On the Use of the Term "Creationism" in Popular Debate in the Past Century or So

That would put the Discovery Institute on the horns of a dilemma. Do they accept that it is within the bounds of constitutionality, or do they admit that ID is religious and sue under the Establishment Clause?


Interesting question. I think it would depend on what was said about ID by whatever educational authority was introducing it into the curriculum. For example, if it were someplace outside the direct control of the Pennsylvania circuit where Dover took place, the Dover verdict, while of possible use as a precedent in case of challenge, wouldn’t be binding, and the imaginary board in question could say: “We don’t regard ID as religion, but as bad science, or as philosophy rather than science, and we intend to show this in our classrooms.” In that case, there would be no establishment clause issue, because the ID being bashed would be called pseudoscience rather than religion. Discovery would then concentrate its rebuttal on the scientific evidence for design, methodological questions, etc. Every time a classroom teacher said something Discovery disagreed with, Discovery would have a wonderful time blogging about it, bashing the school board or teacher on various points. Discovery would love the publicity, I think, even if they would resent the intention of the program.

On the other hand, the imaginary board might indicate that it accepts the Dover verdict that ID is inherently religious – but then it would have to justify to its taxpayers why it is introducing an inherently religious doctrine into science class, and even if the purpose is to show that ID is bad science or non-science, many taxpayers in that district might say that religious teachings should not get any air time in a science class, no matter what the reason for introducing them. But supposing that the board went ahead and did so, your question becomes pertinent.

I think that Discovery might have a hard time responding, for the reason that you give; but that would not stop non-Discovery groups of creationists from appealing to the establishment clause, since many groups of creationists are quite happy to treat ID as a form of creationism and inherently religious. They could sue the school board in question for attacking their religion in a secular school setting, while Discovery sat back. For that reason, I think that very few Boards would take the line, “ID is religious, but nonetheless we’re going to try to undermine it in science class.”

Of course this is all sheer speculation based on general principles, and until we have a concrete case, it is really just loose conjecture. But your question is interesting.

This is why I call it intelligent design creationism. The vast majority of supporters and organizations pushing ID are creationists in my judgment.

That’s not what we have found. Rather, the arguments are made to be acceptable to creationists and their Christian audience. This is why Behe publishes popular press books instead of scientific papers. The scientific pursuits have been all but abandoned.

Supernatural miracles are the mechanisms of design that they are putting forward. This is why they continually fight against “materialism” and “scientism”. Just go to Evolution News & Views for a taste of how hard they fight against the idea of natural mechanisms being responsible for biodiversity.

None of those things are threatened when we determine that ID is not science.

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I’ve agreed with this countless times. But the fact that “most ID supporters are creationists” does not justify the conclusion “all ID supporters are creationists” or that “ID theory is creationist.” Rather, ID theory is compatible with creationism, and therefore many creationists join the ID camp because of this. But the characteristic propositions of creationism – the Bible is the revealed word of God, the Bible is without error, the Bible should be read literally, the Bible must be the basis of science, the Bible trumps science, etc. – are not part of ID theory.

You’ve misread my remark. What I meant was that ID cannot hope to persuade people of non-Christian convictions unless it eschews Biblical discussion and concentrates on scientific arguments. That is what the ID people knew they had to do, to win over the non-Christian part of the public. Whether they have done it very successfully is another matter entirely.

We have had his discussion before. You have not produced a single text where Behe unambiguously insists on miracles, and your attempts to show that they are implied by his statements have all failed. And Denton explicitly denies supernatural events in evolution. So don’t say “they”; say “most of them”.

One doesn’t have to affirm anything supernatural operating in evolution to be against “scientism.” I am sure that Joshua here is against “scientism”.

I’m aware that anti-evolutionary sentiments appear there. That is the PR department. One does not expect scholarly argument from a PR department. One expects propaganda. A better guide is the book publishing program, strives to be more scholarly and scientfic, and which provides a better balance between evolutionary and anti-evolutionary perspectives. (Four books by Denton since 2016.)

Yeah it’s intelligent design creationism because it’s just creationism with a rebranding. That’s why they ended up with the term “cdesignproponentists”.

I have made this point so many times. If it was science, it would be aimed at scientists. Instead it is marketed almost entirely to Christians.

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There is no ID theory. What we see are God of the Gaps arguments, and attempts to hide these logical fallacies behind sciency sounding fronts.

If that were true then they would be spending their money on scientific research instead of PR. This isn’t happening.

Behe has said that he thinks God is the designer, and he thinks natural mechanisms are not the cause. Seems pretty obvious to me.

Those books are nothing more than God of the Gaps arguments. They lack scientific merit.


His expressions are usually more nuanced than this.

Which Denton books have you read all the way through? I mean, beyond the first one? If you haven’t read them, how do you know what’s in them?

You are unwilling to discuss them, so why does it matter?

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I’m unwilling to summarize them for the lazy.

What do you think Denton’s scientific argument for ID is? Does he have something other than personal incredulity?

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Science isn’t about arguments.

The reality is that the ID movement cannot hope to persuade scientists that it is doing science unless it advances testable ID hypotheses and tests them empirically.

The fact that they try to circumvent this step is an implicit admission that they have no intention of ever doing science.

That indeed says it all.

If there was any science, publishing in the primary literature would be the focus, not books.

Omitting that for books aimed at gullible laypeople is an admission that there’s no science there.


A silly, pedantic remark. Science employs arguments.

Yes, hundreds of pages of analysis of the structures and functions of living systems (and non-living systems, e.g., geological ones). Especially in the older book I’ve already mentioned, plus the three new short ones on Fire, Water, and Light.

Like what?

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There’s nothing pedantic about it.

Scientists argue to get grants. They argue to get papers accepted in better journals.

But at its core, science is about testing hypotheses. You are being silly by pretending that ID theory exists, when ID consists of nothing but polemic arguments, with the small exception of misrepresenting or concealing the actual data when no argument can be found (see “peptidyl transferase is a protein” for an example).

What’s silly and dishonest is citing “ID theory” or “ID theorists” when you can’t even state an ID hypothesis.

Go here, an English translation of a portion of Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems:


Search on the term “argument.”

I’d say the transition from the Ptolemaic / Aristotelian to the Copernican system was science.

OR…the first sentence of Chapter 14, the summing-up, of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859):

“As this whole volume is one long argument…”

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"To this end I have taken the Copernican side in the disco urse, proceeding as with a pure mathematical hypothesis"

Do you even have a single scientific hypothesis that makes empirical predictions to show for your decades as a self-described “ID theorist,” Paul?

Was Darwin’s hypothesis not testable? Has it not been tested?

And BTW, since you’ve been looking at the ribosome, do you have an ID hypothesis that explains why it is a ribozyme?

This is your hobbyhorse, John, and you ride it with a vengeance.

Yes, I have ID hypotheses. One of them, ontogenetic depth, I unwisely put into circulation in 2004 long before it was ready, and am still paying the price: PZ Myers lampoons me annually (April 7), with his “Paul Nelson Day” ridicule. So I’ve learned my lesson. No more floating of ID hypotheses in inchoate form, and certainly not at venues such as this.

The fact is, John, you show up here daily despite the absence of ID hypotheses. If you stopped coming around, I’d worry more.

In what way was it a hypothesis, Paul? What empirical predictions did it make? It seemed more like a notion to me.

That simply doesn’t make sense, as working out hypotheses is a huge part of discussions among actual scientists, which Eddie seems to think are debates as he sees in the humanities.

What would be wrong with floating a hypothesis WITHOUT preening around as though it is necessarily going to be the downfall of evolutionary biology? Ya know, like a hypothesis advanced to learn how things work in biology?