The Leaders of the ID Movement’s Comments About ID

    With very few exceptions, the leaders of the Intelligent Design movement are fellows at or employed by the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.  These notables include Dr. William Dembski, who has updated Paley’s work of 200 years ago with modern, science sounding words and some truly abominable math (which no one understands, can explain, or use.  Dr. Michael Behe was once a real scientist with a real career.  He stopped doing that to start writing books about Intelligent Design.  He’s written very few papers since 1996s Darwin’s Black Box and only one of them is ‘new’ research, but there are no experiments, no data, no nothing in anything he’s written.  Also Dr. Jonathon Wells, who got a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology for the sole purpose of defeating Darwinism.  These are, along with Stephen Meyer (VP and senior fellow at CSC; and someone I’ve spent a lot of time showing is not  person to be trusted), the leading lights of the ID movement.

    Now, let’s look at what the actual leaders of the Intelligent Design movement have to say about ID.

    The theory of intelligent design, as I understand, you’re not inquiring, but we endorse that decision as a policy decision. Also, is an historical scientific theory that raises larger philosophical implications, so the two are equivalent in that respect, and they are, in fact, with respect to their attempts to explain the appearance of design in biological systems, they are competitor hypotheses.

    Stephen Meyer – Kansas Evolution Hearings (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo8.html#p3494) (my underline)

    This is from Stephen Meyer’s testimony at the so-called ‘Kansas Evolution Hearings’.  Note the underlined statement.  “…they [evolution and ID] are competitor hypotheses.”  That fits definition 3 of “anti-“.

    On the other hand, for example, intelligent design, it’s not the only opponent, by the way, of Darwinian evolution.

    Stephen Meyer – Kansas Evolution Hearings (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo8.html#p3494)

    Here Dr. Meyer is saying that ID is not only an “opponent” of evolution, it’s not the only opponent.

    What about Michael Behe?  What does he have to say?

    Q That’s part of the argument for intelligent design, isn’t it?

    A That’s a part of the argument to show that there is no other plausible explanation for what we perceive to be as design.

    Q Which is part of the argument for intelligent design, correct?

    A Yes.

    Dover Trial Testimony – A = Dr. Michael Behe


    From here we learn that part of the argument for Intelligent Design is that there is no other plausible explanation for what is perceived to be design.  So, evolution does not have an explanation for what is perceived to be design.  This is not true.

    Even if we leave aside the truth of either claim (evolution or ID), the point that Behe is making is that one of the two must be correct and one of the two must be wrong.  ID says things are designed.  Evolution says they are not.  It’s that simple.  Since things cannot be both designed and evolved, then ID is anti-evolution.

    Q Behe says, intelligent design makes no claim about common descent.

    A Yes.

    Q Pandas says, intelligent design questions the Darwinian notion of common descent. Those are the same thing to you?

    A I see this as part of an argument. The — as I try to make clear in my testimony, intelligent design is seen in the purposeful arrangement of parts, and that is the positive argument for intelligent design. But also, a part of the task of somebody who holds that view is to try to answer other views which claim to — which claim to explain what intelligent design purports to explain.

    And one of those is to show where the other theory has problems. And I view this as part of that kind of negative argument that, that while — that while — that while intelligent design can live with what data we have, this seems to be a problem for the current theory, as a number of paleontologists have said. And they ve tried to — they ve tried to fix it up, and they propose these explanations, and perhaps they’re right, but maybe that’s not correct. And if it’s not correct, well then this other theory, this rival theory is — is — has some difficulties, but that intelligent design does not. So I see it as part of a negative argument against a rival to intelligent design.

    Q And it’s a negative argument against the part of that argument called common descent, correct?

    A That’s correct, just as my argument was an argument against natural selection. And when people make claims for natural selection, I have to show why that is a poor explanation for what we see.

    Dover Trial Testimony – A = Dr. Michael Behe


    So, here, Michael Behe is saying (under oath, in a court of law) that ID is an argument against common descent.  There you go, no problem with that.

    This last is actually very interesting.  Based on this, ID has multiple definitions.  Yet, evolution is not allowed to have multiple definitions (i.e. a fact AND a theory, historical AND predictive, experimental AND observational), but ID is allowed to do this.  Interesting double standard there.

    Unfortunately, Behe isn’t really our best choice for this.  Despite being a fellow at the Discovery Institute and writing several books on the subject, he can’t even keep a straight definition of ID.  Check the underlined parts of these two statements from the Dover trial:

    Q If we could go to page 11 of your report and highlight the underscored text.

    You say, “Intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose.” Correct?

    A That is correct, yes.

    Q That’s consistent with your testimony today.

    A Yes, it is.

    Dover Trial Testimony – A = Dr. Michael Behe


    Followed by

    Q. And before we leave the blood clotting system, can you just remind the Court the mechanism by which intelligent design creates the blood clotting system?

    A. Well, as I mentioned before, intelligent design does not say, a mechanism, but what it does say is, one important factor in the production of systems, and that is that, at some point in the pathway, intelligence was involved.

    Dover Trial Testimony – A = Dr. Michael Behe


    So, while ID focuses on the mechanism of how complex biological structures arose, there is no actual mechanism.  Got that, thanks Michael.

    BTW: I thought I would include this since my opponent (if he has any sense at all) will bring it up.

    Q. So when you hear a claim that intelligent design is anti-evolution, are those accurate?

    A. No, they are completely inaccurate.

    … [snip about 10 sentences, link to original is below]

    Q. Again so does intelligent design question all parts ofDarwin’s theory of evolution?

    A. No. It focuses exclusively on the question of the mechanism of evolution, and I tried to make that clear as this picture shows. This is an issue of something called the reports of theNationalCenter for Science Education, which is a group which strongly advocates for the teaching of Darwinian evolution in school, and I wrote a letter to the editor of The Reports, which was published in an issue approximately four years ago.

    And here’s an excerpt from that letter where I explain, “The core claim of intelligent design theory is quite limited. It says nothing directly about how biological design was produced, who the designer was, whether there has been common descent, or other such questions. Those can be addressed separately.” It says, “Only that design can be empirically detected in observable features of physical systems.”

    And I go on to say, “As an important corollary it also predicts that mindless processes such as natural selection or the self-organization scenarios favored by Shanks and Joplin will not be demonstrated to be able to produce irreducible systems of the complexity found in cells.” So I tried to clearly explain that the only focus of intelligent design is on the mechanism of evolution, or the question of whether or not aspects of life show the marks of intelligent design.

    Dover Trial Testimony – A = Dr. Michael Behe


    So, Michael says ID is not anti-evolution, yet a mere double handful of sentences later he states that “the only focus of intelligent design is on the mechanism of evolution”.  So, if the mechanism for evolution is correct, then ID is wrong.  If the mechanism for ID is correct, then necessarily, the mechanism (which is most of evolution) is wrong.

    William Dembski agrees with Behe here:

    As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”


    Whoops… OK guys, which is it.  Behe testified on an oath that he would tell the truth that ID is a mechanistic theory.  Then Dembski, who, for all practical purposes, invented the modern ID, says it’s not mechanistic.  Which is it?  BTW: Dembski bailed out on the Dover trial after being paid to be a witness.

    Of, course we must remember that Behe had some serious difficulties with his testimony.  He doesn’t even know if ID is about the mechanism or not or if there even is one or not.

    Let’s see what all these leading lights of ID came up with they decided to write a mission plan.

    We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

    The Wedge Document (http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html) (my emphasis)

    So, ID theory, as its central purpose to replace science with Christianity.  So, if evolution is science, then they want it replaced with Christian and theistic science.  That sounds pretty anti-evolution to me.  And all of these guys signed on to this statement.

    Now, my erstwhile opponent will immediately bring up the publication from the Discovery Institute that followed the Wedge Document.  So, I’ll bring it up first and show, that it really doesn’t matter to the point we’re arguing here.  Here’s what that document says.

    In 1996 Discovery Institute established the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (since named the Center for Science and Culture-CSC).  Its main purposes were (1) to support research by scienctists and other scholars who were critical of neo-Darwinism and other materialistic theories of origins, and to support those who were developing the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design;

    Far from attacking science (as has been claimed), we are instead challenging scientific materialism-the simplistic philosophy or world-view that claims that all of reality can be reduced to, or derived from, matter and energy alone.

    The Center for Science and Culture is not attacking science or the scientific method.  It is challenging the philosophy of scientific materialism and the false scientific theories that support it (more on this below),

    But suffice to say that the theories that have supported scientific materialism are increasingly and demonstrably bankrupt.

    The Wedge Document – So What (http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=349)

    Note that the underlined statements cover everything in the known universe.  And therefore includes the principles of evolutionary theory, which are based on methods, mechanisms, and materials that exist solely within this universe.  Of course this also applies to every other science or even existence of things.

    If you have made it this far, then congratulations.  You have seen that even when the leading proponents of Intelligent Design say that ID is not anti-evolution, they really don’t mean it or the contradict themselves later.

    I haven’t talked about Demsbki yet.  He’s a signatory to the Wedge Document.  He used to own and run uncommondescent.com and he, for all intents and purposes, invented the modern version of intelligent design (borrowing heavily from Paley).  What he says simply crushes the idea that Intelligent Design it not anti-evolution.  Here are three quotes that should explain his thoughts on the matter completely.

    “The world is a mirror representing the divine life…Intelligent design readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

    – William A. Dembski, Touchstone Magazine, July/August 1999.


    “If we take seriously the word-flesh Christology of Chalcedon (i.e. the doctrine that Christ is fully human and fully divine) and view Christ as the telos toward which God is drawing the whole of creation, then any view of the sciences that leaves Christ out of the picture must be seen as fundamentally deficient.”

    – William Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology,Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 1999.


    “The job of apologetics is to clear the ground, to clear obstacles that prevent people from coming to the knowledge of Christ,” Dembski said. “And if there’s anything that I think has blocked the growth of Christ [and] the free reign of the Spirit and people accepting the Scripture and Jesus Christ, it is the Darwinian naturalistic view…. It’s important that we understand the world. God has created it; Jesus is incarnate in the world.”

    William Dembski quoted, Benen, Steve, “The Discovery Institute”, Church and State Magazine, May 2002. (my underlining in all)

    There you go, from Dembski himself.  Any science that is not based in Christ is wrong.  Intelligent Design is based on Christ and evolution is not.  Therefore ID is anti-evolution in the most fundamental sense.  Indeed, ID is anti-science.

    I’ll bring up one last quote.  This one is from my opponent himself:

    Why is it you have to attack ID with your ignorance when all it takes to refute ID is to actually step up and support your position [evolution] with POSITIVE evidence?


    So, my opponent needs to explain why, if ID is not anti-evolution, then all it takes to refute ID is to provide positive evidence of evolution.  Almost as if they were competing or opposite hypotheses or something.

    Finally, I know that my opponent will use the same sources I used (Meyer, Behe, Demsbki) to show that ID is not anti-evolution.  However, if he does so, he will introduce a major problem for his entire conceptual framework.

    If he says that those people say that ID is not anti-evolution and I used the same people to show that it is, then what is ID really?  What’s the point of having a ‘theory’ (in the loosest sense of the word) that can be both anti-something and not anti-something?  The theory in question might as well not even exist for the good it does.

    It would also show that, as seen in Behe’s testimony that I copied, the proponents of ID will say ANYTHING if they think it gets them out of a pickle.  They claim that ID is science, then they claim it’s religion.  They claim it’s OK with common descent, and then they claim it’s not OK with common descent.  I could go on.

    Even the leaders of the ID movement don’t have a coherent, consistent statement about what Intelligent Design is.  JoeG has his own idea about what it is, which is completely different from what other pro-ID bloggers say (read Uncommondescent.com comment threads).  Dembski says one thing, Behe says something else, and then Meyer says something completely different.

    Unless my opponent can present a clear picture of what ID really is, taking into account everything he states and everything I’ve quoted, then there can be no further resolution.  ID is logically inconsistent by being both anti-evolution and non anti-evolution.

    Since ID, in principle, is a process that determines how organisms came to be, then it is direct competition with its rival, evolution.  Intelligent Design is anti-evolution.

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