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.

27 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.

      • Joel says:

        I would be interested to hear your thoughts on dynamo theory vs. magnetic field decay as well as harmful genetic mutations in subsequent generations of humans. Thanks for your time.

      • Morry says:

        Same old same old. So who created god, answer= Humans. End of story.

        • Emma says:

          God has no creator. He has been here forever. He is the creator. But let me ask you this one question, do you really think an explosion could create life? I personally don’t think so. Humans, I know for a fact, are extremely incapable of making a perfect God. Please comment correctly next time.

    • Thomas Quine says:

      Perry has elsewhere stated, “So I don’t think it’s a mistake to infer design. What I do think is a mistake is to inject artificial limitations to the grandeur of what is really going on.” (Meyer Debate post)

      The prescriptions to only infer causes that lend themselves easily to further scientific studies or to infer only “front-loaded” design are the actual limitations, and insisting on those to the exclusion of “other avenues of investigation” could doom one to ignorance and constitute “artificial limitations.” For that matter, so with the limitation of science to whatever currently attracts funding. Also the limitation of science to whatever the current consensus can imagine becoming more than a minority research program. These are all artificial limitations that potentially subject Big Science to the “streetlight effect.” Even Isaac Newton somehow avoided being doomed to ignorance in spite of committing the unpardonable transgression of “letting a Divine Foot in the door,” in spite of making a mistaken inference to intervention. Neo-Darwinism has been parasitizing the design heuristic (in an ultra-weak way) for years. Selection-did-it gave them a Watchmaker that could explain design everywhere, but in such a ramshackle way that they were constantly amazed at just how sophisticated the designs were. Soon, instead of selection we may have X-did-it, where X is some combination of mechanisms (possibly unknown–just give us a few decades more–we mean it this time) that together can eventually explain everything. I can attribute it all to X because I get paid to do X-of-the-gaps. Such optimism for X is fine; put your money on that, but don’t put mine.

    • Dwight says:

      To the contrary, not doomed to ignorance but rather reliant on religious faith. TINWWT.

  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. Jarvis says:

    Ok people two words LIGHT BE …so where do photons fit in ?… because without them nothing we perceive to be ( finitely ) would exist. From photons come neutrons protons and electrons… various combinations of these are what make up everything in the physical universe. Yet light in and of itself does not exist in the physical universe. It has no Mass. It occupies no volume in space. So we being physical beings perceive light which actually does not even exist in the physical universe. Yet we somehow perceive it to . Maybe only our perceptions exist maybe only our Consciousness exists. And consider this what if the speed of light has not always been what it currently is. What if it has changed somehow ? This would change all the knowledge we have of the time-space continuum and to shorten the narrative anything and everything we currently have knowledge of in regards to any and every type of science whether it be in fact or Theory It also changes all the knowledge we possess of gravity,…magnetic fields, …stars,…planets, …add to the list at infinitum. Also because everything that exists in the physical Universe exists because of light… and more accurately because of light slowed down …proving my point that light speed can be altered… really does not travel at a constant like scientists think …aka the Collision of photons into each other
    (= light slowed down ) creating neutrons protons and electrons which once again to remind you make up everything in the physical universe… then isn’t it logical to say that distance wether.. width or depth or height or length is a relative term to measure the physical universe and our spatial perceptions and therefore are only in our minds or Consciousness if you will ?
    Based on how far apart two points are from each other based on that perception we measure distance correct ? Then how is it that light has no measurable distance from itself being all encompassing of course it cannot be…yet we think we can measure the distance of it’s source ? So I say all that to say this….all we really know or ever will know is what we percieve to be truth in our mind and not in god’s reality.

  4. 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.

  5. Roger M Pearlman says:

    ID should mean just ID
    and let the science determine which is the better ID YeC or Deep-time.
    from my perspective the best ID science is w/in YeC
    reference RCCF – the recent complex creation framework for understanding science in max avail context.

  6. Tom Mikkelson says:

    I know it’s been awhile since I’ve really kept up with the creation/evoultion debate but what is “cellular intelligence” supposed to mean? Tried to Google with no luck. Thanks

  7. Hashem Barzan says:

    Hello Mr. Marshall, I have admired your work for about a couple years now as I discovered it by chance on YouTube along with the work Dr. Roberts Marks II. In turn, this bridged me to look at kolmogrov complexity, algorithmic information theory, Shannon theory, the works of Gregory Chaitin etc. in a different light. It actually made me a little hopeful & happy as for certain reasons I was spiraling into a form of dark, negative nihilism. Your lectures on information theory & evolution made me reevaluate those toxic notions that were building inside of my head. I can say I’m coming out of a dark despair thanks to you & those on the same page as you.

  8. Hashem Barzan says:

    My question that I had is if you have heard of the ‘manosphere’ & this ‘red pill’ ideology that has been floating around on the internet for some years now? In this frame of thought, if you’d like, are the notions that as far as a species & more significantly our intergender relations we’re perhaps the most broken & decrepit of the animal kingdom. Now, there are ranges to how they view the world & humans at large but many of them are full-blown “misogynists”. But, many of these men apparently have been truly hurt by the women in their lives. In any event, they draw many of their conclusions & views based on the present data in regards to divorce, infidelity, warped behavior, child abuse, & of course abortion, based on the researches of evolutionary psychology. By their methodology, they systematically make a case that the average human female is nothing more than an immoral/ amoral, greedy, lecherous, manipulative, conniving, thieving personification of evil. However, as insane as this sounds they make a somewhat good, believable case in what they state, specifically if one has been through an ugly breakup or divorce.

  9. Hashem Barzan says:

    Now if you don’t out of this so called “men’s movement” or “realization of the ugly reality” was born the MGTOW movement & the internet & more specifically YouTube is flooded with their material. Even John Sonmez aka the simple programmer who reviewed your book & whom interviewed you on his channel has spoken about this issue & reviewed one the “main texts” of this worldview called “the rational male”. In their universe, everything is pointless, vile, decrepit, & dark. The entire movement also is made up of aggressively atheistic or better yet, anti-theistic minded people as in their view “an all-knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent, loving creator would have never doomed us to such a grotesque existence & definitely wouldn’t have created the human female as such” I.e. females being evil & vile by nature, in other words.

  10. Hashem Barzan says:

    All of the information they present is based on the works of evolutionary psychologists like David Buss, Steven Pinker, Gad Saad, Donald Hoffman & other evo psych researchers. On top of that, there are many references to Richard Dawkins, especially his “selfish gene”, Sam Harris’ work on the “illusion of free will”, Daniel Dennett’s philosophy of existence, & other players in the pointless, nihilistic intellectual platform.

  11. Hashem Barzan says:

    They use the “the selfish gene” theory to state that females are biologically predetermined & programmed to be as such because modern day science has proved it or is proving it. Basically, even us as males are nothing more than drones at their service & every achievement of human civilization was nothing more than to serve them, pleasure them, protect them, love them…just so we could mate with them to pass on our genes while being unaware of what we’re getting ourselves into & believing they feel the same about us while they truly don’t & view us as nothing more than disposable objects. In their manifesto, everybody from their spouses, to their siblings, to their intermediate relatives, to their parents, to their children all the way to the average, random individual who they see on the street is nothing more than fair game & prey waiting to devoured. As I have said, it’s far to crazy to believe but any average joe has witnessed perhaps several incidents where the above described thing happens or has happened ( I sure have & first hand that is).

  12. Hashem Barzan says:

    Now aside from all of this online red pill misogyny business, my main question is where would evolution 2.0 fit in the scope where evolutionary psychology comes in?

  13. Ken Koskinen says:

    Intelligent Design is not a good scientific theory. Stephen Meyers and other proponents of Intelligent Design claim their theory is the best explanation for the evolution of life, at least as they define it.

    The first problem with ID is, it’s an unfinished work that has not even been taken as far as it can go. Meyers et al. require numerous interventions over biological time from some unknown intelligence that tinkered with earthly biology over millions of years to develop the history of all the species that has ever existed. This creative activity over much time is what they call evolution.

    The IDers speak to the need for information and its intelligent manipulation, claiming it is the best explanation. They refuse to claim what or who the ID agent is and ironically suggest this is being scientifically clever; but they have really dropped the ball. ID is not a complete theory as it is vague while scientific theories must be precise.
    The second problem is ID is not even anything that is really new. It is mostly a modern and shallow rehash of the design/designer argument usually advanced for the existence of God. So what’s the big deal? Where are the Nobel Prizes? They are not handed out for unfinished theories and nor to those who haven’t done anything novel in science.

    The third problem is, IDers are given to much criticism of Neo-Darwinism but that has nothing to do with the validity of ID. Every theory has to stand on its own two feet. With all of ID’s criticism they aren’t really saying or explaining anything even if every wrong they claim in Neo-Darwinism is right. Today ID sits smug in its insistence but like any unfinished theory is shallow in its own explanatory power.

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