The Bad Astronomer sent me a link to an article claiming Intelligent Design is sorely misunderstood. In brief, the author claims that (1) there is real scientific evidence for Intelligent Design (it’s not religiously inspired, oh no), and (2) Intelligent Design’s proponents are not crusading to have it taught in schools:
The first misunderstanding is that intelligent design is based on religion rather than science. Design theory is a scientific inference based on empirical evidence, not religious texts. [Snip] Although controversial, design theory is supported by a growing number of scientists in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books. While intelligent design may have religious implications (just like Darwin's theory), it does not start from religious premises. A second misunderstanding is that proponents of intelligent design theory are crusading to have it required in public schools. In fact, they are doing the opposite.
(Rather strangely, the author thinks there are three points here.)
Saying there is no attempt to mandate the teaching of ID is disingenuous at best. ID proponents present their “teach the controversy” argument purely because Intelligent Design is not an explanation in its own right, it is merely a series of criticisms of evolution. All they have is the controversy they have manufactured; even if their criticisms of evolution are true (they’re not), they still wouldn’t have a scientific theory to teach. Teaching the so-called “holes” in evolution is teaching ID.
More importantly, the two supposed misunderstandings the author raises are connected. You see, if there really was scientific evidence to support Intelligent Design, as he says, they would submit it for peer review at scientific journals to convince their peers of the validity of their ideas. In other words they would be doing science. But the IDers aren’t interested in science: they have already made their minds up, regardless of the evidence.
An example from a different area illustrates the case. When the theory of continental drift was first introduced, it was treated with enormous skepticism. But those who supported the idea didn’t write articles in newspapers entitled “Continental drift is sorely misunderstood”. They did what real scientist do: they looked for evidence and presented it to their peers. Eventually continental drift (in the form of plate tectonics) became widely accepted and today it is found in most high school science texts, not because the President had said in an interview that alternatives to conventional geology should be taught, but because the weight of evidence convinced the scientific community that it was correct.
If Intelligent Design proponents followed and passed this peer review process, ID would be taught in schools as science the way plate tectonics is taught now (despite the claim in this article that this is not their objective). Intelligent Design should not be taught in science classes precisely because its proponents have not followed this process.