Friday, September 23, 2005


Seduced and Abandoned

. . . is about how the school board in Dover Pennsylvania must be feeling now.

The Discovery Institute, the shock troops of the Intelligent Design movement, has been signaling for some time its displeasure with the board’s attempt to inject some small mention of ID into its curriculum. But it has strongly reiterated its criticism of the board on the eve of the Federal court trial to determine if the board’s action was unconstitutional. The pro forma assault on the ACLU in the statement cannot hide the Discovery Institute’s haste to distance itself from the result of this case.

While much about the statement is open to dispute, such as why, if ID is truly a "dissenting scientific theor[y]", does the Discovery Institute oppose teaching it in public schools? And just what efforts are the ID apologists making to have an "open discussion of the merits of intelligent design among scholars and within the scientific community"?

Be that as it may, what I am interested in here is what the statement reveals about the future of ID as envisioned by its most aggressive proponents. Consider these parts of the position paper:
While Discovery Institute does not support efforts to require the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it also strongly opposes the ACLU's attempt to censor classroom discussion of intelligent design. ...

[T]he ACLU is betraying the principle of academic freedom by seeking a government-imposed gag-order on teachers and students that would prevent even voluntary discussions of intelligent design in the science classroom. ...
Clearly, what the Discovery Institute wants (or, at least, recognizes as the best it can hope for at the present time) is "voluntary" discussion of ID in public classrooms. It should be obvious that voluntary discussions cannot be instituted by public school teachers, who are, by definition, government agents. They, in any case, "do not know enough about intelligent design or have sufficient curriculum materials to teach about it". So who are going to be the new standard bearers for the Intelligent Design movement? Who else but the students themselves?

Thus, the present master plan, the successor to the heady promise of the Wedge Document, the fruit of all the labor of the Johnson, Dembski, Behe, et al., comes down to whether or not they can chivvy 13 year olds into making their case for them. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

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