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Reuters Gets It Wrong: Intelligent Design Isn’t Creationism

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Reuters made a basic mistake in their recent coverage of the Texas brouhaha over evolution education: they conflated intelligent design and creationism. To wit:

Intelligent design and creationism are theories that life on earth was created essentially the way it is described in the Bible’s Book of Genesis – not by evolution, but by a ‘creative intelligence’ generally considered to be the Christian God.

You’d better tell that to Jews, Muslims, and atheists who are proponents of intelligent design.

The plain fact of the matter is that intelligent design, unlike creationism, has nothing to do with Genesis and everything to do with what the scientific evidence tells us. It’s that reliance on science that limits ID to very modest claims which cannot, by themselves, tell us who or what the designer is. (To paraphrase Tom Woodward, it’s not like there’s a “Made by Yahweh” stamp on the bacterial flagellum.) This is the defining feature of intelligent design, that it is merely the claim that certain features of our universe and living things are best explained as the result of design rather than blind, unguided processes such as Darwinian evolution.

Reuters’ mistake will cause confusion, leading readers to think ID is something it isn’t. In order to set the record straight, we contacted Reuters and asked for a correction. They responded by saying they didn’t think the “issues” we brought up “merited a correction for the story,” but they thanked us for the helpful “background information” (also known as “research the reporter should have done”).

Reuters should take note: Misreporting an issue by misdefining your terms misses the picture — and undermines your credibility as an objective outlet doing serious journalism.

Anika Smith