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Uncommon Descent — A Farewell and Remembrance

irreducible complexity
Image: Bacterial flagellar motor, from Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Illustra Media.

Editor’s note: As of April 2023, the news and commentary site Uncommon Descent has been archived here for historical and research purposes. To stay informed about the latest news and research in the sciences and about intelligent design, stay tuned for coverage here at Evolution News.

Uncommon Descent began in the summer of 2005 as my personal blog. Before that, I had a personal website, designinference.com. The latter site began in 2002 and was a place for my longer writings. But by 2005, blogging was the rage, and I jumped in with both feet at Uncommon Descent.

The very name was at once a play on Darwin’s idea of common descent, but also a play on descent being a homophone of dissent. In 2004, I had edited an anthology for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute titled Uncommon Dissent, so the name Uncommon Descent tied in with my then current interests and activities. And it clearly called to mind that living organisms have an origin beyond the naturalistic causes of Darwinism, indeed, an origin stemming from a higher intelligence.

A Forum and Springboard

I didn’t know what to expect from the blog when it started, but it quickly developed a following that was gratifying to see, both from commenters and from contributors. In the first months, I seem to recall publishing around four blog posts a day. Soon enough, however, I tired of excessive posting (which is also why I never took to Twitter). I’ve always thought that my best contributions would be in sustained pieces of writing, so it was good to see others using UD as a forum and springboard. 

Around 2008, Barry Arrington came on board to lead UD, organizing it as a non-profit corporation. This allowed it to take donations, and donations (along with a lot of free volunteer labor) kept it afloat from then to the present. Barry was not just an administrator. With a keen mind about the law and the role of evidence, he had many insightful posts of his own about ID to share with UD’s readers. 

For the first few years of its existence, UD was the premier blog for ID. Eventually, it would be overtaken by Evolution News. But it was a place where key members of the ID community could go to post their views. It was also a prime target against which critics of ID would respond with criticisms, such as at Panda’s Thumb.

Even to this day, I’ll search UD for posts that I remember. For instance, in responding to ID critic Jason Rosenhouse in the summer of 2022 at Evolution News, I vaguely recalled a post by Mike Behe responding to Ken Miller. Sure enough, a Google search located Behe’s post at UD (from 2007).

The ID Blog to Beat

Over the years, UD provided valuable news and insights to the ID movement. The indefatigable Denyse O’Leary was crucial in this regard. Yet over time, the center of mass for ID blogging shifted elsewhere. Evolution News became the ID blog to beat. Also, YouTube videos and social media became much more influential. 

Even so, UD provides a crucial window into the history of the ID movement. It therefore seemed important to archive it. So I was delighted when Discovery Institute agreed to fold an archived version of UD into its web properties, keeping as well as repurposing valuable content created on the UD site. In saying farewell to UD, we are thus not saying that we’ll never see UD again. It will be there, in archival form, ready to be accessed. 

In closing this farewell, I want to say special thanks to Jack Cole, who was the webmaster all these years and put in so many unremunerated hours; to Denyse O’Leary, whose quick pen and sharp insights supplied a never-ending stream of fruitful content; and to Barry Arrington, whose work in administering the site and writing for it kept the trains running. And finally, thanks to all the contributors and commenters over the years who, in supporting ID, have been on the right side of truth and will ultimately be vindicated for being on the right side of history. 

This article has been cross-posted from Uncommon Descent.