"Intelligent design is not a theory" says DI fellow.
    By T. Ryan Gregory | August 10th 2008 07:07 AM | 11 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About T. Ryan

    I am an evolutionary biologist specializing in genome size evolution at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Be sure to visit


    View T. Ryan's Profile
    The Panda's Thumb (PT) has a short post giving a quote from Michael Medved, a new fellow at the Discovery Institute (DI) (which promotes intelligent design, or ID). In it, Medved notes that intelligent design is not a theory itself, but merely a challenge to evolution. We already knew that, of course, and other ID advocates have made similar statements before1. What interested me was my reaction to seeing the PT post. My first thought was, "Ok, but what's the context?". Not that I expected PT to be disengenuously quote-mining (this is, instead, a major creationist maneuver), but I wanted to know why he would say such a thing and what the full quote might have been. PT links to the source, which is an interview in the Jerusalem Post in which Medved is asked about a variety of issues, most of them political, with just a short exchange on ID. Here is the relevant portion, in full.
    Speaking of your desire for this kind of particularity, you are a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute that studies and believes in Intelligent Design. How do you, as an Orthodox Jew, reconcile with this kind of generality - with the view of their being a hierarchy with a chief "designer" - while believing in and praying to a very specific God?

    The important thing about Intelligent Design is that it is not a theory - which is something I think they need to make more clear. Nor is Intelligent Design an explanation. Intelligent Design is a challenge. It's a challenge to evolution. It does not replace evolution with something else.

    The question is not whether it replaces evolution, but whether it replaces God.

    No, you see, Intelligent Design doesn't tell you what is true; it tells you what is not true. It tells you that it cannot be that this whole process was random.

    This is actually quite interesting. What is happening is that a religious interviewer is expressing concern that ID is a challenge to God as the designer. This puts ID creationists in a tough position. In order to sound "sciency", they pretend that ID is not about God and say that the designer could be anything intelligent (God, gods, aliens). This is not science, and it is also not very good theology, as the interviewer indicates. As a result, ID creationists usually say one thing in debates (we can't know who the designer is) and another in speeches to religious groups (obviously, the designer is God). The thing is, there already are qualified people who constantly challenge evolutionary explanations. They are known as evolutionary biologists. We argue, we trash each other's papers as peer reviewers, and we force one another to present more convincing data on even the smallest issues. The outside commentary by ID creationists -- if indeed they are offering no testable alternatives (which they aren't) -- is not useful. Evolutionary biology will continue to study how complex features arise without creationists' challenges because it is the job of science to explain such things. And they will do it in the field, in the lab, and in the peer-reviewed literature. ____________ 1 Note that these are second-hand quotes so interpret them accordingly. "'I'm not pushing to have [ID] taught as an 'alternative' to Darwin, and neither are they," he says in response to one question about Discovery's agenda. ''What's being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there's a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content." George Gilder, interviewed in the Boston Globe, July 27, 2005. "Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity”—but, as yet, no general theory of biological design." Paul Nelson, interviewed in Touchstone vol 17, July/August, 2004. "I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world." Phillip Johnson, quoted in Berkeley Science Review, Spring 2006.


    Michael Medved has always basically been an honest guy and it shows here. It certainly highlights the flaws in ID everyone knew were present - pointing out the errors in other things while making nothing at all is classic Sophistry.

    I am most surprised that the DI has 'Fellows'. Since they don't actually create anything, how can one be a Fellow? Boeing has Fellows, Apple has Fellows, AAAS has Fellows, but they are all in the creation ( in the non-religious sense) business, and not destruction.

    It's probably bordering on ironic that the DI, a nuance of creationism, exists solely for destruction of a science theory.

    The Panda's Thumb (PT) has a short post giving a quote from Michael Medved, a new fellow at the Discovery Institute (DI)

    Curiously, Medved's name name does not appear on either the CSC or the DI lists of Fellows.

    Or they just never update the list. I am a Patron of AAAS but since they never update the actual list online you would have no way to know it unless you work for the company.

    Preved Medved! (Medved means «bear» in Russian)

    GOD and EVOLUTION Can you have both I think you can first don't pigeonhole or limit God. GOD=IFINITY+, EVOLUTION=TIME+CHANGE, The bible was written by Jews and Christens all men. GOD was here long before men. Yet men want to give God perimeters. God is much greater than that. Evolution is measurable, God is infinite.
    Russell Ade Scientist Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
    This is not science, and it is also not very good theology, as the interviewer indicates.

    It's not "good theology"? You'll have to let me know how you could tell.

    Also: I wouldn't want to give God perimeters but could we assign him units? TIME * CHANGE would give you something like dGod/dT. Is God an integral? No wonder I'm not religious. I hate calculus.

    Sigh ... I totally didn't mean to be anonymous.

    c'mon people, surely you can exhibit just a bit more evidence of intelligence. Evolution IS a theory introduced into society by the late Charles Darwin. Any argument here?
    Intelligent Design is only a theory to overeducated folks of the scientific community who have educated themselves away from the true and living God. The same God who created the earth with His spoken word. When was the last time you heard of a scientific creation on that scale? To the believers, Intelligent Design is not a theory, it is reality. Perspective is key here. We, as what we have named ourselves, human beings, a cute scientific term taking up far more space than the simple word man, have often elected to proclaim ourselves the supreme intelligent life in this universe. Of course, the Bible warns of such behavior, even pronouncing its emergence and popularity.

    Religion will change to accept the truth. By religion claiming to be the truth is ultimately has to accept the truth. The problem is the timeline. Some Believers of these New Religions built in the last 150 years say: "creation of the planet in less than 10,000 years". What about the fossils? "The devil put them there he can do many things" was the reply or "they could have been put there" and one more I've heard "they are less than 10,000 years old". I have the faith of a mustard seed. But as an amateur paleontologist this doesn't add up. Religion built on ignorance is a rouse if it does not accept the truth. Even the pope is saying they made some mistakes as far as science is concerned, which is a good thing.
    Russell Ade Scientist Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
    The TRUE GOD will be of the TRUTH. The earth is not flat, but mankind didn't know that 600 years ago. When the bible was written they did not know the actual age of the earth or the universe, it was an educated guess of the time. If they did know the age was billions of years, they would have written it differently, they were working with what knowledge they had. They did a great job working in that time. The most read book ever. As we discover more, religion has to catch up with science, change can be slow. As a species we haven't come very far. Perhaps one day science will prove the existence of the True God, as science should be based on truth.
    Russell Ade Scientist Simple Solutions for Complex Problems