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The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism

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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.

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  1. 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).

  2. 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).

  3. This whole issue of IDC and sex deserves separate treatment, but that will have to wait for another opportunity.

  4. I have previously discussed the premodern sins of IDC (Pennock 2006) and won’t review that here.

  5. 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.


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Correspondence to Robert T. Pennock.

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Pennock, R.T. The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism. Sci & Educ 19, 757–778 (2010).

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