Intelligent Design believes God designed man. Intelligent Design argues an intelligence must have created the Earth. Intelligent Design (or ID) is the controversial assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Though publicly most Intelligent Design advocates state that their focus is on detecting evidence of design in nature, without regard to who or what the designer might be, in statements to their constituents and supporters nearly all state explicitly that they believe the designer to be the Christian God.
Adherents of Intelligent Design claim it stands on equal footing with the current scientific theories regarding the Origin of Life and the origin of the universe. This claim has not been accepted by the scientific community and intelligent design does not constitute a research program within the science of biology. Despite Intelligent Design sometimes being refered to popularly and in the media as "Intelligent Design Theory", it is not recognized as a scientific theory and has been categorized by the mainstream scientific community as creationist pseudoscience.
The National Academy of Sciences has said that Intelligent Design "and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life" are not science because their claims cannot be tested by experiment and propose no new hypotheses of their own.
Critics argue that Intelligent Design proponents find gaps within current evolutionary theory and fill them in with speculative beliefs, and that Intelligent Design in this context may ultimately amount to the "God of the gaps".
Both the Intelligent Design concept and the associated movement have come under considerable criticism.
This criticism is regarded by advocates of Intelligent Design as a natural consequence of philosophical naturalism which precludes by definition the possibility of supernatural causes as rational scientific explanations. As has been argued before in the context of the creation-evolution controversy, proponents of Intelligent Design make the claim that there is a systemic bias within the scientific community against proponents' ideas and research based on the naturalistic assumption that science can only make reference to natural causes.Media organizations often focus on other qualities that the designer(s) in Intelligent Design theory might have in addition to intelligence, e.g., "higher power", "unseen force", etc.
Intelligent Design is presented as an alternative to purely naturalistic forms of the theory of evolution. Its putative main purpose is to investigate whether or not the empirical evidence necessarily implies that life on Earth must have been designed by an intelligent agent or agents.
For example, William Dembski, one of ID's leading proponents, has stated that the fundamental claim of Intelligent Design is that "there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence."
Proponents of Intelligent Design look for evidence of what they call signs of intelligence - physical properties of an object that imply "design". The most common cited signs being considered include irreducible complexity, information mechanisms, and specified complexity.
Many design theorists believe that living systems show one or more of these, from which they infer that life is designed. This stands in opposition to mainstream explanations of systems, which explain the natural world exclusively through impersonal physical processes such as random mutations and natural selection.
Intelligent Design proponents claim that while evidence pointing to the nature of an "Intelligent Designer" may not be observable, its effects on nature can be detected. Dembski, in Signs of Intelligence claims "Proponents of intelligent design regard it as a scientific research program that investigates the effects of intelligent causes. Note that intelligent design studies the effects of intelligent causes and not intelligent causes per se."
In his view questions concerning the identity of a designer fall outside the realm of the idea.Critics call Intelligent Design religious dogma repackaged in an effort to return creationism into public school science classrooms and note that Intelligent Design features notably as part of the campaign known as Teach the Controversy.
The National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education assert that Intelligent Design is not science, but creationism.
While the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection has observable and repeatable facts to support it such as the process of mutations, gene flow, genetic drift, adaptation and speciation through natural selection, the "Intelligent Designer" in Intelligent Design is neither observable nor repeatable.
Critics argue this violates the scientific requirement of falsifiability. Indeed, Intelligent Design proponent Behe concedes "You can't prove intelligent design by experiment". Critics say Intelligent Design is attempting to redefine natural science.
They cite books and statements of principal Intelligent Design proponents calling for the elimination of "methodological naturalism" from science and its replacement with what critics call "methodological supernaturalism", which means belief in a transcendent, non-natural dimension of reality inhabited by a transcendent, non-natural deity.
Natural science uses the scientific method to create a posteriori knowledge based on observation alone (sometimes called empirical science). Critics of Intelligent Design consider the idea that some outside intelligence created life on Earth to be a priori (without observation) knowledge.
Intelligent Design proponents cite some complexity in nature that cannot yet be fully explained by the scientific method. (For instance, abiogenesis, the generation of life from non-living matter, is not yet understood scientifically, although the first stages have been reproduced in the Miller-Urey experiment.) Intelligent Design proponents infer that an intelligent designer is behind the part of the process that is not understood scientifically. Since the designer cannot be observed, critics continue, it is a priori knowledge.
This allegedly a priori inference that an intelligent designer (a God or an alien life force) created life on Earth has been compared to the a priori claim that aliens helped the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids.
In both cases, the effect of this outside intelligence is not repeatable, observable, or falsifiable, and it violates Occam's Razor as well. From a strictly empirical standpoint, one may list what is known about Egyptian construction techniques, but must admit ignorance about exactly how the Egyptians built the pyramids.
The phrase intelligent design, used in this sense, first appeared in Christian creationist literature, including the textbook Of Pandas and People (Haughton Publishing Company, Dallas, 1989). The term was promoted more broadly by the retired legal scholar Phillip E. Johnson following his 1991 book Darwin on Trial. Johnson is the program advisor of the Center for Science and Culture and is considered the father of the intelligent design movement.However, for millenia, philosophers have argued that the complexity of nature indicates supernatural design; this has come to be known as the teleological argument.
The most notable forms of this argument were expressed by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica (thirteenth century), design being the fifth of Aquinas' five proofs for God's existence, and William Paley in his book Natural Theology (nineteenth century) where he makes his watchmaker analogy. The modern concept of intelligent design is distinguished from the teleological argument in that Intelligent Design does not identify the agent of creation.
Intelligent design arguments are carefully formulated in secular terms and intentionally avoid positing the identity of the designer.
Phillip E. Johnson has stated that cultivating ambiguity by employing secular language in arguments which are carefully crafted to avoid overtones of theistic creationism is a necessary first step for ultimately reintroducing the Christian concept of God as the designer. Johnson emphasizes "the first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion" and that "after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact... only then can "biblical issues" be discussed."
Johnson explicitly calls for Intelligent Design proponents to obfuscate their religious motivations so as to avoid having Intelligent Design identified "as just another way of packaging the Christian evangelical message."
Though not all Intelligent Design proponents are motivated by religious fervor, the majority of the principal Intelligent Design advocates (including Michael Behe, William Dembski, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen C. Meyer) are Christians and have stated that in their view the designer of life is clearly God. The preponderance of leading Intelligent Design proponents are evangelical Protestants.
The conflicting claims made by leading Intelligent Design advocates as to whether or not Intelligent Design is rooted in religious conviction are the result of their strategy. For example, William Dembski in his book The Design Inference lists a God or an "alien life force" as two possible options for the identity of the designer. However, in his book Intelligent Design; the Bridge Between Science and theology Dembski states that "Christ is indispensable to any scientific theory, even if its practitioners don't have a clue about him.
The pragmatics of a scientific theory can, to be sure, be pursued without recourse to Christ. But the conceptual soundness of the theory can in the end only be located in Christ."
Dembski also stated "Intelligent Design is part of God's general revelation..." "Not only does intelligent design rid us of this ideology (materialism), which suffocates the human spirit, but, in my personal experience, I've found that it opens the path for people to come to Christ."
The Intelligent design movement is an organized campaign to promote Intelligent Design arguments in the public sphere, primarily in the United States. The movement claims Intelligent Design exposes the limitations of scientific orthodoxy, and of the secular philosophy of Naturalism. Intelligent Design movement proponents allege that science, by relying upon naturalism, demands an adoption of a naturalistic philosophy that dismisses out of hand any explanation that contains a supernatural cause. Phillip E. Johnson, considered the father of the intelligent design movement and its unofficial spokesman stated that the goal of intelligent design is to cast creationism as a scientific concept.
The intelligent design movement is largely the result of efforts by the conservative Christian think tank the Discovery Institute, and its Center for Science and Culture. The Discovery Institute's wedge strategy and its adjunct, the Teach the Controversy campaign, are campaigns intended to sway the opinion of the public and policymakers. They target public school administrators and state and federal elected representatives to introduce intelligent design into the public school science curricula and marginalize mainstream science. The Discovery Institute acknowledges that private parties have donated millions for a research and publicity program to "unseat not just Darwinism, but also Darwinism's cultural legacy."
Critics note that instead of producing original scientific data to support IDıs claims, the Discovery Institute has promoted Intelligent Design politically to the public, education officials and public policymakers. Also oft mentioned is that there is a conflict between what leading Intelligent Design proponents tell the public through the media and what they say before their conservative Christian audiences, and that the Discovery Institute as a matter of policy obfuscates its agenda. This they claim is proof that the movement's "activities betray an aggressive, systematic agenda for promoting not only intelligent design creationism, but the religious worldview that undergirds it."
Richard Dawkins, biologist and professor at Oxford University, compares "Teach the controversy" with teaching flat earthism, perfectly fine in a history class but not in science. "If you give the idea that there are two schools of thought within science, one that says the Earth is round and one that says the Earth is flat, you are misleading children."
Underscoring claims that the Intelligent Design movement is more social and political enterprise than a scientific one, intelligent design has been in the center of a number of controversial political campaigns and legal challenges. These have largely been attempts to introduce intelligent design into public school science classrooms while concurrently portraying evolutionary theory as a theory largely scientifically disputed; a "theory in crisis." This has been despite a consensus in the scientific community that Intelligent Design lacks merit and Intelligent Design proponents have yet to propose an actual scientific hypothesis. These campaigns and cases are discussed in depth in the Intelligent design movement article.