Intelligent Design vs Neodarwinism vs Creationism


I embrace Intelligent Design theory as a valid scientific research paradigm that has decisively refuted Neodarwinism, which was the only conceivable naturalistic explanation for the origin of biological complexity. As intelligent agency is the only known source for specified information, the infusion of information by an intelligent agent outside of the system is the best explanation for biological complexity and diversity. Because of independent philosophical arguments for classical theism and historical arguments for the truth of Christianity, I believe that the intelligent designer was the God of the Bible. Even though, Intelligent Design theory is in principle compatible with universal common descent and guided evolution, I personally became more and more skeptical of common descent and meanwhile rather tend towards special creation (preferably in the "womb" of a parental organism). I see no scientific reasons to dispute the age of the universe and the Earth, or the origin of the geological column.

 

As a scientist, who should follow the evidence wherever it leads, I came to doubt and finally reject the naturalistic Neodarwinian paradigm of unguided evolution via a purely mechanistic process of chance (random mutation, sexual recombination, genetic drift) and necessity (natural and sexual selection). Therefore, I signed the "Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" list. Even before my conversion to theism, I became convinced that only a goal-directed (teleological) process, either with laws of biological form (structuralism) or with non-random adaptive macro-mutations, can explain the evidence. This assumption is also compatible with and supported by the discontinuous fossil record. Therefore, I totally  agree with the views in Stephen C. Meyer's book "Darwin's Doubt".

 

My rejection of unguided evolution was originally not at all motivated by religion, but by some very convincing and unrefuted scientific arguments from Intelligent Design proponents, based on population genetics (Richard Sternberg), microbiology (Michael Behe), and molecular biology (Douglas Axe). These arguments emphasize the waiting time for coordinated mutations, or the isolated islands of functionality in a vast search space, which strongly limit the capability of a Neodarwinian process.

 

Concerning the origin of life and the first replicator I consider all naturalistic explanations as wanting and inadequate, and strongly support the conclusions in favor of design presented by Stephen C. Meyer in his excellent book "Signature in the Cell".

Is Intelligent Design Creationism?

No, Intelligent Design theory is not creationism in a cheap tuxedo, but purely an empirical scientific method to detect the traces of intelligent agency in biological organisms. I concur with the atheist philosopher Bradley Monton that Intelligent Design is not religion but a valid scientific approach.

 
Intelligent Design theory does neither identify the designer (it is equally compatible with naturalistic designers like space aliens, who  are even acceptable for skeptics like Richard Dawkins), nor does it imply any commitment to special creation rather than common descent. Thus, Intelligent Design by itself makes no claim to supernatural explanations for empirical data, even though it is open to theistic interpretations. The derogative term "ID creationism" is therefore completely inappropriate.
 
On the other hand, Creationism (esp. Biblical Young Earth Creationism) is based on revealed scripture and postulates the direct special creation of all natural kinds of organisms by supernatural intervention through the God of the Bible. Creationism is a faith-based religious position, contrary to Intelligent Design, with no necessary connection to this metaphysical belief even though it is compatible with it.
 
I despise the dogmatic and sometimes even fanatical stance of some scientists like P.Z. Myers (Pharyngula blog), Larry Moran (Sandwalk blog), Jeffrey Shallit (Recursivity blog), Jerry Coyne (Why Evolution is True blog), the anonymous coward behind The Sensuous Curmudgeon blog, and other infamous web activists against Intelligent Design and religion. Such anti-ID zealots and "evangelical" New Atheists have become an embarrassment and disgrace for the scientific community with their ill-bred behavior, e.g. regularly insulting scientists, who endorse Intelligent Design as "IDiots", or the ID think tank Discovery Institute as "Dishonesty Institute" or "Disco'Tute", or William Dembski as "Bill Dumbski". I feel personally offended by this, as I know all of the guys from Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design community as very open-minded and tolerant, highly cultured and competent, sincere, and incredibly warm-hearted people, whom I am proud to rank among my dearest friends.

What about Theistic Evolution?

The term Theistic Evolution is not clearly defined, and often rather represents an euphemism for Neodarwinism with a gratuitous God, implying a kind of Deistic Evolution, in which God creates the diversity of life by establishing an unguided process. I consider this as scientifically and theologically problematic, and incompatible with scripture.

 
Francis Collins' BioLogos Foundation also promotes a version of theistic evolution, which they call Evolutionary Creationism, and explicitly distances itself from the Intelligent Design movement. However, their list of beliefs is completely compatible with Intelligent Design. The affirmation of common descent cannot be a distinguishing feature, as several eminent Intelligent Design proponents either explicitly affirm common descent (e.g., Michael Behe, Richard Sternberg, Michael Denton), or remain agnostic about it (e.g., William Lane Craig), or at least affirm that there is substantial evidence for common descent (e.g., Walter Bradley, Vincent Torley, myself, and even a few YECs like Todd Wood and Kurt Wise). I am therefore at a loss, what is the actual point of theistic evolution sensu BioLogos, and their official statements do not really help either.

DISCLAIMER:

I strictly separated all my activities in favor of Intelligent Design and Christian apologetics from my professional work when I still worked as a museum scientist at SMNS. My endorsement of Intelligent Design and Christianity is exclusively my private point of view and is neither shared by my former colleagues at SMNS nor by the co-authors of my paleontological publications, who to my best knowledge generally subscribe to the mainstream paradigm of Neodarwinism or Synthetic Theory of Evolution!

Also after my resigning from my job at SMNS I am still actively working as a paleontologist and publishing my scientific work in peer-reviewed journals. My ID-related research will be published in appropriate journals that are open to design conclusions.