The traveling Discovery Institute roadshow featuring a double bill of John West and Casey Luskin got some attention when ERV and others attended the proceedings at the stop in Oklahoma.
At After the Bar Closes (the online bulletin board that itself was featured in the talks), “carlsonjok” also attended and is delivering a set of annotated notes from the event. Here are excerpts that caught my eye.
“carlsonjok”‘s annotations are in square brackets.
Center for Inquiry has ID timeline – it starts in 1983 (after McLean v. Arkansas?) Not true, ID goes back to the Greeks and Romans like Socrates and Cicero. [Hold this thought because we are going to hit Casey Luskin over the head with it a bit later on. Don’t these guys coordinate their messages? Srsly.]
He seems to accuse Darwinists of taking an anti-intellectual view of Western Civilization by not allowing questions. [I’ll get a little more into West’s tactics in the Q&A session that belie the notion that West is interested in questions. Also see comments above about why doesn’t EN&V allow comments.]
Ron Numbers, distinguished anti-ID scholar thinks the ID=creationism equivalence is a rhetorical device to de-legitimize ID and is nothing more than a smear so people won’t look at evidence. [West talking about rhetorical equivalences as smears conjures up images of pots and kettles. Making such equivalences will become a recurring theme in the rest of West’s talk.]
And my response:
The “intelligent design” timeline… is irrelevant.
The issue isn’t whether somebody put “intelligent” next to “design” before 1987, like the old Reese’s commercials discussed putting “chocolate” next to “peanut butter”. The issue is about the use of “intelligent design” as if that meant a field of human inquiry. Plenty of people before had used “intelligent design” as a descriptive phrase about a property that they attributed to certain phenomena. That sloppy, unfocused sort of rhetoric does indeed have a long, long history.
But “intelligent design” meaning a field of study, a scientific field of study that would have a place in a K-12 science classroom? That usage uniquely first appears in the just-post-Edwards v. Aguillard decision period in the draft manuscript that eventually got published as Of Pandas and People.
West may be able to handwave fast enough in front of a debate audience to obfuscate the vast difference there, but in a courtroom this will be developed at length and such that there is no confusion left for the IDC advocates to hide behind.
So far as I can tell, the Thaxton claim that anybody in the movement had a notion to push “intelligent design” rather than creationism in the pre-Edwards run-up to OPAP is completely lacking in substantiation. If they actually had that, do you suppose they would not have presented it during the Kitzmiller trial?
No, neither do I.
Ron Numbers does think that there is a distinction between creationism and “intelligent design”. It’s becoming an increasingly fringe position. For almost everybody else who actually studies the antievolution movement, the evidence from the Kitzmiller case completely demolished the notion that “intelligent design” represented a legitimate field of scholarly inquiry. And it wasn’t “the Darwinists” that put them in that position; it was the record of their actions, painstakingly analyzed and presented to the court. They only have themselves to blame. They could have taken their own rhetoric in the Wedge document seriously and convinced the scientific community first, if they were going to. They chose to give that a pass and push on with the culture war. It’s not our fault that they did their own cause damage that way, and it is not our fault that they absolutely make it necessary to lay all this out in the plainest of terms.