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Intelligent Design

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Intelligent design also referred to as ID is a concept that has its early origins from 4th century BC in the works Timaeus by Plato were he describes a supreme wisdom and intelligence as the creator of the cosmos. In the Metaphysics Aristotle furthers developed the idea of a natural creator of the cosmos. One of the most famous ideas for intelligent design today comes the 13th century where Thomas Aguinas described the concept of design as the fifth of five proofs for the existence of God in his work Summa Theologia. The term intelligent design has been used several times in more recent years but the use was not related to the current use of the word such as in an 1847 issue of Scientific American. The movement of intelligent design, as we know it today, began in the late 1980's to early 1990's.

In order to get a clear understand of what exactly intelligent design is, a definition that is given by the Discovery Institute is used. They describe intelligent design as "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." The Discovery Institute, a Christian conservative think tank, is one of the leading proponents of intelligent design. In their definition the name of a specific designer is intentionally omitted but simply makes mention that one must exist. However opponents of intelligent design feel this designer is the Christian God. This has also been the subject of much debate in the movement.

Intelligent design cannot be understood until a few other concepts are understood. First is the theory of evolution. This is the brainchild of Charles Darwin. The theory holds that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor. From this concept arose the theory of natural selection. In essence this concept holds that certain essential traits are passed on to the next generation while the non-essential traits are not, thereby only allowing essential traits to remain through the evolutionary process. An example of this may be a tail that humans (possibly) once had. Over time because it was not needed it became shorter and shorter until eventually we no longer have one.

This is where the theory of intelligent design comes in. Fundamentally speaking is says that because the system is so complex it must be the result of an intelligent agent. If in nature such complex systems were seen under other circumstances and could not be explain, we would attribute it to intelligence. To prove their theory proponents point to two types of signs of intelligence, irreducible complexity and specified complexity.

According to Michael Behe, a senior fellow at Discovery Institute, irreducible complexity is defined " a single system which is composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." As an example of this system he uses the working of a mousetrap. When any part is taken away it no longer function as a mousetrap. For natural examples he uses bacterial flagellum of E coli, blood clotting, and the adaptive immune system.

William Dembski, a senior fellow at the Center for Science and Culture a part of the Discovery Institute, defines specified complexity in this manner, when something exhibits complex and specified simultaneously it can be inferred that it was produced by an intelligent cause or it was designed. As a simple example he uses this analogy, one letter of the alphabet is specified, a long sentence of random letters is complex however a Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified and because of this we can infer design. The same is true in nature with the molecular sequence of DNA.

The debate in intelligent design is whether or not life evolved into what we know it to be. Those in the scientific community, opponents of intelligent design, feel there is no debate at all. They do not see intelligent design as a valid scientific theory, for one reason, because it cannot be tested. The consensus of the scientific community is that life evolved. They do not feel that intelligent design can be defined as science. In order to prove intelligent design proponents are using a lack of knowledge as their explanation. This lack of a natural explanation for the universe or for certain specific aspects of evolution causes proponents to assume an intelligent cause. They feel the evidence does not support the theories, and teaching such theories is inappropriate and according to Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District



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