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Karl Giberson, director of Gordon College's Forum on Faith and Science, Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, and Marcus Ross, a professor of geology at Liberty University suggest the best ways the intelligent design movement can gain academic credibility.

Find a Fertile Idea

Karl Giberson, director of Gordon College's Forum on Faith and Science

Leaders of the intelligent design (ID) movement—William Dembski, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells—write mainly for popular audiences and have a negligible presence—as ID theorists—in scientific literature.

To get credibility in the academy, these theorists need to engage the academy by publishing in its journals and attending its meetings. But first they need a fertile idea—one that generates new scientific knowledge.

ID's central thesis—that biological systems show scientific evidence of intelligent design—has not developed to the point where it can make specific predictions that lead to new knowledge. At the end of the 18th century, William Paley wrote about how the intricate mechanics of a watch provide evidence of a designer. Two centuries later, Behe is making the same argument about the flagellum of the bacterium.

If ID proponents want to update Paley's arguments for the 21st century, they need to show how their version is more fertile. Paley-era biologists—many of them Christians—did not abandon Paley because his design arguments were refuted; they weren't. They moved on because his ideas were sterile. Good scientific ideas, like atomic theory, gravity, quarks, and genetics, are rich. Such ideas are like bags of popcorn in the microwave, exploding with ...

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May 2010

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