40 days and 40 nights


I have been forgetting to mention that Darwin descendant Matthew Chapman‘s book 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin®, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania has just appeared in the bookstores. Here is the publisher’s website with background material, an interview with Chapman in New Scientist, the Amazon page, a review, and Chapman’s February 2006 article on the Kitzmiller trial in Harper’s.

I plan to write a review at some point, but let me say right now that Chapman’s version of the Dover battle is hilarious and pretty much every participant gets boiled down to their essence in a witty one or two sentences from Chapman’s pen. I assume Chapman acquired this skill as a scriptwriter. Anyway, to illustrate, here is yours truly on p. 53:

Matzke, by contrast, [specifically, by constrast with AU lawyer Richard Katskee, who “looked as if he had just stepped out of the pages of GQ”], was from Oakland, California, and usually looked as if he had just rolled out of bed. The NCSE staffer initially assigned to the Dover flare-up, he now briefed the lawyers on the arcane ins and outs of science. Bespectacles, in his thirties, he was tall and large and peered down at you with a look of beleaguered doubt, as if to say, “You’re asking me this question about science, but you know and I know that you’re not going to understand my answer, so, although I find this stuff fascinating, wouldn’t you really rather go for a beer?”

True enough I’m afraid…


I’d rather go for a beer.

Thanx, I found it amusing at the end of a long day…

I suppose if Billy D had turned up at the trial he might have given a look which said?

“You’re asking me this question about science, but you know and I know that I don’t understand it, so, although I find this stuff profitable, wouldn’t you really rather come to church?”

Yet another example of evolutionists indulging in shameless self-promotion… typical. No IDist would EVER do such a thing!

Hey, no one ever accused Chapman of being a historian or anything. The book is a humorous reflection from a Brit on a fairly bizarre American phenomenon.

What, did he make fun of you in the book or something?

One of the lessons of the Jesus story is that great things may come from unimpressive places, in unimpressive packages. We have to use our own reason to determine truth from fiction, our own methods to separate wheat from chaff.

Which means, the value of Mr. Chapman’s account is not in him nor in his heritage, but in his writing.

He tells important parts of the story, in readable fashion. He takes a dull event and makes it worth paying attention to. Plus, I suspect, he gets closer to the truth than many people are comfortable with. Such as, do we really owe our thanks in this case to the Wizard of Oz? Teachers everywhere, pay attention …

I enjoyed reading Chapman’s book. It brought a number of chuckles and a few out-right laughs. The strongest feature of the book was his apparent concern and even fondness for nearly all involved. His quick character sketches humanized the participants in ways that I had not perceived from reading, and even meeting some of the principals.

That said, there were some features that I found odd. My biggest surprise was that Chapman made no mention at all of the famous “Of Pandas and People” “cdesign proponentsists” gaff exposed in Barbara Forrest’s testimony. I had been anticipating that his reaction to such a blatant con-job would be particularly amusing. But there was no mention- none. I reread the chapter to see if I had missed it, and then I even checked the page numbers to be sure nothing mechanical had failed. But there was no “cdesign proponentsists” to be found.

Michael Behe’s cross examination by Eric Rothschild had similar omissions where I wished Chapman’s talent for observation had been given play. For example, Chapman spends some time on Rothschild and Behe going back and forth over the question of the evolution of the adaptive immune system (190-193). A portion of this was a bit of “theater” where Rothschild stacks piles and piles of published research on the evolution of the immune system in front of Behe, who has claimed in testimony that no such research exists. Chapman seemed to have missed that while doing so Rothschild handed Behe several massive textbooks relevant to just this question, and after a time, Behe asked, “Mr. Rothschild, would you like your books back? They’re heavy.”

Chapman incorrectly called the immune system exchange “Rothschild’s last attack on Behe” (190). This lead to the glaring omission of Rothschild’s cross examination of the analogy of “intelligent design detection al la the ID creationists, and the real science of archaeology. This followed the lunch break on Day 12 of the trial, and perhaps Chapman never made it back into the courtroom that afternoon. Few would blame him, and fewer notice but me! This is because his omission also stepped all over my 2.5 seconds of Dover fame. Rothschild used as a portion of his challenge my chapter on archaeology and forensics from “Why Intelligent Design Fails” (Young and Edis 2004). The end of Behe’s cross examination was Rothschild’s observation that, “Science fiction movies are not science, are they, Professor Behe?” Behe’s answer was irrelevant and this exchange found its way into the Judge’s decision.

The real quality of Chapman’s writing, observation, and humanity is in a last scene set at the end of the trial (250-251). On one side of the street the plaintiffs, their lawyers, their families, the support crew (including Nick Matzke), and others meet in celebration and good cheer. On the other side of the street, the defence attorneys sat alone.

I could almost feel sorry for the bastards.

Interesting points, Gary! One correction, the “cdesign proponentists” bit was actually not presented in trial testimony. We knew about it but the lawyers decided it was just too much on top of everything else we had. So it was actually publicly announced on PT just after the trial.

Agreed you were robbed on your 2.5 seconds of Dover fame. I happen to know there is another 2.5 seconds coming your way (you will be cited in a prominent publication coming out next month, details embargoed), so your excellent article continues to be useful…

PS: I believe that in Gordy Slack’s book, coming out next month, a footnote has a quote from me about why “cdesign proponentsists” wasn’t used at trial. Trying to communicate this on the phone to Gordy, I said something like, “It was like pouring salt in the wound, when the wound was decapitation.”

Oh No! No “cdesign proponentists?” I gotta start taking those vitamins.

“It was like pouring salt in the wound, when the wound was decapitation.”

Hehhehhehhhhheh hack cough hack … wheeze. heh, Heh.

2.5 seconds more! YIPEE!

Now, if we only got royalty payments! ;)

PS: Glenn just sent me a PDF of his forthcoming article. Thanks to you both. My mother still gets a kick out of my name in print (so do I).

Talking about Faith-Church and Evolution-Darwin, it’s the Faith that wins in the real-time world.

Millions of acres of land being deforested, the land drying out, species dissapearing, 85% (I think) of world population are said to be Believers, they believe that they make it to Heaven regardless if they make Hell on Earth.

The Bible doesn’t say protect the tree or protect the animal from extinction in order to get to Heaven, it says have children and let them praise the Lord, so people do, with each year the world population increases by 75 million on already overcrowded planet.

Talking about the Dooms Day, no Savior can save the world population from the undergoing environmental damage and colapse of natural resources we are heading to.

When the fossil fuel is to be fully exhausted in the upcoming decades and bio-fuel in use, it will be putting human catastrophy on a higher level to exhaust already limited arable land.

There are less features of evolution the Mother Nature arosed on this Planet, flora and fauna diminished or extincted, it seems clear who is winning.

I had this book preordered from Amazon, and finished it a week or so ago. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I makes a terrific companion to “Monkey Girl.”

I, too, loved the way Chapman made the people involved real.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on April 26, 2007 8:24 PM.

Wiley Interscience: Where Legal Threats are Apologized For was the previous entry in this blog.

Cornelius Hunter/Burt Humburg Debate is the next entry in this blog.

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