Gonzaga Biologists Repudiate Intelligent Design on “Science Friday”


This essay is a follow-up to my recent entry, “Debating with Evolution Deniers,” which may be found at http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]32.html#more. In that essay, I quoted a representative of the Discovery Institute, who had defended teaching so-called intelligent design in the public schools on the NPR program “Science Friday.” That representative was David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University. Yesterday (December 10, 2004) on “Science Friday,” the Biology Department at Gonzaga University released the following statement:

Biology Department rejects intelligent design

On National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation Science Friday program of November 19, GU Law Professor David DeWolf participated in a discussion on teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. Although Professor DeWolf is on the faculty of Gonzaga University Law School, his views on intelligent design do not represent those of the University as a whole. In particular, the faculty of the Biology Department at Gonzaga are unanimous in their acceptance of evolutionary theory as a fundamental underlying tenet of the science of biology. The principles of evolution are as well-established as any other body of scientific knowledge, and a full and correct appreciation for those principles is necessary for understanding the nature of life. Intelligent design is not a scientific alternative to evolution. The flaws in the idea of intelligent design have been amply and publicly exposed, and the Biology Department feels that the teaching of intelligent design has no place in a science curriculum at any level.

For additional information on the issue of intelligent design vs. evolutionary theory, visit the National Center for Science Education.

In short, the people at Gonzaga who really understand biology have repudiated the views of Prof. DeWolf. I was particularly gratified to see their link to the National Center for Science Education, which you may find at http://www.ncseweb.org.

Notes. The statement above differs slightly from what was read on the air. It may be found at http://gonzology.gonzaga.edu/view_news.php?e=1185. It is reproduced here with permission.


It’s good to see scientists, especially biologists stand up and speak out against the claims by ID proponents. There is hope after all when people recognize that ID does not present an alternative.

Let us see some of them espouse the idea of Allah as the Intelligent Designer.

I’m very happy to read this. DeWolf wrote the law review article arguing that teaching intelligent design in public schools did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Tere are significant problems with that article, but it was published and is therefore a “respectable” position to hold. It’s good that the bilogy department disowns the “science” in the Law School.

What a terrific statement to have been made. Congratulations to the Biology Dept. at GU for having done that. With a smirk on my face - perhaps the Georgia folks and the Dover folks can get together. With only a few minor wording changes I think this would be a great disclaimer to the ‘Pandas’ ?textbook?

Chet - GU in this case is Gonzaga University, which is a Catholic university in Washington state.

It would be good if the law school faculty would go on record repudiating DeWolf’s views of the law, too.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that lawyers might understand the science behind evolution. But it’s not really demanding too much that they look at DeWolf’s article (in the Utah Law Review, unfortunately for Utah) as bad legal advice. I’d like to think that any lawyer who relied on that article would be brought up for professional review by her or his state bar ethics policing group.

But then, as with ID in science, no lawyer has yet made an argument based on DeWolf’s writings. None of the arguments is a winner previously, and it appears sensible litigators won’t follow his bad advice now, either.

Apparently the Gonzaga biologists consider themselves “Gonzologists”.

I’m just curious - if there was a group of people out there lobbying hard for schools to teach geocenterism (but with no religious intent, just misguided), and they managed to gain the majority on a school board and required geocenterism to be taught alongside the established theories, could they be challenged in court over the issue?

In other words, could the teaching, in public schools, of theories that have no scientific merit (e.g. ID) be challenge in the courts for reasons other than religious grounds?

Not usually. Local school boards pretty much have the authority to direct curricula. On top of that, states usually impose certain requirements. The kind of thing you mention is one reason I think ID has a good chance of winning a spot on curricula. Creationism is prohibited as establishment of religion, but unpopular science of course is not. The point of the name change from Scientific Creationism to IDT is part of the strategy to pretend the ideas are scientific, not necessarily religious. That’s why people like myself call the IDiots creationists. I will not participate in their deception. Just as prohibited ten commandment displays are then jury rigged with the magna carta etc to effect historical purpose, I think IDT or a successor will find loopholes into school. It won’t affect how biologists like PZ teach real biology at the college level, but it will make the average person a little dumber. I know, I know, 50% of people don’t know what a molecule is, or how long it takes the earth to go around the sun, how could they be any more ignorant of science? Well, they can, though it doesn’t bother me much. In the long-term trend, people know more about science than in the past, and I’m content with that.

Well, that’s not strictly true, it will affect PZ and co. insofar as it might necessitate more remedial biology courses, and things like that, but you know what I mean.

“Chet - GU in this case is Gonzaga University, which is a Catholic university in Washington state.”

Yes it is. I still think it would be ‘fun’ if the writers of the textbook disclaimers in Georgia got together with the ID supporters in Dover and agreed to use this statement as a model for a disclaimer placed in the ‘Pandas’ book.

Steve wrote: “It won’t affect how biologists like PZ teach real biology at the college level.”

I think PZ’s ability to teach real biology at the college level WILL be affected if he must make up for the absence of material that should have been presented at the high school level, or if he must correct the mistakes made in the instruction at the high school level. There is certain material that a college student should know going in to college - I think that’s part of what ‘college prep’ means.

Don’t forget that some IDC proponents want all secondary Biology curricula to give equal time to IDC. This will affect AP courses which definitely does impact on college Biology, even though the AP exam doesn’t have any ID in it.

Chet - My bad. Missed the relevant context. Sorry about that.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 11, 2004 10:59 AM.

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