"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 an Orthodoxy."
— John Calvert
A Brief History
of the Intelligent Design Network
IDnet was formed in September 1999 by a biochemist (William S. Harris, PhD), a Zoologist (Jody Sjogren, MS) and a Constitutional Lawyer (John Calvert, Esq.). The three met by happenstance at a meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education in the spring of 1999. The meeting was being held to solicit public comments on proposed K-12 Kansas Science Standards. Calvert spoke briefly about his concern that the proposed origins science standards were not scientifically objective as they were explicitly based on a materialistic orthodoxy called methodological naturalism (MN). Harris coincidentally raised similar concerns. Sjogren in the audience found their comments interesting, so the three met two weeks later for coffee. As they got acquainted they decided to collectively develop a set of suggested changes that would replace MN based standards with those based on scientific objectivity.
Origins science (OS) is an historical science that deals with the origin and development of the universe, of life and the diversity of life. OS is very inherently controversial as it is a subjective speculative science that addresses ultimate religious questions. It is also known as “evolution,” – the evolution of the universe, of life, and the diversity of life.” The issue is whether the physical processes and mechanisms that account for that history were guided or unguided.
Due to their late arrival in the process, only one of the Harris, Sjogren and Calvert suggestions was accepted by the Board. The word “natural” was replaced with the word “logical” in the sentence that defined the word “science” as follows: “Science is the activity of seeking logical [rather than natural] explanations about the world around us.” This pragmatic change had the effect of replacing the materialistic bias of MN with objectivity.
The three then organized IDnet in Kansas for the purpose of seeking institutional objectivity in origins science. Satellite offices were subsequently established in New Mexico by Joseph Rennick, MS, the author of The Gospel of the Cosmos: Good News for Mankind (2018), and in Cincinnati, Ohio under the direction of Roddy Bullock, the author of The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science.
The focus of IDnet has been on the objective teaching of origins science in K-12 public schools. Origins science demands objectivity because it is an inherently subjective and low confidence historical science that uses abductive reasoning rather than experiments to test competing hypotheses about the cause of unobservable past events. Like a detective, the historical scientist searches for clues or traces of evidence that will collectively lead to an inference to the best of the possible explanations for the causes of life and its diversity. Experimental sciences, on the other hand, generally produce high confidence explanations due to the availability of direct observation and experimentation to test hypotheses.
A huge problem is that MN removes objectivity from historical origins science as it permits consideration of only one of the two evidence-based alternatives. The result is simply a chain of materialistic/atheistic just-so stories rather than explanations tested by a weighing of all the available evidence.
Secondly, the need for objectivity is critical in origins science as it addresses the two ultimate questions addressed by all theistic and non-theistic religions: what is the cause and nature of life? Therefore, regardless of the explanation being considered that explanation will affect the religious worldview of those receiving it. Since the state is constitutionally required to be religiously neutral, it needs to teach origins science in K-12 public schools objectively to respect the religious rights of parents and students.
Following its organization in 1999, the three founders began to suggest changes to state and local origins science standards and curricula in other states, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Suggestions were adopted in Kansas, Ohio, and New Mexico.
IDnet also organized and held annual nationwide conferences featuring presentations by over a hundred scientists, educators and lawyers from around the world.
In 2004 Dr. Harris and seven other members of a Kansas Science Writing Committee developed a proposal to make objective revisions to a set of materialistic standards proposed by a majority of the 27 member Committee. As the State Board members did not consider themselves sufficiently expert to pass on the competing proposals, they scheduled six days of hearings to determine which changes, if any, should be made. A month before the hearing the Harris Group presented a list of 23 experts in biology, microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, philosophy, education and US Constitutional Law to testify for the proposed changes. Eighteen of the 23 held PhD’s and four were science teachers.
After receiving the Harris Group list, the Krebs Group, consisting of the majority of the writing committee, with the support of national science organizations, chose to boycott the hearings. Thus, instead of engaging in a genuine scientific debate, mainstream science chose to use its positions of authority and a friendly liberal media to defend its materialistic agenda. It did this primarily with the use of ad hominem attacks on the Harris Group experts. Not only was the strategy totally foreign to good science and common sense, the actual testimony of the 23 shows it to be a slight of hand used to mask a non-theistic agenda. The actual testimony, which was convincing, valid, objective and scientific is detailed in a book: The Silenced Hearings: Find out what REALLY happened at the Kansas Science Hearings & how the outcome affects students.
The strategy to intentionally demean the witnesses was published in an email sent prior to the hearings from the director of media relations for the Majority.
The numerous documents posted on the Science Standards page-- under the "Kansas Science Standards, 2004-2005" heading-- detail the entire year-long process. In November 2005, the Objective Standards proposed by Harris and his group were adopted by a 6-4 vote of the Kansas State Board. However, eight months later two of the six conservatives lost their reelection to liberal candidates promoted by the press, universities and other liberal and moderate constituencies. At the installation of the two new Directors in February, 2007, the objective standards adopted in November were summarily replaced with materialistic standards by a 6-4 vote. By doing this the state chose to teach students only a materialistic/atheistic answer to the big question: “Where do we come from?”
The call for only materialistic origins narratives received a significant boost in December 2005 when the decision in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Board of Education was handed down. In Kitzmiller the district court held that a policy to teach origins science objectively was unconstitutional because methodological naturalism, which bans anything but a materialistic/atheistic explanation of origins, is scientific while an objective approach is religious. The obvious error of the Court was to define “religion” as confined to theistic beliefs, when in fact the Supreme Court has held that religion includes both theistic and non-theistic belief systems such as Atheism and “Secular” Humanism. Calvert concluded that if the ruling had been appealed it would have been reversed as it has the effect and purpose of endorsing and indoctrinating children with a non-theistic religious world view. Thus, rather than promoting objective science the Kitzmiller decision endorses an indoctrination of impressionable young children with a non-theistic religious worldview. See Kitzmiller's Error: Using an Exclusive Rather Than an Inclusive Definition of Religion, 3 Liberty University Law Review 213-328 (Spring 2009).
In 2011 a number of members of IDnet organized Citizens for Objective Public Education for the purpose of advancing objectivity in US K-12 Public Education that addresses religious questions and issues. Objectivity is necessary to ensure that the educational effect of the teaching is religiously neutral as required by the First Amendment.
Shortly after COPE’s organization the National Research Council published a 400 page “Framework for K-12 Science Education” developed by a consortium of scientists and educators. The Framework is essentially a plan for the establishment of a set of K-12 national science education standards for every child in the U.S. Per that plan, a draft of Next Generation Science Standards was published in the spring of 2012 for public comment. COPE analyzed the Framework and draft Standards and responded with a detailed, ten page single-spaced letter which concluded that “the Standards and Framework [do not] produce a religiously neutral effect required by law and should be revised to achieve that effect and render science truly objective.”
COPE’s primary concern was that the Standards were designed to incrementally, progressively, comprehensively and deceptively indoctrinate children with a materialistic/atheistic religious worldview, beginning in Kindergarten and continuing for 13 years until the graduation. Unlike previous origins science standards which typically were limited to a couple of weeks in high school biology, the NGSS are designed to be pervasive and cohere with all curriculum throughout the entire 13 years of K-12 public education. It is particularly problematic for primary and middle school students as they lack the knowledge and intellectual maturity necessary to reach their own informed decision about the ultimate religious questions addressed by origins science. These questions address the cause and nature of life and how it should be lived ethically and morally. Cope’s suggestions in the June 1,2012 letter and a follow up January 29, 2013, were ignored in the Final Standards adopted in April, 2013.
In June 2013, Kansas was the second of about 42 states that had adopted the NGSS. Three months later COPE and 17 parents, 21 children enrolled or to be enrolled in Kansas public schools filed a complaint against the Kansas State Board of Education that sought to declare the origins science provisions of the Framework and Standards unconstitutional. It was met with a motion to dismiss on grounds that it failed to state a claim and because the parents and students failed to allege an actual injury as the standards had yet to be implemented by local schools. Without ruling on the merits of the claim an Obama appointed Federal District Judge ruled against the complaint on the procedural issue. That ruling was subsequently appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals where two Obama and one Clinton appointee sustained the dismissal on the procedural issue. A subsequent petition to the United States Supreme Court also failed in September 2016 as the Court was then deadlocked with four liberal and four conservative Justices.
COPE advises that “because the Complaint was not dismissed on its merits and was dismissed without prejudice, it could be refiled in Kansas or other states that have adopted the NGSS against both the state and one or more local school districts. It is now exploring those possibilities as the need has become more pronounced."
A Law Review article published in June of 2018 explains the legal and factual issues in depth and suggests actions adopting states should take to align the NGSS with the requirements of the US Constitution. The Absence of Religious Neutrality in K-12 Public Science Education, 12 Liberty University Law Review, 571-662 (2018)
The Growing Case for the Design Alternative
Modern scientific enterprises have been effective within the scientific community to systematically suppress any consideration of the evidence that the apparent design of life is likely not an illusion. However, it seems doubtful that the censorship will continue to withstand an increasing tide of new contradictive experimental evidence. That evidence is showing that random mutation and natural selection do not account for the origin of the incomprehensible functional complexity of life and its diversity. Some of that evidence is discussed in the Absence of Religious Neutrality at pp 594-632 (2018). More recently, In 2019 Susan Mazur, a science Journalist and author of a number of books that chronicle the paradigm change, recently published Darwin Overthrown: Hello Mechanobiology! She explains:
“The Altenburg 16: an Expose of the Evolution Industry, is a book that was welcomed a decade ago by debunkers of Darwinian natural selection and slammed by Darwin stalwarts. In the past ten years, the debunkers of Darwinian science have prevailed and the term natural selection is now passe, a footnote to what has replaced it: “Mechanobiology.”
In the spring of 2019, David Gelernter, a professor of computer science, at Yale University, chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies, and member of the National, Council of the Arts, explained why he was “Giving up Darwin.”
The abstract of another 2019 paper explains the change explicitly:
“Mutations drive evolution and were assumed to occur by chance: constantly, gradually, roughly uniformly in genomes, and without regard to environmental inputs, but this view is being revised by discoveries of molecular mechanisms of mutation in bacteria, now translated across the tree of life. These mechanisms reveal a picture of highly regulated mutagenesis, up-regulated temporally by stress responses and activated when cells/organisms are maladapted to their environments-when stressed-potentially accelerating adaptation. Mutation is also nonrandom in genomic space, with multiple simultaneous mutations falling in local clusters, which may allow concerted evolution-the multiple changes needed to adapt protein functions and protein machines encoded by linked genes. Molecular mechanisms of stress-inducible mutation change ideas about evolution and suggest different ways to model and address cancer development, infectious disease, and evolution generally.”
(D. Fitzgerald and S. Rosenberg, What is mutation? A chapter in the series: How microbes "jeopardize" the modern synthesis (PLOS Genetics, April 1, 2019).
For a series of articles about this change over the past ten years see Evolution News and Science Today Archive.
IDnet Officers John H. Calvert J.D., B.A. (Geology) Managing Director
John H. Calvert, JD, is a Constitutional lawyer and a Managing Director of Intelligent Design network, inc. He was engaged in corporate finance and business litigation with Lathrop Gage L.C., of Kansas City for 32 years. Since 2000, his legal practice has focused on constitutional requirements for teaching origins science in public schools. He received his first degree in Geology and has practiced geology in a number of legal engagements involving mining and the oil and gas industry and has studied structural geology and paleontology as he has traveled throughout the world. He has been actively involved in the debate in Kansas, Ohio, Georgia, California, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, West Virginia, Montana, New Mexico and other areas of the U.S. over the definition of science, the content of Science Education Standards, and academic freedom legislation.
He has provided advice and counsel to school boards, school administrators and science teachers regarding the teaching of origins science. In May 2005 he presented 23 expert witnesses during hearings before the Kansas State Board of Education regarding changes to the Kansas Science Standards that were subsequently adopted. He is the author of a number of legal opinions and memoranda about teaching origins that have been furnished to a variety of public school entities.
He has also spoken at a number of public events and in a number of venues about the matter. He is a graduate of the Litigation Academy of the Alliance Defense Fund and is a member of the Honor Guard of that organization and is a member of other firms specializing in religious liberty, including the Pacific Justice Institute. He is counsel for Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc., a non-profit that has been challenging the constitutionality of Next Generation Science Standards that have been adopted by 43 states as of January 2019.
He is the author of: The Absence of Religious Neutrality in K-12 Public Science Education, 12 Liberty University Law Review, 571-662 (2018); Kitzmiller's Error: Using an Exclusive Rather Than an Inclusive Definition of Religion, 3 Liberty University Law Review 213-328 (Spring 2009); Human Rights in a Secular State Will Depend on its Legal Definition of Religion. Chapter 5 of Legitimizing Human Rights, Angus Menuge, Editor (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2013); Atheism: A Stealth Religion, (WorldNetDaily, September 25, 2010); A New Age of Religious Discrimination, (WorldNetDaily, August 3, 2010); Are we Designs or Occurrences? Should Science and Government Prejudge the Question? (WorldNetDaily, Whistle Blower, Vol 14, No. 8. pp. 24-33, August 2005); John H. Calvert, Intelligent Design is Good Science, in Issues on Trial: Education 137-43 (Robert Winters, ed., Greenhaven Press 2008); and a co-author of Teaching Origins Science in Public Schools (IDnet 2001); Intelligent Design: The Scientific Alternative to Evolution (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Vol 3, No. 3, Autumn 2003); and The Rule: A one-act play about the trial of a biology teacher (IDnet 2003).
Mr. Calvert is a member of the American Bar Association and Missouri Bar Association and has been admitted to practice in Federal and state courts.
William S. Harris, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Director
William S. Harris, PhD is a native of Kansas City with an undergraduate degree from Hanover College in Chemistry and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota. He has been conducting medical and scientific research since 1980 and has over 350 scientific papers and was the Principal Investigator on 5 NIH-funded research projects. He has been on the faculty of 3 state medical schools and is the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of OmegaQuant Analytics, LLC, a commercial laboratory in Sioux Falls, SD that specializes in the measurement of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood. With regards to origins issues, he believes that the central dogma of Darwinism - that highly complex systems developed by random chance and environmental pressure from simple, ancestral life-forms - remains highly speculative and statistically problematic. His view is that a design (non-chance)-based theory of origins is more consistent with the evidence.
Mr. Harris is co-author (with John H. Calvert, JD) of Intelligent Design: The Scientific Alternative to Evolution (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Autumn 2003)
Joseph Renick, Ph.D. Executive Director, IDnet of New Mexico
Joseph Renick graduated in 1960 from Texas A&M with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and served nine years active duty with the USAF, accumulating 2300 hours flying time, including 1500 hours in the F-102A and F-104A. He served an additional 17 years in the Air Force Reserves and retired with the rank of Lt Col. He received his MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 1971 and was immediately employed by the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM as a Mechanical Engineer working in the area of nuclear weapon blast and shock effects simulation.
In 1991 he was assigned to the Defense Nuclear Agency in Albuquerque where he was given responsibility for testing of advanced weapons and tactics related to hard target defeat. He retired from the government as a GM-15 in 1993 and began work with Research and Development Associates (brought out by Northrop Grumman) where he was employed as a Senior Research Scientist in weapons effects. In 2006 he was hired by Applied Research Associates (ARA) where he served as Chief Scientist of a team of highly specialized engineers and retired senior Air Force officers providing technical assistance in developing weaponeering solutions to critical problems of interest to DOD. He retired from ARA in 2016.
Mr. Renick currently serves as a Director of Citizens for Objective Science Education (COPE) and as an engineering consultant with Brilliant Light Power, Inc., a research firm in advanced energy technology. He is the author of The Gospel of the Cosmos: Good News for Mankind, (Xulon Press 2018)