Creationist and religious heritage
Supporters of ID often deny its links to creationism and religion in an attempt to obtain scientific credibility. However, few observers are fooled for long. In the 2005 Kitzmiller v Dover case (Kitzmiller_decision) Judge Jones said: “An objective observer would know that ID and teaching about “gaps” and “problems” in evolutionary theory are creationist, religious strategies that evolved from earlier forms of creationism” (p 18). Further: “The evidence …. demonstrates ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism” (p 31). “ID’s religious nature would be further evident to our objective observer because it directly involves a supernatural designer” (p 31) . “The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism and not a scientific theory” (p 43).
The evidence also revealed attempted deception to hide IDs true nature. Proponents of ID had altered the text of their documents over time in an attempt to circumvent a 1987 US Supreme Court ruling that teaching creation science was unconstitutional as it violated the separation of church and state. An example is shown by the various drafts of the ID text book Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins aimed at schools as revealed by Barbara Forrest in Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design:
1986 draft: “Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.”
1989 published version: “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, and wings, etc.”
We can conclude that ID is creationism and it is religious – to claim otherwise is disingenuous. The name changes are simply tactics to get around the law.
It didn’t need a court case to illicit the religious nature of ID as this is clearly expressed in many of its documents.
Strategy behind intelligent design
Many ID publications reveal the goal of undermining modern science. Proponents aim to replace scientific methodological naturalism (which they call materialism) with a supernatural or “theistic” science. This strategy was clearly expressed by the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture in their document “Wedge Strategy”:
“If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. ….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.”
This strategy lists its governing goals as:
“To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”
The document lists among its long term goals:
“To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.”
This same strategy appears in many statements made by leading ID proponents and in their publications. It represents a broad social and political programme quite uncharacteristic of a normal scientific proposal. The comment of Eugene C. Scott (Creation Science Lite in Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism) seems appropriate:
“.. given the thinness of the science of ID, if the movement did not have grave consequence for public-school education and church-state separation, ID would languish in academic obscurity. Ironically. perhaps it is the cultural-renewal component of ID that keeps it from fading from the view of the scholarly public.”
Nevertheless, the attempt by ID to integrate science and religion could work to the to the detriment of both. This will be the subject of the fourth part of this series (Intelligent design/creationism IV: The religion – science conflict).