Bruce Chapman's July 30 Free for All letter is an excellent example of the obfuscation and outright deception in which the chief supporters of "intelligent design" specialize. He claims that intelligent design is "not religion," but Chapman's Discovery Institute explicitly holds as its goal the replacement of natural science with a system in which divine intervention is routinely invoked whenever the scientific explanation is found to be unsatisfactory on theological grounds.

Chapman claims that intelligent design is a "theory," but a theory in science is much more than a guess or hunch. A theory must be well-developed and have predictive power and suitable empirical support. Intelligent design "theory" consists of a couple of badly flawed claims ("specified design" and "irreducible complexity") that have been left behind by real science. It has no empirical support -- in contrast to the staggering amount of evidence supporting evolutionary theory -- and makes no useful predictions. What kind of science says it has uncovered an answer but refuses to ask what that answer is? The answer, of course, is a religious philosophy, and one that intends to impose its own particular version of Christianity -- not mine and likely not your readers' -- on science.

Chapman's use of the term "Darwin apologists" is quite amusing. Are physicists "Newton apologists"? I suppose that the 400 "brave scientists" supporting intelligent design outweigh most of the scientists who really work in the field. If the Discovery Institute was really interested in science, rather than attacking one particular branch of science it finds offensive to its theological beliefs, it might ask about "teaching the controversy" of attempting to legislate, propagandize and outright lie a particular viewpoint into the mainstream, rather than doing the hard work of real science.

-- Arthur Rabeau