Intelligent Design, Darwinism, and the Philosophy of Public Education
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Intelligent Design, Darwinism, and the Philosophy of Public Education John Angus Campbell The present issue of Rhetoric & Public Affairs is dedicated to exploring the question of Intelligent Design (ID). ID is at once an argument against the orthodox Darwinian claim that mindless forces—principally variation, inheritance, natural selection, and sufficient time—can account for the principal features of the biological world; a critique of the prevailing philosophy of science that limits explanation to purely physical or material causes; and a public movement to make Darwinism, its evidence, philosophic presuppositions, and rhetorical tactics a matter of informed, broad, and spirited public discussion. Central to all three aspects of ID— as argument, critique, and movement for public debate over Darwinism—is its claim that if science education is to be other than state-sponsored propaganda a clear and principled distinction must be drawn between empirical science and the patently materialist philosophy that drives contemporary Darwinian theories of origin and development.1 Because the ID movement is just now coming into public awareness—chiefly through the tireless publication, speaking, and debating of its leader, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, and the publication of Lehigh University biochemist Mike Behe's Darwin's Black Box—its more detailed technical arguments are not yet well known.2 Since a central aim of Rhetoric & Public Affairs is to engage public issues and not just wait for them to happen (and to awaken the postmodern university from its theory-induced spectatorish political torpor) our current issue provides Intelligent Design a forum. Our aim is not to advocate ID but to advance public understanding of the nature of science, science policy, and the rhetoric of science. The best plan for the present issue would have been to offer equal time to representatives of Darwinism. Because of limitations of space, and because the Darwinian position is well known, we have given the floor to the "newcomers"—though intelligent design is hardly new—and have invited six respondents representing a variety of John Angus Camphell is Professor of Communication at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, and a Fellow in the Discovery Institute Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is immediate past president of the American Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology. © Rhetoric & Public Affairs Vol. 1, No. 4, 1998, pp. 469-502 ISSN 1094-8392 470 Rhetoric & Public Affairs disciplinary perspectives to offer opinions, critiques, cautions, or rejoinders. In place of our regular book review section we have asked our rhetoric of science colleague Tom Lessl to write a review essay of recent works relevant to questions raised by ID, by Darwinism, and by the rhetorical dimensions of science. To set forth the case for ID we have asked the five, predominantly young philosophers and philosopher-scientists who are its chief architects, to make their case. The philosopher, scientist, and theologian Bill Dembski (Ph.D. Mathematics, University of Chicago, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago, M.Div. Princeton Theological Seminary) will set forth the basic logic of ID. The philosopher and historian of science Steve Meyer (Ph.D. History and Philosophy of Science, St. Catherine's College, Cambridge), building on Dembski's argument, will review origin -of-life research and argue how the nature and specificity of information preclude Darwinian arguments based on chance, necessity, and deep time. The scientist and theologian Jonathan Wells (Ph.D. Religious Studies, Yale, Ph.D. Developmental Biology, University of California, Berkeley) and the philosopher-scientist Paul Nelson (Ph.D. Philosophy of Biology, University of Chicago), who is founding editor of the ID movement's journal Origins & Design, will take issue with Theodosius Dobzhanski's famous observation that "nothing in biology makes sense without evolution." The biochemist Mike Behe (Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Pennsylvania) will conclude our ID forum by summarizing his case for the "irreducible complexity" of microbiological structures. Responding to these papers are the philosopher and rhetorician of science David Depew; the biochemist and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University, Fullerton, Bruce Weber; law professor and ID founder Phillip Johnson; rhetorical critic and rhetorician of science Celeste M. Condit; philosopher of argument and rhetorician of...