Denyse O’Leary notes some of the differences between creationists and Intelligent Design proponents:
Then the creationists in turn help the ID theorists by making clear what creationism is and what it is not. Creationism is about the BIBLE, see? It’s not about intelligent design theories like Behe’s* Edge of Evolution or Dembski’s design inference.
It’s extremely uncommon for me to find myself in agreement with Denyse on anything (and it’s not a comfortable feeling), but in this case I do think she’s got a good point. Creationism is certainly explicitly based on the Bible, and Intelligent Design certainly is not. In fact, that’s probably the Achilles’ Heel of the entire Intelligent Design movement.
Say what you will about the Young-Earth creationists, about Ken Ham and Kent “Prisoner #06452-017” Hovind, they are steadfast in their belief in the literal truth of the Bible, and steadfast in their refusal to lie about that belief. They believe that they are right, and they are not willing to publicly deny their faith. In that, they stand in stark contrast to Intelligent Design.
The Intelligent Design folks, on the other hand, loudly declare that they are indifferent to religion every chance that they get. They have no choice. Their mission is to destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America, and they can’t do that if they are obviously driven by religious motives. That’s why you see them conceal the theological basis for their beliefs when they are talking to a governmental group – as Jonathan Wells did when he testified in Kansas a few years back:
Q. Is it true that as early as the 1970s you were a member of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church?
Q. And is it a fact that while involved with that church you became convinced that evolution was false because it reflected– it conflicted with your church belief that humankind was specifically designed by God?
A. I became convinced that the Darwinian theory is false because it conflicts with the evidence.
The problem with that approach is that most of the people who want to see the Intelligent Design folks succeed could care less about the science. They really are motivated by religion. They really do believe strongly that their religious views are absolutely right, and that they should make sure that their religious views are taught in public. They don’t want to hear that Intelligent Design – or the “weaknesses” in evolution – are good science. They want to hear that their religious views are right. They’re also the strongest base of support for the Intelligent Design proponents. That’s why you find the very same folks – like Wells – who deny faith in front of government professing faith in front of religious audiences:
He also spoke out against the evils in the world; among them, he frequently criticized Darwin’s theory that living things originated without God’s purposeful, creative activity. My studies included modern theologians who took Darwinism for granted and thus saw no room for God’s involvement in nature or history; in the process, they re- interpreted the fall, the incarnation, and even God as products of human imagination.
Father’s words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.
The two-faced nature of the Intelligent Design movement has not gone unnoticed – and it’s not just the scientific community that’s turned off by the “plausible denial” tactics. Some of the leaders of the Young-Earth creationists have issues with it, too:
As indicated earlier, we also don’t believe that one can, or should attempt to, artificially separate ‘Biblical’ from ‘scientific’ creation in order to gain a hearing in the public arena. This has been attempted by Biblical creationists, again for tactical reasons, with good motives. But, like the IDM’s broader but ultimately similar stratagem, it appears to us to be philosophically flawed.
Personally, I’d suggest that watering down your beliefs in public for “tactical reasons” is more of a moral flaw than a philosophical one. In any case, though, it’s an ironic truth that the greatest barrier faced by the Intelligent Design movement is the honesty of those who would otherwise be their greatest supporters.
[Minor edit: fixed formatting on Wells quote. Thanks for pointing it out. -MD]