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Intelligent Design Network's John Calvert on creationism vs. evolution in schools

February 13, 2001
Web posted at: 6:50 p.m. EST (2350 GMT)

John Calvert  

(CNN) -- John Calvert is the managing director of Intelligent Design Network, a nonprofit organization formed in 1999 in the wake of the Kansas City Board of Education debate.

Chat Moderator: Welcome to, John Calvert. Thank you for joining us today.

John Calvert: Hello. It is a pleasure to be with you today.

Chat Moderator: What was the main focus of your presentation to the school board committee today?

John Calvert: The principal focus of our proposed provisions is to remove the naturalistic philosophy, which drives origin science under the Kansas Science Standards. That philosophy is incorporated into the standards, by the way, in which the standards define science. Under those standards, science is defined as the activity of seeking only natural explanations for what we see in the world around us. Natural explanations have been defined by the drafters of the document as those which do not permit a design inference.

The co-chairman of the committee explains that because only natural explanations are permitted, a science teacher is not permitted to discuss with the students the evidence of design that exists in nature. If the student raises a question about that evidence, the student is directed by the standards to take that question elsewhere, to "appropriate resources," without defining who or what those resources might be.

Church and state

That definition, along with other parts of the science standards which make evolution a unifying concept and one which purports to account for all changes in the natural world, does indeed constitute a document that directs teachers to promote only a naturalistic view as to origins, and that is naturalism.

We do not believe naturalism is appropriate because we think it is not consistent with recognized definitions of science, because it conflicts with logic, because it conflicts with scientific method, because it conflicts with neutrality defined by the Constitution, and because it conflicts with our cultural tradition.

Our proposals were recently circulated to two groups of scientists, educators and lawyers for review. We received from that group over 104 written endorsements indicating agreement with the substance of our proposed revisions. Included within the 104 are the holders of 58 doctoral degrees, 15 of which are in biological sciences, including biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, microbiology, plant pathology and zoology. Thirty-four of the endorsers are employed or retired as college professors, nine are research scientists, eight represent physicians and healthcare professionals. Eight of the endorsers are attorneys, and four hold PhDs in philosophy.

Question from chat room: What verifiable facts can you cite that argue for intelligent design over random chance or the theory of evolution?

John Calvert: I think that the question asks for what is the evidence of design. We do not claim that design necessarily trumps evolution. We simply say that to do good science, we should be permitted to consider all the evidence and allow the evidence to drive our conclusion, rather than a philosophy. Having said that, the evidence that the supports design theory begins with the apparent design that is observed in nature, and particularly, in living systems, and which is acknowledged by even the most ardent evolutionist.

"We do not claim that design necessarily trumps evolution. We simply say that to do good science, we should be permitted to consider all the evidence and allow the evidence to drive our conclusion, rather than a philosophy."
— John Calvert

Secondly, there is the lack of any known physical or chemical process that can account for the biological information and information processing systems found in living systems, clearly. Thirdly, there is the irreducible complexity of many biological systems and machines. Fourthly, there is statistical study indicating the improbability of such systems arising by chance-based mechanisms. Fifth, there are comparisons of biological information systems with those that are human made. Sixth is the abrupt appearance of phyla and the fossil record, and not finally, but an additional item of evidence, is the existence of flaw constants and forces essential to life that fall within specifically improbable ranges.

Those are evidences that support design as an explanation for the origin of life and a person. Our belief is that evidence should not be censored.

Question from chat room: Is just another attempt to twist language in order to get creation science back on the books?

John Calvert: No. This is an effort to return science to an objective-based endeavor, which seeks to do science objectively by the scientific method, and not according to a philosophical restraint.

Question from chat room: Does the Intelligent Design Network make this information available to the public on a Web site?

John Calvert: The site is

Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts for us today?

John Calvert: I appreciate the opportunity to explain our views and the questions we have been asked. They are all questions that need answers. We very much appreciate the audience looking at our Web site and reading the materials that you find there. They will show what we are about and what we would like to have done.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, John Calvert.

John Calvert: Thank you for having me.

John Calvert joined the chat via telephone from Kansas City, KS, and CNN provided a typist for him. The above is an edited transcript of the chat on Tuesday, February 13, 2001.

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