Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist, is the executive director of the National Center for Science Education.
Richard Thompson is the president of the Thomas More Law Center and head of the Christian legal defense group representing Dover's school board.
Q: Is intelligent design a religious theory?
THOMPSON: The intelligent design theory merely looks to see if a
particular cell structure is designed. It does not go into the character
of the designer. The content of the theory is not religious, but it does
have religious implications. If you believe in intelligent design, then
there is the implication that there is a designer. There are a lot of
people who then postulate that designer is God, the creator.
What we are saying is, if intelligent design cannot be taught in public
schools because of its religious implications, then the theory of
evolution cannot be taught in public schools because of its religious
implications. That is, the religion of secular humanism or atheism,
which courts have postulated before, are religions under the broad
definition of what a religion is.
SCOTT: The idea that intelligent design is not a way of slipping
religion into the classroom is ludicrous. Intelligent design's whole
raison d'etre is that evolution can't do the job: evolution is
inadequate to explain body plans and to explain the present diversity of
If evolution didn't do it, what did do it? The intelligent agent. Who
is the intelligent agent? The intelligent agent is God, of course.
Students are not stupid. They're going to figure this out. The students
are going say, "Gee teacher, if evolution can't do the job, what did
it?" And what is the teacher going to say, "I'm sorry, we can't talk
about that. It has to be an intelligent agent. Maybe it was an
extraterrestrial from Alpha Centauri." This is a way of saying God did it
without being so blatant that the establishment clause comes along and
kicks you in the shins.
Q: Does the theory of evolution posit an atheistic or secular humanist
SCOTT: Evolution is no more a religious theory than cell division is.
In science we restrict ourselves to explaining the natural world through
a natural cause. If we're talking about the diversity of living things,
we're going to explain that diversity through a natural cause. If we
are talking about how a cell divides, we are going to use natural cause.
Evolution may have implications for Christian theology, but it doesn't
compel any particular belief, nor does it inherently require any kind of
acceptance or rejection of a supernatural form. It merely says we're
restricted to trying to explain the natural world using natural cause.
That's what we call methological naturalism. That's the only naturalism
there is in science.
THOMPSON: Evolution itself has religious implications, just like
intelligent design. What we are saying is, if intelligent design cannot
be taught in public schools because of its religious implications, then
the theory of evolution cannot be taught in public schools because of
its religious implications. It is hijacking into the science class the
religion of secular humanism or atheism, which the Supreme Court and
federal courts have said are also very religious in nature because of
the broad definition that they are giving to religion.