The following is my script for the fifteen minute presentation I gave at the SMU debate on April 25th. I hope to do some more with this, but I need to check with the organizers to make sure I won't step on any toes, if they plan to sell audio or video from the event.
Tonight I am considering a public policy question. That question is, "Should intelligent design be taught as science in the public schools?"
The short answer is, of course, no. I'm going to give some background, and come back to elaborate on the short answer.
[Not could be slide]
First, you have to recognize that "intelligent design" (or ID for short) is a recognizable body of arguments. This is not about what ID could be, would be, or even should be. This is about what ID demonstrably has been. We first saw it systematically used and defined as a phrase in the Dallas-based Foundation for Thought and Ethics's supplemental high school textbook, Of Pandas and People. Remember that. We'll come back to it.
To understand "intelligent design" or any modern religious antievolution, you have to know that it is based on a two-model view of the world, one I heard expressed in March of this year by ID advocate William Dembski, that ID and evolutionary causes were mutually exclusive and exhausted all the possibilities between them, therefore evidence against evolution counted as evidence for design. This is about as convincing an argument as, "Yo momma!" But this is what religious antievolutionists are stuck with, to simply attack evolution and trust to cultural literacy that people will then fall into their camp.
Jonathan Witt has an article up at "ID the Future". Darwinism: From Strength to Strength purports to find a contradiction in pro-science activism, between what was argued in Pennsylvania and then in Ohio. Following that, Witt proceeds with an uninformed screed about what "Darwinists", whoever they are, might be up to in the future. Since PZ Myers has dissected the latter part of Witt's offering quite nicely, I'll just make a few points about alleged contradictions.
The Darwinist reversal worked like this:
In Dover, they insisted that physical evidence presented against their theory wasn't an argument for intelligent design. Darwinist Kenneth Miller made this argument on the stand and the judge concurred. But in Ohio they wanted to scare people into thinking that simply teaching students the scientific evidence for and against Darwinism was somehow legally dangerous. Since it isn’t, the Darwinists had to get creative, had to change their story. So now they asserted that simply exposing students to the evidence against Darwinism constitutes the teaching of intelligent design. Thus, their Ohio position flatly contradicts their Dover position.
To sell both required a propaganda machine of extraordinary skill and nerve. Bravo!
Contradiction has a very specific meaning in logic. What Witt has uncovered is not contradiction, but rather consistency. In making the statement quoted above, Witt is lying. I use the word advisedly. I don't know with certainty whether Witt is lying to us about his ability to utilize logic and his familiarity with the relevant data, or whether he is lying in claiming that a contradiction exists where none does. One of those two alternatives, though, does apply.