On his national radio program yesterday, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh called efforts by intelligent design proponents “disingenuous,” saying they should “call it what it is” – belief “in the biblical version of creation,” but a spokesman for the leading intelligent design think tank says Rush got it wrong.
Answering a caller who asked his opinion of the recent high-profile federal court decision against intelligent design in the Dover, Pa., school district, Rush answered he wasn’t surprised, given the context of judicial activism.
“I think it’s another great example of how we need different kinds of judges,” he said.
“You got to understand who we’re dealing with here, and they have now structured things such as this: When 95 percent of the people of the country agree with something, 5 percent of the country disagrees, the liberal will say the 5 percent must win because we can’t hurt their feelings, we mustn’t offend them.”
Limbaugh continued, “On the other hand, I do think this: I think that the people – and I know why they’re doing it, but I still think that it’s a little bit disingenuous. Let’s make no mistake. The people pushing intelligent design believe in the biblical version of creation. Intelligent design is a way, I think, to sneak it into the curriculum and make it less offensive to the liberals because it ostensibly does not involve religious overtones, that there is just some intelligent being far greater than anything any of us can even imagine that’s responsible for all this, and of course I don’t have any doubt of that. But I think that they’re sort of pussyfooting around when they call it intelligent design.
“Call it what it is. You believe God created the world, and you think that it’s warranted that this kind of theory for the explanation for all that is be taught.”
Jonathan Witt, Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the nation’s leading intelligent design think tank, says Limbaugh’s suggestion that design theorists appear disingenious when drawing a sharp distinction between creationism and intelligent design is mistaken.
“Since newspapers routinely mangle our position on this matter, it’s little wonder,” he said today.
“Traditional creationism begins with the Bible and moves from there to science,” says Witt. “Intelligent design begins and ends with science.”
Design proponents point to certain “irreducibly complex” biological structures that cannot be explained by current Darwinian theory – structures that would cease to work if any one of their components were missing. In such cases, the process of natural selection could not have gradually constructed the structure because it enjoyed no survival advantage until fully formed. Further, many of these structures function as machines. To the theory’s proponents, these structures exhibit the characteristics of design as measured in systems made by other known intelligent causes. Given Darwin’s inability to account for this complexity, design scientists find the evidence infers a pre-existing intelligence and call for scientists to follow the data wherever it leads. But the empirical data, they argue, is inadequate to say who the designer is.
“It has larger metaphysical implications,” says Witt, “but so does Darwinism. The theory of intelligent design is a methodology for detecting design, and scholars from a variety of backgrounds employ it – Christian, Jew, Hindu, even a former atheist like Antony Flew, who still rejects the God of the Bible.”
Edwards vs. Aguillard (1987), the Supreme Court decision that declared creationism unconstitutional for public school science classes, found Louisiana’s curriculum to be religious because it paralleled the Genesis account of creation.
“Whatever you want to label intelligent design,” says Witt, “it isn’t what the Court described in Edwards vs. Aguillard, and … there’s nothing in the Constitution that says a scientist’s arguments should be ignored simply because of his religious beliefs.”
Indeed, Witt notes, Intelligent design scientists at the Discovery Institute make no secret of their religious beliefs. Jay Richards, co-author of “The Privileged Planet,” is the author of “The Untamed God,” a work of Christian theology delineating an orthodox view of the Biblical God’s triune nature. And Michael Behe, who testified in the Dover case, is open about his Roman Catholicism.
In the Dover decision, Judge Jones fixated on motive, says Witt, in order to diminish the substantive differences between intelligent design and the Bible’s account of creation.
“Such fallacious reasoning also disqualifies the scientific arguments of Darwin defenders like Daniel Dennett, Steven Weinberg, and Richard Dawkins,” notes Witt, “for all are passionately interested in the metaphysical implications that Darwinism has for their anti-religious agenda.”