Intelligent Design differs from other creationist ideas on three closely related points.
- First, Intelligent Design accepts geologists' estimates for the age of the Earth (billions of years), while Sudden Creationism says the earth was created only 6,000 years ago.
- Second, Intelligent Design accepts biologists' estimates of when the various species of life appeared and disappeared, according to the fossil record.
- Third, Intelligent Design accepts that aspect of Natural Selection commonly known as survival of the fittest.
Intelligent Design and the Theory of Evolution =
Where Intelligent Design parts company from Sudden Creationism is where it begins to agree with Darwinian evolution. These agreements end rather quickly, though, and the remainder of this article attempts to clarify Intelligent Design's character by elaborating its distinctive features.
The Darwinian view of evolution is based on two premises. Variations occur in the genetic makeup of organisms, and through the process of Natural selection, the most fit of those variations survive while the others die out.
Intelligent Design accepts much of the Darwinian theory, but differs in one crucial aspect -- the role of God in causing the variations.
It accepts that fact that there has been evolution, i.e., species have changed and diverged over time from earlier forms of life to the forms which exist today. It accepts that there is speciation, the creation of more than one species out of a single species. It accepts the fossil record as an accurate representation of the history of the evolution of species, and accepts that analysis of the fossil record gives accurate and useful results. It accepts that there is a process of natural selection, and it accepts the scientific view of how it works. Once the variation has been caused due to deliberate acts of God, the survival or extinction of a newly arisen species is believed to then be subject to natural selection.
In the scientific view, these variations are random and usually small. In the Intelligent Design viewpoint, these small, random variations exist but are not the explanation for speciation. Instead, speciation occurs when God steps in and causes the variation to occur.
Unlike Darwinian evolution, which says new species arise due to various random forces which Darwin did not attempt to explain but which modern science attributes to DNA transcription errors, chemicals, or radiation, Intelligent Design proponents argue that new species arise only (or chiefly) by an intelligent force, often assumed to be God.
Adherents of Intelligent Design consider their idea that God causes speciation as a viable scientific hypothesis. Most scientists consider it unscientific, because it is not falsifiable and so merely a philosophical or religious idea outside the realm of science. Scientists, in general, use a significantly different definition of speciation than the Intelligent Design adherents, causing further conflict.
- Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press 1996. Argues that several exquisite biochemical mechanisms could not have arisen by a sequence of random mutations and selection.
- Ernst Mayr: One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought, Harvard University Press 1993. Explanation of the evidence behind the mainstream evolutionary theory.