Intelligent Design/Intelligent Origin Theory (IOD/IOT) has intelligently designed itself a toehold in Academia.
The Polanyi Center, established in 1999 at Baylor University, is described by its head, William Dembski, as "the first intelligent design think tank at a research university."
Snarky note: Not "research center", "think tank".
In the wake of snide editorials decrying the scientific and education establishment's overruling "the will of the people", it's a bit ironic to hear the same complaint directed against this think tank.
Baylor faculty members complained that Sloan behaved autocratically in establishing the center without soliciting their advice and consent.
In the wake of the controversy,
A review committee Sloan appointed to address faculty concerns reached a conciliatory but lukewarm solution: the center was to be renamed, reconstituted within Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning, and supervised by a faculty advisory committee. In a press release, however, Dembski publicly celebrated what he called the committee's "unqualified affirmation" of intelligent design...
So what's wrong with ID/IOT? Well, first of all, it's not science.
Its most conspicuous feature, however, is its scientific sterility. The Wedge's most notable attempts to provide a case for intelligent design appear in books for the general reader, such as Dembski's Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology and Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The few university presses (such as Cambridge and Michigan State) that have published intelligent design books classify them as philosophy, rhetoric, or public affairs, not science. There are no peer-reviewed studies supporting intelligent design in the scientific research literature. The scientific community as a whole is unimpressed and unconvinced, and intelligent design's credentials as a scientific research program appear negligible. Indeed, Dembski himself recently conceded that "the scientific research part" of intelligent design is now "lagging behind" its success in influencing popular opinion.
Scientific sterility: ID/IOT is generating no papers, no scientific results. Nobody is using the principles of ID/IOT to discover new things about the universe.
General reader: ID/IOT makes it case in books aimed at the general (non-scientific) reader. Not only is this not how science is done, it's an extremely unreliable guide to sound science. Books and other treatments aimed at the general reader include Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision and other books, Erich von Danikan's Chariots of the Gods? and other books, "documentaries" about the moon landing hoax, any number of books on UFOs, psychic powers, demonic possession, alternative medicine, and so on. That popular opinion has been influenced by a book, TV show, or other treatment is not a guide to scientific accuracy.
But is ID/IOT religion? Not in itself. However, its proponents are pushing it because of motives that are based far more in religion than science.
In his introduction to the conference proceedings, published in 1998 as Mere Creation: Science, Faith, and Intelligent Design, Dembski describes the purpose of the conference as formulating "a theory of creation that puts Christians in the strongest possible position to defeat the common enemy of creation." <snip> Similarly, the "Wedge Document" states that the goals of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (as it then was) were to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies. To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."
But is evolution scientific?
...researchers at the University of Cincinnati's Internet Public Opinion Laboratory conducted a poll of science professors at four-year public and private colleges in Ohio. Of the 460 respondents, 90 percent said that there was no scientific evidence at all for intelligent design; 93 percent said that they were unaware of "any scientifically valid evidence or an [alternative] scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution"; and a nearly unanimous 97 percent said that they did not use intelligent design in their own research. Included among those surveyed were faculty at such fundamentalist schools as Cedarville University, which accepts a statement of faith according to which "by definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record." If the pollsters had excluded professors with such a dogmatic commitment to biblical inerrancy, the results would have been even closer to unanimity. Over thirty years ago, the great geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution," and his words continue to ring true today. Biologists, and scientists generally, know that evolutionary biology continues to thrive, despite constant claims by its ideological opponents that it is a "theory in crisis." Insofar as biologists are aware of intelligent design, they generally regard it as they do young-earth creationism: negligible at best, a nuisance at worst. But unlike young-earth creationism, intelligent design maintains a not inconsiderable base within academia, whose members seemingly exploit their academic standing to promote the concept as intellectually respectable while shirking the task of producing a scientifically compelling case for it. To be sure, academic supporters of intelligent design enjoy, and should enjoy, the same degree of academic freedom conferred on the professoriate in general. But academic freedom is no excuse for misleading students about the scientific legitimacy of a view overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community. In short, the academic supporters of intelligent design are enjoying, in the familiar phrase, power without responsibility. It is a trend that their colleagues ought to be aware of, worry about, and help to resist.