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Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God, presented by its proponents as “an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins”. Proponents claim that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” ID is a form of creationism that lacks empirical support and offers no testable or tenable hypotheses, so it is not science. The leading proponents of ID are associated with the Discovery Institute, a fundamentalist Christian and politically conservative think tank based in the United States.[n 1]
Though the phrase “intelligent design” had featured previously in theological discussions of the argument from design,the first publication of the term intelligent design in its present use as an alternative term for creationism was in Of Pandas and People, a 1989 creationist textbook intended for high school biology classes. The term was substituted into drafts of the book, directly replacing references to creation science and creationism, after the 1987 United States Supreme Court‘s Edwards v. Aguillard decision, which barred the teaching of creation science in public schools on constitutional grounds. From the mid-1990s, the intelligent design movement (IDM), supported by the Discovery Institute, advocated inclusion of intelligent design in public school biology curricula. This led to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial in which U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III found that intelligent design was not science, that it “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents,” and that the school district’s promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
ID presents two main arguments against evolutionary explanations: irreducible complexity and specified complexity. These arguments assert that certain features (biological and informational, respectively) are too complex to be the result of natural processes. As a positive argument against evolution, ID proposes an analogy between natural systems and human artifacts, a version of the theological argument from design for the existence of God.[n 2] ID proponents then conclude by analogy that the complex features, as defined by ID, are evidence of design.[n 3]
Detailed scientific examination has rebutted the claims that evolutionary explanations are inadequate, and this premise of intelligent design—that evidence against evolution constitutes evidence for design—is a false dichotomy. It is asserted that ID challenges the methodological naturalism inherent in modern science though proponents concede that they have yet to produce a scientific theory.