Friday, March 09, 2007


Bad News Happens

When bad news happens, as it so often does for our reality challenged friends in the intelligent design movement, the usual response is to simply ignore it. Certainly, there's been a lot of bad news for them lately, especially on the legal and electoral fronts.

These little setbacks have even been picked up on by journalists who now write more skeptically than ever about the never quite identified mountain of evidence that supports the "theory" of intelligent design.

A new and more threatening development has been taking shape over the last week, however, and both William Dembski's Uncommon Descent blog and the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog were quick to realize the danger and respond (ENV, UD).

Of course the IDiots, as always, brought this latest damaging revelation down about their own heads. Not long ago, The Templeton Foundation, a non-profit that publishes scholarly books on science and religion, spirituality and healing , reported that it had offered grants for scientific research that would support intelligent design theory, but no one in the ID movement had applied.

This embarrassing revelation resulted in some angry back and forth between spokespeople for the ID movement and officials at the Templeton Foundation. Ed Brayton, who writes the Dispatches From the Culture Wars blog, has done the best job of keeping up with the ins and outs of the debate.

Now, William Grassie of the Metanexus Institute, a group that advances research, education and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion, has written on the issue, and what he has to say is devastating to the already shaky case for intelligent design:

What we're seeing here is the beginnings of a split between those who are open to a religious explanation for some natural phenomena -- but unwilling to throw science overboard -- and the intelligent design movement. We're also seeing the fruits of Dembski's journey from being someone with legitimate academic credentials to passport carrying member of the Crankosphere.

The statements by the Templeton Foundation and William Grassie mark the beginning of the end of serious consideration of intelligent design theory by mainstream religious thinkers. When added to the rejection of ID by the courts, voters, and news media, this development could well have devastating consequences for the ID movement.

More and more, I think, ID will be relegated to the same narrow niche occupied by fringe figures such as Ken Ham and Henry Morris. Their early hopes of breaking out of the creationist enclave to attract those outside the insular world of bible college and Christian academy, I think, are now past.


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