Casey Luskin founded the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Club (IDEA) at UCSD in 1999 as an outlet for students interested in discussing the burgeoning theory of intelligent design. Today, there are more than 20 such clubs on campuses across the country.
Luskin, currently working as an attorney with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design, helped write amicus briefs on behalf of the Dover Area School District board in the pending case in Pennsylvania.
Opponents say "intelligent design," like its predecessor, "creation science," is a term coined to cloak creationism in scientific jargon to circumvent a 1987 Supreme Court decision that prohibits teaching of creation on an equal level with evolution.
Luskin, an avowed Star Wars fan and Christian who obtained a bachelor's degree in earth sciences from UCSD and a law degree from USD, defended the demarcation of the terms.
"It can really blow your mind when you find out that intelligent design is not the way our critics have said it is," Luskin said. "Intelligent-design theory stops short of trying to identify the designer, whether the designer was the God of the Bible or Yoda or Yahweh or whatever you want to believe."
The theory also falls in line with many principles of evolution, he said.
"We're a lot more savvy than people give us credit for," Luskin said. "Natural selection is very real, and it absolutely happened. But many of the examples we have of natural selection do not really tell us how new biochemical pathways form or how these really complex microbiological machines, how those things originate."
As a geologist, Luskin also concedes that the earth is older than the typical 6,000-year life span offered by creationists.
"If you want to know how old the earth is, go ask a geologist," Luskin said. "I happen to be a geologist. I have absolutely no problem with the earth being 4.54 billion years old."