When, a week or two ago, Tennessee’s proposed antievolution law came back from the dead and suddenly looked like it had a real chance of passing, the only creationist who expressed opposition was Todd Wood of Bryan College. Yes, that’s William Jennings Bryan College, named after the famous antievolutionist of the 1920s who criss-crossed the nation promoting laws banning the teaching of evolution, and who battled Clarence Darrow in the (first but perhaps not only, if this law passes) Tennessee Monkey Trial.
Wood opposed the law on grounds that it was unnecessary – teachers already possess freedom to teach about real scientific controversies (ID/creationism are not, of course), subject of course to whatever curriculum and testing requirements there are.
Wood’s argument as stated wasn’t all that convincing, really – the law is necessary if your goal is to push creationism in public schools without getting in trouble, for instance. My gut instinct is that what was really going on was that Wood, for a long time one of the only self-critical, independent, and somewhat realistic voices within creationism, just doesn’t think that pushing ID/creationism via government power and the public schools is a good idea. It’s not even good for creationism – pushing your ideas in the public schools before they are accepted in the scientific community will instantly discredit your movement within science; it leads to heated political battles rather than academic discussion; and inevitably it has historically led to expensive and embarrassing court defeats for creationism, and tighter legal restrictions against teaching creationism.
So I bet that’s what Wood’s actual feeling was. However, he was writing to the governor of Tennessee, so perhaps framing his opposition in terms of necessity was done for that purpose.
However, I suspect that something has changed for Wood, because his posted letter to the governor has been taken down. Here’s the original link, it’s not there. So what happened? Did someone at Bryan College object to a creationist going off-message? Did someone at the Discovery Institute get worried about the influence that a Tennessee-based professional creationist opposing the law would have, and call up Bryan College or Wood himself and start harassing them? On any scenario you postulate, it’s pretty odd behavior, since Wood has long said what he thought, even when it was unpopular with other ID/creationists.
Usually I save things like this, when a creationist does something unusual and inconvenient for the movement, and it seems like it might get taken down later. But I didn’t do that in this case – so if anyone has the text, post it here (it was an open letter to the governor, after all).