The problem with creationism is not that it is a claim drawn from religious texts per se, it’s that it’s a scientifically redundant position; an intellectual cop-out that in offering to explain everything, explains nothing. Religion, it’s true, has a well-stocked larder of such claims, but it’s the claims that discredit religion, not religion that discredits the claims.
Both “Intelligent Design” and “Creationism” postulate the existence of an unnamed creator, both are unfalsifiable positions, and both fail to make predictions that could be credibly measured.
What’s more, it’s a matter of record that “Intelligent Design” is a term that was invented in order to provide a deceptive scientific veneer to creationist ideology. Attempts to teach so-called “creation science” in US science classes were met in 1987 with a successful legal challenge which relied on the judgement that “creation science” is religion, not science, and therefore its teaching as a scientific theory was in contravention of the first amendment. This ruling did not bode well for a creationist textbook, intended for US schools, called “Of Pandas and People” (an early draft was named “Creation Biology”) so the editorial staff needed to find a way of distancing themselves from terms like “creationism”. They settled on “intelligent design”.
In editor Charles Thaxton’s own words:
That’s just what I need, it’s a good engineering term….. it seemed to jibe… And I went back through my old copies of Science magazine and found the term used occasionally.The fundamental structure of the textbook was kept exactly the same. The only difference was that wherever the term “creationism” or “creation” had previously appeared, the book now used the term “intelligent design” (fig. 1). “Creationists” were relabelled “design proponents”. Amusingly, the “find and replace” strategy had faltered at least once, leaving a typo, a vestigial remnant from the book’s ancestral form, where the word “creationists” hadn’t been completely deleted – “cdesign proponentsists”.
Fig. 1: Editions of “Of Pandas and People” and Incidences of the Phrases “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design”
When it’s stripped down to the important points, it’s hard to see how creationism and intelligent design could be less different.