The “ID is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” smear championed by Eugenie Scott et al of NCSE is now Law School Textbook orthodoxy . . .
From ENV — even as Dr Eugenie Scott of NCSE retires (having championed the ID is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo smear for years and years in the teeth of all correction . . . ) — we see a development, courtesy a whistle-blowing Law School student:
The latest attempt to insert creationism into the classroom is what is known as the Theory of Intelligent Design. The theory is that all of the complex natural phenomena could not have happened randomly; there had to be a design and a designer. Since the concept of the designer does not require a biblical interpretation, its advocates believe that it could possibly pass constitutional muster. Some states have proposed that science standards be rewritten to include requiring teachers to compare and contrast the design hypothesis with evidence that supports evolution . . . .
The efforts of Christian Fundamentalists to insert the biblical Book of Genesis’ explanation into the teaching of science in the public school classroom evolved in stages from direct state prohibitions to teaching Darwinian evolution, to teaching creation as a science, to balanced treatment of both creationism and evolution, and finally to the latest intelligent design movement (IDM) . . . .
Evidence in the [Dover, it seems] case indicated how the progenitors of intelligent design had adapted their wording and tactics immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard. Edwards had struck down a legislative attempt to give “balanced-treatment” to “creation science” along with evolution in public school science classes. The federal court in Pennsylvania said that: “The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates . . . that the systemic change from ‘creation’ to ‘intelligent design’ occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court’s important Edwards decision. This compelling evidence strongly supports plaintiff’s assertion that ID is creationism relabeled.” [Apparently: Kern Alexander and M. David Alexander, American Public School Law (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 8th Edn) p. 381.]
This is a blatantly slanderous strawman distortion in defiance of duties of care to truth, accuracy and fairness, and presents in misleading justification a false history of the origin of and motivation for design theory.
ENV’s Casey Luskin, quite properly, replies:
[F]irst off we see the equation of intelligent design (ID) with creationism. Is ID a form of “creationism”? For the purpose of a legal textbook, surely it’s important to see how courts have defined creationism. When the U.S. Supreme Court defined creationism, they found that it “embodies the religious belief that a supernatural creator was responsible for the creation of humankind.” Leading scholars on both sides of this debate agree that creationism generally holds that “supernatural” powers created life. Even under this broad definition of creationism, ID is not creationism. This is because ID does not try to address questions about whether the designer acting in biological nature is natural or supernatural, and in fact explicitly allows that the designer could have been natural. (We’ve discussed this before in detail; see “ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural.”) As should be clear, then, intelligent design lacks the key defining characteristic that makes creationism both unscientific and unconstitutional.
American Public School Law goes on to cite the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling as having demonstrated that intelligent design is creationism. Does the evidence from that case in fact show that intelligent design fits the U.S. Supreme Court’s definition of creationism? Here’s how biologist Scott Minnich testified in explaining intelligent design to the court:
Q. Do you have an opinion as to whether intelligent design requires the action of a supernatural creator?
A. I do.
Q. What is that opinion?
A. It does not.
(Scott Minnich testimony, November 3, 2005.)
Or as Michael Behe testified:
Q. So is it accurate for people to claim or to represent that intelligent design holds that the designer was God?
Behe: No, that is completely inaccurate.
Q. Well, people have asked you your opinion as to who you believe the designer is, is that correct?
Behe: That is right.
Q. Has science answered that question?
Behe: No, science has not done so.
Q. And I believe you have answered on occasion that you believe the designer is God, is that correct?
Behe: Yes, that’s correct.
Q. Are you making a scientific claim with that answer?
Behe: No, I conclude that based on theological and philosophical and historical factors.
(Michael Behe testimony, October 17, 2005.)
The judge in the case, John E. Jones, refused to allow ID proponents to define their own theory and ignored this testimony in his ruling. But far from being a mere exercise in rhetoric, Behe’s argument is principled, based on a commitment to respect the limits of science. His belief in God is not a hard-and fast conclusion of intelligent design, but something he concludes for different reasons, “based on theological and philosophical and historical factors.” He makes clear that ID doesn’t identify the designer.
For example, let’s say (for the sake of argument) that the DNA encoding the bacterial flagellum gives evidence that it did not arise by a random and unguided process like Darwinian evolution, but instead arose by a non-random and intelligently directed process. The raw data here is a highly complex molecular machine encoded by information in DNA. But that genetic information, and that machine has no way of directly telling us whether the designer is Yahweh, Buddha, Yoda, or some other source of intelligent agency. Based on our present knowledge, identifying the designer lies beyond the competence of science. It is strictly a philosophical or theological matter and, for the scientific theory of ID, it is beyond its scope. Since ID is based solely upon empirical data, the theory must remain silent on such questions.
Going on further, a better informed, more accurate summary of the history of the roots of design theory would be:
In more recent decades, the resurgence of ID in science and philosophy arose from the confluence of information theory with the discoveries of the astonishingly complex and digital nature of DNA and cell engineering. It was not a response to the legal flaws associated with Biblical creationism, but a recognition that the mechanisms proposed by neo-Darwinism could not adequately explain the informational and irreducible properties of living systems that were increasingly being identified in biological literature as identical to features common in language and engineered machines. The term “intelligent design” appears to have been coined in its contemporary usage by cosmologist Dr. Fred Hoyle and soon thereafter Dr. Charles Thaxton, a chemist and academic editor for the Pandas textbook, adopted the term after hearing it mentioned by a NASA engineer. Thaxton’s adoption of the term was not an attempt to evade a court decision, but rather to distinguish ID from creationism, because, in contrast to creationism, ID sought to stay solely within the empirical domain:
I wasn’t comfortable with the typical vocabulary that for the most part creationists were using because it didn’t express what I was trying to do. They were wanting to bring God into the discussion, and I was wanting to stay within the empirical domain and do what you can do legitimately there.
In their effort to tie ID to creationism, the plaintiffs introduced as their “smoking gun” a comparison of the language in early pre-publication drafts of Pandas that used the term “creation” and later pre-publication drafts as well as published editions that used the term “intelligent design.” They alleged the terminology was switched merely in an effort to evade the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, which found “creation science” unconstitutional. But the plaintiffs (and Judge Jones, who relied on them) were wrong both historically and conceptually.
Historically, it is clear (as just pointed out) that the research that generated the Pandas textbook came years before any of the litigation over “creation science.” Conceptually, early drafts of Pandas, although they used the word “creation,” did not advocate “creationism” as that term was defined by the Supreme Court.
In Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court found that creationism was religion because it referred to a “supernatural creator.” Yet long before Edwards, pre-publication drafts of Pandas specifically rejected the view that science could determine whether an intelligent cause identified through the scientific method was supernatural. A pre-Edwards draft argued that “observable instances of information cannot tell us if the intellect behind them is natural or supernatural. This is not a question that science can answer.” The same draft explicitly rejected William Paley’s eighteenth century design arguments because they unscientifically “extrapolate to the supernatural” from the empirical data.
The draft stated that Paley was wrong because “there was no basis in uniform experience for going from nature to the supernatural, for inferring an unobserved supernatural cause from an observed effect.” Another pre-publication draft made similar arguments: “[W]e cannot learn [about the supernatural] through uniform sensory experience . . . and so to teach it in science classes would be out of place . . . [S]cience can identify an intellect, but is powerless to tell us if that intellect is within the universe or beyond it.”
By unequivocally affirming that the empirical evidence of science “cannot tell us if the intellect behind [the information in life] is natural or supernatural” it is evident that these pre-publication drafts of Pandas meant something very different by “creation” than did the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard, in which the Court defined creationism as religion because it postulated a “supernatural creator.”
(David DeWolf, John West, and Casey Luskin, “Intelligent Design Will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover,” Montana Law Review, Vol. 68:7 (Winter, 2007) (internal citations omitted).)
So, as we approach the retirement of Ms Scott of NCSE, where are we?
Right where Lewontin said in his infamous 1997 NYRB article, Billions and Billions of Demons:
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [If you think this is quote-mined, in accord with a typical counter talking point, kindly cf the larger excerpt with annotations here on.]
Philip Johnson’s reply in November that same year is well deserved:
No wonder, Luskin summarises where we have come since the 1920’s thusly:
The efforts of Darwinian Fundamentalists to insert materialist explanations into the teaching of science in the public school classroom evolved in stages from opposing direct state prohibitions to teaching Darwinian evolution, to opposing balanced treatment of both creationism and evolution, to opposing any mention of scientific alternatives like intelligent design, to refusing to allow even mainstream scientific critiques of their viewpoint to be taught. Thus, while Evolution activists might have had the moral high ground in 1925 during the Scopes trial, Justice Scalia notes that today we have “Scopes in Reverse,” where they try to censor critics by creating a climate of fear and intimidation.
Do you see why I keep on pointing out the warning made by Plato, 2350 years ago now? Namely, this from The Laws, Bk X:
Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily “scientific” view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .
[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.– [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke’s views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic “every man does what is right in his own eyes” chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.
Will it take the infamous 4:00 am knock on the doors by Jack-booted thugs (while the neighbours cower, shivering, behind their doors . . . ), to wake us up?
The authors of a text book that acts like this, should be publicly named and shamed, and the publishers should be exposed as failing in basic duties of care.
On right of fair, credibly informed comment and in light of duties of care for education:
Kern Alexander and M. David Alexander, SHAME ON YOU!
Wadsworth of Belmont, CA: SHAME ON YOU!
And, that this propagation of evident deception under false name of knowledge and education, is in the direct context of shaping the next generation of lawyers, FBI agents, Judges and Legislators, etc, is chilling beyond words.
It is time to wake up now, before it is too late. END