Saturday, 4 December 2010

C4ID’s Introduction to Intelligent Design: Part 14

The Centre for Intelligent Design website features a set of brief (sometimes very brief) pdf documents which collectively form an Introduction to Intelligent Design, credited as written by Dr Alastair Noble, C4ID Director. This pamphlet sets out C4ID’s manifesto for ID. Often these documents are written in a way that could be seen as persuasive to the uninformed. On closer inspection, there is nothing new – the arguments are the same as those demolished in Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District.
Part 14 is once again very brief, and aims to reinforce the rather peculiar claim that ID is not a form of creationism. Peculiar because of the correlation between ID proponents and religious and, frequently, creation belief. Professor Emeritus Norman Nevin, President of the Centre for Intelligent Design, is on record as a believer in the literal truth of the Genesis creation myth (audio recording and transcript). Intelligent Design itself was devised by the Discovery Institute with the specific aim of getting creationist views into American schools, and was demolished in what has proved to be a significant test case un the USA.
It may well be that there are, as the author points out, many different forms of creationism. Unfortunately they all fail at the hurdle of evidence. Noble claims respectability for creationism:
[...] creationism, in its central assertion that the universe has a Creator, is a perfectly respectable and reasonable position. Indeed, it is by far the view that has dominated human thought since the beginning of time. It is, to most people who have ever lived, the most credible explanation of why anything is here.
Quite an extraordinary statement. Most humans who have ever lived probably believed that the Earth was flat and that the sun revolved round the Earth. This does not make those views true. I also suggest that “most people who have ever lived” had no concept of the universe, and a wild diversity of religious beliefs: which of those creation myths would be acceptable to the churches that Nevin, Noble and Galloway attend?
Creationism is based, not primarily on scientific observation, though that is part of it, but on religious authority.
Hang on a moment – creationism is entirely based upon religious authority. On what scientific observation does creationism rest?
However, ID is not creationism. ID is derived purely from scientific observations, not from religious authority. Clearly, ID provides support for religious belief, but it does not propose it or depend on it. The criticism that ID is simply another form of Creationism is just simply wrong and arises from a confusion of religious and scientific ideas.
ID is creationism, just one part of the spectrum of creationist belief outlined in the first paragraph of this section. In the conclusion of the Kitzmiller v Dover Area School DistrictJudge John Jones (incidentally, Judge Jones was, and presumably remains, a Republican, and a Lutheran) concluded (text from Wikipedia, each citation links to the full decision):
  • For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child. (page 24)
  • A significant aspect of the IDM [intelligent design movement] is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (page 26)
  • The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. (page 31)
  • The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)
[...]
  • After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. (page 64)
[...]
  • ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID. (page 89)
This is a pretty definitive conclusion that Intelligent Design is not only a rehashed derivative of creationism, but also that it is not science. It’s also the product of a deceitful and cynical strategy devised by the Discovery Institute with the aim of insinuating creationism into American schools, despite the constitutional separation of church and state.
Robert Saunders, BSc (Hons), PhD

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