An Overview of Intelligent Design and Evolution
The theory of intelligent design has several precedents and fits broadly into the philosophy of creationism. Unlike other creationist arguments, however, it is primarily based on scientific arguments which both argue for the existence and work of God while also pointing out discrepancies in evolutionary theory. Its proponents view intelligent design as an antidote to the godless, materialist trends in American science and society as well as a satisfactory conflation of science and spiritualism.
The vast majority of the scientific community is opposed to intelligent design. Critics argue that it is based on shoddy scientific arguments and that it attempts to reconcile two mutually exclusive bodies of human thought, science and religion. While they concede that evolutionary theory has not been proven totally and that gaps in the evolutionary record exist, they argue that science has amassed a wide amount of knowledge on these matters and is successfully working to fill in the gaps. Proponents of intelligent design point out persistent, self-contradictory problems within evolutionary theory and conclude that a first cause, creative event is a better scientific explanation for life on earth.
Intelligent design has become a mainstay of the so-called "culture wars" which have erupted in the U.S. and have seen once-marginal ideas move further into mainstream politics. Proposals to teach it alongside evolutionary theory in public schools have proved the most controversial aspect of the debate.
Basic Concepts and Definitions Related to Intelligent Design
Creationism: The idea that a supreme being created the earth and all of its life forms as recounted in the biblical book of Genesis. It disputes the age of the earth, believing it to be much younger that most estimates, and stands against the gradual evolution of life forms.
Evolutionary Theory: A theory which posits that life on earth shares a common antecedent and that its diversity and complexity can be explained by random mutation and the natural selection of inheritable traits over the course of generations. Its first proponent was the British naturalist Charles Darwin, in the nineteenth century. Twentieth-century science expanded and deepened the theory and, according to many scientists, accurately detailed the operation of evolutionary mechanisms.
First Cause: A theological argument that assigns agency in the form of a creator to explain the cause of the universe and life on earth.
Materialism: The philosophy that only matter exists and makes up reality.
Modern Synthesis: A combination of evolutionary theory and genetics that occurred in the 1930s and continues to dominate scientific thought.