Despite intelligent design’s clear linkage, both methodologically and in content, with existing sciences that sift the effects of intelligence from undirected natural forces, critics of intelligent design often label it a form of creationism. Not only is this label misleading, but in academic and scientific circles it has become a maneuver to censor ideas before they can be fairly discussed.
To see that the creationist label is misleading, consider that one can advocate intelligent design without advocating creationism. Creationism typically denotes a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis as well as an attempt to harmonize science with this interpretation. It can also denote the view common to theists that a personal transcendent God created the world (a view taught by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). In either case, however, creationism presupposes that the world came into being through a creative power separate from the world.
Intelligent design, by contrast, places no such requirement on any designing intelligence responsible for cosmological fine-tuning or biological complexity. It simply argues that certain finite material objects exhibit patterns that convincingly point to an intelligent cause. But the nature of that cause–whether it is one or many, whether it is a part of or separate from the world, and even whether it is good or evil–simply do not fall within intelligent design’s purview.
Dembski claims (wrongly) that “creationism … denotes a literal interpretation of … Genesis. … Creationism presupposes that the world came into being through a creative power separate from the world.”