Meyer Responds to the Charge that ID Was Created to Get Around Court Decisions

Funny how you didn’t say that on BioLogos, when I was saying the same thing. Funny how you attacked me savagely, when I was saying the same thing.

Funny how you didn’t say this in the recent discussion here.

Funny how you regularly belittle ID proponents for holding that view, or at least never come to their aid when they are expressing it against atheists.

We know ID came into being before that court judgment - and that it was known at the time as “Creation”.


Bovine faeces. The issue is not about any theoretical basis behind ID, but the term itself - whether the name “Intelligent Design” was formulated in order to get around a court decision.

It was. The dates do bear out that hypothesis, since the 1984 book refers to a Creator, not a designer.



Did you look at the title of this thread, above? It says that Meyer responded to “the charge that ID was created” not “the charge that ID was named” to get around court decisions. And did you read what Meyer wrote in the linked article? It confirms the appropriateness of my title. It’s clear he isn’t talking about the name of ID, but about the substance of it, the theory. Here’s a chunk:

But what is this theory of intelligent design? And why does it arouse such passion and inspire such apparently determined efforts to suppress it?

According to a spate of recent media reports, intelligent design is a new “faith-based” alternative to evolution-an alternative based entirely on religion rather than scientific evidence.

As the story goes, intelligent design is just creationism repackaged by religious fundamentalists in order to circumvent a 1987 Supreme Court prohibition against teaching creationism in the public schools.

Over the last year, many major U.S. newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets have run stories repeating this same trope.

But is it accurate?

As one of the architects of the theory of intelligent design, and the director of a research center that supports the work of scientists developing the theory, I know that it isn’t.

The modern theory of intelligent design was not developed in response to a legal setback for creationists in 1987. Instead, it was first formulated in the late 1970s and early 1980s by a group of scientists-Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Roger Olson, and Dean Kenyon-who were trying to account for an enduring mystery of modern biology: the origin of the digital information encoded along the spine of the DNA molecule.

This is hilarious. It matters because it substantiates the case that the term “ID proponent” emerged after the legal case under discussion, which is precisely the issue we’re talking about here. Your record of shooting yourself in the foot is unsurpassed.

Yes, and our argument is that ID was “created” simply by rebranding creationism. That’s the point here. And we have clear evidence for this, the cdesignproponentist book.


No it’s not funny. I did not attack you for saying the same thing. Apart from the fact that you’re making things up, you simply don’t have a clue about the science. The global warming differential caused by humans is a product of a range of greenhouse gases we release, among which methane is the most active, much more than CO2. You really don’t know anything about this subject.

Why would I? I made it clear that I believe there are far superior reasons for the opposite view. But I wouldn’t have even bothered contesting the scholarly consensus on early Christian beliefs about demons in a peer reviewed article of my own, if I thought there were no good reasons for doubting that the gospel authors did not believe in demons. I know the reasons for doubting that have apparent evidential strength.

No I don’t. On the contrary, on Biologos I made it clear that I accepted the concept of divine front-loading. I said explicitly “Yes I’m comfortable with the concept of front-loading incorporated with evolution (and other natural processes)”, and cited a nineteenth century clergyman who was the first to make the argument. You really don’t even try to get this stuff right, you just make things up.

  1. It’s a book which argues explicitly for special creation by a supernatural being outside the cosmos, a being it calls God. Is that what ID books do?

  2. It’s a book which argues that scientists should accept that the existence of the supernatural is not incompatible with science. Is that what ID books do?

  3. It’s a book which argues that special creation by a supernatural being outside the cosmos is compatible with science. Is that what ID books do?

  4. It’s a book which argues that the divine should not be excluded from origin science. Is that what ID books do?


What about all the other respects?

No. It’s a book in which the authors argue that life on earth was not the product of evolution, but was the product of a supernatural being outside the cosmos, a being who is explicitly God.

Do ID books make this argument?

If the cosmic intelligence responsible for the creation of genes and bacteria is not God, then who or what is it?

Do ID books make this argument?

For there is a rather impressive reason to doubt that science (i.e., operation science) would suffer much by positing Special Creation by a Creator beyond the cosmos.

Does ID make this argument?

Our analysis suggests that failure to properly distinguish origin science and operation science has led many to dismiss creation.

Does ID make proposals about the identity of the designer? Does ID say that scientific data can answer questions about whether the designer is supernatural?

Unless you explain that to people who haven’t read the book, it could be misleading. They are talking about the origin of life, so putting in the adjective “chemical” before “evolution” would avert any possibility of misunderstanding.

Only at the end, after the scientific arguments have been made. And no, most ID books nowadays don’t do that. But I’m surprised you object. I would think you would prefer that authors openly argue for the existence of God if that’s what they are really driving at, as opposed to muting themselves on the subject. People are always accusing ID folks of hiding their real agenda by not talking about religion, and here some guys are open about their religious conclusions, and they get taken to task for it. Sheessh. Heads anti-ID wins, tails ID loses.

Well, it isn’t incompatible with science. Newton, Kepler, and Boyle all believed in the supernatural and were very good scientists. They all thought the world had been created supernaturally, and that didn’t stop them from founding modern physics, astronomy, chemistry, etc. As for whether ID books should make this argument, I suppose it’s not necessary for them to do so, but again, if some people who accept design in nature use it to argue for God, I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world. I would not want to see every ID book, or even most ID books, turn into an apologia for God, but if a few have that goal, I don’t see a problem.

Depending on how broadly or narrowly “special creation” is meant, this statement could well be true, i.e., the two things could be compatible. Of course, if literalist Genesis exegesis is brought in, then that has no place in an ID book or a science book.

Again, most of the time ID authors will avoid talking about the divine, for fear that their entire argument will be dismissed as religious rather than scientific. And that is generally wise. But if one or two ID books talk more directly about the divine, I don’t have a problem with that, as long as they don’t use a prior belief about the divine as a step in any argument. If it’s an implication of the conclusions of the scientific discussion that a designer exists, and if the most plausible designer is God, I have no problem with stating that outright. But again, I myself would probably not do this if I were writing an ID book, for fear it would backfire against the substantive arguments in the book. I would write the sort of books that Denton, Behe, or Meyer write.

Ah. So you admit the ID Creationists actually base their ideas on their belief in God, but conceal this in their writings. It’s nice of you to finally come clean about this.


It’s a dessert topping and a floor wax!

“Intelligent Design” wasn’t birthed of a virgin. Let’s not pretend it was. It is a perfectly expected offshoot from people interested in biblical creation and science. To deny that clear connection is ludicrous. There never was a ‘clean room’-like, reverse-engineered development of the Intelligent Design movement with no basis of past influence.

But there’s nothing wrong with that when evaluating it today from a secular standpoint just like there was nothing wrong evaluating earlier creation science from a secular standpoint, to the extent that it is developed and evaluated under the same standards of science. Ultimately, it must stand or fall alone on that basis – It can’t be propped up with however one group interprets scripture. Personally, I just don’t think ID has achieved the stable footing by which it can be non-trivially evaluated. The problem, as I see it, is not the historical relationship with religious apologetics, but that there remains little definitive substance to ID.


Their arguments are dismissed not because they are religious, but because they refuse to engage in advancing and testing scientific hypotheses.


I admit that WHO? actually base their ideas?

ID theory, by itself, isn’t much of anything and hardly worth the controversy. The few papers that exist and their lack of influence upon their fields is a fine verdict for the idea.

What was created to “get around the courts” is the Discovery Institute. When you think of it, it’s a very odd duck. A PR operation targeting Christians, primarily, to buttress their beliefs and denigrate evolutionary theory all in the name of advancing a scientific theory.

A wedge is not effect unless there is pressure behind it, and that is the DI.

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The book doesn’t simply argue against “chemical evolution”, and the typical scientific models of the origin of life. It argues against neo-Darwinism and “Darwinian evolution”.

By 1966 a major change in scientific thought was underway. In Philadelphia a symposium was held to highlight these changes.’ It was there that signs of an impending crisis first emerged. Syrnposium participants came together to discuss the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.

In his opening remarks as chairman, Nobel Prizewinning biologst Sir Peter Medawar said, “There is a pretty widespread sense of dissatisfaction about what has come to be thought of as the accepted evolutionary theory in the English-speaking world, the so-called neo-Darwinian theory.”

If you think that the book disputes mainstream origin of life theories, but accepts mainstream evolutionary theory, then please provide evidence for this.

So it is ok for ID to argue that God exists, and to argue for special creation by God? Thanks for clearing that up.

Why not?

This is another sleight of hand. It’s the ID people who tell us that ID is not religion and that ID makes no religious claims, and that ID does not attempt to identify the designer and is entirely agnostic on the identity of the designer. It’s the ID people who tell us that ID does not talk about religion. According to what ID people tell us, this book is not presenting the ID argument.

But thanks for making it clear that you believe it’s ok for ID books to make a religious case.

So it’s ok for ID books to do this.

So it’s ok for ID books to argue for special creation by a supernatural being outside the cosmos, as long as they don’t bring in a literalist exegesis of Genesis.

So positing that there is an intelligent designer, and that intelligent designer is God, is also ID. Thanks!

Do ID books make these arguments?

  1. If the cosmic intelligence responsible for the creation of genes and bacteria is not God, then who or what is it?
  2. For there is a rather impressive reason to doubt that science (i.e., operation science) would suffer much by positing Special Creation by a Creator beyond the cosmos.
  3. Our analysis suggests that failure to properly distinguish origin science and operation science has led many to dismiss creation.

Does ID make proposals about the identity of the designer? Does ID say that scientific data can answer questions about whether the designer is supernatural?

Would you say that ID postulates some kind of a supernatural or divine creator? Is it ok for ID to do this? Would you say that intelligent design speculates about the nature or identity of the designer? Is it ok for ID to do this?

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Only in passing. Overwhelmingly the topic is the origin of life; if you’d read it, you’d know that. What has probably confused you is that early on in the book, the authors employ “Darwinian” in a loose way, as if it relates to chemical evolution as well as organic evolution. That was a bad choice of words on their part. But even if they do touch tangentially on organic evolution after life begins, no one can mistake the overall thrust of the technical argument of the book as relating to the origin of life.

No, "ID’ does not argue that. I have repeatedly distinguished between what ID as a theory can do, and what ID proponents as human beings can do. ID as a theory is incapable of detecting “God”; it can only detect design. The inference that the designer must be God is not an ID inference, but another type of inference. But there is nothing wrong with a thoughtful human being making that inference, and there is nothing wrong with an ID proponent saying: “I think that the designer of life is the God spoken of in the Christian tradition (or Jewish tradition, etc.).”

Because they want to focus on establishing the existence of design, not on the religious implications that might be drawn from design. And an author has the right to focus on whatever he or she wants to focus on.

And that’s all correct. ID, as such is not religion, and makes no religious claims, and does not identify the designer. In fact, its methods make it incapable of identifying the designer. But that doesn’t mean that human beings who endorse ID don’t have other means of identifying the designer.

Again, correct; ID as such does not talk about religion at all. But individual ID proponents can talk about religion if they choose to.

The book presents an argument for the design of the first life, based on chemical and geological science. Therefore, the book presents an ID argument. The book also presents some of the religious conclusions that authors have drawn after reflecting on their results. That doesn’t make the book not an ID book. It makes the book a dual-purpose book: (1) it argues for design; (2) it reflects on the implications for religion. Nothing wrong with dual-purpose books.

It’s OK for an ID author to make a religious case, as long as he doesn’t claim that the specifically religious part of his writing is arrived by using the theoretical tools of ID, which as an enterprise is limited to design detection.

Sure, it’s OK; and it doesn’t make them cease to be ID books if they do so. In such cases, they are ID books with a bonus feature, like a DVD that has a commentary in addition to a movie. If you don’t like the bonus feature on a DVD, you don’t have to watch it; you can stick with the movie. And if you don’t like all the stuff about God in the Mystery of Life’s Origin book, you can stop reading after they finish the technical argument for design. But for people who want both things, the book has them.

There is no problem here. There is no false advertisement by the authors of the book about what it contains and what it’s concerned about. It contains some ID argumentation and it contains some theological reflections. It doesn’t try to sneak anything by the reader. The views of the authors are up front and unconcealed. No hidden agenda. I think the book is admirable for its forthrightness.

I’ll rephrase what I said, to be clearer and more precise: There is no place for either arguments about God or exegesis of Genesis in the portion of an ID book that is dedicated to establishing the existence of design. But after the authors have said all they are able to say to establish the existence of design, they can go on to express their religious views, even their exegesis of Genesis. The key thing is that the arguments made for design must not depend on the theological position or the Genesis exegesis. The religious material must be presented with something like: “And now we offer our personal religious and theological reflections on the design in nature that we have established.”

No, positing that the intelligent designer is God is not “ID.” It’s a non-ID inference that some ID proponents draw, based on general reasoning.

The rest of your questions (which are often repetitions on the same theme) are easily answered; if you apply what I’ve already said above, you will know exactly what I would say to each of them.


So Meyer is dodging the issue and instead addressing something that has never been in dispute - everyone involved knows that creationism, including the subset that became ID, existed before 1987. It’s the new name that originated then, not the underlying concept.

Have you read the Kitzmiller vs Dover trial transcripts? If you haven’t, you have no grounds for claiming expertise on ID.


Not nearly as misleading as @Eddie quoting @Jonathan_Burke as saying something while omitting the context that shows it was a summary of some-one else’s views.


Does @Eddie still not realize the silly error he made there? Does he really think @Jonathan_Burke has suddenly become a climate-denying creationists right before our eyes?

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Yes, I read all 2,000 pages of them, as soon as they became available. I also read all the local news stories in the local Pennsylvania papers that were covering the trial, as far as I could get hold of them. And several books of Dover trial aftermath material, including one explicitly on the legal aspects. (I also once read the entire trial transcripts of the Scopes trial; I appear to be a glutton for punishment.)

As far as being an expert on ID goes, my study of the Dover trial was only the beginning of it. After that, I read dozens of books by ID proponents, scores of articles criticizing ID writings, and scores of rejoinders by ID proponents to those criticisms. I’ve been at this subject for about 15 years now.

I would correct this misstatement to: “Critics, if they were honest, would concede that ID, even if not yet named as such, existed before 1987, in works such as The Mystery of Life’s Origin.”

Oh, good for you. You know who else is aware of every word in those transcripts? Judge John E. Jones III. Could you remind us what he concluded from that?