Intelligent Design (ID) has made it to the cover of Time magazine this week, and I’m delighted to say that the cover story is for the most part respecftul and fair. It’s certainly a far-cry from Time’s inaccurate and conspiracy-mongering tirade a few months ago. The cover story even gives a mostly correct definition of ID (adapted from the definition on Discovery Institute’s website). Time says that intelligent design is “the proposition that some aspects of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause or agent, as opposed to natural selection.” A number of ID scientists were interviewed for the article, and Time assigned at least a dozen reporters to work on the story.
Still, there are some misleading or erroneous statements in the Time story that ought to be corrected. Here are three of the most important:
1. Discovery Institute’s Position on Teaching ID. Time correctly notes that many supporters of ID are not asking for the theory to be taught in classrooms. Instead, they are merely proposing that scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory be taught. Unfortunately, Time doesn’t make clear that this is in fact Discovery Institute’s own position, a position we’ve articulated time and again. (For an example, see here.) I emphasized Discovery’s position to the Time reporters I spoke with, but all that got quoted was this partial comment removed from its context:
“All we’re advocating for is that if a teacher wants to bring up the scientific debate over design, they should be allowed to do that,” says institute spokesman John West.
This partial quote is misleading because it fails to describe Discovery Institute’s general policy on the teaching of ID. As I told Time, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to mandate the teaching of design. All it is asking for is the teaching of scientific criticisms of modern Darwinian theory as well as the best evidence for the theory. At the same time, we don’t think teachers should be fired or persecuted if they voluntarily want to discuss the scientific debate over design in a fair and neutral manner.
2. ID Scholars, Peer-Reviewed Journals, and Testability. Time recycles—without rebuttal—the Darwinists’ bogus claims that pro-ID scholars don’t publish peer-reviewed scholarship and that ID can’t be tested:
[Dawkins] and other scientists say advocates of intelligent design do not play by the rules of science. They do not publish papers in peer-reviewed journals, and their hypothesis cannot be tested by research and the study of evidence.
Where are Time’s fact-checkers? These claims are absolutely false. For an annotated bibliography of peer-reviewed scholarship by pro-ID scientists (including articles in peer-reviewed science journals), check here. As for the bogus claim that the ID hypothesis isn’t testable, read Jonathan Witt’s brief response to this charge or Stephen Meyer’s detailed response.
3. The Santorum Language in the No Child Left Behind Act Conference Report. Time mentions that U.S. Senator Rick Santorum “tried to get a teach-the-controversy addendum into the 2001 No Child Left Behind bill of the Senate” without ever informing readers that revised language was ultimately adopted by Congress as “report language” in the No Child Left Behind Act Conference Report.