[The author wishes to remain anonymous]
In about the last year or so, to the great surprise of many, the fraternity in the biological sciences community who have made it their task to do battle with creationists (the anti-creationist movement) have suddenly taken their attention off creationists and instead directed their ire at an academic movement known as the intelligent design movement (ID).
Creationism is well known to most people – its adherents believe in Genesis as literal history, a 6000 year old Earth, a historic Adam, and subscribe to Creation Science. Creationism is far removed from the academic discipline known as ID theory, and the anti-creationist movement well know that.
The anti-creationst movement have attempted to silence debate on the issue of intelligent design by labelling intelligent design theory “creationism”.
Intelligent Design theory is a branch of information science. It is based on the same mathematical principles that underly criminology (specifically in the area of solving crime), detection of insurance fraud, artificial intelligence, and other areas of scientific endeavor involving detecting the acts of “intelligent agents” in contrast with random events and “system noise”.
ID theory as it applies to biology asks a number of fundamental and challenging questions that go right to the heart of some of the presuppositions underlying orthodox Darwinism. That is why ID theory has orthodox Darwinists responding like a hostile priesthood protecting their orthodoxy, rather than engaging in frank and open discussion.
To avoid debating the difficult questions ID raises, the orthodox Darwinist movement (lead by Eugenie Scott) have taken the easy way out and have simply labelled ID theory “creationism”. This is how they justify their stance in not confronting the challenging scientific questions it raises.
A three pronged thrust:
Label: By calling it creationism, it gets lumped in with the creationist movement – genesis as literal history, 6-day creation 6000 year old earth, recent creationism movement.
Misinformation: They accuse the ID movement of not being real science because they claim it does not publish in peer reviewed journals. In spite of their best efforts to stonewall in this regard, ID theory is now widely in the peer-review regime. http://www.iscid.org is a good link in this regard.
Dodge: If all else fails, simply avoid responding to the difficult and scientifically challenging issues that intelligent design theory (as applied to orthodox Darwinism) is raising.
These dishonest and unethical tactics should have no place in our open and frank scientific era of 2002.
The problem is that the word Creationism has a nasty stigma. Label Intelligent Design theory creationism, and its opponents effectively dodge the need to address it.
However, there is a wide range of positions that fall under the banner of creationism:
1. At one extreme, the vague belief that God (Yahweh in our case) is the creator. This is a view held by Christians in general. No link is made between God as creator and contemporary science, its just a vague feel-good notion that God is behind it somehow.
2. In the middle ground, general but apathetic scepticism about Darwinism. Only 10% of Americans “believe” in Darwinism. I don’t know what the situation is in Australia. It is a largely secular society where science is of little interest, our national role models are athletes. Probably in Australia most people just don’t care about Darwinism.
3. At the other extreme, genesis as literal history, literal 6 day creation, 6000 year old earth. “Creation Science” views.
Intelligent Design theory makes no statement about a creator. It is a theory that challenges the randomness presuppositions of orthodox Darwinism. Challenge of randomness presuppositions is not questioned when human agents are the intelligent agents (eg in insurance fraud, crime detection, animal and plant breeding, Intellectual Property and patent law,
copyright law, etc), however, when evidence of intelligent design is detected but the source of the intelligence is unknown (as for evolutionary biology), then that seems to make orthodox Darwinists nervous. There is really no need for them to panic, and it is most unfortunate that they choose to panic. The basic problem is that while the theory of Darwinism is a perfectly good working theory, that works well in practice for pre-existing life, it is arrogant to say that we have it all tied up in a neat little package. We don’t. There is still room for Darwinism to evolve further.
Most of the negative comments published in the mass media about the ID movement are simply those ascribed to the ID movement by the orthodox Darwinists who are waging a war against it. If you actually immerse yourself in papers and books on ID theory the science (as distinct from press releases from the anti-ID-theory campaign) you will then be able to separate the theory from the hysterical claims made against it.
An excellent starting point is Darwin’s Black Box, by Prof M. Behe, 1996 (http://www.amazon.com have this). The Metaviews site http://www.metanexus.net is also very good, you get to read papers written by scholars both supporting and criticising ID theory. By reading the writings of scholarly opponents and scholarly supporters, one can separate the science from the hysteria. Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski and the ISCID online journal http://www.iscid.org is a good source for the enthusiast.