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.
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