On the current usage of the term "creationist" as applied to ID

Well yes, it is one narrow definition you cherry picked out of many just to try and score cheap rhetorical points. You didn’t fool anyone and ended up looking quite intellectually dishonest in the process.

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I never contended for any such thing. You are reading me poorly. I never said anything at all about what “the common usage of the term ‘evolution’ in science” was. I did provide a study demonstrating what the common usage of the term “creationism” was. The whole point of my objection, days or weeks ago (I can no longer remember) was that you were misusing the term “creationism” by equating ID with creationism, and that this misuse followed the demagogic example of Eugenie Scott and the NCSE.

I certainly do not think that most scientists who accept evolution believe that evolution entails design. Quite the opposite. Most scientists who accept evolution think that evolution explains the origin of living things quite economically without any reference to design. And some of them believe that evolution disproves the existence of design. You are imputing to me views that I’ve never offered.

Sorry, when did Ken Ham join the Discovery Institute?

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Psst…hey Eddie…here’s a hint:

The same word can have different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. It doesn’t matter if there is a “common” usage.

You’re welcome. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I would say that the assumption is correct. Guided evolution is still evolution. Why not?

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Sorry, wrong. That is exactly the premise underlying your argument as quoted below (as just some examples). The premise is not overtly stated and you may not even be aware of it. But the argument only works if one begs the question and assumes that “design” + common descent = evolution, and that is the very premise I am arguing against.

To make it more clear: The error you are committing here is documenting a number of instances in which the term “evolution” is used in reference to ideas that do NOT entail “design”, and then assuming that these people would continue to use the term in the same way for ideologies that include “design.” As we have already established, several of the people you cite have in fact done the opposite, and refer to Michael Behe as a creationist because his ideas entail “design.”

It is, IMHO, if it does not fit my definition of creationism:

Are there any specific examples of “guided” evolution you are thinking of? Behe arguably qualifies. You know what I think about that.

My apologies – I thought you said “YECs” and didn’t notice that you had specified from Discovery. However, the passages I gave you are still relevant to out general discussion, as they show that leading YECs don’t regard ID as truly “creationist” because ID fails to make use of the Bible. And that, of course, fits in with the historical usage of creationism that I documented.

As for YECs and Behe within Discovery – sure, over the years they have had many discussions about the evidence for common descent, and the YECs have told Behe they aren’t convinced of common descent, and Behe has told them that he is convinced of it, and they have agreed to disagree. How would you want them to proceed?

What YECs think about how to describe ID is relevant to how the mainstream scientific community views ID-Creationism because…?

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I knew I wouldn’t be the only person to detect that sleight of hand.


And leading evolutionists regard ID as truly creationist. So what is your point?

I would expect Behe to argue as forcefully and vehemently in favour of common descent against the creationists who do not accept it as he does against the evolutionists who do not accept “design”. That is, if he was not a creationist. If he is a creationist, I would expect exactly what you describe. Funny coincidence, don’t you think?


Why can’t you be intellectually honest enough to stop using the terms “ID theory” and “ID theorist” when you are unable to articulate a single ID hypothesis, much less an ID theory?

One of the primary deceptions used by creationists with laypeople is the trope that “theory” means “only a guess.” You go to that well of deception often.

Yet here you are on a forum called “Peaceful Science,” and you steadfastly refuse to use the scientific usage of “theory.” Why is that, Eddie?

Maybe examining the evidence would be a good way forward. :rofl: Not that you’ll ever go there, of course…


This is attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

Just as saying Intelligent Design Creationism is “science” doesn’t make it science.


Your argument in this paragraph and in this post is so tangled and confused that I don’t have the time to sort out all the confusions, show where you have misread me in each case, etc. I will just restate my position one last time, in the simplest terms possible, hoping to cut through all the confusion you have introduced so that you can see what I mean:

1 – My original complaint was that your use of the phrase “intelligent design creationism” was improper, because it implied that ID theory as such was creationist, and that all (not just some* ID proponents were creationists. You have since confirmed that this is exactly what you meant, i.e., that ID theory is inherently creationist, cannot escape being creationist, and that all ID proponents without exception are creationists.

2 – My response was that not all ID proponents are creationist, and ID theory is not creationist, as the term “creationist” has been generally used in popular discussions of origins in the past century.

[Notice that this response of mine was about the proper use of words – NOT about whether or not ID was true, or whether or not creationism was true, or whether or not ID should be taught in schools, or whether Discovery thought that ID should be taught in schools, or over any number of other things that have become dragged into the discussion (without any desire on my part). In short, the point I was making was primarily philological, though the philological point had a political dimension, insofar as the term “intelligent design creationism” was coined with political intent, i.e., to make ID theory look ridiculous, backwards, primitive, anti-scientific, Bible-thumping, etc.]

3 – In order to determine whether or not A is B, one has to have a definition of B. For example, in order to determine whether the policies of the Democratic Party are “communist,” one must have a working definition of “communist.” And in order to determine whether the policies of the Republican Party are “fascist,” one must have a working definition of “fascist.” So I sought to establish a working definition of “creationism,” in order to test your claim (and the claim of many others) that ID is inherently “creationist.”

4 – I could have simply employed an arbitrary definition of “creationism” of my own making, or I could have employed a definition of “creationism” that is derived from general usage, widely spread across America spatially and widely spread across the last century temporally. I chose to take the latter course, and offered a lengthy set of examples of the actual usage of “creationism” and “creationist” in dictionaries, other reference works, creationist literature, atheist literature, TE literature, works by biologists, works by evolutionary theorists specifically, etc. Many if not most of the works from which I drew my examples were written by people who disagree with me about origins. I believe that my sampling was representative, and that I could find dozens or scores of further examples, widely spaced in geography and time, to confirm the same usage.

5 – My research showed that two key notions kept cropping up when “creationism” was used:

a – denial of evolution; not just of some proposed evolutionary mechanisms, but of the process of descent with modification, common ancestry, etc.

b – appeal to the Bible, especially not not limited to Genesis, as the true and authoritative word of God, whose teachings on origins, in cases of conflict, must trump the current views of scientists.

So my definition of “creationism” requires these two elements. That is not to say that there are not other features of “creationism”, but these two feature constitute its irreducible core.

6 – Applying this definition to ID theory, I find that element b is entirely lacking, and element is found only in some ID theorists (albeit a majority), not in all of them.

7 – This establishes that ID as such is not “creationist,” even though a good number of ID proponents – a majority – are creationist.

This is all that I was trying to get you to concede. But you are unwilling to concede it. You insist on using your own private definition of creationism, and you attempt to buttress it by appealing to a very recent usage – derived from those hostile to ID – rather than from a broad survey of societal usage. This approach is philologically unsound, and also politically motivated (whether you are conscious of the political motivation of Scott, etc. or not).

Again, I am not contending that ID is right, or good science, or anything else. I am contending that ID is not, as such, creationism, and that there are some ID proponents who are not creationists – as the term creationism has been commonly used in popular discussion for the past century. I am asking you to refrain from using the phrase “ID creationists” and “ID creationism” – except when you are referring specifically to those ID proponents (Meyer, Nelson, etc.) who are in fact creationists by the common definition of the word. I am asking you to use, when you are referring to ID generally, or ID as a body of theoretical claims about nature, the simple, non-loaded term “ID” rather than the polemically loaded term, “ID creationism.”

This leaves you entirely free to say that ID is crap, bad science, filled with errors, something that should not be taught in schools, etc. It asks only that you refrain from inaccurate and polemically intended labeling. Since you are not being asked to surrender a single point of content of your thought, I think this is a reasonable request. But of course, it is entirely up to you whether you will continue to use an inaccurate and rhetorically manipulative label.

“Typically” is not “in all cases.” I am pointing out that there exist counterexamples. Faizal Ali will not admit any counterexamples. John Harshman agrees with me that there are counterexamples. Are you with Harshman, or with Faizal?

Not all ID people; and by failing to mention that, you mislead readers here. Why do you deliberately suppress the counterexamples?

Who is “they”? All ID proponents, or only some? Name the particular ID proponents responsible for making the change. And at least have the decency to acknowledge that the publication in question was not put out by Discovery.

But that doesn’t deal with the problem: Denton clearly endorses the reality of descent from one-celled ancestors. He doesn’t treat is as “only a theory, not a fact.” That runs against the standard line of all creationists. And if, as you doubtless believe, creationism completely controls the agenda at Discovery, they would never offend their creationist supporters and sponsors by using a book such as that. They can produce plenty of books attacking the modern evolutionary synthesis written by creationist scientists. Why offend their base by including the works of an evolutionist? You explanation is very weak.

What a pedant you are! Denton’s 2016 book, published by Discovery, uses the word “evolution” scores of times. He also praises a particular approach: “evo-devo.” Three guesses what word the “evo” stands for! So the fact that my particular quotations don’t use the word “evolution” doesn’t mean they aren’t covering the same thing.

You write as if there isn’t a range of meanings of the word “evolution,” one of which refers to the process of organic change over time. Ken Miller acknowledges this use of the term in the Dover trial transcripts:

“In English, we often use the word
19 “evolution” to refer to two different things. We
20 often use the word “evolution” to refer to the fact
21 that life has changed over time. And in that respect,
22 evolution is as much of a fact as anything else we
23 know about the natural history of this planet.” (p. 93)

Miller’s “change over time” is what Darwin called “descent with modification.” And Miller says it’s OK in English to use “evolution” with this meaning. Behe and Denton are both evolutionists within this meaning, and the quotations I provided from major ID leaders also indicate that ID can live with “evolution” in this meaning, even if those quotations don’t use the word “evolution.” Your pedantry in demanding the actual occurrence of the word “evolution,” when elsewhere Discovery promotes authors who do use the word “evolution,” is really quite ridiculous.

And, in all that, you failed to address the main problem with your argument, which I have explained several different ways already, but with no success:

That is not an adequate definition of evolution in this context, because the question we are debating is whether it is correct to define an ideology that combines “descent with modification” with “design” as evolution or creationism. The vast majority of the sources you cite are silent on that question, since most of them are from before the ID movement gained prominence. And of those sources we have both cited that are not part of the ID Creationist political movement to convince people that ID is not creationism, nearly all of them have referred to Behe as a creationist.

The evidence says your are wrong. Whether you accept that or not is another mattere.

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You’re misusing the term “ideology”; ID is a theory or hypothesis, not an ideology. I take it that political theory is not a subject you have studied.

I did not cite those sources as having anything to say about Behe or ID; I cited them to show that the definition of “creationism” in American popular culture was well-established before ID came along. The two key elements of “creationism” in popular thinking are (1) denial of descent with modification; (2) insistence on the Bible as a reliable source about the history of the universe. Therefore, to decide whether or not ID theory is “creationist” we determine whether those elements are present in ID theory, or absent from it. And one is completely absent, and the other absent in some of the most prominent ID theorists. So ID is not as such creationist, even though, as I have already conceded, most ID proponents lean toward creationism.

Nearly all of the angry, biased partisans have referred to Behe as a creationist – I agree. But hardly anyone with any philological training, or who knows the actual history of term “creationism” and the actual contents of ID theory, will agree.

No, I am well aware of the meaning of the term, and I have used it deliberately and correctly.

A big part of your problem is that you insist on taking at face value the statements from habitual liars of the Discovery Institute. If we were to base our opinions of the political situation in North Korea on the statements made by its governing regime, we would quite reliably and consistently be wrong.

Still refusing to even acknowledge the points I have raised regarding your fabricated definition of the term “evolution”. I guess I know what to conclude from that.


Oh, yes, that “fabricated” definition that I got from Darwin, and which is allowed by Ken Miller and Joshua Swamidass, and several of the scientist-discussants over at BioLogos.

I’ve seen far more “habitual liars” on this site, on Panda’s Thumb, at the NCSE, and on BioLogos than I will ever see at Discovery. (Not accusing anyone in particular, just making a broad general statement.)

Just curious: Would you call either atheism or materialism “ideologies”? And if so, does this mean that your position on origins is “ideologically based”?

Please quote where any of these sources have defined evolution in such a way that includes “design”. TIA.


No, it is based on science.