Baylor University in October terminated well-known Intelligent Design scientist William Dembski as head of the Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information, and Design. The center was placed in limbo, without a name or certain future at the university in Waco, Texas.

Dembski, who retains his Baylor professorship, says he was overwhelmed by politicking within Baylor. The Polanyi Center's critics were apprehensive, he says, partly because of Southern Baptist conflicts between creationists and evolutionists—one front in the ongoing struggle between moderates and conservatives for control of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Intelligent Design, favored by some conservatives, is a new approach to the creation-evolution debates that lays aside the question of who designed the universe to ask whether there is any evidence of design.

Dembski's own work, published by Cambridge University Press in The Design Inference, employs careful statistical testing of the natural world to see if it shows evidence of intelligent design. Like a code-breaker of secret messages, the Intelligent Design analyst asks whether the signals of the natural world are simply random or point to an intelligent creative force. Dembski, an Orthodox Christian, says Intelligent Design research is like looking for the difference between a jumble of clouds and skywriting that broadcasts a message.

Baylor, which describes itself as "the largest Baptist university in the world," has long been a source of complaint for Southern Baptist conservatives. For example, Judge Paul Pressler of Houston, Texas, decided to rally Southern Baptist conservatives after hearing students in his church youth group describe what they were being taught at Baylor.

Moderate Texas Southern ...

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December 4, 2000

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