February 17, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Bloviating on I.D. – Is It Garrulous?

TV commentator Bill O’Reilly has brought two obscure words to the attention of his viewers: ”bloviating” (discoursing at length in a pompous manner) and “garrulous” (wordy and rambling, tiresomely talkative).  A number of talking heads and writing hands have taken to bloviating about intelligent design (ID) recently.  Readers may wish to get out their blovimeters and measure the garrulity factor in the following episodes:

  • Beam Me Up, Scott:  Pro-evolution activist Eugenie Scott took a column in Cell1 to try to explain why creationism is such a mainstay in American culture.  Presenting her usual arguments that ID is not science but a polished form of religious creationism (after all, Judge Jones said so), she tried to list some historical reasons why it is so hard to stamp out; after all, “Outside of the United States, people are dumbfounded by events like these.”  Discussing social, political, and religious history of the United States, she argued that the primary reason is that giving everyone their fair share at the microphone is “the American way.”
  • Viewpoint Discrimination:  One man’s reasoned discussion is another’s propaganda.  When Robert Hazen came to U. of Iowa to preach “Why intelligent design is not science,” a reporter asked ID proponent Guillermo Gonzalez (co-author of The Privileged Planet) what he thought.  He wrote in a letter to the Iowa Tribune that he expected to hear propaganda, and his expectations were realized.  Hazen used irrelevant arguments, Gonzalez said, that can be disproved by looking at the reception to the big bang theory.  It had profound religious implications, yet scientists evaluated it and accepted it based on scientific evidence.
        Gonzalez has taken heat for his views at Iowa State.  The Iowa Hawkeye describes how his beliefs have been condemned, his qualifications questioned, and his book ridiculed by peers.  Michael Francisco on Evolution News refuted the claims of the critics, and sees this as more evidence of attempts to marginalize ID as religion so that scientists can dismiss it outright rather than discuss its merits.
  • Selective Evidence:  Jodi Rudoren reported about the Ohio ID flipflop (see 02/15/2006 story) in the Feb. 15 New York Times.  Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network filled in some blanks: “The story never mentions the personal character attacks made against the drafters of the lesson plan, nor does it mention that ID is NOT in the lesson at all,” he said.  “Also not mentioned was that the relevant science standards benchmark specifically says that ID is not mandated in Ohio.”
  • Skell Irrelevance:  Darwinism is simply beside the point, argued Phillip Skell in the Philadelphia Daily News (see Discovery Institute reprint).  The fact that hardly any scientist refers to Darwinian theory in their work shows that it is not the cornerstone of biology, as claimed by its supporters.  Skell also pointed out how Darwinism is so flexible, it is used to explain opposite things, and therefore is untestable.
  • Genetic Fallacy:  New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary hosted several intelligent-design lectures and a debate this month as part of the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum.  Baptist Press reported on a lecture by Francis J. Beckwith (Baylor U), who argued that religious motivations should not negate intelligent design.  Striking down a policy (such as a school board science framework) strictly because of the religious beliefs of some of its adherents is “logically fallacious and constitutionally suspect.”
  • Ruse Ruse and Dempski Dempsey:  At the friendly ID boxing match at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Michael Ruse took the first punch against ID, reports Baptist Press, by asking William Dembski, “If Intelligent Design is indeed a true scientific paradigm or research program, what results in science are you actually getting?”  Dembski blocked the punch by claiming that it is not the burden of ID to gather new facts, but to make sense of them.  Dembski countered by asking Ruse why Darwinism should use guided scientific experience to produce unguided explanations.  Ruse kept trying to corner Dembski to admit the God word.  Sounds like a lively interchange ensued, with other speakers like philosopher William Lane Craig joining in the fray at the end.  Baptist Press posted a second article on the debate.
  • Back in Kansas Again:  William Dembski followed his appearance in New Orleans with an appearance at University of Kansas, Baptist Press reported.  1500 people attended a Campus Crusade event, where Dembski acknowledged Darwin as a great man, but denied that his theory could account for the big changes in the history of life.  The article has links to MP3 files of the event.
  • Dismiss or Engage:  Ajit Varki (UC San Diego) doesn’t want to debate evolution any more than he wants to debate a flat earth, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune in an article on the “hot topic” of evolution.  Meanwhile, students at the IDEA club on campus were drawing equations on the whiteboard.  Ken Miller and Eugenie Scott dismiss all the creationism as just a cultural phenomenon.  Josh Norton, a senior and leader of the IDEA club, is disappointed that he can’t get the faculty to objectively interact with the club and its arguments.  They just dismiss his requests with cliches like, “There’s no intelligence in intelligent design.”
  • No on ID, No on Darwin:  “Pitt professor challenges Darwin,” writes the Pitt News about Jeffrey Schwartz and his revolutionary ideas about evolution (01/26/2006).  He denies Darwin’s claim that evolution happens gradually, opting instead for his own “Sudden Origins” theory largely because of the fossil record (see 02/14/2006) and discoveries in cell biology that show they resist change.  An evolutionist and no friend of ID, Schwarz nonetheless feels a kind of empathy experienced among foxhole mates: “Darwinism’s presence in science is so overwhelming,” Schwartz said.  “For the longest time, there was no room for alternative thinking among the scientific community.”  He says that time will tell if they will open up to alternatives.
  • DODO Heads:  Alvin Powell reviewed Randy Olson’s “Flock of Dodos” film (see 01/07/2006) for the Harvard Gazette.  Olsen handled the ID community “gently,” Powell writes, saying they are presented as “likeable” people marketing a “shaky” theory.  The film’s theme is about communication: the scientific community has failed to sell evolution through neglect, while creationists know how to present their ideas in an attractive way.
  • Catholic Counter-Reformation:  Here’s an enigma from Vatican astronomer George Coyne, found on Reuters.com: “The intelligent design movement belittles God.  It makes God a designer, an engineer.  The God of religious faith is a god of love.  He did not design me.”  Come again?
  • Catholic Appeasement:  A Reuters story published by MSNBC tells about Hans Kung, a liberal Swiss priest who has found a way to make peace with the evolutionists.  Basically, he gives science all the authority of explanation for everything in the natural world, leaving for theology only questions of ultimate causation and meaning.  Another article on MSNBC portrays the Pope as embracing the conquests of science and trying to embrace dialogue and understanding between science and religion.

1Eugenie Scott, “Creationism and Evolution: It’s the American Way,” Cell, Volume 124, Issue 3, 10 February 2006, Pages 449-451.

As to Hans Kung’s compromise (we don’t call him father because Jesus said not to), it’s about as practical as compromising with a grizzly bear.  If the bear needs a meal and the shivering man needs a fur coat, who gets the better deal?  If Kung was a better student of history and logic, he would understand that Darwin acid will eat him alive and dissolve away his faith into ephemeral vapor that will disperse into the molecular randomness of a purposeless universe.  How can he maintain any semblance of Catholicism and espouse such a position?  Where, in his compromise, is room for Jesus and the Bible?  Where is history and archaeology?  Give the Darwinists the natural world, and they will take everything and leave you with nothing (02/11/2006), gloating and snickering all the way to the bank.  Kung is not engaging the debate, he is capitulating.  His whole surrender is predicated on the assumption that the Darwinists have proven their case.  Why, then, is Schwarz pointing out that the fossil and genetic evidence disagrees with Darwinism?  How ironic that the scientists seem to be more attuned to weaknesses in evolutionary theory than liberal theologians who are ready to wave the white flag at the first sign of blood, even if it is only stage blood.  They are turncoats who are more quick to slander their allies as “fundamentalist Christians who ignore science” than to call the Darwin Party to task for bloviating microevolution into a theory of everything (TOE).  Of course, the Darwinist media is all too happy to publish the TOE-licking antics of these Belafontes on their front pages for propaganda value.
    Bless Michael Ruse’s heart for engaging his rivals in honest debate before an audience largely opposed to his views.  Hard to believe he would still use finch beaks and Archaeopteryx as evidence for Darwinism, though.
    As for Eugenie Scott’s garrulity metric, our blovimeter blew out the top end, so we will have to upgrade to the Humvee model.  She hasn’t thought of anything original since Huxley roamed the earth.  Like Clepsydra Geyser in Yellowstone, she has been erupting steadily for years without taking anything in, like a perpetual spouter bloviating “creationism isn’t science” superciliously as if saying it over and over will make it come true.  Randy Olson needs to give her a lesson in marketing, and on becoming a likeable person like the creationists he reluctantly admires.  In the meantime, avoid the propensity for loquaciousness; and remember, linguistic verbosity invariably negates semantic lucidity. 

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Categories: Intelligent Design

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