The “Ancient Roots” of Intelligent Design

The Discovery Institute is attempting to create an ancient intellectual lineage for itself, much as a homeless waif might fantasize that he has a noble ancestry. We’ve seen this in several instances where they’ve adopted long dead people into what we call their Hall of Ancestors. The last time we wrote about it was Anaxagoras Joins the Discovery Institute.

As everyone knows, intelligent design “theory” was concocted to be a bible-free form of creation science that its promoters jazzed up with science-sounding terminology, hoping it would somehow slip through the First Amendment and find its way into public school science classes. The actual history of the Discoveroids’ bogus theory was exposed in the crucible of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. In that opinion, Judge Jones, relying on expert testimony from witnesses like Barbara Forrest, traced the brief history of the intelligent design movement. After a review of the significant cases that tried to ban evolution or promote creation “science,” he said:

The concept of intelligent design (hereinafter “ID”), in its current form, came into existence after the Edwards case was decided in 1987. [That was a reference to Edwards v. Aguillard.]

You can read the Kitzmiller opinion here. Our quote from Judge Jones is on page 24.

Desperately trying to ignore the disclosures in Kitzmiller, the Discoveroids are claiming that their movement has ancient and honorable roots. Casey tried it a couple of years ago — see Casey Rewrites Intelligent Design’s History.

The Discoveroids’ latest effort in their Orwellian history revision campaign is Excavating the Intellectual Roots of Intelligent Design. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

There’s a pair of matching, bookended myths about intelligent design — one pertaining to its origin, the other to its purported demise. Darwinists claim ID goes back about as far as Michael Behe’s 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box and that a judge in Pennsylvania finally ruled it out as science in 2005 [a reference to the Kitzmiller case]. Therefore a lifespan of just under ten years. Even most dogs live longer than that.

Yeah, those are myths. For the “real” story, let’s read on:

We’ve pointed out before that judges — even federal ones appointed by President G.W. Bush — don’t get to decide, for all time, huge questions of science like whether nature reflects purpose.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Judges do it all the time — for litigation purposes. That’s how junk science is kept out of the courtroom — see Daubert standard. (Hat tip to Derek Freyberg, one of our commenters, who mentioned it earlier.) Klinghoffer continues:

Science historian Michael Flannery addresses the corresponding myth of ID’s recent origins. Others have pointed to Plato and Aristotle as design proponents, but Professor Flannery traces it back to a Pre-Socratic, Anaxagoras.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Flannery wrote the earlier Discoveroid post about Anaxagoras. The rest of Klinghoffer’s post is about a video, or maybe it’s just a voice recording, of Flannery talking about Anaxagoras. If you’re interested, it’s there, waiting for you. We’re done here.

Oh, wait — while we’re talking about ancient roots, we spotted this at PhysOrg: Disbelieve it or not, ancient history suggests that atheism is as natural to humans as religion. It would seem that atheism is even older than intelligent design. But don’t tell Klinghoffer. We wouldn’t want to upset him.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “The “Ancient Roots” of Intelligent Design

  1. I don’t care about the ancient roots of IDiocy. It remains IDiocy.

    “huge questions of science like whether nature reflects purpose”
    Science – or rather philosophy of science – has answered that question more than 200 years ago, thanks to David Hume. The answer was reflected by Laplace when he said that he had no need for that hypothesis. Since then teleology is not part of science anymore.
    But let me give some credit to Curmy’s favourite poo slasher. Klinkleclapper directly admits here that he wants to turn back science with at least 200 years – not coincidentally also the time one of the three pillars of Modern IDiocy was formulated by clergyman William Paley.

  2. Fine with me. Welcome ID into the hall of ancient myths that are just plain wrong!

  3. Ooooh, ancient knowledge. ID, the Ayurvedic medicine of origins science.

  4. This reasoning was also used as one of the arguments against abolition in the United States in the nineteenth century.

  5. Perhaps Klinkhoffer, like all ignorant ID/creationists, could use an education about the Greek atomists.

    Anaxagoras was one of the philosophers in a long line of atomists that included Epicurus, Leucippus, Democritus, and Lucretius. They were all atheists whose insights about atoms became the earliest precursors to our modern atomic theory and chemistry.

    They didn’t think the gods did it.

  6. Yes, the arguments used by the creationists generally go back quite some time. But they only have been lately refurbished to argue against evolutionary biology. Traditionally, they were arguments for something, like the existence of God or (in the 18th century) for preformationism (the theory which is associated with the homunculus). The idea that one could promote a negative political ad campaign by these of arguments, that’s what’s new in ID.

  7. There are many books on ID vs Science. There is one with a review of ID/creationism and science that delves into the history of ID, somewhat apologetically, and to be taken with a grain of salt, or maybe the whole salt shaker: “The Compete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design”.

  8. There are no ancient roots to general relativity. Therefore, using ID logic, general relativity is less trustworthy than, say, an ancient belief such as astrology. Ancient roots are important to modern science.

    All snark aside, touting ancient pre-scientific beliefs as support for ID is a strange way to bolster ID’s credibility – unless, of course, the whole purpose of ID is to smuggle a similar set of bronze age beliefs into public school classrooms… Then, it makes sense.

  9. Of course ID has ancient roots. Goes back all the way to Moses.

  10. “[ID] back all the way to Moses”

    And since Moses was a fictional character that also “confirms” the legitimacy of ID.

  11. Ceteris Paribus

    Mark Twain opined that well placed people like to trace their family ancestry back as far as possible. But only to the point where they discover that one of their lineage was merely a “friend of the family”. Maybe that point in the ancestry should be designated “the Klinghoffer discontinuity”.

  12. Teach the controversy! Hindu vs. Biblical Creation.
    But, but, we’re a Christian nation!

  13. Teach the controversy – that’s kinda what I do in my science and religion class. But it’s more like present the myriad origin stories. Many of the students come from Christian backgrounds, and when they are required to study some of the major origin myths from a variety of religions and cultures, most come to the conclusion that the biblical story is about on par with all of the other phantasmic myths. And when the are presented with the scientific narrative of origins, they realize that their understanding of the Genesis creation stories [most don’t realize that there are two] has to be reconsidered.

  14. wait, two? I only ever heard one.

  15. @Anonymous: Chapter 1 of Genesis has god making man and woman simultaneously. In Chapter 2, he allegedly makes the man out of dust and sticks him into the Garden of Eden. After a while god decides to make a woman out one of Adam’s ribs. There may still be people who don’t know much anatomy who are surprised to learn males and females have the same set of ribs! A similar surprise for many Christians is that there are two contradictory stories of the birth of Jesus. I’m not sure it’s at all important, since the stories are all myths anyway.

  16. Moreover, there are fragments of another creation story scattered about, in Job and Psalms. We can recognize this third creation story from a more extended narrative in other Ancient Near Eastern texts. Yahweh was engaged in battle with a sea monster.
    And then there is the fourth way where creation was done ex nihilo. This being quite different from the creation in Genesis 1, where Elohim began his creation by dividing the primal chaos of wind over the waters.