Books in the tree of life.
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As Progressive Inquisitors Purge Classrooms Of Intelligent Design, ‘ID’ Continues to Grow

If you believe the Legacy media, a craze for banning books and curriculum in schools is sweeping across the United States. One publication called it an “American Inquisition,” with parents and officials seeking to ban anything that mentions homosexuality, racial injustice, or evolution.

The supposed inquisitors are conservatives.

But many forget that progressives in the U.S. have a recent history of banning ideas they don’t like. One topic they have repeatedly sought to ban from the classroom is intelligent design.

Intelligent design, or ID, is a scientific theory which holds that many aspects of life and the universe are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected one like natural selection. It is not “creationism.” It’s endorsed by scientists from top institutions and in papers published in peer-reviewed scientific literature. Yet many enlightened elites think ID-friendly arguments should never reach the ears of students.

In November 2004, for example, the Dover Area School District in central Pennsylvania adopted a policy that required biology teachers to read a short, four-paragraph statement that briefly mentioned ID. The most offensive language said the following:

Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book “Of Pandas and People” is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

Those 49 words — suggesting that students consult a library book if they wanted to learn more about a scientific idea — were too much for the thought police. 

Twenty-five days later, the ACLU helped file a lawsuit against the Dover Area School District, Kitzmiller v. Dover, seeking an order requiring the removal of the reference to the book in question from the school curriculum. With the ACLU’s backing, the lawsuit successfully removed any mention of ID and the reference to “Of Pandas and People” from public schools in Dover.

Following this success, anti-ID forces rallied to ban the study of ID not just from high schools but also from universities.

The president of the University of Idaho retaliated against one of its biology professors, who had testified in support of Dover’s ID policy, by enacting a campus-wide speech code where “evolution” was “the only curriculum that is appropriate” for science classes. Cornell’s interim president devoted an entire State of the University Address to attacking intelligent design as a “religious belief” and an “invasion” to be resisted by the faculty. And in 2013, in response to an elective seminar taught by a physicist that had favorably mentioned ID, Ball State University’s then-president issued her own speech code, declaring “intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.” A prominent University of Chicago evolutionist, Jerry Coyne, got the Ball State physicist’s class canceled. Bizarrely, Coyne some years later would transition to a lionized spokesman for “free speech.”

It gets weirder. After the ACLU scrubbed the reference to the pro-ID “Pandas” book in Dover, one Wikipedia user dared to add the textbook to a Wiki page listing banned books. Anticipating the intellectual lure of banned ideas, Wikipedia’s masked editors then removed the “Pandas” textbook from the banned books page, and locked the page from further edits, alleging it had been “vandalized.” In this Orwellian world, admitting a banned book is a banned book is itself a thought crime.

Yet despite the efforts of these genuine inquisitors, the concept of ID has continued to grow and progress as a science. The same year that the ACLU banned intelligent design in Dover, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist at UC Berkeley, Charles Townes, cited the fine-tuning of the universe to argue that “Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real.”

Flash forward to 2019. A Yale computer scientist, David Gelernter, in praising a book by pro-ID philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer, announced that he too was “Giving Up Darwin.” In 2020, a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology noted that ID “has gained a lot of interest and attention in recent years, mainly in the USA, by creating public attention as well as triggering vivid discussions in the scientific and public world.” It cited “irreducibly complex biochemical machines in living cells” and the “highly specified shape” of proteins to argue that “fine-tuning is even more extreme in biological systems” and this could potentially lead to “a Design Science.” In 2021 another Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Brian Josephson at Cambridge University, said “intelligent design is valid science.”

Leftists can ban curriculum and books about intelligent design, they can ban teachers from mentioning intelligent design, and they can even ban people from talking about the fact that they banned intelligent design. But they can’t change the scientific evidence that is driving more and more people — including scientists — to embrace the case for intelligent design.

Casey Luskin is a scientist and an attorney with a PhD in geology from the University of Johannesburg and a law degree from the University of San Diego. He works as Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  As Progressive Inquisitors Purge Classrooms Of Intelligent Design, ‘ID’ Continues to Grow