“The important thing is ID’s intellectual vitality.” says William Dembski, a philosophy professor from Louisville (I assume Kentucky, not the Colorado town voted to the top five most desirable cities in the nation in which I live). I’d worry if I were Dr. Dembski. The fact is, in spite of how vocal the group of ID supporters are, there isn’t really a vital intellectual movement spreading around the world. Michael Behe who testified in the Dover, PA trial responds to the decision by whining about being attacked: “If you’re…publicly known as an ID supporter you can already kiss your tenure chances goodbye.”
Of course, to hear the ID proponents tell it, it’s not because ID doesn’t even follow the scientific method and is at best, an untestable hypothesis (which is not to say it is wrong, but rather that it’s not science) but rather because those mean awful, dogmatic scientists just won’t listen.
NPR commentator Joe Loconte compares Intelligent Design with the Big Bang theory. Scientists at the time disputed the Big Bang theory and they weren’t willing to roll over so quickly to a new idea. Instead, those scientists stuck in their crazy dogmas wanted something more: they wanted proof.
In time, evidence mounted and the Big Bang theory has become the most accepted scientific explanation for the origin of the universe. By analogy it seems, Mr. Loconte, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who says “I am not a scientist or a fundamentalist”, hopes that ID will be proven some day as well. Maybe, but unlike the supporters of the Big Bang theory who actually provided evidence, ID’s supporters attack the existing theory without any evidence to support ID at all. They tell us that evolution cannot explain the overwhelming complexity of the natural world. That’s it. They’re done. They don’t tell us what can, they just say evolution can’t so it must be by intelligent design. That design might be a space alien, or time traveling biologist, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (well, they don’t usually mention the Spaghetti Monster). But if this is the only evidence scientists receive I think it will be a long wait before it mounts to a point of acceptance.
Loconte finally tells us in his commentary that some scientists want to believe in God’s absence. I am sure some do. Some scientists (Dr. Behe is a biologist at Lehigh University) do not. What Mr. Lonconte missed however is that scientists want to believe in evidence regardless of its impact on the supernatural world of God (or even the Flying Spaghetti Monster.) What is being discussed in these court cases isn’t the truth of Intelligent Design theory, it’s whether or not it is science (which the Dover case’s expert witnesses on both sides convinced the judge that it is not) and whether it’s implication that that the Designer really is the Abrahamic God violates the Establishment Clause.
Judge Johnson felt in this case, given the origin of ID (in the second revision of the Pandas and People the word Creationism was simply replaced by Intelligent Design) and given the public opinions of the Dover, PA school board, there was, in fact, a religious intent to the required statements and book choices.
Me, I don’t have a problem with the teaching of Intelligent Design. Perhaps it should be mentioned in a logic class as an example of the classic argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument from ignorance). Perhaps it should be in a current events lesson. It’s precedence over other theories such as Hindu creation myths is important because it is in the news here in the U.S. Still, one place ID doesn’t need to be discussed is in science class.