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Weekly Standard Prints West's Response to Wolfson

The Weekly Standard has run John West's response to Adam Wolfson's recent article about intelligent design (which we blogged about here and here.)

May I See Some ID?

Adam Wolfson's "Survival of the Evolution Debate" (Jan. 16) was generally insightful, but he seriously misstates the views of both the Discovery Institute and proponents of intelligent design on some key points.After asking if the intelligent design debate is really a scientific one, Wolfson claims that "it is the mantra of the Discovery Institute . . . that the controversy between intelligent design and natural selection should be a part of any science curriculum." Not so.

Although the Discovery Institute supports the right of teachers to discuss intelligent design (ID) voluntarily, it has vigorously opposed efforts to mandate ID's inclusion in public school science curricula, including the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district policy that Wolfson cites. The Discovery Institute opposed Dover's policy from the start. Instead, we favor the more modest goal of teaching students about some of the well-documented scientific problems of neo-Darwinism, an approach already adopted by states such as Ohio.

Second, Wolfson cites Leon Kass as faulting ID proponents for claiming that "the only possible answer" to the issues they raise "is a Designer-God." Leon Kass is an admirable and perceptive thinker on bioethics, but he is misinformed here. Leading ID proponents have long emphasized that scientific evidence cannot tell whether an intelligent cause detected in nature is God. Such a conclusion, if it is to be drawn, requires additional arguments from philosophy and metaphysics. Kass also seems to imply that ID proponents merely poke holes in neo-Darwinism and then default to intelligent design. In reality, though, they seek to offer negative evidence against all available materialist explanations (e.g., neo-Darwinism, self organizational models) as well as positive evidence for intelligent design.

John G. West
Discovery Institute
Washington, D.C.