Court ruling on intelligent design not all bad for Discovery Institute

SEATTLE – The Discovery Institute is finding some good in the December ruling by a federal judge that intelligent design could not be taught in a Pennsylvania school district.

“The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) sued to keep a few students in Pennsylvania from hearing about intelligent design, and as a result, they made sure everyone in the world heard about it,” said Stephen Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, which produces studies and reports about intelligent design.

Publicity wasn’t the only benefit of U.S. District Judge John Jones’ ruling. The decision five months ago is helping this Seattle think tank refine the way it promotes intelligent design as a challenge to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Bruce Chapman, founder of the institute which is the country’s primary supporter of intelligent design, said Jones’ ruling, which equated intelligent design with biblically based creationism, has been misread.

“We have problems on both sides,” he said. “There is no doubt that many conservative and liberals alike – if they have not studied the matter – mix up the science issue with religion.”

He said an effort in Ohio to include intelligent design in school curricula failed when some state school-board members said Jones’ decision in the Dover, Pa., case settled the issue.

Chapman and Meyer said the lesson in Dover is that the school board hijacked intelligent-design terminology for its attempt to bring religion into school.

Chapman said the Discovery Institute advocates that schools only “teach the controversy” surrounding evolution.

“We’re mostly trying to stop people from doing dumb things,” Meyer said.

The institute has already published a book critiquing Jones’ decision in the Dover Area School District case.

“Our role was widely misconstrued by both sides – and the media,” said Chapman. “So we want to set the record straight.”

Intelligent design argues that evolution leaves major gaps in understanding the origins of life, gaps that can only be explained by the presence of a supernatural designer.

Discovery Institute scientists say, for example, that the genetic code embedded in DNA is so complicated it couldn’t possibly be the result of natural selection.

Creationists believe God made the universe and all life within it. The Discovery Institute says intelligent design uses science to argue that an unidentified designer must have been at work.

The ACLU worked with Dover residents to sue the school board for teaching intelligent design, which they said violated the separation of church and state. The judge concluded intelligent design “is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism.”

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AP, via, USA
Apr. 26, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday April 28, 2006.
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