Intelligent Design

Leave it to a Red State to come through in time of need

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Perry: Add intelligent design to teaching
Theory has a place in Texas schools, he says; most rivals disagree
By W. Gardner Selby
Friday, January 06, 2006

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who has made outreach to Christian conservatives a theme of his gubernatorial portfolio, thinks Texas public school students should be taught intelligent design along with evolutionary theory, his office said Thursday.

Three Democratic challengers for governor this year and independent hopeful Kinky Friedman disagreed. Independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn had no immediate comment, and a little-known Democratic hopeful sided with Perry.

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Gov. Rick Perry thinks concept is ‘valid scientific theory,’ aide says.

The governor’s stance emerged in the wake of a federal judge’s decision last month that it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school board to require that intelligent design be taught as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. District Judge John Jones III called intelligent design an idea that cannot be divorced from its religious origins.

His ruling, the first of its kind, has no direct bearing in Texas. Still, it was viewed as having established a steep hurdle for school boards and legislatures in almost 30 states that have considered or passed intelligent design initiatives.

Intelligent design holds that life is so complex that it must have been guided by some outside intelligence. Critics have chided its lack of a testable thesis and have called it creationism — adherence to the biblical account of creation in Genesis — in disguise.

Evolution holds that all life on Earth shares common ancestry and was developed through the mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection.

Jones wrote: “To be sure, (Charles) Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.”

Texas mandates the teaching of evolution, both its strengths and weaknesses, in science classes.

Perry “supports the teaching of the theory of intelligent design,” spokeswoman Kathy Walt said. “Texas schools teach the theory of evolution; intelligent design is a valid scientific theory, and he believes it should be taught as well.”

She said elements of creationism are consistent with intelligent design and that teaching different theories is part of developing students’ critical thinking skills.

Marvin Olasky, a University of Texas journalism professor who has written favorably on intelligent design, credited Perry with “advancing discussion of this issue. I find it refreshing that he’s saying it. The issue is not going to go away.”

Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, which styles itself as a watchdog of the religious right, called the governor’s position “a bad thing if you believe science classes should teach science and you believe families and clergy should teach matters of faith.”

A December letter from Perry’s office to a constituent that was obtained by the network states that it would be a “disservice to our children to teach them only on theory on the the origin of our existence without recognizing other scientific theories worth consideration.”

Tincy Miller of Dallas, chairwoman of the State Board of Education, called intelligent design a nonissue in this year’s elections. Board members voted in November 2003 against endorsing only biology textbooks that presented the most qualified characterizations of evolution, with words such as “may” or “could.” Publishers at the time refused to make major changes to the evolution sections of the books.

“We had a huge discussion; it was just put to bed,” Miller said. “We teach evolution in Texas.” The board is slated to consider revised biology textbooks in 2008 at the earliest.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell, a former U.S. House member from Houston, said: “Things we teach kids in science class should have a scientific basis. Based on everything I have seen and heard, I fail to recognize the scientific basis for intelligent design.”

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage of Llano, another Democratic hopeful, said he supports the judge in the Pennsylvania case in that “teaching intelligent design is inappropriate for the class- room.

“There is a difference between physics and metaphysics, and I believe that we should teach the first in schools and the second in church,” Gammage said.

Rashad Jafer of Houston, another Democratic aspirant, sided with Perry, saying he personally believes the universe was willed by a creator who will “one day take it away.” He said evolution and intelligent design should be taught side by side.

Democratic candidate Felix Alvarado of Fort Worth said he opposes teaching intelligent design in science.

“In science, you teach science. In social studies, you cover religion,” he said.

Friedman, of Kerrville, said of teaching intelligent design in science: “I’m agin it; there’s nothing intelligent about it.”

12 Replies to “Leave it to a Red State to come through in time of need

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    My wife knows Rick Perry and his family personally and professionally. The surgeon whose practice she manages attended high school with George W. Bush hisself in Midland. These are all salt-of-the-earth folks and fine examples of the mainstream “conservative Christian right” who attend church regularly but don’t get in your face to preach the gospel like the stereotypical fundamentalists.

    Darwinian narrative apologists that conflate mainstream Christians like these with fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell can all just be danged to heck! 🙂

  2. 2

    […] It appears once again that Dembski, contra the official DI position, supports the teaching of ID – rather than the “controversy” – in science class. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has announced that ID is a “valid scientific theory” and should be taught (source). Indeed, a spokeswoman noted that Perry “supports the teaching of the theory of intelligent design. Texas schools teach the theory of evolution; intelligent design is a valid scientific theory, and he believes it should be taught as well” (emphasis mine). Dembski’s sole comment is: “Leave it to a Red State to come through in time of need” – clearly supporting Perry’s position and opposing the stated stance of the DI, namely opposition to mandated ID while support for “teaching the controversy”. Of course, he has done this before; witness his comments on Bush’s support for ID. […]

  3. 3
    Mr Christopher says:

    I’d avoid ordering any party supplies for a little while longer.

    The Discovery Institute tried to get Texas to force biology book publishers to make changes to the content a few years back. That attempt failed. I doubt this will pick up any steam in Texas, they went through this already and the Republican majority school board rejected intelligent design and the Discovery Institute. The head of the school board has said this is a non-issue that has already been addressed and settled.

    I have no doubt Rick Perry is NOT a fundamentalist but this is an election year and ever since Karl Rove became one of Rick Perry’s advisors he has been publicly courting fundamentalists. I think this is a simple vote grab on Perry’s part. It will get him votes but it won’t get intelligent design taught in Texas public schools.

    You can read about the history of intelligent design and the Discovery Institute’s activities in the State of Texas here –

  4. 4
    DaveScot says:

    Sounds like sour grapes coming from you, Mr. Christopher. Rick Perry has been governor of the second largest state in the union (economically, geographically, population) for about 6 years now. You don’t get much farther up in the executive pecking order than that. He took a principled stand on the issue. I wonder what Governor Ahnold of California has to say about it…

  5. 5
    Mr Christopher says:

    Sour grapes? What’s there to be sour about? I think what I wrote was pretty clear. And I did not in any way say anything bad about Governor Perry. He is by and large a very popular governor and will likely get re-elected.

    My point is that intelligent design is a known commodity in Texas and the last time it tried to get a foot hold there the movement failed. Did you read any of the testimony and history I offered in the link above? Texas is not Dover PA if you get my drift. This is a “been there done that” story. And criticisms (of the scientific variety) of evolution are already welcome in public science classes in the State of Texas.

    And I have no idea what Gov Arnold has to say about it. I’m not sure I get the connection between the two.

    How about a friendly wager? I’ll bet you a pound of sour grapes that intelligent design does not make its way into the public science classroom in the State of Texs during Perry’s current or probable next term.

    If I win you give me a pound of sour (green – yuck I hate them) grapes, if you win I’ll give you a pound of the variety of grapes you prefer.

    Although since the Governor himself is advocating ID in the classroom this might be a fertile opportunity for the legal case that the DI would like to see, one that could be appealed to the Supreme Court?

  6. 6
    DaveScot says:

    stranger fruit

    What part of “Dembski doesn’t parrot the Discovery Institute party line” don’t you understand?

    The Discovery Institute is a prominent voice in ID but doesn’t define every facet of it in monolithic fashion. I suggest you don’t conflate each individual Discovery Fellow with each bit of Discovery policy to avoid further confusion on your part.

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    Mr. Christopher

    Governor Perry in his statement provides a secular reason for school boards to add intelligent design to their curriculum. This was part of the lesson learned in Dover. Governor Perry and President Bush have now both advocated teaching intelligent design for secular reasons. A school board now need not claim any motive other than simply following the urging of the president and governor.

    Whether any school boards desiring to add ID to their evolution curriculum avail themselves of this is anyone’s guess.

    Questioning Perry’s motives as mere political maneuvering is dissing someone I respect. Your opinion is noted and if you insist on having the last word I’ll make sure that was indeed your last word here. Consider yourself warned.

  8. 8
    Mr Christopher says:

    “What part of “Dembski doesn’t parrot the Discovery Institute party line” don’t you understand?”

    I wasn’t talking about Dembski so I am not quite sure what you want me to understand. I wasn’t implying Mr Dembksi was going to start a Texas tour to promote ID in our fair state. I don’t think I even mentioned Mr Dembski did I?

    I was talking about Rick Perry and his interest in having intelligent design taught in Texas public schools. I thought that’s what this thread was about. I was also talking about the previous Discovery Institute efforts in Texas, specifically those regarding intelligent design.

    I am a Texan and I’m often an odds man and with the recent ID/DI history in Texas I think the odds are against ID there, that’s all. That’s why I was saying we should not plan any parties anytime soon. Based on the previous ID/DI history in the State of Texas I’d approach this one with some caution. I could certainly be wrong but I’m willing to wager a pound of grapes on it.

    And I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, my comments are simply an opinion. I am in Texas, I know Texas pretty well, I followed the previous DI/ID action in Texas, but I could certainly be wrong. I don’t this this equates to sour grapes or not getting Dembski does not parrot the DI party line. The subject is Rick Perry and intelligent design in the Texas public classrooms. I believe I was speaking on that subject.

  9. 9
    Feederbottom says:

    DaveScot said: “What part of “Dembski doesn’t parrot the Discovery Institute party line” don’t you understand?”

    Not only does Stranger Fruit seem to understand this, he pointed it out. What confusion do you think he’s suffering from?

  10. 10
    Mr Christopher says:

    Man oh man it is difficult to figure out who is talking to who sometimes.

    Anyhow, I am a resident of the State of Texas and though I am not a member of any political party (I say send both parties into outer space) I am quite involved politically. I write and call my represenatives on important matters. I also read many Texas newspapers and magazines daily. I pay attention to what our elected officials do. I scrutinize my elected officials. I listen to what they say, I compare that with what they do, and yes I scrutinize their motives. I think this is a wise policy in a democratic society.

    I am not a personal friend of Rick Perry but it is common knowledge in Texas that Rick Perry had always appealed to mainstream conservative Christians yet when Karl Rove signed on as one of his advisors (about 2 years ago or so) he began publicly courting what we typically call “fundamentalist” Christians. This has been documented and written about routinely, so it’s not like I am promoting some wild conspiracy theory. This doesn’t mean Perry is a bad guy, or should be discredited. Besides, all politicians court groups they think will get them elected. No crime in that.

    Just this week a former mainstream Republican announced she is running against Rick Perry. She too is known for her appeal to mainstream conservative Christians. Rick Perry announced his support for ID two days after she announced she is running against him.

    So my thinking on this matter does not constitute saying bad things or implying bad things about Rick Perry. It is based on recent history and well supported. The Texas papers will be echoing what I am saying tommorrow. They too will be scrutinizing Perry’s motives , not because they think Perry is a bad apple but because of his recent history.

    And Rick Santorum has given us a classroom lesson on supporting ID, when it is to their favor a politician will often support it, when it is not to their favor they will drop that support in a heart beat.

    Dave, I was not aware there was a rule that could get me banned here for scrutinizing the motives of an elected Governor that happens to be your personal friend. I am now aware of that. I’ll avoid doing it again.

    Finally, on the subject of ID in Texas, something to also be aware of is that ARN is located in Richardson Texas (two blocks from my front door). Plano Texas (2 miles from my front door) adjoins it. A few years ago ARN tried to get the Plano School District to adopt Of Pandas and People. Plano is primarily a Republican dominated, conservative, mainstream Christian community. The school board unanimously rejected Of Pandas and People.

    So my point is, Perry advocating ID in the classroom does not mean it is a done deal. The ID history in Texas is grim and besides the Governer in Texas does not have much authority when it comes to classroom curriculum. He cannot over rule the board and they have already rejected ID and the DI once and the majority of Texas board members are Republicans and they had the same majority when DI/ID was rejected.

    So it makes sense to avoid ordering any party supplies until there is something to celebrate in the State of Texas. ID needs more than just Rick Perry’s approval and advocacy to make it into the public science classroom. That’s what I am sayin’.

    And of course I could be very wrong. We’ll see.

  11. 11
    j says:

    From the article:
    (Judge) Jones wrote: “To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.”

    It’s not that Darwin’s theory can’t render an explanation on *every* point, it’s that it can’t explain the most important thing that it was intended to explain: highly developed functional complexity. Where is the scientific experiment (real or computer-based) that demonstrates that purely random mutations, acted on by only natural selection, can produce functional complexity, starting from simplicity? However, it is known that the intelligent design — the “untestable alternative hypothesis” (sic) — actually *can* explain highly developed functional complexity.

  12. 12
    Red Reader says:

    I’m from Texas. I also grew up in Midland, but I did not know George Bush; he is four years older.

    Rick Perry is a good governor. At least, he’s better than all current challengers.

    Conservatives in Texas believe in the First Amendment: ID is speech. NDE is speech. Both should be allowed in science. The best way to defeat any theory is with evidence.

    Perry will be reelected. And it is only a matter of time before ID is taught in schools.

    Mr. Christopher,
    It is my understanding the Discovery Institute was successful in getting changes to Texas Schoolbooks.
    Discovery Institute News
    1511 3rd Ave Suite 808 – Seattle, WA 98101 – (206) 292-0401 x107

    Remaining Factual Errors In Biology Textbooks, as of April 2004
    By: Staff
    Discovery Institute
    June 16, 2004

    The Texas State Board of Education voted last year to adopt eleven proposed biology textbooks for use in state schools after a commitment from the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency that all remaining factual errors in the textbooks would be addressed by publishers before the textbooks could be distributed to students. Several popular textbooks have not corrected all factual errors, and one has refused to comply at all.

    Attached is a PDF file that documents the remaining errors in textbooks.;id=2075

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