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ID Makes the Cover of Time!

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 They do not publish papers in peer-reviewed journals, and their hypothesis cannot be tested by research and the study of evidence.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.

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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