The ID Agenda

I read Roger Downey's article on the Discovery Institute ["Discovery's Creation," Feb. 1]. Loved it. Downey wisely stayed away from hyperbole. Nice

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Discovery's Creation

"It's unlikely that any U.S. public-school student is not aware (in a land known for fundamentalist zeal) of creationist alternatives to Darwinism."

The ID Agenda

I read Roger Downey's article on the Discovery Institute ["Discovery's Creation," Feb. 1]. Loved it. Downey wisely stayed away from hyperbole. Nice discussion of Judge John E. Jones' ruling. I think reasoned, calm discussion such as Downey's article does more to air the true agenda of the intelligent-design folks than would my first impulse, which is to say, Keep your dang religion out of our schools.

Christopher Sanford

Seattle

Unanswered Questions

Thanks for an interesting story on the Seattle origins of intelligent design. Was Roger Downey perhaps slightly cruel in referring to Roger DeHart as a "Discovery Institute–subsidized martyr"? Should we expect differently, after his tussle with a Skagit County school board? A man needs an income.

Downey's article documents damage to the ID aims of Bruce Chapman and his Discovery Institute's budget in the culture wars. But in conclusion, I was left thinking that, while George W. Bush's appointed judge clearly ruled that the way ID was introduced in Pennsylvania schools was unconstitutional according to U.S. principles of separation of church and state, it left fundamental questions unanswered: How did the universe come into existence? Is the universe expanding at an accelerating rate? Or will entropy slow it into retreat, into a cold singularity and rebirth? I understand that a group known as theo-evolutionists, in the 1960s, maintained there was no conflict between the Bible and Darwinism, since God could have created the world with a full fossil record in the ground. Perhaps these questions belong in public-school philosophy classes, not biology classes. But humans want to know where the heck they came from.

Finally, Chapman should rest comfortably in one regard: It's unlikely that any U.S. public-school student is not aware (in a land known for fundamentalist zeal) of creationist alternatives to Darwinism.

Bruce Scholten

Durham, England

Discovery on Downey

Roger Downey has labored and produced a mouse. "Discovery's Creation" [Feb. 1] is a rehash of old reports from other publications and blogs. There is nothing new, or original, in this article. It is full of unfounded assertions and—despite the secondhand sources—lazy errors of fact.

Here are just a few: Dr. Stephen C. Meyer is not still teaching at Whitworth College; he resigned three years ago (that's why we don't list this on our Web site). Contrary to Judge John E. Jones' opinion, there are at least seven peer-reviewed articles supportive of intelligent design, as Downey (and the judge) could have seen by reading our amicus brief in the Dover case or checking our Web site. There was no conference about ID at Baylor University in 1992, where Downey mistakenly alleges the theory was developed. We never professed ignorance of the Wedge document; it's been on our Web site, along with our rebuttal, for years.

Contrary to Downey's claim that I didn't answer any of his questions, I actually have copies of eight e-mails I sent him answering all manner of questions.

He is right about one thing. The issue isn't going away. And that issue at heart is the growing improbability that the complexity of life can be explained by random mutation and natural selection. It's the issue of evidence that the arm-waving Darwinists—and Seattle Weekly—don't want to face.

Robert Crowther

Director of Communications, Center for Science & Culture, Discovery Institute, Seattle

Roger Downey responds: Stephen Meyer's employment status was one of the many questions Mr. Crowther neglected to clarify when queried. Most of the unanswered e-mails were requests for interviews with Bruce Chapman and Discovery fellows. Mr. Crowther's answer to those is printed in the article.

What constitutes peer review is a matter of opinion. I invite anyone to inspect the list on the Discovery Institute's own Web site and make their own judgment about which scrutiny meets the widely accepted criteria of peer review.

The 1992 Baylor conference was not about intelligent design but was, as stated in the sidebar to my article, a conference "of proponents and antagonists of Darwinian evolution."

I did not say Discovery Institute professed ignorance of the Wedge document; I said they professed ignorance of its origins and authorship. They still do.

Paying for Diversity

Thank you for the article "High-Rise Noon" [Feb. 1]. We support council member Peter Steinbrueck's proposal to set the affordable housing bonus at $20 per square foot. In a center city that has lost thousands of low-income and affordable units in the last couple of decades, it is vital to preserve and create more units affordable for working families earning between $23,000 and $46,000 per year. Service workers such as janitors, hotel and restaurant workers, and security officers make our city run. They deserve to live near their workplace, too, instead of being condemned to two-hour bus commutes. They need living wages and housing they can afford if we are to truly address regional sprawl and livability.

The issue of rezoning downtown gets right to the heart of who we want to be. Do we want to be a city where only wealthy people can afford to live? Or do we want a diverse community, including diversity of incomes? People of all incomes deserve to benefit from extensive zoning changes, and the $20 bonus helps address that.

Elana Dix

Community Organizer, Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone

Overburdening Developers

To judge only by the Feb. 1 Philip Dawdy article "High-Rise Noon," you would think the mayor's proposed downtown plan arose out of a smoky backroom process. As the chair of the Downtown Urban Center Planning Group (DUCPG), I know this to be far from the truth. DUCPG spent thousands of hours working to update the 1985 Downtown Land Use and Transportation Plan and included representatives from all five downtown urban neighborhoods, as well as other residents, businesspeople, affordable housing advocates, and many others. This was a lengthy and very public process.

The resulting neighborhood plan was based on a consensus that everyone wanted to encourage construction of a variety of new housing downtown. With this goal in mind, neither it nor the mayor's initial plan included an affordable housing bonus fee on residential construction (paid by the developer on "bonus" square footage exceeding a certain threshold). Up until then, only commercial construction paid anything for affordable housing.

The genesis of a bonus fee from residential development was an offer made by the for-profit housing development community. The reality is that the housing bonus has gone from $0 per square foot in the neighborhood plan to $10 under the mayor's proposal. Affordable housing advocates are excited about this new source of income but most don't want to slow or stop new development (and thus the source of the new funding) by overburdening developers, as would happen under council member Peter Steinbrueck's proposed $20 per square foot.

Catherine Stanford

Chair, Downtown Urban Center Planning Group, Seattle

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