Merry Kitzmas! Times Twelve

Twelve years flew by from the date Judge John E. Jones III handed down his decision in the Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District case, finding for the plaintiffs.

And what a finding that was. The “intelligent design” branding of old-fashioned American creationism took a palpable hit. This was evident when Ohio rescinded its foray into IDC-friendly curricula early on in 2006, and various other places decided not to go that route when the opportunity arose. This despite the voluminous output of the Discovery Institute to try to minimize, delegitimize, and otherwise rubbish the decision. Nowadays, Stephen C. Meyer’s paycheck threatens to be the black hole that will swallow the DI Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, and the public facing output has developed sneering as a major product. Even in today’s political environment, it seems like the IDC crowd is relatively subdued in their attempted interventions. I was really expecting a major uptick in evolution denial this year, and the brand that has been the flashiest in that regard this year has not been the DI and their pseudo-thinktank positioning, but the resurgent Flat Earth movement minus Charles Johnson, with their set of cool celebrities touting how flat it all is. The TalkOrigins Archive could use a new page on the Flat Earth stuff to augment the page we have on documenting the existence of the movement.

As usual, I will point out that we can tell that things are the same when they are comprised of the same things. Creationism came with a couple of classes of arguments, the negative arguments against whatever science happened to establish (via changing definitions, denigrating scientists, denying particular methods of doing science, etc.), and the arguments that tried to make some form of positive case for their position. We can readily see that IDC “positive” arguments are a proper subset of those seen previously in creationism. The major notions that the DI pushes are gilding on arguments that William Paley made back in 1802’s “Natural Theology”. Both brands of religious antievolution (and it is still religious antievolution whether you get some token agnostics and atheists to agree with you or not) rely heavily on the “contrived dualism” noted in 1982’s decision in McLean v. Arkansas and the 1987 SCOTUS decision in Edwards v. Aguillard. They mistakenly think that making an argument against something magically becomes evidence of something else entirely. It hasn’t worked, and will not work, other than in the limited sense of allowing these folks to pick the pockets of the credulous with donation campaigns.

In any case, I am grateful for the erudition of Judge Jones, the determination of Tammy Kitzmiller and ten other Dover residents willing to take an unpopular stand, the persistence of Lauri Lebo and other journalists in going beyond the canonical false balance beloved by press administrators, the legal acumen and assiduous character of the plaintiffs’ legal team, and the sheer awesomeness of our expert witnesses. Most of all, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play a part in the case, and to my colleagues at the National Center for Science Education, who had spent years preparing for that moment to shine on the legal stage.

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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