Bradley Monton, a philosophy professor at the University of Colorado, identifies himself as an atheist. But in his book Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, he explains why he thinks teaching students about the concept of a designer for nature is good pedagogy.
From an interview in Salvo:
Do you think intelligent design should be taught in public schools?
What I know from being a teacher these past thirteen years is that it's wrong to ignore matters that students may have heard about or are certainly going to hear about in the future. For example, did you know that the California teacher guidelines for K–12 students state that if a student asks about intelligent design, he should be told that it doesn't belong in the science classroom -- that he should talk to his family or pastor about it instead? Shutting down discussion and debate in this fashion is bad pedagogy. Teachers should be forthright about all of the evidence and tell students that issues regarding the origin of life are still open for debate.
Do you teach your own students about intelligent design?
Yes, I do talk about intelligent design in my philosophy of science course, and the students are very interested in it. In high school, science was taught to them as just a monolithic body of facts with no understanding of theory development or of how the theories we have now were built by scientists rejecting past theories and in ways that were often controversial and involved scientific revolutions and complicated factors of human psychology. As a result, they don't understand how science works. I have found intelligent design to be a fruitful way of teaching students how science actually functions and that it is a human endeavor filled with controversy.
You write in your book that you don't fully endorse intelligent design. In your opinion, what are some of the weaknesses of ID?
At one time, I would have said that the greatest weakness was the failure of ID proponents to put a theory on the table that makes testable predictions, but that all changed with Jonathan Wells's book The Myth of Junk DNA. In it, Wells predicted that this purported junk DNA -- these stretches of DNA in our genome that many scientists had claimed were useless -- would be purposeful for the structure of human biology. Well, within the past year or so, empirical investigation has confirmed that there is in fact much less junk DNA than scientists had previously thought. It's just a great example of a testable prediction that was made by a proponent of intelligent design that turned out to be successful.