Continuing the discussion from Is there any legitimacy to the claim that EC leads to atheism?:
I thought this merited its own thread, and I know many people could weigh in with informed insights.
Here is my brief summary to get the conversation started. (Adapted from stuff I wrote up for the Integrate glossary.)
The idea of intelligent design with lower case letters can mean there is an intelligent Creator that is the source of creation. No argument there. The debates arise when talking about Intelligent Design.
Intelligent Design (with capital letters) says that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and these features could not have arisen by chance or as a result of an undirected process such as natural selection. Intelligent Design proponents think that evidence of intelligent cause is empirically detectable through scientific investigation. ID arguments often center on arguments for irreducible complexity, specified complexity, and fine-tuning.
Irreducible complexity claims certain existing biological systems could not have evolved through natural selection. ID proponents consider a biological structure “irreducibly complex” if it is a single system made up of several well-matched, interacting parts, and none of those parts can be removed without causing the system to stop functioning. They argue that, since the parts are so intricate and interdependent, and since all the parts must be present for the system to function, it is not possible for the system to have evolved through successive modifications over time. The vast majority of scientists reject the idea that any true examples of irreducible complexity have ever been found.
Specified complexity says nature is full of examples of non-random patterns of information called “complex specified information,” or CSI. They point to DNA as an example of CSI in nature. ID proponents argue that intelligence is necessary to produce CSI, so it is evidence of design.
Fine-tuning refers to the observation that if any of several fundamental constants in the universe were only slightly different, the conditions necessary for the development of matter, elements, stars and planets, and life as we understand it would not be possible.
ID Proponents are usually ideologically opposed to materialism and atheism. Even though ID theory does not equate the Intelligent Designer with God, most ID proponents are theists who believe that proving the existence of design in nature will prove the existence of God.
Some people consider ID a form of creationism. Many ID proponents are Christians who believe ID arguments are a useful addition to Christian apologetics. Some ID proponents believe that accepting the scientific theory of evolution necessarily implies things about humanity that are unacceptable for Christians. However, some people who accept common descent are also ID proponents.
Many Evolutionary Creationists believe that what they see in nature points to an intelligent designer, but most Evolutionary Creationists reject the assertion that design is empirically detectable, and they critique ID methodology as unscientific for assuming a supernatural cause, since that violates the principles of methodological naturalism. (Methodological naturalism is an approach to questions that scientists agree to use when studying the natural universe. It requires that scientists assume all causes are empirical; they can be observed, measured, quantified, and studied methodically. So, when using the scientific method to investigate a question, supernatural explanations are not considered as possibilities.)
The Discovery Institute (DI) is a non-profit think-tank that advocates Intelligent Design (ID) and works to promote the idea that there is significant controversy surrounding accepted scientific theories and this controversy and the alternative explanations of Intelligent Design should be taught as part of public school science courses. DI runs the Center for Science and Culture which provides funding to scientists for ID-related research projects. DI also provided the funding to set up the Biologic Institute, a research lab where several full-time researchers are attempting to prove that beginning investigations with design principles will lead to advances in science.
In conversation about ID, often the “Dover trial” comes up. This refers to a controversial federal lawsuit that was brought to trial in 2005 (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) in which eleven parents sued their school district after the local board of education added a one-paragraph disclaimer to the high school biology curriculum requiring that Intelligent Design (ID) be taught as an alternative to evolutionary theory.
The court ruled that Intelligent Design is not science, but rather it is a form of creationism (and therefore fundamentally religious), so requiring teachers to teach it in a public school violates the establishment clause of the Constitution.
Now all the people who love ID can jump in and tell me what I got wrong and how BioLogos is just the worst for not recognizing how wonderful ID really is.