RIVERSIDE, California — Intelligent design is the hottest ticket in biology education these days. I.D., as it is also known, says the world's creatures have incredible complexity, and that this complexity provides evidence of being crafted, not randomly evolved.
While evolutionists protest loudly against I.D., the counterclaims of design advocates are at least being weighed in a few places. For example, in Ohio, the state school board will decide whether to allow discussion of I.D. and other challenges to Darwinism by the end of the year.
Biology textbooks everywhere routinely respond to the question of where life came from with a simple answer: evolution. But for molecular biologist Jed Macosko, the party line of evolution does not cut it.
"Intelligent design provides a great way to introduce students to the controversies around evolution and to provide a way of thinking through things," Macosko said.
Macosko teaches biology, including intelligent design, at La Sierra University in California. He says the molecules of living things form elaborate machines that are no more accidents than intelligently designed flying machines.
But evolutionists are hoping to exclude intelligent design from both science and the science classroom. They argue that I.D. hides behind a scientific veneer, but is actually philosophy or religion, and therefore, can not be in the public classroom.
Jim Miller of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science is one who objects to intelligent design. "It's a philosophical argument so it's not really a scientific argument and, in the context of science, it's an argument that's based on non-knowledge," he said.
But Macosko countered, "If you are arguing that any science that borders on religious claims should be kept out of the classroom then Darwinism should be kept out of the classroom, too, because it's saying there was no purpose, there was no intelligence behind this and that's a very religious statement."
Evolution, by and large, is actually a philosophy called naturalism or materialism — the de facto religion of many scientists. That belief says nature is everything.
Macosko explained, "Darwinism is the only theory really that says it all happened by natural processes. So the alternative is immediately ruled out and intelligent design in that way is kept out of the classroom."
But is I.D. really science? Law professor and evolution critic Philip Johnson says yes, I.D. is used all the time. "This is a common method of our thinking. It's part of rationality, is to know that intelligence can do things which non-intelligence can't do. And in a great many cases we can tell the difference," he said.
Everyday thinking as well as intellectual endeavors routinely look for design. Here are a few examples:
Law enforcement: Was a person poisoned accidentally or by design?
Anthropology: Was this interesting rock formed by erosion or human design?
Insurance companies: Was this fire a random event or intentionally designed, that is arson?
Parents: Did this vase just fall off the table or did little Johnny knock it off in a fit of anger, by design?
Macosko says why not look for intelligent design in biology too, especially because evolution has so many gaps. But he also says intelligent design finds Darwin partly right, at least about variation in creatures over time. But it identifies a clear difference as well:
"What it refutes is that the same process that can make a finch's beak longer can make a bacteria into a butterfly over millions of years," Macosko said. And, he added that intelligent design has to teach evolution in order to show where it is right and wrong.
Johnson agreed, "We ought to teach the young people much more about evolution than the science educators want them to know. Because the science educators don't want them to know about the problems, they want them to think that all you need to have is variation and everything is perfect. You have a naturalistic creation story, God is out of the picture: 'You can forget about Him and that's what we want you to believe.'"
And apparently the public agrees, too.
A new Zogby International poll finds that 71 percent of people say biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution as well as evidence against the theory. But even more Americans, 78 percent to be exact, also agree that when Darwin is taught, students should also learn about scientific evidence pointing to an intelligent design of life.
But a question remains in Macosko's mind: Will Americans allow the evolutionists and educators to continue censoring out intelligent design against their wishes? "From the academic freedom standpoint, intelligent design allows for both sides of the controversy to be presented," he explained.
Another question is intriguing to Johnson: Why do many religious people find Darwinism better than an intelligent Designer?
The Presbyterian Church (USA), just put out a General Assembly resolution affirming evolution as the model for education. They encouraged state boards of education to do whatever most scientists say. In other words, they reject intelligent design.
"It's sort of like an aboriginal people that's been confined to a reservation. You see, the materialists will allow you to live on the reservation. So for the Christians now that's like the seminaries and the Christian colleges. But they have to obey the naturalist rules when they go off the reservation out in the public," Johnson said.
While private education institutions are already embracing intelligent design, public education is only beginning to face the question of whether they, too, will enhance academic freedom by teaching intelligent design right alongside evolution.
File Date: 09.08.02