Re: What does ID mean?

Allan Harvey (
Wed, 15 Apr 1998 12:23:37 -0600

At 04:55 PM 4/10/98 -0400, Howard van Till wrote:
>I'm still waiting for a candid and public answer to my question, Precisely
>what does it mean to be 'intellinently designed'? Does it require an act of
>"mind," or "hand," or both? That is, is it an act of conceptualization or
>an act of assembly/form-imposing?

Since nobody from the ID movement has answered this, let me offer
something given by one of its proponents last year. In February 1997,
Paul Nelson addressed the Rocky Mountain ASA section. He offered a
two-part definition of what the ID movement was about. While I can't
find my notes, I believe it was essentially the following (Paul, please
correct me if I misquoted you):
A) Living things bear the marks of intelligent design.
B) These marks are scientifically detectable.

While this doesn't really define what intelligent design is, it gives us
a starting place and leads me to two questions that might advance

1) Does the "scientifically detectable" part imply that there must be a
"hand" in Howard van Till's terminology? Or would, for example,
anthropic principles qualify as a scientifically detectable mark of the
designer, in which case this definition could be compatible with van
Till's "robust formational economy" principle? One gets the impression
that most in the ID movement require "marks" that are more hand-like than
anthropic principles are.

2) Is the presence of these "marks" just a hypothesis advanced in the
hope of doing better science, or is it a theological necessity? In other
words, if it turns out that there are no scientifically detectable marks
(for example, if the scientific theory of evolution [stripped of its
philosophical extrapolations] is correct), would that negate
Christianity? Or is Christian theology still sound if God created
through evolutionary processes that left no "marks"? This question,
which gets to the biggest concern many of us have about the ID movement,
is what I was trying (with little success) to get Phil Johnson and/or
Paul Nelson to answer a few weeks ago.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
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