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Persuasive Essay Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design: A scientific theory that holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than undirected process such as natural selection.

Intelligent design (ID) is a scientific theory that employs the methods commonly used by other historical sciences to conclude 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 theorists argue that design can be inferred by studying the informational properties of natural objects to determine if they bear the type of information that in our experience arise from an intelligent cause. The form of information which we observe is produced by intelligent action, and thus reliably indicates design, is generally called “specified complexity” or “complex and specified information” (CSI).

On this page you can download an annotated bibliography of peer-reviewed and peer-edited scientific articles supporting, applying, or arising from the theory of intelligent design. You also can read a description of the intelligent design research community and its aims.

Bibliography of Peer-Reviewed and Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design.

Download the full bibliography in Adobe pdf format.

Intelligent Design Research Community

There are multiple hubs of ID-related research. Biologic Institute, led by molecular biologist Doug Axe, is “developing and testing the scientific case for intelligent design in biology.” Biologic conducts laboratory and theoretical research on the origin and role of information in biology, the fine-tuning of the universe for life, and methods of detecting design in nature.

Another ID research group is the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, founded by senior Discovery Institute fellow William Dembski along with Robert Marks, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. Their lab has attracted graduate-student researchers and published multiple peer-reviewed articles in technical science and engineering journals showing that computer programming “points to the need for an ultimate information source qua intelligent designer.”

Other scientists around the world are also publishing peer-reviewed  scientific papers supportive of intelligent design. These include biologist Ralph Seelke at the University of Wisconsin Superior, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig who recently retired from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany, and Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe.

These and other labs and researchers have published their work in a variety of appropriate technical venues, including peer-reviewed scientific journals, peer-reviewed scientific books (some published by mainstream university presses), trade-press books, peer-edited scientific anthologies, peer-edited scientific conference proceedings and peer-reviewed philosophy of science journals and books. These papers have appeared in scientific journals such as Protein Science, Journal of Molecular Biology, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Quarterly Review of Biology, Cell Biology International, Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum, Physics of Life Reviews, Quarterly Review of Biology, Annual Review of Genetics, and many others. At the same time, pro-ID scientists have presented their research at conferences worldwide in fields such as genetics, biochemistry, engineering, and computer science.

Collectively, this body of research is converging on a consensus: complex biological features cannot arise by unguided Darwinian mechanisms, but require an intelligent cause.

Despite ID’s publication record, we note parenthetically that recognition in peer-reviewed literature is not an absolute requirement to demonstrate an idea’s scientific merit. Darwin’s own theory of evolution was first published in a book for a general and scientific audience—his Origin of Species—not in a peer-reviewed paper. Nonetheless, ID’s peer-reviewed publication record shows that it deserves— and is receiving—serious consideration by the scientific community.

The purpose of ID’s budding research program is thus to engage open-minded scientists and thoughtful laypersons with credible, persuasive, peer-reviewed, empirical data supporting intelligent design. And this is happening. ID has already gained the kind of scientific recognition you would expect from a young (and vastly underfunded) but promising scientific field. The scientific progress of ID has won the serious attention of skeptics in the scientific community, who engage in scientific debate with ID and attend private scientific conferences allowing off-the-record discussion with ID proponents.

Selected List of Peer-Reviewed Scientific Publications Supportive of Intelligent Design

The list below provides bibliographic information for a selection of the peer-reviewed scientific publications supportive of intelligent design published in scientific journals, conference proceedings, or academic anthologies:

  • Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,”Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004) (HTML).
  • Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’”The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4):1-27 (December 2010).
  • Douglas D. Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,”Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 341:1295–1315 (2004).
  • Michael Behe and David W. Snoke, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues,”Protein Science, Vol. 13 (2004).
  • William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,”Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol. 14 (5):475-486 (2010).
  • Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe, “The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway,”BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(1) (2011).
  • Ann K. Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F. Fahey, and Ralph Seelke, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,”BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010 (2) (2010).
  • Vladimir I. shCherbak and Maxim A. Makukov, “The ‘Wow! Signal’ of the terrestrial genetic code,”Icarus, Vol. 224 (1): 228-242 (May, 2013).
  • Joseph A. Kuhn, “Dissecting Darwinism,”Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).
  • Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, and Robert J. Marks II, “Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism,”Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, pp. 3047-3053 (October, 2009).
  • Douglas D. Axe, Brendan W. Dixon, Philip Lu, “Stylus: A System for Evolutionary Experimentation Based on a Protein/Proteome Model with Non-Arbitrary Functional Constraints,”PLoS One, Vol. 3(6):e2246 (June 2008).
  • Kirk K. Durston, David K. Y. Chiu, David L. Abel, Jack T. Trevors, “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins,”Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 4:47 (2007).
  • David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors, “Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models,”Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 3:211–228 (2006).
  • Frank J. Tipler, “Intelligent Life in Cosmology,”International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 2(2): 141-148 (2003).
  • Michael J. Denton, Craig J. Marshall, and Michael Legge, “The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,”Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 219: 325-342 (2002).
  • Stanley L. Jaki, “Teaching of Transcendence in Physics,”American Journal of Physics, Vol. 55(10):884-888 (October 1987).
  • Granville Sewell, “Postscript,” in Analysis of a Finite Element Method: PDE/PROTRAN (New York: Springer Verlag, 1985).
  • A.C. McIntosh, “Evidence of design in bird feathers and avian respiration,”International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(2):154–169 (2009).
  • Richard v. Sternberg, “DNA Codes and Information: Formal Structures and Relational Causes,”Acta Biotheoretica, Vol. 56(3):205-232 (September, 2008).
  • Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig and Heinz Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangement and Transposable Elements,”Annual Review of Genetics, Vol. 36:389–410 (2002).
  • Douglas D. Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,”Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 301:585-595 (2000).
  • William A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Again, for a more complete list of peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific publications, please download the full bibliography.

Facts are Stubborn Thing
by Douglas O. Linder

It is hardly surprising that Darwin’s theory of evolution should meet with so much resistance. We encounter an idea that comforts us, an account like Genesis 1 that establishes our specialness, and ask: “Can I believe it?” We consider a thing that troubles us, a process like evolution that seems chance-driven and dethrones us from our special place in the universe, and ask instead: “Must I believe it?”

Evolution suggests that our species, if not quite an accident, is an extreme improbability — and, most likely, one whose time is limited — on life’s continuing and circuitous journey to an undetermined destination. Must we believe it? Darwin knew that many people, raised to believe in miracles or magic, would find his theory hard to swallow. In his autobiography, he noted that, as a young man on the H.M.S. Beagle, he had written in his journal of “the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion” that would “fill and elevate” his mind. He lamented that now, older and wiser, believing in evolution and disbelieving in God, even “the grandest scenes” evoked no powerful feelings: “I am like a man that has become color-blind.” Publishing his theory, he said, felt “like confessing a murder.”

When William Jennings Bryan took on evolution in a courtroom in Tennessee in 1925, in the famous Scopes “Monkey” trial, he acknowledged that he did not fully understand the theory of evolution, but said that he fully understood the theory’s dangers and misuse: how it threatened to leave students feeling lost in an uncaring universe, how it could lead to sterilization of the abnormal and diminished concern for the survival of the “unfit.” Bryan cheerfully ignored the evidence for evolution, explaining, “I would rather begin with God and reason down than begin with a piece of dirt and reason up.”

I believe in the theory evolution not because I want to, but because I feel I must, and because, unlike Bryan, I find it hard to reason in one direction or another. Creationists have offered one objection after another — “The immune system is too complex to have evolved,” “Evolution could never produce an eye, because what use is half an eye?” — and each has been answered. As the confirming fossil and DNA evidence piles up, as the theory of evolution reveals itself to be a powerful tool for both explaining the imperfections of species and accounting for transitional species, it becomes ever more difficult to believe in the pleasing creation stories told in Genesis and elsewhere. Facts, as John Adams reminded us, are stubborn things. Whether 20 years or 200 years from now, the accumulating evidence will become so overwhelming that evolution will be as accepted as the Sun-centered solar system is today. (No gloating allowed, scientists.)

Our challenge is to accept evolution while maintaining a sense of wonder, concern for those whose survival is beyond their own means, and a vision of a colorful and surprise-filled world.

(This essay appeared in the New York Times, 8/15/2013)