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Intelligent Design in Science and Society:

Questions about Theology, Philosophy, and Science

An overview for Design in Science is in the homepage for Origins Evidence.

Sections in this page:
1. What is intelligent design? 
      Four types of design (and two types of Design) 
      Design & Creationism;  Introductory Overviews 
2. Intelligent Design as a semi-inclusive Big Tent 
      ID and Young-Earth Creation 
      ID and Old-Earth Progressive Creation 
      ID and Evolutionary Creation (Theistic Evolution) 
3. Intelligent Design & Apologetics, Natural Theology, Naturalism 
      ID and Apologetics 
      ID and Natural Theology 
      ID and Naturalism (methodological & philosophical) 
4. Can a theory of intelligent design be authentically scientific? 
      Introductory Overview: Why are so many so confident? 
      Should we allow intelligent design in public school classrooms?  
      Why is intelligent design not published in science journals? 
      Can we find scientific support for (or against) intelligent design? 
      Can intelligent design be useful in science, now or in the future? 
      Is methodological naturalism useful (or even essential) in science?

While exploring these questions, there will be some overlapping of ideas with other areas, especially EVALUATION OF EVOLUTIONS (for science) and METHODS OF CREATION (for theology).

This page describes educational web-resources with a variety of perspectives, to stimulate your thinking and help you explore a wide range of ideas.   { information & disclaimer }

1. What is intelligent design? — Definitions

      What is a theory of design?  What claims are being made (and are not) by design theorists?
      Why are some design theories controversial?  Many theories about design-directed action (involving faces on Mt Rushmore, murder investigations,...) are evaluated based on their scientific merit, using evidence and logic, but other design theories are criticized for being "not scientific."  Why?  And what are the similarities and differences between theories of design and creation?

      Some disagreements about design are unavoidable because people just disagree.  But in debates about design some of the "more heat than light" is due to confusion about definitions of design.  This is partly due to ignorance, when people don't think about what they're saying.  But some confusion seems intentional, when debaters (on both sides) think distortion will help them appeal to listeners they want to impress.
      Do you think confusion should be minimized?  If so, then we should define different types of "design" so we can distinguish between them, so we can think and speak with more clarity:

      four types of intelligent design
      • The properties of nature are "just right" for a wide variety of life-allowing phenomena.  For example, we have sunshine because natural processes produce a fine-tuned balance between opposing forces, in a tug-of-war lasting billions of years.  Does this fine tuning of nature indicate a divine design of nature?
      • Judeo-Christian theists believe that God responds to prayer, and He can change our situations and our thoughts & actions.  Usually, all of this happens in a way that appears normal and natural, yet God is actively involved in a divine guiding of natural process in our daily lives.  In a similar way, maybe God also guided the formative history of nature with the goal of producing desired natural-appearing results instead of other natural-appearing results.
      •• Judeo-Christian theists also believe that God can use miraculous-appearing action.  And humans can produce objects and events that would not occur if we just let nature "do what it does" with undirected natural process.  For example, if you receive a radio signal — 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, ... — and you think "this long string of prime numbers probably was not produced by undirected natural process," you are proposing a theory of Intelligent Design.

      The paragraphs above describe four types of design.  When scientists study a feature of nature (a star, bacteria, whale, biochemical system, radio signal, car,...) they can ask questions about its origin:  Was it produced by intelligent design, by:
      • natural process because, before history began, the universe was designed so this would happen;
      • natural process that was undetectably guided in a natural-appearing way by a supernatural agent, for the purpose of producing a particular natural-appearing result that was wanted, or
      detectable design-directed action by a supernatural agent (•) or natural agent (•), which was necessary because undirected natural process would not produce the feature;
      or maybe there was no design, and the feature was produced by natural process that was not designed, not undetectably-guided, and not detectably-directed.

TERMINOLOGY:  In the rest of this page, capitalized terms (Intelligent Design, ID, Design) refer to a claim for detectable design-directed action, and uncapitalized terms (intelligent design, design) can refer to any of the five designs, depending on context.

      Scientists can ask questions about these 4 types of design, but in what ways can scientific evidence-and-logic help them answer their questions, and with what levels of confidence?  Some of these questions about science are controversial, and are topics for debate when we ask, Can intelligent design be authentically scientific?
      What do Christians think about divine design?  Did it occur in nature?  All theists agree that the universe is designed, and that God can guide natural process, although there is a range of views when we ask "how often and how strongly does God guide?"  There is also disagreement when we ask, "Does scientific evidence-and-logic indicate the occurrence of detectable design-directed action during the formative history of nature?"  This question is the main focus of pro-ID and anti-ID arguments & emotions.  Proponents of detectable design-action think all four types of design-actions did occur, while proponents of evolutionary creation think the universe was designed so natural process (unguided or guided) would be sufficient during formative history, so there would be no need for detectable design-action.

• details of definitions are in the appendix

Is it just camouflaged creationism?
• Stephen Jones has descriptions of Intelligent Design — What is ID?  Is it creationism? — quoted from pro-ID scientists and organizations.  (10 k)
Does ID refer to something supernatural? by Mark Hartwig (2 k)

Another type of confusion — caused by a common use of ‘naturalism’ with two meanings — is examined in Naturalism (methodological & philosophical) and Intelligent Design.

Overviews of Intelligent Design

Questions about intelligent design in a fine-tuning of nature — with a variety of features that are "just right for life" — are examined in DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE.

The following introductions cover a wide range of arguments for and against Intelligent Design and its potential applications in science and education:
• A summary of anti-ID arguments is in the FAQ about ID (29 k) by, which is a spinoff from
• The pro-ID Discovery Institute has an FAQ (11 k) about Intelligent Design, Darwinian Evolution, and Science Education Policy.   Other answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are from BeliefNet (6 k) and Stephen Jones (12 k), and William Dembski has A Brief Introduction to Intelligent Design.
• A view that is not totally pro-ID or anti-ID is from Loren Haarsma — who asks Is Intelligent Design "Scientific"? and looks at scientific, philosophical, and theological aspects of this question — as part of a series in PSCF (the journal of ASA) with responses from Michael Behe and John Bloom.  Originally, this talk was part of a symposium — Models of Creation: Intelligent Design and Evolution — organized by John Bloom for the annual conference of ASA in August 2005.  Haarsma proposes that instead of "debating the demarcation of science" (by asking "Is ID science?") we should ask, "Are the scientific arguments of ID good science?  Are the philosophical arguments of ID good philosophy?  Are the theological arguments of ID good theology?", and he concludes with recommendations for advocates of ID and opponents of ID.
From Intelligent Design to Quantum Divine Action: Recent Accounts of God and Nature by Jack Haas — an essay review of Intelligent Design: William Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue (2007) — is a "sampler" that summarizes a wide range of ideas from prominent scholars who have a wide range of views about Intelligent Design.
• In April 2002, Natural History published a written debate about Intelligent Design with an introduction by Richard Milner & Vittorio Maestro, pro-and-con statements & responses (from Michael Behe & Kenneth Miller, William Dembski & Robert Pennock, Jonathan Wells & Eugenie Scott), and an overview by Barbara Forrest.  (39 k for the 8 main parts, plus 14 k for author-bios, links suggested by each author, and educational resources)   Basically, Natural History is anti-ID, and later Mark Hartwig wrote a brief pro-ID analysis of this written debate and a related oral debate.  (3 k)
• Historical Overviews:  A brief history (2 k) by Ron Numbers,  The Origin of Intelligent Design (19 k) by Jonathan Witt,  Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement, 1977–1991 (21 k + 10k, PSCF) by Donald Yerxa.  Also, histories focusing on education (and associated legal questions & political strategies) are in EDUCATIONAL POLICIES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

In the next section you can see the wide range of views inside the Intelligent Design community.

2. The Big Tent of Intelligent Design

Most advocates of Intelligent Design are monotheists — mainly Christians, but also Jews and Moslems — who think the designer is God.  The "big tent of Intelligent Design" includes mainly old-earth progressive creationists and young-earth creationists, but not evolutionary creationists who propose theistic evolution.

What are the relationships between the four types of intelligent design and VIEWS OF CREATION?

Quick Overviews
Intelligent Design: The New "Big Tent" for Evolution's Critics by Terry Devitt, describes the big tent as it's viewed by historian Ron Numbers.  (5 k)
Intelligent Design Movement Struggles with Identity Crisis by Bruce Gordon  (5 k)

When analyzing the ID community we should distinguish between its scientific and sociological aspects, while considering the interactive relationships and mutual influences between the science and sociology.  Some criticisms of ID are due to its association with young-earth creationism:

Intelligent Design and Young-Earth Creation

    Most of the prominent ID leaders, but not all, think the earth and universe are billions of years old.  ID leaders welcome young-earth creationists into their Big Tent, based on a two-phase strategy for studying origins:  first, ask whether natural process was sufficient to produce everything in the history of nature;  then try to determine the age of our earth and universe.
    What does each group gain from the relationship?  The anti-evolution aspect of young-earth creationism gets a "free ride" from design theories that are more scientifically credible, and are less constitutionally questionable in American public education.  Intelligent Design can use young-earth support, sociologically (in the Christian community), financially (in contributions and book sales), and politically (in education and other areas).  And both are partners in opposing a materialistic philosophy claiming that "only matter exists."

Proponents of young-earth views seem interested but cautious:
Secular Creation? by Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AIG)  (4 k)
AiG's Views on the Intelligent Design Movement by Carl Wieland  (22 k + 2k)
NeoCreationism: A More Accepted Creationism? by Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research  (12 k + 2k)

Proponents of Intelligent Design emphasize the similarities in views and goals: 
• excerpts from an interview (2003) with Phil Johnson  (6 k interview + 14k of blog-responses from Christians)  /  IOU — I'll also try to find Phil's earlier ideas about this. ==
Life in the Big Tent: Traditional Creationism and the Intelligent Design Community by Paul Nelson, who is both ID and young earth (24 k + 6k);  and another version, similar but with some differences, is here.  (23 k + 2k)  { Soon, I'll ask Paul which version he prefers and will link only to it. } ==
Intelligent Design's Contribution to the Debate over Evolution: A Reply to Henry Morris by William Dembski, who is ID and old earth  (24 k)

• Del Ratzsch, who defends ID (in some ways) and criticizes it (in other ways), explains: "Although not part of ‘official’ IDM [Intelligent Design movement] doctrine, some among academic ID advocates, and the overwhelming bulk of lay ID advocates, accept a ‘young-earth’ version of creationism.  And although not a part of ‘official’ IDM doctrine, the overwhelming bulk of ID advocates take the designer in question to be God.  Each of these unofficial but sociologically dominant peripheral beliefs have attracted sharp — sometimes venomous — criticisms directed toward IDM as well." (more from Del Ratzsch)
• Craig Rusbult looks at design-and-creation, logically and sociologically, by asking Who is in the Big Tent of ID, and why?  (5 k for Section 6B)

Critics of ID point out some disadvantages of a Big Tent:
The Problem with Intelligent Design by William Grassie (the founder and former executive director of Metanexus) who is a gentle critic of ID, says "it is vital that we separate known natural history from the interpretation of that natural history.  We can debate the meaning of the Cambrian Explosion, but we should not be denying that it happened.  Scientific evidence for a long and evolving natural history of life on this planet has grown dramatically and profoundly in last two centuries. ... [so] responsible Intelligent Design advocates admit to a long Earth history.  These ID advocates rarely talk about natural history, however, because they do not want to alienate the Young Earth Creationist who constitutes the base of their movement."  (11 k + 1k)
• In a less gentle criticism, IDing ID, Chris Mooney compares Intelligent Design & Young-Earth Creation Science, describing their substantive differences and strategic similarities.  (10 k)
• Eugenie Scott, in her paper about the big tent, says that "if ID is going to attain any level of scholarly respectability, its proponents are going to have to distinguish their model from the discredited, unscientific YEC model, even if that means losing the support of biblical-literalist Christians." (11 k)
• Steve Reuland, on PandasThumb, analyzes and criticizes Phil Johnson's "no position" position.  (16 k main, 22k comments)

Intelligent Design and Old-Earth Progressive Creation

Most of the prominent ID scientists are old-earth creationists, and most old-earth creationists propose Intelligent Design (or more), so there isn't much scientific dispute between Intelligent Design and Progressive Creation.  But there are disagreements about details, in questions about the Big Tent (should ID "take a stand" on age of the earth & universe?) and attitudes of the ID community (as in the review of "Expelled" below).
More than Intelligent Design by Hugh Ross, who explains how his "direct approach" differs from that of ID, and why he explicitly proposes creation by God, and tries to show how science supports "the legitimacy of biblical authority and the truth-claims of Jesus Christ."  (5 k)
Statements (follow-up & original) About "Expelled: the Movie" by Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross,...), criticizes the aggressive "culture wars" us-against-them approach of the movie.  (7 k)
Integration and Confrontation of Contemporary Worldviews: Evolution & Intelligent Design by Pattle Pun, is an overview of biblical theology and biological science (re: the origin of life and its evolution), suggesting that ID should be allowed to develop as an alternative paradigm.  (32 k)

Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Creation (Theistic Evolution)

Evolutionary Creationists do propose divine intelligent design:  There are three types of divine design and they accept two (divine design of natural process, and divine design-action by a guiding of natural-appearing events) but reject one (divine Design-action that is miraculous-appearing and thus might be scientifically detectable).  In terms of the definitions used in this page, evolutionary creationists accept intelligent design but they reject detectable Intelligent Design, so generally they are excluded — by their own choice, and by the ID community — from the "big tent" of ID, which includes mainly old-earth progressive creationists and young-earth creationists.

For a theist, "natural" does not mean "without God" so advocates of Intelligent Design who are theists (and this includes most advocates of ID) should recognize that God can be involved in all three types of divine design, and they should not claim that evolutionary creationists are excluding God from the process of creation.

• a quick summary of ideas is the Opening Remarks & Closing Remarks (5 k & 2 k) by Denis Lamoureux, an evolutionary creationist, with advice at a pro-ID conference about Darwin, Design, and Democracy.

We'll return to Evolutionary Creation and Intelligent Design after a quick overview of three related ideas:


3. Apologetics, Natural Theology, and Naturalism

Here are simple definitions:  apologetics (derived from apologia in Greek) is defending the rationality of Christianity, and natural theology is deriving knowledge of God from a study of nature;  naturalism has two very different meanings, either only natural process occurred or only nature exists.   We'll look at these four ideas — beginning with apologetics, then moving on to natural theology and naturalism — to give you a solid foundation for exploring the web-resources about Intelligent Design later in this page.

      APOLOGETICS and Intelligent Design
      Why should anyone feel a need to defend the rationality of Christianity?  For a long time, skeptics have asked, "If God is powerful and loving, why does he allow evil in the world?", and other tough questions.  After Darwin, some scientists (like Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) have claimed that "everything evolved naturally, so God was not necessary and does not exist."
      Consider two responses to this claim about evolution:  1) some Christians challenge the scientific claim that "everything evolved naturally";  2) all Christians should challenge the non-scientific claim that "natural" means "without God," and should explain why — even if the formative history of nature was totally natural (notice the "if") — this would not show that "God was not necessary and does not exist."   {#2 is one of the "easy theological questions" in METHODS OF CREATION}
      During debates about Intelligent Design, sometimes Christians imply that #1 (which includes Intelligent Design and some theories of creation) should be avoided, or that #2 is a weak defense (because natural-appearing creation doesn't let us know that God created) so (if we want a good apologetic argument against Sagan and Dawkins) #1 should be considered necessary.  Are either of these claims — that #1 (ID,...) is unwise or is necessary — theologically justifiable?
      Of course, there are also other views (and reasons for views) about #1 and #2.  Two illustrative examples — God with fingerprints (is Phillip Johnson making a statement about science, or theology, or both?) and God of the gaps (does this mean "God only in the gaps"? — have been moved from here into another page.

      Some people argue that #1 is necessary because, of course, God would create non-naturally in a detectable way to clearly show that He created (so it's more persuasive for apologetic arguments), but in the Bible we see that God does not always try to be maximally persuasive.  For example, after his resurrection Jesus did not appear publicly in downtown Jerusalem;  and God does not give everyone a compelling Damascus Road experience, as with Paul in Acts 9.  God seems to want a "balance of evidence" so we have some evidence (personal, interpersonal, scientific, historical) for and against various worldviews, but there is no proof.  Therefore, each of us has freedom to choose what we want to believe (which is influenced by how we want to live) and the lack of certainty forces each of us — no matter what we believe in our unique personal worldview — to live by faith in what we believe.   {for more about evidence and proof, see CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & POSTMODERN RELATIVISM}

      NATURAL THEOLOGY and Intelligent Design
      natural theology is deriving knowledge of God from a study of nature, whether this study occurs in science or while walking through a beautiful forest, watching and listening.
      Our science can influence our theology, but it's important to ask "how should science influence theology?"  George Murphy explains why, when we're Reading God's Two Books, it's better to use scriptural theology (based on the Bible) instead of natural theology (based on what we see in nature) as the foundation for building our understanding of God: "We should begin with the knowledge of God revealed in the history of Israel which culminates in Christ.  Then we know that the creator, the author of the book of nature, is to be identified with the crucified and risen Christ, and we can read the book of God's works in that light."
      William Dembski agrees, and he sees Intelligent Design's theological role "in a negative sense of clearing out the intellectual rubbish that has been bequeathed on our culture through materialistic, atheistic worldview.  But it doesn't give us a positive theology.  If you want a positive theology, study theology." (lecture in 2006, source)
      But Murphy, and most other evolutionary creationists, do not agree with Dembski's statement that Intelligent Design is useful for "clearing out the intellectual rubbish" of a "materialistic, atheistic worldview."

WEB-RESOURCES about Natural Theology

      NATURALISM (methodological & philosophical) and Intelligent Design
      Should a scientist use methodological naturalism by assuming (and concluding) that everything in history has occurred by natural process?  Is flexible methodological naturalism — beginning an investigation by assuming "it happened by natural process" but treating this as an assumption to be tested rather than a conclusion to be accepted — an option for a scientist?  In our search for truth about the history of nature, what are the advantages and disadvantages of non-flexible methodological naturalism (MN)?  How can MN be useful and non-useful, scientifically and in other ways?  Is MN acceptable, scientifically and theologically, for Christians?

      Confusion is caused by the common use of "naturalism" with two meanings:
      in a narrow meaning, naturalism is a claim — which is compatible with Christian theism — that "only natural process occurred" for a particular event, process, or historical period;
      in a broad meaning, NATURALISM (or naturism, materialism, matterism) is a claim — which is not compatible with Christian theism — that "only nature exists."
      What are the similarities and differences between methodological naturalism and atheistic philosophical NATURALISM?  What are the relationships between them, and is there a tendency for either to cause the other?

WEB-RESOURCES about Naturalism



I.O.U. — Soon, maybe by mid-October 2010, these web-resources will be re-evaluated, re-organized, and supplemented, and maybe some of the separations (into Evolutionary Creation, Apologetics, Natural Theology, and Naturalism) will be changed, or the separation scheme might be revised because many pages deal with two or more of these ideas mixed together.


Review of Phillip Johnson's Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Terry Gray, who says "I agree with 95% of what I read.  Johnson's assessment of the big picture is correct and his call to Christians to step into the modern debate with the big picture in view is, I think, the right strategy... and [quoting Johnson] ‘we should unite our energies to affirm the reality of God.’  But we disagree about some of his detailed criticisms of evolution and his inclusion of the Intelligent Design claim as an essential plank in the big picture. ...  God is involved actively in the ordinary operations of the universe.  The particular combination of genes in my daughter is a consequence of chance recombination and independent assortment events, but the combination is exactly what God wanted.  Anything for which we think we understand the mechanism in science is God-directed as much as any miracle for which we can't understand the mechanism."  (12 k)   Also, The Mistrial of Evolution is an earlier review, by Gray, of Darwin on Trial by Johnson.
The Phillip Johnson Phenomenon: Are Evangelicals Inheriting The Wind? by Denis Lamoureux, describes Johnson's Foundation Principles (Pervasiveness of Naturalism, Intelligent Design in the Universe, and Failure of the Theory of Biological Evolution), Rhetorical Moves, and Theological Assumptions, plus Pastoral Implications and a Conclusion.
• George Murphy, in Intelligent Design as a Theological Problem says one problem is that "The ID movement has not... addressed the relationship between the actions of its Designer and natural processes... [because] a theological attempt to understand how God acts through natural processes to introduce information into biological systems would seem to mean surrender to the naturalism that ID is fighting against."  (10 k)  {editor's note: During his life on earth, Jesus did healings and other miracles, died naturally on the cross, and was miraculously resurrected.}
• Denis Alexander asks "Is Intelligent Design Biblical?" and explains why he thinks "arguments of the ID movement are a Trojan horse bringing what is essentially secular un-Biblical thinking into the heart of certain evangelical fellowships within Europe.  In its place we need to emphasise the great Biblical truths of the creative handiwork of God in every aspect of the created order."  (22 k)

Divine Guiding of Natural Process by Craig Rusbult with extensive quotes from six authors (Howard Van Till, Keith Miller, Terry Gray, Loren Haarsma, Robert John Russell, and Peter Rüst) plus ideas from Richard Bube, John Polkinghorne, and David Oakley.  (13 k + 10k)

• A series in First Things (1993):  Creator or Blind Watchmaker? by Phillip Johnson, plus God and Evolution with Johnson and Howard Van Till.   (36 k and 52 k)
• a 4-part series beginning with Cardinal Schonborn (Finding Design in Nature) followed by responses (in First Things, 2005-2006) from Stephen Barr (The Design of Evolution) and Schonborn (The Designs of Science) and Barr (The Miracle of Evolution 19 k) about treatment of ID by Evolutionary Creationists, and vice versa.   {IOU — later there will be other responses to Schonborn}
• IOU — Soon, probably by mid-October 2010, we'll have ID-and-theology views from proponents of ID

• Evolutionary Creation is examined, by its supporters and critics, in METHODS OF CREATION.
• Sometimes a claim for Intelligent Design is dismissed with a "God of the gaps" label, but this term has many possible meanings so we should ask "What do you mean by GOD OF THE GAPS?"


So far, there are no pages specifically for apologetics-and-ID, although it is discussed in some pages above and below.  Eventually, maybe by mid-October 2010, pages about this topic will be here.


• Earlier, in the overview of natural theology you saw quotations from Reading God's Two Books by George Murphy  (xx k)
• Paul Arveson develops these ideas in more depth, and encourages unity ("let’s unite around our faith in Jesus Christ") in What does Christ have to do with It? — Theological implications of Intelligent Design, and an Alternative View.  (20 k)

Does the Design Argument Show There Is a God? by William Dembski, briefly (3 k) explains that although evidence for Intelligent Design can "allow us reliably to conclude that a designing intelligence is behind the order and complexity of the natural world. But it cannot speak to the underlying nature of this designing intelligence" and "is silent about the revelation of Christ in Scripture."
Is Intelligent Design a form of Natural Theology? by William Dembski, in more depth  (xx k)

• Some creationists— young earth (Ham & Morris), old earth (Ross), and evolutionary (xxxx) — criticize ID because it "doesn't go far enough" by identifying the designer as the God of the Bible.  But Lee Strobel thinks our scientific studies of nature can lead to Unmasking the Creator and to faith in Christ.  And some Christians think using ID as "evidence for the existence and actions of God" isn't wise.  {later, there will be more web-resources here}

More about Natural Theology is in THE TWO BOOKS OF GOD.


• Two meanings of naturalismonly natural process, and only nature exists — and how we can minimize the confusion caused by one word with two meanings: naturalism and NATURALISM by Craig Rusbult.  (5 k + 6k)
• Howard Van Till explains why he "has never approvingly employed the term methodological naturalism in his writing" due to its implied connections with philosophical NATURALISM.  (9 k + 5k)

• Keith Miller explains how Understanding the Nature of Science (thus reducing misconceptions about methodological naturalism and more) can help improve public understandings of evolution and design.  (2k abstract, 3k powerpoint)
• Loren Haarsma explains why the term "methodological NATURALISM" is not accurate:  Where is God in science?  Christianity as a Foundation for Science (Part 2).  (25 k + 4k)    He looks at methodological naturalism and asks "must science deny miracles?" (no, but...) in Science, Miracles, and Methodological Naturalism.  (21 k)
• Richard Dickerson explains why Methodological Naturalism is the "one overriding and defining rule" in The Game of Science.  (5 k)
• Craig Rusbult responds by asking, "Is science a Game with Rules or an Activity with Goals?", compares Closed Science & Open Science, and asks, Is rigid methodological naturalism useful in our search for truth? (8 k + 4k appendix), and examines the scientific utility & theological acceptability of methodological naturalism that is rigid or testable (18 k for Sections 7C-7D) and theories involving agency, unobservable causes, and miracles in observation science (to study the current operation of nature) and historical science (to study the past history of nature).
• Paul Nelson writes about Ron Numbers, Methodological Naturalism, and the Rules of Baseball & Cricket (xx k)
• Alvin Plantinga asks a question — Methodological Naturalism? — and analyzes arguments (weak and stronger) for MN.  (55 k + 7k, PSCF)
• Harry Lee Poe & Chelsea Rose Mytyk, From Scientific Method to Methodological Naturalism: The Evolution of an Idea (25 k) plus an exchange of ideas by critics — Walter Thorson (who says "the authors’ argument is historically inaccurate and seriously misleading in respect to essential issues in science") and David Siemens ("the metaphysical naturalism they describe is not the methodological naturalism or empiricism of scientific investigations [which] claims only that the scientific endeavor seeks natural causes for the phenomena investigated") — and a response from Harry Poe ("We do not argue for methodological theism.  We argue for what Bacon argued for against the Aristotelians of his day:  clear the deck of philosophical presuppositions about how the world works.")
• Two discussions in the ASA journal (2002 and 2003) between Mark Discher & James Madden (pro-ID) and Howard Van Till (pro-EC), about Intelligent Design & a "Right Stuff" Universe, and Defeating Naturalism.  (totals are 85 k and 52 k)
• Stephen Meyer, The Methodological Equivalence of Design & Descent: Can There Be a Scientific "Theory of Creation"? (97 k) and a critique by Robert O'Connor, Science on Trial: Exploring the Rationality of Methodological Naturalism (62 k);  these were written in 1994 & 1997, and from Stephen Meyer in 2002 is The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design: The Methodological Equivalence of Naturalistic and Non-Naturalistic Origins Theories (100 k + extensive bibligography & notes)
• An issue of PSCF (the journal of ASA) was devoted to a two-part paper by Walter Thorson about The Legitimacy and Scope of “Naturalism” in Science (1. Theological Basis for a “Naturalistic” Science,  2. Scope for New Scientific Paradigms) (20 pages, 39 k & 39 k + notes) and responses (45 pages) by William Dembski, Willem Drees, William Hawk, Loren Haarsma, Catherine Crouch, Thomas Finger, Richard Bowman, Elva Miller, Peter Vibert, Gordon Mills, Thaddeus Trenn, James Sire, and Walter Thorson.

• Ideas about The Nature and Practice of Science are assembled by Jack Haas (12 k for this section, plus more in other parts of the page), with "a few thoughts" quoted from What is science? plus ideas from Del Ratzsch, Jack Haas, and Stephen Barr, and links to pages by Charles Austerberry (3 k) and Jitse van der Meer (39 k + notes).

• Kenneth Hendrickson — two paired papers, in PSCF (December 2005), about Historical Method and the Intelligent Design Movement — Part 1 and Part 2
• Barbara Forrest Clarifies the Connection between Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism (61 k + 13k) — she is an atheist (*) and is a prominent critic of ID;  she is especially critical of ID's cultural and political goals as outlined in her book, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design.   {* but atheism is not the only reason to oppose ID, and many devout Christians are also critics of ID, while many other Christians support ID}

IOUs — soon, maybe by mid-October 2010, we'll find pages from:
• ID opponents claiming that methodological naturalism is necessary for science, so ID isn't science. ==
• ID advocates (Phil Johnson,... in addition to the chapters by Stephen Meyer in the links above) who claim there are mutually influencing relationships (maybe even causative?) between methodological naturalism and philosophical NATURALISM.
• more from by Dembski (maybe Intelligent Design: Coming Clean, instead of the older What All Theologians Should Know about Intelligent Design) — plus quotations about TE from Phil & Bill & others.

and these LEFTOVERS will be revised-and-used or removed:

In the pages below you'll see many excellent ideas, from different perspectives.  But occasionally you'll see ideas that are not justifiable, including (but not limited to) an implication that, based on biblical theology, ID either is un-biblical or is biblically necessary.  Therefore, in this page and elsewhere, always read and think carefully, using logical EVALUATIVE THINKING (usually called CRITICAL THINKING) to evaluate the claims being made.

God designed and created natural process, and continually sustains its operation, and God can guide natural process to produce a desired natural result instead of another natural result.

Is this claim that that God would not create "undetectably" based on what the Bible clearly teaches, or because it's a good "argument" against skeptics?  ... some Christians imply that #2 is not sufficient (thus agreeing so #1 is necessary because any proposal for "creation by natural process" is not really creation. 

• A common claim of ID is that "we're focusing on science now, and we'll think about theology later," but George Murphy thinks there is a need for theology now in our discussions about Intelligent Design.  (7 k)  

Christianity and Apologetics:  ... including four pages by ASA members:  Can we prove the existence and activities of God? (by Craig Rusbult, 9 k + 2k), Why isn't the evidence clearer? (John Bloom, 16 k), Cross-Based Apologetics (George Murphy, 14 k, PSCF), and The Apologetic Argument (David Snoke, 50 k + 17k, PSCF).

4. Can intelligent design be authentically scientific?

This major section has been moved into a separate links-page about
INTELLIGENT DESIGN & SCIENCE that includes these sections:  
• Attitudes — Why are so many so confident?  
• Should we allow ID in Public School Classrooms?  
• Why don't ID-scientists publish in science journals?  
Can intelligent design be authentically scientific?  
• Can we find scientific support for (or against) design?  
• Can ID be useful in science, either now or in the future?  
• Is rigid methodological naturalism useful in science?   


      This section assumes that you've read Four Types of Design.  Now we'll look more closely at the similarities and differences between four types of design by classifying them with two letters:
      the first letter (N-or-D) indicates whether the design-action was undirected natural process that is Not detectable (N), or is Detectable (D);  or you can think of these as Non-Design and Design, since Design (capitalized) requires Detectability;
      the second letter (i, s-or-n, or u) shows the "when and who" of design-action, whether it was at the initial moment of history (i) at the beginning of our universe, or was done during history by a supernatural agent (s) or natural agent (n);  or if there was no design-action because a feature was undesigned (u).
      A particular feature could have been produced by:  NiNot-detectable natural process that was initially designed so it would produce the feature;  NsNot-detectable natural process with design-directed supernatural guidance;  DsDetectable design-directed action by a supernatural agent, or  DnDetectable design-directed action by a natural agent using natural process, or  Nu) no design-action (Not-detectable, undesigned).   {notice that N cannot mean Natural because Dn is Detectable Design (which is not Non-detectable) even though Dn involves only natural process}
      My page about Four Definitions of Design examines other details, and includes this table:

Ds. Design-action by supernatural agent  
Dn. Design-action by natural agent     

Ni. design of natural process 
Ns. guiding-action for natural process

Nu. natural process that is undesigned  
and (in history) is unguided/undirected  

design and Design
defined in terms of
three questions
 Dn or Ds 
 design-directed action? 
occurs during history?
 empirically detectable? 

INFORMATION for readers is in a brief page about our Goal (a quick education for you), Quality (because we've made choices) and Variety (you'll see multiple positions, hence the disclaimer below), Exploring with Freedom (you can use sections and page-links in any order), Size (what does "20 k + 5k" mean?), and Links (that open in a new window).


In this page you'll find links to resource-pages expressing a wide range of views, which don't necessarily represent the views of the American Scientific Affiliation.  Therefore, linking to a page does not imply an endorsement by the ASA.  We encourage you to use your own critical thinking to evaluate everything you read.

This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
 a NON-ITALICIZED LINK opens another page.  Both keep everything inside this window, 
so your browser's BACK-button will always take you back to where you were.

this page, written by Craig Rusbult (editor of ASA Science Ed Website), is
and was revised August 28, 2010

all links were checked-and-fixed on July 3, 2006

other links-pages about Origins Questions are at the top of this page,
or you can Search the Website