August 17, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Dumb Down or Wise Up?  Rhetoric Over ID Intensifies

More and more reporters, scientists and scientific societies are weighing in with their opinions on evolution vs. intelligent design (ID) this week (see 08/13/2005 entry).  Here are some of the more interesting of the recent salvos:

  • It’s Official: ID Is Not Science:  If the scientific validity of an idea can be ruled by authority, then intelligent design has been voted unscientific by three agricultural societies, reported EurekAlert.  The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America have joined other scientific organizations in condemning President Bush’s remark (08/13/2005) that students should hear both sides in the origins debate.  To them, anything other than evolution is religious, and evolution is just as scientific as gravity.
  • Tolerance:  In a somewhat surprising tone of conciliation, considering previous attacks on ID as religiously motivated (08/10/2005), Nature argued that a religious leader should be allowed to speak at a scientific meeting.  Why should the Dalai Lama not be barred from sharing his views on neuroscience and society?  History: “But speakers at meetings – non-scientists or scientists – should not be barred on the basis of their religious beliefs.  Well-known scientists including Newton have had religious beliefs that many people would disagree with,” Nature points out, “but these have no bearing on the credibility of their scientific ideas.”  Since the Dalai Lama will not be speaking as a scientist, presumably that’s OK.  He is perfectly entitled to do so, the editorial argues, with the title reading, “Science and religion in harmony.”
  • BBC: British Bashing Creation:  Harold Evans gave his point of view on the question of creation for the BBC News.  Scopes, fundamentalism, creationism in a subtler guise – you get the idea.
  • KDE: Kansas Denigrating Evolution:  Geoff Brumfiel in Nature 08/18/2005 reported on the Kansas decision to allow criticisms of evolution.  Brumfiel gives quotation rights to those who claim this is a “religiously motivated” that paves the way for teaching of intelligent design.  Education board chairman Steve Abrams called the charges baloney: “Is it wrong to teach critical analysis and critical thinking?” he asked.  Eugenie Scott got the last word: “These standards are very clearly denigrating evolution.”
  • No Worries, Mate:  The Australian minister of education, Brendan Nelson, doesn’t want intelligent design to replace “teaching the origins of mankind in a scientific sense,” reports CNS News, but if parents want their children to be taught about ID, that’s fine.  “It’s about choice, reasonable choice,” he remarked.
  • Battle Royale at USA Today:  Evolutionists and ID theorists faced off in USA Today.  Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch gave their side, and ID spokesmen John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer got equal time.
  • Persecution:  David Klinghoffer, writing in the National Review, exposed underhanded tactics used by members of the Smithsonian Institution in its treatment of Richard Sternberg last year for his allowing the publication of an ID paper in one of its journals (09/24/2004).  The Washington Post followed with an exposé.  The US Office of Special Counsel issued a letter (posted by Sternberg), finding that the Smithsonian’s actions constituted a “hostile work environment” designed to retaliate against Sternberg and force him out of the Smithsonian.  The actions included disseminating misinformation throughout the institution about him and digging for dirt in his background.
  • Dumb Down:  With what Rob Crowther (Discovery Institute) called “shrill polemics,” Peter Ward (U. of Washington), co-author of Rare Earth, gave a piece of his mind to the Seattle News Tribune.  Incredulous that intelligent design is being given the time of day, he compared creationism with belief in a flat earth, and claimed the ID leadership must admire religious states like Iran.  “Teaching intelligent design at the middle school or high school level will rob our young students of a proper grounding in science, because it bears no relationship to science,” he said.  “Those who say it does are toying with the future of our nation.  And I believe they are doing so deliberately, even maliciously.”  Now, Dr. Ward, tell us what you really think.
  • Wise Up:  Jonathan Witt (Discovery Institute) responded to Peter Ward in the News Tribune without flinching.  He claimed such comments represent an attitude of desperation on the part of Darwinists, who don’t want competition.  To them, President Bush committed the unforgivable sin by allowing Darwinism to be questioned.  Witt claims that the Darwinists’ reactions bear all the hallmarks of a paradigm in crisis.

If the Darwinists don’t come up with better talking points, they’re going to lose.  They all sound like each other, throwing around loaded words and ridicule with talk of flat earth, bogeymen, Taliban, pseudoscience, fundamentalism and, worst of all, “creationism.”  Come on, you guys, wise up.  Tell ID how molecular machines built themselves and they’ll turn down the heat.  It is indeed strange how tolerant the materialists are of religion when it is the Eastern, mystical kind, maybe because it only makes them meditate instead of think.  They can relate to that.  After all, Darwinian storytelling puts one into an altered state of consciousness.
    It’s good to see the question of origins get some public exposure, but the thing ID should fear most is not the arguments of the Darwin Party.  It is the raw exercise of their power to shut off discussion, and to rule, by fiat, Charlie Worship as the official state religion.  Such a tactic would be analogous to frequent cases where laws passed by Congress or by public initiatives – sometimes by overwhelming margins – have been ruled “unconstitutional” by a single activist judge or circuit court.  They could do it, you know, and they just might.  The dumb will just roll over and accept the decision of the oligarchy.  The wise will take note of what such a response signifies.  The rulers of Athens can neither explain, nor endure, a gadfly.

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