ID Theory: Open to ‘Design’ Possibilities

Letter to the editor:
In her Aug. 24 commentary, “Stick to Science, ISU,” Rekha Basu writes about an anti-intelligent design petition led by Hector Avalos, an associate professor of religious studies at Iowa State University and faculty adviser to the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society.

Basu noted that I’m a national leader in the ID movement who “has said publicly he wants to find a graduate student to pursue that line of study,” based on an August-edition Geotimes report on comments made at a Smithsonian presentation. In answer to a question about progress in ID, I said that I hoped graduate students would take up some of the suggested research presented in the book I co-authored. I didn’t say I was going to have a graduate student working on ID. In any case, I don’t have funding to do so.

I am often misrepresented by the press and certain ideologues at ISU.
First, I am not a fundamentalist. I don’t believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old or that a global deluge created most of the geology we see today. I am convinced that most of the mainstream theories in geology, physics and cosmology are a pretty good representation of reality.

Second, ID is not scientific creationism (or just creationism).
Creationists seek evidence to prove a particular interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible. They start with a specific set of prior religious commitments and seek evidence that conforms to those commitments. ID theorists start with the evidence of nature and remain open to possible evidence of design. This approach is no different from the approach taken by many of the founders of modern science.

Third, scientific theories can and do have metaphysical implications, but those are distinct from the theories themselves. Richard Dawkins once said that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
That implication doesn’t invalidate Darwin’s scientific idea. Similarly, ID research can have positive religious implications. Perhaps that explains some of the animosity toward ID.

Finally, “The Privileged Planet,” which I co-authored with Dr. Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute, presents an original argument for design based on evidence drawn from the physical sciences. We do not discuss biological evolution in the book or in the documentary video based on it. Our argument is testable and should be challenged on the evidence.

The inquisition Hector Avalos is attempting to engineer isn’t science.
It’s an attack on academic freedom.

-Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of astronomy, Iowa State University, Ames.

Guillermo Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Guillermo Gonzalez is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1993 from the University of Washington. He has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and at the University of Washington and has received fellowships, grants and awards from such institutions as NASA, the University of Washington, the Templeton Foundation, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation. In 2024, he co-authored the YA novel The Farm at the Center of the Universe with Jonathan Witt.