Some modern design arguments that are much better than ID creationism

If you’re a Christian or non-Christian and you’re interested in reading about design arguments which are intellectually honest (unlike ID creationism), logically sound (unlike ID creationism), evidentially based (unlike ID creationism), and taken seriously in secular scholarly literature (unlike ID creationism), this post may be of use.

Note that a number of these authors are entirely open and honest about the fact that they are presenting a case for creation by the Christian God (unlike ID creationism). This doesn’t stop them being published in mainstream scholarly literature (contrary to what ID creationists claim about design arguments).

  1. Del Ratzsch, “Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science” (2001).

A few legitimate scientists are experiencing a bothersome suspicion that the apparent fine tuning for life exhibited by the cosmos is just a little too exquisite to attribute to blind coincidence. A number of philosophers of science now suspect that the conceptions of science underlying prohibitions on supernatural design are conceptually inadequate, and that making such prohibitions stand up may require work which no one at present knows how to do. And a very few professional scientists have even begun developing ideas concerning specific phenomena for which legitimately empirical cases for supernatural design can, they believe, be made.

  1. Neil A. Manson, “God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science” (2003). Contains chapters by Richard Swinburne, Del Ratzsch, Michael Behe, Paul Davies, William Lane Craig, William Dembski, Kenneth Miller, and Michael Ruse (among others). Most of the authors support design arguments other than ID creationism, and several chapters actually oppose ID creationist arguments.

  2. Mats Wahlberg, “Reshaping Natural Theology: Seeing Nature as Creation” (2012). Rejects ID creationism as pseudo-science, but presents other arguments for design.

  3. Benjamin C. Jantzen, “An Introduction to Design Arguments” (2014). Presents a historical overview of design arguments, considers the two main arguments for ID creationism (Behe’s irreducible complexity and Dembski’s specified complexity), and falsifies both. Concludes that of all the design arguments considered, arguments from fine tuning have the most promise and the fewest problems.

  4. Erkki V. R. Kojonen, “Salvaging the Biological Design Argument in Light of Darwinism?”, Theology and Science, 14:3 (2016), 361-381.

  5. Erkki V. R. Kojonen, “Design Discourse: A Way Forward for Theistic Evolutionism?” (2018), Neue Zeitscrift fürTheologie und Religionsphilosophie, Vol. 60. No. 3. P. 435-451.

@John_Harshman @T_aquaticus @nwrickert @RonSewell @Roy @Mercer


I think the ID creationists are making claims not about “the scholarly literature” but about the scientific literature. Not the same.


I think they’re making claims about both. Regardless, ID creationists have been both invited and encouraged to publish their claims in the scientific literature.

Some non-ID creationist design arguments are discussed regularly in scientific literature, notably the arguments from the anthropic principle/fine tuning. However, ID creationism doesn’t receive such a warm welcome.


Thanks for making this thread

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I take it for granted that these arguments are much better than ID arguments. As much as I think ID arguments fail to achieve what they are intended to, I think that some conceptions of ID are feasible, however.

Are there any ideas within ID that you think are feasible, even if their current executions are abysmal?

None that are distinctly ID. I think ID creationism is simply an embarrassment to Christianity, and the case for design can and should be made on totally different grounds, with actual moral integrity.


When Einstein said “God does not play dice” he was probably making design assumptions. Many scientists make design assumptions as they attempt to understand nature.

Those assumptions might be mistaken. But, as long as they lead to productive science, I don’t see a problem with them.

The ID proponents use “design” very differently. Instead of using design thinking to inspire good ideas about understanding nature, they have been using their assumption to undermine good science.

The problem isn’t with design thinking. The problem is with the misuse of design thinking.


What would the others be, that are not distinctly ID?

I take it these are different to the arguments sourced in the OP?

IMHO, that’s because the ID Creationists are not really interested in making a sound scientific or philosophical case for “design.” Rather, their goal is to change Western society into a Judeo-Christian theocracy (Muslims and members of other theistic religions are no more welcome than atheists and secularists as part of the ruling class they envision.)

It’s all spelled out here:

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The very general idea that “some things look like they’ve been designed”, as well as occasional references to the anthropic principle/fine tuning.


His stuff is outstanding


I only found him recently, and I am really impressed. Really solid stuff, especially for an EVILoutionist.

Hi Faizal,

I respectfully disagree. A few scientists associated with the movement–notably @Winston_Ewert–are trying to develop an ID model that makes predictions. They have not succeeded so far, and personally I doubt that they will ever succeed. But I must tip the hat to those few who are trying to play by the rules, so to speak.

Because not everyone in the movement is impelled by the Wedge Document, I think it’s not constructive to imply that everyone in the movement is following the WD strategy.


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They’ve been invited and encouraged to try, which is different from publishing. Peer review is a hurdle.

Yes that’s my point. They keep saying they’re being kept out of the literature by a systemic scientific bias against publishing any works on identifying design in nature. However that’s clearly not the case; they could try to publish something on identifying design in nature, but they choose not to.

It’s not that difficult to come up with a model that makes predictions. That they have yet to succeed after all this time suggests they are not really trying all that hard.


I’ve known of his existence for about seven years, and have been following his ideas for over two years. I am also impressed. His big book on ID is a superb review of the modern debates over origins, and unlike most critics of ID, he is a constructive critic, and tries very hard to give a balanced, non-polemical account.

He also, throughout his book, refers to ID as “ID”, or “intelligent design”, not as “ID creationism” or “intelligent design creationism”. He treats the relationship between ID and creationism with care, and with nuance, which is more than can be said for many of the statements made here. But that’s the difference between a scholar and a culture warrior. A scholar is interested in calming things down to get a clear, dispassionate view of a subject; a culture warrior likes to heat things up. It’s good to finally have a scholarly account of ID written by someone who is outside of all “camps.”

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I’d like to more about his views. I found this, the rest is pay walled.

Even the history of Intelligent Design (ID) is contentious, and narratives of it can be part of the political struggle for or against the movement. Many have connected ID with the creationist movement of the 20th century, noting similarities between the arguments used against Darwinian evolutionary biology. Despite the abundance of controversy over the origins and nature of the ID movement, both critics and defenders of ID at least agree that all of the major proponents of ID are at the present time connected in some way to the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington. According to Robert Newman, creationism means simply belief in the doctrine of creation, according to which the world and everything in it has received its being from God, the Creator. The central reason theistic evolutionism is typically separated from creationism is that creationism is understood to imply an opposition to mainstream evolutionary theory.

The Intelligent Design Debate and the Temptation of Scientism

Why have you not publicized his views here then? Why have you not encouraged people to read him?

  1. Could it be that you do not agree with him that “ID’s critique of theistic evolutionism” is a critique which “should be abandoned or substantially modified even by proponents of ID”?
  2. Could it be that you do not agree with him that “the ID movement wants to defend traditional Christianity”?
  3. Could it be that you do not agree with him that “the ID movement’s critique of theistic evolutionism comes close to scientism”?
  4. Do you agree with him that “texts identifying the designer with God are also not uncommon in ID literature”?
  5. Do you agree with him that “All of the major proponents of ID have indeed identified the designer as the God of theism and regard making this connection a very reasonable thing to do”?
  6. Do you agree with him that “it seems perplexing that the ID theorists so often emphasize the distinction between the designer and God, rather than the connection between the designer and God, which they also believe”?
  7. Do you agree with him that “By saying that ID does not reveal the identity of the designer, the design argument keeps the appearance of non-religiosity and can be taught in public schools in the United States”?
  8. Do you agree with him that “proponents of ID so often leave the theological interpretation of their argument to the reader,” in order “to gain acceptance for its design arguments as a legitimate part of the natural sciences”?
  9. Do you agree with him that “proponents of ID already believe that the Creator acts in the world to create effects that surpass the capacities of natural processes and laws”?
  10. Do you agree with him that “Proponents of ID argue that the scientific evidence doesn’t support evolution”?
  11. Do you agree with him that “Ultimately much of ID’s critique of theistic evolutionism is problematic and is in tension with the movement’s broader ideas”?

That makes you a culture warrior.


When time permits, I will write and post something substantial about Kojonen’s book, and then you will have a better idea of what I think about his various views. For now I will say only that it is quite possible to disagree with a number of statements by an author, while still thinking that the author has written a very good book. Kojonen’s book is far, far better than any of the books or articles or columns on ID by Francis Collins, Pennock, Giberson, Falk, Ard Louis, Eugenie Scott, Nick Matzke, Ken Miller, etc. If someone came to me said, “I’m getting tired of reading nothing but polemical, one-sided diatribes that are either pro-ID or anti-ID; can you recommend a book for me that at least tries to be fair to both ID proponents and their critics?”, the book I would recommend would be Kojonen’s.

So yes, I would encourage everyone here to read Kojonen’s book.