Intelligent design in biology has been supported by several peer-reviewed
journals and books. As of December 2005, intelligent design supporters
offer, in support of this claim, the following articles:
- Axe, D. D., 2000. Extreme functional sensitivity to conservative amino
acid changes on enzyme exteriors. Journal of Molecular Biology 301:
- Behe, M. J. and D. W. Snoke. 2004. Simulating evolution by gene
duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid
residues. Protein Science 13: 2651-2664.
- Chiu, D. K. Y. and T. H. Lui. 2002. Integrated use of multiple
interdependent patterns for biomolecular sequence analysis.
International Journal of Fuzzy Systems 4(3): 766-775.
- Denton, M. J. and J. C. Marshall. 2001. The laws of form revisited.
Nature 410: 417.
- Denton, M. J., J. C. Marshall and M. Legge. 2002. The protein folds as
Platonic forms: New support for the pre-Darwinian conception of
evolution by natural law. Journal of Theoretical Biology 219:
- Lönnig, W.-E. 2004. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and
the origin of irreducible complexity. In: V. Parisi, V. de Fonzo and
F. Aluffi-Pentini, eds. Dynamical Genetics, 101-119. Research
- Lönnig, W.-E. and H. Saedler. 2002. Chromosome rearrangements and
transposable elements. Annual Review of Genetics 36: 389-410.
- Meyer, Stephen. 2004. The origin of biological information and the
higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of
Washington 117: 213-239.
- Wells, Jonathan. 2005. Do centrioles generate a polar ejection force?
Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98: 37-62.
and books (Discovery Institute 2005):
- Behe, Michael. 1996. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to
Evolution. New York: The Free Press.
- Campbell, John Angus and Stephen C. Meyer. 2003. Darwinism, Design,
and Public Education. Michigan State University Press.
- Denton, Michael. 1985. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Adler and
- Dembski, W. A. 1998. The Design Inference: Eliminating chance
through small probabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Dembski, William. 2002. No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity
Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence. Rowman and Littlefield
- Gonzalez, Guillermo and Jay W. Richards. 2004. The Privileged Planet:
How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery. Regnery
- Minnich, Scott and Stephen C. Meyer. 2004. Genetic analysis of
coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits. Proceedings of
the Second International Conference on Design and Nature, Rhodes,
Greece, ed. M. W. Collins and C. A. Brebbia, WIT Press.
- Thaxton, Charles B., Walter L. Bradley and Roger L. Olsen. 1984. The
Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories. Philosophical
Library. (4th ed., Lewis and Stanley, 1992).
The journal Progress in Information, Complexity and Design (PCID) is
- Even by the most generous criteria, the peer-reviewed scientific output
from the intelligent design (ID) movement is very low, especially
considering the long history and generous funding of the movement. The
list of papers and books above is not exhaustive, but there is not a
lot else. One week's worth of peer-reviewed papers on evolutionary
biology exceeds the entire history of ID peer-review.
Virtually none of the papers show any original research. The only
paper for which original data was gathered is Axe (2000), and see below
The point which discredits ID is not that it has few peer-reviewed
papers, but why there are so few. ID proponents appear to
interest in conducting original research that would be appropriate for
peer-reviewed journals, and other researchers see nothing in ID worth
paying attention to. Despite empty claims that ID is a serious
challenge to evolution, nobody takes ID seriously as a science, so
nobody writes about it in the professional literature.
- The papers and books cited by the Discovery Institute do not make a
good case for peer-reviewed intelligent design for one or more reasons.
- Many of the papers do not talk about design. Some do not even
attempt to. For example:
- Axe (2000) finds that changing 20 percent of the external amino
acids in a couple proteins causes them to lose their original
function, even though individual amino acid changes did not.
There was no investigation of change of function. Axe's paper is
not even a challenge to Darwinian evolution, much less support
for intelligent design. Axe himself has said that he has not
attempted to make an argument for design in any of his
publications (Forrest and Gross 2004, 42).
- Behe and Snoke (2004) argues against one common genetic mechanism
of evolution. It says nothing at all in support of design. Its
assumptions and conclusion have been rebutted (M. Lynch 2005).
- Lönnig and Saedler (2002) cite Behe and Dembski only in a couple
long lists of references indicating a variety of different
options. Neither author is singled out; nor is the word "design"
- Denton and Marshall (2001) and Denton et al. (2002) deal with
non-Darwinian evolutionary processes, but they do not support
intelligent design. In fact, Denton et al. (2002) explicitly
refers to natural law.
- Chiu and Lui (2002) mention complex specified information in
passing, but go on to develop another method of pattern
- The peer-review that the works were subject to was often weak or
absent. The sort of review which books receive is quite different
from the stringent peer review of journal articles. There are no
formal review standards for trade and university presses, and often
no standards at all for popular presses. Dembski has commented that
he prefers writing books in part because he gets faster turnaround
than by submitting to journals (McMurtrie 2001). Anthologies and
conference proceedings do not have well-defined peer review
standards, either. Here are some other examples of weak peer
- Dembski (1998) was reviewed by philosophers, not biologists.
- Meyer (2004) apparently subverted the peer-review process for the
sole purpose of getting an "intelligent design" article in a
respectable journal that would never have accepted it otherwise.
Even notwithstanding its poor quality (Gishlick et al. 2004,
Elsberry 2004a), the article is clearly not appropriate for the
almost purely taxonomic content of the Proceedings of the
Biological Society of Washington, and the Biological Society of
Washington repudiated it (BSW n.d., NCSE 2004). For more
information, see Elsberry (2004b).
- Wells (2005) was published in Rivista di Biologia, a journal
which caters to papers which are speculative and controversial to
the point of crackpottery (J. M. Lynch 2005). Its editor,
Giuseppe Sermonti, is a Darwin denier sympathetic to the
- With some of the claims for peer review, notably Campbell and Meyer
(2003) and the e-journal PCID, the reviewers are themselves ardent
supporters of intelligent design. The purpose of peer review is to
expose errors, weaknesses, and significant omissions in fact and
argument. That purpose is not served if the reviewers are
This same criticism applies to any reviewers who are "true
believers" of any aspect of biology. However, mainstream scientists
recognize that science grows stronger through criticism, not through
mere agreement, because criticism helps weed out the bad science.
Most any evolutionary biologist can attest that supporting evolution
is not enough to get a paper accepted; the paper has to describe
sound science, too.
- Publishing is not an end in itself. Scientific ideas mean nothing
unless they can withstand criticism and be built upon. None of the
"intelligent design" publications have led to any productive work.
Most have had their main ideas rebutted (e.g. Behe 1996,
Dembski 1998, Dembski 2002, Gonzalez and
Schafersman, Steven, 2004. Frequently asked questions about the Texas
science textbook adoption controversy.
Wikipedia, 2004. Talk:Intelligent design.
- BSW. n.d. Statement from the Council of
the Biological Society of Washington.
- Discovery Institute. 2005. (see "Sources" above)
- Elsberry, Wesley R. 2004a. Meyer 2004 and deja vu all over again.
- Elsberry, Wesley R. 2004b. The "Meyer 2004" medley.
- Forrest, Barbara, and Paul R. Gross, 2004. Creationism's Trojan
Horse: The wedge of intelligent design. Oxford University Press.
- Gishlick, Alan, Nick Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry, 2004. Meyer's
hopeless monster. http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html
- Lynch, John M. 2005. Revisiting Rivista.
- Lynch, Michael. 2005. Simple evolutionary pathways to complex
proteins. Protein Science 14: 2217-2225.
- McMurtrie, Beth. 2001. Darwinism under attack.
Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 21.
- NCSE. 2004. BSW repudiates Meyer.
created 2004-3-19, modified 2005-12-22