Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Hijacking Intelligent Design in Utah

While it's frustrating when critics of intelligent design mischaracterize what ID is about, it's even worse when people billing themselves as friends of ID do the same thing. As the term "intelligent design" has increasingly entered the public discourse, the number of people misusing the term to advance their own agendas by calling it "design" has increased. Take the recent proposal by a Utah legislator for something he calls "divine design," by which he clearly seems to mean creationism. According to a recent article in the Salt Lake City Tribune:

Evolution has not been a big issue in Utah until now. On June 3, Sen. Chris Buttars of West Jordan said he would propose giving equal time to what he called "divine design," that is, that the world was created by a superior being.

"The divine design is a counter to the kids' belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn't," the conservative Republican told The Salt Lake Tribune.

If this legislator wants to promote creationism, he should say so plainly. But by invoking the term design, he wrongly conflates creationism with intelligent design. (No, ID and creationism are not the same. For some of the reasons why, read here.) I'd like to give a clear message to those who are trying to hijaack the term design in order to promote something else: Stop! That is essentially what I told the Tribune reporter:

But proponents of intelligent design have a message for Buttars: Don't help us.

"We get very upset when supposed friends are claiming far more than what the scholars are saying," says John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle.

For one thing, they oppose requiring the teaching of intelligent design. What they are pushing, West says, is a thorough discussion of Darwinian theories which would include criticism raised by legitimate scientists.

That's what the schools in Ohio and Minnesota have done and what intelligent design advocates hope will happen in Kansas, he says. But they don't support the move in Dover, Pa., to add a statement about intelligent design to the curriculum. And they want nothing to do with Buttars' so-called "divine design."

"We wish [Buttars] would get the name right and not propose something he doesn't understand," West says.