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: What is the feeling in the scientific community about intelligent
SCOTT: The intelligent design people have claimed that scientists are
leaping off the bandwagon of evolution in great numbers. That's just
nonsense. They have managed to put together 300 scientists doubting
Darwin. But actually the statement that scientists signed has to do
with the mechanism of natural selection, not with evolution itself. You
will find lots of articles arguing about natural selection, arguing
about what they call Darwinism. You will find lots of articles arguing
about how evolution takes place, how important is natural selection
versus other mechanisms.
But the intelligent design people have this very shifty way of moving
the goal posts. When they say that scientists are giving up on
Darwinian evolution, they may be saying that scientists are arguing over
the role of natural selection. But I don't think that's the way the
general public hears it. The general public hears scientists are
doubting whether evolution took place, therefore we should teach it as
something that has an unusual number of gaps or problems. That is really
a very, very bad way to educate students. That's just educational
THOMPSON: More and more scientists are now coming to the conclusion that
Darwin's theory has so many gaps in it it cannot really be an effective
and vital theory. We have theorists, mathematicians who are experts in
the theory of probabilities that say, "Assuming that the Earth is four
billion years old, for human life to have evolved by chance is still
beyond probabilities. It could not have happened."
What I've heard is that there are a lot of scientists who believe in
intelligent design. But they keep their head down because of the
tremendous persecution that they suffer in the scientific community if
they supported a person like William Dembski or Michael Behe.
Q: Doesn't intelligent design violate the separation of church and
SCOTT: The intelligent design supporters will claim that intelligent
design has a largely secular purpose rather than a religious purpose.
But actually intelligent design has no secular purpose. It doesn't
explain the natural world. It merely presents the argument that
evolution doesn't explain the natural world and therefore you have to go
to this intelligent agent. I think that any judge is going to very
quickly recognize the fact that intelligent design is a religious view
masquerading as science. This is so clearly a sham that I can't imagine
a judge not recognizing it by the first day of the court trial.
THOMPSON: The courts also say that for a particular policy or statute to
be unconstitutional, it must have wholly a religious purpose to it. It
might be okay to have one of the reasons why you're supporting this
particular policy to be religiously motivated, as long as it is not
wholly religion. For instance, legislators might support giving money to
the poor. That might be religiously motivated. They may be acting on
that faith. But there's also a secular purpose for it, and that is to
help the less fortunate in our community. As long as there is a secular
purpose, as long as it is not wholly motivated by religious action or
purpose, then it is constitutionally permissible to do that.
Q: Do you see the Dover suit as a test case for intelligent design?
THOMPSON: It could very well be a test case for intelligent design.
There are other cases out there that deal with showing and making
students aware of the gaps in Darwin's theory. This one goes a measured
step further and says, "There is this alternative theory." I don't think
the courts have been presented with the kind of scientific data that
we're going to present with credible scientists. Mark my words. Whether
it's our case or some other case, Darwin's goin' down the tube. No
question about it.
If they hold that this is constitutionally permissible, what you will
see happen across this nation is intelligent design popping up in all
kinds of school boards. This is the first step, a measured step, in
getting students to be aware of intelligent design. The next step will
be to change the textbooks so that they are honest textbooks and they
start talking about intelligent design.
SCOTT: Dover is a very important test case. It's the first school
district in the country that has required its teachers to teach
intelligent design and assigned intelligent design textbooks. If the
courts decide, as I believe they will, that intelligent design is just
religion masquerading as a science, then other school districts will be
discouraged from imposing these kinds of policies themselves. If the
court, for some reason, decides that these policies are constitutional,
I imagine that we'll see them metastasizing all over the country.