Saturday, December 24, 2005

12/24/05 Notes on the Colorado ID movement & opposition

Noting the reactions against the recent Pennsylvania ruling on ID by the powerful and well-financed Colorado-based Focus on the Family and Colorado Southern Baptists, there is certainly a considerable element in our state seeking to see "intelligent design" imposed on our schools. This is all the more ominous in view of the fact that there is at least one openly avowed ID advocate in both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly. Colorado is also the home of a number of professional ID/Creationism advocates with experience in promoting their views elsewhere.

Colorado Springs is the home of the Access Research Network (ARN), which - along with the Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design Network - is one of the primary secular front groups promoting "intelligent design." ARN began as the "Students for Origins Research, Inc." with the stated purpose of "[assisting] students and educators in critically evaluating the creation and evolution models of origins from a scientific perspective," in 1988. Of the original directors, only two are resident in Colorado:

  • Dennis A Wagner is an avowed Creationist closely associated with the "American Scientific Affiliation" an organization of evangelical "Christian scientists" [See: "Put Another Candle on the Birthday Cake" by Dennis Wagner, 13 March 1997, "Origins Research"]


  • Mark Hartwig is an evangelical Christian with an interest in "challenging beliefs on which people have staked their lives - not to mention their lifestyles." [See: "In Defense of the Supernatural", by Mark Hartwig, 1998, Focus on the Family] A Director of ARN, with a Ph.D. in educational psychology, he is a free lance journalist and author. He also serves as a leader of the IDEA Center whose sole purpose is to promote "intelligent design."


  • Colorado also hosts Douglas Groothuis, who serves as Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and is a national level advocate for ID. Groothuis is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. He also writes pro-ID articles for local papers, see for example, "Speakout: 'Design' critics often employ straw men (10 December 2005, Rocky Mountain News).

    All said, we have all the basic ingredients for a major ID push here in Colorado, coupling professional ID advocates with the money and resources of powerful evangelical organizations with at least a couple legislators willing to hop into the fray. A purely scientific defense against such an onslaught is not reasonable since the issue is purely social/political in nature lacking any scientific significance at all. The issue is whether or not the evangelicals will be allowed to indoctrinate Colorado's children through its public schools. Effective opposition has to operate in the field where the conflict is to be held, that is, in the fields of public opinion and politics, not the Ivory Tower from which ID has already been soundly excluded.

    The ID advocates in Colorado have a ready pool of professional advocates to call upon and in this respect we opponents can compete via professional scientists and academics, many of which are already organized through Colorado Citizens for Science. However, the ID advocates, through organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Colorado Southern Baptists can also launch immediate lobbying campaigns (members writing to their representatives, to school boards, &c.), advertising campaigns, and other operations meant to either sway or confuse public opinion on the issue. The opposition has no such ability to immediately lobby on the issue, our sole recourse being the common sense of Colorado residents. However, as the Kansas case has shown, common sense isn't always enough against a massive PR campaign and politically prejudicial public officials. This is where MESIC hopes to come into play, by developing a popular rallying point for updates, information, and action to keep ID out of our schools.

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