designers on intelligent design

hi guys,

For almost a year now, I’ve been wondering how designers as a community feel about all this media hype surrounding Intelligent Design. In light of this month’s edtiorial in ID magazine (ID MArch/April 2006, page 12 “Hands Off Our initials!” by Julie Lasky) I wanted to know what other people thought about the appropriation/application of our craft by this “nouvelle creationsit” movement. Feel free to respond to any or all of these questions:

  1. How much does a designer’s role reflect that of the creator (i.e. understanding of mechanics, form, function, human behavior etc.)

  2. Do you feel that working as a designer gives one more insight into the workings of the world?

  3. Does this insight elevate the designer as a “higher sentinent being”?

  4. How do you feel about the main arguments (Mt. Rushmore, the pocket watch, the mousetrap, etc.) used by the Intelligent Design movement? NB! See NYT story for these examples

  1. In what ways has the media treated designers like gods before Intellgient Design gained exposure? and now afterwards?

  2. How do you feel the design process echos or differs from creationist theory or other creation myths?

    and for the fun ones:

8 if god is a designer, are designers then pagan godheads of various cultural pantheons. Which celebrity designers belong to which pantheons?

  1. If god is a designer, what kind of designer do you think he is and why? What are the best projects in his portfolio?

thanks in advance for your time,

Interesting topic. The questions made me simultaneously chuckle and get lost in my thoughts. I will PM you some answers, but I want to let it percolate for a day or so.

Percolation is good. I’ve doing that for a while and proposed the research topic myself when given the choices for our papers (in the Concepts in Design class). The closet thing the teacher had was a topic on the myth of the designer. so I thought, okay lets do it on ID (the other one :stuck_out_tongue: ) and focus on the creation myth.

looking forward to hearing your thoughts. hope we can generate interesting discussions


So is every one letting this percolate? I’ve had 46 looks and only 1 response yet. Surely somebody’s got some thoughts or opinions on the subject. I know this isn’t something you can whip out while you’re working, but please help a girl out, there’s not much in the library on this and my paper’s due date it looming large.



its an esoteric question of a largely pragmatic audience.
personally, they have nothing in common except the word ‘design’

Actually I think there is a lot to think about there, though the questions are highly loaded. I just PM’ed my answers in.

Be patient toolgirl… it’s all still bubbling to the surface.

I will say one thing: I don’t think anybody in the know is mixing up Intelligent Design with intelligent design work. The problem is that much of our income is derived from people who will believe anything.


yes I don’t think most people would really mistake the Intelligrent Design theorey and intelligent design work, but I have seen a lot of changes in the film industry once digitial video took off and there were a lot of cultural implications because of that.

As my name implies, I’m usually more practical than esoteric, but this is for a class in concept and critical thinking and I think examining our role in this culture is worhtwhile (example Sam Jacobs has a very intersting article in Metropolis’ aniversary issue about how design went from being a functionally driven activity to being market driven activity) Also, in the hands of Christian Fundamentalists anything can become grossly distorted so I want to see hgow designers feel now.

If you guys give me some good fooder, I’ll treat you FSM-ism


This thread could gather inertia several ways.

I see architecture being one route. Churches, mosques, temples designed and built for the diety of the religion. It is a designed structure.

Or it could get deeply ethical with mention of stem cells. If I design medical equipment that is used for gathering stem cells, will my god not let me through the pearly gates? If my religion has no problem with stem cells, is it then OK to design improved stem cell or biological equipment?

before I forget

This topic also could relate to the idea of “Should I be Tampering with the Design?”

Usually less informed or less well read people adopt a gut reaction 'You better not tamper with what you don’t know about"

DNA altering
Big Bang proof
Quarks and bosons- antimatter
Test tube Babies (was shuned but now is rather accepted)

Sure these subjects describe lab coat type jobs, but I do not see ID in the crosshairs of intelligent design. Maybe more of a sidecar to the topic.

architecture attempts to put god in a bottle…science discovers and design creates, both are purposeful acts which exhibit intelligence…evolution by definition is spontaneous mutation which manages to survive long enough to reproduce another generation of mutants…extinction is evidence that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should…

Thanks Mr. Moderator,

you’ve brought up some good points concerning ethics, medical research, what constitutes “tampering” and why. It seems like just the use if the word “tampering” implies that the subject is somehting so pristine, it shouldn’t be messed with and it’s the real thinkers that ask the really hard question of “why shouldn’t I?” What makes this person different from the crowd? Is that he/she just dosen’t buy into the prevailing doctrine or do they have inflated sense of ego that tells them they can do anything?


Dear mrd,

I loved the bit about architecture trying to put god in a bottle. And while I agree the extinction part, I have to ask if evloution is really spontaneous mutation. If you look at natural selection in terms of design, don’t we take a project through several rounds of evloution just during development? aren’t these iterations the result of concious descisions about what works and what doesn’t work. after the product comes to market, whether its a car, software or piece of funrinture dosen’t the designer tweak it or make adfjustments based on user reactions or practical feedback? In this sense is evolution really spontaneous mutation?


lots of evolutionary species have examples of features that are not used anymore.

Some cave spiders show traces of previous eye sockes that are no longer used. Evidence of an eye was there but it is no longer used. It is still evolution or maybe it could be classified as Un-evolution?

Are there features on cars that are no longer on current cars? Sure. I do not crank my car to start it like a model A. The crank starter unevolved from the car and now there is no evidence of a place to hand start the car.

ID definitely has products that evolve and unevolve (unevolve seens like a crude word for what I an trying to describe)

lots of evolutionary species have examples of features that are not used anymore.

Some cave spiders show traces of previous eye sockets that are no longer used. Evidence of an eye was there but it is no longer used. It is still evolution or maybe it could be classified as Un-evolution?

Don’t forget that dolphin and all porpoises still have the now extremely undersized leg bones (dislodged and floating just in front of the pelvic bones. Remnants from the wolfs that they are believed to be direct descendants of, as close as horse and zebra as some evolution experts have said.

Not to mention the fact that all human embryos start out life with a small reptilian like tail that gradually recedes by the end of the first trimester.

To go one further, if women are supposed to have all of their eggs at birth, and my mother was 27 years old when I was born, is my DNA my exact age or is half my DNA 27 years older than my current age?

Parts of your DNA are as old as the hills, others not so old. If some conspiracy theorists are to be believed, your cellphone changed some strands the last time someone called you. The DNA of any species is a collection of mutations - small and big - gathered right through evolution, the generations and life.

Since this is a design forum, found a group of people who are trying to extract the geometric “DNA” of objects - bottles and bathtubs and light fixtures - and trying to clone wacky, mutant variations of existing designs:

I’m no designer, so I don’t know if it would be useful, but it’s certainly interesting.

…i believe you just answered your own question there, toolgirl and you are exactly correct…species evolve and designs iterate…one is a spontaneous mutation and the other an intelligent act… good luck with your paper…perhaps you could share it with us when it is complete.

This is true, there is a documentary were a caucasion gentics engineer traces his mitocondrial DNA back through Western Europe, through a small tribe in the northern China, down through Jordan, Egypt, and finally ends at a small village in Central Africa that has been basicall untouched by modern technologies. Withi n the people of the tribe all major “racial” features were visable; from blond straight hair on the darkest complection of skin to a little girl who the geneticicst traced his identical mitocondrial DNA; who looked chinese except for the curly red hair.

I will try to track down on of my Genetics profesors from college to get the name of the documentory. I believe it might be something like “In search of myself” or something close to that.

Hence the same is for design. All designs reference something previous. From flowers to the human body it self.

Are humans the only inhabitants of earth that “design” or “create”? Certainly intended design or creation implies intelligence. And unitended design/creation? Does it imply non-intelligence? Once a designer creates a product, the market (individual) may adjust the product to fit their specific needs (which change), essentially adapting the product to the specific environment and evolving the product beyond the orignal design. Does this now evolved design lose the “design/created” identifier? And what if you happen to be the product, will you change to best fit your environment? Is there examples of products designed to adapt to their environment? … to jump on the other side of the fence.