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I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely Yours,

Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen.

P.S. I have included an artistic drawing of Him creating a mountain, trees, and a midget. Remember, we are all His creatures.

October 18, 2005


Expert Witness Sees Evidence in Nature for Intelligent Design

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 17 - Michael J. Behe, a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, has spent the last eight years traveling to colleges promoting intelligent design as a challenge to the theory of evolution.

On Monday Mr. Behe brought his lecture and slides to a closely watched trial in federal district court, where a judge will decide whether the town of Dover, Pa., violated the boundary between church and state when it required students to hear a statement about intelligent design in a high school biology class.

The Dover school board is being sued by 11 parents who say intelligent design is inappropriate in a biology class because it is merely religious creationism repackaged to resemble science. Proponents of intelligent design, however, argue that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them.

With the trial in its fourth week, Mr. Behe was the first expert witness for the defense. Asked whether intelligent design is religion, or "based on any religious beliefs," Mr. Behe said, "No, it isn't."

"It is based entirely on observable, physical evidence from nature," he said.

Mr. Behe said the "best and most striking example of design" is the bacterial flagellum, "the outboard motor bacteria use to swim." He projected a drawing of a flagellum depicting what he called a "rotary motor" attached to a "drive shaft" that pushes a propeller, and said it was impossible avoid concluding that the mechanism was "a purposeful arrangement of parts."

Mr. Behe is the author of "Darwin's Black Box," a book published in 1996 that spurred the intelligent design movement. He is also a fellow at the Discovery Institute, a research organization that advocates intelligent design.

For three weeks, the plaintiffs called expert witnesses, including a biologist, a theologian, a paleontologist and two philosophers, who testified that intelligent design did not meet the definition of science because it could not be tested or disproved. They said that intelligent design proponents had not published scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and that most scientists did not question evolution's basic tenets.

Mr. Behe testified that intelligent design was science and that it made testable claims.

Mr. Behe said he had been able to publish only one article on intelligent design in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, a piece he co-wrote in Protein Science in 2004.

Robert Muise, a defense lawyer, asked Mr. Behe, "Do you perceive a bias against publishing articles on intelligent design in peer-reviewed journals?"
Mr. Behe said he did. "My ideas on intelligent design have been subjected to a thousand times more scrutiny than anything I've written before." !!!
Mr. Behe testified that intelligent design did not claim to identify the intelligent designer, or even to "require knowledge of the designer."

However, Mr. Behe, a Roman Catholic, was asked whether he had concluded that "the designer is God." He said yes, but added that his conclusion was not based on science.

"I concluded that based on theological, philosophical and historical facts," he said.

Mr. Behe said he believed schools should teach evolution because it was "widely used in science" and "many aspects are well substantiated." And he said intelligent design was "quite limited" because it challenged only one part of evolutionary theory, natural selection.

Mr. Muise then asked whether natural selection could "explain the existence" of DNA, the immune system or blood clotting. Mr. Behe said no.

As Mr. Behe's responses grew increasingly long and arcane, Judge John E. Jones III slumped in his chair. When Mr. Muise asked the judge whether he should stop for the day, Judge Jones sat up and agreed, saying, "We've certainly absorbed a lot, haven't we?"

Randy Tomasacci, a woodworker who serves on his school board in Shickshinny, Pa., said his district was considering teaching intelligent design. He said Mr. Behe's testimony "reinforces my point of view."

October 19, 2005

Witness Defends Broad Definition of Science

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 18 - A leading architect of the intelligent-design movement defended his ideas in a federal courtroom on Tuesday and acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design. In 1960, after an exhaustive 14-year study, the Nobel committee declared: astrology could not be considered science.

Prof. Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, is the first expert witness for the school board of Dover, Pa., which is requiring students to hear a statement about intelligent design in biology class.

Under sharp cross-examination by a lawyer for parents who have sued the school district, he said he was untroubled by the broadness of his definition of science What a relief! I could hardly sleep at night for worrying whether or not Prof Behe were troubled by his nonsensical definition of science! (It seems to me that as a point of etymology, the definition we have all agreed to agree to, for the sound and symbol: ‘science’, is the thought described in our dictionaries.  Any new protocol that doesn’t invalidate the old, should have a new word instead of being seen as a change in the agreed methodology) and likened intelligent design to the Big Bang theory of the origins of the universe because both initially faced rejection from scientists who objected for religious and philosophical reasons. Not to mention: scientific ones…

"Intelligent design is certainly not the dominant view of the scientific community," Professor Behe testified in Federal District Court, "but I am very pleased with the progress we are making."

Intelligent design is the belief that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that they were created by an intelligent force of some kind. At issue in the lawsuit is whether the concept's introduction into biology class is an abridgment of the separation between church and state.

The board voted last year to require that students in ninth-grade biology listen to a four-paragraph statement saying that there are gaps and problems with the theory of evolution and that intelligent design is among the alternatives worth considering. The statement said that among the resources available in the school library for further study is an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People."

In two days on the stand, Professor Behe has insisted that intelligent design is not the same as creationism, which supports the biblical view that God created the earth and its creatures fully formed. The Supreme Court has ruled that creationism is a religious belief and cannot be taught in public school.

The cross-examination of Professor Behe on Tuesday made it clear that intelligent-design proponents do not necessarily share the same definition of their own theory. Eric Rothschild, a lawyer representing the parents suing the school board, projected an excerpt from the "Pandas" textbook that said: "Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features already intact, fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks and wings, etc."

In that definition, Mr. Rothschild asked, couldn't the words "intelligent design" be replaced by "creationism" and still make sense? Professor Behe responded that that excerpt from the textbook was "somewhat problematic," and that it was not consistent with his definition of intelligent design.

Mr. Rothschild asked Professor Behe why then he had not objected to the passage since he was among the scientists who was listed as a reviewer of the book. Professor Behe said that although he had reviewed the textbook, he had reviewed only the section he himself had written, on blood clotting. Pressed further, he agreed that it was "not typical" for critical reviewers of scientific textbooks to review their own work.

Intelligent design, according to Professor Behe's definition, is a scientific theory that is able to accept some aspects of evolution, like change in organisms over time, but rejects the Darwinian theory of random natural selection. He said intelligent design "focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose."

Scientific critics of intelligent design - and there are many - have said for years that its proponents never propose any positive arguments or proofs of their theory, but rest entirely on finding flaws in evolution.

In an attempt to pin Professor Behe down, Mr. Rothschild asked, "What is the mechanism that intelligent design is proposing?"

Mr. Behe said: "It does not propose a mechanism in the sense of a step-by-step description of how these structures arose." He added that "the word 'mechanism' can be used broadly" and said the mechanism was "intelligent activity."

Mr. Rothschild concluded, "Sounds pretty tautological, Professor Behe."

"No, I don't think so," he responded. He likened the process to seeing the sphinx in Egypt, or the stone heads on Easter Island, and concluding that someone must have designed them.  If either the Sphinx or the heads of Easter island, were seen by a being with no knowledge of the human species & its form, they might well be taken as randomly shaped! What seem abstract shapes in naturally formed rock formations (once likened to something of similar shape) would seem just as incredibly complex and might, therefore, point to intelligent design.  It seems to me proponents of both issues: science and intelligent design, succumb at times to the homocentric prejudice.

Listening from the front row of the courtroom, a school board members said he found Professor Behe's testimony reaffirming. "Doesn't it sound like he knows what he's talking about?" said the Rev. Ed Rowand, a board member and church pastor.

Mr. Rowand said the "core of the issue" is, "Do we have the academic freedom to tell our children there are other points of view besides Darwin's?"

October 25, 2005

Long-Ago Rivals Are Dual Impresarios of Darwin's Oeuvre

Two eminent biologists, James D. Watson and Edward O. Wilson, have been pitted by their respective publishers in an odd and inadvertent competition that recalls a bitter former rivalry. They are editors, for different publishers, of the same book.

The work is an anthology of Darwin's four principal writings on evolution with editors' introductions. In the case of the W. W. Norton book, to be published next month, the editor is Dr. Wilson. The Running Press entry, which came out last month, is spearheaded by Dr. Watson.

Each has a certain affinity with his illustrious subject. Like Darwin, Dr. Wilson is a great gatherer and synthesizer of biological facts, perceiving new patterns like his theory of sociobiology.  Dr. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, made the greatest advance in biology since Darwin, confirming evolution as the explanation of human origins.

In their editorial comments on Darwin's four books - "The Voyage of the Beagle," "On the Origin of Species," "Descent of Man" and "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" - both note the strange disconnect that Darwin's theory is the bedrock of their discipline yet is doubted by large segments of the American public.

It is "surpassingly strange," Dr. Wilson writes, that half of Americans who responded to a recent poll said they did not believe in evolution at all.  Dr. Watson writes that evolution is disputed only by those who "put their common sense on hold."

The repudiation of Darwin by religious fundamentalists is largely an American phenomenon, dismaying to Europeans, Dr. Wilson said in an interview. He attributes the difference to the frontier nature of early American society.

The religion of the frontier, he said, was "very simple, very evangelical in nature, and could summon people to quick action together." In Europe, religion was "far more hierarchical, more closely connected with the ruling class and more likely to be a state religion."

The fundamentalist strain of American religion has continued to the present day, and its collision with Darwin is one that Dr. Wilson finds perturbing. "Evolution is one of the best proven ideas of biology, so when you reject that you are beginning to turn away from what is becoming the pre-eminent science of the 21st century," he said. "So it will make a difference if the public refuses to believe in evolution."

Dr. Watson is less perturbed that so many Americans do not believe in evolution. "Oh, but eventually they will," he said in an interview in his office at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. "As people get themselves genetically tested and see that it helps them, they will realize their biological instructions work this way."

He has little time for intelligent design, the proposal that evolution is shaped at the level of DNA by some thoughtful demiurge. "If I have any message for intelligent design, it is that it will come and go," he said.

Dr. Watson says he wants no war between science and religion, and sees other reasons besides religious belief for people's sometimes feeble embrace of science. "I think the reason people are dealing with science less well now than 50 years ago is that it has become so complicated," he said.

But Dr. Wilson sees the two world views as irreconcilable. He believes that the propensity for religious belief was "hard-wired into us," because the tribes that believed they were favored by the gods "were the tribes that beat the other tribes." The advance of science can only undermine the religious view of the world. "I don't see the modern scientific view of the human condition will do anything but move away from traditional religious thinking," he said.

Dr. Watson and Dr. Wilson find themselves cast as dual impresarios of Darwin's oeuvre because of a misunderstanding that developed between Dr. Wilson and Running Press, part of Perseus Books, which first invited him to do the book. Dr. Wilson's agent transferred his contribution to Norton, and Running Press then enlisted Dr. Watson to take Dr. Wilson's place.

Being authors of rival publications is as nothing compared with the intense competition between the two when they were young assistant professors in the Harvard biology department in the 1950's and 60's.

Dr. Watson, fresh from his triumph with DNA, did not see the point of studying anything in biology other than genes, especially not whole animals. "At department meetings, Watson radiated contempt in all directions," Dr. Wilson wrote in "Naturalist," his autobiography. "He shunned ordinary courtesy and polite conversation, evidently in the belief that they would only encourage the traditionalists to stay around."

The traditional biologists and the new molecular biologists sparred over which directions research should take and which discipline new hires should belong to. Dr. Wilson's side received an unexpected boost one day in 1958 when their champion received tenure before Dr. Watson.

In a biography, "Watson and DNA," Victor K. McElheny records how the Harvard biology department was apprised of this development. "Watson could be heard coming up the stairwell to the third floor," Mr. McElheny wrote, repeatedly shouting the same one-word obscenity. The two men, according to each, have long since made up, and they now portray their clash in terms of the historical collision between the disciplines that each represented.

"Jim was a notoriously difficult person then," Dr. Wilson said. "But over the years, he has mellowed. And I guess I did too, and with organismic biology making use of molecular biology, biology began to be united."

Dr. Watson says much the same. "I was against bad organismal biology," he recalled. "I wasn't against Ed. I wanted molecular biology to thrive at Harvard, and his fair-mindedness led him to appoint Lewontin," he said, referring to Richard Lewontin, the population geneticist who led a political and personal attack on Dr. Wilson for his book "Sociobiology."

The anthologies are meant to coincide with a Darwin exhibition opening next month at the American Museum of Natural History that is tied to the approaching anniversary of "On the Origin of Species, " still making trouble after 150 years.

October 28, 2005

Kansas Fight on Evolution Escalates

Two leading science organizations have denied the Kansas Board of Education permission to use their copyrighted materials as part of the state's proposed new science standards because of the standards' critical approach to evolution.

The rebuke from the two groups, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association, comes less than two weeks before the board's expected adoption of the controversial new standards, which will serve as a template for statewide tests and thus have great influence on what is taught.
Kansas is one of a number of states and school districts where the teaching of evolution has lately come under assault. If adopted, its change in standards will be among the most aggressive challenges in the nation to biology's bedrock theory.

The copyright denial could delay adoption as the standards are rewritten but is unlikely to derail the board's conservative majority in its mission to require that challenges to Darwin's theories be taught in the state's classrooms.

In a joint statement yesterday, Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy, and Michael J. Padilla, president of the teachers' group, said: "Kansas students will not be well prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world."

In the statement and in letters to the state board, the groups opposed the standards because they would single out evolution as a controversial theory and change the definition of science itself so that it is not restricted to the study of natural phenomena. A third organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, echoed those concerns in a news release supporting the copyright denial, saying, "Students are ill served by any effort in science classrooms to blur the distinction between science and other ways of knowing, including those concerned with the supernatural."

Though the complaints of the National Academy and the teachers' group focus on just a handful of references to evolution, their copyrighted material appears on almost all 100 pages of the standards, which are an overview of science subjects taught in kindergarten through high school. In Kansas, as in most states, local school districts decide on curriculums and choose textbooks, but the state standards guide those decisions.

"In some cases it's just a phrase, but in some cases it's extensive," Steve Case, the chairman of the board's standards-writing committee, said of the differences required by the copyright denial. "You try to keep the idea but change the wording around; the writing becomes horrifically bad."

Dr. Case, a research professor at the University of Kansas who opposes the proposed standards, said removing the copyrighted material could take several months.  But Steve Abrams, the board's president and leader of its 6-to-4 conservative majority, said it could approve the standards on Nov. 8 as planned, with a caveat directing a copyright lawyer to edit out direct references to the groups' materials.

"The impact is minimal - it won't change the concepts," said Dr. Abrams, a veterinarian. "They obviously don't have copyrights on concepts."

The copyright skirmish is not a surprise: the two science groups took similar steps in 1999, when the Kansas board stripped the standards of virtually any reference to evolution, a move that was reversed when conservative members were ousted from office. (Critics of evolutionary theory regained a majority last year.) See pg 94- board members in Pennsylvania ousted.

Sue Gamble, a board member who opposes the changes, acknowledged that the science groups' dissent would do little to halt the standards' adoption but said it could lead to a backlash.

"Nothing is going to stop these six members from doing what they're going to do," she said of the board's conservative majority, four of whom are up for re-election in 2006. "It won't make any difference, but I think it will make a difference next year in the election."

November 4, 2005

In Intelligent Design Case, a Cause in Search of a Lawsuit

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 3 - For years, a lawyer for the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan visited school boards around the country searching for one willing to challenge evolution by teaching intelligent design, and to face a risky, high-profile trial.

Intelligent design was a departure for a nonprofit law firm founded by two conservative Roman Catholics - one the magnate of Domino's pizza, the other a former prosecutor - who until then had focused on the defense of anti-abortion advocates, gay-rights opponents and the display of Christian symbols like crosses and Nativity scenes on government property.

But Richard Thompson, the former prosecutor who is president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Center, says its role is to use the courts "to change the culture" - and it well could depending on the outcome of the test case it finally found.

Lawyers for the center are to sum up their case on Friday after a six-week trial in which they have been defending the school district in the small Pennsylvania town of Dover. The school board voted last year to require that students in ninth grade biology class be read a statement saying that "Darwin's theory" is "not a fact" and that intelligent design is an alternative worth studying.

At issue in the Dover lawsuit, brought by 11 parents in Federal District Court, is whether intelligent design is really religion dressed up as science, and whether teaching it in a public school violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

The More center's lawyers put scientists on the witness stand who argued that intelligent design - the idea that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them - is a credible scientific theory and not religion because it never identifies God as the designer.
Still religion is at the heart of the case's appeal for the center, say its lawyers and the chairman of its board.

The chairman, Bowie Kuhn, the former baseball commissioner, said the board agreed that the center should take on an intelligent design case because while it is not necessarily based on religion "it is being opposed because people think it is religious."  And that was enough for a group whose mission, as explained on its Web site, is "to protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square."

"America's culture has been influenced by Christianity from the very beginning," Mr. Thompson said, "but there is an attempt to slowly remove every symbol of Christianity and religious faith in our country. This is a very dangerous movement because what will ultimately happen is, out of sight, out of mind."

The legal group was founded in 1999 by Mr. Thompson and Thomas Monaghan, the former chief executive of Domino's pizza. At the time, Mr. Thompson had just lost his re-election campaign for prosecutor in Oakland County, Mich., defeated by voters disenchanted by his pursuit of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the retired pathologist who attended numerous assisted suicides.

In earlier cases, the center defended an enormous cross placed on a hill outside San Diego and Nativity scenes in Florida and New York. It sued the Ann Arbor schools for providing benefits for same-sex partners. And in one of its most controversial cases, it defended an anti-abortion group that ran an online list of doctors it said should be stopped from providing abortions. The doctors said the group was threatening them and their families. Mr. Thompson said in an interview it was "a very important free speech case."

To find its first intelligent design case, the lawyers went around the country looking for a school board willing to withstand a lawsuit. In May 2000, Robert Muise, one of the lawyers, traveled to Charleston, W.Va., to persuade the school board there to buy the intelligent design textbook "Of Pandas and People" and teach it in science class.

Mr. Muise told the board in Charleston that it would undoubtedly be sued if the district taught intelligent design, but that the center would mount a defense at no cost.

"We'll be your shields against such attacks," he told them at a school board meeting, a riff on the center's slogan, "The Sword and Shield for People of Faith." He said they could defend teaching intelligent design as a matter of academic freedom.

John Luoni, the former president of the Charleston school board, said he remembered listening to Mr. Muise and concluding: "It's not really a scientific theory. It's more of a religious theory. It should be taught if a church or a denomination believes in it, but I didn't think that religious viewpoint should be taught as part of a science class."

The board in West Virginia declined the center's offer. So did school districts in Michigan and Minnesota and a handful of other states, Mr. Muise and Mr. Thompson said.

But in Dover, the firm found willing partners when it contacted the school board in the summer of 2004 and promised it a first-class defense,
The Dover school board proceeded despite a memo from its lawyer, Stephen S. Russell, warning that if the board lost the case, they would have to pay its opponents legal fees - which according to the plaintiffs' lawyers exceeds $1 million. In the memorandum, revealed in court on Wednesday, Mr. Russell advised that opponents would have a strong case because board members had a lengthy public record of advocating "putting religion back in the schools."

Some of the proponents of intelligent design are also unhappy that the case went to court, and fear it could stop the movement in its infancy because some board members had a public record of advocating creationism, which the Supreme Court has twice ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

"The school district never consulted us and did the exact opposite of what we suggested," said John G. West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, an organization in the forefront of the intelligent design movement. "Frankly I don't even know if school board members know what intelligent design is. They and their supporters are trying to hijack intelligent design for their own purposes. They think they're sending signals in the culture wars."

Mr. Thompson, the Thomas More Center's chief counsel, said the case appealed to him because of its "national impact." Four months before the trial started, he said, he watched the movie "Inherit the Wind," a drama about the Scopes evolution trial 80 years ago that helped turn the country against religious creationists and fundamentalists.

"It's only when you take the cases that are on the borderline that you can change the law," he said.

No matter how the Dover case turns out, the center is considering defending several teachers who are defying their school districts by teaching intelligent design.
"We're developing all this expertise in intelligent design," Mr. Thompson said. "We hope to use it."

November 5, 2005

Closing Arguments Made in Trial on Intelligent Design

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 4 - The nation's first trial to test the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design as science ended Friday with a lawyer for the Dover school board pronouncing intelligent design "the next great paradigm shift in science."

His opponent, a lawyer for the 11 parents suing the school board, dismissed intelligent design as dishonest, unscientific and based entirely on "a meager little analogy that collapses immediately upon inspection."

The conclusion of the six-week trial in Federal District Court on Friday made it clear that two separate but interconnected entities are actually on trial: the Dover school board and the fledgling intelligent design movement.

The board in Dover, a growing town south of Harrisburg, voted last year to read to ninth-grade biology students a four-paragraph statement saying that there are "gaps" in the theory of evolution, and that intelligent design is an alternative they should explore.

At the trial, board members repeatedly said they wanted to "encourage critical thinking." But the parents presented evidence that the board's purpose was religious and that the intelligent design statement was a compromise that the board settled for after learning it could not teach creationism.

Operating on another plane in the case were the dueling scientists, those who argued that intelligent design is an exciting new explanation, versus those who testified that it does not deserve to be called science.

The case, Kitzmiller et al v. Dover, will be decided by Judge John E. Jones III, who says he hopes to issue his ruling before the end of the year, or early January at the latest.

The scientists who advocate intelligent design explained that the complexity of biological organisms and the "purposeful arrangement of parts" are evidence that there is a designer. They said their theory is not religious because they are not claiming the designer is God, since that is untestable.

Scott A. Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho, testified for the defense on Thursday and Friday, likening intelligent design to seeing a watch and implicitly knowing that it had a designer - the argument the plaintiffs' lawyer called "a meager little analogy."

In his blunt closing argument, the plaintiffs' lawyer, Eric Rothschild, accused the intelligent design movement of lying, just as he said the school board members had lied when they testified that their purpose for changing the science curriculum had nothing to do with religion.

They lied, he said, when they testified that they did not make or hear religious declarations at board meetings, and when they claimed they did not know that 50 copies of an intelligent design textbook were bought for the school with money collected at a church and funneled through the father of a school board member, Alan Bonsell.

This week, the judge himself grew agitated as he questioned Mr. Bonsell about whether he had lied about the books. Mr. Rothschild reminded the judge of that interchange and said that the board's dishonesty "mimics" the intelligent design movement.

"Its essential religious nature does not change whether it is called 'creation science' or 'intelligent design' or 'sudden emergence theory,' " Mr. Rothschild said. "The shell game has to stop."

A lawyer for the school board, Patrick Gillen, said in closing arguments that while some board members had strong religious beliefs, neither their "primary purpose" nor the effect of their policy was to advance religion.

The trial laid bare the fighting over the biology curriculum that went on between Dover's board and science teachers for more than two years. Science teachers testified that they fought the change at every step, but Mr. Gillen said that the final result "has much more to do with the teachers' input" than the board's.

The campaign to teach creationism alongside evolution was largely driven by two school board members, William Buckingham and Mr. Bonsell, who both testified that they believe the Bible's account of creation is literally true.

Michael R. Baksa, the assistant superintendent of the Dover schools, testified Thursday that when he started his job there in 2002, Mr. Bonsell handed him a copy of "The Myth of Separation," a book by David Barton which argues that the founding fathers intended to create a Christian nation, not one in which church and state were separate.

In 2004, after the board passed its policy on intelligent design, Mr. Baksa received a cynical e-mail message from a social studies teacher saying that since the district was transformed from being "standards driven" to "living word driven," maybe the social studies curriculum should change, too. Mr. Baksa responded: "Feel free to borrow my copy" of the "Myth" book "to get an idea of where the board is coming from."

The big question now is whether the judge will base his ruling more narrowly on the specific actions of the Dover board, or more broadly on the permissibility of teaching intelligent design in public school science classes.

Robert Muise, a lawyer for the board, said his strategy was to present scientists as expert witnesses to prove that there is a complex debate among scientists. "It's going to be difficult for the judge to decide" whether the pro- or the anti-intelligent-design scientists are right, Mr. Muise said.

But Mr. Rothschild said, "This isn't really science against science because that would be two competing arguments based on evidence, research and peer-reviewed articles - and intelligent design has none of those."

Last year Ruth West became the first artist in residence linking the biological sciences and the arts here. As part of the Calit2 Research in Computing and the Arts project earlier this year, she unveiled a collaborative project, Ecce Homology, to explore the relationship between genetics and culture. Named after Friedrich Nietzsche's "Ecce Homo," the project explored human evolution by visually comparing genes from humans and rice plants. The installation was interactive, tracking the hand gestures of visitors standing in the gallery and allowing them to interact, using body movements, with an enormous projected wall display screen. They were able to discover similarities between the portions of the rice and human genomes stored in a computer database.

November 7, 2005

An Evolutionist's Evolution

It may seem that the American Museum of Natural History is cruising for controversy in presenting "Darwin," the most comprehensive exhibition any museum has offered on the naturalist's life and theories. It is a time, after all, when the theory of evolution by natural selection seems as newsworthy as it was back in the days of the Scopes trial 80 years ago.

According to a CBS News poll last month, 51 percent of Americans reject the theory of evolution, saying that God created humans in their present form. And reflecting a longstanding sentiment, 38 percent of Americans believe that creationism should be taught instead of evolution, according to an August poll by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

An ongoing federal trial in Harrisburg, Pa., may determine whether a local school board can compel teachers to inform students about the theory of intelligent design - the idea that life on earth is too complex to have arisen through evolution alone. And though there is no credible scientific support for this position, President Bush, when asked in August about evolution and intelligent design, said that "both sides ought to be properly taught."

However, said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum, the $3 million exhibition, which opens to the public on Nov. 19, was conceived three years ago and "is not a riposte, but a celebration of Darwin's life and his ideas, which are the cornerstone of modern biology." The exhibition illustrates the way in which evolution became the basis for modern biology, ranking its importance with the theories of relativity in physics, If ID proponents understood better the Theory of Relativity, they would realize they must fight it too since the physical laws it reveals have nothing to do with a homocentric universe!  and plate tectonics in geology.

"Since Darwin's life is an adventure story that reflects the scientific process," Dr. Futter added, "the show is a cerebral and physical exploration, an attempt to humanize science through an understanding of Darwin's life."

The exhibition will consist of more than 400 artifacts, specimens and documents, including at least 100 lent manuscripts and other objects, 159 models fabricated by the museum's workshops, 74 specimens from the museum's collections and nine live animals. Though created and designed at the museum, the show received conceptual advice and financial assistance from four institutions that will present the exhibition after it closes in New York on May 29: the Museum of Science in Boston, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Natural History Museum in London.

"We see the exhibition as an important part of our Darwin bicentennial," said Robert M. Bloomfield, head of special projects at the Natural History Museum in London. The show will arrive there in late 2008, "a harbinger of our celebrations," Dr. Bloomfield said, referring to elaborate plans to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth in 2009, which is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking book "On the Origin of Species."

Michael J. Novacek, senior vice president and provost of the American Museum of Natural History, said that "our hope is to make it emphatically clear just how important Darwin's work is to modern science, and to what we and other scientists do in everyday life."

Referring to the museum's curatorial, research and academic faculty of 200 scientists, "the work of most of them is essentially based on Darwin's work," Dr. Novacek said. None of the staffers believe in intelligent design "or at least they haven't declared it," he said. "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

He added, "Some of the current reactions to Darwin's work are the same as they were when 'Origin' was first published."

The exhibition mentions intelligent design not as science, or as a theory to be debated, but as a form of creationism, which offers the biblical view that God created the earth and its creatures fully formed within the last 10,000 years. In 1987 the Supreme Court ruled that creationism is a religious belief that cannot be taught in public schools.

Dr. Novacek said that "we are welcoming everyone to the show," adding that "we will be prepared to respond to questions." The museum's docents and public-education staff are being trained on how to respond to challenges to the exhibition.

Niles Eldredge, the exhibition's curator, said, "We might change some minds." But Dr. Novacek added: "We respect people's beliefs, and conversion is not necessarily our goal. We hope that every visitor will have a clearer idea of what Darwin did and, for that matter, what science means."

The show was envisioned as the next in the museum's series on thinkers, explorers and scientists, following its exhibitions on Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Shackleton and Albert Einstein. The 6,000-square-foot Darwin exhibition has been assembled not only from the museum's collections but also from those of Cambridge University, the Darwin family and Down House, where the naturalist spent the last 40 years of his life.

The exhibition is presented as a chronological journey to South America and the Galápagos Islands and as an internal journey that changed the way Darwin viewed the world and himself. "We'd like visitors to follow Darwin's life, to see what he saw, and understand how he came to his ideas," Dr. Eldredge said.

The exhibition "has the crown jewels," Dr. Novacek said, referring to Darwin's original specimens, manuscripts and notes. "Many of these haven't been together since they were on the H.M.S. Beagle," he said, referring to the 90-foot ship that carried Darwin on a voyage from 1831 to 1836 to South America and the Galápagos, an isolated chain of volcanic islands off the west coast of South America.

Visitors who approach the exhibition through the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians will come across two live 13-year-old, 50-pound specimens of Geochelone nigra, the Galápagos tortoise that offered Darwin clues for his evolutionary theory. Later in the gallery, they will discover a five-foot-long live green iguana and a terrarium housing six live Ceratophrys ornata, horned toads.

Inside, the very first exhibit is the magnifying glass that Darwin used to examine his specimens.

The show will offer an overview of human evolution through the rich fossil record. As tiny as the number collected is…  It will also demonstrate how Darwin's work gave rise to modern biology with cutting-edge displays on genomic research, DNA research and evidence of the latest scientific update of the taxonomic tree of life.

Dr. Eldredge has been an important participant in this work. In the 1970's he and Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard University paleontologist who died in 2002, developed the theory of punctuated equilibria in evolution: the notion that transitions in species take place periodically - during intense periods of activity - and not necessarily as part of a steady, gradual process.

On display will be a rare manuscript page from "Origin," one of just a few known to exist. (Fun fact: Darwin never used the word "evolution" in the first edition, though the book's last word is "evolved.")

Also on view will be some of Darwin's most famous notebooks, written from 1837 to 1839, especially Page 36 in Notebook B, where he sketched the world's first evolutionary tree of life. "That's the equivalent of seeing E=mc2 in Einstein's papers," Dr. Eldredge said.

Also on display is the original text from Notebook D that shows the eureka moment when Darwin first described natural selection.

From the Beagle voyage, the exhibition offers Darwin's original pistol, his telescope and his Bible. There are also 33 of the beetles, butterflies, moths and flies Darwin collected, and his rock hammer, used on geological excursions.

In one exhibition, area visitors will see a five-foot-tall reproduction of a famous geological outcrop, the Hutton Unconformity in Scotland, which has an 80-million-year gap in its rock record. This helped demonstrate to Darwin that the earth was much older than the 6,000 years posited by many creationists.

The museum also offers a meticulous recreation of the room at Down House where he wrote "Origin," presenting Darwin's original cane, work table and specimen boxes.

The significance of Darwin's ideas "has grown," Dr. Bloomfield said. "For example, at this moment we're looking at Asian bird flu and where it's going. If not for Darwinism, we would be ignorant of the mechanism of that flu, and how it changes over time."

November 8, 2005

Science and Religion Share Fascination in Things Unseen

Most of the current controversies associated with science revolve around the vastly different reactions people both within the scientific community and outside it have, not to the strange features of the universe that we can observe for ourselves, but rather to those features we cannot observe.

In my own field of physics, theorists hotly debate the possible existence of an underlying mathematical beauty associated with a host of new dimensions that may or may not exist in nature.

School boards, legislatures and evangelists hotly debate the possible existence of an underlying purpose to nature that similarly may or may not exist.

It seems that humans are hard-wired to yearn for new realms well beyond the reach of our senses into which we can escape, if only with our minds. It is possible that we need to rely on such possibilities or the world of our experience would become intolerable.

Certainly science has, in the past century, validated the notion that what we see is far from all there is.  We cannot directly see electrons but we now know that material objects we can hold in our hand are actually, at an atomic level, largely empty space, and that it is the electric fields associated with the electrons that keep them from falling through our hands.

And when we peer into the darkness of the night sky, within the size of the spot covered up by a dime held at arm's length, we now know that over 100,000 galaxies more or less like our own are hiding. And we know most contain over 100 billion stars, many housing solar systems, and around some of them may exist intelligent life forms whose existence may, too, remain forever hidden from us.

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein began to unveil the hidden nature of space and time, and after working for another full decade he discovered that space itself is dynamic.  It can curve and bend in response to matter and energy, and ultimately even the calm peace of the night sky, suggesting an eternal universe, is itself an illusion. Distant galaxies are being carried away by an expanding space, just as a swimmer at rest in the water can nevertheless get carried away from shore by a strong current.

Thus, it is perhaps not too surprising that when one approaches the limits of our knowledge, theologians and scientists alike tend to appeal to new hidden universes for, respectively, either redemption or understanding.

The apparent complexity of our universe has compelled some evangelists, and some school boards, to argue that the natural laws we have unraveled over the past four centuries cannot be enough on their own to explain the diversity of the phenomena we observe around us, including the remarkable diversity of life on earth.

For very different reasons, but still without a shred of empirical evidence, a generation of theoretical physicists has speculated that the four dimensions of our experience may themselves be just a grand illusion - the tip of a cosmic iceberg.

String theory, yet to have any real successes in explaining or predicting anything measurable, has nevertheless become a fixture in the public lexicon, and the elaborate and surprising mathematical framework that has resulted from over three decades of theoretical study has been enough for some to argue that even a thus-far empirically impotent idea must describe reality.

Further, it has now been proposed that the extra dimensions of string theory may not even be microscopically small, which has been the long accepted mathematical trick used by advocates to explain why we may not yet detect them.

Instead, they could be large enough to house entire other universes with potentially different laws of physics, and perhaps even objects that, like the eight-dimensional beings in a Buckaroo Banzai story, might leak into our own dimensions.

I wouldn't bet on their existence, but the fact that such potentially infinite spaces could exist and still be effectively hidden in our world is nevertheless remarkable.

Whatever one thinks about all of these ruminations about hidden realities, there is an important difference - at least I hope there is - between the scientists who currently speculate about extra dimensions and those whose beliefs cause them to insist that life can only be understood by going beyond the confines of the natural world.

Scientists know that without experimental vindication their proposals are likely to wither. Moreover, a single definitive "null experiment," like the Michelson-Morley experiment in 1887 that dispensed with the long-sought-after ether, could sweep away the whole idea.

Religious belief that the universe is the handiwork of an all-powerful being is not subject to refutation. This sort of reliance on faith may itself have an evolutionary basis. There has been talk of a "god gene": the idea of an early advantage in the struggle for survival for those endowed with a belief in a hidden patrimony that gives order, purpose and meaning to the universe we experience.

Does the same evolutionary predilection lead physicists and mathematicians to see beauty in the unobserved, or unobservable? Does the longstanding human love affair with extra dimensions reflect something fundamental about the way we think, rather than about the world in which we live?

The mathematician Hermann Weyl was quoted as having said not long before he died, "My work always tried to unite the true with the beautiful, but when I had to choose one or the other, I usually chose the beautiful."

Mathematicians, artists and writers may choose beauty over truth. Scientists can only hope that we do not have to make the choice.
Lawrence M. Krauss is a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University. His latest book is "Hiding in the Mirror."

November 9, 2005
School Board

Evolution Slate Outpolls Rivals

All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy.

Among the losing incumbents on the Dover, Pa., board were two members who testified in favor of the intelligent design policy at a recently concluded federal trial on the Dover policy: the chairwoman, Sheila Harkins, and Alan Bonsell.

The election results were a repudiation of the first school district in the nation to order the introduction of intelligent design in a science class curriculum. The policy was the subject of a trial in Federal District Court that ended last Friday. A verdict by Judge John E. Jones III is expected by early January.

"I think voters were tired of the trial, they were tired of intelligent design, they were tired of everything that this school board brought about," said Bernadette Reinking, who was among the winners.

The election will not alter the facts on which the judge must decide the case. But if the intelligent design policy is defeated in court, the new school board could refuse to pursue an appeal. It could also withdraw the policy, a step that many challengers said they intended to take.

"We are all for it being discussed, but we do not want to see it in biology class," said Judy McIlvaine, a member of the winning slate. "It is not a science."
The vote counts were close, but of the 16 candidates the one with the fewest votes was Mr. Bonsell, the driving force behind the intelligent design policy. Testimony at the trial revealed that Mr. Bonsell had initially insisted that creationism get equal time in the classroom with evolution.

One incumbent, James Cashman, said he would contest the vote because a voting machine in one precinct recorded no votes for him, while others recorded hundreds.

He said that school spending and a new teacher contract, not intelligent design, were the determining issues. "We ran a very conservative school board, and obviously there are people who want to see more money spent," he said.

One board member, Heather Geesey, was not up for re-election.

The school board voted in October 2004 to require ninth grade biology students to hear a brief statement at the start of the semester saying that there were "gaps" in the theory of evolution, that intelligent design was an alternative and that students could learn more about it by reading a textbook "Of Pandas and People," available in the high school library.

The board was sued by 11 Dover parents who contended that intelligent design was religious creationism in new packaging, and that the board was trying to impose its religion on students. The parents were represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a private law firm, Pepper Hamilton LLP.

November 10, 2005

A Decisive Election in a Town Roiled Over Intelligent Design

DOVER, Pa., Nov. 9 - In the end, voters here said they were tired of being portrayed as a northern version of Dayton, Tenn., a Bible Belt hamlet where 80 years ago a biology teacher named John Scopes was tried for illegally teaching evolution.

On Tuesday, the residents of Dover ousted all eight school board members running for re-election who had put their town in a global spotlight and their school district on trial for being the first in the nation to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in science class. In swept the full Dover Cares slate of eight candidates, which had coalesced to oppose the change in the science curriculum.

"I think the people of Dover are tired of the attention over such a minuscule thing and they want a change," said Lonny Langione, who had served on the board in years past and supported the challengers. "A lot of the people I talked to were upset because the school board came to using taxpayer money to advance their own agenda."

Before it took up intelligent design, Dover was a typical American town experiencing typical growing pains: family farmers selling out to developers, fields sprouting McMansions, crowded classrooms, S.U.V.'s speeding down roads built for tractors.

By wading into the great reawakening of a national debate over the teaching of evolution, the town of Dover was diverted from bread-and-butter issues, and found itself divided in surprising ways.

The lines were not neatly drawn. Christians who belonged to the same church found themselves on opposite sides. Fathers quarreled with sons. Next-door neighbors posted dueling lawn signs. Registered Republicans cast their party affiliations aside to run with the victorious Dover Cares slate when election rules forced all eight of its candidates to run on the Democratic line.

Voters themselves crossed party lines to vote for the candidates they favored. If they had not, the school board incumbents, all of whom ran on the Republican line, would probably have prevailed in a district where 70 percent of voters are registered Republicans.

In the end, the election was close. Only 26 votes separated the winner of one seat from his rival.

"I'm surprised that we won all eight seats," said the Rev. Warren Eshbach, the spokesman for Dover Cares, whose son, Robert, was among the winners. "It shows what good bipartisanship can do."

The incumbents did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The election came only four days after closing arguments in a six-week trial of the Dover school board and administrators in Federal District Court in Harrisburg, about 25 miles to the northeast. Eleven parents had sued the Dover board on constitutional grounds, saying that intelligent design was an outgrowth of religious creationism. The case will be decided by Judge John E. Jones III, who said he expected to rule by early January.

The majority of voters rejected the board's argument that it was only trying to expose students to a variety of theories about the development of organisms. The policy did not tell teachers to teach intelligent design, just to mention it in a statement to be read to students.

The statement said that evolution is "not a fact" and that students can explore intelligent design by reading "Of Pandas and People" in the school library.
The debate over Darwin versus intelligent design has played out in places like Myers Barbershop, where the owner, Barry Myers, has been trimming the hair of Dover residents for 37 years.

"I just don't think we got here by some Big Bang," said Mr. Myers, who said he voted for the incumbents. "I think if they have the right people to teach it, it should be taught."

Teaching intelligent design, he said, would help bring a "moral compass" to the classroom.

His son, Matt Myers, 34, expressed a decidedly different view, saying: "I'm glad the board's been voted out. I don't think science teachers are qualified to teach intelligent design."

Matt Myers said intelligent design should be offered as an elective, a position advocated by several Dover Cares candidates.

The campaign was hard fought and at times nasty. Board members sent out a mass mailing accusing the Dover Cares slate of allying with the American Civil Liberties Union, a group, it said in the mailing, that had also defended terrorists and the North American Man/Boy Love Association. The A.C.L.U. is representing the plaintiffs against the board.

Bryan Rehm, a member of the Dover Cares slate and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said, "That's the level they were willing to sink to."

The suit will not be affected by the election in the short term, lawyers involved in it said. The judge must still issue a ruling on the intelligent design policy as it stands. But the new school board, which takes office in early December, could decide to revoke the current policy.
Terry Aguayo and Gary Gately contributed reporting for this article.

Science that Backs Up Faith
There is overwhelming evidence for a creator, says Lee Strobel.
Interview by Rob Moll | posted 06/01/2005 10:45 a.m.
Lee Strobel, the former investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune turned apologist, recently won a CT book award for his latest work, The Case for a Creator. Similar to his other books, Strobel interviews several academics and scientists in order to investigate the evidence for a creative intelligence. CT online assistant editor Rob Moll spoke with Strobel.

You dive into some deep philosophical and scientific waters as you make this case for a creator. How did you make the book accessible without dumbing it down?

That was the major challenge of the book. I wanted it to be a resource that both seekers and Christians could use to see how evidence discovered over the last 50 years points toward the existence of a Creator.

I would read probably 10 books before I'd write a chapter. I tried to select scholars who were credentialed and yet able to speak in accessible terms. Then I just had to sit down and force them to communicate at a level that I could understand.

Many intellectuals say that Intelligent Design isn't science, because you start with the presupposition that God or something created the universe.

That's not true. It follows the evidence wherever it leads. Do you rule out at the outset the possibilities of a creator, and then only look at evidence that tries to create a naturalistic explanation for the data? Or, are you open to the possibility of an intelligent designer?

I think of Anthony Flew, probably the world's greatest philosophical atheist, who recently turned away from atheism and said he now believes in a creator. He said, "I had to follow the evidence."

I think if you do look at cosmology and physics and biochemistry and genetics and consciousness and astronomy, the arrows point in a direction and I think that direction is toward an intelligent designer.

Give me an example of an area of science or philosophy that points that direction.

To me, cosmology and physics are two of the most powerful areas that point toward a creator. The evidence over the last 50 years that points toward the beginning of a universe allows an old Muslim argument to kick into gear, which says that whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist; therefore the universe has a cause.

We have scientific data that indicates the universe did have a beginning, and so that argument takes on new meaning. Couple that with the fine-tuning of the universe, the dozens of parameters of physics that are so tuned to allow life to exist. Just those two areas of science point powerfully toward the existence of a creator who's beyond time and space, who's immaterial, who's powerful, who's smart.

You talked to a lot of scientists, many of them atheists, who studied the facts and came to conclusions other than the standard evolutionary explanation for life.
Exactly right. If astronomy and physics and biochemistry suggest an Intelligent Designer, should we not have the freedom to consider that as a possibility? Linus Pauling, who won the Nobel Prize twice, said science ought to be the search for truth. Let's not limit our search to only a naturalistic explanation. Let's leave open the possibility that we may not know everything about the universe. There may be a dimension that we don't quite comprehend. If the evidence points in that direction, let's pursue it.

It didn't seem hard to find top quality scientists and researchers who came to that conclusion.

Absolutely. My problem was trying to pare it down to who I thought would be someone who would be able to articulate the evidence powerfully and persuasively and in a way that everybody could get. There's more than 300 scientists with doctorates from major universities who've now signed this statement saying that they are skeptical of the claims of neo-Darwinism.

I quote somebody in the book as saying that one of the fastest growing phenomenon is scientists who are doubtful of the claims of Darwinism.
You write about being taught as a student evidence for evolution that actually wasn't true. Can you talk about some of those myths that are often taught?
I walked away from my education in science convinced of the truth of Darwinism based on different facts than I had been taught at the time. I learned everything ranging from the famous origin-of-life experiment back in the 1950s that supposedly recreated the atmosphere of the early Earth and shot electricity through it to create amino acids; to the side-by-side comparisons of the different fetuses that Ernst Haeckel drew back in the 1800s, which everybody now knows are frauds; and Darwin's tree of life, which is this idea that there's a common ancestor and that neo-Darwinism can account for all of the flowering branches of different species of animals through time. Lumping one thing science believes with a few it doesn’t…

When I look at all of that and begin to examine each one of those case by case, and critically analyze whether or not neo-Darwinism really does explain this stuff, I walk away with great skepticism.

If you define evolution as change over time, everybody agrees there's been evolution. The question is, what about the grandest claims of neo-Darwinism, that a common ancestor and natural selection acting on random variation over eons of time can account for all this diversity of life? Those grandest claims don't withstand scrutiny.

We look at the Cambrian explosion, the sudden appearance of virtually all of the phyla of the animal kingdom with no predecessors. That flies in the face of neo-Darwinism.

You start your book with a scene with you as a young reporter. You're sent to West Virginia, where a bunch of religious townspeople are protesting the teaching of evolution in their textbooks. I was wondering if you thought that some of the things going on in public schools today would be similar to that.

If you look at public opinion polls, the public at large is generally skeptical about Darwinism. Like the writer: uneducated more than skeptical. It just doesn't ring true to a lot of people. There's an underlying widespread skepticism that neo-Darwinism could explain the diversity of life.

I take a different approach to that than some people do. I want more evolution to be taught, not less. What I mean by that is, right now, students are only getting one side of the coin. They're only getting a cursory overview of what neo-Darwinism is and being told some facts that some people believe support it. I want them to hear more about it. I want them to hear the evidence that challenges neo-Darwinism. I want students to be able to critically think about whether or not this makes sense. I want them to be free to follow the evidence wherever it points. That, to me, is academic freedom, that they should be able to pursue the evidence.

I'm not saying that Intelligent Design ought to be taught in public schools. I am saying that kids ought to be open to possibilities and pursue the evidence wherever it points, including in that direction.

When journalists cover the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, they do a quick summary of Intelligent Design by saying it's the idea that life is so complex it must have had some sort of designer. Does that do justice to the theory?

It really doesn't, because mere complexity is not the issue. There are complex things that don't point toward Intelligent Design, things like salt crystals. What that leaves out is the cosmological evidence for a beginning of the universe that begs the existence of a creator. It leaves out the fine-tuning of the universe, which looks at the way in which the universe is finely tuned to allow for life. Tautology- however finely or crudely tuned life is, it must exist in the universe it sprang from… It leaves out the biological information segment. It isn't just that life is complex; it is that life has information. It's not just raw complexity. It's a message that we find in biological information such as DNA.

If you walk down the beach and you see ripples in the sand, it's logical to say that's a complex arrangement of the sand that the waves produced. But if you walk down the beach and you see "John Loves Mary" and a big heart around it and an arrow through it, you wouldn't think the waves produced it. It's information with content. The biological information of a living organism is biological information. Nature can't produce that. It takes intelligence to produce information. Whenever we see a novel or a cave painting or data on a computer, we know there's an intelligence behind it. When we look at the four-letter chemical alphabet of DNA and how it spells out the precise assembly instructions for every protein out of which our body is built, to me that points in the direction of an intelligence behind it. It isn't just complexity.

How can Intelligent Design get past the creationist label?

It's always the Darwinists who bring that up. I've done this on my TV show, Faith Under Fire, where we'll have a debate between someone who is convinced of Intelligent Design versus a Darwinist. The Intelligent Design person brings up scientific data and arguments based on scientific evidence to support his or her beliefs. And then it goes to the other side, and that person is immediately accused of injecting faith and injecting religion and trying to be a subterfuge to teach the Bible in schools.

Well, time out here, who's bringing up religion? I didn't hear the Intelligent Design advocate bring up religion. It's being brought up by the other side. It's an ad hominem argument that Darwinists use to throw sand in people's eyes to suggest that this is just biblical creationism in another disguise. To what purpose, I wonder? It is the ID movement that attacks evolution, not Darwinists that attack intelligent design. What I'd like to see is the debate centered on the evidence and the data. Why are people so afraid of evidence that happens to point toward an affirmation of what the vast majority of people on the Earth believe in the first place? What nonsense! Only people of faith are afraid of evidence!


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