Melanie Phillips is irate. Why? Because Ken Miller says Intelligent Design is nothing but creationism relabeled. Miller is right, Phillips is once again raving in ignorance.
In an item on the growing popularity of Intelligent Design, John Humphrys interviewed Professor Ken Miller of Brown University in the US who spoke on the subject last evening at the Faraday Institute, Cambridge. Humphrys suggested that Intelligent Design might be considered a kind of middle ground between Darwinism and Creationism. Miller agreed but went further, saying that Intelligent Design was
nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable.
But this is totally untrue. Miller referred to a landmark US court case in 2005, Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, which did indeed uphold the argument that Intelligent Design was a form of Creationism in its ruling that teaching Intelligent Design violated the constitutional ban against teaching religion in public schools. But the court was simply wrong, doubtless because it had heard muddled testimony from the likes of Prof Miller.
No, the court testimony was crystal clear, and it wasn’t just Miller who demonstrated the fact that Intelligent Design was a false front laid over old-school creationism. The lawyers demonstrated, among other things, that a) the textbook in question had been crudely revamped from a creationist text by simply substituting “design” for “creation” (with revealing errors — anyone remember “cdesign proponentsists“?); b) that the books were bought with money collected by a conservative church, and that the defendants lied about the source; c) that the people who tried to introduce ID into the Dover schools were motivated entirely by their religious goals (Bill Buckingham to the school board: “Nearly 2,000 years ago someone died on a cross for us; shouldn’t we have the courage to stand up for him?”); and d), that the instigators didn’t have the slightest clue what ID was. We can also go directly to the words of the big names in ID, like Bill Dembski (“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory“) or Phillip Johnson:
I have built an intellectual movement in the universities and churches that we call The Wedge, which is devoted to scholarship and writing that furthers this program of questioning the materialistic basis of science…Now, the way that I see the logic of our movement going is like this. The first thing you understand is that the Darwinian theory isn’t true. It’s falsified by all of the evidence and the logic is terrible. When you realize that, the next question that occurs to you is, well, where might you get the truth?…I start with John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word. In the beginning was intelligence, purpose, and wisdom. The Bible had that right. And the materialist scientists are deluding themselves…
In summary, we have to educate our young people; we have to give them the armor they need. We have to think about how we’re going on the offensive rather than staying on the defensive. And above all, we have to come out to the culture with the view that we are the ones who really stand for freedom of thought. You see, we don’t have to fear freedom of thought because good thinking done in the right way will eventually lead back to the Church, to the truth-the truth that sets people free, even if it goes through a couple of detours on the way. And so we’re the ones that stand for good science, objective reasoning, assumptions on the table, a high level of education, and freedom of conscience to think as we are capable of thinking. That’s what America stands for, and that’s something we stand for, and that’s something the Christian Church and the Christian Gospel stand for-the truth that makes you free. Let’s recapture that, while we’re recapturing America.
Or how about this from Johnson?
My colleagues and I speak of “theistic realism” — or sometimes, “mere creation” –as the defining concept of our movement. This means that we affirm that God is objectively real as Creator, and that the reality of God is tangibly recorded in evidence accessible to science, particularly in biology. We avoid the tangled arguments about how or whether to reconcile the Biblical account with the present state of scientific knowledge, because we think these issues can be much more constructively engaged when we have a scientific picture that is not distorted by naturalistic prejudice. If life is not simply matter evolving by natural selection, but is something that had to be designed by a creator who is real, then the nature of that creator, and the possibility of revelation, will become a matter of widespread interest among thoughtful people who are currently being taught that evolutionary science has show God to be a product of the human imagination.
Intelligent Design creationism is all about hiding Jesus under a blanket of pseudoscience and smuggling him into the public schools. Nothing more, nothing less.
Melanie Phillips clearly knows nothing about the case. So what possible reason could she have for claiming ID is distinct from creationism?
Whatever the ramifications of the specific school textbooks under scrutiny in the Kitzmiller/Dover case, the fact is that Intelligent Design not only does not come out of Creationism but stands against it. This is because Creationism comes out of religion while Intelligent Design comes out of science. Creationism, whose proponents are Bible literalists, is a specific doctrine which holds that the earth was literally created in six days. Intelligent Design, whose proponents are mainly scientists, holds that the complexity of science suggests that there must have been a governing intelligence behind the origin of matter, which could not have developed spontaneously from nothing.
Intelligent Design creationism does not come out of science. The initial founders of the Discovery Institute were lawyers, philosophers, venture capitalists, businessmen, and theologians, with a scarce few recruits who were once scientists, like Michael Behe. Science emerges from evidence, not ideology, and these gomers had none, and still have none. They have a claim that there is a “governing intelligence”, but have shown no evidence for such a being, nor have they even speculated openly about the nature of that intelligence…because when they do, they have to admit that they believe it was the Christian god. Again, without supporting evidence.
This is why Miller is completely correct to say Intelligent Design creationism is “an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable”. Overt admission that their ideas are based on religion means they are non-scientific, and gets them excluded from science classes. By lying and concealing their motives, they hope to sneak it in past people who are too stupid to recognize the obvious, or who share similar underhanded motives for denying the truth. I wonder which of those two alternatives best fit Melanie Phillips?