Discovery Institute admits that Intelligent Design is “a religious view”

March 14, 2014 • 9:46 am

Several commenters on the previous post noticed something that went over my head (I plead lack of coffee), but which deserves the permanence of a full post. In yesterday’s article about the Hedin affair in the Muncie Star-Press, Discovery Institute Vice-President John West was quoted as follows (my emphasis):

“Ball State ought to be careful,” West said. “I think their mishandling of this could turn into a much bigger deal. Certainly, we are not going away. The speech code against intelligent design is vague and too broad and may not be being applied evenhandedly. We determined through public documents one science class is covering intelligent design in order to bash it. If they allow that, it’s tantamount to state endorsement of an anti-religious view.

As those readers pointed out, this is an explicit admission by the Discovery Institute that Intelligent Design (ID) is a religious point of view, for “bashing it” is “tantamount” to being “anti-religious.” That’s an admission that they’ve avoided making, as they claim that ID is not religion, but pure science.

I know, however, that Discovery Institute folks like William Dembski have admitted privately or semi-publicly that Intelligent Design is religious. As Wikipedia notes,

William Dembski states in his book Design Inference that the nature of the intelligent designer cannot be inferred from intelligent design and suggests that the designer, if one is even necessary for design inference, may or may not be “the God of Scripture.” In December 2007 Dembski told Focus on the Family, “I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.”

. . . Highlighting these mutually exclusive claims about the designer, Dembski, despite having said that the intelligent designer or designers could be any god or gods, or even space aliens, has also said that “intelligent design should be understood as the evidence that God has placed in nature to show that the physical world is the product of intelligence and not simply the result of mindless material forces” and that “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

This should be all the information that Ball State needs to keep intelligent design out of science classes and from being presented as a one-sided view in any class.  The Discovery Institute, in its zeal to vindicate Hedin, screwed up here. They basically confirmed what Judge Jones ruled in the Dover Case: Intelligent Design is an extension of religion.

Thanks to the readers who caught this.  I’m wondering how the folks at the DI are going to get out of this one.


On  a related note, the first signatory of the letter to Ball State from the Fatuous Four, state senator Dennis Kruse, chairman of the Education and Career Development committee, has twice introduced bills into the Indiana legislature that would allow the teaching of creationism in public schools. According to the HuffPo article, Kruse did this while working closely with the “Discovery Center” of Seattle, which I take to be the Discovery Institute. Kruse also introduced a bill last year that would allow public schools the option of starting each day with the Lord’s Prayer. That one, like Kruse’s first creationism bill, died in the legislature, which will likely be the fate of any creationism bill he introduces.  Even our conservative Supreme Court would strike those down.

Kruse is not so dumb (I hope) that he’s unaware that such bills are blatantly unconstitutional. He’s just pandering to his religious Republican constituency. But what an embarrassment that man is to the Hoosier State! Is is a stain on that state, where I spent much of my childhood, that so many members of the state legislature are in bed with creationists.

55 thoughts on “Discovery Institute admits that Intelligent Design is “a religious view”

  1. I don’t know Kruse at all, but if he is like other similar Republican legislators he is doing more than pander to a constituency. He is part of that constancy and actually believes it. He probably thinks that the US is a Christian nation and all of that liberal talk about separation of church and state is just heathen propaganda.

    He’s an embarrassment, sure. But legislatures across the country are loaded with these true believers.

    1. I completely agree with you that Kruse is not merely pandering to his base — he unequivocally believes that in America your choices should be the christian-way or the highway. And that’s what’s so scary about these zealots.

        1. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
          The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
          The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.”

          1. Few have ever put words together as well as Yeats did there. It always makes me shiver; and you’re right, so do the fundie-pols, when one stops laughing and really contemplates their ultimate goals.

          2. Because it’s the Ides of March:

            Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings –Julius Caesar, Act I scii line 140.

      1. Correction: *his interpretation* of the christian, or the highway. Remember, there are about 30,000 or so different christian sects.

      1. 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜

        1. Oh, that’s too easy.


          …which, of course, is eaten by:


          which, in turn is eaten by:


          which brings us right back to:


          Checkmate, insectoids!


          1. Hmm…that’s only half the weapon. For full effect, you need:

            🌞 + 🔎

            Because I don’t think the ants have very much to fear from:

            🔎 + ☔


  2. The Sensuous Curmudgeon ( mentioned yesterday that the DI, or at least its leading lights Dembski, Meyer, and West, would be speakers at the “Reasons 2014” conference this weekend at Faith Baptist Church in Texas. Perhaps the DI is finally abandoning the pretence – already thoroughly discredited in the Kitzmiller decision – that it is not just a variant of Biblical creationism.

    1. Already in 2009, the DI-affiliated Biologic Institute hired 3 YECs (I can’t find the original announcement but The Panda’s Thumb reported it). Now ID as I understood it leaves place for the supernatural, but is still based on evolution over (long) time. You cannot possibly rhyme this with young earth creationism. The DI’s mask fell already then.

      1. ID was started by Phillip Johnson. He was always a Christian. He did not believe in continuous evolution, but believed many points the creator did work. It is unfair to think the ID crew believed in continuous evolution. They think that the creator, the Christian god, intervened in evolution.

  3. Maybe the Depeche Modo song “Personal Jesus” could use a new verse about your “personal intelligent designer”.

  4. This is all part of the natural progression of the movement: first they try teaching creationism as science; then they try renaming it to ID and teaching that as science; then they try to teach evolution as religion. It came up a lot in the recent back-and-forth between PZ Myers and Kent Hovind, it also surfaced briefly in the Nye v Ham debate. Expect to see much more of it. If they can’t push creation into the science classroom they’ll try to pull evolution out of it.

    1. Which is why reporters should record interviews. Maybe this interview is stored in digital form somewhere.

  5. I live in Indiana, but I didn’t realize that Kruse was chairman of the Education committee.

    Although his bullying of BSU is bad enough, far worse in my mind is Indiana’s voucher system that funnels state funds to Christian fundamentalist schools (and possibly a Muslim school as well).

    1. That last thing may turn out for the good, because it will make the christian fundies who invented the system seethe with anger. It was never their intention non-christians came to use their vouchers!

      1. Other faiths are less inimical to their views than atheism is. Sometimes friends are just the enemies of your enemies. When they’ve dealt with atheism they’ll then deal with their erstwhile friends too.

  6. I’d like to hear from readers to this blog whether they think it is OK to mention ID in in any circumstances in a university science course. I did so this semester in my astrobiology course at Giant State University (I might reveal my identity in a future post.) I defined what it was, mentioned that it was mainly a religious movement, but the main goal was to show that its methodology is not something that any scientist would recognize. The class was quite receptive and I got more good questions than for any other lecture this semester, but suddenly I am worried that my University will hear from Discovery Institute lawyers.

    1. sez imapseudonym:

      I’d like to hear from readers to this blog whether they think it is OK to mention ID in in any circumstances in a university science course.

      Hmmm. Just “mention”ing ID? In much the same way that a chemistry course might “mention” phlogiston? I’d want to know more about the details of how ID was being “mention”ed…

      I defined what it was, mentioned that it was mainly a religious movement, but the main goal was to show that its methodology is not something that any scientist would recognize.

      To the extent that this is an accurate summary of what you actually did, it seems alright to me. There can be pedagogic value in conducting an autopsy of a trainwreck and explaining to students how/where it all went off the rails.

    2. I see no problem here. Even if you got a negative reaction from some students who then wanted to make trouble for you, you would still be in your rights to describe your views. The fact that your views comport with the overwhelming consensus from science and from multiple court cases means you have some real power on your side.
      Even if you expounded a specific and personal religious view in the science class, I think you would be in your rights to do so as long as it was not a planned and major part of the curriculum, and you were careful convey that students could safely disagree with you w/o worry about their grade.

    3. Depends.

      I’ve only held astrobiology seminars for interested, and I have no time or reason to cover earlier ideas however misguided. Most people are in on the current basic ideas. And since this is Sweden creationism is not a hot button topic.

      I have to agree with Cubist, it would be like covering “astrology” in astronomy. If many people still would be active astrologists, maybe a cultural context would be helpful for the rest who are presumably the ones attending the course. But if time is a vital resource, I think it could go.

      Else I think psychologists have statistics on people who have already made up their mind. They will perversely take the very mentioning of their erroneous idea, however critical the context, as encouragement.

      1. I should add that the very act of not going into earlier ideas show how they were unconvincing and ineffectual.

  7. Well, there is one advantage of allowing creationism and ID theories into science classes: they can be confronted and demolished!

    Admittedly there are many counterpoints to this – but one shouldn’t overlook the advantage.

    1. My counterpoints would be (a) the vociferous negative reaction one would likely receive would be draining of energy and resources, and (b) the time going over the C/ID points of view (to then demolish them) is time not spent teaching science.
      Still, I understand the advantages. This approach for ‘teach the controversy’ is not what the DI has in mind! Mwahahaha.

  8. Perhaps the honorable Mr. Kruse will submit a bill designating that the value of Pi is exactly = 3, as was done by another Indiana legislator in 1896 (1900?).

  9. Thank you Jerry for pointing out the “stain” in Indiana government, a/k/a Denni Kruse. We have many other stains beside him in our legislature.

    I’m a journalist in Muncie who just recently added this controversy to my website, but according to DI, they believe you have someone inside Ball State for whom tipped you off. Can you confirm/deny?

    President Gora doesn’t much assistance on this one, but the lack of transparency regarding Prof. Hedin’s hearing and comments is concerning, especially when others believe the panel was rigged when set up.

    Any comment to that?

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