Home » Intelligent Design » War in the making on pro-ID students?

War in the making on pro-ID students?

I reported earlier that Professors admit they’ll deny tenure to IDers. There are now hints the anti-ID crowd are increasingly willing to deny diplomas to PhD students, master’s students, and undergraduates. Based on news reports I’ve read and studies such as those by Steve Verhey, presently, I estimate 1/4 to 1/3 of biology freshman accept ID. The anti-ID crowd knows rising numbers of pro-ID biology students receiving diplomas are a threat to the status-quo.

The Cornell IDEA club has commentary on this report by Nobel Intent (Bill Dembski provided other links at New York Academy of Sciences keeps the world safe for Darwinism) on a recent war planning conference:

Declaration of War?

Branch’s final topic was how to handle a situation where a biology department winds up with a creationist as a graduate student. This was both of general interest, as creationists tend to use their degrees as rhetorical weapons, and of personal interest, as I was part of the Berkeley class that produced the noted Discovery Institute fellow Jon Wells. Unfortunately, his conclusion was that there are no easy answers. He did, however, note that graduate departments exist to serve the scientific community by providing qualified individuals to perform research and teaching services. There is no ethical requirement for graduate faculty to be complicit in the training of someone who is ultimately going to actively harm the field.

No easy answer? The easy answer is to not make someone’s acceptance of ID a factor whatsoever! Simple!


I remind the readers of this fact:

In Letter to Kansas School Board, University of Akron Biology Faculty Members Decry Daniel Ely’s “Profound Misconceptions”

Indeed, if undergraduate majors in our biology department revealed such profound misconceptions about basic evolutionary biology we would have serious misgivings about conferring their degrees in biology.

Dr. Stephen C. Weeks, evolutionary ecologist, University of Akron
Dr. Peter Niewiarowski, evolutionary ecologist, University of Akron
Dr. Lisa Park, paleontologist, University of Akron

I got a little chuckle out of this from Nobel Intent

Next up was Glenn Branch of the NCSE, which, as he puts it, spends its time putting out brushfires of evolution controversy around the nation. His talk focused on the efforts of creationists to gain a footing in collegiate settings, with the ultimate goal of gaining credentialed supporters to advance their cause. He tracked how many formerly religious or creationist campus organizations have recently morphed into pro-ID IDEA Clubs. Branch noted that the religious nature of the national IDEA organization was obvious in the fact that it has only recently dropped its requirement for members to be Christian. These clubs hope to foster debate on campus, but Branch suggested they were best avoided. Many creationists are far more skilled at arguments that appeal to a non-scientific audience than scientists are, and debates draw a crowd. In the absence of the legitimacy conferred by debate, the attendance at IDEA clubs is usually limited to a few committed activists.

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12 Responses to War in the making on pro-ID students?

  1. Sounds like an egregious violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically Title VII–Equal Employment Opportunity. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is specifically prohibited. What you describe is a denial of a professional certification affecting future employment where the denial is based upon religion. I would think any university or faculty member that even hints at practicing such discrimination would open the university up to some very expensive damages for civil rights violations.

    Discrimination under this title based upon religion is the same as discrimination based upon race or gender so if you wonder if a violation has taken place just replace the word “creationist” with the word “negro” or “woman” and if it sounds like illegal discrimination with either of the latter then it’s also illegal discrimination with the former.

    So try this on for size:

    Branch’s final topic was how to handle a situation where a biology department winds up with a negro as a graduate student. This was both of general interest, as negros tend to use their degrees as rhetorical weapons, of personal interest, as I was part of the Berkeley class that produced the noted Discovery Institute fellow Jon Wells. Unfortunately, his conclusion was that there are no easy answers. He did, however, note that graduate departments exist to serve the scientific community by providing qualified individuals to perform research and teaching services. There is no ethical requirement for graduate faculty to be complicit in the training of someone who is ultimately going to actively harm the field.

  2. I would think any university or faculty member that even hints at practicing such discrimination would open the university up to some very expensive damages for civil rights violations.

    Dang right. And that is why I’ve been encouraging reporters or anyone at a public forum to ask the anti-IDers whether it is appropriate to deny diploma and jobs to IDers or whether it is appropriate to even make ID a consideration. I pointed out the other side tends to squirm over the issue.

    I can imagine it now, a reporter ask Ken Miller, “Dr. Miller, you think ID will harm science. Do you then think it appropriate to count someone’s acceptance of ID a factor in awarding of diplomas and jobs?”

    If he answers, “No”, then it shows he really doesn’t think ID is a threat. If he answers “Yes”, he is in danger of violating the law or at the least raising serious questions of ethics.

  3. Sal –

    Be sure to point out that your formulation is based on the Darwinists own opinion that ID is a religious view. If they were to view ID as a scientific viewpoint, such problems would not exist, as it would simply be a scientific disagreement, over which it is acceptible to discriminate.

    Simple formuation:

    If ID is a religious idea:
    Discrimination is illegal

    If ID is a scientfic idea:
    Discrimination is legal

    They have to choose exactly one set. They can’t have it both ways.

  4. “Simple formuation:

    If ID is a religious idea:
    Discrimination is illegal

    If ID is a scientfic idea:
    Discrimination is legal

    They have to choose exactly one set. They can’t have it both ways. “

    Well, so do the ID folks. If you say (admit) ID is a religious idea, the grad students in question are protected – but you lose the respect of the scientific community. If you say (admit) ID is not a religous idea, then the grad students are no longer protected. A Dawinist can use the old “flat-earth” argument to say that is why they aren’t granting a degree in the field.

    For example, I’m sympathetic to YEC folks, but would be hard-pressed to support a University that hired a geology professor who said that he wouldn’t teach about the Cambrian, Silurian, etc.. because it was all caused by Noah’s flood, and then teach an Intro to Geology class in the context of a 6000 year old earth.

    I guess I’m saying be careful of this argument because while it puts NDs in a box, it can equally put IDers in a box too.

    Branch said “creationist” not ID proponent. The sword is double edged in any case. If ID is religion then the university is in a world of hurt if it discriminates. One might reasonably presume that the harmed student would reference the Kitzmiller decision wherein ID was ruled to be religion in the eyes of the law. Then the defense would be stuck between trying to show the Kitzmiller decison was wrong and that ID really isn’t religion or pay millions in damages. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. This business of dragging matters into court and intimidating the other side with visions of vast legal costs can work both ways. -ds

  5. This is very much the same as denying a political science degree to an avowed facist or communist or theocrat in the West, in that the decision is based upon what the majority of academics in the field infer about the success of the philosophy. Few except the Dawkster assert the the Data precludes a religious view. In fact Most claim there is no such conflict. Eugenie Scott likes to mention the the NCSE has many theists (or ‘Believers’ as I think she calls them) on the rolls. I have heard her say that ID and Darwinism are different inferences based on the same data.

    This is very much the same as denying a political science degree to an avowed facist or communist

    Not even close. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t speak to discrimination based on political beliefs (often referred to as “creed” elsewhere). The language in the Equal Employment Opportunity section of the act is race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. -ds

  6. Science education must teach the evidence, test for knowledge of the evidence, and grant degrees to those who have learned the evidence. Forcing a particular interpretation of that evidence is painfully unscientific.

    If the fear of ID causes education to begin to deny science degrees based upon how one interprets the evidence, then education will surely have been irreperably harmed by ID.

  7. “Science education must teach the evidence, test for knowledge of the evidence, and grant degrees to those who have learned the evidence. Forcing a particular interpretation of that evidence is painfully unscientific.”

    Interpretations will vary, and are changeable as evidentiary data updates. An ID advocate is not married to a religious belief that “Godditit and that’s final” as is often claimed. Divine (or non-specific/unknown) intervention in the creation of life is maintained as an option, but is not provable or falsifiable.

    “If the fear of ID causes education to begin to deny science degrees based upon how one interprets the evidence, then education will surely have been irreparably harmed by ID.”

    Isn’t that blaming the victim, since the damage is inflicted by the LOA (Lords of Academia), for withholding degrees from otherwise qualified curriculum graduates.

    Why not as a component of graduation requirements an oath to “uphold scientific objectivity in the pursuit of scientific knowledge”. it has variously been suggested that scientific theories reflect the social values of those who create the models used to describe nature. But in the case of both creationist and non-creationist beliefs, this should be avoided. Although I feel, as do most others, that ‘creationism’ should not be taught as dogma, neither should evolution in its present form, i.e. the Neo-Darwinist model, or methodological naturalism.

    PZ Myers is a fairly well known for his opposition to ID, is known as an extreme orthodox Darwinist, and quite militant. He’s quoted on Andrew Rowell’s blog as saying, “Our only problem is that we aren’t martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.” This kind of inflammatory rhetoric has no place in the field of scientific inquiry, on any level.

    The solution to the problem is to allow inquiry by both sides (belief wise), but to remove having and enforcing a preconceived belief regarding origins from the realm of scientific inquiry.

  8. Battle of the Thunderbirds?

    My experience in participating on this blog has led me to believe that the “perceived” status of ID is not that it is religious or scientific doctrine, but that it is a political doctrine. I personally hold that IDers are well-meaning scientists, espousing a legitimate scientific theory.

    In a democratic system that is based on rule by law, the highest form of law occupies the highest position on the political food chain (or totem pole, if you like, whose top position is represented as a rather big-nosed avian – the thunderbird)

    Neo-darwinism is the current reigning thunderbird. Natural-selection/Survival-of-the-fittest/Law-of-the-Jungle very neatly occupies this top position, and is invoked in the political descision making process to protect the interests of the political elite.

    ID is percieved to recognize a higher position in this food chain, that of a designer/creator. This would suggest that any system of rule-by-law is ‘headless’ without recognizing the authority of this entity.

    Is it so surprising that anyone espousing (married to) ID is met with persecution (civil rights violations)? There are parallels here that are out of the scope of this blog, that I will leave the readership to meditate upon.

  9. Leebowman: ““If the fear of ID causes education to begin to deny science degrees based upon how one interprets the evidence, then education will surely have been irreparably harmed by ID.”

    Isn’t that blaming the victim, since the damage is inflicted by the LOA (Lords of Academia), for withholding degrees from otherwise qualified curriculum graduates.”

    Actually, I think you’ll find this under the title of “self-fulfilling prophesy”. Its a psychological phenomenon, our fear causes that which we fear to come about.

  10. “There is no ethical requirement for graduate faculty to be complicit in the training of someone who is ultimately going to actively harm the field.”

    Let me translate that:

    “There is no ethical requirement” = “It’s moraly ok”

    “for graduate faculty to be complicit in the training” = “to avoid training”

    “of someone who is ultimately going to actively harm the field” = “someone who will criticize Darwinism”.

    This is finally a good darwinian prediction: if they allow pro-ID biologists to arise, Darwin’s theory will be even more weakened.

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