NYT Story Misinforms on Intelligent Design and Templeton - Evolution News & Views

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NYT Story Misinforms on Intelligent Design and Templeton

The New York Times published a letter today from the president of Discovery Institute, Bruce Chapman, correcting Laurie Goodstein's piece "Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker."

In addition to the misinformation Chapman notes, Goodstein's piece also passed along an error concerning the Templeton Foundation. Goodstein wrote that Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president of Templeton, said that the foundation asked intelligent design proponents for research proposals" but that "they never came in." Templeton is an enormous foundation, so it's not surprising that Harper is apparently unaware of all the goings on of the organization. Design theorists have not only submitted research proposals to Templeton-funded research initiatives, Templeton has funded some of those proposals.

• Templeton funded a proposal by astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez to research the hypothesis that discoverability correlates with measurability (Go here for further description). The research led to The Privileged Planet, a book endorsed by Cambridge's Simon Conway Morris and frequent Templeton speaker Owen Gingerich of Harvard.
• William Dembski submitted a research proposal that led to No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence, a book endorsed by Frank J. Tipler, a leading cosmologist and co-author of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.
• Templeton funded a proposal by Discovery Institute fellow Robin Collins to research fine tuning. Some of Collins' work will appear in an upcoming issue of Philosophia Christi.

Design theorists have submitted other research proposals to Templeton-funded initiatives, proposals with strong ID implications. Here are two of them:
• Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards on fine tuning as it relates to the extraordinary fitness of water for life, a line of evidence for purpose in the formation of the universe that Templeton promotes here.
• Michael Behe on "Tolerance in Protein Shape-Space." Here is a peer-reviewed article co-written by Behe about proteins that bears on the theories of intelligent design and Neo-Darwinism.

As evidenced here and here, the Templeton Foundation is doubtless under fierce pressure to distance itself from proponents of intelligent design. The reality is that some of the work of even Templeton Prize winners supports evidence for design, or to use a slightly less dangerous term, purpose, in the formation of the universe.

Harvard's Owen Gingerich, a friendly critic of many intelligent design arguments, has charted another way of engaging design theory. He agrees on those arguments for purpose where he agrees (such as fine tuning) and disagrees where he disagrees (such as certain design arguments in biology). The tone he sets is beneficent. The Templeton Foundation needs the space to explore and promote different lines of evidence for purpose, and the mandarins of Darwinian orthodoxy don't want to give it to them. Scientists and scholars will continue to uncover increasingly powerful evidence for purpose in a variety of scientific fields. The only question is who will join in the adventure and who will stand on the sidelines.