Nature Interviews German Creationist; Media Notes Rise of Anti-Darwinism
Following a news report entitled, “Anti-evolutionists raise their profile in Europe,”1 Nature printed a short interview with one of them:2
Peter Korevaar is head of the physics and cosmology working group of Germany’s Studiengemeinschaft Wort und Wissen, one of the largest creationist groups in Europe. He holds a PhD in astrophysics and now works at IBM in Mannheim. Quirin Schiermeier asks him about his group’s aims.
The interview was straightforward, unfestooned with interviewer emotion or reaction. Korevaar was asked about his group’s aims, and his answer was just as straightforward:
We are a Protestant group. We want to do accurate and honest scientific work under the premise that God has created the world. Scientific naturalism as we know it doesn’t allow for a creator who can interfere with the physical world. Evolution should be taught in schools, and creation discussed along with it.
He was also asked about his relationship with scientists, about evolution, about intelligent design, and about his group in comparison with those in the USA. Korevaar expressed his desire to discuss these issues rationally with his colleagues. Being labeled as “dilettantes” or “fundamentalists” he finds as prejudicial and indicative of misunderstanding. He said microevolution is non-controversial, but there is no evidence for macroevolution. As for relationships with US creation groups, he said, “We are aware of other creationist groups in Europe and the United States. But we don’t collaborate too much with any of them.” He said his group can subscribe to most of the alternative answers provided by intelligent design. There was no indication whether this was the entire interview.
The other news article, however,1 described the rise of creationism in Europe in more ominous undertones, depicting it as a battle against science. For example,
- Almut Graebsch and Quirin Schiermeier assess whether creationism is threatening science in Europe.
- But a number of similar incidents over the past couple of years, in various countries, are raising fears among the scientific community that creationism may be on the rise in Europe.
- …the most blatant attempt to ban evolution…
- Following widespread protest….
- “Italy is no longer a completely secular country,” says Telmo Pievani, a philosopher of science at the University of Milan II in Italy. “We are facing a dramatic and worrying cultural and political regression.”
- There is debate over the size of the threat posed to science in Europe by the various creationist movements.
- Moreover, Europeans do seem to be more enlightened than Americans when it comes to evolution.
- Others warn that scientists can’t afford to be complacent. “The anti-evolution movement does undermine public understanding of science,”…
In addition, anti-creationist Steve Jones, who testified to seeing a large increase in creationist questions at his lectures in recent years, was given the last word. “Jones says that, despite his dislike of creationism – ‘it annoys and depresses me that intelligent students persist in holding irrational views’ – he doesn’t think that such arguments are set to undermine science in countries such as Britain. ‘But I am not so optimistic about Turkey.’”
Turkey was described as having the most aggressive and widespread creationist movement. Other countries mentioned with active challenges to evolution included Germany, Poland, Russia, Italy and Britain.
The British case is notable for a clash of two specific organizations. A group called Truth in Science distributed information packs to every secondary school in September; these included DVDs of the popular intelligent-design film Unlocking the Mystery of Life. “In response,” the article continued, “a group called the British Centre for Science Education has been formed to campaign against the teaching of creationism in schools” (see 10/27/2006, bullet #5). While the article mentioned ties between Turkish creation groups and America’s Institute for Creation Research, it did not mention the BCSE’s ties to the National Center for Science Education in the US.
The BCSE’s response may be too little, too late, however. Positive responses from the DVDs have indicated that intelligent design is getting a hearing. Wrote one viewer, “It was the first time I really saw ID presented as a positive research programme that is about more than simply picking holes in Darwinism…. I can see a lot of young people interested in studying biochemistry or molecular biology, as well as some computer scientists, taking up the challenging questions posed on the video.” Another wrote, “The DVD is far better than I had imagined!… This sort of high quality material is just what is needed to present to thinking people. I really think that anyone who actually watches the DVD, will realize the charges of ‘religious bigotry’ are completely unfounded and must want to know more,” he said, ending on a note that he was ready to “certainly recommend it to as many of my friends as possible.”
Since intelligent design is becoming more part of the public dialogue, The Guardian printed a Q&A about it, mostly derogatory. Another story on The Guardian reported how Richard Dawkins is taking steps to fight it in the schools. The BBC TV posted an article about the “war on science” (i.e., intelligent design), taking comfort from the Dover ruling but discomfort from the numbers of Darwin skeptics in the public. This followed a BBC Newsnight TV episode that pitted Truth in Science leader Andy McIntosh against critic Lewis Wolpert. While McIntosh tried to stay on point that the question is not about the identity of the Designer but allowing alternatives to materialism to be investigated, Wolpert reiterated, almost shouting with intensity and gesturing emphatically, that ID is about religion and has zero to say about science. A BBC News story did not even mention McIntosh but gave prominent coverage to Wolpert’s position and activities to fight creationism.
The Guardian also posted a story 11/27 about the “rise of creationism” in the UK and the work of Truth in Science. The article mentioned that, of the 89 feedback cards received from secondary schools sent the information packet of two DVDs and a manual, 59 were positive, 15 negative, and 15 said the material was “unsuitable.” A BBC News article, however, reported that a leading chemistry teacher, Nick Cowan, urged the Education Secretary to adopt the Truth in Science materials, because they are “very scholarly” and are useful in teaching how science is done. “All the Truth in Science stuff does is put forward stuff that says here’s a controversy,” he remarked. “This is exactly the kind of thing that young people should be exposed to.”
1Almut Graebsch and Quirin Schiermeier, “News: Anti-evolutionists raise their profile in Europe,” Nature 444, 406-407 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444406a.
2“News: Q&A Peter Korevaar,” Nature 444, 407 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444407a.
The Darwinists must be scared witless at these developments. (That assumes they had a wit to begin with.) They must feel like East German secret police at the first sign of cracks in the Berlin Wall. While the news piece about “anti-evolutionists on the rise” contains classic Nature propaganda from the Darwin Party spin office, it was highly unusual for them to print an interview with the enemy without demanding he wear the clown costume. They certainly couldn’t claim Korevaar didn’t have the credentials, with his PhD in astrophysics and a job at IBM.
Darwiniac Steve Jones in particular must be extremely frustrated. He used to be able to assuage any public anti-evolution rumblings by serving up a brief stew of propaganda chunks and fallacy gravy, then wipe it off with a napkin and carry on (e.g., 04/21/2006, bullet #2). It isn’t that easy any more. The public is spitting it out and patronizing ID vendors who aren’t so patronizing in their attitude. It shouldn’t be so hard for him and his fellow Darwin-only devotees to attract their customers back. All they need to do is build a better mousetrap by evolution, or show in scholarly detail how exquisite biological machines invented themselves. In the new film The Case for a Creator, Jonathan Wells proposed a Darwinian test: put a cell in a test tube of nutrient broth and poke it, letting its insides fall out. Now, all the ingredients for life are present. If the Darwinists can put Humpty Dumpty back together again without intelligent design, people would be more likely to believe their story.
The Darwin Party strategists can either intensify their pointless warfare against the popular uprising (02/24/2006), or engage in peace talks. If they choose the latter route, the ID Visigoths (05/09/2006) should not trust the smooth words of the Darwin emissaries. They’re liars, remember? Lying is part of their world view. It’s a legitimate part of how the world works, the way they see things. Lying evolved (04/26/2004); it must be a good thing for showing how fit you are (03/14/2006). Since morality is also a phantom artifact of the selfish genes, a Darwinist only employs honesty, as if it actually meant something, for selfish ends. This is done by the method of mimicry. Darwinists borrow concepts from the Christians long enough to suit their purposes in the evolutionary arms race (e.g., 10/13/2006). Then they either escape or move in for the kill.
Most likely, the Darwin Party strategizers will make concessions only long enough to find a faux pax to make a cause celebre in some school or town, enough to capitalize on it and say, “Well, we tried the alternative, and it failed so miserably, we have to go back to the dictatorship.” If you wouldn’t like to see the Berlin Wall resurrected, then remember: forewarned is forearmed. Certain Darwinists are incorrigible. Like Marxists in Parliament, they can be tolerated only when forced to share power, but must always be monitored lest they plot to seize it for themselves. Don’t expect them to remain civil with just part of the pie (see 11/05/2006). They’ll play along till they get the power back, then the first item of business will be to dissolve Parliament and bring back King Charles. (And then, purge the democratic leadership.)
One useful technique for preventing the East German communists from retaking control was to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall as a great popular victory through pictures and artifacts. Pieces of the wall are popular collector’s items and museum pieces. Photos of the cheering crowds wielding their sledge hammers against the symbol of oppression will linger long in the memory, saying more than books could express. When the Darwin idol finally falls and the Bamboozle Curtain is torn down by liberated minds (06/29/2006, 04/20/2006), and it becomes politically safe for gentle people to admit they had anti-Darwinist leanings, we will need visual reminders of just how vicious (03/14/2006, 03/02/2006) and intolerant (04/21/2006, 02/20/2006) the Darwin Party thought police had behaved, or how ludicrous the claims of the Darwinist facilitators had become (e.g., 05/09/2006, 05/02/2006, 03/31/2006). Some day soon, a cartoon book of Stupid Evolution Quotes of the Week (e.g., 11/08/2006, 07/23/2006), paired with The Far Side, could make a nice stocking stuffer for post-Darwinist high school students. Darwin Party strategists trying to polish the idol (02/10/2006) are not likely to succeed with people snickering and suggesting it be re-erected in the carnival dunking booth.
Artists, you could have a hand in this. Let the news inspire your next masterpiece; perhaps something like a sculpture of Darwin and Stalin embracing in a quicksand of facts, or Dawkins and Dennett engaged in a futile battle against an army of biological machines. A scene of scientists bowing before a big Darwin buddha (07/18/2006), with the title “Fundamentalists,” might work. More seriously, the most effective memorial might be to superimpose some of the worst Darwin rhetoric (e.g., 07/06/2006), 05/09/2006) engraved in cold steel, over scenes of the good, the true, and the beautiful.