Intelligent Design
(Why not consider or teach Intelligent Design Theory?)

Editor's Note: The article that follows, by a medical doctor, raises many great points that need to be considered in the ongoing debate regarding teaching Intelligent Design Theory. Simply put, the question is, what do they fear in discussing this?

Doctor's dismissal of intelligent design
wasn't good medicine

By Robert T. Mitchell, M.D.

In a recent opinion piece [published in The Tennessean, August 2005] ("Frist Knows Better Than to Support Intelligent Design"), Dr. John Sergent criticized [senator] Bill Frist for supporting the teaching of intelligent design. Could it be that the concept of evolution is not quite as cut and dried as Dr. Sergent would have us believe? Could it be that Dr. Frist has not "checked his scientific credentials instead of his coat in the Senate cloakroom'? Could it be that those who support intelligent design are not scientifically illiterate?

I have a degree in cell biology from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate in medicine from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. After all this training, I do not believe that I could be considered scientifically illiterate. If I am scientifically illiterate, all those who trained me, including Sergent, owe the public an explanation.

I was under the impression that scientific advancement came from thoroughly examining all available evidence and coming to reasonable conclusions. It appears that Sergent would have us arbitrarily exclude the examination of intelligent design in the public schools, fearing it will "accomplish nothing other than confusion in the minds of students." If intelligent design is so flawed, why not use this as an opportunity to teach young minds to tell good science from bad science?

Dr. Sergent, if you are so convinced that Darwinian evolution is proven and unassailable, let the public discussion begin. If proponents of intelligent design can't support their position, they will lose, and evolution will win a great victory.

On the other hand, what if intelligent design can be supported? Then, of course, the concept of evolution comes into question, doesn't it? That is precisely what evolutionists cannot allow. Usually, when anyone shows less than unquestioning loyalty to Darwinian thought, the dissenter is attacked rather than his objection.

I'm afraid that Sergent errs if he suggests that the scientifically literate must support evolution and cannot reasonably support intelligent design (or even creationism). I have met and worked with many highly trained scientists who see great problems with Darwinian evolution. More and more we see scientists, even those who are avowed anti-creationists, publicly stating that there are problems with the entire concept of evolution. These objections come from the study of genetics and molecular biology as well as knowledge, gained from many other fields of scientific endeavor.

[For example, "the Discovery Institute has collected about 400 signatures on a statement labeled 'Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.' About 80 of the signers are biologists; the rest are mostly philosophers, mathematicians, chemists, computer scientists, historians and lawyers." This document does not directly support Intelligent Design, it merely expresses what so many don't want people to know, that Evolutionary theory is in question. The wording of the statement reads: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." One of the signers, a cell biologist at the University of Texas in Austin, Martin Poenie, stated "That statement is one that most scientists can or should be able to sign." Incredibly these quotations are from an article entitled, "Scientific support for 'intelligent design' disputed," by Robert S. Boyd for Knight Ridder Newspapers, September 27, 2005]

Like most proponents of Darwinian thought, Sergent feels evolution is a proven fact and any suggestion to the contrary is unscientific. He indicates that intelligent design has no testable hypothesis and thus cannot then be appropriately challenged or corroborated. Conveniently overlooked is the fact that evolution suffers from the same problem. It cannot be tested. Why does Sergent not hold both schools of thought to the same standard?

Sergent trots out the usual evidence for evolution as though it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. He addresses genetic mutations but does not explain how that would increase information in an organism. Mutations always involve a decrease in genetic material. He need only ask a geneticist. He describes the small burrowing animals living after the extinction of the dinosaurs as though he saw them on a television documentary. Just how is that scenario proven?

I challenge Dr. Sergent to imagine a classroom where a fair and unbiased presentation of this problem is shown. This would be a classroom where future scientists are trained to discern good science from a bad science. The intelligent design concept and those who support it are not in fear of this classroom. Why are you? What are you afraid of?

Robert T. Mitchell, M.D practices medicine in Gallatin, Tennessee. Dr Mitchell has graciously permitted Lion Tracks Ministries to reprint his remarks on this website. Editorial additions, for clarification and example, are enclosed in square brackets.