Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Historian Michael Flannery: What Is ID?


Michael Flannery, writes,

An important point to remember when we talk about ID is what David Klinghoffer mentioned in an extremely insightful ENV article titled, “The Quality of ‘Shyness’ in the Evidence for Intelligent Design.” It bears reading (or re-reading) and reflection.

David Kohn has said, I think accurately, that “for Darwin special creation is the equivalent of creation by the miraculous intervention of a personal God.” Now I happen to believe in both. But is this absolutely the only option when we talk about nature and design? Darwin’s mistake was attacking the notion of God as a wand-waving Wizard, not a real God ,and I think it was a failing of William Paley to leave that impression. It made his brand of natural selection open to easy attack. Jonathan Wells has noted Darwin’s use of a straw God — a caricature–to refute design.

So this leads me to highlight my favorite definition of ID. It comes from Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell:

the theory of intelligent design holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause–that is, by the conscious choice of a rational agent–rather than by an undirected process.

There are a few words/phrases here that bear notice:

1) tell-tale. These design features are essentially forensic inferences of the “someone or something has been here” variety

2) conscious choice. This is meant to clarify “intelligent cause” as something akin to a mind and moreover a mind that exhibits free will

3) rational agent. This emphasizes the mind-like nature of the “intelligent cause” as opposed to blind or “undirected” processes. Now there is nothing in this definition that says one way or another whether this is the omniscient and omnipresent entity we call God or some panentheist presence or spiritual entity. Thus the definition encompasses a traditional orthodox conception of the Judeo-Christian God but it is not limited by it. It is a pretty “big tent” concept.

The advantage of this definition, as I see it is, that it clearly points to a teleological view of nature without implying a wand-waving Wizard. I particularly like the use of “tell-tale” in this regard. Our detractors love the word “creationist” and “creationism” because it conjures up that
very simplistic Wizard-like concept of God that is easily demolished. By continually harping on “intelligent design creationism” we are made in Paley’s image.

I must admit its been a brilliant strategy. In the face of our repeated protests the detractors can simply ignore us and keep using the phrase. They understand itis not about truth or accuracy, it’s all about image and perception. Those who don’t read ID literature and just accept uncritically what is said about us naturally assume we are just reincarnations of Darwin’s straw God proponents. That’s why however much we proclaim the science of ID, in then end the basic problem is not science so much as it is the image and perception the culture makes of us. I know no way out and can only advise persistence. We can win hearts only one open-mind at a time I suppose.

Readers? Thoughts?

Follow UD News at Twitter!

An important point to remember when we talk about ID is what David Klinghoffer mentioned in an extremely insightful ENV article titled, “The Quality of ‘Shyness’ in the Evidence for Intelligent Design.”
I don't find anything "shy" in omnipresence. Maybe frogs are a better analogy than deer. When you walk by a pond and hear the plops of frogs jumping into the water, you know they are there but you can't see them. But you can learn to tread softly and look carefully a learn to see frogs. God is here for those with eyes to see. Jim Smith
At the heart of this book lie several relatively simple ideas. One is that if there is a God of the kind accepted by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, then it is likely that a 'natural' knowledge of God is possible. Another is that this knowledge will have two characteristics: it will be both widely available to humans and yet easy to resist. If these principles are right, a new perspective on many of the classical arguments for God's existence becomes possible. We understand why these arguments have for many people a continued appeal but also why they do not constitute conclusive 'proofs' that settle the debate once and for all.
Natural Signs and Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments Mung
I must object to the use of the term "tell-tale".
tell·tale ?tel?t?l/ adjective adjective: tell-tale 1. revealing, indicating, or betraying something. "the telltale bulge of a concealed weapon"
The term "tell-tale" is a term that denotes something that is hidden and is a bit tricky to discern. That term does not fit the inference to Intelligent Design at all. The inference to Intelligent Design, far from being hard to discern, i.e. "tell-tale", is as obvious as the noon-day sun!
It's Really Not Rocket Science - Granville Sewell - November 16, 2015 Excerpt: "It is not enough to say that design is a more likely scenario to explain a world full of well-designed things. It strikes me as urgent to insist that you not allow your mind to surrender the absolute clarity that all complex and magnificent things were made that way. Once you allow the intellect to consider that an elaborate organism with trillions of microscopic interactive components can be an accident... you have essentially "lost your mind."" Jay Homnick - American Spectator 2005 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/11/it_really_isnt100911.html

Leave a Reply