Is Intelligent Design Bad Science?

No! Intelligent design is not bad science, it simply opposes scientism – the assumption that purpose (teleology) plays no part in any true scientific discussion.

Both modern science and Intelligent Design theorists agree on the evidence that evolution has led to increased complexity and intelligence in life forms on earth. But they interpret this data differently. Science has created a worldview that is founded on materialism, blind processes and chance, while ID theorists see the same data as evidence of a designer.

Intelligent Design is currently seen as a pseudo-science at best, and at worst, as a “Trojan Horse” to allow biblical Creationists to sneak in and enter within the protected walls of scientific methodology. The reason for this suspicion is that IDers believe that scientific evidence will ultimately support the authority of Scripture.

However, true creationists do not support evolutionary theory. IDers do! So scientists are wrong to lump the two together (and kill two birds with one stone).

The problem with Intelligent Design (and even scientific creationism) is not that they do bad science, rather, it is because they do bad exegesis (Bible interpretation). The Bible’s inerrancy is not to be found within the literal (terrestrial) interpretation of its stories. God’s Infinite wisdom and ultimate purpose in creation cannot be contained in finite human words, unless those words signify and point to ever-deeper meaning.

According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, God’s Holy Word is a multidimensional document whose architecture portrays the top-down causal patterning principles and nexus by which God acts in the world. The laws of nature are derived from the pregeometric realm of spiritual laws.

True science cannot be distilled from Sacred Scripture unless one has access to the multi-leveled scaffolding of its communication. Swedenborg claimed that being open to this new information from God was the secret behind the Lord’s Second Coming.

The process by which the Lord will “make all things anew” is actually an upheaval in both current theological and scientific worldviews (paradigm change). Unfortunately, a person would have to invest many years in reading Swedenborg’s vast writings on all these topics to verify these unexpected things (revelations) for his- or herself. That is why I have written a new book titled Proving God. It not only shows the way by which theology-knowledge and science-knowledge can be unified, but also how quantum theory, relativity, string theory and evolutionary theory need to be reformulated.

Proving God will be available to the public in Spring 2010. Advance reading copies are going out to book reviewers now.

About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
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24 Responses to Is Intelligent Design Bad Science?

  1. bobxxxx says:

    Intelligent Design theorists = MAGIC theorists.

    Magic is bullshit.

  2. bobxxxx says:

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    I knew it. I knew a fucking moron like yourself would love censorship.

  3. thegodguy says:

    Dear bobxxxx,

    Your comment that Intelligent Design is “magic” is an emotional response rather than a scientific one. ID theorists no not attack the scientific evidence. They simply interpret it differently. These differences are to be debated rationally.

    As to your second response I must offer my sincere apologies. The reason why your comment was “awaiting moderation” is that I had simply taken some time to work on my business/marketing plan for my upcoming book, “Proving God.”

    Thanks for contributing. I like your spunk!

    Spiritually yours,

  4. Matt says:

    There’s nothing to debate.
    IDers (and creationists, for that matter) start at a conclusion and look for evidence to support it.
    Meanwhile, scientists start with the evidence and form a conclusion based on it.

    One is a scientific approach, one is the exact opposite. It’s not hard to figure which is which.

  5. thegodguy says:

    Dear Matt,

    I wish the scientific method was as objective as you claim it to be. Everyone has a bias. The bias of the scientific approach is that it rules out the concept of PURPOSE in the universe as a rational explanatory tool.

    Some scientists have even gone as far as to suggest that if there was a metaphysical principle at the foundation of reality then it cannot represent true science. Huh?

    Even staunch materialists and atheists are in constant awe that the laws of nature are fine-tuned for bio-friendliness. Besides, physics cannot comment on the Big Bang beginning when time equalled zero (t = 0). There are a few brave scientists who are now contemplating pregeometry and that fundamental reality and process may operate in a non-physical (non-local) and non-temporal realm. My new book “Proving God” offers logical insights into the nature of this realm in which dynamical magnitudes are removed from their involvement with time and space.

    So there is plenty room for healthy debate.

    Spiritually yours,

  6. thegodguy says:


    no one is picking up on the point that I have charged BOTH IDers and Creationists with doing BAD theology! You cannot produce insightful scientific models out of bad theology!

    Spiritually yours,

  7. Interesting points. There is a critical matter of thinking of “science” in two completely different ways here: (1) as a search for *causal* explanations about the world, or (2) as a part of a larger search for *purpose*.

    People who focus on purpose tend to miss the point that meaningful explanations aren’t neccessarily good causal explanations. People who focus on purpose tend to miss the point that good causal explanations don’t neccessarily satisfy our innate needs for understanding.

  8. Matt says:

    The bias of the scientific approach is that it rules out the concept of PURPOSE in the universe as a rational explanatory tool.

    You call it bias. I call it following the scientific method which quite clearly does not include things for which there is no evidence. There is no evidence to support ID. There is no evidence to support creationism. There is no evidence to support the notion of ‘purpose’ as you’re using it.

    Find testable, predictable, repeatable and reproducible evidence for such and then you can start talking about ‘purpose’.

  9. thegodguy says:

    Dear Todd I. Stark,

    I am glad you agree that this subject needs continued debate. This blog contains many posts offering meaningful causal explanations to purposeful and conscious first principles. But a blog cannot be as effective as a 400 page book. That Is why I have written “Proving God” and will make it available next spring.

    The purpose of this blog is to generate discussion.

    Spiritually yours,

  10. John the Skeptic says:

    If intelligent design is not simply a re-branding of creationism, then perhaps you can explain the provenance of the phrase “cdesign proponentsists”.

  11. thegodguy says:

    Dear Matt,

    I do not believe that science can disprove the existence of God. Nor is there any rigorous empirical basis to conclude that consciousness is the result of special combinations inert matter.

    What I intend to show in my new book “Proving God” is that LOVE is primal substance. We are going to have to change our assumptions about physics. My book will offer a model to show how Love is the dispositional force behind nature’s incessant drive towards profound self-organization. The model will have explanatory and predictive powers.

    Today’s cutting edge physics, especially string and membrane theory is absolutely untestable.

    Spiritually yours,

  12. thegodguy says:

    Dear John the Skeptic,

    Creationists don’t except evolution. IDers do.

    I am not defending their science or their theology. I am defending purposeful design in the universe. I offer new causal explanations to purposeful design and show how these explanations can be distilled from a new, multi-leveled understanding of Scripture’s true architecture.

    Spiritually yours,

  13. John the Skeptic says:

    The whole point of Behe’s irreducible complexity argument (one of the pillars of the ID movement) is that complex biological structures cannot evolve. So your position is belied by what the ID proponents are claiming.

    Moreover, if creationism and ID were so fundamentally different, then the phrase “cdesign proponentsists” should not exist. And yet, there it is. You can also see that immediately after the Edwards v. Aguillard decision, the seminal ID text “Of Pandas and People” was systematically revised to substitute “intelligent design” for “creationism” throughout the text.

    Only by pretending that the Kitzmiller trial never happened, and that the evidence produced in that trial does not exist, can one claim that ID is not merely a rebranding of creationism.

  14. thegodguy says:

    Dear Skeptic,

    Thank you for your scholarly input. However you are changing the focus of my post. The argument over whether IDers are Creationists in sheeps clothing or not is moot.

    Is PURPOSE in the universe bad science? That is the point of my discussion. I believe that the ID movement is correct in its assumption that there is purpose in the universe. However, both current science and theology are inadequate for the task of proving purposeful causality. Bold new ideas are needed to explain why the universe has order, orientation, and laws that lend themselves to the rational and mathematical bent of the human mind.

    I have been sharing some of these ideas with my readers.

    Spiritually yours,

  15. “Is purpose in the universe bad science?”

    Not in logical principle, but yes it definitely it definitely is a cautionary issue in practice with real human beings. We can’t ignore purpose, especially in biology where organisms and communities are commonly believed to evolve purposiveness themselves, and where design in some sense is intrinsic in the very concept of adaptation. But we can and do deliberately and systematically doubt the tradition of theological ultimate purpose through deity.

    I think the issue arises in large part because the agenda in “purpose-seeking” is nearly always in practice with real people to connect causal models back to scripture and revelationist (or often intuitionist) sources of authority rather than just to build causal models.

    If we were not the kind of species we are, with the kinds of psychological authority bias we have, it might be reasonable to argue for ultimate theological causes and treat them at least tentatively as hypotheses. But there is no such thing we can find in practice. Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents always share the underlying golden thread connecting them back to religious authority and faith and pre-existing intuitions regarding the nature of the human spirit and human consciousness.

    Conversely, committed naturalists share the more material thread connecting them back to the assumption that the world is ultimately empirically and mechanically comprehensible (or at least that revelation and intuition can’t be trusted on this account) and that ongoing inquiry is the ultimate authority, and doubt is unavoidable.

    I can see the sides agreeing to disagree on particular kinds of issue, and agreeing on others but I can’t see them ever agreeing even in principle on what “bad science” consists of. For theologians, if science is a form of legitimate authority, it cannot possibly conflict with their faith in the end analysis. For naturalists, science is the best tentative form of authority regarding the natural world and can and often does conflict directly with people’s faith. I don’t see many real people bridging that gap.

  16. thegodguy says:

    Dear Todd I. Stark,

    Thank you for your well-thought-out response!

    The gap can be bridged! My new book “Proving God” will offer new theological and scientific doctrines to show the way. For instance, the book shows how natural law and kinetics have their origins in spiritual laws and spiritual process.
    One is lawfully derived out of the other. These ideas of spiritual causality are new to both the New Physics and traditional faith-systems.

    The purpose of science should be to lead us to the cognition of truth, and truth should lead us to the cognition of GOOD. Goodness should lead us to a cognition of God’s ultimate plan and purpose.

    Spiritually yours,

  17. As I imagine it right now, there are two likely compromises … (1) the one Phillip Johnson and the ID folks at the Discovery Institute attempt in their quest against naturalism: revoke a core traditional principle of the spirit of naturalistic inquiry and in its place invoke a point of theological authority as an ultimate explanation for the apparent “order” and “goodness” of nature, or (2) the one that J.C. Polkinghorne and other theologians attempt: revoke a core traditional principle of the spririt of an embodied living Creator and see deity in terms of abstract processes that are ultimately reconcileable with honest scientific inquiry.

    I don’t see everyone rationally coming to either of those compromises, ever. People will naturally prefer one or the other, if they choose to compromise at all. There is no common bridge. Such a thing would either have to be forced or them somehow through education and propaganda (which I suppose is what extremists currently are working toward) or we would have to accept that people will always disagree, and tolerate that.

    Thanks very much for your thoughts.

  18. John the Skeptic says:

    This may be essentially the same point that Todd is making.

    For any given object, we can analyze its structure and its function, but we cannot ascribe any “purpose” to that object unless we first know that it was made by something that, in fact, has purposes, and something about what those purposes are.

    For example, we can study the human pancreas in detail, and learn a great deal about what it does and how it does it. But to say that the pancreas has a “purpose” that is beyond its structure and function is to assume the existence of some other thing (a deity, for example) that has given it that purpose. I can see know way to determine a broader “purpose” for the pancreas without first knowing something about the thing that assigned it that purpose. Certainly no additional “purpose” cna be gleaned just from studying the pancreas itself.

  19. thegodguy says:

    Dear Todd,

    Why would someone invoke theological authority without expecting to put their beliefs into a plausible scientific theory? This blog addresses those who are interested in unifying God’s activity with the laws and processes of the natural world. It is the objective of this blog (and my upcoming book) to show that a more adequate theology is needed – one that it will promote and enhance science.

    Yes, there is no common bridge within the two opposing belief systems you describe above. What is NOT needed is compromise, but deeper knowledge in both areas!

    Spiritually yours,

  20. thegodguy says:

    Dear John (the skeptic),

    What do you mean the pancreas has no broader purpose that can transcend its structure and function? The pancreas (in orchestration with other internal organs) helps to promote bodily health and well-being. If health suffers so does brain activity. If brain activity suffers so does the human intellect (mind) which thinks and makes value judgments. If value judgments suffer human society and God’s ultimate plans for us suffers.

    Everything is connected. Existence is relationship – which is an analog of Love’s ongoing endeavor to UNITE.

    It is a scientific law that all things set into motion seek their equilibrium. Now consider that the myriads of processes set into motion in the human body not only seek equilibrium (successive order) but a common equilibrium (simultaneous order). Life harmonizes gravitational order on many scales!

    Still think complexification and self-organization is a throw of the dice?

    Spiritually yours,

  21. intellectuallyfulfilledatheist says:

    Modern science not only disagrees with the view that intelligence leads to increased complexity, it doesn’t suggest it. This is an example of imposing a fundamental assumption onto observation versus deriving a fundamental assumption from observation. Explain to me, if you can, how you derive from observation that intelligence always leads to increased complexity?

  22. thegodguy says:

    Dear fellow thinker,

    So what? This blog and my new book challenge modern assumptions and suggestions. So why should I worship your arguments? That I disagree with the models put forth by modern science is not intellectual heresy.

    Some people observing the universe can see “purpose” (teleology) while others only see irreducible chance. Both sides are looking at the same phenomena.

    However, physicists marvel that the universe is fine-tuned, in spite of the fact that some kind of pattern-forming causality emerges out of an indeterminate, frothing and turbulent quantum substrate.

    The universe is rationally ordered and has orientation. The fact that mathematical concepts fit the manifest universe like a glove is also marveled at. The universe has an intelligent and rational design.

    Whereas atheists believe that random events lead to this “observable” intelligent structure, my argument is that it is intelligence that leads to intelligent structure. Science cannot solve the measurement problem in quantum physics because they do not fully grasp how potentials (and randomness) make a discontinuous “jump” into a measurement outcome or single actuality. In fact, the Schrodinger equations makes no account of this discrete “jump.” Scientists are just guessing.

    This guesswork opens the door for people like me to suggest better ideas!

    Spiritually yours,

  23. intellectuallyfulfilledatheist says:

    Of course I didn’t say anything about intellectual heresy, I only point out that science does not impose its fundamental assumptions upon observations, instead seeking to derive fundamental assumptions from observations. This isn’t just about what modern science assumes, assumptions are necessary in philosophy in general since we cannot deductively prove that external reality actually exists. It must be assumed by science, and it is a perfect example of a fundamental assumption which is derived from observation rather than imposed upon it. We observe an existence which everything subsequently observed and which we can conceivably test about it consistently suggests that this existence is, at least for all intents and purposes, real and independent of our consciousness, and thus external to us.

    Some people observing the universe can see purpose, but this purpose is nothing more than an imposition of a fundamental assumption upon observation. At the very least no one who has asserted that there is apparently purpose in the universe can show how they derived this assumption from observation without also imposing it or another fundamental supporting assumption upon observation.

    Science in general suggests neither purpose nor “irreducible chance” since the majority of what we know about physics is nonrandom. General relativity, mechanics, thermodynamics, etc, are not random. This is why these formalizations can be used to make predictions. If the universe were a product of “irreducible chance” whatever that even is, then we would expect not to be able to accurately predict anything as the definition of random is that all possible outcomes of an event have an equal probability of occurring.

    Some physicists may marvel at apparent fine-tuning, but even that is an imposition of fundamental assumptions onto observations. There isn’t enough information about the universe and alternative possible states to assert that there even are any alternative possible states, and even if there were there’s insufficient information to establish the relative probabilities of alternative possible states, or to determine whether it was random. So asserting apparent fine-tuning in the universe amounts to arguing from a position of ignorance. Even if it could be proven that the configuration of states within our universe is highly improbable fine-tuning, in the absence of evidence of a fine-tuner, would amount to nothing more than an assumption in the absence of evidence that the specific configuration of states in our universe should be impossible without a fine-tuner. Since things which are highly improbable happen all the time. It would be impossible to prove that given any probability distribution of what could have happened something else should have happened once faced with what did happen.

    Mathematics is actually derived from observation. This should reasonably be the case if the universe is consistent, and mathematics is sufficiently abstract in a conceptual sense. It’s obvious that mathematics is sufficiently abstract due to the fact that string theory can pump out mathematical “universes” which are nothing like ours and particle behaviors which are impossible in our universe. It’s actually unsurprising that mathematics should be able to describe our universe so long as our universe is consistent. If our universe were not consistent I don’t think we could be conscious in it. Which in itself does not suggest design.

    I can derive from observation with some application of logic directly that if the universe were highly inconsistent it would be impossible at least for us to understand anything about it at all, and understanding seems to be important to consciousness, at the very least communication seems to be important for demonstrating the existence of consciousness, at least as we understand consciousness. So if the universe were inconsistent consciousness as we understand it could not exist. From this, however, I cannot derive without imposition of a fundamental assumption that this implies that the universe is consistent because of fine-tuning. In the absence of evidence that the universe exists specifically for consciousness to exist within it, just as one example of objective evidence which, if discovered, could support the proposition of fine-tuning in the absence of more direct evidence that out universe’s specific configuration of states should in fact be impossible.

    I don’t see why the universe should care about consciousness, but I obviously see why we would, so I see an obvious incentive to impose certain sets of fundamental assumptions upon observations of the universe that might support a view of fine-tuning.

    I can’t speak for all atheists, but I will say that science directly contradicts the view that random events lead to anything specific, but as I already said physics is nonrandom, as is chemistry. It’s the nonrandom nature of physics in general that allows it to make predictions. Physics is also nonrandom because the interactions of physical things in the universe are nonrandom. Remember physics is derived from observation. It’s because the universe in general is nonrandom that consciousness can exist.

    I was hoping I wouldn’t have to explain, but I guess I do, that not even quantum mechanics is strictly random. There are certainly a lot more random aspects to quantum mechanics, but quantum mechanics deals more with probability distributions than it does with absolute randomness. Massless particles may behave randomly, and virtual particles may also behave randomly, but massive particles mostly seem to have nonrandom probability distributions. The measurement problem deals with quantum theory not being able to explain why or even if the probability waveform functions for a particle’s state collapses when the particle is measured. For instance an electron orbiting an atom actually exists within a probability cloud which is all of its possible orbits and positions on those orbits with some positions having higher probabilities than others (making it effectively nonrandom but also nondeterministic), but when the position of the electron is measured it is observed to have a definite state. This has resulted in different interpretations of quantum mechanics and is the actual basis for some suggestions of multiple universes, but I find it interesting that this is not the first example of you pointing to gaps in what science can explain to imply that there must be a supernatural explanation. Scientists aren’t just guessing that superpositions probably collapse, the idea is based on the fact that we tend not to measure particles in superpositions of states. What isn’t known is why the waveforms collapse, and in some interpretations even if the waveform collapses or if the collapse is only apparent, either due to limitations in our measurement tools or because our universe branches when measurements are made. But fundamentally the issue has less to do with why such a jump is made at all and more to do with why such a jump is made at the time when we measure instead of always resolving itself to a single state. Also as I said there are many interpretations, what’s lacking isn’t so much a formalization because we have that, but a physical interpretation that makes sense to us. It’s entirely possible that the universe at the quantum level is sufficiently different from the universe we directly observe at the macro level as the consistent averaging of the possible states of all of the subatomic particles that compose the macro-objects that we just might not have any direct sensory input to link fundamental concepts to making it literally impossible for us to completely comprehend what’s happening at that level. I would propose, though, and I believe this is from or similar to the consistent histories interpretation, that the probability waves collapse when measured because interactions between particles can’t happen until the particles have resolved to a definite state.

    So far the only guesswork being done is being done by you. And though I don’t know what your explanation is, I’m having serious doubts that it would qualify as a better idea. It’s easy to claim supernatural agency in the absence of a better explanation, the problem is always going to be in showing that supernatural agency actually is the better explanation. Difficult to do given that supernatural agency is so far a concept which cannot be shown to correspond to anything that exists in reality.

  24. thegodguy says:

    Dear intellectual brother,

    I am glad you admit that science does not have direct sensory input concerning the quantum microworld. Your proposal as to what is actually taking place at this level is just a guess.

    Yes, what I have attempted to do in my new book “Proving God” was difficult. Just making the attempt should interest you (and any other atheist). Meanwhile, we can’t even find agreement from science. FYI – physicist David Bohm has the closest ideas to what I am proposing (explicate and implicate order).

    By the way, your above comments address statements made on another posted topic – such as “irreducible chance.” You are making the dialogue difficult. I hope it is not purposeful. I have offered you abundant opportunities to toot your horn and have posted some of your links. Do you offer your readers links to me?

    That is why religion addresses the heart and science doesn’t!

    Spiritually yours,

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