Monday, October 31, 2005
Part II: Are ID Proponents Honest About What They Believe? An Exchange of Views With Casey Luskin
Red State Rabble recently received a letter of complaint from Casey Luskin, a staff member at the Discovery Institute, about two of our posts, “Casey Luskin: A Pilgrim’s Progress” and “The Misinformation Train.” In his letter to RSR, Luskin wrote, "you make the allegation that ID proponents (including myself) are not open about who they think the designer is [in The Misinformation Train, RSR]."
RSR would have been deeply disappointed if there weren't at least several misstatements of fact in Luskin's note. Fortunately, he didn't keep us in suspense for long -- the very first sentence mangles a simple, easily checked fact.
We did not say, as Luskin asserts, that he is not open about who he thinks the designer is.
Rather, using a post by Luskin on the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog, "Darwinist Misinformation Train is Still Chugging Strong," as a starting point, we said, "Luskin writes that while there are ID proponents who have talked about the designer as being God,
... Darwinists always fail to inform the public of the many (if not an overwhelming majority of) instances where ID proponents make it excruciatingly clear that the designer cannot be identified by ID theory. Darwinists are thus still misrepresenting ID theory to the public because they make statements indicating that ID theory universally identifies the designer as God.
RSR responded to this charge by asking:
Isn't it possible, though, that the tactics employed by intelligent design advocates lead critics to believe, legitimately, that they are hiding their real beliefs about the identity of the designer from the public?RSR went on to cite one example, from among many, of Dover School Board member William Buckingham revealing the religious intent that motivated his actions on the board, ''Nearly 2,000 years ago, someone died on the cross for us. Shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for him?''
Although Buckingham later claimed he made no such statement, his own testimony in U.S. District Court last week makes it abundantly clear that his denial simply isn't credible.
We also pointed out that Court rulings, such as Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, give the intelligent design activists a strong motivation to conceal their intent from the rest of us. In fact, the intelligent design movement came into being shortly after the Aguillard decision.
Internal documents -- such as the Discovery Institute Wedge Document -- give added support to the view that the public pronouncements of the intelligent design movement are out of sync with their private intentions.
Further, we noted that when intelligent design activists believe they are speaking only to groups of committed supporters, they tend to sing out of a different hymn book than when they are speaking in public.
If Luskin isn't satisfied with the examples we offered then, none of which included him, here's a new selection of the more egregious from just the past few weeks:
- During the Kansas science hearings last May, Board Chair Steve Abrams repeated the mantra "I have been a proponent... of empirical science being defined by observable, measurable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable... " so often, that the audience began to mouth the words with him. In a Sept. 22 talk to Open Public Education Now, a Christian men's group, he changed his tune, saying “At some point in time, if you compare evolution and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe. That’s the bottom line."
- At a conference called "When Christians and Cultures Clash," held Oct. 19 at the Pennsylvania Evangelical School of Theology, Randy Wenger, an attorney and representative of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, warned participants that Dover school board members should not have brought up religious motivations at their meetings. "Give us a call before you do something controversial like that," Wenger said."I think we need to do a better job at being clever as serpents."
- Saturday, RSR listened as Phillip Johnson, often described as the father of intelligent design, told a group in Topeka that he developed his theory "to change the subject from the age of the earth and the truth of the Bible" in order to get a hearing in the academic world."
These are but a few of the many examples we might have cited. We resisted the urge, for example, to reproduce the utterly damning exhibit from Barbara Forrest's testimony in the Dover trial demonstrating how the words "intelligent design" have come to replace the word "creation" in the ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" in the years since the Edwards v. Aguillard decision.
The fact is, no matter what Luskin says, the legal fine print offered by intelligent design proponents, like so much other boilerplate, is far from convincing -- especially when it is compared side by side with their heartfelt testaments of faith in a Christian God.
Tomorrow, in Part 3, we'll discuss whether Mr. Luskin is correct in saying that Michael Ruse "essentially repudiated his [1982 McLean v. Arkansas, RSR] testimony about a decade later."