Pennock on postmodernism in ID creationism

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Rob Pennock has a new article out in Science and Education. It analyzes how Phillip Johnson brought postmodernist elements to the ID movement, tracing these elements back to Johnson’s midlife crisis, his gradual turn to evangelicalism, and his move into “Critical Legal Studies” in legal studies, wherein he made up the entire “right wing” of that field. Pennock compares Johnson’s 1984 article on critical legal studies to his later arguments against evolution and for a conservative evangelical Christianity (Johnson didn’t actually argue very much for ID!).

Some of these connections have been noted before, but this is the first thorough academic analysis. The article is also useful for the assembly of references and key statements by Johnson and his influences. A few things I would note: Pennock calls Johnson the “godfather” of ID, which I think is apt, because the “father(s)” of ID would I think more appropriately be identified as the Foundation for Thought and Ethics folks that were assembling Of Pandas and People and getting young- and old-earth creationists to team up throughout the mid-1980s. This was mostly before Johnson was involved; but once Johnson did become involved, he rapidly became the most important voice, and it is perhaps true to say that most of us would never have heard of ID without Johnson, as it might never have moved out of the fundamentalist subculture it arose within.

Another interesting point is that fundamentalist/evangelical theologians and commentators in general have had an ongoing love/hate relationship with postmodernism. Basically, they like the bit that undermines mainstream consensus science, progressive public policy, and the like; but they don’t like the bit that undermines their own strictly and uncritically held doctrines. (Biblical literalism, and its expression in things like creationism, is perhaps the most perfect target for postmodern deconstruction ever invented; except that the people who really care about debunking creationism essentially universally have no truck with postmodernism either.) The problem for them is that these bits are actually the same bit, namely the bit in postmodernism about how truth is relative; so the evangelical/fundamentalist interaction with pomo tends to be inconsistent and tries to have it both ways. Trying to have it both ways, wth the expected result of inconsistency and incoherence, is a general feature of fundamentalist and creationist argumentation in my experience.

One example of the above: John Mark Reynolds, a young-earth creationist, professional apologist at Biola, and DI fellow, is both (a) a severe critic of postmodernism, and (b) nevertheless considers Phillip Johnson an extremely important evangelical, personally hugely influential to Reynolds himself, and, if I recall correctly, claimed that Johnson was the most important thinker of the 20th century or something like that.

Here’s the link, and a quote from the conclusion:

Robert T. Pennock (2010). The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism. Science & Education DOI: 10.1007/s11191-010-9232-4

[…]

However, in the end, there is a lesson to be drawn from this history, though it is not about the details of creationism’s dalliance with postmodernism; this affair, in any case, is not the worst of IDC’s sins by any means. The real scandal is that of the academy in its dalliance with radical postmodernism. Intelligent Design Creationism is a particularly telling example of the postmodern sin.

IDC shows in a striking manner how radical postmodernism undermines itself and its own goals of liberation. If there is no difference between narratives – including no differ- ence between true and false stories and between fact and fiction – then what does liberation come to? Are scientific investigations of human sexuality really no more likely than the Genesis tale of Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib? Those original goals – the overthrow of entrenched ideologies that hid and justified oppression – that motivated the postmodern critique were laudable. But the right way to combat oppression is not with a philosophy that rejects objectivity and relativizes truth, for that guts oppression of its reality. In his article, Johnson began with some harsh words for the practitioners of Critical Legal Studies:

We expect adolescents to come up with grand criticisms of the existing order without proposing a realistic alternative, but by the time one graduates from law school, or at least by the time one achieves tenure on a law school faculty, we generally expect the former adolescent to have developed a willingness to come to terms with reality. (Johnson 1984, p. 248)

In an interview many years later Johnson remarked, “I’ve found that people often say things about their enemies that are true of themselves” (Johnson 1992a), without apparently appreciating the reflexive irony of his observation. His rhetorical question to those who might be tempted by Critical Legal Studies (which he must have forgotten when embarking on his own adolescent challenge of evolutionary science), applies equally to Intelligent Design Creationism and to extreme postmodernism – “Do You Sincerely Want to Be a Radical?” We do not need a God’s-eye view of truth-with-a-capital-T to recognize oppression, but we do need the grounding in reality that science helps provide. We need at least that mundane sort of truth if we are to be set free and it was the sin of radical postmodernism to think otherwise.

96 Comments

I’ve always liked Pennock’s approach to deconstructing ID. His Tower of Babel was the first book I ever picked up on the subject and did a thorough job of displaying the emperor’s new clothes from angles scientific, philosophical, AND historical.

Once again, someone provides excellent proof for why postmodernism is not how you conduct good science.

Although IDC may intersect postmodernism in some aspects, perhaps this is coincidental. Fundamentalism from its birth in the early 20thC has always distrusted “human knowledge” as a source of truth.[1] It in turn seems to have inherited a late 19thC distrust of science that sprang up originally in England.[2]

The driving force behind this distrust is somewhat murky, but seemed to represent a feeling that scientists were holding themselves out as an elite, not to be questioned.[3] There was no hint of relativism here, merely distrust.

I wonder if this could explain why IDC shares post-modernist distrust of science but not its relativism—that postmodernism merely got swept into a phenomenon that was already operating in fundamentalist circles.

==================

{1] Fundamentalism arose when several denominations split into conservative and liberal factions. The conservative (literalist) leaders most often had no education at all—even in theology, whereas liberal pastors had excellent educations, many including science. (Sorry, the reference escapes me at the moment.)

[2] See, e.g., Garwood, “Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea” (Thomas Dunne 2007).

[3] Organizations more frequently put forth consolidated views, rather than scientists as individuals. This period also represented a shift to institutional financing for projects and paid positions for scientists. See Bowler & Morus, “Making Modern Science” (U. Chicago 2005), esp. Ch. 16, “Popular Science,” pp. 367-390.

”…except that the people who really care about debunking creationism essentially universally have no truck with postmodernism either.”

Oh, I’d be quite willing to deconstruct ID and Creationism. If you take their writings and put them in outline format, their inconsistencies and logical holes just leap out at you. The arguments of the irrational fundies are not scientific but moral; and their efforts to interpret science and evolution in moral terms is their greatest weakness. Applying their (moral) symbols and their relative meanings to objective scientific evidence gives us fertile ground to deconstruct the living hell out of them. Thank you! Now I’ve got more essays for my blog.

While many of us have noticed elements of postmodernism in the ID movement, I think that the more hard-core thread running through it and the “scientific” creationism that came before would be the pseudo-science.

And that remains true today with another spin-off from the creationists at the Institute for Creation “Research”, namely Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis gang of ugly pseudo-scientists.

These people are every bit as aggressive in their defense of their stake in the fundamentalist market for a substitute science as Johnson. One can watch their shtick on the TCT channel when AiG does its broadcast and sells its products every week.

Not only are these people aggressive and ruthless in defending their market, they explicitly teach their followers to be aggressive in attacking anyone who is an “evolutionist”; and that includes going to the extreme of accusing scientists to their faces of not understand science. I have often watched lecturers giving their student audiences point-by-point instructions on how to do “devastating gotchas” on scientists and evolutionists.

Jack Chick cartoons are actually precise representations of real characters who believe they are defending their religion against “Big Daddy” scientists and teachers.

Mike Elzinga said:

While many of us have noticed elements of postmodernism in the ID movement, I think that the more hard-core thread running through it and the “scientific” creationism that came before would be the pseudo-science.

I agree. My take is that the ID perps and scientific creationists backed into post modernism because it was the only way to go with their bogus arguments.

Mike Elzinga said: I have often watched lecturers giving their student audiences point-by-point instructions on how to do “devastating gotchas” on scientists and evolutionists.

Do you have a link to those “gotchas” so we can put together a list of “counter-gotchas”? (Similar to the Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution at http://www.iconsofevolution.com/too[…]estions.php3 and 10 Answers to Jonathan Wells’s “10 Questions” from the NCSE at http://ncse.com/creationism/analysi[…]10-questions )

Not only are these people aggressive and ruthless in defending their market, they explicitly teach their followers to be aggressive in attacking anyone who is an “evolutionist”; and that includes going to the extreme of accusing scientists to their faces of not understand science. I have often watched lecturers giving their student audiences point-by-point instructions on how to do “devastating gotchas” on scientists and evolutionists.

True, and they are so bad they even teach very young children to challenge their teachers with their stupid “were you there” question. (It makes you feel like screaming “The evidence is here!!!”)

Karen S. said:

True, and they are so bad they even teach very young children to challenge their teachers with their stupid “were you there” question. (It makes you feel like screaming “The evidence is here!!!”)

Yeah; and I have often wondered if is to set them up for some kind of psychological devastation that will confirm in the minds of these children that “evilutionists”, biology teachers and scientists are just as bad as their Sunday school teachers have told them they are.

Those AiG lectures by Ken Ham and his gang that you can watch on the TCT channel are full of caricatures of scientists and teachers. There is no question that they are spreading hate, distain, and fear; and doing it very aggressively.

Paul Burnett Wrote:

Do you have a link to those “gotchas” so we can put together a list of “counter-gotchas”?

The most recent one I saw emphasized two questions. That stupid “Were you there?” was part of it, but the main one was “How do you know?” And the illustrations of its use involved repeating it at every attempt at and explanation by the “target.”

The irony is that these very questions apply to them as well; but of course the lecture was interspersed with “But we have the answers right here” as he held up his bible.

It is interesting that these “lectures” are shown being done in front of an audience comprised mostly of students, probably high school or early college students. The camera scans the faces to show the rapt attention and “knowing smirks and sneering laughter” that the speaker constantly prompts for.

These students and children are really being set up for what they will get from other secular students and secular institutions. Most will be convinced to go to their church colleges if they go on to college at all.

I see some of these videos at that AiG website Video on Demand section.

But I haven’t found the “gotcha questions” video there yet.

Well they certainly have co-opted moral relativism.

Am not surprised that Pennock sees some evidence of postmodernist argumentation from the Intelligent Design crowd. In his “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”, Ken Miller makes a similar argument, quoting from Harold Bloom and observing that Intelligent Design advocates - if they were successful - would transform science into a body of inquiry all too akin to much of what transpires now in the social sciences, where serious inquiry has been replaced by ideologically driven “research”.

Poor design deniers.

Like Truman famously said, if you can’t stand the heat…try applying for a get-out-of-Gehena-free pass.

It’s easy. All you have to do to apply is think hard about the irrationality of arbitrarily narrowing the focus of your search for truth to what is observable and testable.

Step two is then going forward by contemplating the rationality and logic of exploring knowledge of self and personal experience, which by far has been the driving force of new ideas and discoveries.

Lastly, when you have discovered yourself, and figured out that leaning so heavily on observable and testable claims, was such a slow way to realize truth, then right there you will find your pass waiting for you.

God, the air-con sure feels good.

See what I mean? Can anyone provide supporting evidence for the below statement? How does science = reality?

Seriously. How do you folks keep from guffawing in the mirror? How do you not see the irrationality in such a statement?

Science = reality ???

we do need the grounding in reality that science helps provide

.

Let the nuancing begin.

Steve P. said:

Poor design deniers.

Like Truman famously said, if you can’t stand the heat…try applying for a get-out-of-Gehena-free pass.

It’s easy. All you have to do to apply is think hard about the irrationality of arbitrarily narrowing the focus of your search for truth to what is observable and testable.

Step two is then going forward by contemplating the rationality and logic of exploring knowledge of self and personal experience, which by far has been the driving force of new ideas and discoveries.

Lastly, when you have discovered yourself, and figured out that leaning so heavily on observable and testable claims, was such a slow way to realize truth, then right there you will find your pass waiting for you.

God, the air-con sure feels good.

For your step one to mean much of anything you should have at least one example where what we have figured out about nature is not “observable and testable.” Just take your preferred method and demonstrate that it has resulted in adding something to our knowledge of nature that can be verified. Remember, you have to leave out the observable and testable part. Good luck. We aren’t talking about inspiration, but actually accomplishing something.

You can throw darts at the newspaper and pick the letter that is closest to the impact site and decided to study topics starting with that letter, but so what? What has to be done to get anywhere with any motivation that you might bring to the table? Not only that, but what eventually gets accomplished?

You may see God in everything, but do you have even a single example where anyone has ever determined that some god did or does anything in nature that we can study? Go to places like the Discovery Institute and look up their verified God-did-it list. The reason that you won’t find one is because there hasn’t been a single example in the entire history of human kind. If you look into it all they have is a list of 100% failure where the God-did-it assertion was falsified when we figured out what was really going on. The only God-did-it assertions that are still standing are the ones that no one has figured out how to test and verify.

You don’t like the verification part for a very simple reason. You can’t verify much of anything that you need to. That just means that no matter what you think, none of our experimental designs have to change. Your input will not matter for as long as you are stuck with the 100% failure rate. It is really that simple. You have to first demonstrate that something matters before you can claim that other people are missing something important.

Steve P. said:

Poor design deniers.

Like Truman famously said, if you can’t stand the heat…try applying for a get-out-of-Gehena-free pass.

It’s easy. All you have to do to apply is think hard about the irrationality of arbitrarily narrowing the focus of your search for truth to what is observable and testable.

Step two is then going forward by contemplating the rationality and logic of exploring knowledge of self and personal experience, which by far has been the driving force of new ideas and discoveries.

Lastly, when you have discovered yourself, and figured out that leaning so heavily on observable and testable claims, was such a slow way to realize truth, then right there you will find your pass waiting for you.

God, the air-con sure feels good.

Interesting post.

I am a scientist and an engineer. The results of my research must be objectively observable and must be independent of my belief system – anyone should be able to follow the procedures I publish and get data consistent with my data. I am not engaged in finding truth, I am engaged in finding repeatable, testable explanations for physical phenomena. It is a slow way to gain information about the physical world, but has the significant advantage of producing information that can be considered reliable.

I’m also Presbyterian. I am an active, ordained elder in my congregation. I take the affirmations made in my ordination and installation seriously, including those related to the Bible and the confessional documents of the PC(USA), very seriously. I am in the church because of personal, subjective experiences that I believe were the Almighty calling me back to active participation in the church and its work, which in turn put me in a position to withstand some very difficult personal times.

It is clear to me, from prayer, study, and reflection, that Genesis 1-11 are a mixture of myth and polemic, and were intended for theological and not scientific use. The truths that I find there are about the nature of the Almighty and the relationship between the Almighty and humanity, and they form the foundation of the gospel message, which is not about physical phenomena but about our relationship with the Almighty and our relationships with each other.

I affirm, based on prayerful study of and reflection about scripture, that the Almighty is capable of producing an orderly, understandable universe in which the divine will is expressed through the natural unfolding of events without the need for frequent (on a geologic time scale) miraculous interventions.

I have come to these theological positions following the method you prescribed for finding truth. Since I followed your method, can I assume that you will therefore affirm these conclusions as true and reliable?

By the way, how is your study of endosymbiosis coming along?

Steve P. said:

See what I mean? Can anyone provide supporting evidence for the below statement? How does science = reality?

Seriously. How do you folks keep from guffawing in the mirror? How do you not see the irrationality in such a statement?

Science = reality ???

we do need the grounding in reality that science helps provide

.

You do realize, don’t you, that Pennock is a Quaker?

SWT said:

Steve P. said:

See what I mean? Can anyone provide supporting evidence for the below statement? How does science = reality?

Seriously. How do you folks keep from guffawing in the mirror? How do you not see the irrationality in such a statement?

Science = reality ???

we do need the grounding in reality that science helps provide

.

You do realize, don’t you, that Pennock is a Quaker?

Given as how Steven P has argued that we are fools to trust what scientists say, and not what the Discovery Institute says, about science, and that competition is purely illusionary without giving any evidence, I’m quite sure that Steve P neither knows nor cares about this particular pathetic level of detail.

SWT wrote:

“By the way, how is your study of endosymbiosis coming along?”

So, according to Steve, science is not the way to study reality. I guess he think his way is better, just ignore all of the facts and all of the evidence and make stuff up. Yea, that should get you to reality much faster.

Still waiting for your explanation of all of the evidence for endosymbiosis Steve. You do want to study reality, don’t you? You can get to know yourself on your own time.

OK, this has got to be my favorite quote of all time, from any creationist.

Steve P. said:

…All you have to do to apply is think hard about the irrationality of arbitrarily narrowing the focus of your search for truth to what is observable and testable.…

I don’t know if Pennock mentions this in the article, but I always got a huge whiff of postmodernism from Steve Fuller’s contributions to the debate (especially around the Dover trial). If pushed hard enough, he would admit that there was no evidential basis for ID, but said that it should be promoted anyway to provide a countervailing voice to the orthodoxy. The irony being that Fuller claims to be a staunch critic of postmodernism.

Ron Okimoto said:

Mike Elzinga said:

While many of us have noticed elements of postmodernism in the ID movement, I think that the more hard-core thread running through it and the “scientific” creationism that came before would be the pseudo-science.

I agree. My take is that the ID perps and scientific creationists backed into post modernism because it was the only way to go with their bogus arguments.

Exactly. The mutual contraditions between YEC and OEC alone must have made some anti-evolution activists realize decades ago that they had no other option but to play “don’t ask, don’t tell what the designer did, when or how.” But that is still salvageable as pseudoscience (which they need to fool nonscientists) by concocting an alternate “theory” that merely promotes unreasonable doubt of the current one, and allows the audience to fill in the blanks with whatever pleases them. So OECs, heliocentric YECs, flat-eathers, etc. can all coexist peacefully in the big tent.

How ironic, then, that Steve P., who admitted agreeing with mainstream science (and many IDers) on the antiquity of life and common descent, appears on this thread. A few months ago he admitted not challenging other “kinds” of evolution-deniers. Even though that’s the first thing one would want to do if one truly thought one had a better theory.

Karen S.:

True, and they are so bad they even teach very young children to challenge their teachers with their stupid “were you there” question. (It makes you feel like screaming “The evidence is here!!!”)

Not a very good gotcha and some don’t use it for a good reason.

No one living was “there” when jesus lived, was crucified, or resurrected. Or when god killed all but 8 people in a Flood. Or the Exodus. No one has found the Garden of Eden despite extensive satellite mapping. No talking snakes have turned up.

In point of fact, we don’t have a single contemporary account that mentions jesus in any way. Scholars debate endlessly whether he even existed.

If we had as much evidence for Xianity as we do for evolution, we would have the True Cross, the Real Tomb, Noah’s Ark, videos of miracles, extensive writings and correspondence from jesus’s own hand, and interviews with jesus, the eternal god, on late night TV.

These students and children are really being set up for what they will get from other secular students and secular institutions. Most will be convinced to go to their church colleges if they go on to college at all.

One of my minor complaints about creationists is that they set their children up to fail.

It shows. On average, fundie xians are lower in socioeconomic status than the general population. As long as they lie to and brainwash their kids, they are going to stay there.

The brighter and saner among them realize this. Not all “evangelical” xians are creationists these days.

Steve P. said:

See what I mean? Can anyone provide supporting evidence for the below statement? How does science = reality?

Seriously. How do you folks keep from guffawing in the mirror? How do you not see the irrationality in such a statement?

Science = reality ???

we do need the grounding in reality that science helps provide

.

Just curious Steve P., but how did you get from, “we do need the grounding in reality that science helps provide” to “science = reality”? I mean, a lot of folk need the grounding in food preparation that a cookbook helps provide, but I don’t know of anyone who thinks cookbook=food preparation.

Steve P -

Nice answer from SWT. Here’s my answer.

Like Truman famously said, if you can’t stand the heat…try applying for a get-out-of-Gehena-free pass.

It’s easy. All you have to do to apply is think hard about the irrationality of arbitrarily narrowing the focus of your search for truth to what is observable and testable.

I don’t necessarily agree with this, but it’s utterly irrelevant.

SWT just told you that he doesn’t “narrow the focus of his search for truth” in this way. Neither does Ken Miller, or for that matter, Pennock.

However, ID/creationism is false to him as much as to me. It isn’t false only if I “narrow the focus of my search for truth to what is observable and testable”. It’s false if I merely accept the reality of what is observable and testable.

You deliberately misrepresented the attitudes of all religious scientists, and probably a fair number of other people as well. Therefore your comment was dishonest, rather than mistaken. Therefore you violated the Commandment against False Witness. Therefore if the Christian god exists, it is YOU who will be going to Gehena.

Step two is then going forward by contemplating the rationality and logic of exploring knowledge of self and personal experience, which by far has been the driving force of new ideas and discoveries.

Lastly, when you have discovered yourself, and figured out that leaning so heavily on observable and testable claims, was such a slow way to realize truth, then right there you will find your pass waiting for you.

I’ll let philosophers debate whether this “should” be done, I have nothing against the idea.

Again, you can contemplate all you want, but you’ll still be in trouble if you jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Life still evolves.

God, the air-con sure feels good.

Since you are the one who claims to believe in Hell, you had better either stop lying, or else enjoy it while it lasts.

Lastly, when you have discovered yourself, and figured out that leaning so heavily on observable and testable claims, was such a slow way to realize truth, then right there you will find your pass waiting for you.

We tried that before. For tens of thousands of years. Those eras were known as the “stone age” and the “Dark Age”.

What have we ever discovered by not “leaning so heavily on observable and testable claims”. Nothing that I’m aware of.

One can just picture Steve P. standing on the Jersey side of the Hudson River with his back toward New York City and refusing to turn around and verify its existence; and then further denying all other evidence from the people who come and go from that city. That is precisely his mentality.

raven said:

One of my minor complaints about creationists is that they set their children up to fail.

They set up everyone in their churches to fail at getting a proper education.

There are hundreds of “Reformed” type churches in the community in which I live. They are wealthy, filled with people with money, fancy cars and SUVs, and with political influence and aspirations. Many of them have established businesses in the community. Some have even built an international corporation starting with a business model based on a Ponzi scheme.

The hallways in these churches are filled with bulletin boards with announcements of culture war agendas based on their literal reading of their bibles. Ken Ham is a welcome guest in these churches; they support and sponsor Ham’s talks.

Education is one of their prime targets in addition to all the other political activities we have come to associate with the Far Right.

And this isn’t even Texas or Alabama.

Booby Byers claims to be an employee of the Canadian national government. Obviously their hiring standards plummeted to indeterminable lows when he joined it:

Just Bob said:

How can you folks stand to read past the first “sentence” of any of Byers’s stuff? I spent many years marking up essays for correction by often barely literate high school sophomores. Rarely did I see such a profusion of errors in mechanics, diction, and syntax, let alone pathetic logic.

With a paper like that, my usual response was to mark everything in the first paragraph, write, “Fix similar errors,” and hand it back.

Students arrived in my class thinking that their unreadable BS was just fine because no one had ever told them the truth: that it wasn’t. Their fragile “self esteem” had been protected–until I shattered it with the ugly truth. Then when they actually learned how to write readable English, by correcting all the errors that I refused to accept, they really had something to be “esteemed” about.

As much as I am repulsed by the thought, part of me relishes the fantasy of getting Byers in my English class.

Byers, in my class you could even write pro-creation essays (many kids did), but it’s an ad hominem attack on YOURSELF when you fill them with elementary English errors. It makes you look stupid, thus discrediting your own argument. Oh, and you have to be logically consistent. If you state something as a principal, then you have to apply it in ALL cases, not just the ones that you like. And if you’re not an authority on a subject, then your opinion, or how you “see” things carries no weight at all, convinces no one, and makes you look foolish.

John Kwok said:

Booby Byers claims to be an employee of the Canadian national government. Obviously their hiring standards plummeted to indeterminable lows when he joined it:

Erm, if it’s the same guy looked for before, it’s the Ontario Ministry of Education. Education is under provincial juris diction. I mentioned this at least once before.

Of course, it could be a different RB.

Dave Luckett said:

SWT said:

The more I learned, the more I recognized (intelligent design) was not a scientific theory; it is a religious intuition that has been repackaged to be science-y.

Quite so. With respect, I would go a little further even than this.

There has been no repackaging, in the sense of rearranging or renewing even the outer layers. The total change is to call the supposed act of creation “intelligent design” and the supposed Creator deity “the designer”, but to avoid making any other specification whatsoever, and to assert that this is a scientific theory.

Apart from a minor variation in nomenclature, the only change made by “intelligent design” to the creationist assertion that God created the species severally by supernatural means is the excision of actual content. It’s not so much a repackaging as a mere rewording in vaguer terms.

That rewording is meant firstly to mislead people who don’t understand science into thinking that this is science, and secondly to create a smaller target. Leaving out all specifications as to how or when or where or by what means or to what effect intelligent design is supposed to have taken place makes it more difficult to falsify. But that is purely a political tactic, and a thoroughly dishonest one; and of course, the very opposite of what a scientific theory does.

If anything it was the “scientific” creationism (Flood geology, etc.) long before ID, that made it sound science-y. I have my own suspicions of why: 50-100 years ago the “educated” creationists were mostly OECs, conceding an uncomfortable amount of ground to real science (death before the Fall, etc.). Meanwhile many of the less educated rank-and-file were still geocentrists and flat-earthers, and and embarrassment to those who knew a little science. Heliocentric YEC was a nice compromise. The first attempt at a “big tent” if you will.

But several variants of OEC still had their proponents, and the mutual contradictions among YEC and OEC variants alone were a major problem. Not to mention that none of those positions stood up to the evidence. The latter was not much of a problem for the rank and file because most nonscientists could be fooled by taking evidence out of context, emphasising discarded evidence like “Piltdown,” and using other tricks of pseudoscience. But simple questions such as “how old is life?” made many who were neither hopeless nor in on the scam start questioning all of creationism. And that was not good for the big tent.

So “leaving out all specifications as to how or when or where or by what means or to what effect intelligent design (or creation) supposed to have taken place” is the no-brainer tactic. From what I can tell, that tactic started before the major court cases (McLean, Edwards) forced such frantic changes such as “cdesign propontentsists.”

While ID has added some science-y language (irreducible and specified complexity) language, it has abandoned even more, compared to “scientific” creationism. ID may be more science-y than the creationism-on-the-street, but compared to the “scientific” creationism, it’s retreating even futher from real science. So once again I plead with fellow “Darwinists” to be clear what you mean when you say “creationism.” The people we most need to reach may not infer your meaning from the context as well as those of us in “the choir.”

Yes, I think you’re right. That’s for the correction, fnxtr. Regardless, it is still a poor reflection of hiring standards for that governmental agency, the Ontario Ministry of Education:

fnxtr said:

John Kwok said:

Booby Byers claims to be an employee of the Canadian national government. Obviously their hiring standards plummeted to indeterminable lows when he joined it:

Erm, if it’s the same guy looked for before, it’s the Ontario Ministry of Education. Education is under provincial juris diction. I mentioned this at least once before.

Of course, it could be a different RB.

Sorry fnxtr. Meant “Thanks” in lieu of “That’s”. Anyway, again I do appreciate very much your correction:

John Kwok said:

Yes, I think you’re right. That’s for the correction, fnxtr. Regardless, it is still a poor reflection of hiring standards for that governmental agency, the Ontario Ministry of Education:

fnxtr said:

John Kwok said:

Booby Byers claims to be an employee of the Canadian national government. Obviously their hiring standards plummeted to indeterminable lows when he joined it:

Erm, if it’s the same guy looked for before, it’s the Ontario Ministry of Education. Education is under provincial juris diction. I mentioned this at least once before.

Of course, it could be a different RB.

Frank J said:

Just Bob Wrote:

How can you folks stand to read past the first “sentence” of any of Byers’s stuff?

Especially when he starts with “YEC here.” Those who appear to favor a young earth position usually just call themselves “creationists.” Sort of like how Fundamentalist Christians merely call themselves Christians. They want you to think they’re the only “kind” in the larger group.

As I apologize for “feeding” and straying from the topic, let me remind everyone, however, that these people generally disappear when we ask them to discuss details of their “theory” and differences with other “kinds” of evolution-denier. Note how Steve and Robert are ignoring me and each other. Can’t feed them if they ain’t here.

I’m not ignoring you. you wander off thread.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on March 14, 2010 3:26 PM.

Smithsonian’s Human Origins Initiative was the previous entry in this blog.

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