Are ID Creationism Advocates Afraid to Acknowledge Past Debates?

The Discovery Institute’s big guns, John West and Bruce Chapman, had an opinion piece published in the Dallas Morning News,
“Are the Darwinists afraid to debate us?” They were complaining about Southern Methodist University faculty who objected to SMU providing facilities for a DI dog-and-pony show promoting “intelligent design” there. The DI’s approach to this was simple: turn it into a media opportunity by inviting one or a few SMU faculty to “debate” ID at the dog-and-pony show. The SMU faculty were, needless to say, less than enthusiastic about doing any such thing. Enter West and Chapman cashing in on the media attention by hyping the “Darwinists are afraid to debate us” angle.

Apparently, West and Chapman don’t want to acknowledge what happened when I debated DI CSC Fellow Ray Bohlin at SMU last year. As one commenter here put it,

Saw your talk Tuesday night. You were great. I was the lady with the NCSE Reports. I’ve taught HS biology (with evolution) for nearly 28 years. I hate to be “superior sounding” but was that the best ID can do? With his credentials I would have thought he would have been able to do more than cry about how poor ID gets excluded all the time. I was really disappointed. With as much money as they spend on publication one would think they could spare a little for research. After all one good evidential experiment would be enough to get private donors to fund even more. But come to think of it Micheal Behe was once asked if he had the money to fund research what would he do and he said he would fund other people’s research. Makes me wonder if the reason he said that was because he didn’t have a clue how to intelligently design an experiment to demonstrate intelligent design. Hard to do when you can’t even prove the “designer” exists. Glad there are people out there doing what you do. Thanks. MH

I recall an episode of “Taxi” where Andy Kauffman’s character got upset, eventually trotting out the concept of “blotnik”: he would simply declare the incident (Alex sleeping with Latka’s mother) never to have happened. The DI, it seems, firmly believes in “blotnik”. This follows a pattern: where ID advocates don’t do so well, it is treated as never having happened. Same thing with the June 17, 2001 debates at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Warren Nord were matched up with me, Ken Miller, and Genie Scott. You can get the video of a chunk of that online. I call it “ID’s Black Sunday”; it certainly seems to have been pitched into the memory hole so far as the ID advocates are concerned.

And, of course, KvD… the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case is a debate venue that the DI would rather have you forget ever happened. They had their chance to show the world, under oath, that they had what it took to be worth two minutes in the science curriculum of high school biology, and demonstrated definitively that two minutes was way too much time to spend on them. Three out of five of the experts in the case affiliated with the DI withdrew; Bruce Chapman last year said in an interview that he asked them to do that. How is it that a guy who wanted to restrict an “exchange of ideas” in a Pennsylvania courtroom in 2005 can criticize people who don’t care to participate in a DI circus today without immediately being called a hypocrite and sent home with an invitation to fold up his op-ed piece until it is all sharp corners?

ID is not a legitimate branch of intellectual inquiry. It began in the deception of “Of Pandas and People” and ended in the “breathtaking inanity” of the Dover case. Doctors don’t have to respond to demands from snake-oil salesmen to “debate”.

The real issues are that ID represents a narrow sectarian religious viewpoint, not science, and that science classrooms should have the information that is accountable, that is, that has a record of success in the scientific literature. Evolutionary biology has a voluminous record in science, with both experiments and observational studies testing hypotheses, with development of ideas where erroneous ideas have demonstrably been culled, and with application of ideas that improve our lives every day in medicine, agriculture, and even engineering disciplines. Evolutionary biology has convinced the scientific community in the only “debate” that matters.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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