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If Discussing Criticisms of Darwin’s Theory Amounts to Promoting Intelligent Design . . .

Robert L. Crowther, II

You’d have to call an awful lot of prominent scientists ID supporters.

A favorite Darwinist conspiracy theory is to claim that education policies requiring critical analysis of evolution are simply a guise for teaching intelligent design (ID). The Knoxville News Sentinel went off the rails on exactly such a conspiracy rant, misrepresenting Discovery Institute’s position on science education, and misrepresenting the current academic freedom legislation being debated in the Tennessee legislature.
Like most conspiracy theorists, the editors at the News Sentinel missed the facts in scrambling for what they want to be the case. Specifically, they missed the fact that there are big differences between teaching evolution critically and teaching alternatives to evolution, such as ID.
One can critically examine current ideas about evolution without discussing replacement theories such as ID. Indeed, one can fully embrace the theory of evolution and still be open to scrutinizing various claims made about its mechanisms, especially the Neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations. The scientific literature is chock full of disagreements by evolutionists themselves about key aspects of evolutionary theory — and, not surprisingly, without any appeals to ID.
Just this past week, National Academy of Sciences biologist Lynn Margulis was quite outspoken about her doubts about the Darwinian mechanism of selection and mutation. Margulis explicitly opposes intelligent design. Would discussing her views in a science class be tantamount to pushing intelligent design? Last year two other noted evolutionists, Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, published a highly controversial book titled What Darwin Got Wrong, in which they challenge much of the evidence typically offered for Darwinian evolution. Again, would discussing the views of these two evolution proponents somehow be the same as promoting intelligent design? Three years ago, the Woodstock of science stirred much debate in mainstream scientific journals and magazines by convening some of the world’s leading scientists to discuss the inadequacy of the standard model of Darwinian evolution, and importantly how it is taught in the classroom. Science writer Susan Mazur explained it this way:

What it amounts to is a gathering of 16 biologists and philosophers of rock star stature — let’s call them “the Altenberg 16” — who recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence.

What is wrong with giving teachers (and students) the right to explore the views of these disagreements among evolutionists themselves?
Mere “critical analysis” of evolution does not logically lead to the conclusion of ID. It’s simply good science and would be good for students.

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.