Monday, December 05, 2005

It’s not as bad as it looks

I admit that I’m sometimes guilty of flying into a panic when I read headlines about intelligent design. On this blog and in private conversation I have likened ID to a Christian cancer metastasizing in the good sense of Americans. But an article published Sunday in the NYTs suggests that ID may not be as rampant as I had feared.
Behind the headlines, however, intelligent design as a field of inquiry is failing to gain the traction its supporters had hoped for. It has gained little support among the academics who should have been its natural allies. And if the intelligent design proponents lose the case in Dover, there could be serious consequences for the movement's credibility.

On college campuses, the movement's theorists are academic pariahs, publicly denounced by their own colleagues. Design proponents have published few papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

"From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.
The article doesn’t provide a whole lot of new information, but it offers some reassuring sound bites--like this one from the director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor.
Mr. Davis noted that the advocates of intelligent design claim they are not talking about God or religion. "But they are, and everybody knows they are," Mr. Davis said. "I just think we ought to quit playing games. It's a religious worldview that's being advanced."

--Matthew McCoy