What Theological Claims Does ID Make?

This is what we would call a “fig leaf”. It is rather hard to ignore the actual history of ID, the agenda of the institutes that support ID, and the statements of individual scientists who support it.


What theological claim does ID make?

Thank you

It allows that Designer to be a Odin, Zeus, Invisible Pink Unicorns, the God of Abraham, or any other undefined omnipotence, and all with equal probability. This is scientifically implausible, and theologically … distasteful(?) … as it equates to mockery or idolatry (depending on who you ask).

An omnipotent Designer can never be falsified, because a designer capable of creating complex things must also be capable of creating very simple things - and it would never be possible to distinguish between what is evolved and what is designed. To be a scientific concept, the Designer MUST be limited in capability, somehow, and proponents of ID have steadfastly refused to provide any such definition*.

* Except for the Raelians, they might have a case, but they haven’t offered anything yet.


Even then, you run into the problem of a finite universe. At some point there has to be an intelligent species that arises without the help of another intelligent species (i.e. the First Designers). According to the arguments within ID, these species would necessarily contain complex specified complexity and irreducible complexity, and it would have to arise without an intelligent designer.

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This is a jumble of half-thought-out objections. Let’s take some of the elements individually.

Mung’s question was “What theological claim does ID make?”

Dan replies: “It allows that Designer, to be a[n] Odin, Zeus …”

Well, if it allows the Designer to be many things, some Christian, some pagan, etc., then it isn’t making a specific theological claim, is it? A theory of design that says “Christianity might be true, but ancient Greek or Norse paganism might be true instead,” isn’t one that is tied to a theological claim.

I haven’t seen any place in ID writings where all these possible identifications of the Designer are said to have “equal probability”. In fact, ID writers who have listed the various possibilities – the Christian God, pagan gods, alien biochemists, time travellers, etc. – have said that the determination of the identity of the designer is outside of ID’s methods, and so there is no way a probability could be put on them (in the way that Dembski puts a probability on the Darwinian formation of the flagellum).

What exactly is scientifically implausible? That there is more than one possible identification of the designer of life?

Can an “agnostic biostatistician” plausibly express indignation that something is “theologically distasteful”? Distasteful by what standard? By the standard of a religious believer who holds certain views that the agnostic doesn’t have?

In any case, what is “theologically distasteful” about admitting that one can’t identify the designer using ID arguments? “I think there is a designer, but I can’t prove it is the Christian God based on my methods of design detection” shows proper methodological modesty, not bad theological taste.

The same applies to Darwinian evolution (by which I mean that theory of evolution in which natural selection is understood as the primary driving force). If members of a species are selfishly individualistic, Darwinism can explain that in terms of natural selection working on selfish genes of the individual. If members of a species are altruistic, showing greater concern for the kin group than for themselves as individuals, Darwinism explains that too, saying that nature “selects” for the advantage of the group rather than the advantage of the individual. If hardly any creatures learn to fly, Darwinism can explain that in terms of the niche for flying creatures being limited, but if every Class of vertebrates had numerous flying members, Darwinism could explain that, too. If a cave-dwelling creature loses its eyes, Darwinism can explain that, and if it doesn’t lose its eyes, Darwinism can explain that, too. Darwin went to great lengths in the Origin to try to show that some species of bees have more efficient ways of storing honey because of the superior geometrical shape of the honey cells, which by his logic should have led to the eventual evolutionary replacement of the other species of bees, as they were outcompeted by the bees which stored honey more efficiently, but all the other species of bees with the allegedly inferior engineering of the hive are still around, and that has never bothered defenders of Darwin as a contradiction. Polar bears are white, allegedly because of natural selection, but the Kodiak bears of Alaska, who live in the same wintry environment, are brown and do just fine. One of the great evolutionary biologists of the 20th century, Stephen Jay Gould, mocked the ease with which Darwinians came up with “just-so stories” to explain any outcome of evolution. One can always make up a story, or in the absence of any story, postulate some yet-unknown environmental factor which explains why something that logically wouldn’t do well under natural selection survives quite well. In the absence of complete information about all the complex interactions of creatures with their environments (and complete information we will never have), natural selection is a supremely elastic explanation that can explain pretty well any outcome – after the fact. But if one asks a biologist to predict what natural selection will accomplish in the future, the biologist will decline to say. (Like economists who know exactly why a Depression occurred after the fact, but strangely didn’t see it coming beforehand.)

On the other hand, in real science, scientists can not only retrodict but also predict. Contrast two cases:

I once asked a biologist what would happen if a species of rabbit never before found in the Amazon forest were release there in large numbers, and left alone by humans over a period of 50 or 100 or 200 years. Would it outcompete existing small mammals in the forest that had similar diets and habits, and drive them to extinction? Would it be driven to extinction itself by superior competition? Or would a new balance be formed, with the rabbit making up part of the total mix, and the previous inhabitants occupying part, but in lesser abundance than formerly, due to the competition with the rabbit? The biologist declined to answer. In comparison, I once spoke with a chemist who had invented, on paper, a molecule that had never before existed. He predicted a number of the chemical and physical properties his new molecule would have. His research task was to produce the molecule, and then test it to see if his predictions were correct. In other words, if his science was any good at all, he should be able to predict a future outcome. Darwinian natural selection has always avoided that challenge. That’s the difference between experimental sciences and speculative sciences.

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Well yes, but at least we could ask them about it. But the closest thing to a claim I ever got out of the one Raelian I’ve had any discussion with, was that the strange orange aliens would make their presence known at the end of 2016. … OMG!!! *** IT’S TRUMP!!!

The above is a true story, except for the words “strange orange”. :smiley:

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Hi Eddie. This is a short summary of my discussions with religious scholars and people of faith over the past 5 years and more. My apologies if I seemed to be mocking as that was not my intent, and I might have been more clear my meaning. A hypothesis that puts God on an equal footing with (for instance) a Flying Spaghetti Monster is (IMO) making a mockery of God. Others place the Bible on a pedestal of science, which is idolatry (in the words of a knowledgeable friend).

Sure, why not? There are no shortage of (religious) people who find ID to be theologically unacceptable. A God that science can measure does not fit the definition of anything we might call God. Perhaps “theologically distasteful” was a poor choice of words, but that conveys my general meaning, and I was in a bit of a hurry. I am open to better suggestions for better wording if you have any?

No, it doesn’t, unless you choose to mis-characteristic science and the actual predictions made by evolution.

ID makes a material claim about Design, but is unable to address questions of Who/What/When/Why/How regarding design. OTOH, we can answer What/When/Why/How about evolution, and Who doesn’t apply.
Further, the Designer could be evolution; there is nothing in ID that would disallow that possibility. This is a direct consequence of ID failing to define Design or the Designer.

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3 posts were split to a new topic: Kodiac Bears and Polar Bears

It is the foes of ID who invented the Flying Spaghetti monster, as a term of ridicule. The notion plays no part in ID theory.

No ID proponent has claimed that science can measure God. All ID proponents I know of would deny that science can measure God. You are probably referring to the idea that God, or at least a designer, can be inferred from the facts of nature. But that is not the idea that “science can measure God”. Aquinas, Newton, Boyle, Kepler, etc., all thought that a designer could be inferred from the facts of nature, but none of them thought that science could measure God.

What is theologically distasteful to some Christians isn’t theologically distasteful to others. But I agree with you that some Christians find ID theologically distasteful. Often this correlates with their view of natural theology. Some Christians reject even the mildest forms of natural theology, whereas other Christians have no problem with it. See the discussion here on Natural Theology for more details.

I made no characterization of “science” in general in my reply, and when I spoke of evolution I specified that I was speaking of the Darwinian account of evolution. The reason for that is that ID has set itself repeatedly against the Darwinian account, as can be seen from the number of times “Darwinian” appears in ID literature.

My point was that Darwinian natural selection allows for a huge degree of flexibility in explanation, and that almost any evolutionary outcome can be explained as in accord with the principle of natural selection. Since you were criticizing ID for having an idea of God or the Designer that is so broad that it could accommodate anything, I was returning the argument by pointing out that natural selection explanations are almost equally impossible to falsify. I gave plenty of examples. And as I said, even atheist evolutionary biologists like Gould have ridiculed the excesses of natural selection just-so stories.

You need to clarify this. You might be saying something that is true. Michael Denton is an ID thinker who sees evolution as having a built-in design. But his conception of evolution is non-Darwinian. Darwin didn’t see any design in the evolutionary process, whether imposed from the outside by God or contained inside by some sort of directive plan. Nor have most of Darwin’s successors.

ID is not opposed to “evolution” (descent with modification) in itself. Its main point is that even if descent with modification has happened, chance mutations plus natural selection plus other “stochastic” factors aren’t enough to explain the outcomes, without reference to design. You can agree or disagree with that, but it’s important to see that ID takes no position on “evolution” in the abstract; its position relates to “design versus chance”. There it differs from creationism, which pits “creation” against “evolution” – a different opposition.

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42 posts were split to a new topic: Evolutionary Science, not Darwinism

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Reason the Flying Spaghetti Monster Was Imagined


But ID does claim that science can detect design (despite leaving the designer’s name a blank). This it cannot do.

And now that this place defends the Special Creation of Adam/Eve in the midst of scientifically well defended Primate Evolution, it should be less troubling if ID drops this footnote. No good will come of it.

A doctrinaire statement, offered without evidence or argument.

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You can say that there are sound epistemological reasons why science cannot “control for variables when the variables are miraculous in nature”! It is the opposite side of science and its scope of competencies.


And yours is not equally so?

In fact, the last time legitimate science held views like these was in the age of Alchemy.

Science took a dramatic leap forward when it took 2 synonyms (Alchemy and Chemistry) and moved all attempts to measure or detect miracles into the Alchemy category!

What statement did I make? You said dogmatically that science could not detect design. I didn’t say dogmatically that science definitely could, or definitely had. I have said only that it is possible that science might be able to do so. So arguments against particular ID claims of design are fine with me. I object only to sweeping methodological claims that rule out any possibility at all of design detection. You just made such a sweeping claim.


Im not going to argue about What it is we are Arguing.

You asserted that my claim has no evidence.

I responded based on the implicit premise that my assertion has plenty of evidence… even though i didnt cite any of it in my rejection.

No - forget the ID, but the language of “mainstream”, in every example I can think of, is about power, not knowledge or truth.

As soon as it is clear that there is a body of (ever evolving) opinion which to be outside is to be a “nut,” “derailed,” “fringe”, and so on - or even to acquiesce when such terms are bandied about - is almost to guarantee that one is exercising will to power, not discernment.

The reason is obvious - make a list of very varied people in some way deemed to be outside the consensus and label them, as above, as “non-members”, and a message is given to everyone to toe the line - which will move as the “mainstream” opinion does, making compliance a matter of fancy footwork, rather than persuasion.

“Reputable mainstream theology can no longer credit a historical Adam - there are, of course, a few remaining fundamentalists even in the academy.”

“Let those who deny that works are necessary to receive grace and salvation be anathema.”

Galileo to Kepler (since they were mentioned on another thread): “You are the first and almost the only person who, even after but a cursory investigation, has, such is your openness of mind and lofty genius, given entire credit to my statements…. We will not trouble ourselves about the abuse of the multitude.”

Couple of nutters, evidently.



Id be shocked if @swamidass said no… with the clarification that Joshua is probably appreciative of the religious side of ID !

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What do I mean by structuralism or what do I mean I lean that way? I’ll answer you tomorrow. Big football game here today in Tuscaloosa. Roll tide.