Setting the Record Straight on Discovery’s Policy on Teaching Intelligent Design as Mischaracterized in the Weekly Standard

Robert L. Crowther, II

Discovery Institute’s science education policy stance is often misconstrued, or just outright made up out of whole cloth in various articles, news reports and opinion pieces.
A recent Weekly Standard article covering the Darwin vs. design debate, which was the subject of recent post, warrants an important follow-up on the policy issues it raised. Additional misconceptions by the article’s author abound. Also, some thoughtful criticisms by three distinguished interviewees quoted in the article require a reply.
As noted, Adam Wolfson’s article was already the subject of Keith Pennock’s post from the other day. Pointing to an essay by Dr. Stephen Meyer, he corrected Wolfson’s misconceptions about the intellectual foundations of the theory of intelligent design.

Wolfson also mistakenly contends that it is the “mantra” of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture that instruction in the theory of intelligent design be included in any science curricula. On the contrary, it has never been the public policy position of the Discovery Institute that the theory of intelligent design be mandated in public school science curriculum. Hence Discovery Institute’s insistence that the Dover Area School District withdraw the quasi-ID disclaimer policy that was the subject of the recent lawsuit and court decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover. By placing this incorrect statement about Discovery Institute’s policy position on science education in the context of the Kitzmiller case, however, Wolfson insinuates that the Discovery Institute wants to see neo-Darwininan evolutionary theory replaced by the theory of intelligent design through school board fiat. This is entirely false.
To repeat in no uncertain terms: it is the long-standing policy of the Discovery Institute that students be required to learn both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinian theory and chemical evolutionary scenarios for the origin of the first life. It is not the policy of Discovery Institute that schools mandate the teaching of the theory of intelligent design.
Alluded to above, Wolfson interviews three distinguished intellectuals for his article: Prof. Robert P. George, Dr. Stephen Barr and Dr. Leon Kass. Since the actual quotations of those respected scholars are small, it is difficult to discern their contentions in their entirety. Nonetheless, the three purport to provide critiques of “some” ID proponents.
They are cited as being critical of “some” IDers who are trying to shoehorn ID into science curriculum. We completely agree with their underlying concern. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Discovery Institute has never advocated the mandating of the theory of intelligent design in public school science curriculum.
George, Barr and Kass all go on to provide their own philosophical critiques of the theory of intelligent design. Their respective, nuanced positions are more appropriately the subject of another, specific reply. Here, it suffices to say that critics of the theory of intelligent design are welcomed. The censors of intelligent design are not.

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.