Intelligent Design Flunked: ID Mostly PR and little science

Few may be aware that the State of Florida is revising its educational standards and that a dedicated group of people have been working on the science standards, including evolution. The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Joe Wolf, president of Florida Citizens for Science, called the draft standards a “wonderful” blueprint for science education. Wolf, of Winter Haven, said the evolution debate holds little interest to most scientists, who accept it as fact. That’s why the issue did not become controversial during the standards-writing meetings, he said.

“It’s a PR issue,” he said. “And it’s a religious issue. In the scientific community, it’s not an issue.”

On, the Discovery Institute’s blog site, Robert Crowther manages to spin it as

Florida Citizens for Science Excommunicate Prominent Scientists from “Scientific Community” For Doubting Darwin

What has Crowther done here? He has moved from ‘evolution standards’ to ‘neo-Darwinism’ to ‘Darwinism and then ‘quotes’ some people who have expressed their doubts about Darwinism (selection) being sufficient to explain the evolutionary trends.

For instance he quotes the National Research Council which stated

Natural selection based solely on mutation is probably not an adequate mechanism for evolving complexity.

The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems

Somehow Crowther missed the next sentence

More important, lateral gene transfer and endosymbiosis are probably the most obvious mechanisms for creating complex genomes that could lead to free-living cells and complex cellular communities in the short geological interval between life’s origin and the establishment of autotrophic CO2 fixation about 3.8 billion years ago and microbial sulfate reduction 3.47 billion years ago on the basis of isotope data.9 An important implication of the existence of viruses or virus-like entities during the early evolution of cellular organisms is that their genomes may have been the source of most genetic innovations because of their rapid replication, high rates of mutation due to replication errors, and gene insertions from diverse host cells.10

Or Eugene Koonin who proposed a highly speculative scenario to explain the evolution of early life, however I doubt that Koonin has any reservations about the main mechanisms of evolution.

Joe Wolf was right, this is all a PR issue. In this case poor PR, or perhaps as Philip Johnson, Father of the Intelligent Design movement wrote

“This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”

On UcD a poster named Tyke observed that:

And given that, so far, the ID output is mostly PR and little science, the ID message is getting lost in the overtly religious overtones of those who would support ID but muddy the waters with overt theology.

I thank Crowther for providing the examples which show why Joe Wolf was right, it’s not about science, it’s all about PR and “religion and philosophy”..

And the goal? Philip Johnson again

“Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

The history of the Wedge and the involvement of the Discovery Institute are well documented. In fact, given the amount of new materials since the original book was written, Gross and Forrest may very well consider a second volume.

Evolutionary theory is in flux, science is uncovering more and more details as to how natural processes have shaped our history. While ID has limited itself to arguing that Darwinian evolution cannot explain everything, real scientists have shown how selection is but one part in the equation. I have provided several examples of scientific explanations and invited ID proponents to provide their best explanation(s). So far, the response has been ‘underwhelming’ as ID proponents have avoided presenting their ‘hypotheses’. After all, this would require, constraining their ‘supernatural designer(s)’.

You may very well ask yourself: How much has ID contributed to our scientific understanding. The answer to which seems to be ‘nothing’. After all, what else can an argument from ignorance really contribute to science?

Addendum: While browsing the comment section I ran across this gem

Robert Crowther, Seattle, Monday October 22, I just blogged at about this amazing development of the Florida Citizens for Science now being the sole arbiters of who is or is not a part of the “scientific community.”

Apparently scientific inquiry is free, only so as long as you adhere to the Darwinian orthodoxy. Otherwise you will find yourself not a part of the “sceintific community.”

Some questions: Why did it take almost 1 week until the posting showed up at And why the rhetoric? Surely this relatively small organization of concerned Florida citizens should be no match for the well funded Discovery Institute? Of course, as Crowther director of media and public relations for the CSC, has shown, it is PR issue.

And a nightmare as well… As Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute observed:

Bruce Chapman: “Dover is a disaster in a sense, as a public-relations matter. . . . It has given a rhetorical weapon to the Darwinists to say a judge has settled this.”

“ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard.” Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, page 89

“In summary, the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forgo scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.” Ruling - disclaimer, pg. 49 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.