The College Student’s Guide to Intelligent Design (PDF)

Speaking of ID (see next post), the Discovery Institute is making available a PDF written especially for college students educating them on Intelligent Design and addressing common misunderstandings of it.

The guide contains suggestions for helpful pro-ID books, articles, and websites for students to read when investigating the issue. Additionally, it contains “Answers to Your Professor’s Most Common Misinformed Objections to Intelligent Design.” Nine answers are given to common but false arguments against ID like “Intelligent Design Proponents Don’t Conduct or Publish Scientific Research” or “Intelligent Design Is a Science Stopper” or “Intelligent Design Has Been Refuted by the Overwhelming Evidence for Neo-Darwinian Evolution.”

The Darwinian educational establishment doesn’t make it easy to become objectively informed on the topic of evolution and ID. The way around the typical one-sided evolution curriculum is to investigate the issue for yourself. Yes, study and learn about the pro-evolution evolution viewpoint being taught. But also read material from credible Darwin skeptics to learn about other viewpoints. Only then can you truly make up your mind in an informed fashion.

This student’s guide will help you to do that—and will help you open up the minds of uninformed critics and skeptics about the facts regarding intelligent design.

(Via Evolution News & Views)


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30 thoughts on “The College Student’s Guide to Intelligent Design (PDF)

  1. Pingback: Top Posts of 2009 « Cloud of Witnesses

  2. “ID relies on empirical observations and draws inferences to design based upon specified complexity.”

    This hides a tautology, (thus is circular; thus is unable to support verification or falsification.) See if you can sort this out. It’s not hard.

    Why don’t ID researchers look into the means for the proposed supernatural intervention?

    • Hi S. C.,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m afraid I don’t see the circularity in the ID program — you’ll probably have to spell it out for me. But since I don’t believe, for example, the SETI program is based on circular reasoning, I also don’t believe looking for signs of intelligent design in biology is circular. If intelligent information can be discerned from space, it seems it can be discerned on earth as well.

      Your question about the agent of intelligent design is interesting. That’s a fascinating question, but I think it’s one that’s better pursued by philosophers and theologians. Strictly speaking, I believe the answer to that question falls outside of the realm of science to answer. But it does lie within the realm of science to observe the effects of design, even if science can’t discover the cause. At the same time, most ID theorists will admit that intelligent design could be the result of alien life forms — like Francis Crick proposed with his theory of “directed panspermia.” So, in principle, the intelligent designer may not be supernatural.

      Personally, I believe it’s the God of Judeo-Christian Scripture, but the ID theorist remains agnostic on that question when working in the realm of science.

  3. fleance, thank you for the forum. If I werwen’t so lazy, I’d start my own blog.

    In closing, though, science cannot provide “meaning”. It was never, ahem. designed to do that. I also find my meaning in God. My only claim is that I do not confuse theology with science.

    I may catch you on a future round, although I tend to be a one-trick pony.

  4. Irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum is not an “observation” of design. Instead, design is a two-step-removed inference from this IC.: (a) that an IC structure must have been assembled all at once, and (b) that only an intelligence could have performed the assembly.

    Inference (a) entirely disregards natural processes such as exaptation, preadaptation, and drift that could have produced IC structures. In fact, IC was originally proposed (as “interlocking complexity”) by Herman Muller in a 1918 paper as evidence FOR evolution Michael Behe tries to hide this fact.

    Inference (b) is not grounded upon any evidence whatsoever, but only upon ignorance—god-of-the-gaps. We observe evolution happening right now. You have 150 mutations that didn’t come from your parents. Endangered salmon kept in captivity lay more but smaller eggs, thus defeating the purpose of the captivity. Species change into other species—drive around the San Joaquin Valley to see this happen before your eyes.

    So we model the forces we actually observe to extrapolate to greater time periods. Then we test the extrapolations to see whether they predict observable results. Tiktallik was found where it was predicted. A stretch of similar nonfunctional (junk) DNA widespread among almost all animals was traced back 450 My—and guess what? The extrapolated sequence was a functional protein, one not known today.

    That is, evolution extrapolates, but from evidence—from observations of processes that operate now. Then it tests the extrapolations by making predictions and further observations. The further observations lead to further understandings, modifications to the theory, and may even overturn the theory.

    Intelligent design, on the other hand, does not even pretend to observe a design process Evolution can at least observe microevolution in real time. Can ID show us a single instance of microdesign operating in the present? How would they even recognize such a design if they saw one?

  5. Fleance7, this is not a matter of supernatural existence vel non. It is a matter of what can and cannot be studied by science. Intelligent design is not right or wrong, it is vacuous.

    Science studies lawful phenomena—that is, those that are repeatable and predictable. By definition, supernatural forces are neither. These criteria are necessary to the ultimate goal of science: controlling the world for our benefit. (Controlling supernatural forces is frowned upon, under the name “sorcery.”)

    An example. There have been several studies of the efficacy of intercessory prayer, double-blind, control groups, the whole megillah. What can one learn from them? Suppose a prayer did not produce a cure in a certain case. Was the prayer not answered? Well, maybe it was—in the negative. How can you determine this by further investigation? How would you apply the result of these experiments to increase the benefit of prayer—that is, to make God cure more people?

    A companion question is, why do you wish to force science to validate your beliefs? If your faith is that weak, it’s probably not helping you very much.

    My personal opinion is that science will eventually explain religion in evolutionary terms. Thus revealing yet another of God’s awesome handiworks.

    ==Soc Puppet

    • Hi Soc Puppet,
      Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I think we shouldn’t be too narrow in how we define science, especially limiting it to phenomena that can be studied in laboratory experiments. Whole disciplines of science would be ruled out in that case, like cosmology, historical geology, and even evolutionary biology — which all deal with entities and events that can’t be reproduced in a laboratory (say, the initial conditions of the Big Bang, theoretical subatomic particles, or the meteor that may have killed the dinosaurs). For the same reason, ID can’t be ruled out as non-science. Like other scientific disciplines, it looks at a phenomenon that needs explanation — the appearance of design in nature — and offers an explanation for that phenomenon. By the way, ID isn’t opposed to a significant role for natural selection, mutations, and adaption to environments. All of these things do come into play, but they can’t account, I believe, for the origin of the complex information in DNA. So the work of the ID biologist will be very similar to the work of the evolutionary biologist in practice. But the ID biologist will expect to find reasons for why certain structures exist, where the evolutionary biologist may believe they’re mistakes. For example, it’s now being discovered that what was once thought to be “junk DNA” actually serves an important purpose. ID theorists expect that; evolutionary biologists don’t.

      It’s not necessary for my faith that science back it up, but I would think it very odd if God created and designed the universe, and there were no evidence of it. I think the evidence for design points to the fact that there was a Designer.

      It seems to me the best explanation for religion is that, ultimately, we are spiritual beings who desire spiritual fulfillment. It’s a far stretch to say that a process that only cares about reproductive fitness would produce a belief in a supreme being. I suspect that evolution can’t account for beliefs at all. As Darwin himself worried, if evolution is true, how can we trust our own thought processes, which have evolved by accident for the purpose of propagating DNA. Unfortunately, this process isn’t concerned about truth . . . only survival.

      • I do not limit science to the here-and-now. However, any theory that seeks to explain past events must be grounded in evidence that can be observed now. For example, Vavilov’s Law says that a species greatest genetic diversity appears at the location of the origin of that species. In all cases that we can verify, this is true. Paleontologists seeking the transition between fish and amphibians predicted fossils in 360-390 Mya rock formations which were in the estuaries of temperate climates. They dug, and they found. Same for whales.

        If you think that functions for junk DNA is a prediction of ID, you should look at its definition again, and tell me how it proceeds therefrom.. To derive it, you must assume that the designer produces “good” designs. On the other hand, when faced with a broken citric-acid cycle in humans, ID claims that the designs need not be “good” designs. You just can’t have it both ways. (In fact, the junk-DNA prediction would require that ALL DNA have a function, whereas we know by experiments that some of it is broken pieces of former genes (i.e, junk), some is retroviruses that have lost the ability to replicate (i.e., junk), some represents transposons that used to be able to move about in the genome, but can no longer do so (i.e., junk). We could go on to SINES, LINES, etc, but you see the point, I hope.

        “So the work of the ID biologist will be very similar to the work of the evolutionary biologist in practice. But the ID biologist will expect to find reasons for why certain structures exist….”

        Then why have they not done so? Why has the Biologic Institute not produced any results at all in 4 years of work? Why has the Journal of Complexity and Design (Dembski’s captive journal) not published a single paper in more than 3 years?

        How does ID explain why human chromosome 2 has two centrromeres and a degraded telomere in the middle? (Evolution: fusion of two chimp chromosomes.)

        Is the Discovery Institute doing experiments to find functions for junk DNA? Is any creationist biologist looking for recent instances of design? How would he identify it if he found it? Sorry. ID may or may not be ruight. But it is vacuous, producing nothing of value to further undersyanding of living organisms, and producing nothing of value to science.

        In the past thousand years, we have made great strides in knowledge and useful applications by replacing supernatural explanations with natural explanations. No one has made any progress at all by replacing natural explanations with supernatural ones.

        Newton’s example may be instructive. Although gravity is a natural force, he found instabilities in planetary orbits that he thought required God’s hand to control. So he stopped there. Thus preventing him from inventing the theory of perturbations. LaPlace’s later natural explanation then led to the discovery of several new planets. “Goddidit” is not an explanation; it is a confession of ignorance, and nothing more.

      • Re predictions of ID: I had an uncle who claimed that all major events in human history occurred within a week of either a new moon or a full moon. people were amazed when his claim always proved out. Always.

  6. Pingback: Free Online Guide to ID « Gairney Bridge

  7. Brian: “I am wondering if you would explain how ID is magic.”

    Here’s how ID differs from magic:

    Magic is the art that purports to control natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural.

    Intelligent Design is the art that purports to explain natural events, effects or forces by invoking the supernatural.

    Hope this helps.

    ==Soc Puppette

    • Hi Soc Pup,
      None of this is a problem, assuming the supernatural exists. Why is it a problem to invoke the supernatural? I can guarantee that there’s no experiment or scientific observation you can make that can demonstrate the supernatural doesn’t exist. On the other hand, there are lots of reasons to believe there is something beyond nature — e.g., spiritual and religious experiences, near death experiences, the coming into being of this universe from nothing, transcendent moral values, miracles and other unexplainable phenomena. So, in some cases, it’s necessary to invoke the supernatural to explain phenomena that aren’t well explained by other means — for example, the cause of the Big Bang, or the origin of information in DNA.

  8. Bobxxxx,

    I have also heard you say that intelligent design is Magic on my blog since back in August 2008. Since you have been ringing the same bell for (at least) a year on my blog and others, I am wondering if you would explain how ID is magic.

    What books on ID have you read, by the way? I am just wondering if you yourself have examined BOTH sides of the debate.

  9. Pingback: Sensus Divinitatis News - The College Student’s Guide to Intelligent Design

  10. “the typical one-sided evolution curriculum”

    Right, biology curriculums are very one-sided. For example they only contain science, and they don’t contain any of your god-did-it bullshit.


    • bobxxxx,

      Well, your commentary has certainly added to the debate. Also, do you just cut and paste your comments into different blogs? Because you have written similar comments on my blog.

      You could at least work on creating some new insults…I mean “moron” is getting a little tired.

      Please explain how Intelligent Design = Magic; I’m interested.


  11. false arguments against ID like “Intelligent Design Proponents Don’t Conduct or Publish Scientific Research”

    If Intelligent design proponents, also known as MAGIC proponents, actually did some real science that was peer reviewed and tested and found to be correct, they wouldn’t have to keep complaining about what they call “false arguments”.

    Their problem is it’s impossible to research magic and it’s impossible to test for magic, because magic is Dark Ages nonsense.

    If you want to deny intelligent design = magic, I hope you don’t mind being called a liar and an uneducated moron.

    • Hi Bob,
      How can you be so sure magic doesn’t exist?
      At any rate, ID relies on empirical observations and draws inferences to design based upon specified complexity. There’s nothing magical about that. Francis Crick made the same kind of inference about DNA as ID proponents, only he suggested aliens planted it, rather than God created or designed it. An excellent case can be made that information only comes from intelligent sources, and DNA contains a lot of complex information.
      About peer review and publication, see this list of ID articles and books.
      If you want to discredit ID, you’ll have to produce some arguments, not just assertions.

      • Fleance7: “ID relies on empirical observations”

        Please name one. You will no doubt grant that I can name thousands of observations of evolution, even though the evolution might be small.

        So I ask only that you name a few observations of a small instances of design. “Microdesigns,” as it were. But something that is unarguably an observation of design in a living organism.

        ==Soc Puppet

        • Soc,
          Everyone agrees that biological structures and systems appear to be designed — even Richard Dawkins defines biology as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” (The Blind Watchmaker, Preface). The question is, is the “design” the result of chance and natural laws, or the work of a designer?

          The empirical observations I’m talking about would include irreducibly complex structures like the bacterial flagellum or cilium, where the structures won’t function at all unless all the parts are in place at the same time, and the complex and telic information in DNA. Since a Darwinian account can’t explain these things, it’s plausible to infer an intelligent designer.

          • My previous comment, above, seems not to have been attached to the correct thread.

            Continuing: DNA is even more transparently an argument from ignorance. “Since a Darwinian account can’t explain these things, it’s plausible to infer an intelligent designer.” Natural processes can’t yet explain something, so it is logical to infer a cause that no one has ever observed, despite centuries or trying. Sorry.

            You call DNA “telic” information, but this is merely a word that you made up to fit the occasion. You infer that it has a purpose because it must have been purposeful. If I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

            Stephen Meyer calls DNA “complex specified” information, also a made-up category. How does he measure CSI? He doesn’t. Upon what observations does he differentiate it from regular old Shannon information? He doesn’t. If I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

            Meyer says CSI is like a computer code. And we all know that computer code is produced by human intelligence. If I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

          • fleance7: “Soc, Everyone agrees that biological structures and systems appear to be designed….”

            Everyone also agrees that space appears to be flat, and thet space and time are two entirely different things. Everyone agrees that an object cannot be in two different places at once, and that particles cannot be created from nothing.

            Someone has said that, if common sense were reliable, we wouldn’t need science.

            • Hi Soc,
              This has been an informative and stimulating discussion. We could go on indefinitely, but I think we’ve both explained our positions and some of our reasons for holding them. At the end of the day, if it turned out Darwinian evolution were true, I would gladly accept it. That would simply be the means that God chose to develop life. But, as I’ve mentioned, I have significant reservations about that.

              To me, though, the bigger and even more important questions are why we and the universe exist at all, and where do we find purpose and meaning for life. I find those answers in God the Trinity and the Scriptures, and in God’s work in my life.

              Thanks again for the thoughtful comments. Feel free to drop in anytime and add to the discussion.

            • Chris, thank you for the forum. If I werwen’t so lazy, I’d start my own blog.

              In closing, though, science cannot provide “meaning”. It was never, ahem. designed to do that. I also find my meaning in God. My only claim is that I do not confuse theology with science.

              I may catch you on a future round, although I tend to be a one-trick pony.

              ==/\/\ike /\nglin

  12. The most important thing that anyone needs to know about intelligent design is that it is Creationism rebranded. Creationists have rebranded their movement as Intelligent Design to circumvent the holding in Edwards v. Aguillard. The history of the IDC movement was very well documented even before the Kitzmiller trial. See, generally, Forrest and Gross, “Creationism’s Trojan Horse”. Of course, much more evidence came to light in the course of the Kitzmiller trial.

    • Hey John,

      How are you? I wanted to recommend a book that may offer you a different perspective on the history of ID.

      It’s called “Doubts about Darwinism: A History of Intelligent Design” by Thomas Woodward.

      You may want to check it out.

      Take care

      • I’ve read both Creationism’s Trojan Horse and Doubts about Darwinism. They are different types of book.

        Trojan Horse does not discuss the merits of ID, only its history. It contains more than a thousand references to documents, speeches, and other specific material relating the steps creationism took on its way to ID. The real howler was the transitional fossil “cdesignproponentsists” revealed later at the Kitzmiller v Dover trial from drafts of Of Pandas and People.

        Doubts about Darwin is an apologetic, primarily reiterating the claims of ID. As to history, there are several errors of fact. William Jennings Bryan’s role in the Scopes trial, for example, is just plain wrong. Documentation of the history is sparse and self-serving.

        No matter how much intelligent design wishes to hide its parent, that parent was creationism. This is why the Discovery Institute battled mightily to disqualify Barbara Forrest at the Dover trial—even resorting to personal smears in the press. They were correct in considering her their most damaging witness. Despite valiant efforts, none of the points in her testimony was successfully refuted

      • “I can guarantee that there’s no experiment or scientific observation you can make that can demonstrate the supernatural doesn’t exist.”

        Which is exactly why all supernatural explanations, including IDC, are non-scientific. Falsifiability is an essential part of science. You can read up on Karl Popper and the philosophy of science for more information.

        • Hi John,
          I’ll grant that falsifiability is one tool for testing scientific theories, but it has its limitations, which have been recognized by philosophers of science. For one thing, science isn’t a pure process of unbiased practices and calculations. Behind every scientific theory and experiment there are prior worldviews and presuppositions. For a discussion of this kind of phenomenon, see Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Thus, what counts as falsifiability and when it should be applied is very much up for discussion.

          But, ID is falsifiable in a commonly accepted sense. If it could be shown that there is a continuously functional Darwinian pathway from a simple ancestor of, say, the bacterial flagellum, or DNA, to their present states, ID would be falsified. But it seems very unlikely this will happen given the irreducible complexity of the flagellum (and other biological systems) and the information richness of DNA.

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