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The Immoral Inanity of Intelligent Design Creationism

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So called "Intelligent" Design, or ID, is a form of creationism that admits that our universe and planet are billions of years old, and that species have descended from one another over the eons. Although it consequently seems more sophisticated than Bible literalism, ID is a form of creationism because it posits that it is impossible for complexity and ability to evolve on its own from the bottom up, as proposed by the theory of evolution via natural selection and other nonsupernatural processes. Because ID theorizes that complexity and sophistication can only come from the top down, it contends that all living things on Earth were designed by a super-intelligence. In principle our creator could be smart aliens, but then one has to explain how the ETs came into being without they going through some form of natural, bottom up evolution. So ID posits that some form of transcendent supernatural being that somehow exists without it self being created by a greater intelligence is the creator of everything else -- just never mind how that awkward part about the failure to explain how the complex creator was created in the first place. Ultimately ID theory rests on miracle and magic -- that's a reason why only a wee little minority of scientists opt for the theory.   

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Not only are IDers in the main supernaturalists, many if not most of them are Abrahamists, with most of them being Christians. A prime example being Catholic microbiologist Michael Behe, the leading proponent of ID. He came up with irreducible complexity, the subtheory that underlies ID. But we are not going to address the standard technical details of why irreducible complexity and other aspects of ID are scientifically defective, that has been done in abundance. We have other, neglected, fish to fry here. We will look at a peculiar moral consequence of ID theory that has slipped by with hardly any notice, even though it directly contradicts the belief that the designer of humanity is either truly intelligent, or anywhere close to being moral.

Christians IDers not only argue that a supernatural creator must exist, they go on to propose that the Christian creator is, for some reason that is never explained, perfect in all respects, including its total power and intelligence, absolutely flawless prolife and profreedom morality, and infinite love for its human creations. You know what they say about stories that are too good to be true.

Before we continue, a question. Do you believe it is never, ever morally unacceptable to allow the agony and death of enormous numbers of children, in the many billions, when it is well within the ability of the individual that set up the situation to greatly reduce or eliminate the suffering and premature death? Agree? Hold that thought. (If you don't agree, well then you already scare me.)

A big ID enthusiast is Ann Coulter. In her Godless: The Church of Liberalism that like all her books blames everything that has ever gone wrong on ungodly liberals, proudly proclaims ID creationism as morally superior to bioevolution. Her primary scientific consultant for design theory? Michael Behe. Ann talks about how the immoral liberal evolutionists banned the use of DDT, leading to the death of 20 million from malaria. Please store these items in your reference banks too.

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According to ChristoID, the ideal supermind created and fine tuned a colossal universe for human life, all of which resides on this lovely blue dot he in his immense generosity and boundless love gave to us to live for a brief period during which we are all given the gifts of life, and very importantly the free will we must have to freely decide whether or not the spend the rest of eternity worshipping our creator in his perfect paradise. Do some bad things happen? Well, yes, but as theologian John Polkinghorne states the "suffering of the world is such that we might be tempted to think that less freedom would be a worthwhile cost to pay for less pain. But do we really wish we had been automata?" (Belief in God in an Age of Science). This is the classic free will theodicy -- the defense of the existence of an ideal good God despite the painfully obvious flaws of the planet he stuck us on -- that Christianity has been relying on for millennia. The designer does not want to force us to love and worship him, he requires that every one of us choose whether or not to do so. That means he cannot control events on Earth even when they are dire lest he hinder human free will, it being imperative that all souls who make it to heaven made a mature decision to be there. The importance of the free will defense cannot be exaggerated, it pervades theodist theology; if free will theory is not true, then there is no sensible explanation for why God allows bad things to happen.

But there is a fatal defect with the free will hypothesis. A colossal problem that has as obvious as it has gone under the radar for millennia. It was not until 2009 that a paper in Philosophy and Theology ( for the first time detailed how terribly and absolutely wrong is the faith-based belief that there can be a loving creator. The core problem is the kids. To understand why let's start with the nature of the cosmos.  

The notion that the universe is fine tuned for humans is patently false because 99.999999" percent of space is entirely hostile to human life. Instead we are stuck on a tiny rock in the immensity of the universe, so the cosmos is fantastically inefficient rather than being anywhere close to truly fine tuned for intelligence. The universe barely tolerates our existence, which could be wiped out by a planetary disaster or regular species extinction at any time. But what is really, really bad is that the planet is not only too small for a large population of people, it is a death trap for immature humans.

About 100 billion Homo sapiens have been born - every demographic calculation comes up with about the same ballpark figure (click here that also observes that 50 billion were born before Christ;; click here; 10 billion were born in the 1900s alone. (ID mathematician William Dembski therefore made a major mathematical faux pas when he guessed that the total number born was 10 billion, click here)

In the P&T paper I did something very basic that for some reason no one had done before, although they should have. Calculate how many immature humans have died. One reason Earth is hostile to young people because at least half, and probably up to three quarters of conceptions over human history, have naturally failed to come to term. So that's 100 to more likely 300 billion failed pregnancies outside the much lower loss rate due to induced abortion. A mother's womb is far from being a safe habitat for its inhabitants.

The other reason our planet has it in for youngsters is because historical juvenile mortality rates are around fifty percent. So that's in the area of 50 billion children who died from natural causes. Most of that is infant mortality, which was around a third prior to the advent of modern agriculture and medicine. Every single day for many millennia tens of thousands of children have died. It is the greatest yet least noticed calamity of humanity.

And the situation could hardly have been worse. If it were -- if human juvenile mortality had been higher -- then the human population would have been in danger of crashing. The suffering and death of the immature has been maximal.

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Assume that, as is almost certainly true, that our universe and its contents are entirely natural in origin and nature. In that case the tragedy of the children is no one's fault. It just happened until humans built up the scientific knowledge to dramatically cut down the death of the kids to a few percent globally, less than a percent in the developed world. There is no crime because no one was in charge.

But once one invokes a creator "intelligence" that is responsible for the existence of Earth, then the planet becomes a crime scene subject to forensic investigation to determine who is guilty for the children's holocaust. A disaster that a supermind could have easily put a stop to. Keeping most kids safe is merely a matter of good nutrition, sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics.

When it comes to ID theory, the entity who killed off tens of billions of children is easy enough to determine. Remember, ChristoID contends that it is a scientific fact that a supermind had to design every single organism to do whatever it does, it being impossible for organisms to happen to evolve any specific ability. And their particular doctrine says that the creator is the One God consisting of the Father, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Ghost.

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Gregory Paul is an independent researcher interested in informing the public about little known yet important aspects of the complex interactions between religion, secularism, culture, economics, politics and societal conditions. His scholarly work (more...)

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