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What is Intelligent Design?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

Intelligent design is a theistic theory of creation that presumes a scientific approach to asserting that the universe did not evolve by purely evolutionary processes. Intelligent design supporters claim a supernatural being of superior intelligence is responsible for creation and point to various arguments to make this case. The scientific community overwhelmingly dismisses intelligent design as junk-science, as it lacks criteria necessary to qualify it as science, being neither observable nor provable.

One of the major arguments of intelligent design supporters is that of irreducible complexity – the idea that some natural systems are so complex and interdependent upon their different parts, that if one component were altered, the system would not exist. Advocates of intelligent design claim that this eliminates natural selection or evolution as a possibility, as the whole system must have existed from the start in its current state.

Man holding a globe
Man holding a globe

Science has shown that, as systems evolve over time, individual components of the system themselves evolve, which changes their interaction with other parts in the system. New components are added as others are shed through the process of evolution, mutation and adaptation. Some systems thrive, while others die out. Intelligent design theory discounts a path of incremental steps during which increased functionality might evolve at each step leading to the current highly functioning model.

Another argument of intelligent design is that the universe is fine-tuned, making chance evolution an unreasonable explanation that defies all odds. From the molecular level to the galactic level, through nuclear forces that hold matter together, to gravity and space/time, creation and its extremely specific needs for creating life demonstrate proof of intelligent design. If processes had unfolded even slightly differently, there would be no life as we know it. Therefore the universe must have a divine Creator.

Critics point out that if creation had unfolded differently, it might have led to alternate forms of life. Our universe is fine-tuned to life as we know it because life has evolved within this system. Another system might have created and supported another set of life forms. The argument that ‘life can only be as we know it or not at all’ is a presumption without scientific basis or merit.

The major proponents of intelligent design are associated with the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian group dedicated to defending and promoting Christianity. Intelligent design supporters believe the Christian God alone is the Creator, discounting any other religious God. “Who designed the designer” is purportedly beyond the scope of intelligent design theory.

While science acknowledges organized intelligence working at every fundamental level of life, from the cellular to the quantum, the leap to a supernatural being is scientifically unfounded and empirically unproveable. The further assumption that this being is a Christian God is solely an article of Christian faith. Proponents of intelligent design are working to see it taught in schools alongside evolution as an alternate explanation for the world. Critics characterize intelligent design as Christianity dressed in pseudo-scientific jargon in an effort to get it past laws that prohibit the teaching of religion in schools.

Discussion Comments


1. Intelligent Design is just creationism in a new package. Anyone who denies that fact is being dishonest.

2. Evolution ("Darwinism") makes no statement about the origin of life. Darwin's book is titled "On the Origin of Species", not "On the Origin of Life".

How life started is still the subject of much speculation. Darwin's theory addresses events starting after the first life form appeared.

3. Where did the Designer come from?


Does something come from nothing?

If yes, why doesn't a Ferrari come from nothing and appear on my driveway?

But anyone, anywhere will tell you that from nothing comes nothing, and something can only come from something.

What Intelligent Design does is provide evidence for something coming from something.


This articles seems highly biased. The article assumes that one (of many) philosophical implications that might occur are true if one accepts intelligent design as possibly being true; however, it does not accurately describe what intelligent design is.

Intelligent Design, as it is called, simply implies that there was some outside or super-intelligent designer to what we now call life. It does not necessarily preclude the possibility of the progression of life; the science and the scientists that support it are not uniform in their beliefs. What intelligent design does is state that there does not exist enough evidence to assume that life evolved from nothing, and points out major negative evidence that darwinism and evolution assume to be true. It provides interesting scientific data that implies an intelligence behind life; that is all.

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