An unintelligent Intelligent Design creationism quiz

Larry Moran has been given a quiz to test our comprehension of Intelligent Design creationism. Unfortunately, it was composed by someone who doesn't understand ID creationism but merely wants everyone to regurgitate their propaganda, so it's a major mess, and you can also tell that the person writing it was smugly thinking they were laying some real traps to catch us out in our ignorance.

Larry has posted his answers. I've put mine below the fold (I sorta subtly disagree with him on #2). If you want to take a stab at it untainted by our answers, here's the original quiz, untainted by logic or evidence, so you can view them in their pure naked ignorance.

Also, another thing: the person who composed the quiz clearly expected simple yes/no answers, yet wrote questions that demand explanation. Yet again, the idiocy of the IDiots is exposed. I've actually troubled to explain my answers.

1. Is Intelligent Design compatible with the truth of evolution, with evolution defined (as per wikipedia) as change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations?

Yes, by that limited definition of the fact of evolution. Evolutionary theory also encompasses specific mechanisms, however, and ID is not compatible with the consilience of explanations.

2. Is Intelligent Design compatible with common descent, with common descent defined as the claim that all living organisms share a common biological ancestor?

I might disagree with Larry here. Yes, it is compatible if your model is one of a tinker constantly meddling with lineages — if your template is, for instance, how human agriculture has continuously selected for and modified domestic plants and animals. That does require continuous intervention, though, which would be detectable. It is not compatible if, as I've often seen, the model they are using is that frontloading nonsense, where they claim an original species was prepared with genes for all subsequent forms, and evolution is a literal unfolding of predetermined potential. That is incompatible with reality. The third alternative, that rather obviously all too many ID cranks hold near and dear to their hearts, is basically special creation — each species is individually conjured into existence by a creator…and that is completely incompatible with common descent.

But then, I've never found an ID creationist with a consistent, specific model with evidence for their theory, that is also coherent and consistent with common descent. Behe tries. But his ideas are pretty much in conflict with the actual evidence.

3. Does Intelligent Design, as offered by its most noteworthy proponents (Behe, Meyers, etc) propose to explain any purported incident of design by appeal to miracles or “supernatural” acts of any kind?

Hmmm. Does Meyer get that superfluous and wrong terminal "s" as often as I get an extra "e" added to my last name?

This question ignores the history of ID, which was intentionally formulated in response to court decisions that prohibited gods and faith-based arguments — they literally rewrote their texts to exclude god (anyone remember "cdesign proponentsists"?) to circumvent church-state conflicts. So nominally, no, not usually. It's all behind the scenes. But Phillip Johnson has been quite clear that he came up with this legalistic excuse called ID as part of becoming a born-again Christian, and William Dembski declared ID as "the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory." To deny the religious foundation of ID isn't just madness — it's intentionally lying.

4. Does Intelligent Design, as offered by its most noteworthy proponents, argue that any given purported incident of design must have been performed by God, angels, or any “supernatural” being?

This is simply a restatment of question 3, with a different set of supernatural phenomena. They consciously avoid saying so in public, but sometimes slip up when speaking to the faithful, and by implication, many of their rationalizations must include supernatural phenomena. Behe, for instance, is among the most meticulous in avoiding god-talk, but his explanations require constant, intentional intervention by an intelligent designer in the evolution of every family/genus on earth over billions of years. Without saying "god", the inference that it requires a god-like being or beings is unavoidable.

5. Is Intelligent Design, as offered by its most noteworthy proponents, compatible with atheism?

No. You've got Berlinski as a counter-example, but he's more of a pompous contrarian who can't advance a rational alternative. Atheism says that we are here as a product of natural processes, no guidance from beyond required; ID says natural processes are inadequate, intent, planning, and constant intervention by a capital-D Designer required. Read any of Meyer's books: they sneer at all of biology and propose an ineffable being of great power to replace it.

6. Does Intelligent Design, as offered by its most noteworthy proponents, rely on the bible, or any religious document? (as a source of evidence, etc)

There he goes again, repeating the same core question as 3 and 4. Creationists love padding their arguments with noise.

7. Hypothetical scenario: a designer starts an evolutionary process. The designer arranges the environment and the organisms involved in the process in such a way so as to yield a particular, specified and intended result, with no intervention on the designer’s part aside from initially setting up the situation, organisms and environment. Is this an example of Intelligent Design in action, according to ID’s most noteworthy proponents?

That's the frontloading scenario. It doesn't work. The natural processes that we know exist and function interfere with the production of a "particular, specified and intended result" -- it's as if they want to pretend that chance has no input in descent with modification.

Yes, it is a fairly common explanation offered by intelligent design creationism proponents. It's also stupid.

8. Revisit 7. Stipulate that designer only used completely “natural” means in setting up the experiment and successfully predicting the result. Is this still an example of Intelligent Design, as offered by its most noteworthy proponents, in action?

Since we understand that many natural mechanisms are going to produce chance outputs, which will make that "particular, specified and intended result" an impossibility, it is a stipulation that makes the proposal completely incompatible with intelligent design creationism. Therefore it cannot be an example of intelligent design. Unless ID is so vacuous and empty of meaning that it accepts any possible explanation of organic change as ID.

9. An ID critic proposes that intelligent aliens, not God, may be responsible for a purported incident of Intelligent Design – for example, the origin of the bacterial flagellum. Has the ID critic proposed a scenario which, if true, would disprove Intelligent Design, as offered by its most noteworthy proponents?

Padded questions and convoluted logic — yes, I can tell a creationist mind is at work.

This is a meaningless gotcha. We can point right now to bio-engineered organisms, creatures that were modified by human intelligent design; similarly, we can imagine non-human interventions that modify organisms, although of course we have no evidence that such intelligent non-human beings exist. Our creationist interrogator is trying to play a game of suggesting that individual examples of intentional variation in organisms is a disproof of a theory that proposes there was intentional variation in organisms.

He's an idiot, in other words.

He's also dodging and squirming from what ID actually says. Look at their books: they are almost uniformly about claiming that evolutionary theory is inadequate to explain the origin of species. Showing that there are novel mechanisms outside the processes that have driven evolution for four billion years does not say anything about the sufficiency of those unguided natural processes.

10. A creationist argues that evolution must be false, because it isn’t mentioned in the Bible. Has the creationist made an Intelligent Design claim?

No. I'll make this easy for you. Intelligent design claims are arguments that natural processes are insufficient to account for the biology of life on earth, that are consciously designed to walk a gray line imposed by the local and parochial laws of the United States that prohibit the teaching of religion in public schools. They would not mention the Bible by design — it's part of the definition of what ID does.

But look deeper. All of the major proponents of ID creationism are religious, most are closet Christian apologists, and will testify about their faith-based, traditional beliefs at religious venues. Let's not pretend there isn't a colossal biblical component to their ideas, all buried under layers of legalisms that are used to skirt the American Constitution.


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I didn't get past the first question, as I cannot take as credible anybody who uses wikipedia as a defining source.

I don't know, man, science doesn't give a damn what their motives are as long as the argument can be put into some form of scientific context.

Bah, like sound logic will convince anyone to change their mind, not when we've got perfectly good ol' empty rhetoric to fall back on! Teach the Controversy!

By Jerry Ross (not verified) on 04 Feb 2014 #permalink

Debating unintelligent design morons is useless and a waste of brain cells. I would be as caustic and demeaning as I possibly can, which is all they deserve, and even that would not be sufficient to reduce them to insane dreck.