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Intelligent Design is Sorely Misunderstood

Published in Seattle PI

Over the past several months, there has been a growing public debate about the theory of intelligent design, whether it is science, and whether it should be taught in public schools. President Bush's recent endorsement of teaching about different ideas when studying evolution, including intelligent design, is sure to add fuel to the controversy.

Unfortunately, all the attention has not necessarily led to greater public understanding of the theory of intelligent design or the views of the scientists who support it. Indeed, as intelligent design has become more prominent, foes and friends alike have latched onto it to promote their own agendas. For foes, intelligent design is merely the latest tactic by the "religious right" to use government to impose "creationism" on unsuspecting students and teachers. These critics of intelligent design typically depict scientists who support the theory as zealots determined to twist the findings of science to support their faith in God. If foes are guilty of misappropriating intelligent design, however, so are some of its newfound friends.

As intelligent design has become a household term, a few well-meaning but misguided public officials have conflated the theory of design with creationism or tried to impose it by legislation.

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John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.