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

No, you don’t understand at all. Scott sometimes uses the term correctly, and other times doesn’t. When she uses it to apply to Ken Ham or Henry Morris, she uses it correctly. She misuses it when she applies it to Behe and to many other ID proponents, because those particular ID proponents do not match the standard meaning of “creationist.”

Exactly, which is why I provided a lengthy article outlining the common meaning of the term in popular debates about origins. I showed that as the term “creationism” has been generally used, Behe and Denton are not creationists. Faizal Ali is resisting this, not because he can find any fault with my philological and historical discussion, but because he wants to call Behe and Denton creationists regardless of standard usage. I’m simply recording that his usage is non-standard, and stating that I reject it for that reason.

But I agree with you that the discussion is no longer constructive. Faizal is unwilling to even consider masses of evidence for established usage, and he is determined to count the very recent and partisan usage that is itself under challenge as if it were established usage. He is not going to budge on this; his position will continue to be: “Lots of recent anti-ID writing speaks of “ID creationism”, so “ID creationism” must be a legitimate term.” My example of people who think Obama was Communist ought to be enough to get him to see that partisan current usage, even if frequent, is not a reliable guide to established usage, but I don’t think he will get the point – or concede it even if he does get it.

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LOL! Right, Eddie. Or maybe she uses it consistently, and your insistence that yours is the only right way is just wrong.

Works for me.


But it isn’t “mine.” It’s standard usage, as I documented. The problem is that you are looking for an excuse to depart from standard usage, so that you can tar Behe and others with a “creationist” brush, knowing that “creationism” is a term of ridicule.

It’s not me that you are opposing; it’s a century of usage.

Yes, masses of evidence. Like this, for example:

Exactly what kind of “evidence” was all that supposed to be? Do you think we are debating whether evolution and creationism are the same thing?

You talk about the “stark opposition” between evolution and creationism, and then in the next breath say that Michael Behe and Michael Denton fall under the category of “evolution” along with Ken Miller, Joshua Swamidass, Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins.

You’re very confused.


There’s no right and wrong here, but I think he’s closer to right than you are. Not that it matters.

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You’ve already confused yourself, by talking about a “creation/evolution debate.” Miller and Behe are not on opposite sides of any “creation/evolution debate”. They both accept evolution. They are on opposite sides of a “Darwinism/design debate” – a very different thing, concerning how evolution proceeds, not whether or not evolution occurred.

Written by the man who has never once on this website retracted or even modified a position. Glass houses.

You’re entitled to your opinion which is in the minority here. As opposed to Eddie who keeps mistaking his opinion for fact. :smile:

Really? So does that mean Behe is also involved in an Evolution/Creation debate, on the side of evolution? Can you cite some of the books or articles he has written criticizing the denial of common ancestry that is so common among supporters of ID, and the efforts he has made to correct their misunderstanding? Much obliged.


No, it doesn’t. It means what it says, and no more. Behe and Miller disagree over whether design would be needed in evolution. Behe thinks yes, Miller thinks no. About evolution itself, the reality of it, they have no dispute.

OK, so no answer to my other question. I tried.

I’m with Rum and John. Done.

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Thank the Lord!

Thank you Lord Faizal!

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I read what you wrote. I have already pointed out these facts.

  1. Your analysis was confined strictly to “usage of “creationist” and “creationism” (when these terms are used without an adjective in front of them)”. This immediately skews the results.

  2. You did not mention that “creation by evolution” has been used since at least 1873.

  3. You did not mention that “evolutionary creationism” has been used since at least 1910.

  4. You did not mention that “intelligent design creationism” is a widely used term, and has been used since at least 1996.

Why did you not mention these facts?


I was establishing the basic meaning of the unadorned term. That was important in the rhetorical context of the modern debates, because people like Eugenie Scott deliberately appeal to the readers’ and hearers’ familiarity with that unadorned term. Eugenie etc. know that as soon as the word “creationist” is heard in the popular American context, the listener will tend to hear: (1) rejection of evolution; (2) Bible as an authority on origins that trumps science. Eugenie knew perfectly well that when she used the term “ID creationist”, the readers and listeners would pick up “creationists of the ID variety”, and thus “people who reject evolution and rest their views on the Bible and also make design arguments.” That was her intention in using the term. If you can’t see that, you don’t know very much about rhetoric, and you don’t know very much about the motivations of the players in the American debate.

Your points 2 and 3 are irrelevant. I was not denying any of those things, but they aren’t relevant to the context. The foes of ID never call IDers “evolutionary creationists”; they call them “ID creationists” – and the context in which ID is being attacked makes clear that “ID creationists” reject “evolution.”

Behe and Denton could with reason be called “evolutionary creationists”, if by that you mean what used to be called “theistic evolutionists”. But Scott never refers to either of them by either name. They are lumped under “ID creationists” – in an effort to generate as much scorn for their views as for the views of IDers who don’t accept evolution. The goal was to get her readers to think: “Ken Ham, Michael Behe – same thing.”

Yes, widely used, as a polemical misuse; of course I’m aware of that – it’s exactly this widely misused term that I’m protesting. And the fact that it dates back only to about 1996 – near the beginnings of ID’s public prominence – only reinforces my point. From the beginning, ID’s foes were trying to paint ID as just another version of creationism. And the negative connotations of “creationism” come from exactly the historical understanding of the term that I ably documented. From Scott’s point of view, “creationism” is the view held by people who are too blinded by religion and too incompetent in science to be worth listening to, and “ID creationism” will naturally be a mere variation on those defects.

Faizal Ali was appealing to the same prejudices, the same connotations of the word “creationism” – connotations which survive intact in the phrase “ID creationism”. You have been complicit in Faizal’s polemically motivated usage, by not challenging it in the cases of Behe and Denton. But that is not at all surprising. Your track record of agreeing with atheists and materialists on most issues, both here and on BioLogos, is very close to 100%.

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That’s what I’ve pointed out. The issue is, doing this excludes a large body of evidence contradicting your claim that “creationist” and “creationism” are incompatible with “evolution” and “evolutionary”, and excludes a large body of evidence that Intelligent Design has been understood as a kind of creationism for many years. So you were cherry picking, as I said.

They are relevant precisely because you claimed that “creationist” and “creationism” are considered incompatible with “evolution” and “evolutionary”, when this is clearly untrue. They are also relevant because they demonstrate your claim that “evolutionary creationism” is a recent neologism, is also untrue. In fact these terms predate the term “Intelligent Design” by many decades.

Well yes, and there’s obviously nothing wrong with that.

Here are your two problems.

  1. You don’t provide any evidence that it is a polemical misuse.
  2. There is a great deal of evidence contradicting your claim that this term is confusing people.

They identified ID as another version of creationism, because ID people presented it as just another version of creationism.

Thank you for the compliment.


I never said that the words could not be combined with other words to give a different meaning. What I said was that the words “creationism” and “creationist”, when used by themselves, are generally understood, in American popular discourse on origins, to indicate an anti-evolutionary position. And that is correct, as I demonstrated by an inductive study of a wide range of sources, including many sources written by people who are hostile to some of my own positions on origins.

Further, we are not talking about the compound phrase “evolutionary creationism” here; we are talking about the compound phrase “ID creationism”. And while “evolutionary creationism” does not convey the impression of anti-evolutionism is, “ID creationism” has been deliberately and calculatingly used to convey the impression of anti-evolutionism.

As I have many times explained, the phrase “ID creationism” picks up on the general understanding of “creationism” outlined in my discussion, and is used to create the impression that ID as such is antievolutionary, and that all ID proponents are creationists. That is exactly the sense it was intended to convey by Scott and the NCSE, and we can see that it’s exactly how Faizal Ali uses the phrase. He is so stuck on that meaning that he is willing to insist that Behe and Denton are creationists, when they are actually evolutionists. He is unwilling to even look at what Behe and Denton actually say about evolution; the label “ID creationist” is enough, in his mind, to guarantee that Behe and Denton can’t be evolutionists. That shows just how successful Scott’s rhetorical campaign was, that she has been able to transmit a false description of the views of many ID proponents to the public, by the clever use of a culturally loaded word, i.e., “creationism.” It was a masterpiece of demagogical strategy.

Yes there is something wrong with it, when Faizal Ali and the NCSE group Behe among the “ID creationists,” because Behe is not a creationist. Not only does he say explicitly that he is not a creationist, but his views don’t fit the common popular usage of “creationist.” Scott wants the public to believe, and Faizal Ali wants the public to believe, that Behe, like Ken Ham, rejects common descent. That’s why they insist on calling Behe a “creationist”; it’s a deliberate misrepresentation of what Behe says, and is dishonest. Even John Harshman, no lover of Behe, grants that Behe accepts evolutionary change.

I’ve provided massive evidence, but just to repeat two examples:


These two examples prove that ID is not, as such, “creationist” and that there are evolutionists within the ID camp. Since Scott and the NCSE consciously tried to conceal this fact from the public, their intentions were clearly polemical – to make ID seem stupid and backwards in the public eye by presenting all its adherents as “creationists.”

False. Behe and Denton have never presented their views as another version of creationism. Obviously you have not read their books, listened to their interviews, etc. In fact, in the piece linked by Faizal Ali today, Behe explicitly denied being creationist:

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Are you saying that Miller denies the existence of non-Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms, or are you just reflexively making your favorite polemic misrepresentation?

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I recently saw a report of Behe backpedalling on common descent. Something on the lines of the truth of common descent isn’t his focus, but his colleagues in the Intelligent Design movement have good arguments against it.


Does Behe believe in “bacteria to man” evolution, or “bacteria to man” divine tinkering?