"Intelligent design" — who asked for that?

09.21.2010

The October 2010 issue of Discover commemorates the magazine's thirtieth anniversary by looking back at, among other things, the scientific debacles of the past three decades — including "intelligent design" — under the rubric "Who asked for that?"

Not satisfied with the biblical God who created the world in six days, creationists developed a "science" that aims to explain the supernatural force behind the whole shebang: intelligent design. Because we cannot reverse-engineer things like the human eye, they say, it follows that all must be designed by a higher being. (The human knee presumably came together during a moment of distraction.) This tactic had some success easing intelligent design/creationism into American public-school science lessons. But in 2005 a jury prohibited its teaching in the schools of Dover, Pennsylvania, delivering a stinging rebuke.
(Discover errs in attributing the verdict in Kitzmiller v. Dover to "a jury"; it was a bench trial, and the decision — which was indeed a stinging rebuke to the scientific pretensions of "intelligent design" — was due to Judge John E. Jones III.)