Science, Vol 309, Issue 5734, 556-557 , 22 July 2005
Science, Letters

"Intelligent" Design versus Evolution

Donald Kennedy's Editorial ("Twilight for the enlightement?", 8 Apr., p. 165) highlights how ineffective the scientific community has been in the battle for the minds of the American public. Arguing details of scientific facts before this audience has been largely unproductive. Perhaps it is time to take a lesson from recent political campaigns: Instead of defending your position, attack a weakness of the opposition and repeat (again and again), with a modicum of humor. The following script has been effective in dealing verbally with creationists/intelligent design adherents.

"You have a philosophic choice between evolution or belief in ID, so called intelligent design. But even a first-year engineering student would be embarrassed to have designed your lower back with the extreme bend that allows you to stand erect even though your pelvis slants forward for knuckle-dragging like all our near relatives. You probably have had braces or wisdom teeth extracted because there are too many teeth for the size of your mouth. Then there are your sinuses, with a flawed drainage system that would provoke laughter from a plumber. Yet evolution provides a ready and rational explanation for all these design failures: by progressive changes into an erect posture, by shortening of a mammalian muzzle into a face, and by expansion of our large brains to crowd the facial bones. So take your choice: Do you prefer evolution or an ID whose letters may as well stand for Incompetent Design?"

After a bit of flustering, the ID adherent usually mumbles something about our inability to know the mind of God. The reply: "Indeed, ID is not science but religion and should be taught as such."

These simple facts need little explanation, bring evolution to a personal level, and leave the ID adherent on the defensive, all with a bit of humor. Others may wish to try it.

Donald U. Wise
Department of Geosciences
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003, USA.