Alas, op-ed’s as measured and intelligent as the one from Reiss and White are a comparative rarity in American newspapers. More often we get tripe like this, from ID supporter Stephen Meyer. He writes:
IN THE battle over how to teach evolution in public schools, Thomas Jefferson’s demand for a “separation between church and state’” has been cited countless times. Many argue that the controversial alternative to Darwinian evolution, intelligent design, is an exclusively religious idea and therefore cannot be discussed under the Constitution. By invoking Jefferson’s principle of separation, many critics of intelligent design assume that this visionary Founding Father would agree with them.
But would he? For too long, an aspect of Jefferson’s visionary thought has been ignored, hidden away as too uncomfortable for public discussion – his support for intelligent design.
The idea that Thomas Jefferson, an enthusiastic amateur scientist and someone who was highly skeptical of the supernatural aspects of religion, would reject the theory of evolution in favor of some blinkered notion of creation, is highly dubious.
Meyer is also making use here of a standard equivocation in ID rhetoric. There is a big difference between intelligent design as the general idea that the world is an expression of divine will, and ID as a specific set of specious scientific claims. Jefferson accepted the former, but there is nothing to suggest he would have supported the latter.
The rest of Meyer’s op-ed contain the standard idiocies of the genre. DNA contains information! The origin of life is mysterious! ID is good science! Yawn. Here’s a typical paragraph:
DNA functions like a software program. We know that software comes from programmers. Information – whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book, or encoded in a radio signal – always arises from an intelligent source. So the discovery of digital code in DNA provides a strong scientific reason for concluding that the information in DNA also had an intelligent source.
Charming logic. Someone needs to remind Meyer that a simile is a literary device for comparing two unlike things. I could as plausibly argue that since the Sun functions like a nuclear furnace, and since nuclear furnaces are designed by human engineers, we have strong evidence that the Sun was designed by human engineers.