Running for Office; Running Away from IDC: The John Angus Campbell Makeover

Ian Ramjohn brought my attention to the fact that Discovery Insitute Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture Senior Fellow John Angus Campbell is running for a school board post. He is not, however, running as John Angus Campbell. For the election, he is “John Campbell” (See his website, Campbell 4 Kids).

Nor is the former expert-advocating-teaching-intelligent-design-in-public-school-classrooms (former, because he dropped out of the Kitzmiller v. DASD case just prior to being deposed) even bringing up his history as an advocate of “teaching the controversy”. Or that he is associated with the Discovery Institute.

Does this mean that Campbell’s school district is safe from tired old bogus and narrowly sectarian antievolution arguments being advocated by Campbell? Of course not.

He also says that, despite his advocacy for bringing intelligent design into the classroom, he himself is a “Darwinist.” He says he sees debating Darwin as a way of engaging students’ interest and sharpening their critical thinking skills. “Rather than demonizing people that believe in ID, I think there are ways people could use their ideas to study Darwinism more closely,” he explains.

So, while Campbell says that he isn’t going to touch curricula, and that IDC isn’t part of his motivation to run, nonetheless those IDC “ideas” are still something he thinks would be useful to “study Darwinism” with. The thing is that IDC “ideas” are “creation science” ideas are “scientific creationism” ideas; they just keep recycling the same religious content while applying progressively shiftier and more innocuous labels to it. This is despite the clear warning from the Supreme Court in the Edwards v. Aguillard case that such shams should not be mistaken for anything but religious establishment. The DI has finally gotten down to simply saying that they are criticizing evolutionary science; see their new “textbook”, Explore Evolution, to see this done up in print. Sure, science engages in self-criticism, but that isn’t the sort of thing the DI has a history of encouraging. Instead, what they want to do for biology is like having a chemistry curriculum that spends much of its time telling students that “theories” of heat transfer are just theories and that many credentialed scientists believe that the concept of phlogiston may be a better explanation, such that students either don’t learn thermodynamics at all, just the bogus objections, or end up having an unwarranted lack of confidence in the validity of the field of study.

Science isn’t about being perpetually perplexed on matters that can be tested. Phlogiston is dead as a doornail as a scientific theory, and no amount of flummery will resuscitate it. The same goes for the narrow religious viewpoint whose rotten arguments have been peddled as “scientific creationism”, “creation science”, “intelligent design”, “teaching the controversy”, “critical analysis”, “strengths and weaknesses”, and “weaknesses”. Students will not be getting a good education by spending time getting to know those arguments, any more than they will become more adept at thermodynamics by spending their time learning about the challenges phlogiston poses for the theory.

Theologically, one finds that the IDC “ideas” that Campbell still finds so interesting are, in fact, exclusionary. Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution, as William Dembski has stated, and as many IDC interactions have made clear. Students whose pastors have told them that their faith and science’s findings are not in conflict will figure out shortly that all the histrionics about arguments against evolution really means that, no, science does conflict with faith, at least, it conflicts with the faith assumed by those bogus antievolution arguments. This has been a feature of case after case in the courts where the issue has been disputed, and the courts have been clear that religious preaching, in whatever guise, is not permitted under the aegis of public education.

The one good thing about the article is that it appears that IDC is seen as a liability when it comes to dealing with the public. It should be. Advocacy of intolerant religous doctrines being foisted off on teachers and students should be cause for people to look askance at those advocates. The pretense of scholarly legitimacy for IDC stances was always thin, but what slim hope some held out for it was absolutely dispelled by the evidentiary record of the Kitzmiller case. There, it was shown clearly that the ID label came about as subterfuge for the purpose of accomplishing an unconstitutional aim. The history of the IDC movement has not shown any tendency toward rehabilitation since then.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

3 thoughts on “Running for Office; Running Away from IDC: The John Angus Campbell Makeover

  • 2007/09/03 at 11:44 am
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    Please give my any information that can be used to stop this man. I live in the district and know him personaly to be a danger on many other fronts. Please help
    Thank you
    My Email ourbelfaia@yahoo.com

  • 2007/10/29 at 9:31 am
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    The Kitsap Sun has endorsed John Campbell. Stating “We feel fresh leadership on the board is needed to help clear the air, allowing the district to move ahead educationally without polarizing itself politically”

    I seriously doubt that putting a fellow from the Discovery Institute on the School Board will help “move ahead educationally without polarizing itself polically” as the editors of the Sun state.

    I hope the Mason County voters investigate John Campbell and the Discovery Institute before taking the Sun’s recommendation.

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