Not Intelligent, and Surely Not Science

By Michael Shermer

Not Intelligent, and Surely Not Science


According to intelligent-design theory, life is too complex to have evolved by natural forces. Therefore life must have been created by a supernatural force — an intelligent designer. ID theorists argue that because such design can be inferred through the methods of science, IDT should be given equal time alongside evolutionary theory in public school science classes. Nine states have recently proposed legislation that would require just that.

The evolution-creation legal battle began in 1925 with the Scopes “monkey” trial, over the banning of the teaching of evolution in Tennessee. The controversy caused textbook publishers and state boards of education to cease teaching evolution — until the Soviets launched Sputnik in the late 1950s and the United States realized it was falling behind in the sciences.

Creationists responded by passing equal-time laws that required the teaching of both creationism and evolution, a strategy defeated in a 1968 Arkansas trial that found that such a law attempted to “establish religion” in a public school and was therefore unconstitutional. This led to new equal-time laws covering “creation science” and “evolution science.” In 1987, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 7 to 2, said teaching creation science “impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind.”

This history explains why proponents of intelligent design are careful to never specify the true, religious nature of their theory and to insist that what they are doing is science. For example, leading ID scholar William Dembski wrote in his 2003 book, “The Design Revolution”: “Intelligent design is a strictly scientific theory devoid of religious commitments. Whereas the creator underlying scientific creationism conforms to a strict, literalist interpretation of the Bible, the designer underlying intelligent design need not even be a deity.”

But let’s be clear: Intelligent-design theory is not science. The proof is in the pudding. Scientists, including scientists who are Christians, do not use IDT when they do science because it offers nothing in the way of testable hypotheses. Lee Anne Chaney, professor of biology at Whitworth College, a Christian institution, wrote in a 1995 article: "As a Christian, part of my belief system is that God is ultimately responsible. But as a biologist, I need to look at the evidence…. I don’t think intelligent design is very helpful because it does not provide things that are refutable — there is no way in the world you can show it’s not true. Drawing inferences about the deity does not seem to me to be the function of science because it’s very subjective."

Intelligent-design theory lacks, for instance, a hypothesis of the mechanics of the design, something akin to natural selection in evolution. Natural selection can and has been observed and tested, and Charles Darwin’s theory has been refined.

Intelligent-design theorists admit the difference, at least among themselves. Here is ID proponent Paul Nelson, writing last year in Touchstone, a Christian magazine: “Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’ — but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.”

If intelligent design is not science, then what is it? One of its originators, Phillip Johnson, a law professor at UC Berkeley, wrote in a 1999 article: "The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism versus evolution to the existence of God versus the nonexistence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.’ "

On March 9, I debated ID scholar Stephen Meyer at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. After two hours of debate over the scientific merits (or lack thereof) of IDT, Meyer admitted in the question-and-answer period that he thinks that the intelligent designer is the Judeo-Christian God and that suboptimal designs and deadly diseases are not examples of an unintelligent or malevolent designer, but instead were caused by “the fall” in the Garden of Eden. Dembski has also told me privately that he believes the intelligent designer is the God of Abraham.

The term “intelligent design” is nothing more than a linguistic place-filler for something unexplained by science. It is saying, in essence, that if there is no natural explanation for X, then the explanation must be a supernatural one. Proponents of intelligent design cannot imagine, for example, how the bacterial flagellum (such as the little tail that propels sperm cells) could have evolved; ergo, they conclude, it was intelligently designed. But saying “intelligent design did it” does not explain anything. Scientists would want to know how and when ID did it, and what forces ID used.

In fact, invoking intelligent design as God’s place-filler can only result in the naturalization of the deity. God becomes just another part of the natural world, and thereby loses the transcendent mystery and divinity that define the boundary between religion and science.

man, you just can’t drop it, can you, Toker? You’ve just got to slam God and whoever follows him whenever you possibly can.

i feel sorry for you… to have that much hate locked up inside you.


Other than reminding everyone that you have a one-track-obsessive-compulsive brain in your cute little head, do you have a point?

It’s not like this is a current news item, or even worth arguing about on a Internet forum intended for users of a piece of recording software.

Yeesh. Some people just ain’t happy unless they’re talking shit about opther people or arguing. If you were a girl, you’d qualify as an “Attention-whore.”

man, you just can't drop it, can you, Toker? You've just got to slam God and whoever follows him whenever you possibly can.
Yet bet I'm not going to drop it, because this crap is being forced down my throat by right-wing extremists all the time. I and many others don't like it. I am going to fight right-wing fundamentalists who try to impose this beliefs on me and this country whenever I can. I'll drop it when the ID's people drop it.

The whole Schiavo thing has made me realize how much we have to fight, because this whole issue has been kept alive by fundamentalist extremists. If you consider yourself one of these people, then I'll have to fight you too I guess. But I'll fight you in the courts & in the press, not on the battleground.

I don't see anywhere's in this article where it slammed God. Are you implying that all people who believe in God believe in ID? God did not ceate Intelligent Design, human ideologues did.

i feel sorry for you... to have that much hate locked up inside you.

Don't feel sorry for me because at peace with myself & my God. If you believe in ID, I feel sorry for you.

Ok Phoo, now I know where the old phrase of “beating an old horse to death” is from. :D

Good. We have not had the board split in a year. Maybe we can do it with this oh so informative thread. Then we can start another bitterly divisive thread in 9 months saying how proud we are that the Fasoft forum is reaching 1000 members again and is growing so much faster that the other forum that is full of all the idiots that made poo-poo on the grossly misunderstood and ever innocent Toker.

Mike, even Saddam Hussein got along with someone some of the time.

I am sitting here ever waiting for enlightenment 'cause I is so stoopid,


I’m looking for a discussion on how bogus ID is. If you’d like to contribute please do.

You guys think I keep posting this stuff to piss the Christians (or someone) off but you’re wrong. As far as I know, they’ve all left already, so who can I piss off?

As I’ve said soooooo many times, no lickee, no clickee.

PS - Hey TJ, I know you don’t like me & that’s OK, but it’s still nice to see/hear your kind face/words around here from time to time.

Yeah, I saw some “Superintendent of Education” on the news the other night implying that “Intelligent Design” (sic) should be taught in schools because it is more recent than the 1859 ‘Theory of Evolution’.

A rose by any other name stinks just as bad.

It ain’t a ‘scientific theory’ by any reasonable definition of ‘scientific theory’.

Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 30 2005,16:37)
You guys think I keep posting this stuff to piss the Christians (or someone) off but you're wrong. As far as I know, they've all left already, so who can I piss off?

Well not all of them......tee hee

Anyway I don't know much about this topic or I'd be glad to join in. I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy.
I never did get all the heated Christain/evo. stuff. I was here when all that went down, stated my opinion, and read many others. As a Christain nothing I read upset me to the point of leaving this forum for good. Then again I don't think there was anything really mean sprited aimed at me. Just alot of different opinions to read, like or dislike but never hold a grudge.
But what else would one expect when you open a topic that is so rooted in ones beliefs?

Hey toker not to get this whole debate going again or anything, but I recently had a thought, and maybe you can enlighten me with your extensive knowlege of the Evo theory.

Explain this:

If man evolved, so many millions of years ago, why is it there are no fossil remains of man dating back to this time, on the North American, or South American continent?
DNA studies have shown the native Americin Indians to be genetically simular to New Zealander's, Hawiians, and other races, which suggest they migrated here. So, why did no man evolve on these two huge continents? thus leaving their remains? All the evidence is pointing towards man originating somewhere in the Mesopatamian area.-which would support a creation theory.
I'm not totally closed to evolution, thing do adapt or evolve over time, but there's just too many holes, in the evidence.
Unless you know of some reason that man would only have evolved in one small area, and the rest of the planet would somehow be immine to evolutions majic.



I think Soul has a valid point, but it’s larger that “Intelligent Design” vs. Evolution, or even pharmacists that judge who should get what, or who can choose to end life.

The point remains that America is a secular nation, and these are examples of encroaching parochialism, the framers of our constitution excluded religion for a very valid reason, because it’s based on myth and legend and requires a suspension of critical thinking, and therefore should have no place in governance. Intelligent design and creationism are not theories, they are creation myths, every culture has one, be it turtles, the mating of earth and sky, or whatever. A theory can be tested with tangible results, a theory can be revised. Myths and legends cannot be tested logically, thus cannot be proven or disproven, much less revised. So the comparison of Evolution/Creation is moot anyway as they are not the same type of work.

Adding Intelligent design to a publicly funded educational system and attempting to present it as theory is unconstitutional by virtue of separation of church and state. Granted, no specific deity is mentioned in the theory, but it still presupposes and belief in off-worldly higher-order intelligence, and that remains in the realm of the metaphysical. Not-in-so-much as to say this is not possible, but it’s not testable.

For agnostics like myself, it’s troubling to see the beliefs and values of one group being furthered at the expense of others. I think your religion is your business, keep it that way. I’m not trying to recruit people to my belief set, and as long as no one tries to tell me I’m evil, bad, going to ####, etc. unless I do and believe what that say, then I am happy to live and let live.

Although I suspect that this debate is without solution, because some deep seated beliefs are called into question on both sides of the debate, and both sides are, for the most part, resolute.


Jerm - you a reasonable person, not an ideoloque, that’s the difference. I’m a Christian too but I don’t believe in ID because it’s a bunch of rubbish.

This thread is not about supporting evolution (which I referenced good articles about evolution in the past), it’s debunking ID. ID is not a science by definition, because as soon as you bring a supernatural force into the equation, you are out of the realm of science. It’s also not a science because of the things mentioned in the article I cite.

Man wouldn’t necessary evolve on every continent, so I’m not exactly sure what your question is?


There are plenty of fossil records of pre-humans, homo australipithicus, homo afarencis, homo erectus, homo sapien neaderthalis. These are all alternate evolutionary endpoints of the human family tree. Most have died out. Granted there are some holes in the evolutionary tree, for which no fossil record has been found.

But think about this, which other creatures perform specialized rituals with corpses? Proto human species may have performed rituals such as cremation with wouldn’t leave much for a fossil record. Granted this wouldn’t account for ALL bodies, some should still remain, but it’s a big world, and the dirt is pretty darned deep, maybe we just haven’t found them yet.

Besides, why would it be that we share 90% of our genetic material with almost every other mammal - Although the prospect of being 90% walrus (coo-coo-ca-choo) doesn’t impress me much, it still points to a single common ancestor.


Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 30 2005,20:02)
Man wouldn't necessary evolve on every continent, so I'm not exactly sure what your question is?

Well it's does seem odd, that plants, fish, birds, incects ect, would all be able to evolve on the continents of Americas, but somehow man did not?

If every other livng organism evolved around the same time on all continents (inculding the US), what possible explination would there be for man only evolviing in one small area?

For example, there are so may insect species and plant's in the rain forest, it would take another hundred or so years for us to list catagorize them all, but yet man was unable to evolve in these seemingly ideal conditions?

It's just little things like that that just don't add up.
If eveolution was true, there should be whole sections of land that have no life at all, seeing is it didn't evolve there! Since man only evolved in one area, than the same should hold true for all other life on this

Quote (chutz @ Mar. 30 2005,20:08)
Besides, why would it be that we share 90% of our genetic material with almost every other mammal - Although the prospect of being 90% walrus (coo-coo-ca-choo) doesn't impress me much, it still points to a single common ancestor.


lol at the Paul reference.....

Anyway a single common ancestor or single common creater? which ever is easier to believe I guess....teehee
Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 30 2005,16:37)
I'm looking for a discussion on how bogus ID is. If you'd like to contribute please do.

I see what your saying Mike,

I was fortunate enought to go to a private Christian school where evolution wasn't taught.--hence my lack of understanding! lol

But I can see where your comin' from. You don't think this other ID thingy should be taught in public school.
But what is the real harm in it? Seems it doesn't site any one deity as the creator. For all we know the creator or higher power could just as well be an aleien like ET, in a childs mind.
I don't see it as a religous/political issue at all. It seems we should present all the theories to the students and let them come to their own conclusions. Creation, can no more be proved than evolution, but I think both should be taught as possible scenarios.--that's just me.
Remember, the gov. doesn't dictate what should be taught in private schools, so I guess the Christian children are stuck with only one theory. As for the public schools, yeah let's stick them with only one as well! lol


God loves you anyway.
I think…
(danm agnostics!)

Jerm, it’s all quite simple, (and I think I’ve posted a link to this before…)

The Truth

More Truth (but with fluffy bits)

Anyway, I hope this helps everyone understand where we came from, etc. :)


I don’t care at all to debate this topic with anybody. Mainly because there is NO WAY to PROVE either “theory” is the correct one. I happen to believe there are bits of truth to both schools of thought. Having said that, I am a Christian and I do believe that GOD created the heavens and all therein. The mechanics and the timetable of this accomplishment is and probably forever will be unknown to us mortals.

I’m done.


If every other livng organism evolved around the same time on all continents (inculding the US), what possible explination would there be for man only evolviing in one small area?
I don't know but I don't see that as an issue. Man evolved from common relatives of the apes & the apes only lived in a couple of places (Africa mainly). Man is a highly specialized animal so it would necessarily evolve everywheres.

There are two kinds of evolution: convergent & divergent. Some continents, such as Australia, had animals that evolved that were unique to that area, such as the marsupials. That was an example of divergent evolution.

Convergent evolution happens where animals that do not come from the same ancestor evolve to fill a similar niche, and therefore looked or acted similar morphologically (I think I have my terms right - I'm writing off the top of my head). An example of this is Sun birds & hummingbirds.