In the Darwin Debate, How Long Before the Tide Turns in Favor of Intelligent Design?
.hA student emails me to ask how long it will be before the “tide turns from Darwinism to ID.” He follows the debate over intelligent design and is aware that the Darwin lobby’s rhetoric typically fails to address ID’s actual arguments (which are scientific in nature), instead focusing on personal attacks or trying to claim ID is religion. This student feels it is obvious that ID has the upper hand in the argument, but wonders when the majority opinion will also recognize this.
I agree that in the long-term, the position of the anti-ID lobby is simply not sustainable. You can’t keep claiming forever that ID is just “religion” or “politics” when the ID camp is producing legitimate science, and even non-ID scientists keep making discoveries that confirm the predictions of ID. Or I suppose you can keep claiming whatever you want, but it will become increasingly difficult to get people to believe you.
What are my reasons for optimism? One of the strongest signs is that in head-to-head debates over ID and Darwinism, the ID proponent generally wins hands down. In that respect, we’ve had many key intellectual victories in recent years, including:
- Lots of pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific papers being published.
- Experimental peer-reviewed research coming out showing the unevolvability of new proteins.
- Theoretical peer-reviewed papers taking down alleged computer simulations of evolution, showing that intelligence design is needed to produce new information.
- A major ID research conference at Cornell leading to the publication of the volume Biological Information: New Perspectives.
- Huge victories for ID in the area of junk DNA, thanks to the ENCODE results.
- Data supportive of ID coming out all the time as the epigenetic revolution proceeds.
- ID pretty much shut down the competition in debates relating to Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt. The book was appraised by one of the world’s top two science journal, Science, (in a tellingly weak review).
- Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller’s No. 1 argument in the Dover trial has now been shot down as the beta-globin pseudogene was found to be functional.
- The Darwin brigade’s favorite argument against Michael Behe was refuted as chloroquine-resistance turns out to be a multimutation feature.
- Major concessions from leading atheists like philosopher Thomas Nagel that ID arguments have merit and should be taken seriously.
- Concessions from influential evolutionists that neo-Darwinism indeed faces serious criticism in biology.
- In recent years, many peer-reviewed articles in the mainstream scientific literature have critiqued Darwinism .
- And revealingly, the more that victories for ID multiply, the more the Darwin lobby tries to suppress free speech for ID proponents, and in turn is forced to squelch their own criticisms of the orthodox evolutionary paradigm.
I could list many more successes, as well as ways that we could be hoping for more and doing more, but the point is this: ID has had plenty of intellectual “wins” of late, and the future is bright. The problem is that much of the public isn’t hearing about these wins for ID.
For the time being, ID critics control the microphone. They generally determine what students hear in the classroom, what the public reads in the media, and what scientists read in the journals. They can often prevent the public, students, and scientists from hearing the facts about ID. This has a major impact on the way many people perceive this debate because they can’t make a fair evaluation when they are only hearing one side of the issue, dominated by spin and caricature. This is one of the biggest obstacles facing ID.
That’s why a lot of our energy in the ID movement is devoted to “getting the word out,” broadcasting the facts and correcting misinformation from our critics. ID blogs like Uncommon Descent and Evolution News & Views do a great job of this (if we do say so ourselves). There are other good sources out there as well.
The Summer Seminar on ID, organized by Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, has now graduated some 250 students, many of whom are going on to get PhDs and seed the next generation of scientists. There’s a lot to look forward to.
Don’t expect a revolution overnight. We are in this for the long haul, recognizing that it can take time for the truth to slip past the checkpoints that the Darwin lobby sets up to keep the public uninformed. In the end, though, I’m optimistic because the fundamentals of ID — the science underlying the inference to design in nature — are sound. The truth will win out, though it may tarry in doing so. Or to put it another way, the tide of ID is already well on its way in. We need to focus on telling people about it.