Those who care about such things are very much aware of the origin of today’s intelligent design (ID) movement. The facts surrounding ID’s history were thoroughly explored in the Kitzmiller case. We wrote about it here: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Who is the Intelligent Designer? After hearing testimony from both sides, Judge Jones wrote:
… John Haught, a theologian who testified as an expert witness for Plaintiffs [challenging Intelligent Design] and who has written extensively on the subject of evolution and religion, succinctly explained to the Court that the argument for ID is not a new scientific argument, but is rather an old religious argument for the existence of God. He traced this argument back to at least Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, who framed the argument as a syllogism: Wherever complex design exists, there must have been a designer; nature is complex; therefore nature must have had an intelligent designer. [transcript reference]. Dr. Haught testified that Aquinas was explicit that this intelligent designer “everyone understands to be God.” The syllogism described by Dr. Haught is essentially the same argument for ID as presented by defense expert witnesses Professors Behe and Minnich who employ the phrase “purposeful arrangement of parts.”
[E]xpert witnesses Behe and Minnich admitted that their argument for ID based on the “purposeful arrangement of parts” is the same one that Paley made for design. [transcript references]. The only apparent difference between the argument made by Paley and the argument for ID, as expressed by defense expert witnesses Behe and Minnich, is that ID’s “official position” does not acknowledge that the designer is God. However, as Dr. Haught testified, anyone familiar with Western religious thought would immediately make the association that the tactically unnamed designer is God, as the description of the designer in Of Pandas and People (hereinafter “Pandas”) is a “master intellect,” strongly suggesting a supernatural deity as opposed to any intelligent actor known to exist in the natural world.
Also, Judge Jones’ opinion in the Kitzmiller case (pdf file) specifically states, on page 24:
The concept of intelligent design (hereinafter “ID”), in its current form, came into existence after the Edwards case was decided in 1987.
That refers, of course, to Edwards v. Aguillard. Everyone who cares about ID already knows these things. Nevertheless, the Discoveroids are now embarked on a crusade to revise history. At their creationist blog, we find this new essay by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist: On the Origin of the Term “Intelligent Design”.
It’s a long essay, and we won’t bother you with too many excerpts. Casey begins by simply ignoring Judge Jone’s finding, quoted above. He says, with our bold font added for emphasis:
Critics of intelligent design often allege that the term was invented by lawyers to get around the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Edwards v. Aguillard which struck down the teaching of creationism because it referred to a “supernatural creator.” This is plainly wrong, and it can’t hurt to explain, not for the first time, why it is wrong.
Casey then attempts to re-write reality by first going on a long and boring romp through history, quote-mining early references to divine design, which allegedly support his claim that the term “intelligent design” has a very old and honorable history. People promoting a cause often latch onto an old word or phrase (e.g., “equality,” “fairness,” “justice,” etc.) and claim (rightly or not) that it applies to their own cause. We’ll skip Casey’s quotes because they’re irrelevant. All that he demonstrates is that in the English language, there are certain words that are often used to describe God. Here’s just one example from his long list:
The terms “intelligent design” and “intelligent designer” have lengthy histories, long predating 1987. Charles Darwin himself referred to “intelligent design” in a 1861 letter:
[Casey claims to quote an 1861 letter from Darwin:] One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed; yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this.
After several other mined quotes, none of which, individually or collectively, establish an intellectual foundation for what actually goes on in the Discoveroids’ “think tank,” Casey says:
But the research and ideas that ultimately inspired today’s ID proponents were conceived in the 1960s and 1970s. Highly influential in this respect was the discovery that life depended upon information, whose structure was not only independent of its physical or chemical form, but whose ordering was not amenable to explanation by physical or chemical laws.
Casey is undoubtedly referring to the discovery of DNA, which the Discoveroids are forever hinting was — like the Ten Commandments — written by the flaming finger of Yahweh (but they’re always careful to say it might have been some other transcendent intelligence who fine-tuned the universe). Let’s read on:
[I]n 1984 — three years before the Edwards ruling — three scientists who did help found the ID movement published a book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin, argued for an “intelligent cause” behind the origin of the information in DNA: [quote omitted]. Those three scientists were Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen. Soon thereafter, Thaxton, a chemist and academic editor for the textbook Of Pandas and People, adopted the term “intelligent design” after hearing it mentioned by a NASA engineer.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Pandas was the smoking gun that totally destroyed the Discoveroids’ case in Kitzmiller. In the Wikipedia article on Of Pandas and People, scroll down to the section titled Pandas and “cdesign proponentsists” — the transitional fossil of a revision that took place after the Edwards case. As Judge Jones said in Kitzmiller (starting on page 32 of the opinion):
As Plaintiffs meticulously and effectively presented to the Court, Pandas went through many drafts, several of which were completed prior to and some after the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards, which held that the Constitution forbids teaching creationism as science. By comparing the pre and post Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards. This word substitution is telling, significant, and reveals that a purposeful change of words was effected without any corresponding change in content, which directly refutes FTE’s [the publisher’s] argument that by merely disregarding the words “creation” and “creationism,” FTE expressly rejected creationism in Pandas.
The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates, as noted, that the systemic change from “creation” to “intelligent design” occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court’s important Edwards decision. This compelling evidence strongly supports Plaintiffs’ assertion that ID is creationism re-labeled.
Okay, back to Casey’s article on the ancient and noble lineage of ID:
So ID proponents started using the term “intelligent design” for reasons having nothing to do with legal concerns. Nor was the term initiated by lawyers.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We believe you, Casey! His history revision continues:
It’s simple to understand why the early ID advocates switched to a different sort of terminology — referring to intelligent design. The reason “intelligent design” came into widespread use was because ID proponents knew their project was distinct from creationism in important ways. They sought a new term to make clear that fundamental distinction.
Yeah, right. There were no legal considerations at all. Here’s Casey’s final paragraph:
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the teaching of creationism in 1987, it did so on the grounds that creationism requires belief in a “supernatural creator.” As we have seen, from its pre-Edwards days, the ID project never claimed to infer a “supernatural creator” from the data. Even when early ID proponents used “creationist” terminology, their nascent theory was fundamentally different from creationism. It lacked, indeed, the very quality that led the Supreme Court to declare teaching creationism unconstitutional.
So there you are. The Kitzmiller case never happened. The evidence in that case doesn’t exist. ID is science, dear reader. You know it’s true because Casey says so.
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