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AFP News Agency Stumbles in the Homestretch

An AFP news agency article about the growing controversy between Darwinism and intelligent design was almost balanced. Darwinist Barbara Forrest was allowed to peddle her conspiracy theory, the gist of which is that many scholars exploring the scientific evidence for intelligent design are theists! And they want to renew our culture!

Then design theorists like biologists Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells were allowed to briefly explain the scientific evidence for intelligent design. So far so good.

But then, near the end, so close to the finish line, the article stumbles badly:

Amid growing animosity, both sides agree that proving intelligent design in traditional scientific terms is next to impossible.

“Can science show you whether God exists? No,” said Dr Wells.

“It is difficult to reconcile science with Christian philosophical questions,” said Vittorio Maestro of Natural History magazine.

This is extraordinarily misleading. The central tenet of design theory is that design is scientifically detectable in nature. By studying a bacterial flagellum we can see that the bacterial flagellum was designed but not who designed it. This latter point is what the design theorist means when he says science cannot tell us “whether God exists.”

Perhaps the reporter simply misunderstood this point. But if so, why was the news agency clear-headed enough to produce the following portion halfway through the article?

Jonathan Wells, a senior Discovery fellow with doctorates in both cell biology and religious studies, said the debate is mainly about the “limits of Darwinism”.

Scientists can conclude intelligent design exists through empirical evidence, he said.

But defining the “intelligent designer” is “beyond the scope of science,” he said.

Perhaps the piece had multiple writers. Perhaps also the AFP’s next story about Darwinism and design will be balanced from first to last.

Jonathan Witt

Executive Editor, Discovery Institute Press and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Witt, PhD, is Executive Editor of Discovery Institute Press and a senior fellow and senior project manager with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His latest book is Heretic: One Scientist’s Journey from Darwin to Design (DI Press, 2018) written with Finnish bioengineer Matti Leisola. Witt has also authored co-authored Intelligent Design Uncensored, A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature, and The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot. Witt is the lead writer and associate producer for Poverty, Inc., winner of the $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award and recipient of over 50 international film festival honors.