There are many different religious philosophies that fall under the heading of Creationism. In my previous post, I focused on Young Earth Creationism, since that is the theology I am familiar with. But admittedly I’m foiling at windmills; It is very difficult to receive a higher education and continue to be a YEC. This applies not only to an education at a secular colleges, but also to mainstream Christian seminaries, both Protestant and Catholic.
The larger spectrum of Creationism is like a fractal, the closer you look the more intricate structures you find. But here’s a valid attempt at categorizing Post-Scientific Christian Origin Philosophies:
- “Nonoverlapping Magisteria”
- Intelligent Design
- Old Earth
- Young Earth
Different categories of origin beliefs combine with religious belief in G-d and scripture:
For example, over at Reasons To Believe they are specifically Old Earth Creationists and Religious Fundamentalists. Speaking in generalities, most Catholics are Evolutionary or Old Earth Creationists and Theists. Mainstream Traditional Protestants tend to be Old Earth Creationists and Theists, Liberal Protestants tend to be Evolutionary Creationists, with many being Deists and many others being Theists. Of course there are many other combinations, exceptions, and contradictions to the categories above; it’s very complicated and everyone faith tradition is a little different.
Intelligent Design, the new kid on the Creationist’s block, is very similar to Evolutionary Creationism, but differs by denying the “randomness” of adaptation. To get technical, evolution theory states that the primary causal agent of adaptation is “genetic survival determined by ecological fitness landscape”. Intelligent Design accepts this causal agent as generally valid, so in this regard it offers no challenge to evolution. But ID further insists that “natural selection” alone could not produce the diversity observed in our biosphere. Instead ID proponents argue that the the best explanation involves an Intelligent Designer of some sort.
“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”
In many ways, this is a strong improvement over your father’s Creationism. Its does not insist in Theism, Deism, or mysticism, for the ID in question could any of those, or even a powerful but not omnipotent being. It does not insist fundamentalist ideology, like a young earth or a literal reading of Genesis. And although it interprets it differently, It affirms the overwhelming evidence that evolution took place. Most importantly, Instead of scriptural authority it uses logical reasoning, statistics, and empirical evidence to support its position. For these reasons and many others, Intelligent Design would be welcomed by scientists everywhere as a religious philosophy that is more compatible with Science than many previous ones.
“I for one welcome our new alien overlords” Internet Meme
But Intelligent Design proponents are not happy with this new stripped down Creationism being called “theology” or even “philosophy”. The Discovery Institute believes that ID is completely scientific because it is based on empirical observations, statistical mathematics, and logical reasoning. And by removing all culture specific aspects of Creationism, they claim historical and popular support for this hypothesis, even in more educated circles.
This is the part that upsets most people, myself included. All things are not equal in science. On one side you’ve something affirmed by impacting biology, genetics, geology, mathematics, computer science, and countless other arts. And it makes further predictions about phenomena in all these fields. On the other side you’ve got a small handful of peer reviewed articles, plus some Christian Apologetics books supporting the idea. Not really a fair fight, but more on that later. And besides, even if we did find an Intelligent Creator, the most obvious SCIENTIFIC question to come next would be “Who created the creator?” regress ad-infinitum, if ID is the answer.
The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built.” ID Wedge Strategy
Here’s what most of ID’s detractors (and many supporters) miss; scientific modification of the Modern Synthesis is not Intelligent Design’s primary goal. This part of the Discovery Institutes game is for stirring up controversy and publicity. In th end it’s not important that supernatural events be evoked during the scientific process; that is a means to an end. By their own “Wedge Strategy” the real fight is against is THE PHILOSOPHY of “Naturalism” and the PHILOSOPHY of Moral Relativism. They have a point here, but more on that later.
There are many in the US who think Creationism should be taught in public schools, and I actually agree with them. Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Evolutionary Creationism; all have a valid place in our educational system; under both philosophy and religious studies. Putting this in social sciences classrooms also makes sense, when talking about the different philosophies of science and how they impact culture. But putting ID in a biology classroom is a big mistake, both for science and for religion.
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