Education Icon Education
Intelligent Design Icon Intelligent Design

Introducing The College Student’s Back to School Guide to Intelligent Design

There are a lot of false urban legends promoted in academia about intelligent design (ID). They often start with myths promoted by misinformed critiques in scientific journals, court rulings, or even talks by activists at scientific conferences. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for this misinformation to then be passed down to college students, who may know very little about ID and lack the resources to correct their professors’ misinformed and misplaced attacks on ID. Not anymore.

If you’re a college student, recently gone back to school and expecting to hear a lot of anti-ID views from your professors, we’re pleased to present this “Back to School Guide” for students as follows:

The College Student’s Back to School Guide to Intelligent Design
The guide contains suggestions for helpful pro-ID books, articles, and websites for students to read when investigating the issue. Additionally, it contains “Answers to Your Professor’s Most Common Misinformed Objections to Intelligent Design.” Nine answers are given to common but false arguments against ID like “Intelligent Design Proponents Don’t Conduct or Publish Scientific Research” or “Intelligent Design Is a Science Stopper” or “Intelligent Design Has Been Refuted by the Overwhelming Evidence for Neo-Darwinian Evolution.”

There are three easy tips to remember as a student with an anti-ID professor: BacktoSchoolGuide.pdf

  • Tip #1: Never opt out of learning evolution. In fact, learn about evolution every chance you get
  • Tip #2: Think for yourself, think critically, and question assumptions.
  • Tip #3: Proactively learn about credible scientific viewpoints that dissent from Darwinism on your own time, even if your classes censor those non-evolutionary viewpoints.

The Darwinian educational establishment doesn’t make it easy to become objectively informed on the topic of evolution and ID. The way around the typical one-sided evolution curriculum is to investigate the issue for yourself. Yes, study and learn about the pro-evolution evolution viewpoint being taught. But also read material from credible Darwin skeptics to learn about other viewpoints. Only then can you truly make up your mind in an informed fashion.

This student’s guide will help you to do that–and will help you open up the minds of uninformed critics and skeptics about the facts regarding intelligent design.

Question Everything But Darwin?
Incidentally, we’re not the only ones giving some back-to-school tips for studying evolution. The College Board, which produces the SAT exam and organizes Advanced Placement (A.P.) exams, recently released new suggested Science Standards for learning evolution. The College Board’s Science Standards contains some great language that pays lip service to critical thinking and inquiry-based science education (see below). However, as it turns out, and I was quite surprised to see this (note: sarcasm), but in the evolution sections all of their standards jettison any implementation of inquiry-based learning, as virtually EVERY SINGLE STANDARD require “Students understand that…” There’s nothing wrong with learning about evolution, but in the words of Steve Meyer, such language requires “unqualified affirmation and subtly demand assent” to evolution from the student.

Unfortunately, this approach to evolution education is all too common. Many educators do not encourage students to question neo-Darwinism and basically censor from students any science that challenges neo-Darwinian evolution. Regardless, below is some of the good language in the College Board’s new suggested science standards encouraging critical thinking. They probably don’t want you to apply these methods when studying evolution, but you might want to do that if you want to truly understand the science behind modern evolutionary biology:

“In the course of learning to construct testable explanations and predictions, students will have opportunities to identify assumptions, to use critical thinking, to engage in problem solving, to determine what constitutes evidence, and to consider alternative explanations of observations.”

“Scientific investigations require identification of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking, and consideration of alternative explanations.”

“Teachers and students should be expected to use in their classroom discourse the language, representations and reasoning structures that are accepted by scientists, but science discourse goes beyond proper language. It also engages students in making clear, to themselves and others, not just what they know, but how they know it — claims are made; evidence is produced; and explanations are formulated, revised and extended through science discourse during which claims, evidence and reasoning are discussed and critiqued.”

“Students ask scientific questions about phenomena, problems or issues that can be addressed through scientific investigations or with evidence from existing models. All science knowledge is eligible for such questioning. Keeping in mind that each phenomenon or problem occurs under specific conditions, students make predictions based on their science knowledge, observations and measurements of objects and events in the natural world, or data. Their predictions serve as a lens to focus data collection back to the scientific question. Students develop and refine both scientific questions and predictions so that they can be addressed through scientific investigations.”

“Students recognize, formulate, justify and revise scientific questions that can be addressed by science in order to construct explanations.”

“When posing a scientific question or solving a problem, it is important to identify what is known or assumed about the situation or condition being observed or measured.”

“Students are expected to ensure that the explanation is based on accurate information and sound reasoning. In addition to being able to make explicit justifications for their own claims, students should also be able to recognize and refute claims that do not reflect the use of scientific evidence and reasoning.”

“Both the evidence that supports the claim and the evidence that refutes the claim should be accounted for in the explanation. Alternative explanations should also be taken into consideration.”

“The reasoning that supports an explanation should include a series of logical statements. These interconnected statements should allude to supporting evidence and counterevidence, include an interpretation of data as it relates to the claim, and consider multiple alternative explanations. The explanation might also include an examination of other explanations for which the data might be used and an identification of any anomalous data that was rejected.”

“Criteria for the evaluation of a scientific explanation include, but are not limited to, the following: … Integration of fact and opinion is avoided. … Making conclusions that do not follow logically from the evidence is avoided. … Explanation includes an explicit statement about the critical assumptions of the explanation. … The claim is appropriately aligned to the scientific question or the prediction it is intended to address. … The quality and quantity of the evidence used to support the explanation is appropriate. … All of the evidence is used, not just selected portions of the evidence. … The reasoning linking the claim to the evidence is strong. The reasoning is considered strong if it includes well-established, accurate scientific principles and if the steps of reasoning form a logical progression….”

Students might wish to apply these inquiry-based principles of learning science when studying evolution and ID.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.