Answers in Genesis vs. Intelligent Design

At the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom, there’s a rare example of the kind of article we like to see — about discord between the various sects of creationism. It’s always enjoyable to see creationists squabbling among themselves about the silly details of their anti-science ideology.

AIG is the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. It’s probably the most doctrinaire of all the young-earth, literal Genesis creationist outfits.

From time to time they publish their disagreements with other creationists who aren’t — in AIG’s opinion — pure enough in their beliefs. For some earlier examples, see Ken Ham Attacks Intelligent Design & Behe, and also AIG Rejects Theistic Evolution, and also Answers in Genesis: Insincere Reality Denial?, and also Creationism: A House Divided Against Itself. In other words, no one is fanatical enough to suit AIG.

Ol’ Hambo’s stridency sometimes creates problems for him (see Ken Ham: Everybody’s Leaving His Church!, and also Ken Ham Expelled from Homeschool Conventions!), but he doesn’t seem to care.

Anyway, AIG is at it again. Their newest is Commentary on the Intelligent Design Movement. This is a long article, so we’ll have to skip most of it, but it’s interesting for their analysis and criticisms of intelligent design — which of course is the flavor of creationism promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

Okay, now you’re curious — why does AIG have a problem with ID? Here are some excerpts from their long explanation, with bold font added by us:

The Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) is an informal collaboration dedicated to exposing the problems with naturalistic evolution. As a movement, IDM challenges Darwinian evolution in schools, textbooks, and politics. There are some positive things about IDM but also some things that a Christian should consider carefully.

As you’ll see if you read the whole article, there aren’t very many “positive” things they say about ID, but they do make some attempt to avoid outright hostility. They begin with a discussion of intelligent design’s arguments:

These arguments are used by IDM, but are also used by creationists not affiliated with IDM. … Intelligent design arguments are those that confirm the existence of the Creator God (or at least a creator—not necessarily the biblical God). These arguments are based on the teleological argument for the existence of God. That is, living things appear to be designed for a function and with purpose and thus require a designer. Moreover, the universe and the earth appear to be “fine-tuned” so that life can exist.

That’s a fair description. But of course they don’t mention the utter lack of evidence for the actual existence of a designer. It’s all based on inferences and analogies. Then AIG criticize these arguments by saying:

These kinds of arguments (when used properly) can be very devastating to naturalistic particles-to-people evolution. However, they only indicate that life requires a creator. They do not necessarily require the Creator — the God of Scripture. Intelligent design arguments would work equally well for the god of Islam or any other god. For that matter, they might lead some to believe that extraterrestrial beings are responsible for life on earth.

Quite right. ID arguments don’t lead to any particular deity (see Intelligent Designer or Zeus?), and they don’t really accomplish anything except science denial. Then, having dismissed ID’s arguments, they discuss “The Intelligent Design Movement Strategy” and this is rather good:

IDM has approached the origins debate by limiting the scope of the argument to a single question: is something designed? They hope to avoid the common anti-religious bias of our culture by framing the question in a way that can be tested purely scientifically. Can we scientifically tell if something is designed by intelligence? If so, what are the characteristics we look for (such as irreducible complexity or creative information)? Whereas most public schools would never allow the Bible to be used as a source of information in a science classroom, challenges to Darwinism might be permitted on strictly scientific grounds. Those within IDM see their strategy as a way to challenge naturalistic evolution that avoids any “separation of church and state” issues.

That’s a good description of the Discoveroids’ strategy — but for one thing. They aren’t trying to “avoid the common anti-religious bias of our culture.” Rather, they’re trying to sneak around all the court cases that have ruled creationism in public schools to be a violation of the First Amendment. The US Constitution, drafted by men who knew all about the European wars of religion and the Salem witch trials, specifically intended to prevent theocracy in America, knowing full well that one sect’s shining city on a hill could swiftly turn into a flaming nightmare for everyone. In other words, the Discoveroids’ strategy is specifically designed to avoid the safeguards provided by the Constitution. Let’s read on:

Since IDM has limited its scope to the single question of whether something is designed, it does not endorse any particular religious view. Any person who believes in any god who created the universe or life in any way could be a member of IDM. This wedge strategy essentially divides belief about origins into two classes: naturalism and super-naturalism. By placing all super-naturalistic philosophies under the same “umbrella,” IDM hopes to present a more unified front than could be done by any single religiously motivated movement.

Yes, except that the Discoveroids’ wedge strategy specifically says: “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” That’s their true goal, but unlike AIG, they never admit it. We continue:

Recall that IDM exists primarily to refute Darwinian evolution. It does not exist to promote Christianity or biblical creation. Those Christians within the movement may see this as a clever strategy: perhaps they think that one must first remove the stumbling block of evolution before a person will even consider the merits of biblical Christianity. On the surface, this certainly sounds reasonable. After all, evolution certainly can be a stumbling block to Christianity. But there are some difficulties in attempting to refute a worldview in such a piecemeal fashion.

AIG then goes on to severely criticize the ID movement because it’s just not biblical enough. For example:

One problem with attempting to remove evolution by scientific evidence before exposing a person to the Bible (as IDM does) is this: without the Bible, a person cannot properly interpret the scientific evidence.

[…]

Instead, we suggest that these two tasks can be done simultaneously. We can both argue for the Bible, and simultaneously argue against evolution.

AIG goes on to explain why their biblical approach is superior. For example, ID has no explanation for disagreeable things found in nature. It’s really the old problem of evil, but AIG knows better than to raise that issue. Instead they confine it to biology:

[T]here are certain features of living organisms that appear to be designed to cause pain. Examples of this are thorns, bee stings, parasitic organisms, and carnivorous activity. Evolutionists argue that a good God would not have designed such things. Such features make more sense in an evolutionary world “red in tooth and claw.” This argument is particularly effective against Christians within the IDM because Christians argue that their Creator is a God of love.

AIG says that although evolution has an explanation for such things, ID has none, and then they claim that their biblical approach to such things is vastly superior, because it explains such phenomena as the result of sin.

Okay, we’ve gone on long enough. In sum, AIG applauds ID for challenging evolution, but for very little else. If you like to see schisms within creationism, you’ll want to read the whole article.

See also: Food Fight: Ken Ham vs. Intelligent Design.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Answers in Genesis vs. Intelligent Design

  1. Curmudgeon: “..there’s a rare example of the kind of article we like to see — about discord between the various sects of creationism.”

    I may have more comments after I read all of your post and the article, but I must note that these articles are only rare because we let that happen. When we ask AiG, ICR, RTB, etc. to critique other anti-evolution positions, they grudgingly comply, while the DI weasels out with lame excuses. And fence-sitters are impressed with neither.

  2. retiredsciguy

    Ham (or his ghost writer): “After all, evolution certainly can be a stumbling block to Christianity.”

    Only if you make it so, Mr. Ham, only if you make it so. How does accepting the overwhelming evidence that life on earth has evolved from simpler to more complex organisms conflict with Christ’s teachings as laid out in the New Testament? I am certainly no biblical scholar, but it seems that Jesus placed more emphasis on how we dealt with others than on blindly following the religious orthodoxy of the time. After all, that’s what got him in hot water with the religious authorities in the first place, and led them to seek Pilate’s help in ridding them of this vexation.

    For example, Jesus told his followers to ignore the dietary restrictions of what we now call the Old Testament. He was much more concerned that they should love their neighbors, treat others as they would be treated themselves, and turn the other cheek to their enemies.

    Mr. Ham, don’t you agree that in today’s world, these teachings of Jesus are much more important than having us deny reality and blindly believing a literal interpretation of Genesis? If you truly feel that a belief in the Genesis creation account is paramount, then you should call yourself a Genesian rather than a Christian. I am not saying this to insult you, but only to clarify how your position makes you appear.

  3. Ceteris Paribus

    AIG says: “[w]ithout the Bible, a person cannot properly interpret the scientific evidence.”

    Which begs the question of who gets to write and/or interpret that special “Bible” with a capital “B”?

    Watching AIG debate DI is just a rerun of the old “it’s turtles all the way down” theology.

  4. For a true mind-bending adventure in circular reasoning, click on the links in the article to “chapter 7″. I couldn’t read all of it without getting mental vertigo.

    Hopefully, few Christians are as completely deluded as AIG.

  5. Looking forward to a response to this AiG critique of ID from Luskin or Klinghoffer. It should be up almost anytime now, right?

    @Ed…Hopefully, few Christians are as completely deluded as AIG.

    Polling shows at least 85% of the US population self describes as Christian. Depending on the poll, about 45-50% if the US population are creationists of some kind who have some issues with evolution. Of them, IIRC, only about a third or less are Biblical literalist YECs.

    So, there are many,many tens of millions of Christians who accept the science of the ToE without issue. And even among those who have issues with the ToE only a minority are YECs.

    YECs are a very small minority of the overall population and a small minority of the Christian population. However, a small fractions of the YEC population is activist, aggressive,and annoying, like Coppedge.

  6. Just checked old Hambo’s blog and he is pitching his ‘Dig Dinosaurs with Buddy’ outing – I think that would be a real hoot, hearing how they explain all of the bones and fossils that they find as being only a few thousand years old :-) Like others have mentioned above, Ham perseverates on Genesis rather than on the Gospels.

  7. The DI is an Equal Opportunity propaganda organization. Anybody, and I mean any and every body who criticizes evolution or science, in general, is their Friend for a Day ™. However, DI luv is fleeting and they’ll drop you like a used hydroplate the moment you try to be reasonable.

    Take the Vatican (please!). When the Vizzle publishes something that might be construed against cosmology or evolution, the DI is all over them like a T-Rex on a pineapple (now showing at Hambo’s Creation Museum, Nail Care and Bait Shop). Publish something scientifical and suddenly the DI lost your number; don’t expect a call, letter or flowers.

    That’s why the DI house is like a box of Animal Crackers: YEC’s, OEC’s, SC’s, lions, tigers, bears and humpy-back camels, but no chimpanzees.

    So, yeah, the DI hates old Hambo except when they put on their beer Bible glasses and then he looks like a heaven-is-missing-an-angel is-it-hot-in-here-or-is-it-you 2 AM fox in heat on 50-cent shots night.

    Puts me right off me tequila, I tell you!

  8. Doc Bill – LOL here in Hoosierland!!

  9. @ Doc Bill (who’s now probably paying for his tequila):

    Great comment, but does SCs mean “sensuous curmudgeons”?

  10. I especially liked your coining the term “Discoveroids”, but I believe you have misspelled it. It should be “Discoverrhoids”, for obvious reasons.

  11. Tomato Addict

    ghd>”It should be “Discoverrhoids”, for obvious reasons.”

    If you apply a little bit of Preparation D to your “Discoverrhoids”, it will relive that itchy, burning sensation.

  12. GHD and TA – these are keepers!!!