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Honest Reporting at the LA Times - August 15, 2005

Columnist Dana Parsons interviewed Ryan Huxley about ID for the 8/14/05 edition of the LA Times. The article, "Creation and Science Friction" appeared in the California, Orange County section of the paper. (For those having problems viewing the article, click on the California, Orange County link, and scroll down until you see the title of the article, "Creation and Science Friction," under the date August 14, 2005.) Mr. Parsons did what we wish so many other reporter's would do: interview ID proponents directly about ID. In doing so, Mr. Parson's has provided his readers with a much more accurate picture of what ID is about.

However, there were a few important clarification regarding what was written in the article. Ryan contacted Mr. Parsons to let him know of those and the email correspondences are shown below in sequential order (all correspondence occured on 8/15/05).

We hope other journalists can learn from Mr. Parson's work ethic to get the information from the source, so to speak, rather than relying on previously written articles or those who are anti-ID. Mr. Parson should be commended for taking the initiative to do research for himself to get more accurate information about such a fascinating and controversial topic.

1st email:
Dear Mr. Parsons:

Thanks so much again for your interview and story. I would like to commend you for doing such a story and also being willing to do some investigative reporting of your own by talking directly with ID proponents. Doing so has provided your readers with a more accurate representation of ID and clarified that most ID proponents are not trying to get ID into the public schools.

However, I did see a few items that appear to have been misunderstood during our approximately half-hour discussion which covered a wide variety of topics related to ID. It is understandable that these misunderstandings occurred given the breadth of topics discussed, not to mention the prevalence of misinformation on ID in the media. First, since the IDEA Center consists of Christians, the IDEA Center does identify the designer as the God of the Bible. To state otherwise would make us hypocrites. However, we recognize we are going beyond the science of ID to make that identification. Clearly, detecting design itself is a different matter than identifying the designer. The SETI project tries to identify design in signals from space without trying to identify who or what is sending the signals. I think you may have misunderstood when I was trying to clarify that identifying the designer goes beyond the science of ID that I therefore meant that the IDEA Center does not take a stance on the identity of the designer. Here’s an article on our Religious and Scientific Affiliations (the short second section Beliefs of the IDEA Center clarifies our view):

Here’s our Mission Statement (see the third bullet):

Next, it seems you have interpreted my statement regarding not wanting to see religion or philosophy taught in science class to suggest that I believe ID to be that. What I was trying to clarify is that many opponents of ID claim it is just philosophy or religion and, therefore, should not be taught in science classes. Similar to opponents of ID, we, as do many ID proponents, do NOT want to see religion or philosophy taught in science classes; yet, we do take ID to be scientific and, therefore, a viable subject in science classes, which you did include in later your article. We believe that all scientific theories should be considered as challengeable whenever new evidence becomes available. In the case of evolution, the discovery of DNA was one of the triggering events that brought the whole idea of unguided, random chance into question. You did correctly point out that I thought ID should be allowed, but not mandated, provided it is taught responsibly since it does have philosophical and religious implications. This is an important nuance that you did capture well in your article.

While I did not get a chance to mention it during our discussion, the Big Bang Theory faced the same problem that ID faces now. It was bitterly resisted by much of the scientific community for several decades when it was first proposed. The main reasons for this resistance were due to the philosophical and theological implications of it, as exemplified by the following quotes:

“Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of Nature [as implied by the Big Bang] is repugnant to me. . . . I should like to find a genuine loophole.” Sir Arthur Eddington, Nature, Vol. 127, 1931, p. 450.

"The biggest problem with the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe is philosophical--perhaps even theological--what was there before the bang? This problem alone was sufficient to give a great initial impetus to the Steady State theory; but with that theory now sadly in conflict with the observations, the best way round this initial difficulty is provided by a model in which the universe expands from a singularity, collapses back again, and repeats the cycle indefinitely" John Gribbin, "Oscillating Universe Bounces Back," Nature, Vol. 259, 1976: 15.

“In spite of other successes of the general theory of relativity, the Big Bang, and in particular the idea that the universe had a beginning, was fought bitterly every step of the way.” Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular Biology, 1992, Cambridge University Press.
The reluctance to consider a beginning to the universe adversely affected scientific research in this area for several decades. Though the Big Bang Theory has philosophical and religious implications, it does not have any religious or philosophical premises, just as is the case for ID. Yet, the Big Bang is taught and discussed in science classes. Furthermore, the Anthropic Principle, states that the universe appears to be designed for life based on the fine tuning discovered in the physical laws and constants that govern the universe. Clearly, this could be viewed as a design argument for the cosmos, and valuable research regarding this design is routinely discussed in scientific peer reviewed articles for several decades now. Recent research by ID proponents Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez and Dr. Jay Richards related to this field has provided great insight into the curious correlation between habitability and measurability. In other words, not only is the Earth a great place to live, it also is a wonderful place to make scientific discoveries about the cosmos; to use some of their words, it is as if “our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery.” (This is discussed thoroughly in the recent book, The Privileged Planet – see for further information.) I find it rather curious that while many neo-Darwinists wish to reduce things down to brute physical and chemical laws, with no intelligent design involved, many physicists already agree that the physical laws and constants are themselves evidence of design.

I had hoped you would include my comments regarding that more about evolution should be taught in schools: both the strengths and weaknesses of it – similar to what occurs in Ohio and was recently approved in Kansas (see for further information - notice that ID is explicitly mentioned to NOT be included in the science standards). As I mentioned, this would allow students to develop critical thinking skills that are vital to scientific research.

However, I realize that there are space and time constraints imposed on articles, which results in some information to not be included. Overall, your piece was well written and I would like to thank you again for your interesting and honest article, especially your being willing to talk with ID proponents to get a better picture of what they have to say about it. It was refreshing to see a reporter do what we wish more reporters would do: investigate and talk to a representative of a particular viewpoint and honestly report that information. Your article will truly be beneficial to your readers, though I suspect you may derided by others simply because you chose to think for yourself instead of blindly following what others have done.

Best Regards,
Ryan Huxley

Mr. Parson's email in response:
Thanks for the note.
Yes, capturing every single nuance may be impossible. I guess I would have hoped you'd volunteer the information about the Center's identification of God as the designer. But I suppose I could have asked specifically.
As you know, I was reluctant to get into sweeping statements, knowing each would no doubt go down various side roads.
I'd be surprised if people came away from the article not thinking you perceive ID as being science. I think that was stated rather clearly, although I take your point about the earlier reference.
My bottom line is that I really appreciate you taking the time to talk on a Friday nite, and then being so generous with your time.
dana parsons