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INTELLIGENT DESIGN (ID):

ID vs. OTHER BELIEF SYSTEMS ABOUT ORIGINS
WHAT DOES THE ID GOD LOOK LIKE?

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ID and other belief systems concerning origins:

In some respects, ID and science are parallel fields of study. They both start by observing nature. Both use reasoning to infer the processes that might have been at work to produce the universe. But in one area, science and ID are exact opposites. That area is the method by which scientists handle the currently unexplainable phenomenon. In any science, there are limitations to knowledge. As mentioned earlier, in ancient times, science was in its infancy. Very little was known about how the weather developed, how the sun, moon, planets, stars, etc. moved, and many other phenomena happened. So people assumed that God was directly involved in all of these activities. As science developed, more and more of these phenomena were explained by purely natural forces. But there still remained some items that could not be explained. This deficit remains today.

Where science and ID differ is over how to handle these unexplained areas of knowledge:

bulletScientists assume that all events happen due to purely natural causes, and that, over time, the unexplained will gradually wither away as our knowledge of the universe increases.
bulletSupporters of ID assume that at least some of the unexplained phenomena happened because a superior intelligence designed them.

The main purpose of science and ID is to learn more about the universe, and to lead wherever the evidence takes the researchers. However, many followers of ID appear to place great effort on:

bulletProving the existence of one or more Gods, and to 
bulletDisprove the validity of naturalistic evolution.

Since ID is essentially one technique of attempting to prove the existence of God, it can be used to support both creation science and theistic evolution. Portions of ID are compatible with both a young earth (less than 10,000 years of age) and an old earth (over 4 billion years of age). However, other parts of ID seriously conflict with 'young earth" creation science. Most supporters of ID accept: 

bulletThe "Big Bang" origin of the universe -- that the universe came into existence as an infinitesimally  small object many billions of years ago and expanded rapidly.
bulletInstances of continuing design and intervention by an intelligent entity, as evidenced in the appearance of new species since the original creation.  "In principle, an evolutionary process can exhibit such 'marks of intelligence' as much as any act of special creation." 1

These common beliefs in ID are incompatible with a literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis, which implies the creation of the earth and its life forms over a seven day interval, less than ten thousand years ago. This is the concept accepted by most Christian proponents of creation science.

In spite of these conflicts, creation scientists and ID researchers may share sufficient beliefs to coexist in the same movement. According to one of its leading proponents, William A. Dembski, ID is "a theory of creation that puts Christians in the strongest possible position to defeat the common enemy of creation, to wit, naturalism. Throughout history common enemies have been invaluable for suspending in-house squabbles and uniting people." In a recent book based on Discovery Institute's Mere Creation Conference, on 1996-NOV, at least four of the nineteen contributors are "young earth" scientific creationists; i.e. believers in the most popular version of creation science. The rest support theistic evolution. 2,3 Unlike other scientific conferences, this one was directed by a fundamentalist Christian group (Christian Leadership Ministries). No opposing points of view were allowed to be expressed.

This essay continues below.

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What kind of God does ID attempt to prove the existence of?

ID researchers only attempt to prove that a super-human intelligence existed in the universe. Many only speculate on the nature of that intelligence; they do not try to prove whether that intelligence is an actual deity. They do not necessarily believe that it is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God: a bodiless spirit, single, infinite, immutable, loving, eternal, immortal, invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. 4 They can only hope to show that:

bulletOne or more intelligent entities existed at the time that a particular design was implemented. However, the entity or entities do not necessarily exist now.
bulletIt or they had powers well beyond that of normal humans -- but were not necessarily omnipotent.

In fact, the designers of life forms or other features of the universe that they are trying to detect might be any of the thousands of Gods and Goddesses worshiped by humans. A deity or deities may not be involved at all. Designs could have been created by some form of extraterrestrial beings who are centuries ahead of humans in knowledge.

Proponents of ID have a wide range of theological and philosophical beliefs. Persons with all of the following beliefs could embrace ID:

bulletA strict monotheist (e.g. a Jew or Muslim who believes in one God). 
bulletA duotheist (e.g. a Wiccan or Zoroastrian who believes in two deities). 
bulletA trinitarian (e.g. a Christian who believes in three divine persons within the unity of a single Godhead).
bulletA henotheist (e.g. a Hindu who believes in many Gods and Goddesses who are aspects of a single deity, Brahman).
bulletA polytheist (e.g. followers of many of the Aboriginal religions in the world who believe in many Gods and Goddess as discrete entities.)
bulletA Deist who believes that God created the universe, set it in motion, left, and has not been seen since.
bulletAn Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, or anyone else who might hold open the possibility of a very advanced species of intelligent beings existing in the universe. 

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References used:

  1. William Dembski, "The Intelligent Design Movement," Cosmic Pursuit, 1998-Spring. Online at: http://www.origins.org/offices/dembski/docs/bd-idesign.html

  2. Some excerpts, abstracts, etc are available online. See: "Mere Creation: Scholars United Under Intelligent Design" at: http://www.origins.org/mc/

  3. William Dembski, Ed., "Mere Creation; Science, Faith & Intelligent Design," Intervarsity Press, (1998). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

  4. "Awareness of God / Attributes of God," at: http://www.parentcompany.com/

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Home > "Hot" religious topics > Evolution & Creation Science > ID > here

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Copyright 2001, 2002 & 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JAN-14
Latest update: 2004-FEB-4
Author: B.A. Robinson

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