Saturday, June 30, 2007


Bed Fellows

Everyone, it seems, is puzzling over the question of why intelligent design guru William Dembski believes the jailing of the rabid anti-Semite, Dr. Johannes Lerle, for violating German laws against neo-Nazism and Holocaust denial, to be an attack on intelligent design.

Dembski's defense of Lerle has raised widespread commentary -- even as far away as England.

As far as anyone can tell, Lerle's zeal is confined primarily to justification of Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, anti-Semitic conspiracy ravings, and fanatical opposition to abortion rights for women. To date, no one has been able to track down any public statement by Lerle supporting intelligent design.

In a post on the Panda's Thumb blog, PZ Myers sums up the confusion of many Dembski watchers by taking note of his "oddly convoluted leap of logic:"
Are we to assume that if a religious loon hates Jews and considers abortion and birth control to be anti-Christian conspiracies that will allow the hordes of Islam to overrun the country, he must also be a fellow traveler with the Intelligent Design creationists?

Such an assumption would not be without some justification. The Discovery Institute recently co-sponsored the World Congress of Families which featured a veritable Who's Who of notorious far-right, ultra-nationalist, anti-Semites and homophobes on its speakers list.

Moreover, Discovery numbers among its fellows George Gilder, famous for his opposition to women's rights. Discovery board member and chief financier, Howard Ahmanson, is a follower of Rousas Rushdooney -- a Reconstructionist theologian noted for his justifications of American slavery and Holocaust denial.

Still, that doesn't exactly tell us why Dembski -- leader of a movement whose avowed strategy includes drawing specious links between evolutionary theory and the Nazis -- wants to pull a jailed Holocaust denier into his charmed circle of like-minded ID theorists.

In October 2005, Discovery sponsored a "Darwin and Design" conference in Prague. No list of participants has ever been released, but Discovery did report that the audience, said to number some 700, hailed "from the Czech Republic and neighboring countries such as Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and Poland."

Some of them were "interested in setting up organizations to promote ID in their homelands."

Suppose Lerle was among the illustrious participants at Discovery's "Darwin and Design" conference? Perhaps they met him at the World Congress of Families.

In this country, creationism is rooted in the fertile soil of the Old South. It's in the core curriculum of the private Christian academies that grew rapidly following the desegregation of public schools. Is it possible that ID has found a foothold in secular Europe among those who look fondly back to the days when followers of Islam were confined to the Middle East and gays and Jews to concentration camps?


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