Intelligent Design theory sparks debate on campus

Kate Strickler

A statement claiming that Intelligent Design hurts the integrity of Iowa State is circulating the faculty. As of Wedneday, nearly 120 faculty members have signed the statement, written by Hector Avalos, Jim Colbert and Michael Clough.

Their main concern is Intelligent Design is being recognized across the nation as science, said Avalos, associate professor of religious studies.

“Creationism is clearly not science,” said Clough, associate professor of curriculum and instruction. “Science cannot deal with the supernatural. Intelligent Design is a crafty way to avoid the issue of a supernatural being, making it appear like science, but it isn’t.”

The statement reads those who signed it “reject all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor.”

“We want to make sure the public and the university start to voice their opposition to intelligent design,” Avalos said.

Avalos said the issue is especially important at Iowa State.

“We are a school of science and technology,” he said. “We should have a statement on what is science and what is not.”

Campus religious groups see the issue differently.

“I believe in a God that created the world in six days and rested on the seventh,” said Joel Kennedy, president of Cyclone Bible Fellowship. “Whatever they teach, that’s what I’m going to believe.”

Intelligent Design is not meant to discredit religion, Avalos and Clough said. Whether a person believes Intelligent Design doesn’t matter; just don’t call it science, Avalos said.

“To say that something is not science is not to say that it is inherently wrong or bad,” Clough said.

Religion does not, however, necessarily discredit theories other than Intelligent Design, said John Donaghy, a campus minister for St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

“In 1996, Pope John Paul II said specifically that evolution is more than just a theory,” he said. “Many people discredit evolution based on their faith, but there is no reason two theories can’t walk hand in hand. Evolution is not incompatible with the notion of a creator.”

Donaghy said classrooms should “have room for both [theories]; there is more than one way to the truth.”

Nick Even, member of Campus Crusade for Christ, agreed the theories could work together in schools.

“I think both should be taught together,” he said. “Each can be presented as a theory, and the students can make their own decisions from there.”

Annette Hacker, program director for university relations, said President Gregory Geoffroy has read and responded to the statement. He has called the faculty senate to work with Dr. Avalos and create a forum for discussion.