That Intelligent Design Creationism rejects the methodological naturalism of modern science in favor of a premodern supernaturalist worldview is well documented and by now well known. An irony that has not been sufficiently appreciated, however, is the way that ID Creationists try to advance their premodern view by adopting (if only tactically) a radical postmodern perspective. This paper will reveal the deep threads of postmodernism that run through the ID Creationist movement’s arguments, as evidenced in the writings and interviews of its key leaders. Seeing their arguments and activities from this perspective highlights the danger to science posed by both ID Creationism and radical postmodernism.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
While the evidence of the substantive religious nature of Intelligent Design that was presented in the Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005) trial is especially well known, there were many early and also more detailed accounts, including (Pennock 1996, 1999 Chaps. 1 & 5, 2004; Forrest 2001; Forrest and Gross 2003 Chap. 9).
There may be a more cynical sense in which Johnson’s training as a lawyer reinforced his skepticism about science and his thoughts about conflicting stories. “In the legal culture,” he explained “there's an inclination to believe there are two sides of every story, and that the experts are bluffing as much as not.” (Quinn 2000).
This whole issue of IDC and sex deserves separate treatment, but that will have to wait for another opportunity.
I have previously discussed the premodern sins of IDC (Pennock 2006) and won’t review that here.
Barbara Forrest unearthed this now-classic transitional form between creationists and design proponents in an early 1987 manuscript draft of the IDC textbook of Pandas and People that was subpoenaed as part of the Kitzmiller trial, showing clearly how Intelligent Design was literally a relabeling of Creation-Science. http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/cdesign-proponentsists.
Barnes, B., Bloor, D., & Henry, J. (1996). Scientific knowledge: A sociological analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bloor, D. (1991 ). Knowledge and social imagery (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Busey, J. S. (1992). Interview with Phillip Johnson. Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, 18.
Cohen, H. F. (1995). The scientific revolution: A historiographic analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dawkins, R. (1986). The blind watchmaker. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company.
Dembski, W. A. (1999). Intelligent design: The bridge between science & theology. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Dembski, W. A. (2004). Dealing with the backlash against intelligent design. Version 1.1, from http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.04.Backlash.htm.
Dembski, W. A. (2010). Reply to Johnny T. Helms. Our sovereign joy: A book review: The theistic evolution of William A. Dembski of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, “The end of Christianity”. http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com/2009/12/book-review-william-dembskis-end-of.html. Accessed 8 January 2010.
Discovery_Institute (1999) The wedge strategy. Retrieved May, 1999, from http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/archive/thomas_wedge.html.
Forrest, B. (2001). The wedge at work: How intelligent design creationism is wedging its way into the cultural and academic mainstream. In R. T. Pennock (Ed.), Intelligent design creationism and its critics: Philosophical, theological and scientific perspectives (pp. 5–53). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Forrest, B., & Gross, P. R. (2003). Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The wedge of intelligent design. New York: Oxford University Press.
Glassman, J. (1997). Program no. 739. Techno Politics.
Goode, S. (1999). Johnson challenges advocates of evolution. Insight. On the News. October 25.
Johnson, P. E. (1984). Do you sincerely want to be a radical? Stanford Law Review, 36(1/2), 247–291.
Johnson, P. E. (1991). Darwin on trial. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway.
Johnson, P. E. (1992a). Darwinists squirm under spotlight. Citizen Magazine. January.
Johnson, P. E. (1992b, July). The creationist and the sociobiologist: Two stories about illiberal education. California Law Review, 80.
Johnson, P. E. (1993). Nihilism and the end of law. First Things, 31(March), 19–25.
Johnson, P. E. (1995a). Open letter to John W. Burgeson (published on the Internet).
Johnson, P. E. (1995b, October). Daniel Dennett’s dangerous idea. The New Criterion, 14, 9.
Johnson, P. E. (1996). Paul Feyerabend’s choice for freedom. A review of killing time, the autobiography of Paul Feyerabend. Books and Culture.
Johnson, P. E. (1997a). Defeating Darwinism. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Johnson, P. E. (1997b) The law written on the heart: A review of written on the heart: the case for natural law by J. Budziszewski. Kitzmiller, Tammy, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. (400 F. Supp. 2d 707, Docket no. 4cv2688).
Johnson, P., & Easterbrook, G. (1999). Evolution and the curriculum. Center Conversations: Ethics and Public Policy Center Online, 4.
Kushiner, J. M. (2002). Berkeley’s radical: An interview with Phillip E. Johnson. Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, 15(5).
Lawrence, J. (1999). Communiqué interview: Phillip E. Johnson. Communiqué: A Quarterly Journal (Spring).
Levitt, N. (2006). Steve Fuller and the hidden agenda of social constructivism. Talk Reason, from http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Fuller.cfm.
Meyer, S. C. (2001). Darwin in the dock. Touchstone Magazine. April 1.
Pearcey, N. (1990). Anti-Darwinism comes to the university: An interview with Phillip Johnson. Bible-Science Newsletter, 28(6), 6–11.
Pennock, R. T. (1996). Naturalism, evidence and creationism: The case of Phillip Johnson. Biology and Philosophy, 11(4), 543–559.
Pennock, R. T. (1999). Tower of babel: The evidence against the new creationism. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Pennock, R. T. (2004). DNA by design?: Stephen Meyer and the return of the God hypothesis. In M. Ruse & W. Dembski (Eds.), Debating design (pp. 130–148). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pennock, R. T. (2006). The pre-modern sins of intelligent design. In P. Clayton (Ed.), Oxford handbook of science and religion (pp. 732–748). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pennock, R. T. (2007). Biology and religion. In M. Ruse & D. Hull (Eds.), Cambridge companion to philosophy of biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Perry, J. (2003). Courtly combatant. World Magazine, 18(48).
Quinn, M. (2000). The search for intelligent design in the universe. SVMagazine. January 9.
Ruby, J. E. (1986). The origins of scientific ‘law’. Journal of the History of Ideas, 47, 341–359.
Silberman, G. (1993). Phil Johnson’s little hobby. The Boalt Hall Cross-Examiner, 6(2), 1, 4, 9–10.
Slack, G. (2005). Intelligent designer. Salon.com. Oct. 20. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/10/20/dover_trial.
Stafford, T. (1997). The making of a revolution. Christianity Today, 41(14).
Yerxa, D. (2002). Phillip Johnson and the origins of the intelligent design movement, 1977–1991. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 55(1), 47–52.
About this article
Cite this article
Pennock, R.T. The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism. Sci & Educ 19, 757–778 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-010-9232-4
- Intelligent Design
- Critical Legal Study
- Creation Story
- Discovery Institute
- Intelligent Design Creationism