Intelligent Design

The Problem of Improvable Design

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Dave Jarvis offers an interesting variant of the suboptimality anti-design argument at His variant is based on the recent finding that mammals under certain conditions can regenerate organs previously thought unregenerable. I responded to this line of objection in The Design Revolution, chapter 6 (“Optimal Design”). Here is a relevant portion of that chapter:

Just because a design could be improved in the sense increasing the functionality of some aspect of an organism does not mean that such an improvement would be beneficial within the wider ecosystem within which the organism finds itself. A functionality belonging to a predator might be vastly improvable, but also might render the predator that much more dangerous to its prey and thereby drastically alter the balance of the ecosystem, conceivably to the detriment of the entire ecosystem. In criticizing design, biologists tend to place a premium on functionalities of individual organisms and see design as optimal to the degree that those individual functionalities are maximized. But higher order designs of entire ecosystems might require lower order designs of individual organisms to fall short of maximal function.

Our view of design is shaped too much by sports competitions. We always want to go faster, higher, longer, and stronger. But do we really want to go faster, higher, longer, and stronger without limit? Of course not. It is precisely the limits on functionalities that make the game of life interesting (that’s why many games employ handicaps). A five-hundred-pound seven-foot-six football player with the strength of a gorilla and the speed of a cheetah would instantly be banned from the sport, because just by playing the game to the best of one’s ability, such a player would maim or kill all normal players who got in the way.

Fans might show up for the novelty or out of bloodlust, but such a player would destroy the competitive drama of the game. Indeed, before long this super-player would destroy or run off anyone willing to play the game and there would cease to be a game. Likewise, such a predator in an ecosystem would wipe out all the prey, after which it would go extinct. Or if the super-creature was omnivorous, it would reproduce optimally (like rabbits? like bacteria?) until it wiped out all life, after which it would again go extinct (unless it became an autotroph and could manufacture its food from scratch as some single-celled organisms).

Biology is among other things a drama. For dramas to be interesting requires characters who are less than optimal in some respects. In fact, authors of human dramas often consciously design their characters with flaws and weaknesses. Would Hamlet be nearly as interesting a play if Shakespeare had not designed the play’s lead character to exhibit certain flaws and weaknesses, notably indecisiveness?

I’m not saying that weaknesses or flaws in the design characteristics of organisms or ecosystems can be the basis for a design inference. Design inferences are drawn by identifying features of systems that are uniquely diagnostic of intelligence. At the same time, weaknesses or flaws in the design characteristics of organisms or ecosystems could be compatible with evolutionary changes guided by an intelligence. Nor would such an evolutionary scenario, in which not every aspect of organisms taken in isolation is optimal, entail that any intelligence guiding evolutionary change would have to be flawed.

49 Replies to “The Problem of Improvable Design

  1. 1
    Tim Sverduk says:

    It may be that there are good arguments against ID, but “poor design means that there was no design” is certainly not one of them. The fact that people keep on recycling this idea is so illogical, that its spooky. Human technology (clearly designed) is full of “poor” designs. In fact, this is what keeps the computer-programming industry going – we have to keep on fixing the bugs left there by earlier (intelligent) designers! Also: if the IN-ability of some animals to regenerate is evidence against ID, then is the KNOWN ability of some animals to regenerate evidence FOR ID? It only takes one instance of reasonably suspected ID to cast doubt on Darwin. I think that the real motive behind the “poor design means no design” argument is “if there really is a God, then why does he allow so much suffering in the world?” This is a totally separate issue from the question of whether life has a designer.

  2. 2
    russ says:

    This guy is interested in winning an argument. If he were interested in clarity and understanding he wouldn’t employ such bogus reasoning. He knows what is “true”, so it’s now just a matter of discrediting his opponents. The ends justify the means.

  3. 3
    Charliecrs says:

    Wrote a long post / argument but its not going through 🙁

  4. 4
    Norman Doering says:

    Dave Jarvis wrote in his attack: “Humans do it with skin, hair, and nails. Newts always get another piece of tail. Fish use their eyes to do it. Starfish and earthworms multiply like rabbits when they do it. So why are mammals excluded from the elite groups of animals that can regrow organs and limbs?”

    Mammals are no longer excluded — just read this:,1294,68962,00.html

    I quote: “Mice discovered accidentally at the Wistar Institute in Pennsylvania have the seemingly miraculous ability to regenerate like a salamander, and even regrow vital organs.”

  5. 5
    Charliecrs says:

    it says duplicate post detected but i dont see the long post anywares 🙁
    what happend ? 🙁

  6. 6
    Charliecrs says:

    tried it agin but same thing, its not working 🙁
    i quit 🙁 🙁

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    The ability to grow a new head should your current head get cut off is an even more terrible thing to waste.

    I’ve always wondered what could possibly have been more important to survival than regeneration of lost parts that caused evolution to trade it away.

    The story of King Arther and the Black Knight would have been much more entertaining if people could regrow lost limbs too!

    By the way, I think there’s an analogy between Arthur (ID) and the Black Knight (evolution) to be made here.

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:

    “we have to keep on fixing the bugs left there by earlier (intelligent) designers!”

    As Archie Bunker said: “I resemble that remark!”

  9. 9

    The comment “poor design means there was no design”, should not I suggest be dismissed easily. Not becuse the comment has a criticism to make, but because the comment seems to flag a lack of understanding of design discipline. A designer of complex systems would normally work to a specification or even a wish list. They would often have a budget for their designing effort and a budget for the design object’s share of the resources of the system containg it. The offhand comments about a lack of regenerative capability for body parts is a cute observation. Nothing more.

    Would it be nice to have regerating limbs? Possibly. Would this feature have encouraged more fights and wars? Possibly. Would it have helped children who loose limbs in accidents? Probably.

    Richard Dawkins has often claimed the human eye is poorly designed as the light sensing receptors face “the wrong way”. (The Blind Watchmaker, chapter 1) To my knowledge he has never provided an alternative design, nor discussed why the current design’s light sensitivity would be improved, without degrading other performance criteria, if the receptors were reversed. His comments are also cute observations. Nothing more.

    By contrast Michael Denton has discussed this “poor design” feature ( )
    suggesting the energy needs of the eye need the exiting design.

    Biology used to be more of a descriptive science. Perhaps it will come to grips with its need to get involved in systems engineering as well.

    Dave Jarvis’ comments could just as well have been “It is better to be immortal than to be mortal, so designers do not exist because if they did they would have designed humans to be immortal”.

  10. 10
    Norman Doering says:

    Just one little irrelevant, hypothetical question: You lost your arm in an accident, so the doctor offers you a shot that will change your body so it will regrow limbs — are you going to turn the doctor down?

  11. 11

    Norman asked: You lost your arm in an accident, so the doctor offers you a shot that will change your body so it will regrow limbs — are you going to turn the doctor down?


  12. 12
    harvey says:

    I get evolutionists asking me this question a lot. They ask why God would design things with faults in them but I don’t have a good answer. They say that a perfect designer wouldn’t make simple mistakes and give examples such as the giraffe and a nerve in the neck which goes the wrong way or something. Can anyone help me out? Sometimes I feel I’m losing the battle.

  13. 13
    TomG says:

    This problem, Harvey, is complicated by the political/scientific system we’re in (at least in the U.S.), which requires us to separate ID as science from the implications that may come from it. If we were allowed to postulate the Christian God in answering your question, we could talk about the effects of sin on creation. Biblical theology says the original creation was perfect but has since been profoundly marred because of sin.

    We generally have to keep that kind of discussion separate from ID as science, though, for all kinds of societal reasons, as you’re probably already aware.* Or rather, we have to keep those kinds of answers separate. The discussion is allowed to proceed as far as questions like the ones you’ve been asked. Detractors are allowed to ask questions, like these, that impinge on theology, but ID proponents are not allowed to explore theological answers.

    If the question comes up in a different (non-ID context), and if you believe Christian theology, then “sin” should be part of your answer, along with other good responses in previous comments here.

    We need to do more work on exploring the very odd intellectual/political climate surrounding this whole question of ID and religion, which has set the rules about what we’re “allowed” to say and in what contexts. (I’ve taken a stab at it myself.)

    In spite of all this, ID can keep moving forward, just by doing its science. It’s possible to conceptually separate the science from the implications that will have to be discussed if it gains more acceptance (as long as philosophical materialism is not in the initial set of “rules”.) I expect the day will come when ID’s research results will force all these other questions to the fore, and we’ll be able to talk about answers then, too.

    *The main reason we have to keep religion separate from ID is spurious yet powerful. It is the accusation that ID is an attempt to bring religion into the public schools. The Discovery Institute’s stand on this is so far from this that it should never be a concern, but dozens, maybe hundreds of pundits still say it’s an attempt to sneak religion into the schools.

  14. 14
    DaveScot says:

    Tom, in all fairness some questions aren’t answered by the fall. The eyeball is one of them. The optic nerve in vertebrates comes off the eye from the front side creating a blind spot where it exits the eye. Evolution can easily explain it. Design cannot (or at least I haven’t heard a reasonable engineering explanation for it). On the other hand, lack of a good explanation does not mean no good explanation exists. Just ask an evolutionist if no detailed series of mutations to get a flagellum means there is no detailed series possible. 😉 The vertebrate eye works exceedingly well and there may be a very good engineering reasons why the optic nerve feeds off the front side. In any case expecting perfection in biological design is a theological presumption. ID isn’t about theology and using theological presumptions about the nature of a hypothetical designer is not a scientific argument. Evolutionists can’t have their cake and eat it too. They must stick to arguments from science and so must we.

    Just as an aside, I don’t posit detailed design at the macro level. It appears to me that the design was encapsulated in an original egg cell (omne vivo ex ovum – everything comes from an egg) which lacked exacting detail for every little thing in the adult forms but contained all the necessary complex specified information to unfold itself from an egg to the myriad forms we see today and the past forms we see in the fossil record. I don’t think the designer(s), if there was indeed a designer, interfered with evolution once the ball was set rolling. Hard evidence for design is at the subcellular level in my opinion. It’s hinted at by macroscopic forms and macroscopic properties of the universe which explains why creation explanations have been with us since the dawn of thinking but it’s really the molecular machinery inside living cells (biological ID) and the physical laws governing matter and energy (cosmological ID) that inspire the modern design argument. The evidence and analysis thereof in the modern argument are 100% in the finest tradition of scientific inquiry. Indeed, every scrap of knowledge teased out of the universe by scientific inquiry is drawn into the modern design argument and not one tiny bit of anything that isn’t science. The modern design argument may be wrong, many things in science turn out to be wrong, but it’s still good science.

  15. 15
    Benjii says:

    The eye achieves perfect optimalization. It’s not terribly designed. First of all, to say that something is terribly designed is purely subjective.

  16. 16
    DaveScot says:


    “The eye achieves perfect optimalization.”

    Oh yeah? Then why do so many people wear corrective lenses?

  17. 17

    For the inverted retina in vertebrate eyes being designed, look at Michael Denton’s article here: Note that Denton is an expert in genetically induced retinal disease.

  18. 18
    jimbo says:

    Thinking about design in a holistic context seems to me to be the answer here, as Dr. Dempski has said. For instance, another historical objection to design has been the “dinosaur arguement”: why would a designer create creatures that go extinct? But if you look at evolution as being a process of continuous unfolding of design (as Micheal Denton has argued in “Nature’s Destiny”), the creatures of each era might (might – this is pure conjecture here) be necessary in order to prepare the ecosystem for the next stage of evolution.

  19. 19
    russ says:

    Harvey wrote: “I get evolutionists asking me this question a lot. They ask why God would design things with faults in them but I don’t have a good answer. They say that a perfect designer wouldn’t make simple mistakes and give examples such as the giraffe and a nerve in the neck which goes the wrong way or something. Can anyone help me out? Sometimes I feel I’m losing the battle.”

    It’s a hard question for you to answer because you’ve accepted certain assumptions without realizing it. They assume that the designer wants a perfect world, because that’s what they want. They might just as well ask “Why is there death?”, since it’s the ultimate “failure” of an organism. But what is their basis for assuming that a designer would want all living things to live eternally in their optimal state? What if there is some higher or even sinister purpose in the designer’s mind?

    If I may make a Biblical paraphrase, these people are like children who sing a dirge that complain that you don’t mourn, or they play wedding music and gripe that you don’t celebrate. Who set evolution-believers up as arbiters of how the universe should be run? ID tries to determine what IS. Your antagonists are talking about what OUGHT TO BE. What does that have to do with science?

  20. 20
    Benjii says:

    First, lets keep the bible away from this issue. It’s about science, not the bible. Anyways, people wear glasses due to degenerating eyes. It’s okay philosophically to accept the world is not perfect. All things are running down. This has nothing to do with the eye’s overall design.

  21. 21
    Charliecrs says:

    Guys a quick que. – whats the currents status of the Darwinalia Project ?.
    how many kewl products are being processed or desgined or being taken into account for public distributaion ?


  22. 22
  23. 23
    PaV says:

    My retina may have a blind spot, but I don’t. I see just fine, thank you.

  24. 24
    mmadigan says:

    This was the original error that Darwin made: second guessing the Creator with inadequate theology.
    The Fall is Christianity’s reason for imperfection in nature.

  25. 25
    ajl says:

    “I get evolutionists asking me this question a lot. They ask why God would design things with faults in them…. ”


    This also relates to the issue of “imperfect design meaning no design”. Just because someone doesn’t like how a designer designed something, doesn’t mean it is wrong from the designer point of view.

    You should mention that with this question they are sidestepping the issue of design, and now trying to make some kind of psychological analysis of the designer. Sort of a “if I were ‘God’ I wouldn’t do it that way”. So ask them “can you please clarify if we are talking about theology or science. You keep wanting to keep religion out of this, but you always keep bringing religion up. I’d be happy to talk about theology if you would like…” Anyway, that might put them on their heels somewhat 🙂

    Here is an example I found with my multiple purchases of Dodge vehicles. They never made it over 95,000 miles. But my friends with Toyotas always lasted longer. Are the Dodge engineers worse than the Toyota engineers? Who’s to say? I could say they are terrible engineers, I could say they are greedy and designed the car to fail early, I could say they were just trying to keep the costs down. For whatever reason, Dodge made certain decisions (price/performance) to make the Dodge the way they want. If I were to say they were greedy, then I have left the realm of scientific discovery about how the Dodge was designed, and now trying to perform psycho analysis on the motivations of the designers. This would be wrong to do, at least under the guise of science (in this case analysis of automobile design). Therefore, you can’t inject analysis of motivation with whether design actually exists.

    As another example, they always talk about the eye, and the inverted image that our brain has to flip around to make things right. To me, this is a classic case of design. We have a very small amount of room to work with in the eye, and have all kinds of sophisticated stuff going on, and have to deal with the laws of physics as they are. To try an build another mechanism to flip the image into that small space might require larger eyes, which compromises something else. So, the designer figures theres a heck of a lot more room to work with in the brain so he has the brain perform a little ‘hack of the whole system’, thereby leaving the size of the eye and its mechanisms in place.

    This is in fact what I do on a daily basis when building saturation and runoff models. The elevation models we’ve used are stored as Integers to save space, and other reasons for 95% of the world that uses the elevation models. So, when I write a program, I know that last digit in the Integer is actually the number after the decimal point. So, I bring in the integer elevation model, and my programs perform a ‘minor hack’ to deal with the fact that the numbers are stored as integers. Someone might say, what a dumb design. I say no. 95% of the world only has a need for an integer elevation model. And (especially years ago before the Pentium IV), subjecting the entire world to use these really large elevation models stored as floating point files would be too cumbersome. Its just easier for a designer to store them as integers (like the eye), and use my programs (like the brain) to perform a back end manipulation (like flipping the image).

    I think this is too long winded, sorry about that. But hopefully you can make the case to your friends that compromises in design don’t necessarily mean bad design, and certainly don’t mean no design. The reality is, if you ever see a ‘hack’ in a biological system, it might actually point to a designer making these compromises along the way and using a better suited biological function to make the hack.

  26. 26
    Bombadill says:

    Some really excellent points made here. Thanks guys. I’d just like to expound upon what’s been said… Dr. Stephen Meyer has used the examples of engineered motors and lap top computers to illustrate how certain placement of “parts” are not necessarily optimal and how certain constraints are put in place in order that the entire system can be designed for optimal performance. And I recently read a paper detailing how the position of the retina is conducive to more oxygen and how, since we have 2 eyes, the blind spots don’t overlap and there are therefore no vision issues.

  27. 27
    jboze3131 says:

    I’ve read two articles on the eye’s placement and “inverted” position in the past few months. One was, as Bombadill mentioned about oxygen and the how the position is good for the amounts needed to sustain its activities.

    Also, I read another paper that, I forget exactly what it detailed, mentioned how the inverted placement helps protect the inner layers from damage from certain amounts of bright light. Both articles were written by experts in opthamology from what I recall.

  28. 28
    jboze3131 says:

    btw. related to the issue of ID and design in general…(i share it to get others views on the subject and the post i refer to below).

    i wrote a post about the families that filed the dover lawsuit and the ACLU itself. only someone who lives in a cave would deny the ACLU has been anti-religion and anti-christian for a VERY long time. few groups attack religion and in particular christianity like the ACLU.

    anyhow- this person here “fisks” my argument that ID is a theory and that open discussion should be allowed (the writer here compares the idea of open discussion on this issue to allowing children to learn of a flat earth and a earth centered universe [he implies the bible teaches both, which shows he lacks knowledge in theology]) then he proclaims

    —“We’d have to make available Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science books claiming that illness and disease are not caused by microbes but by spiritual trouble”—

    on the book (of pandas and people i think its called?) he says:

    —“And the book that they are offering as an official supplemental text is a bluntly creationist text of the same sort that has already been declared unconstitutional in public school science classrooms”—

    of ID in general, he says:

    —“What they have is a purely negative argument – “evolution can’t explain feature X, therefore God must have made it that way” – and not a positive theory of how life developed.”—


    again, i have to ask- what about the IDers who dont believe in God? how much misinformation can one group spread? no wonder theres a debate on this issue…they claim there is ABSOLUTELY NO controversy, then they claim that IDers simply say ‘this doesnt make sense, so god must have done it.’ did i miss something on ID? is that REALLY what ID is all about? god of the gaps…i guess weve all been fooled into thinking it was more than this. quite annoying when one group involved in this issue cant get the facts straight and keep trying to paint it as a religious thing.

  29. 29
    avocationist says:

    “This problem, Harvey, is complicated by the political/scientific system we’re in (at least in the U.S.), which requires us to separate ID as science from the implications that may come from it. If we were allowed to postulate the Christian God in answering your question, we could talk about the effects of sin on creation. Biblical theology says the original creation was perfect but has since been profoundly marred because of sin.”

    It’s a mistake to think that if only the political climate were right, ID would be openly theological and Christian. In fact, it is comments like this which give plenty of ammo to the Darwinists, when they say ID is a dishonest coverup for religios motives. ID goes deeper than religion. Do you think a Hindu cannot be an IDist?

    To say that the answer is sin is to again prove the Darwinists right when they accuse ID of being a science stopper. An idea like the fall of man and the coming of imperfection is mythic, and I do not mean that in a negative sense, but rather that it is a global statement without detail. Perhaps something of the sort happened, and it got recorded for posterity in a poetic way. But whatever things have happened, the unfolding of life, or the instantaneous creation of life, or the fall of man, all of those things have the details left out but the details must be there. To think otherwise is to conceive of God as some sort of super Merlin the magician with a big magic wand. So what does it mean for creation to fall into sin? Could it mean that some mechanism that was working against entropy stopped happening? Just to say “the fall” doesn’t explain anything.

    I see two sides of the faction who think they are on opposite poles but in fact think alike, and the thinking here is magical. Darwinists indulge in magical thinking, Christians indulge in magical thinking.

    It is difficult to know how one ought to think about God, but I do not find it useful to think of God as a great, big, perfect Guy on a throne who can just “say” whatever he wants, and it will be so “because he is omnipotent.” If that were the case, the Darwinists would be right to wonder why things are sometimes imperfectly designed. Perhaps creating a universe like this is how God practices creating universes. Perhaps the slow unfolding of lifeforms, (despite the cosmos being finely tuned by the mind of God from the start) is how God learns to perfect DNA and life forms. I think God evolves himself, in the form of living things, from within. Has it occurred to anyone that this whole life drama might be REALLY interesting and fun? I think God IS the intelligence in the DNA. Or is God separate from the creation, manipulating it from without, like a potter? Christianity overemphasizes the transcendence of God and completely forgets the immanence.

  30. 30
    russ says:

    benji wrote: “First, lets keep the bible away from this issue. It’s about science, not the bible. Anyways, people wear glasses due to degenerating eyes. It’s okay philosophically to accept the world is not perfect. All things are running down. This has nothing to do with the eye’s overall design.”

    I was not making a Biblical argument. I was talking about a critique of human behavior that happens to be in the Bible. It’s the same as if I had used the terms “go the extra mile”, “salt of the earth” or “casting pearls before swine”–all common English expressions that find their origin in the Bible. I don’t think we have to be that sensitive to Darwinian word-twisters, do we?

  31. 31
    DaveScot says:

    Thanks Bill for the link to the eye article. I can no longer say I haven’t read a good reason why the vertebrate eye is wired from the front side.

  32. 32
    harvey says:

    Thanks everyone for your responses. I’m still a bit bamboozled. In theory it’s fine to keep the designer out of the ID research but at the end of the day the designer is God and there are implications from ID to theology. Accepting that everything was designed to die is a little hard to get to grips with. I get the point about not being able to assume what the design should be but I’m still stuck with the giraffe problem and I’m also in need of some examples of things which would disprove design. I’m quite new to ID but am being asked lots of questions by some evolutionists. Any help would be greatfully received.

  33. 33
    Benjii says:

    I guess you’re right, Russ!

  34. 34
    DaveScot says:

    “at the end of the day the designer is God”

    There’s no scientific evidence of that. It doesn’t appear to me that an omnipotent being is required to create the carbon based life on earth. Everything about that life appears to boil down to understandable, manipulable configurations of matter. The configurations are simply far too fit-to-function (specified) and improbable (complex) to have appeared without purposeful assembly. I could be wrong but I think if we give science & engineering another 100 years or 100,000 years it’ll get there. Keep in mind 100,000 years for science & engineering to progress is an eyeblink in geologic time. If we could seed another planet with life would that make *us* Gods? I don’t think so, but it might appear that way to the seeds… 🙂

  35. 35
    Bombadill says:

    It is my belief that when one combines the science with the history, namely, the immutable fact of Christ’s resurrection, the uncanny consistancy of the Biblical manuscript evidence (lack of textual variances), and the fulfilled O.T. prophecy regarding the person and work of Christ, one can build a cogent case for the identity of the designer being the God of the Bible.

    Don’t yell at me, I know I’m supposed to keep things about I.D. here… but since the topic came up. 😉

  36. 36
    jimbo says:

    Dave –

    You remind me of an old joke:

    A bunch of scientists come before God, saying “See, we’ve figured out how you did the whole “life” thing, so we don’t really need you anymore.”

    God says, “Really? Show me.”

    The scientists say, “Ok, see – first we take some dirt, put it in this test tube…”

    God says, “Wait a minute – get your own dirt.”

  37. 37
    avocationist says:

    [God says, “Wait a minute – get your own dirt.”]

    That is it exactly. The designer(s) may indeed be aliens who seeded this planet, and in fact I’ve read quite a bit about that and do find some of the evidence compelling, but it only removes the ultimate question one notch — why does anything exist at all?

    Bombadill – Like you said, it is off-topic, but I wonder how you can say that the resurrection is an immutable fact? I rather think it is completely unprovable at this point. My understanding is that even the existence of Jesus cannot be proven. He left no firm tracks. One or two mentions, such as Josephus, I have read, are not authentic.

  38. 38
    Bombadill says:

    Hey avocationist. That’s an excellent and valid question. What we have to keep in mind is that the N.T. manuscripts are extremely reliable historical documents with considerably more copies in existance than standard works of history that we take for granted as being factual. I’ve linked here a couple of primers on the resurrection:

    On the Manuscript reliability of the Bible:


  39. 39
    Bombadill says:

    Hey avocationist, that’s an excellent question. My personal research has brought me to the conclusion that it is indeed factual history. Keep in mind that the NT manuscripts are historically reliable and stand up under the scrutiny of Textual Criticism, more so than works of ancient history which we take for granted as indubitable fact. Here are a couple of links where you can do some research:

    Hope these help!

  40. 40
    Bombadill says:

    Weird!!! My first post didn’t show up until just now, so posted a second time.

    Strange things afoot in this thread.

  41. 41
    jboze3131 says:


    no sane scholars today believe that jesus never lived. as for the historical mentions of him, there are many. tacitus mentions him, hes mentioned numerous times in jewish writings (not exactly a friendly source), and josephus mentions him as well. theres one section from josephus that some think was added (the part about jesus’ resurrection), but his writings about him in general are accepted as original and authentic. many scholars even think the phrase in question is authentic. there are a few other historians as well that mention him.

    that and the NT is a book of history basically. it was written (the gospels in particular) as a book of history.

  42. 42
    Bombadill says:

    There are several other sources, but they are biased non-secular ones. Namely, the early church fathers of the 2nd – 4th century era. Check out the writings of Polycarp, Ignatius, Iraneas, and Justin Martyr.

  43. 43
    avocationist says:

    No sane scholars – but some insane ones. Since the ID movement contains only nonreputable scientists, then I suppose those scholars who don’t say we can prove he lived – oh I’m lost – I mean I don’t care if they are called insane, I’d like to see what they say. I am not familiar with these Jewish sources, but aren’t they a bit later, when the myth/beliefs of the early church were under way and they are mostly negative? That is, they are reacting to a popular movement from their ranks, but are there any mentions of Jesus’ life that are contemporary with him? There is a difference between believing he never lived and believing that the facts of his life got distorted. You can’t just say the OT is a history book. Have you never read that history is a fiction, or that history gets written by the victors? Of course it is purported as history – but the councils selected from about 50 gospels. The early church fathers fought long and bitterly about every aspect of doctrine. We are left with their miserable legacy.

  44. 44
    avocationist says:

    Sorry, I meant the NT.

  45. 45
    jboze3131 says:

    if the NT isnt history, then we cant count any ancient text as history. we have tens of thousands of original texts to back up the NT, nowhere close to any other text in history. the process of which you speak of- i dont see how that has any bearing on historical accuracy.

    and im not sure what you mean when you say that ID only contains nonreputable scientists. thats not true at all. if youre a scientist and you publish papers in journals and you have a Phd and such- that makes you fairly reputable in my book.

    many of the jewish sources are contemporary sources. they battled the idea that jesus was the promised messiah. as for non-secular sources, that might make them biased, but i dont think it takes away from their historical value. early church fathers werent known for dishonest and deceit, so i think we can use those sources as well and see them as trustworthy in general.

  46. 46
    Bombadill says:

    Again, avocationist… this treatment should answer your questions:

  47. 47
    MGD says:

    There is a great deal of information about this and related subjects on the above web site.

    “but the councils selected from about 50 gospels”

    simply not true.

  48. 48
    wmmalo says:

    Creator, designer, is there a significant difference?
    Is there any difference?
    If it looks like a duck… it’s a duck.

    I still have hopes for ID, however forlorn its defenders appear.
    As long as this theory yoyo in and out of religion it will be beaten to death by the science it’s trying so desperately to seduce.

    The obvious ‘threat’ it poses is its thinly veiled attempt to usurp the influential power of science, specifically evolutionary theory.

    Personally, I’m not threatened by the research ID might present. I’m not threatened by religion or science, or for that matter, the absence of either or both. However many people do feel intimidated by suspicious strategies, whether disingenuous or not. ID must prove first that it isn’t ‘faith-based’ or it will be tagged an ideological subversion of the scientific ‘philosophy’ and continue to scare the shit out of all those non-believers.

    ID needs to walk before it runs.
    Right now, it doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  49. 49
    DaveScot says:


    ID is at least as old as Paley’s watchmaker argument or about 200 years. It was made before Darwin’s Origin of Species. It had a leg to stand on then and it has far stronger legs today.

    By the way, empirical evidence isn’t owned by any theory. ID is free to conscript anything, everything, or nothing that evolution uses as supportive evidence. Get used to it.

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