Is ID Creationist?

None of those things add up to “ID is creationism.” (And yes I’m saying Judge Jones was wrong to make that blanket claim.) I already explained why.

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I agree that not all ID proponents are Creationists. With one exception*, I have never encountered any version of ID that can be distinguished from Creationism (not necessarily YEC). Old Earth Creationists do not make scientific claims - it that what you mean?

* The exception is Ralien-ism.

The idea itself if not creationism, whether or not it’s proponents are creationists.

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Well, hang on a consarned minute, there.

I think that many of us who are old enough to remember the heyday of the “creation science” movement must have had the same experience I had: one day, you hear of “intelligent design theory,” which is, you are told, totally totally totally NOT creationism. And then you hear what it consists of, and you say, “well, that’s not creationism as a whole. It’s a subset of the arguments for creationism. It therefore IS creationism, just a creationism which is renamed and delimited to say ‘ixnay on the enesisgay.’”

Now, is it POSSIBLE to be a non-creationist ID advocate? Yeah, it is, but it’s hard to name anyone who clearly fits that description. David Berlinski seems to be a deeply confused man, with his remarks about women with cat tails and the inability of cows to become whales because their skin isn’t waterproof (this, BTW, is, as a friend has observed, why they dissolve if left out in the rain), and it’s always possible that he’s got some notion of a nonsupernatural origin for living things which is nonetheless somehow “design” based. There are occasionally weird little articles by people who are into postmodern lit-crit who appear to think that it’s edgy and cool to be anti-evolution and to observe all sorts of themes, real or imaginary, in evolutionary thought which can be critiqued without actually knowing any biology.

But these are really outliers of a weird sort. The raison d’etre of ID is that it is a slightly sneaky way of smuggling in creationism. It arose as a lobbying/litigation strategy, not as a scientific point of view. Like anything that rolls about in a swamp, it has gathered up some slimy bits of other things, but the thing itself – its identity, its origins, its objectives, its substance – is and has always been creationism. The only distinction is that it attempts, as a tactical move, to disclaim religious motive.

Now, I have been accused of conflating ID and creationism many times, always by creationists. And do you know how those conversations end? They end, in the vast majority of cases, with the ID-proponent-whose-views-are-not-in-any-way-based-on-religion-by-golly explaining to me which parts of my nether regions are going to get a red-hot pitchfork rammed in them when I die and get what’s coming to me. No sirree, not about religion at all.


The idea itself hardly exists; it’s almost always attached to creationism.

Agreed. ID wasn’t so much used to smuggle creationism as invented to smuggle creationism.


Topics here are branching so often I’m considering using them as data for cladistic analysis…


I don’t think ID properly understood is creationism. But it’s obvious that for some proponents of ID they indeed are starting from creationist starting points. That’s why the whole thing about methodological naturalism is weird. MN doesn’t rule out intelligent causes (hello archaeology) but only supernatural ones (this is why Meyer has redefined it to exclude intelligence to cover up the fact they haven’t done any research or science on the matter) . But where is the work to show that the designer they are is positing is supernatural? Why aren’t they going on excavations in Cambrian rocks looking for material evidence of the designers presence? So it seems to me they are assuming the intelligence is supernatural. Sounds like creationism. Or take Engor’s weird crusade against a materialism no one actually holds to. What about ID has said there is an immaterial realm? Nada. So while yeah, properly understood and done properly ID is not creationism, but many of its proponents make it so. Same thing with a lot of pseudosciences (I’m not calling ID pseudo here). Most ideas aren’t inherently pseudoscientific. But it is made so by its proponents. That’s whats happening here with ID and creationism.

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For “some” insert “almost all”. We are left, approximately, with Michaels Behe and Denton.

Asking because I don’t know: Are you familiar with The Wedge Document? If not, you should give that a read.

ETA: Also, we might need to distinguish between ID as philosophy and ID as science. That would be where ID could diverge from Creationism.

Look kids, this is all true but if there is a point worth considering here, it’s in the context of the original question (about withholding relevant information) and in Joshua’s perhaps not-very-realistic challenge of finding examples from camps outside the obvious and egregious offenders. Conceptually, ID is simply not creationism, for a few reasons but most notably because “design” does not imply any particular designer or even (IMO) any designer at all. Is the “ID movement” about design? Effectively never–I mean, have a look at the “developmental systems drift” conversation and take note of how it’s not about design AT ALL. But there are, in fact, people discussing design and even “intelligent design,” even teleology, outside of the religious context of creationism. And more importantly in my opinion, there is no conceptual reason that design and even ID must be creationism.

Is it generous, even overly generous, to equivocate when talking about “ID” by saying that it’s not always creationism? Yeah. But it’s true.

That infamous document is simply not relevant to what @swamidass wrote. In fact, I daresay that was his point.

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I think I understand you now. I can agree there is no conceptual reason they should be the same. I contend that, with exceptions I can count on one hand, ID does not distinguish itself from Creationism. The single exception within ID literature is Winston Ewert’s recent Biocomplexity paper. The other 2-3 examples are mainstream scientists demonstrating hypotheses for ID that are testable (2 phylogenic analyses, one knock-out demonstration of scaffolding). Somewhere in the depths on ENV are rebuttals to those phylogenic tests, claiming they do not really represent ID.

ID could be distinguished from Creationism, but with a single exception, no one in ID is willing to do so.

It’s been true exactly once, by my count. I try to always mention that one exception when the question comes up, and avoid equivocation myself (or avoid paltering, if you like). :slight_smile:


How so? Isn’t it an attempt to replace common descent with separate creation?

He posed a testable hypothesis for a stated form of special Creation. That idea didn’t pan out, but Ewert was still doing science.

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That would seem to be a change in subject, then. I don’t think you can say “Look, that’s science, and therefore it isn’t creationism”. There is no necessary mutual exclusivity between science and creationism, just an observed exclusivity in practice. So if an ID proposal is testable, that doesn’t mean it isn’t creationism. Separate creation, on the other hand, is creationism, whether the hypothesis is testable or not, whether the author actually tests it or not.


You could be right. However, I don’t have time to chase down that rabbit-hole today.

It’s funny. They are, as you say, assuming the designer is supernatural, and indeed, they often give the game away by suggesting that The Designer, Hallowed Be His Name, is inscrutable and that, therefore, ID need not concern itself with anything other than the bare inference of “design” itself.

But there is, of course, another problem. There’s no reason that methodological naturalism cannot scrutinize ALL causes that act in the natural world – those causes may be invisible and hard to detect, but we figure out ways to discern what they are doing, so that mysterious forces like magnetism become less mysterious. Forces that actually act in the world ARE within the scope of MN. The difficulty ID has is that there aren’t any such forces – headless, bodiless “intelligences” drifting through the ether and occasionally reaching across dimensional boundaries to interact with us – to study.


Yep. Occasionally one of these “ID isn’t religion – you’re going to go to hell for denying ID” guys will tell me that ID is thousands of years old, because people have been inferring design from the features of nature for a long while. But, really, that’s just Paley-ontology speaking there. It isn’t as though ID has existed as such for thousands of years, passing its priesthood down some apostolic succession to the modern saints. What happened is that certain attempts to lie to children failed, and that those who wished to lie to children anyhow needed a new moniker for their creationism. It astonishes me that anyone, anywhere, does not see through this instantly.


I’d say that ID-as-a-movement is part of the creationist movement. Particular ID arguments need not be. For example, Dembski’s No Free Lunch argument is a scientific argument (a wrong one, but still a scientific argument).