Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Phrase "Intelligent Design Creationism" Is Lazy Bigoted Rhetoric

Good discussion here.

Tom Gilson makes this excellent point:

I’m still convinced the (clarified) position is true: that by the most common and popular definition of creationism, it is irresponsible to equate ID with creationism, and it is probably evidence of either (a) dishonest manipulative intent, (b) a kind of blindness, or (c) some third option I’ve been asking someone to suggest but no one has offered.

Furthermore, I think it’s obvious that this is so, because the definitions of ID and of that common view of creationism are quite different. You ought to know that two entities are not identical if they have different properties. That common definition of creationism has the properties of affirming a young earth, denying common descent, and using a particular interpretation of the Bible as a starting point. None of these properties is true of ID, so ID is not identical to creationism in that common sense of the term.

Therefore to use careless language like “Intelligent design is creationism in a cheap tuxedo,” or to insist on calling it “Intelligent Design Creationism” is to obscure the terms of discussion, obfuscate the issues, and cheapen oneself by so doing.

I am surprised that you would not see this and make a call to all your comrades to raise the discourse to a more honest, forthright, and productive level. Instead (since you have accused people like me of kowtowing to the DI) I think it is quite likely you are too committed to the NCSE line that obscures discussion with rhetorically manipulative practices.

You learned nothing from this discussion (that’s your statement, not mine). That’s a shame. You had opportunity to learn that even though creationism and ID are connected in some ways, there is more than one meaning to “creationism,” and that a responsible writer or speaker would want to be clear as to which one he was referencing when he used the term, and to avoid equating ID with something that it is not equal to.

Regarding the history of ID and creationism, which you ask me to read about in more depth: I’ve read quite a bit of history of ID from the anti-ID side, especially of course Creationism’s Trojan Horse. You keep asking me, imploring me, reminding me, to be aware of ID’s history. I keep acknowledging the facts that you want me to see, and then you ask me to study it again as if I hadn’t acknowledged it. I find this very odd practice on your part. I guess it’s because I don’t draw the same conclusion you draw, which is that having some shared history makes ID creationism.

Let me repeat: I acknowledge the historic connections. My point from the beginning has been this: there is a current commonly understood meaning attached to “creationism,” and there is a current meaning to “Intelligent Design,” and it is currently inaccurate to equate the two.

As I said to someone yesterday, if one cannot recognize the current meanings of terms but has to always tie them to their historic roots, then chemistry is “Chemistry Alchemy” and astronomy is “Astronomy Astrology.” There comes a time when the only reason not to give up that kind of thinking is if you want to embarrass chemistry and astronomy for some reason. That time of course is when chemistry and astronomy take on independent definitions of their own that distinguish themselves from their predecessors.


Ilíon said...

Yes, it's a good point.

But, oddly enough, Mr Gilson didn't at all care for me using the same general line of thought with respect to the (common) intellectual dishonesty one encounters with the common internet atheist.

Peter said...

Have you seen NetFuture by Steve Talbott? May be of interest. Complementary perspective, perhaps. Latest issue ( ends:

'It is indeed odd that, 150 years after the publication of Origin of Species, the contemporary biological fraternity still expects a kind of ritual declaration of faith in one man and his particular formulation of evolutionary theory, and that those who fail this creedal test are immediately suspected of being creationists or, more generally, "unbelievers." There seems to be a lot more at work here than objective, free-spirited scientific investigation. It's as if the possibility that we might discover meaning and significance, order and pattern - anything more than chance - in the world's living forms touches some deep place of insecurity in the keepers of evolutionary orthodoxy.'