On a Mission for Never: Dr. William Dembski (1960-)


The American Civil Liberties Union describes Intelligent Design as follows, “Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific set of beliefs based on the notion that life on earth is so complex that it cannot be explained by the scientific theory of evolution and therefore must have been designed by a supernatural entity.”

LiveScience describes Intelligent Design as follows, “Creationism’s latest embodiment is intelligent design (ID), a conjecture that certain features of the natural world are so intricate and so perfectly tuned for life that they could only have been designed by a Supreme Being.”

Professor Michael Ruse describes Intelligent Design as follows, “Intelligent Design Theory is the claim that some features of organisms are so complex – ‘irreducibly complex’ – that they could not possibly have come into existence through normal causes, through processes of blind law, and hence demand the supposition of a designer who thought them up and put them into place.”

Wikipedia describes Intelligent Design as follows, “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, and is therefore not science.”

RationalWiki describes Intelligent Design as follows, “Intelligent design creationism (often intelligent designID, or IDC) is a pseudoscience that maintains that certain aspects of the physical world, and more specifically life, show signs of having been designed, and hence were designed, by an intelligent being (usually, but not always, the God of the Christian religion).”

The National Center for Science Education describes Intelligent Design as follows, “‘Intelligent Design’ creationism (IDC) is a successor to the ‘creation science’ movement, which dates back to the 1960s. The IDC movement began in the middle 1980s as an antievolution movement which could include young earth, old earth, and progressive creationists; theistic evolutionists, however, were not welcome. The movement increased in popularity in the 1990s with the publication of books by law professor Phillip Johnson and the founding in 1996 of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now the Center for Science and Culture.) The term ‘intelligent design’ was adopted as a replacement for ‘Creation science,’ which was ruled to represent a particular religious belief in the Supreme Court case Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987.”

Intelligent Design remains an evolution on Creationism with the three main co-founders, most likely, seen in Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, and William Dembski through the Discovery Institute and The International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design.

Phillip E. Johnson (June 18, 1940 – November 2, 2019) died as one of the co-founders, self-described as the father, of Intelligent Design, the Wedge Strategy, and the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Professor Michael Behe is (January 18, 1952 – Present) one of the co-founders of Intelligent Design with the concept of Irreducible Complexity, participant in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005) case, and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Dr. William Dembski (July 18, 1960 – Present) is one of the co-founders of Intelligent Design with the concept of Specified Complexity, and was a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

The main co-founders of the ideas and institutions of Intelligent Design are dead or aging. It’s struggling, greatly. In the history of research into this domain, the idea is examination of the actual patterns of behaviour rather than statements about oneself or by others.

Dr. William Dembski is a smart, educated, affable, and persistent person. However, even in spite of the robust efforts within the domain of Intelligent Design, he resigned every single formal association with the Intelligent Design community, which includes the Discovery Institute fellowship (held for two decades at the time). The resignation occurred on September 23, 2016. This comes with a caveat of a return about one year ago.

He understands – must, in full, the decisions made at each stage of professional development. Individuals and organizations since the 1990s or earlier have been working against the dishonest incursion of religious orthodoxy into public schools and scientific culture, including sincere believers, e.g., Ken Miller and others.

Thus, the opposition to Intelligent Design is not religious or non-religious; similarly, with David Berlinski’s agnosticism leaning towards theism, Intelligent Design isn’t always Protestant Christian.[1]

Dembski, amongst other founders, has been clear about the intent and ultimate conclusion of Intelligent Design, in spite of presentation in modernistic information- and design-theoretic terminology as, fundamentally, about the “Christian God.”

One clear example is in the creation of an organization by Dembski, The International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design[2] (ISCID), and its flagship publication, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (PCID).

It was a 501(c)3 non-profit devoted to design-and information-theoretic research through the journal, PCID. It folded and ceased operations as recent as 2011. Obscure and prominent members of the Intelligent Design community contributed to it. This is common, failures.

This reflects the persistent and personal history of Dembski. After graduate school, Dembski failed to acquire a university position, so was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow only at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. That was a loss.

He founded the Michael Polanyi Center and then only had Bruce L. Gordon to start without selection via the regular consultation channels in a university. Dembski after some controversy with the President of the university at the time, Robert B. Sloan, was removed as director of the center. That was a loss.

There was a lost legal case – famous – in 2005 entitled the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District or Dover trial. The verdict was Intelligent Design was not tested in the proper process of peer-review in a scientific journal. That was a loss.

With The Inner Life of the Cell, a graduate student, S.A. Smith, brought forward the issue of use of unlicensed content, so misuse of content. Dembski was warned about it. He went ahead and used it, anyway. That was a loss.

Dembski helped form the Evolutionary Informatics Lab in the Summer of 2007. Baylor administration deleted the website. The reason: It violated university policy. A policy against personal views presented as if representative of Baylor University’s views. The website was reposted with a 108-word disclaimer. Dembski doesn’t run it. The disclaimer states the university’s views aren’t there, in short. That was a loss.

Dembski, rather sadly, in fact, took a son to Todd Bentley for faith healing hoping for a miraculous cure for the autism of his son. Faith healing does not work, though one can understand the sense of desperation or hope for a miracle at the hands of a charlatan (Todd Bentley). That was, unfortunately, a loss.

With the resignation from all associations in 2016, and the earlier collapse of ISCID and failure of PCID, those amount to a retreat and a double loss, respectively. In short, the resignation from Intelligent Design was preceded by years and years of professional failures. Although, onwards as ever (as predictable as ever), Dembski returned in February, 2021.

This is the pattern within the Intelligent Design movement as a whole. Fundamentally, it is about the presentation of an information- and design-theoretic linguistic frame within a secular – as in divorced from religious convictions – orientation for social and political influence of religion on the general public.

In the words of Dembski, it is about religion, theology, God, and, in particular, the Protestant Christian interpretation of the Theity (intervening god), “Intelligent design opens the whole possibility of us being created in the image of a benevolent God. The job of apologetics is to clear the ground — to clear obstacles that prevent people from coming to the knowledge of Christ. And if there’s anything that I think has blocked the growth of Christ as the free reign of the spirit and people accepting the scripture and Jesus Christ, it is the Darwinian naturalistic view.”

Also, Dembski stated, “I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.” In short, and to quote him again, “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

Dr. William A. Dembski, in this sense, is the incarnation of the proverbial canary in the coal mine for Intelligent Design and Creationism. As with Johnson, they either pretend to retreat/never give up, or simply die. With an aging leadership and movement, this will possibly be the trajectory for them – an unto death path of failures.

Therefore, science-minded individuals, whether religious or not, must remain vigilant, even hypervigilant of pseudoscience, whether Intelligent Design, Creationism, or otherwise.


[1] As an aside, if wanting to give resources or congratulations/gratitude to individuals doing great work in advancement of scientific education on behalf of the public, the National Center for Science Education is incredible.

Its Board is comprised of Kenneth R. Miller (President), Michael Haas (Treasurer), Benjamin D. Santer (Secretary), Vicki Chandler, Sarah B. George, Joseph L. Graves Jr., Michael B. Lubic, Michael E. Mann, Naomi Oreskes, and Barry Polisky.

Its staff includes Ann Reid (Executive Director), Lin Andrews (Director of Teacher Support), Glenn Branch (Deputy Director), Stuart Fogg (IT Specialist), Heather Grimes (Program Coordinator), Cari Herndon (Curriculum Specialist), Nina Hollenberg (Member Relations Manager), Rae Holzman (Director of Operations), Deb Janes (Director of Development), Paul Oh (Director of Communications), DeeDee Wright (Assistant Director of Teacher Support and Science Education Research Specialist), and Buster Yamamoto Reid (Director of Fun).

Barbara Forrest, Nick Matzke, Kevin Padian, Robert T. Pennock, Neil Shubin, Eugenie Scott/Genie Scott, and a host of others, have been incredibly important, too, and so deserve tremendous accolades for their life of efforts.

[2] The Executive Board or Board of ISCID was the Executive Director as William A. Dembski. Its Managing Director was Micah Sporacio. Its Chief Research Coordinator was Jed Macosko. Its Program Coordinator was Forrest M. Mims III. Its Development Officer was Terry Rickard. Its Office Manager was Stephanie Hoylman.

They had a Society of Fellows. Those fellows had listed specializations and institutional affiliation. Michael Behe (Biochemistry) from Lehigh University. John Bloom (Physics and Philosophy of Science) from Biola University. Walter Bradley (Mechanical Engineering) from Texas A&M University. Neil Broom (Biophysics) from the University of Auckland.

J. Budziszewski (Philosophy and Political Theory) from the University of Texas, Austin. John Angus Campbell (Communications) from the University of Memphis. Russell W. Carlson (Molecular Biology) from the University of Georgia, Athens. David K.Y. Chiu (Biocomputing) from the University of Guelph. Robin Collins (Cosmology and Philosophy of Physics) from Mesiah College.

William Lane Craig (Philosophy) from the Talbot School of Theology, Biola. Bernard d’Abrera (Lepidoptera) from the British Museum, Natural History. Kenneth de Jong (Linguistics) from Indiana University, Bloomington. Of course, William Dembski in Mathematics. Mark R. Discher (Ethics) from the University of St. Thomas.

Daniel Dix (Mathematics) from the University of Southern Carolina. Fred Field (Linguistics) from California State University. Guillermo Gonzalez (Astronomy) from Iowa State University. Bruce L. Gordon (Philosophy of Physics) from Baylor University.

David Humphreys (Chemistry) from McMaster University. Cornelius Hunter (Biophysics) from Seagull Technology. Muzaffar Iqbal (Science and Religion from) from Center for Islam and Science. Quinn Tyler Jackson for “Language & Software Systems.”

Conrad Johnson (Clinical Neurosciences & Physiology) from Brown Medical School. Robert Kaita (Plasma Physics) from Princeton University. James Keener (Mathematics and Bioengineering) from the University of Utah. Robert C. Koons (Philosophy) from the University of Texas, Austin.

Younghun Kwon (Physics) from Hanyang University. Christopher Michael Langan/Chris Langan/Christopher Langan (Logic, Cosmology, and Reality Theory) from the Mega Foundation and Research Group. Robert Larmer (Philosophy) from the University of New Brunswick.

Martti Leisola (Bioprocess Engineering) from Helsinki University of Technology. Stan Lennard (Medicine) from the University of Washington. John Lennox (Mathematics) from the University of Oxford. Gina Lynne LoSasso (Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology) from the Mega Foundation and Research Group.

Jed Macosko (Chemistry) from La Sierra University. Bonnie Mallard (Immunology) from the University of Guelph. Forrest M. Mims III for “Atmospheric Science.” Scott Minnich (Microbiology) from the University of Idaho. Paul Nelson (Philosophy of Biology) from the Discovery Institute.

Filip Palda (Economics) from the l’École Nationale d’Administration Publique, Montreal. Edward T.Peltzer for “Ocean Chemistry.” Alvina Plantinga (Philosophy) from the University of Notre Dame. Martin Poenie (Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology) from the University of Texas, Austin.

Carlos E. Puente (Hydrology and Theoretical Dynamics) from the University of California, Davis. Del Ratzsch (Philosophy of Science) from Calvin College. Jay Wesley Richard (Philosophical Theology) from the Discovery Institute. Terry Rickard (Electrical Engineering) from the Orincon Corporation.

John Roche (History of Science) from the University of Oxford. Andrew Ruys (Bioceramic Engineering) from the University of Sydney. Henry F. Schaefer (Quantum Chemistry) from the University of Georgia, Athens.

Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. (Psychiatry/Neuroscience) from the UCLA Department of Psychiatry. Philip Skell (Chemistry) from Penn State University. Frederick Skiff (Physics) from the University of Iowa. Karl D. Stephan (Electrical Engineering) from Southwest Texas State University.

Richard Sternberg (Systematics) from NCBI-GenBank (NIH). Frank Tipler (Mathematical Physics) from Tulane University. Jonathan Wells (Developmental Biology) from the Discovery Institute. Finally, Peter Zoeller-Greer (Mathematics, Physics and Information Science) from the State University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt on the Main.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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