Intelligent Design in a Nutshell

This one from the Discovery Institute is important — very important. It’s titled Reader Seeks Intelligent Design in a Nutshell, and it was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A reader writes to ask:

[Klinghoffer quotes from his fan mail:] I have always had a few nagging doubts about natural selection. I have watched a few videos and downloaded some books by key ID people but I have still not found **a brief summary** of the main evidence against natural selection and for ID. Most of the videos are WAY too long and meander all over the place. You really need to sharpen things up so we can see all the KEY points gathered in one place for everyone to access.

That seems like a reasonable request. Klinghoffer says:

“Meander all over the place”? Well, I hope not. And from my own experience I disagree. However, I appreciate the request for a really concise presentation of the evidence for ID and the evidence against the sufficiency of natural selection for explaining all biological novelty. The topic is a bit sprawling, and not simple. But cutting to the heart of even a very big subject is possible and desirable and important. Here’s an attempt at an answer.

Get ready, dear reader. Klinghoffer is going to sum up the whole dispute between evolution and the Discoveroids’ brand of creationism. He tells us:

For maximum clarity and compression, you can’t do better than Stephen Meyer’s PragerU video, “Evolution: Bacteria to Beethoven.” [It’s embedded in the Discoveroids’ post.]

We haven’t looked at it — or any Discoveroid video. Klinghoffer continues:

For a summary of the information argument for intelligent design, I recommend “The Information Enigma,” which I participated in scripting: [It’s embedded in the Discoveroids’ post.]

Ooooooooooooh! Information! Don’t forget to look at Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. Let’s read on:

On a specific problem with arguments for evolution, the recent video from Discovery Institute on homology, from the “Long Story Short” series, is delightful: [It’s embedded in the Discoveroids’ post.]

Another excerpt:

Oh, and be sure to visit us here on Darwin Day, February 12, when Evolution News will debut the first in a series of short videos, Secrets of the Cell with Michael Behe. Watch the trailer here. Each video is under five minutes in length: [It’s embedded in the Discoveroids’ post.]

That’s an ark-load of stuff to look at, and Klinghoffer isn’t done yet. He saved the best for last. Here it comes:

Beyond videos, the Evolution News series on the Top Six pieces of evidence for intelligent design is excellent, and I think you will find it useful:

• “The Origin of the Universe”
• “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe”
• “The Origin of Information in DNA and the Origin of Life”
• “The Origin of Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines”
• “The Origin of Animals”
• “The Origin of Humans”

Each of those bullet-pointed items is a link, but you don’t need that. Your Curmudgeon wrote about all of those Discoveroid “Top Six” items, and if you’re interested, here ya go:

Six Arguments for Intelligent Design: Part 1
Six Arguments for Intelligent Design: Part 2
Six Arguments for Intelligent Design: Parts 3 & 4
Six Arguments for Intelligent Design: Parts 5 & 6

Klinghoffer ends on a courteous note:

Thank you to the reader for the prompt to me to recommend these resources.

We’ll end with what we said at the finish of our post on Discoveroids’ arguments 5 & 6: “In six concise posts, the Discoveroids have presented their best case for intelligent design. They’ve given us such powerful arguments that the wicked house of Darwin is certain to collapse. Verily, in the annals of internet history — actually, all of human history — this Discoveroid series will rank with, if not surpass, the influence of the Time Cube.”

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Intelligent Design in a Nutshell

  1. “Most of the videos are WAY too long and meander all over the place.”
    I totally agree. If you can’t summarize creacrap in three minutes at the very max it’s not worth the time. So let me check.

    From Bacteria to Beethoven: almost 6 minutes.
    The Information Enigma: 21 minutes.
    Homology evidence for evolution?: 8 minutes.
    The Behe promotion video: 1:30 minutes, so that’s doable. Only at the end we get a statement: “mutations fail to invent”. No need to watch five (!) Behe videos, it’s just “evolution theory is wrong, doesn’t matter how” combined with “science can’t explain, hence the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!) did it”, aka god of the gaps.
    The third pillar (in case that reader happens to visit this nice blog) of course is “”X looks designed to me, hence there must be a designer with a purpose”.
    This is all you need to know about creacrap.

  2. They got the title wrong. It should have been “Intelligent Design in a Nut Case.”

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Klingy to Gish, Hold my beer! We’ll call it the Kling Kallop!

  4. Michael Fugate

    The idea behind ID like other apologetics is to keep people believing – truth doesn’t enter in – which is why they keep repeating the same refuted arguments over and over. And why letter writers keep trotting them out again and again. The worth of an argument is based on its ability to keep one believing.

  5. “…Hume recognized that it is quite unliiely that the design argument, which adds to these emotional causes the stimulus of analogical reasoning, always
    a powerful aid to belief, would be removed from the human scene by his criticism.”
    Robert H. Hurlbutt
    Hume, Newton, and the Design Argument
    Chapter 10, pages 169-170

    But the analogy of design has changed from the time of Hume – and Paley. It is now being used, not to prove the existence of God, but to refute evolutionary biology, and other recent sciences.

  6. Klingingklingon is projecting again. They don’t get email. “I’ve always had nagging doubts about natural selection.” Definitely my first thought in the morning. Those pesky nagging doubts. Wow, an email that sets up a perfect straw man for Klingonklingeroo to set fire to with some oil of red herring, lit with a white-hot bar of irony.

    Note of confusion to TomS: How did you get “Hurlbutt” past Curmie’s pearl-clutching filters? Man, am I going to find a use for that!

    Finally, PS, the Nagging Doubts are my favorite Portland band.

  7. Michael Fugate

    Is it surprising that neither K nor any other DI staff member could concisely answer the request? How could they when they have no idea how natural selection or science works. Stevie Meyer believes “God did it” is not only an explanation, but it is the best explanation – better than any science.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    The easy answer for Klingy would be ‘god of the gaps’, but he can’t say that out loud.

  9. chris schilling


    Meyer won’t tell us Who did What, Where or When
    And Axe lacks the requisite candour
    They Expelled from their anus a +urd named Ben
    But all he did was meander

    — B.S. Eliot

  10. I have just realised that evolution is the exact opposite of design. Design involves developing something new in order to solve a problem. But if a species meets a problem it can’t solve, it’s dead before it can evolve one. Evolution can be regarded as “answers first, problems second”. For example, if the soil which plants are growing suddenly becomes too acidic, it will kill them. However, some plants growing normally will chance upon a mutation that enables them to tolerate more acidic soils, which they can then colonise.

    Is this way of describing things helpful?

  11. @Paul Braterman
    Design involves solving a problem.
    Once one realizes that, it is clear that an omnipotent god has nothing to do with design.
    In at least two ways: Nothing is a problem for God. There is no source which can pose a problem for God.
    And the puzzle applies to any supernatural agency.
    If the supernatural is something not constrained by the natural, even if not all-powerful, is not supernatural design in the world of nature an oxymoron?
    At least, given all of the clever people over the centuries who studied design, where is the recognition of this puzzle?

  12. @TomS, miracles might be a useful comparison here. As I understand it, a miracle as a divinely ordained suspension of the laws of nature. The cancer disappears; water turns into wine. But the idea of a miracle only makes sense if such violations are exceptional. Otherwise there would be no such thing as laws of nature to be violated.

    I think of Intelligent Design as claiming to operate in the same kind of way. Each new kind is generated by a supernatural intervention at the molecular level, within the context of the operation of normal physical law.

    The entire rhetoric of Intelligent Design is, of course, designed to obscure the gap between the formulation of a design, and the production of the object in which that design is embodied.

  13. @TomS: “It is now being used, not to prove the existence of God, but to refute evolutionary biology, and other recent sciences.”
    Technically the the design analogy is being used as the alternative for evolution theory (and other recent sciences). The refutation is stuff like “The Cambrian Expolosion is impossible on Darwinism”.
    It’s a false dichotomy and that’s great fun to tell creacrappers. Several apologists are OK with evolution theory and still think the design argument valid. The best known example is the Fine Tuning Argument. (tuning is just another version of creating, just like designing). The IDiots from Seattle, never having any problem with any inconsistency, are also fond of Fine Tuning, but suddenly “forget” to tell us which scientiic theory it’s supposed to replace.
    Of course all this only confirms your “the design analogy has changed”.

    @PaulB: I think you give IDiots (especially when from Seattle) too much credit. What you describe requires decent analytical skills, something I yet have to meet and is incompatible with their rhetoric. In the end it’s nothing but “I ain’t no kin of no monkey” (as our dear SC so often reminds us) so “designed by a Grand Old Designer” which coincidentally happens to be the god they worship. The rest is just rhetoric, window dressing and/or falsehood.

  14. But what is the problem being solved?
    What can be a problem for God? If there is no problem, then there is no design. A design is defined, in part, by the problem for which it is a solution.

    BTW Schleiermacher defined a miracle as a phenomenon which causes wonder. (Something like that. I’m going on memory from decades ago when I last read S.)

  15. Laurette McGovern

    Problems arise when one invokes a creator:

    –are the “Creator” and “Designer” one and the same?
    –is there only one Creator, or several?
    –when did the Creator do what he did?
    –did he do it all at once, or in spurts?
    –is the Creator still doing his thing?
    –how did/does the Creator do it?
    –since countless species have gone extinct, doesn’t that mean the Creator has failed countless times?

    Just asking

  16. There is a different notion of Creator. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Contra Getiles, says that creation from nothing does not mean a change from there being nothing, but rather that things depend upon their existence on God.

  17. @TomS: “But what is the problem being solved?”
    Depends on whom you ask. An IDiot might answer: designing doesn’t mean solving anything when done by a Grand Old Designer, so wrong question.

    “If there is no problem, then there is no design.”
    An IDiot might “refute” this with Grand Old Designer can design things just fine without any problem.

    “A design is defined, in part …..”
    An IDiot might rebut this with in your fallible human eyes; not in infallible divine eyes.
    Because in Oogity Boogity Land everything and anything goes.

    @LauretteMcG: the answers depend on what suits the creacrappers.

  18. Michael Fugate

    A science education professor and Christian who accepted evolution and designed curriculum to aid in teaching evolution believed that if a student felt they needed to make a choice between believing in Jesus and accepting evolution, then the student should stick with Jesus. That young people are giving up on religion in increasing numbers is leading to angst and apologetics. No matter what is claimed creationism and ID are apologetic arguments and nothing more.

  19. @FrankB
    So, let’s hear what their description of design is. Without any idea of what a design is, nobody knows what a design is needed for, noboby knows whether nature can produce a design, whether supernatural design is an oxymoron.

  20. @Michael Fugate
    SO, let them stick to the analogy of design such as resented by Paley or Voltare. Neither of them had anyting to say about evolution, or explained how design produces a watch, let alone an eye.

  21. Michael Fugate

    Analogies and metaphors is all religion is based on.

  22. @TomS: “So, let’s hear what their description of design is.”
    Sooner Easter and Pentecost will be celebrated on the same day. Oh, sure, you’ll get some mumbo-jumbo, but a workable description, that allows proper research? You’re gonna lose that bet.

    “SO, let them stick …..”
    That might happen a bit sooner, but still take quite a few decades (because the next generations will replace creacrap by other stupidities). May I remind you that the definition of creacrap consists of three criteria? Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy is only one of them and used by apologists that are totally OK with evolution as well.

    @MichaelF: yup, I refer once again to Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science. One enitre chapter is called Analogy, Metaphor and Coherence.