The voodoo doo-doo in intelligent design

Intelligent design is a keyword for Christians fighting for creationism.

Tom Ashby’s, Wednesday’s guest column “DNA evidence of an intelligent designer” cites challenges in biology as evidence for an intelligent designer. The theory of evolution is stronger than ever, as Professor PZ Myers of the University of Minnesota-Morris showed in one of his Darwin Day talks last Friday.

Ashby refers to chemist Charles Thaxton, who claims DNA is so well designed that it must be a message from a higher power. Science disagrees. As much as 98.5 percent of the human genetic code is functionless, meaningless junk. This noncoding

DNA is full of pseudogenes with an uncanny resemblance to the artifacts we would expect of careless, mindless evolution from common ancestors. If DNA is supposed to be a message, I sure hope it’s not from God. But maybe the problem is our definition of science. Mainstream science usually explains the world with hard, observable evidence, not just “God works in mysterious ways.” Ashby describes Michael Behe as someone who realizes “scientific explanation is not limited to the best “naturalistic’ explanation, but rather to the best explanation, period.” Intelligent design fits in this looser definition. As Behe testified in the Kitzmiller v. Dover science-education case, intelligent design is just as scientific as astrology.

Science isn’t the only thing being redefined. DNA-interpreter Charles Thaxton and wannabe horoscopist Michael Behe also worked on “On Pandas and People”, the first biology textbook based on intelligent design and the centerpiece of the Dover case.

There’s a reason “On Pandas and People’s” misguided arguments sounded familiar. Every instance of “creation” in an early draft was replaced with “design” when it became illegal to teach creationism in public schools. Both authors are fellows at the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank following a “wedge strategy” to retake American culture in the name of their version of God. Despite Ashby’s claims to the contrary, it would seem intelligent design is nothing more than “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.”

The ruling in Dover was that intelligent design, like creationism, is religious propaganda. All members of the school board involved in adding intelligent design to the curriculum were voted out of office in the next election. Not everyone is fooled.

Joe Foley is co-chairman of Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists. Please send comments to [email protected].