Magazine article Church & State

In the Capital

Magazine article Church & State

In the Capital

Article excerpt

`Intelligent Design' Movement Visits Capitol Hill'

Advocates of "intelligent design" -- the latest version of "creation science" -- descended on Capitol Hill last month to explain their anti-evolution theories to sympathetic legislators and their staff.

The May 8 briefing was sponsored by the Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture, a project of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. Unlike conventional creationists, most intelligent design advocates admit that the Earth is ancient but still refuse to accept human evolution. They argue that human complexity requires a designer, i.e. God. A Discovery Institute press release maintained that teaching evolution undermines the culture and undercuts "the classic understanding of human dignity."

Although they work hard to keep religious rhetoric out of the materials they put before mass audiences, movement backers are less guarded when speaking before sympathetic crowds. Addressing a gathering of followers of TV preacher D. James Kennedy in February of 1999, the movement's chief architect, Phillip Johnson, a University of California at Berkeley law professor, stated upfront that his ultimate goal in undermining evolution is to persuade people to accept "the truth" of the Bible and be "introduced to Jesus."

The three-hour congressional briefing, titled "Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design and its Implications for Public Policy and Education," featured speakers who bashed evolution and blamed the scientific theory for social ills.

Observers say the congressional appearance represents a shift in strategy for evolution opponents, who have traditionally targeted officials at the state and local level where most education decisions are made.

The Washington event was co-hosted by several members of Congress, including Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Charles Canady (R-Fla. …

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