If you haven’t followed the evolution debate in England of late, this week the The Royal Society Director of Education, Prof. Michael Reiss, said creationism should be discussed in science classes. Of course, he recommended teachers attack it as unscientific. Even that suggestion “provoked fury” — to put it mildly — in dogmatic Darwinian circles in Britain. Or, as one British paper put it, this will kick off “a row amongst the country’s top boffins.”
That’s to be expected since this marks a virtual 180 degree change in policy from the Royal Society’s previous opinion that creationism should never be mentioned in science classes. Today Reiss clarified his remarks: “The Royal Society is opposed to creationism being taught as science.”
Not surprisingly, the media in the UK have largely conflated creationism with intelligent design, simply inserting the phrase intelligent design when in fact what is being discussed is clearly young earth creationism.
There is one notable exception.
The Times news page is the only major UK media outlet I’ve seen that gets the definitions right. In a sidebar that was apparently in yesterday’s print edition, and finally went online this morning, they define creationism and intelligent design separately and correctly.
The Universe and living organisms originated from acts of divine creation. This belief embraces the Biblical account and rejects theories in which natural processes are central, such as evolution. Some creationists have accepted geological findings and other methods of dating the Earth, insisting that such accounts do not necessarily contradict Biblical teachings
Certain features of the Universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process such as natural selection. Proponents insist that it is not based on the Bible, claiming that its roots include the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, who, they say, articulated early versions of the theory
Sources: New Oxford Dictionary of English, Times Database
However, The Times’ editorial page is another beast entirely.
In recent years, the doctrine of intelligent design has emerged, asserting that some aspects of the natural world are too complex to have developed by small changes over long periods, and are evidence, rather, of a divine intelligence at work.
Though it appropriates the language of science, intelligent design is not a scientific theory but a variant of creationism. It has no programme of research and has proposed no way by which its claims can be tested.
This is wrong in every sense. First, the definition of ID they give is not a definition that ID proponents, here or abroad, adhere to. The Times’ editorial board throws up a straw man definition so that they can take easy swings at it, equating it with creationism.
The claim that there is no intelligent design research underway is demonstrably false, as one can see by simply going to the Biologic Institute website. And ID scientists and theorists have made many claims that can be tested. Read “The Skeptical Rejoinder,” chapter 16 of The Privileged Planet, which explains a number of ways the intelligent design propositions put forth in that book might be falsified. What’s laughable is that while Darwinists in the media are claiming the theory is not testable, their counterparts in some science labs claim to have already tested ID and found it wanting. You can’t have it both ways.