Is Intelligent Design really just Old Earth Creationism?

I got this astute blog comment from Frank Morris:

“I was so impressed by your debate with Stephen Meyer that I finally bought your Evolution 2.0 book. I can’t wait to read it to see how it compares with my own journey getting kicked around by hostile Darwinians on blogs as I continued to question their seemingly crazy theory.

“Stephen Meyer, on the other hand, was profoundly disappointing. I rejected ID over 10 years ago, but I always thought that, in principle, the concept of ID accepted any form of intelligent cause, not just the God answer. The reality of cellular intelligence has forced the Discovery Institute to expose their bluff. Dr. Meyer seems to be trying to change it from ID to OD, a step up to Omniscient Design.

“He’s wrong. Omniscient means all-knowing. Cells, who are clearly rearranging their own genomes, are very intelligent, but not omniscient.

“Cells are not gods, as another responder suggested. They are intelligent little critters trying their best to survive, but they don’t simply know all things by omniscience. They use internal homeostatic systems, environmental monitoring systems and intercellular communication to establish their needs and responses to need. So they need to SEEK information about their external and internal status, which means they don’t just magically know all things. On top of that is the lack of the perfection one would expect of omniscience. Thanks for the article.”

I replied back to Frank:

Bingo, Frank, you hit it right on the head. YES YES YES YES.

You would think that “intelligent design” simply should have meant that the same principles employed in engineering, music, architecture etc. are also at work in living systems, so therefore life cannot be understood in purely reductionist terms. One would have thought that the ID crowd simply wanted the world to embrace an holistic understanding of nature. And that they would be happy for us to have done that.

The Discovery Institute people are NOT happy with my view of biology, where the intelligence resides in the cells. They consider that heresy.

What this debate shows is that Intelligent Design a la Discovery Institute is actually Old Earth Creationism. Also, my debates with Stephen Meyer have also made it clear to me that a large number of Discovery Institute supporters are actually Young Earth Creationists.

You are right on the money sir. This is why ID as it currently defines itself will never become accepted by the majority of scientists. A scientist must discover natural processes using the scientific method. That is his job. Otherwise, no paycheck.

One time I said to one of the Discovery Institute employees: “James Shapiro at the University of Chicago has a decent fighting chance of getting his view of evolution accepted by the academy, because his approach is entirely compatible with the scientific method. But your version will never be accepted by mainstream science. Ever.”

In November the Royal Society Meeting showed that Shapiro, Noble, Jablonka and the other Third Way scientists are making admirable headway in getting their program accepted by the mainstream.

But at the end of the day the Discovery Institute, instead of healing the war between science and religion, is actually perpetuating it.

Yes, Frank, your understanding of cells is very much the same as mine.

Thanks for buying Evolution 2.0, I believe you will enjoy it. Welcome to the blog and don’t be a stranger.

7 Responses

  1. Phil Jones says:

    “This is why ID as it currently defines itself will never become accepted by the majority of scientists. A scientist must discover natural processes using the scientific method. That is his job. Otherwise, no paycheck.”

    Surely this is the problem. It is self limiting. Insisting on the above, closes all other avenues of investigation. If the truth lies outside of this method we are doomed to ignorance. Or am I mising somethig here?

    • I replied to another guy today:

      What you are saying sounds good on the surface but it’s at odds with the views of classical scientists like Copernicus and Newton, who viewed science as a view into the mind of God.

      You ask a very important question:

      “‘How does He sustain it all?’ Is this by small but significant interventions now and then, or has He built into life the resilience and adaptabiity for the perpetuation and survival of all that is living? If He has then science will always on its own, fail.”

      Newton thought that God occasionally pushed the planets back in place, but Laplace corrected his math and showed it’s not necessary.

      I believe God has given nature the ability to sustain and develop itself (which I feel is entirely consistent with the Biblical assertion that God sustains everything – through the constancy of the laws of nature) and THIS view of nature gives us the capacity to decode and uncover its mysteries.

      If God is constantly tinkering with nature when we are not looking, then science degenerates into meaningless speculation.

      This is not a trivial question. It’s one of the most important questions in all of science, and it’s a question of whether Christians are going to participate in the scientific enterprise, or if, preferring outdated notions of how God works in the world, recuse ourselves to the ghettos of their own imaginations and impractical mysticism.

      It is true that we know very little but we can discover much more if we presume that God has granted nature great power.

  2. Daniel Arant says:

    Based on what I remember of the conversation, you (and the other listener) are mischaracterizing Dr. Meyer’s argument. Nowhere did he reject the notion of cellular intelligence as an explanatory tool in biology. His point was that a) its scope and power is as yet unproven and b) at best it pushes back the design question one step. Cellular intelligence cannot explain the origin of cellular intelligence. Just like Darwinians did, you are getting so swept up in the excitement of a new discovery that your are exaggerating its explanatory power in your imagination.

    I don’t know why people have such a hard time honestly representing the views of ID theorists.

    • Meyer rejected the idea that cellular intelligence could produce macro-evolution.

      I say that it can and in fact we have experimental evidence that this is true. New species in real time using symbiogenesis, hybridization etc.

      I do fully understand that cellular intelligence doesn’t explain the origin of cellular intelligence. And while Intelligent Design may be a correct ULTIMATE explanation for cellular intelligence, what Stephen Meyer is saying is that the emergence of life on earth is a series of miraculous events that cannot be observed or reproduced by scientists. I believe that is demonstrably wrong.

      I do not believe that I have misrepresented ID in any way, shape or form. I understand ID very very well. I would also like to remind everyone that Stephen Meyer claimed to NOT be making a God-of-Gaps argument when in fact he was doing precisely that.

      Just because an explanation is “inference to the best explanation” does not mean it’s not still a gaps argument.

  3. Joe Coddington says:

    Old Eath Creationism, also called progressive creation tries to explain contradictions between science and the Bible. They usually still believe in a literal interpretation of scripture even though they don’t think the earth is 6000 years old and they think the flood of Noah was a local flood. Intelligent design doesn’t discuss the Bible at all and makes to claim as to what the intelligence is. (If God, then they make no claim as to his nature and what he wants from us, but leave room for intelligence being a space alien) Theistic evolution at least acknowledges that we have a purpose, which is all that many Thiest require. But acknowledging the Bible and Gods nature is indeed a significant difference.

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