In his current Newsweek column, George Will writes a short retrospective on the Scopes evolution trial, which happened 80 years ago. The piece contains nothing that new for people who are Scopes trial junkies, but it is a good illustration of the time that has passed since then, with reference to the current intelligent design controversy:
Today's proponents of "intelligent design" theory are doing nothing novel when they say the complexity of nature is more plausibly explained by postulating a designing mind -- a.k.a. God -- than by natural adaptation and selection. By 1925, Larson's book notes, ''Christian apologists had long regarded the intricate design of the eye as a 'cure for atheism'."
The problem with intelligent-design theory is not that it is false but that it is not falsifiable: Not being susceptible to contradicting evidence, it is not a testable hypothesis. Hence it is not a scientific but a creedal tenet -- a matter of faith, unsuited to a public school's science curriculum.
Will notes not only the problems with the creationists of today, but also with the evolutionists of the past, making particular reference to eugenics and William Jennings Bryan's revulsion for social Darwinism. And it has a priceless ending:
The argument about science, religion, the rights of communities' majorities and academic freedom rolled on, but not everywhere. When an anti-evolution bill was introduced in the Rhode Island Legislature, it was referred to the Committee on Fish and Game.