I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. They’ve undertaken the unenviable task of promoting “the scientific theory known as intelligent design”, while vigorously maintaining that “intelligent design”, properly understood, is not a sneaky way of promoting Biblical creationism.
Now, I’m no great fan of “Intelligent Design”; I’ve even seen fit to repeat myself on the subject – something I normally never do. (Well, hardly ever.) But I imagine that the Discovery Institute’s real problem isn’t pedantic Darwinists like me; what really must annoy them is some of their “friends”.
The El Tajon, California school district yesterday agreed to scrap an elective philosophy course in “Philosophy of Design”, avoiding a costly court battle that it would almost certainly have lost. The Discovery Institute advised the school district to cave in, since what was being taught was in fact mostly Biblical (or “young earth”) creationism rather than intelligent design as properly understood.
This raises a rather interesting question, and poses a sticky little dilemma for intelligent-design proponents: Besides the Discovery Institute and a few offbeat scientific types, does anyone have any interest in “official” (or, if you like, “scientific”) intelligent design theory? If intelligent design is in fact a back-door way of promoting Biblical creationism, then it loses whatever claim it may have to scientific legitimacy; but if intelligent design in fact contradicts the Biblical account of creation, then it’s difficult for me to imagine that a lot of school boards will be in any great hurry to add it to the curriculum. After all, intelligent design (as described by the Discovery Institute, who should know what they’re talking about) would work together with Darwinism as a sort of anti-fundamentalist tag team: Darwinists say you don’t need God to create the diversity of species; and intelligent design says that even if God did create species (or helped things along by creating some of the sub-cellular “machinery” that makes life possible) it didn’t happen the way the Bible tells it.
My prediction: Intelligent design theory may survive for a while as a scientific backwater (or, to be less polite, a pseudo-scientific waste of time); but its popularity among the general public will soon fade. If intelligent design amounts to just another way of saying that the Bible is untrue, who needs it?
Oh yes, before I forget: The teacher who taught the “Philosophy of Design” course defended it as follows: “I believe this is the class that the Lord wanted me to teach.” So much for “the scientific theory known as intelligent design”!