In God's Country

William Dembski thought Baylor University would be the perfect place to investigate a scientific alternative to Darwinism. Little did he realize he would be crucified for his cause.

He might be right. Academia may not be embracing intelligent design, but the general public, it seems, is primed for it. Gallup polls over the last decade have shown that only about 10 percent of Americans believe in the scientists' definition of evolution via strictly chance mutation and natural selection. Nearly everyone else believes that God created life, either directly or by guiding the process of evolution. Last year in Kansas, the state school board voted 6-4 to no longer include evolution in statewide science tests. Intelligent design will likely prove to be a popular theory for the majority of Americans, especially because the theory can be applied to many faiths. Even though most intelligent-design researchers, like Dembski, come from a Christian background, the theory itself only detects a designer, it doesn't presume to know anything about that designer. Hence, Jews, Muslims, even agnostics, are signing on.

Sitting at the dining room table in his ranch-style home just outside of Waco, William Dembski looks more like a scientist than a minister. He's thin and stern, with a long, narrow face that mumbles through complicated mathematical theory without taking a breath. Every so often, he loses his train of thought and apologizes, saying he is quite tired. One assumes the exhaustion is a product of the ordeal at Baylor, but then a screaming toddler, recently awakened from her nap, comes running into the room to attach herself to her father's leg. Hot on the toddler's heels is Dembski's wife, her belly swollen with twins that will be born any day now. It is clear that the late nights are a result of concerns much closer to the heart.

Dembski spends most of his time at home with his family these days, even though he still has a five-year contract as an associate research professor at Baylor. He doesn't like going to the university's campus. He's much more comfortable here, surrounded by his stretch of land that came complete with a horse and a fishing pond. It's the perfect place to ponder life's great questions, at least when the toddler is asleep. And center or no center, there is still much work to do.

"What if science itself is coming to the place where it says we got some things wrong and, in fact, things that we ended up dismissing in religion now have to be taken seriously?" he asks. What if "that intelligence in the world that your religious faith is talking about has an ally?" What if?

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