Saturday, June 25, 2005


ID Rift Gets Wider

Denyse "Buy My Book" O'Leary who publishes the Post-Darwinist blog reports that "Bill Dembski is threatening legal action against the Thomas More Law Center for refusing to pay him for over one hundred hours of time he clocked as an expert witness in the Dover intelligent design case."

RSR readers will recall that Discovery Institute's Dembski, Stephen Meyers, and John Campbell were fired by attorneys working for the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the Dover School District in a suit brought by parents who object to the school board's mandate that intelligent design be taught to students there.

Amusingly, O'Leary suggests that Dembski was fired because he wants to be protected by his own legal counsel in order to protect the intellectual property represented by "Of People and Pandas" the widely discredited ID textbook edited by Dembski. The Foundation for Thought and Ethics, publisher of the book, has asked to intervene in the suit.

In truth, deeper divisions over strategy appear to be the motive force that is driving the two organizations apart.

Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog has been silent on the firings, but they have posted a letter John West and Seth Cooper sent to the Pennsylvania State Legislature opposing a pro-ID bill under discussion there -- a bill that would have encouraged other districts to do just what the Dover district has done.

West also accused Utah Sen. Chris Buttars -- who has written legislation mandating divine design -- with "hijacking intelligent design" by conflating creationism with intelligent design.

Discovery's public position is that intelligent design is a new "science" -- in other words it's not a ready for prime time player -- and shouldn't be mandated. Discovery prefers, for now, to teach the so-called controversy over evolution.

As RSR has pointed out in the past, there is no real difference between teaching the controversy and teaching intelligent design, because there is no substance to ID beyond a few pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution -- all of which, when you trace them to the source are religiously motivated.

If O'Leary is correct that Dembski is threatening legal action -- and at this moment, RSR has no information beyond what she reports -- this would mark a significant widening of the rift between those who want to move now to inject creationism into the public school curriculum, and those who want to take a slower more measured approach to redefining science.

While the goals of each group are identical, they are deeply divided over tactic -- a division that might just cost them the game.

Whatever the result in Pennsylvania case turns out to be, the leadership of the antiscience movement in the U.S. appears to be slipping out of the control of the general staff in Seattle, and into the hands of right-wing activists on local school boards and in the state legislatures.

Even in Kansas, it is interesting to note, the board is not proposing adoption of the carefully crafted minority report -- a joint project by the Discovery Institute and John Calvert's ID Network. It will adopt instead some hastily scribbled revisions drafted by board president Steve Abrams, himself a young earth creationist.


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