Monday, September 18, 2006
The Luskin Chronicles: No Rest for the Wicked
Casey Luskin, an industrious lad who wants to get ahead in the world of intelligent design, is using the down time to write a projected 10-part response to an article on the Dover ID trial by Barbara Forrest that appeared on CSICOP's Creation & Intelligent Design Watch web page.
Reportedly, on the seventh day God rested. But rest is for mere supernaturals, the ambitious Luskin disdains leisure. He will have none of it. Part VI was posted yesterday.
Already, the word count in Luskin's series rivals that of War and Peace. If things remain slow up in Seattle, who knows how far our boy can go?
RSR admires Luskin's industry, but as someone who also puts words on paper we have a bit of free advice for our young colleague: It is easier to crank out volume if you make it up as you go, but quality in the non-fiction racket requires a certain fidelity to facts -- especially easily confirmed facts.
Here's what we're talking about:
In writing about the hearings held by creationists on the Kansas school board, Luskin writes that pro-science attorney Pedro Irigonegaray's "primary tactic was to interrogate the scientists testifying at the Kansas hearings about their religious beliefs."
Now RSR attended the hearings in person, and we can tell you that what Luskin says is absolutely false. But, you don't have to take our word for it. You can read the transcripts online and see for yourself.
Here are the questions that Irigonegaray asked almost every witness:
- What is your opinion as to what the age of the world?
- Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life?
- Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors?
- Have you read the majority [pro-science, RSR] draft two of the standards?
For Irigonegaray, getting straight answers to these simple science questions from the ID mandarins who testified must have seemed a bit like landing a world record marlin. It required all of his considerable legal skill, a certain amount of guile, and, above all, world-class endurance.
Now, it goes without saying that those who inhabit the alternate universe of intelligent design will never bother themselves to look at the actual transcripts -- perhaps because they fear that contact with the reality based world will have the same annihilatory effect as a collision between particles of matter and anti-matter.
However, anyone who does read the transcripts will find ID Network activist attorney John Calvert asking John Sanford, a retired professor of plant breeding and ID proponent, this question:
MR. CALVERT: Doctor Sanford, when did you switch from atheism to a Christian world view?
DOCTOR JOHN SANFORD: About 20 years ago.
MR. CALVERT: And--
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Excuse me, I'm going to-- this is irrelevant to the standards. And I-- I don't think it does any good to get involved in this.
MR. CALVERT: The rules do not permit this type of interruption.
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Well, there's got to be some relevancy.
MR. CALVERT: Would you please answer?
There is one exception. Irigonegary did ask one witness, Jonathan Wells about his religious motivations for attacking evolution. In 1976, when Jonathan Wells was a student at Rev. Sun Myung Moon Unification Church seminary, he wrote:
"Father's [Moon's] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism," writes Wells. "When Father chose me to enter a PhD program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle."
Is it relevant? You be the judge.