Intelligent design

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"The United States has promised that no child will be left behind in the classroom. If intelligent design theory is presented within science courses as factually based, it is likely to confuse American schoolchildren and to undermine the integrity of U.S. science education."

Alan I. Leshner, CEO and executive publisher for AAAS

Intelligent design is the position or belief that life on earth is the product of a "designer" (i.e., God), as it is too complex to have occurred by accident or through the process of evolution. Intelligent design is generally used to attack the theory of evolution.

It was created as an alternative to young-earth creationism (YEC), the fundamentalist literal interpretation of the Bible that says the Earth was created 6000 years ago. But cloaking more moderate views in scientific language, the hope was that society -- even the scientific establishment -- would be persuaded.

But "intelligent design" has become such a well-known term that its supporters have been forced to become even more moderate, saying they only want to teach the "controversy" or "strengths and weaknesses" of evolutionary theory -- not any specific alternative.

Bush's "intelligent design"

The theory of "intelligent design" was cast onto the media stage August 1, 2005, when President George W. Bush announced that schools should give equal time to intelligent design, teaching it side-by-side with evolution, sparking a debate by politicians, educators, and many scientists who said that this "view of creation is thinly-veiled religious thinking." [1]


The organization primarily responsible for Intelligent Design is the Discovery Institute a Seattle based think tank whose Center for Science and Culture is "devoted to research by scientists and other scholars challenging various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory". [2] The CSC is funded by a variety of religious foundations.[3] The major vehicle for the dissemination of ID is the roughly three dozen books Center for Science and Culture and Discovery Institute fellows have published and marketed aggressively. Their manifesto, called the "Wedge Strategy," seeks to "defeat materialism" represented by evolution, "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions"[4] and to "affirm the reality of God." The document calls for the publication of 30 books by 2003, and that deadline has been met. Wedge members also write numerous op-eds and magazine articles and have made masterful use of the Internet. Two issues of Touchstone magazine have been devoted to ID. Focus on the Family, in addition to co-publishing the Discovery Institute's creationist videotape Unlocking the Mystery of Life, which features the major Wedge leaders, publishes pro-ID articles on its website and in its Citizen magazine. Focus on the Family employee Mark Hartwig is also a CSC fellow, a connection which has helped to publicize ID extensively. James Dobson often features ID proponents on his Focus on the Family radio program.

Despite oft-published and repeated Discovery Institute claims to the contrary, ID promoters have yet to publish a pro-ID paper in a peer reviewed scientific journals. ID proponents have published what they call "peer-reviewed" ID journals, but their peers consist of their own network of supporters. Origins and Design, which was formerly Origins Research, a publication by the creationist Students for Origins Research, was published by ARN for a number of years but is now apparently defunct. William Dembski publishes Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, an electronic journal featuring articles by supporters of his online organization, the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design (ISCID). But the publication standards of Dembski's on-line journal are a bit lax. The editorial board consists of Dembski's close associates. Most of the articles are by Wedge members and ID supporters, some of whom are only students. The articles are posted to ISCID's discussion forum, which Dembski calls an archive. Once an article meets "basic scholarly standards" and is accepted into the archive, it is considered suitable for publication upon approval by one (it used to be two) of ISCID's 58 fellows, who constitute the editorial advisory board. Describing standard procedures of scientific peer review as geared toward censorship, Dembski recently loosened his on-line journal's publication standards even more for the sake of "novelty and creativity." [5]

Following the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District ruling which found Intelligent Design to be wholly religious in nature and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Discovery Institute, in bid to reintroduce Intelligent Design into public school science curicula through the back door, organized a number of anti-evolution, pro-Intelligent Design Academic Freedom bills bills introduced in State legislatures between 2004 and 2008.[6] The bills purport that teachers, students, and college professors face intimidation and retaliation when discussing scientific criticisms of evolution, and therefore require protection.[7][8] The Discovery Institute through the[9] website and other activites, has been the driving force behind the bills. Investigation of the Institute's allegations of intimidation and retaliation have found no evidence that it occurs.[10] They are based largely upon language drafted by the Institute and derive from language originally drafted for the Institute's Santorum Amendment. As of December 2008, only the Louisiana bill has been successfully been passed into law. According to the Wall Street Journal, the common goal of these bills is to expose more students to articles and videos that undercut evolution, most of which are produced by advocates of intelligent design and other forms of creationism: "They have spent years working school boards, with only minimal success. Now critics of evolution are turning to a higher authority: state legislators. In a bid to shape biology lessons, they are promoting what they call "academic freedom" bills that would encourage or require public-school teachers to cast doubt on a cornerstone of modern science."[11]

Groups and people

Individuals who have written and spoken in support of intelligent design:


ID creationists ... know that they cannot afford to do too good a job of disguising their true religious loyalties, since only by maintaining their conservative Christian base can they also maintain their political momentum -- and their major funding sources, virtually all of which are religious organizations and individuals such as Howard Ahmanson.

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