AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 47 Intelligent Design and the Creationism/Evolution Controversy
Invited, Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 8:30-9:20am, Town and Country

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[47.01] Intelligent Design and the Creationism/Evolution Controversy

E.C. Scott (National Center for Science Education, Inc.)

“Intelligent Design” (ID) is a new form of creationism that emerged after legal decisions in the 1980s hampered the inclusion of “creation science” in the public school curriculum. To avoid legal challenge, proponents claim agnosticism regarding the identity of the intelligent agent, which could be material (such as highly intelligent terrestrials) or transcendental (God). ID consists of a scientific/scholarly effort, and a politico-religious movement of “cultural renewal.” Intelligent design is supposedly detectable through the application of Michael Behe’s “irreducible complexity” concept and/or William Dembski’s concept of “complex specified information”. ID’s claims amount to, first, that “Darwinism” (vaguely defined) is incapable of providing an adequate mechanism for evolution, and second (subsequently), that evolution did not occur. Although scientific ideas not infrequently are slow to be accepted, in the 20 years since ID appeared, there is no evidence of it being used to solve problems in biology.

Even if the scientific/scholarly part of ID has been a failure, the “cultural renewal” part of ID has been a success. This social and political aspect of ID seeks “restoration” of a theistic sensibility in American culture to replace what supporters consider an overemphasis on secularism. In the last few years, in several states, legislators have introduced legislation promoting ID (to date, unsuccessfully) and an addendum to the 2001 federal education bill conference committee report (the “Santorum amendment”) is being used to promote the teaching of ID in public schools. Perhaps because ID has no actual content other than antievolutionism, ID proponents contend that pre-college teachers should teach “weaknesses of evolution” or “evidence against evolution” – largely warmed-over arguments from creation science – even though professional scientists do not recognize these as valid scientific claims.

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: scott@ncseweb.org

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