Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

Intelligent Design

  • Jakob WolfEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_590


The idea of intelligent design in nature and the universe has a long tradition. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) thought that this idea was as old as the reason of man. It can be found both in Western and non-Western religion and philosophy. You can find arguments for intelligent design in nature defended not only in ancient Greek philosophy but also in Hindu, Chinese, Islamic-Persian, and other non-Western traditions.

In Western tradition, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (500–428 BC) is regarded by many as the first in ancient Greek philosophy to attribute the evident structural harmony and order in nature to some form of intelligent design plan rather than the chance concourse of atoms. Anaxagoras believed a cosmic “Mind” ordered a primeval chaos of very small particles.

Socrates (470–399 BC) and Plato (427–347 BC) argued that cosmic and material order is the result of “Ideas” and “Mind” and that the order and design of the world can only be sustained by virtue...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barrow, J. D., & Tipler, F. J. (1986). The anthropic cosmological principle. Oxford: Oxford University Press. To the history of the tradition.Google Scholar
  2. Behe, M. J. (1996). Darwin’s black box. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  3. Dembski, W. (1999). Intelligent design. The bridge between science and theology. Nottingham: InterVarsity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Kant, I., (1966 (1790)). The critique of Judgment. New York: Hafner Publisching Company.Google Scholar
  5. Numbers, R. L., (2006). The creationists: From scientific creationism to intelligent design (Expanded ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Paley, W. (2008 (1800)). Natural theology. Oxford: Oxford World Classics.Google Scholar
  7. Wolf, J. (2009). The idea of design in nature: science or phenomenology? global spiral vol 10, nr. 4 www.metanexus.net/magazine.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Systematic TheologyFaculty of Theology, University of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark