I haven't read all of the recent coverage of "intelligent design" in the news, which I understand has been hit-and-miss due to reporters' insistence on treating both sides of a controversy as equally valid, but here are two signs of progress. A week ago on NPR's "Morning Edition," host Susan Stamberg referred to "the teaching of creationist-based intelligent design in Kansas," and on Tuesday, the New York Times referred to "creationism or its doctrinal cousin, intelligent design, both of which depend on the existence of a supernatural force." Amen. Intelligent design is religion, not science, and descends directly from creationism.
Also, Bill Frist recently tried to blur the same distinction in an early pander for 2008:
Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including intelligent design."I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said...
I don't even understand what he's babbling about in that first sentence—he's muddling together fact, science, and faith, and implying that faith is a subset of the first two. What does it mean to have a "wide range" of those things? Do facts have reasonable ranges, such that we can simultaneously argue that humans evolved, and humans were created? That science, the study of the observable, should encompass religion, the invention of the invisible?
Frist's statement is a logical disaster. And yes, the man is a doctor who should know the difference between fact, science, and faith. (Hint: Intelligent design belongs to only one of those three categories.)
Note: For much more on the debate over intelligent design, see my friend Chris Mooney's science policy blog and his forthcoming book, The Republican War on Science, which I'll be blogging more about soon.