This Week in Intelligent Design – 07/09/10

Intelligent design news from the 1st of September to the 7th of the September, 2010.

Another week observing the intelligent design movement, another week observing their religious influences and biases. Really, never has a week on the blogs of the Discovery Institute been so charged with religious energy: we had pieces on Stephen Hawking and his statements on physics and God, evolutionary psychology and morality, and the Discovery Channel hostage-taker and his “Darwinian” motivations. For a movement that is supposedly all about science, it sure does talk about religion a lot.

Careful, Discovery Institute, seams are coming apart and your biased underwear is showing through the gaping hole in your expensive pants.

David Klinghoffer, true to Klinghoffer form, wrote on Evolution News & Views about James Lee, the hostage-taker at the Discovery Channel headquarters – a situation you probably didn’t know about unless you’re an American or a Twitter-devourer like me. Of course, David had a go at Lee’s vocal “Darwinism”, but drew some strange conclusions:

We are thankful that James J. Lee, the hostage-taker who invaded the Discovery Channel building today in Maryland, did no physical harm to his hostages, who have now been safely freed. Lee, a radical environmentalist, was shot and killed. While expressing relief that police action averted a greater possible tragedy, it’s worth noting the contents of the late Mr. Lee’s reported manifesto, a list of demands he published online, directed at the cable channel. Demand number 7 reads:

Develop shows that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race. Talk about Evolution. Talk about Malthus and Darwin until it sinks into the stupid people’s brains until they get it!!

For the sake of the planet, Lee urges the sterilization of “filthy” human beings and suggests airing “forums of leading scientists who understand and agree with the Malthus-Darwin science and the problem of human overpopulation.”Somehow it’s not surprising that he was an opponent of religion as well. Demand number 4:

Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is. That, and all its disgusting religious-cultural roots and greed. Broadcast this message until the pollution in the planet is reversed and the human population goes down!

My purpose here, of course, isn’t to suggest that Darwinism drives people mad or anything like that, but merely to point out, as I’ve done in the past, the strange attraction Darwinian theory exerts on some people who are crazy, or wicked, or both. This is a truth that’s suppressed again and again, yet it remains true.

How is this relevant to anything? The application of evolutionary biology to society (as much as that doesn’t really make any sense anyway) doesn’t affect the science. Why would David mention this? I’ll tell you why: it’s a classic rhetorical trick. Get the public wary about the impact something has had in the social arena and they’ll be less open to hearing about the scientific facts, especially if it contradicts their religious beliefs.

David has used this trick in the past, and denied it. He’ll probably deny it again. But remember that they’re no reason for him to be talking about this unless he’s trying to invalidate evolutionary biology. Besides, that’s all the Discovery Institute ever does, invalidate evolutionary biology and promote intelligent design. And this news item can’t be used to promote ID.

By the way, John G. West also had something to say on the matter, and it was equally pointless, verging on paranoid.


On Uncommon Descent, William Dembski gave everyone another reason to believe that the primary motivations behind the Discovery Institute’s promotion of intelligent design is religious:

This [the National Conference on Christian Apologetics] is an important event. I would encourage all UD readers to try to make it to it. I’ll be speaking on ID. For conference information, click here.

Mmm. Christian apologetics. Not suspicious at all. You don’t see William Dembski apply to speak at atheist conferences, do you? Because if ID is secular, then he should have no problem. Except for the whole “pseudoscience” thing.


On Evolution News & Views, er, Universe (probably Casey Luskin in a black, sequined leotard) “wrote” this piece about Stephen Hawking. It’s hi-larious, trust me:

Reached today for comment about Stephen Hawking’s new book, the Universe said that Professor Hawking should receive no credit for the ideas.

“You humans naively assume that ‘physicists’ exist, who discover theories,” said the Universe. “But I did it all. Me. The transitory entity known to you as ‘Stephen Hawking’ is merely an epiphenomenon of the laws of nature, otherwise known as Me, the Universe itself. Mindless physical stuff, the only thing that ever really existed, or ever will exist.”

“Hawking, and that other guy — what’s his face, Dawkins — have been stealing my royalties for years. I’ve got some lawyers working on that.”

“Anyway, I don’t know why Hawking and Dawkins, or Harris and Dennett and the rest of that crew, go on and on about ‘God’ not existing, when they don’t exist either. ‘Noted atheist authors,’ blah, blah, blah. What a load. Physics is everything, and ultimately, the only thing.”

“I wrote this article, for instance. Interviewed myself. Wrap your minds — which you don’t possess, actually — around that, you bits of unreal cosmic debris.”

Oh my. The humour quotient here is almost as low as After Eden’s! But I don’t really care about the terrible satire, I’ve seen enough bad comedy to last me a lifetime – I’m more interested in what this piece of writing tells us.

This came from Evolution News & Views, which is pretty much the official blog of the Discovery Institute’s intelligent design wing, and it’s talking about Stephen Hawking’s recent claim that modern cosmology has done away with the need to invoke God for the creation of the Universe. By attacking Hawking’s writing it’s fairly obvious that they’re effectively supporting the idea that God created the Universe. Why do that? Why link yourself with religion, when you “know” deep down that the Discovery Institute is putting forward ID as a secular hypothesis?

It just seems very weird to me, and I hope it does to you too.


Rounding off our tour of the religious side to the ID movement, Steve Fuller wrote this on Uncommon Descent about an article Julian Baggini wrote about atheism:

Like others on this blog, I am always bemused by the ways in which atheists strive to say convincing things about a deity in whose existence they supposedly do not believe.

The occasion for Baggini’s piece is the publication of Stephen Hawking’s latest book, which apparently concludes that God was not necessary for the origin of the universe. (Since the book only comes out this week, no one has read it yet but there has been considerable media publicity surrounding this one point.) Baggini’s point is that physicists should not be taken as experts on God – even if, as in Hawking’s case, it’s not necessarily to God’s advantage – because physics is most likely atheistic anyway, and if not, then the sort of deity it allows is not one anyone believes in. Baggini appears to think that he’s doing both physics and theology a favour here. In truth, he is slighting both – not to mention the vast majority of religious believers whose idea of God is not tied to the ‘chap depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel’.

It’s clear that behind Baggini’s belligerent rhetoric is a plea for philosophy’s role in matters relating to the nature of God. This is fine, but it need not require driving a wedge between physics and theology, say, by dismissing appeals to the ‘mind of God’ as mere metaphor or (amazingly) singling out the Abrahamic God as the sort of deity that modern physics rules out of court. Both claims betray ignorance of various sorts.

Again with the religion-talk! Why? Why open yourself up for criticism on the grounds of trying to be religious and scientific at the same time? Are these ID proponents stupid, näive, or very, very clever? I have no idea. It’d be great if they could enlighten us themselves.


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