Thursday, August 25, 2005


Those who are promoting “Intelligent Design” insist over and over that it has nothing to do with religion. “Intelligent Design isn’t just code for God,” they say. “Swear to God, it’s totally different.”
This seems rather unconvincing on the face of it. For one thing, the notion of some infinitely advanced entity that created the universe and everything in it certainly sounds, if not like God, at least Godlike.
But if you take into consideration what we know about “God” on the one hand and what we know about “intelligence” and “designers” on the other, you can soon discern a number of fairly clear distinctions between God and our alleged Intelligent Designer.
Indeed, these differences suggest that those who would campaign against Darwinian evolutionary theory might be better off sticking with a nice, friendly diety. For example

1) The basic conceptual identity of the creator.

God: The ultimate spiritual and theological entity.
I.D.: The ultimate science project geek.

2) Names by which the creator is known.

God: Yahweh, Allah, the Universal Spirit, I AM.
I.D.: Probably some variation of Qligskak994 or Zfornilx-urg or something that human beings can’t even pronounce, but which we would hope translates, in the language of the Intelligent Designer’s race, as “Genius” or “Doc,” and not, say, “Nutso” or “Jarhead” or “Volmar the Sadist.”

3) Expressed in one phrase, the starting point for the creation of the physical universe.

God: “Let there be light.”
I.D.: “Okay, for openers let’s have, like, E equal MC squared.”

4) Probable reason the universe was created.

God: As a living and tangible manifestation of the Everlasting and the Almighty.
I.D.: Hard to say, but best bets are (a) working to qualify for advanced degree in Universe Structuring 100A; (b) showing off to impress members of the Intelligent Designer’s peer group or opposite sex; (c) boredom.

5) How best to envision or describe the creator.

God: The all-powerful, incomprehensible, supernatural master of all there is.
I.D.: Your classic, totally obsessive Sim City freak , but operating on an infinite scale.

6) Death, pain, cancer, earthquakes, mosquitos, termites, impotence, and so forth.

God: In ways that our puny human intellects cannot begin to grasp, these are
vital and integral elements in His/Her great, unfathomable, celestial master plan.
I.D.: Unfortunate design flaws, glitches, oversights, miscalculations, and in the case of pre-menstrual syndrome, the result of Intelligently Designing while hung over.

7) How the creator views the human race.

God: As beloved and cherished children, formed in His/Her own image.
I.D.: Like an ant farm, but occasionally more amusing and with generally less organization.

8) Rules laid down by the creator.

God: Thou shalt not kill, nor steal, nor covet, nor bear false witness, nor blow off the Sabbath, nor dishonor your parents.
I.D.: You only live once; whatever goes up must come down; nothing is forever;
fire burns; it’s always the last place you look.

9) The creator’s long-term plans for humanity.

God: Either eternal bliss in heaven or endless torment in hell, depending on where you wind up on the curve.
I.D.: To observe them until they grow repetitious, tedious, or annoyingly stupid, then hand the universe over to a younger sibling to fool around with and go on to the next hobby.

10) The actual physical appearance of the creator.

God: According to the Bible, pretty much like us, since we were formed in His/Her image, but in a sort of grandfatherly way, like a cross between Father Time and Santa Claus.
I.D.: Could be anything, from a highly developed lizard or squid or praying mantis to a whirling ball of fire and lightning. Depending on how the Independent Design movement progresses, we could soon be seeing “My I.D. Is E.T.” bumperstickers.

11) A few of the creator’s more impressive miracles.

God: Stopping the sun in the sky, parting the Red Sea, turning Lot’s wife into salt.
I.D.: Doesn’t actually perform miracles as such, unless you count children and compound interest.

12) Current status of the creator.

God: Immortal, omnipotent, and eternal.
I.D.: Incredibly medically advanced but, given that s/he began this project some 13 billion years ago, quite possibly dead.

There are probably numerous other conspicuous differences, but this short list is enough to leave me with one definite conclusion. Speaking as a nominal if dormant Lutheran, I’m much more comfortable with a God whose actual existence is widely debated than I am with an Intelligent Designer whose actual existence would, quite frankly, depress the hell out of me.


Blogger ....J.Michael Robertson said...

I want me one of them bumper stickers. That E.T. thing won't quit. How about a Jesus fish with E.T. in the middle? I can handle your marketing.

August 25, 2005 at 3:48 PM  

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