California Wild: The Revised Version


NCSE notes the re-appearance of Dr. Eugenie Scott’s article in California Wild Re-Posts “In My Backyard”.

And here is the article with the edits shown.


Well, I can see why Caldwell was so upset that he had to file suit. Not.

What a prat.

c’mon. it was always obvious the whole suit was just a ploy. It’s amazing to me how so many supposedly “neutral” folks in this “debate” profess the science side as the one that is conniving and immoral.


For anyone wondering where this all came from, here are the background posts concerning the issue:

Nuisance libel lawsuit against Eugenie Scott”

Spinning Libelously

Long story short: Caldwell sues NCSE over what is at best only a trivial error in Scott’s Cal Wild article, tells copious lies about in his press release (rather ironic, given that it’s a libel suit), and then crows major victory when Scott agrees to retract the minor error, which is unconnected to any of the article’s actual substance. The NSCE link showing the corrections is a great way to see just how utterly inconsequential Scott’s “libel” really was. But do read the previous entries to see just how low-down and slimy those jokers can get when trying to score a political point. It’s truly sad.

It seems to me, a nonlawyer, that Caldwell’s suit could reasonably have been considered a Slapp suit - a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Such suits have been used by corporations and developers to intimidate citizens who oppose the corporations or developers’ interests. I think Slapp suits have also been brought in California against citizens who signed recall petitions against local elected officials. Several commenters to the article, “Nuisance libel lawsuit against Eugenie Scott,” also thought that the suit was a Slapp suit and noted that Califiornia has anti-Slapp laws. Why was Caldwell’s suit not a Slapp suit? If a judge had found it a Slapp suit, Caldwell could have been penalized for having filed it.

Is it unfair to read Caldwell’s press releases and suit settlement as saying it’s almost criminal to be creationist? Isn’t that what he claimed the libel was?

not too far from it;

i think the whole point of this was to further paint creationists/IDers as “victims” that would be so discriminated against that being labeled one was tantamount to libel.

just another brick in the wall the people behind all this are trying to build.

Can we add water as soon as they finish the wall around themselves?

Actually, NCSE’s report that California Wild had “re-posted” Eugenie Scott’s article was but the latest example of science fiction from the National Center for Science Fiction.

The truth is that the California Academy of Sciences has NOT re-posted Scott’s article –even in its “corrected” form– and has no plans to do so.

As for NCSE’s attempt to minimize the admitted factual misstatements in Scott’s article, the fact that her own publisher considers the article too flawed to post –even in its “corrected” form– speaks volumes.


The real truth is that California Wild did re-post the corrected article. I can provide an MHT or PDF of the page in substantiation of this fact if necessary. No, they aren’t showing this article currently. Mr. Caldwell’s interpretation of events is not the only one that fits the available facts.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 3, column 33, byte 253 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/mach/5.18/XML/ line 187.

Hey, Larry, were you sick the day of kindergarten that they discussed the difference between present and past tense?

Over the years, we have seen many cases where creationists show a tendency to be integrity-challenged, engaging in everything from quote-mining, making up “facts” and misrepresentation of scientific concepts. Suppose they were sued for each such slip; the Nation Debt would be paid off quicker than you could say “tax cuts for the wealthy.”

While we have Larry here in attendance, let’s point out Phillip Johnson’s work on defining the term, creationist.

Phillip E. Johnson Wrote:

The answer to that question lies in the definition of five key terms. The terms are creationism, evolution, science, religion, and truth. Once we understand how these words are used in evolutionary discourse, the continued ascendancy of neo-Darwinism will be no mystery and we need no longer be deceived by claims that the theory is supported by “overwhelming evidence.” I should warn at the outset, however, that using words clearly is not the innocent and peaceful activity most of us may have thought it to be. There are powerful vested interests in this area which can thrive only in the midst of ambiguity and confusion. Those who insist on defining terms precisely and using them consistently may find themselves regarded with suspicion and hostility, and even accused of being enemies of science. But let us accept that risk and proceed to the definitions.

The first word is creationism, which means simply a belief in creation. In Darwinist usage, which dominates not only the popular and profession scientific literature but also the media, a creationist is a person who takes the creation account in the Book of Genesis to be true in an very literal sense. The earth was created in a single week of six 24-hour days no more that 10,000 years ago; the major features of the geological were produced by Noah’s flood; and there have been no major innovations in the forms of life since the beginning. It is a major theme of Darwinist propaganda that the only persons who have any doubts about Darwinism are young-earth creationists of this sort, who are always portrayed as rejecting the clear and convincing evidence of science to preserve a religious prejudice. The implication is that citizens of modern society are faced with a choice that is really no choice at all. Either they reject science altogether and retreat to a pre-modern worldview, or they believe everything the Darwinists tell them.

In a broader sense, however, a creationist is simply a person who believes in the existence of a creator, who brought about the existence of the world and its living inhabitants in furtherance of a purpose. Whether the process of creation took a single week or billions of years is relatively unimportant from a philosophical or theological standpoint. Creation by gradual processes over geological ages may create problems for Biblical interpretation, but it creates none for the basic principle of theistic religion. And creation in this broad sense, according to a 1991 Gallup poll, is the creed of 87 per cent of Americans. If God brought about our existence for a purpose, then the most important kind of knowledge to have is knowledge of God and of what He intends for us. […]

(What is Darwinism?)

Notice that Johnson marks his definition of who is a creationist as both “precise” and his use as “consistent”. So, Larry, Rick Sternberg, or anyone else who gets exercised when the “creationist” term is deployed, can lay to rest any ambiguity concerning what someone means by “creationist” simply by setting forth his renunciation of the content of the term. Something like,

I do not believe in a creator who brought forth the world, or its living inhabitants, or did so in furtherance of a purpose.

[Sign here]

I certainly couldn’t sign such a renunciation myself, as I’m a creationist by Johnson’s definition. (See my essay on Viewpoints on Evolution and Creation where I name myself a creationist. That dates back many years, certainly predating when I earned my Ph.D.) So are all the high-profile ID advocates creationists by Johnson’s “clear” “precise” and “consistent” definition. In fact, I don’t know of any ID advocate who has explicitly made the sort of renunciation given as an example above.

Can we look forward to one or more renunciations soon? I advise not holding one’s breath.

Looking at Phillip Johnson’s definition of “creationism,” one might get the feeling that he is trying to stack the deck. If so, his treatment of “evolution” won’t be that surprising.

Is creation in that broad sense consistent with evolution?

The answer is absolutely not, when “evolution” is understood in the Darwinian sense. To Darwinists evolution means naturalistic evolution, because they insist that science must assume that the cosmos is a closed system of material causes and effects, which can never be influenced by anything outside of material nature-by God, for example. In the beginning, an explosion of matter created the cosmos, and undirected, naturalistic evolution produced everything that followed. From this philosophical standpoint it follows deductively that from the beginning no intelligent purpose guided evolution. If intelligence exists today, that is only because it has itself evolved through purposeless material processes.

However, I can see at least a one problem here: one could be a theist who believes that God was responsible for the Big Bang. In otherwords, the “pre-loaded” idea which Dembski at one point proposes as one possible approach which ID could take.

But of course, he could then bring the role played by chance in evolutionary theory, namely, that of random mutations. However, if God exists outside of the universe, then what may be a matter of chance when understood empirically from within the universe (such as the events and processes which lead up to humanity) could be otherwise for this God. Moreover, when an evolutionist speaks of a random mutation, it is random with respect to its survival value to the organism. This is an empirical matter, not a metaphysical doctrine. (Indeed, there are those evolutionists who believe in “directed” mutation because the mechanism behind mutation may itself have evolved by means of natural selection. Such a hypothesis seems unlikely, but it is being empirical tested – and having mixed results.) For example, one could easily imagine a world ruled by classical physics in which all action is necessitated which would still be consistent with “random” mutations. Indeed, this was the world as it was known by Charles Darwin. Or one could interpret Quantum Mechanics along deterministic lines of David Bohem using hidden variables. As far as the theory of evolution is concerned, all of this would be irrelevant.

Anyway, I honestly believe there are times when it is necessary to address the religious problems which an individual might have with evolution, and moreover, that it may be necessary to address these problems before they will be open to the scientific arguments for evolution.

Given this, I wrote the following paper:

“Religion and Science”[…];t=4&m=1

Incidentally, it has a form of the “God-in-the-Gaps” argument…

Wesley, thank you for injecting Phillip Johnson’s wisdom into our debate.

I agree that “creationism” in its broader meaning as defined by Johnson is much more inclusive than “creationism,” as defined in its narrower, pejorative Darwinian meaning, and that “creationist”, in its broader meaning, is not an inaccurate description of my religious beliefs, nor, apparently, of your own religious beliefs.

But the fact that you and I both consider ourselves “creationists” in this broader meaning is strong evidence that Eugenie Scott did not intend “creationism” to be understood in this broader sense in the context of her article subtitled “Creationism in California.” Consider the implications if that really were her intent. Using Johnson’s broader meaning of “creationism,” this would mean that Scott’s real concern is that people in California hold the religious belief that a supernatural God created the universe and life on purpose with a purpose. As a secular humanist, perhaps Scott really does have this concern. But if she does, the official magazine of the California Academy of Sciences would appear to be an odd forum in which to voice such a concern.

If that really is Scott’s concern, then she must be doubly concerned that “creationists” such as yourself are not only “at the door,” as the teaser on the front of California Wild warned, but actually inside the NCSE itself.

I think you and I both know that Scott didn’t in fact intend “creationist” to be understood in this broader sense in her article. It is obvious Scott used “creationist” with the intent of conveying the false message that I and others mentioned in the article allegedly advocate insertion of “creationist” [in the pejorative Darwinian sense] teachings and materials in public science classrooms.

It is equally obvious to me that Scott knew —before I complained—that I never submitted any Jehovah’s Witnesses books or young earth creationist books to our school district. She still hasn’t offered any explanation of why she said that in her original article. I’m confident that statement was no accident. As Scott herself recently told The Boston Globe, “If you deal in this area, you have to word things carefully.”

I have no doubt that Scott worded the original version of her article “carefully” to state exactly what she intended to state. She only agreed to issue a retraction after I confronted her with factual misstatements she and her attorneys knew they couldn’t possibly defend in court.

Hopefully, Scott really will word future articles more “carefully.”

This is not the first time that Mr. Caldwell has claimed that I maliciously wrote in the California Wild article that he submitted YEC books to the district. Castigating me for my not having explained the source of that error is is disingenuous. After Mr. Caldwell filed suit against NCSE and me personally, my lawyer advised me to not make any public statements. And of course Mr. Caldwell has threatened some members of PT and PT itself for linking to the CW article, is sueing the Roseville school district, and also attempted to subpoena NCSE’s records in regards to THAT lawsuit – you get the picture. The advice seemed prudent. Not being able to speak out has chafed greatly, as NCSE staff and my family are very aware. I have long wanted to get the truth out about Mr. Caldwell’s claims, but have been hampered by his own actions in suing me, and twice threatening to sue the California Academy of Sciences.

However, we have just discovered that Mr. Caldwell has dismissed the lawsuit against us – way back in July, in fact! He had sent us a settlement offer, we replied, and my lawyer and I have been waiting for his response to our reply– but we have heard nothing from him. In fact, although he filed the suit in April, he never even bothered to formally serve me with notice of his legal action! Now, shortly after receiving our reply to his settlement offer, he has moved to dismiss the lawsuit.

He never informed us that he had dismissed the case (which is apparently not legally required, but certainly would have been courteous) and thinking that I was still under the advice of my counsel to maintail silence, I have remained mute. This should not be mistaken for any acquiescence to Caldwell’s claims, nor certainly lack of confidence in the strength of our legal position! But you can’t take certain actions until certain procedural events take place – one usually gets served when one gets sued, for example, and then the clock starts ticking for response. We’ve been waiting around for Caldwell, but I’m happy to say that since he dismissed his lawsuit, I am not longer under those constraints.

Although we are very busy right now getting ready for the Dover trial, which certainly takes precedence over a nuisance suit, however personally annoying this has been, I will soon explain fully the actual facts of the Caldwell vs Scott lawsuit, as contrasted with the distorted version presented by Caldwell here, in Caldwell’s press releases, and in the religious right media echo chamber.

That we would not be able to “defend <ourselves> in court” is laughable, as anyone who reads the corrected version of the article on NCSE’s web site will quickly see: Corrected article

Stay tuned.

What a very interesting and informative juxtaposition the above two posts are…

As I do not want to be sued, I will leave it for the reader to decipher my meaning.

Phillip Johnson is politically savvy, and his attempt to spin the definition of creationism shouldn’t be met with approval by any person who regards words and their usage to be a matter of careful and clear communication. In the law, for example, Johnson’s definition doesn’t cut it, since it would include Darwin himself and almost everyone who has ever had the label “Darwinist” put on them.

In short, the definition Johnson offers is so broad as to be useless. Who is not a creationist under his definition, that creationists “believe” in a creator? Only that small portion of atheists (already a tiny fraction of any population) who hold dogmatically to the idea that there is no dabbling by any intelligence or force in evolution.

One in a million, perhaps? There would be about 300 such people in the U.S. Few or none of them are biologists, I’d be surprised if any of them have any sway over biology textbooks.

I’ll bet Johnson can’t name one. Especially since the advent of genetic engineering, it’d be tough to slot anyone into that definition-by-elimination that Johnson offers.

A more accurate definition of “creationist” would probably be one the lexicographers would use: “Creationist” means someone who believes that Darwin was wrong, generally rabidly so, because scripture into which they pour their faith, if literally interpreted in one of the creation stories in the Bible. Reality is that there are many faithful, of many faiths, who understand evolution. Reality is that most who cling to the label “creationist” don’t understand evolution at all, and hold Darwin in some sort of undeserved contempt.

Like Phillip Johnson.

There is no school of creationism that supports research, for example. I know of no branch of creationism that broadly supports liberal education. To suggest that creationism includes people who read the New York Times science section regularly, and who understand it well, goes too far. To suggest that scientists who advance medical care or agriculture and go to church, are really so narrow in their views of biology as creationists are, also goes too far.

Johnson’s definition couldn’t fly in any court. He should know better.

This is *WAY* off topic…

NPR had a story about California housing prices this morning. You might want to check the NPR Home Page to see if this morning’s “Morning Edition” broadcast is available over the web yet.

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on August 19, 2005 2:54 PM.

Sternberg complaint dismissed was the previous entry in this blog.

Native American ID? I think not is the next entry in this blog.

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