ID and Fine Art … well, it’s all relative I suppose

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One of the twenty-year goals of the Discovery Institute's Wedge was to see the influence of "design theory" in the fine arts. I've often wondered what that could possible mean. And now, thanks to Access Research Network's "ID Arts Initiative" I now know.

Read more at Stranger Fruit.

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… it’s probably a duck. I was reading John Lynch’s blog Stranger Fruit and ran across this comment by Tiax who is a frequent commenter from the loyal opposition here: It strikes me as odd that they would use the word ‘intuitive... Read More


Symbolism, graphic art and hortatory inscriptions were prominent in all forms of ID-approved architecture. The eagle with the wreathed crosses, heroic friezes and free-standing sculpture were common. Often mottoes or quotations from Icons of Evolution or Philip Johnson’s speeches were placed over doorways or carved into walls. The ID message was conveyed in friezes, which extolled labour, motherhood, the agrarian life and other values. Muscular nudes with underwear, symbolic of military and political strength, guarded the entrance to the Discovery Institute Chancellery.

Nah, the ‘fine art’ of ID will consist solely of a canvas.


ID in art? What a revolutionary concept.

The painting that most suggests ID theory to me (besides any Alfred E. Neuman cover) is the M.C. Escher painting of a man trudging ever up a staircase that never goes anywhere but around in a continuous square. All progress is entirely illusory, but the man is incapable of realizing this and is doomed to endless repetition.

ID-influenced art? Could this possibly mean that the ID-iots have finally given up on trying to influence science? Let’s hope.

I’m reminded of other attempts at using the arts to further specific sectarian religious-political agenda recently. Like the Left Behind: Eternal Forces game. The idea is that, in the universe of the Left Behind novels, you roam through NYC either killing people as servants of the Antichrist/United Nations or killing people as converts to conservative Christianity. Whichever side you join, you try to gain followers because nobody can remain neutral (black and white morality is a big thing among their target audience). At first I wanted to play it for the sheer idiocy of the concept, but then I found out that it has spyware built into it. On the videogame tangent, I figured it was only a matter of time before the game Spore started getting dragged into the ID fray, but I was afraid to even google for instances until a couple of weeks ago. Looks like they were busy while I had my back turned. At least we got a comical lampoon out of it.

Once again we see that the ID movement is nothing more than wishful thinking that life imitates art.

I’m often reminded of Intelligent Design while watching cartoons with my 11-year-old.

Specifically, the character Crocker on Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Oddparents reminds me of William Dembski. Whenever something improbable happens on the show, we get a close-up of Crocker’s brow-furrowed face as he ruminates, “There is only one logical explanation. Fairy Godparents!”

A key difference between Crocker and Dembski is that Crocker is usually right.

Art doesn’t get any finer than children’s animation, does it?

That’s beautiful, purpose in a split rock. Aren’t they the least bit worried that their art is going to mimic their “science” just a little too much, with their finding “purpose” in accident?

So far their attempts appear rather leaden. SR-71 and a raven. That’s it? It’s not only an IDist cliche, it’s an ancient creationist cliche, with the usual lack of attention to our “pathetic level of detail”.

Try scaling up the raven, IDists, to the size of an SR-71. It won’t fly. Why? Because its muscles are not nearly as powerful as are designed jet engines. Funny how that is, isn’t it, that humans in their short period of scientific prowess have eclipsed the designs of God in many respects, from power, size of flying machines, and in sheer velocity.

Still, don’t we know that religions tend to decline into aesthetics? The raven, perhaps, is more aesthetic (to our evolved eyes) than is even the SR-71. Plus, after Dover and DaveScot, Dembski, Behe, and Coulter have destroyed the IDist facade of reason, why would they not turn to holy art to suggest connections that they cannot begin to demonstrate?

Their writings have never risen above the level of poetry, including when they tried. Where poetry uses words to suggest connections that the mind can play around with, IDists have insisted (in practice) that linguistic connections are the road to knowledge and science. Raven=SR-71, biological machine=designed machine, computer=mind (except, of course, when it doesn’t–computers demonstrate that intelligence must be designed, yet minds aren’t even material, hence they could not be designed in a manner analogous with computer design. Only “poof” reconciles their dys-analogy of mind with computer).

In poetry and even in an educated religion, all of that is tolerable. The similarities and the differences between bird and plane are to be contemplated by the thoughtful person, the analogy enjoyed in part because it is paradoxical.

It is the IDist that takes myth for science, bird for plane, flagellum for outboard motor. As such, they are unlikely to learn how to make proper poetry and art, since the essence of art is to play with both analogy and dis-analogy in an intellectual context that never really confuses raven and plane (sure, on some level IDists don’t either, but their “science” relies on that confusion). Mistake the “natural” for the designed, however, and there is no word play, no visual challenge in comparing what is “natural” and what is rationally designed.

I suspect that IDist art will not rise much above their vandalization of Rome and the academy. For even their cartoons lack the play that makes art and life interesting: they end up portraying themselves as they are, virtual Visigoths destroying science and its accomplishments.

Glen D

does this mean that we can see a future court battle where they want equal exposure for their art pieces in public museums? For every Monet you see, there will have to be a black velvet painting of a flagella next to it?

Try scaling up the raven, IDists, to the size of an SR-71. It won’t fly.

Not only wouldn’t it fly, but it couldn’t sustain Mach 3.

Why? Because its muscles are not nearly as powerful as are designed jet engines.

Cephalopods rule!

Still, don’t we know that religions tend to decline into aesthetics? The raven, perhaps, is more aesthetic (to our evolved eyes) than is even the SR-71.

Blasphemy! Your GQ (geek quotient) must be abysmally low.

Given that art is a product of human imagination, doesn’t all art reflect “intelligent design”?

A more apt morph would be a bird into a modern hang glider. They share more in common aerodynamically, both rely on wing warping for aerodynamic control and both spend time in thermals gaining altitude. Although not as sexy as an SR-71 it’s a better analogy.

The evolution of hang gliders began with the early Rogallo wing. Battens, floating cross bars, washout struts, and reflex bridles developed adding stability, safety, and performance leading to a diversity of modern hang glider species and the Rogallo and other early forms became extinct. Fossil Rogallo forms may still be seen in books and some Museums. Rigid wing hang gliders are the newest documented species and have developed rudimentary control surfaces, but are still without a tail, elevator, or rudder. At some point a major body plan change occurred and carriages with motors developed. This divergence led to a rapid diversification and a number of species have been documented some quite beautiful and elaborate (perhaps evidence of sexual selection but yet to be tested), but still relying on the same basic flex wing control mechanisms. This rapid diversification could be the result of new habitats now accessible by the development of motors and allowed the new motorized flex wings the ability to exploit additional resource niches. As with the record of many past life forms, many of the fossils are incomplete and some of the transitional forms are poorly represented, appear only briefly, or are completely missing in the fossil record. The reasons are presently unclear, but flex wings with poor aerodynamic control were unlikely to survive long and wreckage is not conducive to fossilization.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Re “Given that art is a product of human imagination,”

Not all of it. ;)

Surapa, Painting elephant


steve s Wrote:

Ah, ID-influenced art.

Funny as hell. Best representation of ID yet.

Try scaling up the raven, IDists, to the size of an SR-71. It won’t fly.

Is that an African or a European raven?

Or maybe the Norwegian Blue raven.

Lovely bird, the Norwegian Blue.…

Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this creationism what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Intelligent Design…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead movement when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable science, the Intelligent Design, idn’it, ay? Beautiful statistics!

Mr. Praline: The statistics don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) ‘Ello, Mister Intelligent Design! I’ve got a lovely fresh grant for you if you show…

(owner praises his book on Amazon under an assumed name)

Owner: There, he moved!

Mr. Praline: No, he didn’t, that was you working the blogs!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything…

Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) ‘ELLO INTELLIGENT DESIGN!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

(Takes supposed Movement and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Praline: Now that’s what I call a dead movement.

Owner: No, no.….No, ‘e’s stunned!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Intelligent Design stuns easily, major.

Mr. Praline: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That movement is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged experiment.

Owner: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the school boards.

Mr. Praline: PININ’ for the BOARDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im to Dover?

Owner: The Intelligent Design prefers keepin’ on it’s back! Remarkable science, id’nit, squire? Lovely statistics!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that movement when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on the web in the first place was that it had been BLOGGED there.


Owner: Well, o’course it was blogged there! If they hadn’t blogged so much, they would have nuzzled up to those journals, beat ‘em up with their peer-reviewed papers, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: “VOOM”?!? Mate, Uncommon Descent wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

Owner: No no! ‘E’s pining!

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This movement is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the web ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-MOVEMENT!!


Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ‘round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of science.

Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Owner: I got Teach the Controversy.


Mr. Praline: Pray, does it survive lawsuits?

Owner: Nnnnot really.


Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Mr. Praline: Well.


Owner: (quietly) D’you.… d’you want to come back to my place?

Mr. Praline: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

For the hard of hearing

And for any of the intelligent design crowd a special Norwegian Blue just for you.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

So elephant art gets mentioned, but the world’s oldest actor-turned-artist chimp gets left by the wayside? Speciesism!

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This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on July 5, 2006 10:17 PM.

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