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Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism

Response to "Not (Just) in Kansas Anymore" by Eugenie C. Scott, Science (May 2000) Response to "Not (Just) in Kansas Anymore" in Science (May 5, 2000)

Scott refers to me as an intelligent design “creationist,” even though I clearly write in my book Darwin’s Black Box (which Scott cites) that I am not a creationist and have no reason to doubt common descent. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think “evolution occurred, but was guided by God.” Where I and others run afoul of Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is simply in arguing that intelligent design in biology is not invisible, it is empirically detectable. The biological literature is replete with statements like David DeRosier’s in the journal Cell: “More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human” (1). Exactly why is it a thought-crime to make the case that such observations may be on to something objectively correct?

Scott blames “frontier,” “nonhierarchical” religions for the controversy in biology education in the United States. As a member of the decidedly hierarchical, mainstream Roman Catholic Church, I think a better candidate for blame is the policing of orthodoxy by the NCSE and others — abetting lawsuits to suppress discussion of truly open questions and decrying academic advocates of intelligent design for “organiz[ing] conferences” and “writ[ing] op-ed pieces and books.” Among a lot of religious citizens, who aren’t quite the yahoos evolutionists often seem to think they are, such activities raise doubts that the issues are being fairly presented, which might then cause some people to doubt the veracity of scientists in other areas too. Ironically, the activity of Scott and the NCSE might itself be promoting the mistrust of science they deplore.


1. David J. DeRosier, Cell 93, 17 (1998).

Michael J. Behe

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Michael J. Behe is Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. Behe's current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures. In his career he has authored over 40 technical papers and three books, Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA that Challenges Evolution, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, and The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, which argue that living system at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design.