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OVERVIEW OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN (ID)

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Overview:

Scientists at the Discovery Institute, and a few isolated scientists elsewhere in the world, are promoting a new theory of the origin of plant and animal species, with implications concerning the rest of the universe. ID competes with the Theory of Evolution's explanation of the origins of species which concludes that the origins of species are driven by the unguided process of natural selection. Evolution has the support of over 99% of biological and earth scientists. ID also competes with current scientific beliefs about cosmology and other sciences.

ID supporters base their beliefs on various structures in animals and plants that they feel could not have developed through natural selection. In particular, they believe that some of these structures are made up of many discrete parts which must all be present and functioning together efficiently at the same time before the entire structure can operate. For example, a human eye requires a lens, retina, optic nerve and other parts to be all functioning together before the eye will work. Although scientists have suggested ways in which eyes and other structures developed as part of an unguided process driven by natural selection, their conclusions are rejected by ID supporters.

Scientists who support the Intelligent Design concept conclude that some form of life with an intelligence far superior to that possessed by humans actually designed these structures. This could be some form of deity (a God, Gods, a Goddess, Goddesses, Gods and Goddess, a God and a Goddess, etc.). It could be intelligent beings from other places in the universe who came to Earth to create life here. Although ID supporters are certain that some super-human designers exist or existed, they do not attempt to differentiate between a creator deity or deities and a super-human form of intelligent life. Further, they cannot differentiate among the thousands of Gods and Goddesses that humans have worshiped down through the millennia.

In biblical times, the ancient Hebrews believed that God, Satan, angels and demons played a major role in the functioning of the universe. Angels pushed the sun, moon and stars across the sky. God opened a window in the canopy over the earth and poured water down to earth to create rain, etc. God, or perhaps Satan, generated lightning, thunder and other weather phenomena. It is only in the past five centuries that science has shown that these processes are driven by natural forces and processes. They work without the intervention of God or other supernatural beings. God's perceived role has been steadily shrinking. This process is sometimes referred to, disrespectfully, as "The incredible shrinking God."

Conservative Protestants who support ID hope that a major role can be maintained for God in the origin of various species of plants and animals, and perhaps in the origin of the rest of the universe.

In excess of 99% of geological and biological scientists favor of the Theory of Evolution. However, many conservative Protestants are promoting ID because one possible candidate for the creator is the God described in Genesis.

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Teaching of ID in public schools:

There is considerable debate concerning the teaching of ID in public schools. In the U.S. the principle of separation of church and state requires certain restrictions on religion: Students are free to pray on the school bus, by the flagpole, in the corridors, in the classroom before class, during lunch break, in the classroom after class, and -- almost always -- in Bible study clubs. However, prayer and the teaching of religion is restricted during class time.

Critics of ID suggest that it is merely creationism dressed up as a quasi-secular belief. The U.S. Supreme Court banned the teaching of the biblical stories of creation in Public School science classes. Thus, they conclude that ID cannot be taught in science classes. However, ID, creation science as promoted mainly by  conservative Protestants, the hundreds of other forms of creationism promoted by other religions, and the theory of evolution can probably be taught in a properly designed and balanced comparative religion class.

The battle is not whether ID can be taught at all in public schools. Some media accounts imply this. The fight is whether ID can be taught in science class.

A Dover, PA lawsuit was settled in favor of banning ID from science class. As of early 2006, lawsuits are underway in California, Georgia and Kansas.

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Beliefnet Poll:

During 2006-JAN, Beliefnet.com conducted a public opinion poll of their web site visitors. They were asked to respond to the following statement:

"I believe that intelligent design is a:

[  ] Science

[  ] Religious philosophy"

Results as of 2006-JAN-16 were:

bullet11% Science
bullet89% Religious philosophy. 1

This poll reflects the belief only of those visitors to the Beliefnet.com web site who were sufficiently motivated to answer the poll. This group may or may not reflect the U.S. population as a whole.

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Reference used:

  1. "Calif. School Sued Over Evolution Class," Associated Press, 2006-JAN-11, at: http://www.beliefnet.com/

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Site navigation: Home > "Hot" religious topics > Evolution & Creation Science > here

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Copyright 2001 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JAN-14
Latest update: 2006-JAN-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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