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We Will All Miss Ide Trotter

Photo: Ide Trotter, PhD, Princeton-trained chemical engineer and Darwin skeptic, delivers testimony before the Texas State Board of Education.

Tom Winkler has already paid tribute to Ide Trotter (see here). A mutual friend introduced me to Ide back in the early 1990s after a service at First Baptist Church Dallas. Ide had just retired as head of Exxon in Europe. It was immediately clear to me that he was super smart. At the time, the ID movement was gathering steam. Ide from the start saw its importance, both culturally and for the church. In subsequent years, he used his contacts and influence to advance intelligent design. His role was always to work in the background behind the scenes, but his impact was enormous. He had a particularly good eye for discerning needs and answering them.

Around 1998, he suspected that Phil Johnson was burning the candle at too many ends, and arranged for him to get checked out at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. My wife and I were living in Dallas at the time, and Phil stayed with us while undergoing that very thorough medical examination. As it happened, Ide’s instincts were right — Phil ended up having a stroke two years later. In the mid 2000s, Ide sponsored meetings at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth to allay concerns about intelligent design in some theological circles. (I was on faculty there at the time and took part in those meetings.)

Ide’s most visible initiative for advancing intelligent design was to institute the Trotter Prize at his alma mater, Texas A&M University. The prize was named in honor not of him but of his father, and its aim was to highlight “pioneering contributions to the understanding of the role of information, complexity, and inference in illuminating the mechanisms and wonder of nature.” Aimed at bringing scientists of diverse opinions about intelligent design together for fruitful discussions, it has been a tremendous vehicle for advancing intelligent design in the academic world. Ide was a straight-shooting no-nonsense Texan. He was as good a friend as intelligent design could have. We all will miss him.

Editor’s note: Dr. Trotter’s family asks that rather than offerings of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to the Center for Science and Culture, among other good causes.