Update on Springer "Biological Information: New Perspectives" Volume

As those who have followed the comment thread on the previous post know, the link to the webpage for the forthcoming creationist/ID “Biological Information: New Perspectives” volume on the Springer website went dead yesterday, approximately 24 hours after the PT post went up. This may mean that the volume had already been identified as problematic, and the webpage was put up due to some oversight or failure to update a database.

Surprisingly for the ID movement, which normally cries “oppression” and “freedom of speech” at the first sight of criticism, there has been virtually no reaction so far. The only creationist reaction is from Todd Wood, who is a lone wolf in the creationist movement in several ways. David Klinghoffer at the Discovery Institute (DI) did put a post up at the DI Media Complaints Division soon after my post, but it was taken down before anyone saw it, except apparently for Google blog aggregators.

Since silence is odd when we’re talking about the ID movement, this invites speculation about what is going on. I had assumed, based on the fact that the editors of the volume were primarily DI fellows or close associates (Michael Behe, William Dembski, Bruce Gordon, Robert Marks, etc.), and the language of the abstract, that this meeting and volume were primarily the brainchild of the DI. However, by looking at the talk titles and googling them, and looking at the posts of those who reported on the meeting (e.g. from YEC David Coppedge, also here), we can see that the meeting had quite a bit of influence from straight-up proud young-earth creationists. Sanford-related talks about the alleged decay of the human genome are a dominant part of the meeting, although phrased in “genetic information” infobabble-speak. And the meeting was at Cornell, where Sanford is, and he may have been the main organizer.

If all of this is true, perhaps the whole project was primarily the brainchild of specifically young-earth creationists, rather than generic creationists of ID and non-ID varieties, and by using lots of infobabble the YECs were able to draw in a number of the big ID names into collaboration. This was then further massaged down to “telic processes” for presentation to Springer.

This would match up with the quietness of the DI, who would certainly know the danger of associating explicitly with a bunch of creationists of the Answers-in-Genesis and ICR type. The collaboration of people like Behe and Dembski might have even occurred without the DI knowing about it, as the meeting setup was done pretty quietly, although that seems pretty unlikely if someone like Bruce Gordon was involved.

Furthermore, John Sanford’s “genetic entropy” argument, if taken seriously, proves too much for ID creationists and old-earth creationists, even though Sanford’s Genetic Entropy book got endorsements from the likes of Behe. If Sanford is right, then no species could persist for more than a few thousand or tens of thousands of years, without miraculous intervention. That’s fine for YECs, but it would be a huge problem for old-earth creationism or for those in the ID movement who wish to pretend that ID is fine with universal common ancestry*, just as it would be for mainstream science. The fact that Behe endorsed Sanford’s book could just be evidence that he’s not terribly good at thinking consistently, which I guess we already knew.

However, all this is speculation. It could also be that lawsuit threats are being tossed around behind the scenes by the creationists, since this is now a favored tactic when a publisher retracts or criticizes some creo-friendly piece. I would suspect, though, that Springer has had to deal with this kind of thing before. Every field, e.g. medicine, vaccines, climate science, etc., has a small group of pseudoscientific detractors that can sometimes become quite organized and can target mainstream publications.

(*Note: Although virtually all major IDists except Behe deny common ancestry and many make vociferous arguments against common ancestry that they call ID arguments, since Kitzmiller some have tried to play this down, presumably to dodge the “creationist” accusation.)