Post Author: Bill Pratt
Many journalists confuse the Intelligent Design (ID) movement with young earth creationism. Some of this confusion is nothing more than intellectual laziness, but some of it is caused by ID opponents repeating the assertion over and over again as a rhetorical strategy.
Here is an interview excerpt from Thomas Lessl, a professor at the University of Georgia and an expert on rhetoric (see the entire interview here):
One consistent pattern in the scientific mainstream’s response to ID has been to try to identify it with scientific creationism, to paint it with the same brush so to speak. Such allegations are still frequently made – that ID is merely “creationism dressed up in a cheap tuxedo”. This is what movement scholars call a strategy of “evasion”, an institutional effort to slow the momentum of a movement by pretending that it doesn’t exist – or in this case by pretending that it is made up of merely radical fundamentalists of no account. This strategy is still being plied in the mass media, for public audiences that remain largely ignorant about the differences between these two movements.
Let’s look again at what the actual proponents of ID say about this issue. Answering the question as to whether ID and creationism are the same, the Discovery Institute says:
No. The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. Intelligent design starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what inferences can be drawn from that evidence. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design does not claim that modern biology can identify whether the intelligent cause detected through science is supernatural.
Maybe you still aren’t convinced, though. Well, let’s also look at what one of the largest young earth creationist organizations in the world says about whether ID is the same as creationism. Below is an audio podcast from Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis.
There you have it. Creationists claim that ID is not creationism and ID proponents claim that ID is not creationism. For anyone that has studied these two different movements, the differences are obvious. The only reason why the two are confused is due to ignorance or a rhetorical strategy used to confuse the public and marginalize ID without having to confront its ideas. I think it’s time for the rhetorical strategy to be put to rest – let’s focus on the actual arguments.