High school classrooms aren't the only intelligent design battlegrounds. College students wanting ID discussed in their biology classes have brought the debate to their college campuses.
In 1999, Casey Luskin co-founded an intelligent design student club at the University of California at San Diego. Later named the Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness (IDEA) group, the club serves as discussion forums for ID supporters. Today, there are about 25 IDEA groups on university and college campuses across the country. Luskin currently works at the Center for Science and Culture, the Discovery Institute's intelligent design headquarters.
Casey Luskin: Some friends of mine and I, we were all science majors together, we founded the IDEA club. Our main hope was - we were all science majors who had taken a lot of evolutionary biology classes at UC [University of California] San Diego. We understood evolutionary biology very well, but we'd also been reading on our own, outside of class, books by some of the major intelligent design proponents like Michael Behe or William Dembski or Philip Johnson. We knew there was a lot more to this issue than what we were being taught in most of our regular biology courses. We really had this desire to educate our fellow students about the evidence that challenges evolution and that promotes intelligent design.
One of the foundational tenets of the IDEA club originally was, and still today, was really to create an environment where people of all viewpoints feel welcome. We are not interested in ramming our viewpoint down anyone's throat. We think that the best way to advocate understanding of intelligent design is to simply present the arguments and allow all the sides in this issue to have their say, to have their voice.
If anyone's interested in knowing how to start a club and what we do, they can go to our Web site, and on the Web site it talks about how we provide clubs with a leadership manual, which basically gives them advice on how to run a club, everything from how to create a club Web site to how to plan a major speaker event at their school and invite a big speaker and publicize it to how to deal with opposition or heated discussion meetings.
Out of the 25 or 30 clubs, off the top of my head, I can think of about three that are at religious schools. We have IDEA clubs at Ivy League schools; we have IDEA clubs at community colleges; we have IDEA clubs at major public universities like the UC San Diego, the University of Virginia, some pretty well-known private schools like Wake Forest in North Carolina. Another public school is University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne. We're getting one started at Stanford right now. ... Every single one of the university chapters are student-founded and student-led.
When you look at the scholars on both sides of this issue, when they define creationism, the common tenet that they always have is its belief. It entails the belief in a supernatural creator, and that creator is God. Now if you go and you read the writings of intelligent design proponents, all the major ID theorists in the scientific research community of intelligent design are very clear that intelligent design theory simply does not allow you to identify or even really get much into the nature of the intelligent designing agent.
Mary Beth Kirchner: For you personally, who is the intelligent designer?
Luskin: I'm not afraid to acknowledge that I'm a Christian and I do believe that the intelligent designer is the God of the Bible. But whenever, I would say also that that belief does not come from my understanding of intelligent design theory. That's a religious belief for me that has absolutely nothing to do with intelligent design theory. It comes from my religious faith, which I hold very dearly, but for me this issue is way more about science and it's about where did life come from, from a scientific approach, not necessarily from a religious approach.