Intelligent design proponents do not refer to themselves as creationists, associating that term, as many do, with the followers of Henry M. Morris. Indeed, most ID proponents do not embrace the young-Earth, flood geology, and sudden creation tenets associated with YEC. Yet by Phillip Johnson's definition, ID proponents arguably are creationists: "'Creationism' means belief in creation in a more general sense. Persons who believe that the earth is billions of years old, and that simple forms of life evolved gradually to become more complex forms including humans, are 'creationists' if they believe that a supernatural Creator not only initiated this process but in some meaningful sense controls it in furtherance of a purpose" (Johnson 1991: 4).
Phillip Johnson contends that the scientific data and theory supporting evolution are weak, and that evolution persists as a scientific idea only because it reinforces philosophical materialism. To him and most other ID proponents, the most important issue in the creation/evolution controversy is whether the universe came to its present state "through purposeless, natural processes known to science" (Johnson 1990: 30) or whether God had meaningful involvement with the process. Intelligent design proponents clearly believe that God is an active participant in creation, though they are divided as to whether this activity takes the form of front-loading all outcomes at the Big Bang, episodic intervention of the progressive creationism form, or other, less well-articulated possibilities. Theistic evolution, however, is ruled out or at best viewed as an ill-advised accommodation.
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