intelligent design

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intelligent design,

theory that some complex biological structures and other aspects of nature show evidence of having been designed by an intelligence. Such biological structures are said to have intricate components that are so highly interdependent and so essential to a particular function or process that the structures could not have developed through Darwinian evolutionevolution,
concept that embodies the belief that existing animals and plants developed by a process of gradual, continuous change from previously existing forms. This theory, also known as descent with modification, constitutes organic evolution.
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, and therefore must have been created or somehow guided in their development. Although intelligent design is distinguished from creationismcreationism
or creation science,
belief in the biblical account of the creation of the world as described in Genesis, a characteristic especially of fundamentalist Protestantism (see fundamentalism). Advocates of creationism have campaigned to have it taught in U.S.
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 by not relying on the biblical account of creation, it is compatible with a belief in God and is often explicitly linked with such a belief. Also, unlike creationists, its proponents do not challenge the idea that the earth is billions of years old and that life on earth has evolved to some degree. The theory does, however, necessarily reject standard science's reliance on explaining the natural world only through undirected natural causes, believing that any theory that relies on such causes alone is incapable of explaining how all biological structures and processes arose. Thus, despite claims by members of the intelligent-design movement that it is a scientific research program, the work of its adherents has been criticized as unscientific and speculative for inferring a pre-existing intelligence to explain the development of biological structures instead of attempting to develop adequate falsifiable mechanistic explanations. In addition, the theory has been attacked on the grounds that many aspects of nature fail to show any evidence of intelligent design, such as "junk" DNA (see nucleic acidnucleic acid,
any of a group of organic substances found in the chromosomes of living cells and viruses that play a central role in the storage and replication of hereditary information and in the expression of this information through protein synthesis.
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) and the vestigial webbed feet of the frigate bird (which never lands on water).

The idea that nature shows signs of having been designed by an intelligent being dates back at least to ancient Greece. The English theologian William PaleyPaley, William,
1743–1805, English theologian. Ordained in 1767, he lectured on moral philosophy at Christ's College, Cambridge. Made a prebendary of the cathedral church of Carlisle (1780), he became archdeacon of the diocese (1782), and chancellor (1785), the year he
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 gave the theory its classic formulation in his Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802), in which he argued that the eye and other biological features are perfectly suited for their purposes and that in this suitable design the hand of God can be discerned. The modern intelligent-design movement, however, has its origins in the 1980s with such works as The Mystery of Life's Origins (1984) by Charles Thaxton et al. and Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1986) by Michael Denton. Micheal Behe's Darwin's Black Box (1996) is perhaps the best-known statement of the movement's critique of Darwin and its argument for a role for God or some other intelligence in the design of biological entities. Advocates of intelligent design have campaigned to have it taught in U.S. public schools alongside the Darwinian theory of evolution. A requirement by the Dover, Pa., area school board that students be told that intelligent design represents an alternative explanation for the origin of life was challenged in federal court in 2005 and ruled unconstitutional.


See R. T. Pennock, ed., Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics (2002).

References in periodicals archive ?
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8-billion-year-old organism, which challenges the intelligent design theory about Adam and Eve being humanity's predecessors.
Intelligent design theory is based solely upon applying observations about intelligent action and principles of information theory to the construction of biological systems, and nothing more.
Then one of the editors, William Sweet, cleans up with a piece on intelligent design theory, that claim that the only way to understand life's history is by supposing that a god (better known as the Christian God of the Gospels) intervened occasionally to create things.
Forrest is critical of the intelligent design theory, which says certain features of the universe are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than natural selection.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2006: What with the current debate in our culture about teaching evolution or intelligent design theory, returning to the Scopes trial in the summer of 1925 helps us focus on the central arguments in the culture wars.
Hurwicz, 90, of the University of Minnesota, Erick Maskin, 56, of the School of Social Science Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and Roger Myerson, 56, of the University of Chicago, have ''laid the foundations of mechanism design theory,'' the academy said.
A PR Newswire release says that Stein, a lawyer, economist, former presidential speechwriter, author, and social commentator, was "stunned" when he investigated the debate surrounding Intelligent Design Theory and Darwinism.
Additionally, there is a continuum linking court decisions that allow for reasonable conclusions about the fate of Intelligent Design Theory if it is ever heard by the U.
Whatever might be said, good or bad, about the scientific and theological arguments of Intelligent Design theory, we are troubled by the appropriation of the word "design" to exclude evolution.

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