Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

scientific criticisms of ID come both from scientists who believe in God, such as Kenneth R. Miller (1999), and those who do not, such as Richard Dawkins (2006).

But if ID is flawed on so many levels, why does it exist at all? The answer is found in its historical origins.


Long before the ID movement arose, creation scientists constantly invoked design arguments. Some deny this connection (Ratzsch, 2005), but an extensive 1989 survey (McIver, 1989) of creationist literature notes the ubiquitous role of design:

The venerable Argument from Design remains the chief weapon in creationist apologetics. Creationists consider it self-evident and incontrovertible. Although the theory of evolutionary adaptation stood the design argument completely on its head, creationists continue to appeal to Design without even a trace of defensiveness. It is featured in virtually every book or article promoting creation-science. “Actually,” says John Morris [(1989)], Henry Morris’s son, “any living thing gives such strong evidence for design by an intelligent designer that only a willful ignorance of the data (II Peter 3:5) could lead one to assign such intricacy to chance.”

Design as an argument against evolution has historically been a constant theme in creationist periodicals such as the Creation Science Research Quarterly. A cursory search shows that design arguments are invoked for tetrapod limbs (Davis, 1965), the yucca and its moth (Clark, 1965), the hummingbird (Keithley, 1977), and long lists of adaptations from across biology (Shute, 1965a,b). All of these examples of design use some version of Behe’s irreducible complexity argument, and even Behe’s mousetrap is presaged by numerous articles claiming design for the traps of carnivorous plants (Keithley, 1972, 1982; Howe, 1978). Even the bacterial flagellum, the iconic example of the ID movement, is found in the creation science literature before Behe promoted it (Anonymous, 1992; Lumsden, 1994). In fact, creation science leaders have criticized the ID movement for stealing their arguments.

Dembski often refers, for example, to the bacterial flagellum as a strong evidence for design (and indeed it is); but one of our ICR scientists (the late Dr. Dick Bliss) was using this example in his talks on creation a generation ago. And what about our monographs on the monarch butterfly, the bombardier beetle, and many other testimonies to divine design? Creationists have been documenting design for many years, going back to Paley’s watchmaker and beyond (Morris, 2005).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement