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Hijacking Intelligent Design in Utah

While it’s frustrating when critics of intelligent design mischaracterize what ID is about, it’s even worse when people billing themselves as friends of ID do the same thing. As the term “intelligent design” has increasingly entered the public discourse, the number of people misusing the term to advance their own agendas by calling it “design” has increased. Take the recent proposal by a Utah legislator for something he calls “divine design,” by which he clearly seems to mean creationism. According to a recent article in the Salt Lake City Tribune:

Evolution has not been a big issue in Utah until now. On June 3, Sen. Chris Buttars of West Jordan said he would propose giving equal time to what he called “divine design,” that is, that the world was created by a superior being.

“The divine design is a counter to the kids’ belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn’t,” the conservative Republican told The Salt Lake Tribune.

If this legislator wants to promote creationism, he should say so plainly. But by invoking the term design, he wrongly conflates creationism with intelligent design. (No, ID and creationism are not the same. For some of the reasons why, read here.) I’d like to give a clear message to those who are trying to hijaack the term design in order to promote something else: Stop! That is essentially what I told the Tribune reporter:

But proponents of intelligent design have a message for Buttars: Don’t help us.

“We get very upset when supposed friends are claiming far more than what the scholars are saying,” says John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle.

For one thing, they oppose requiring the teaching of intelligent design. What they are pushing, West says, is a thorough discussion of Darwinian theories which would include criticism raised by legitimate scientists.

That’s what the schools in Ohio and Minnesota have done and what intelligent design advocates hope will happen in Kansas, he says. But they don’t support the move in Dover, Pa., to add a statement about intelligent design to the curriculum. And they want nothing to do with Buttars’ so-called “divine design.”

“We wish [Buttars] would get the name right and not propose something he doesn’t understand,” West says.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.



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