David Heddle posted something that made me go, “Wow!”.
This is an apparent glimpse into the innermost circle of protean antievolution, the “Phylogenist” email list. Named so because of a weak pun on Phillip Johnson’s name (“phil-a-johnist”), the list has been operating since the early 1990s. Johnson had decreed that there should be such a list to permit the coordination of effort among those pushing (then) “intelligent design”. Around 2002, it moved from the servers at UC Berkeley to a private host.
Heddle relates that William Dembski is its current moderator. He further relates that the “third-rail” of the list is any criticism of young-earth creationism, the topic that led to Heddle getting booted first from this inner sanctum of the movement, and also contributed to his departure from UD.
This sheds some light on commentary Dembski made upon a question I posed to Paul Nelson at the 2002 4th World Skeptics Conference. Nelson had said that science had reached a decision about UFO phenomena, and no, we were not being visited by extraterrestrial aliens. I asked, given that statement that science can decide things, if high school science teachers could legitimately tell their students that science had decided that the earth was 4.5 billion years old, and not 6 to 20 thousand years old. Nelson said, yes, they could. Massimo Pigliucci, the moderator, took it further, asking Nelson for his personal view on the age of the earth. Nelson, after some clear signs of not wishing to answer Pigliucci, said that he believed that the earth was thousands and not billions of years old. The audience was, to say the least, electrified. Both Nelson and Dembski immediately stated that the [b]only[/b] reason I could have for having posed the question I did was to obtain the socio-political embarrassment of Nelson. That was untrue then and now. I was satisfied with the answer I got, which was fully sufficient for the purpose of answering those who would insist upon mealy-mouthed equivocation by science teachers when the topic of the age of the earth came up in classes.
Heddle’s experience related at the link shows that there is far more to the status of the question of the “age of the earth” than the asserted convenience of critics in impeaching spokesmen for ID. A consistent compartmentalization of science’s inquiry into the age of the earth is still a guiding principle of antievolution organization, as well.