Intelligent Design (ID)

intelligent design

intelligent design, theory that some complex biological structures and other aspects of nature show evidence of having been designed by an intelligence. Such biological structures are said to have intricate components that are so highly interdependent and so essential to a particular function or process that the structures could not have developed through Darwinian evolution, and therefore must have been created or somehow guided in their development. Although intelligent design is distinguished from creationism by not relying on the biblical account of creation, it is compatible with a belief in God and is often explicitly linked with such a belief. Also, unlike creationists, its proponents do not challenge the idea that the earth is billions of years old and that life on earth has evolved to some degree. The theory does, however, necessarily reject standard science's reliance on explaining the natural world only through undirected natural causes, believing that any theory that relies on such causes alone is incapable of explaining how all biological structures and processes arose. Thus, despite claims by members of the intelligent-design movement that it is a scientific research program, the work of its adherents has been criticized as unscientific and speculative for inferring a pre-existing intelligence to explain the development of biological structures instead of attempting to develop adequate falsifiable mechanistic explanations. In addition, the theory has been attacked on the grounds that many aspects of nature fail to show any evidence of intelligent design, such as "junk" DNA (see nucleic acid) and the vestigial webbed feet of the frigate bird (which never lands on water).

The idea that nature shows signs of having been designed by an intelligent being dates back at least to ancient Greece. The English theologian William Paley gave the theory its classic formulation in his Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802), in which he argued that the eye and other biological features are perfectly suited for their purposes and that in this suitable design the hand of God can be discerned. The modern intelligent-design movement, however, has its origins in the 1980s with such works as The Mystery of Life's Origins (1984) by Charles Thaxton et al. and Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1986) by Michael Denton. Micheal Behe's Darwin's Black Box (1996) is perhaps the best-known statement of the movement's critique of Darwin and its argument for a role for God or some other intelligence in the design of biological entities. Advocates of intelligent design have campaigned to have it taught in U.S. public schools alongside the Darwinian theory of evolution. A requirement by the Dover, Pa., area school board that students be told that intelligent design represents an alternative explanation for the origin of life was challenged in federal court in 2005 and ruled unconstitutional.

See R. T. Pennock, ed., Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics (2002).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

God after Darwin: A Theology of Evolution
John F. Haught.
Westview Press, 2000
From Genesis to Genetics: The Case of Evolution and Creationism
John A. Moore.
University of California Press, 2002
God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory
Niall Shanks.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism
Matt Young; Taner Edis.
Rutgers University Press, 2004
Science and Religion Twenty Years after McLean V. Arkansas: Evolution, Public Education, and the New Challenge of Intelligent Design
Beckwith, Francis J.
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 26, No. 2, Spring 2003
Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
Barbara Forrest; Paul R. Gross.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Taskhir, Fine-Tuning, Intelligent Design and the Scientific Appreciation of Nature
Setia, Adi.
Islam & Science, Vol. 2, No. 1, Summer 2004
Intelligent Design Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology on Consciousness: Turning Water into Wine
Grace, Christopher R.; Moreland, J. P.
Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 2002
The Pleistocene Mind: A Critical Review of Evolutionary Psychology, and an Introduction to Intelligent Design Psychology
Grace, Christopher R.
Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 29, No. 4, Winter 2001
Intelligent Design Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology: A Comparison of Rival Paradigms
Moreland, J. P.
Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 29, No. 4, Winter 2001
Sex Differences: Evolved, Constructed, and Designed
Looy, Heather.
Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 29, No. 4, Winter 2001
DNA, Intelligent Design and Misleading Metaphors: What Makes ID So Intuitively Appealing? (Inherit More Wind: Darwin Discord Deepens)
Seely, Mark R.
Free Inquiry, Vol. 23, No. 3, Summer 2003
Intelligent Design: Creationsim's Trojan Horse: A Conversation with Barbara Forrest
Church & State, Vol. 58, No. 2, February 2005
Of Pandas and Plots: What's at Stake in the Dover ID Lawsuit
Church & State, Vol. 58, No. 2, February 2005
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