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What’s the Difference Between Creationism and ID?6 min read

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Over at the Pandering Thumb, I’ve been in discussion with the rabid anti-creationists, discussing the merits of Intelligent Design (ID).  Let me tell you, it’s hard to maintain my even demeanor while being insulted and made fun of, but it’s a good discipline to learn – God is showing me that if I want to be mature, I have to learn to not return insult for insult, but continue to be kind, and model the type of discourse I expect from others who disagree.  I’m learning that here as well.

But I want to provide some resources for those who ask “What is the difference between creationism and ID?  Aren’t they really the same thing?  Isn’t ID just a creationist ploy to sell a non-religious version of creation science?”

  • Slate Magazine (secular media) – “The limited scope of Intelligent Design theory makes it compatible with a wide range of views. Some prominent ID theorists believe in evolution—or at least that species can change over time—and many believe that the Earth was created more than 10,000 years ago. But there are also ID theorists who believe in a literal reading of Genesis.”  This link also has a nice audio link from NPR.
  • Of Pandas and People (ID book) – “The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now include many modern scientists who describe themselves as religiously agnostic. Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs and normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as a young earth, a global flood, or even the existence of the Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.” (Of Pandas and People, pg. 161)
  • The Discovery Institute (Intelligent Design Proponents) – “Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. Instead, intelligent design theory is an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature observed by biologists is genuine design (the product of an organizing intelligence) or is simply the product of chance and mechanical natural laws. “
  • Reasons to Believe (Old Earth Creationists) – “Winning the argument for design without identifying the designer yields, at best, a sketchy origins model. Such a model makes little if any positive impact on the community of scientists and other scholars. Such a model does not lend itself to verification, nor can it make specific, credible predictions. On both counts, scholars, particularly scientists, would be reluctant to acknowledge the concept’s viability and give it serious attention. Nor does this approach offer them spiritual direction.” (audio link)
  • Answers in Genesis (Young Earth Creationists) – “Since the only thing in their platform which comes close to being a commonly-shared presupposition is a negative (naturalism is wrong), they can provide no coherent philosophical framework on which to base the axioms necessary to interpret evidence relevant to the historical sciences (paleontology, historical geology, etc). So they can never offer a ‘story of the past’, which is one more reason why they must continually limit the debate to one of mechanism—and then only in broad, general terms (designed vs undesigned).They generally refuse to be drawn on the sequence of events, or the exact history of life on Earth or its duration, apart from saying, in effect, that it ‘doesn’t matter’. However, this is seen by the average evolutionist as either absurd or disingenuously evasive—the arena in which they are seeking to be regarded as full players is one which directly involves historical issues. In other words, if the origins debate is not about a ‘story of the past’, what is it about?”
  • Access Research Network (creationists) – “Although intelligent design is compatible with many “creationist” perspectives, including scientific creationism, it is a distinct theoretical position. In fact, there are only two general views that aren’t compatible with intelligent design: 1) a radical naturalism that denies the existence of any non-human intelligence, theistic or otherwise and 2) conventional theistic evolution.  It may seem surprising that the second view, conventional theistic evolution, is incompatible with intelligent design, since it clearly embraces the existence of God. But the view we generally associate with “theistic evolution” denies that God’s creative activity can be empirically detected.”
  • The Panda’s Thumb (evolutionist) – “With ID getting lots of press these days, and with an on-going court case trying to establish if ID is any different than creationism of yore, people can sometimes get confused about what exactly ID is. This can’t possibly be due to the ID advocates’ own equivocation and ambiguity, it must somehow be our fault, because otherwise they wouldn’t keep blaming us.”  (NOTE:  They don’t think there is any significant difference between ID and Creation Science)
  • TalkOrigins (evolutionist) – “Intelligent design is defined and treated as a form of creationism by its supporters. (The ideas listed here are prevalent in the ID movement, but there may be individual members who disagree with some of them.) Intelligent design’s main characteristics — rejection of naturalism, denial of evolution, belief in abrupt appearance and supernatural design, emphasis on gaps in the fossil record, claims of scientific support, claims that evolution is a threat to society, and support for “teaching the controversy” — are essentially unchanged from young-earth creationism of the 1970s”