Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Creationist Speciation: A Case Study

To those who claim that we’ve never seen one species turn into another, I give you the Oklahoma University IDEA Club. It used to be known as the Creation Science Society. In fact, their webpage initially said:

Welcome to the University of Oklahoma IDEA Club website! We are no longer the Creation Science Society. Our new name is Intelligent Design & Evolution Awareness Club. That’s IDEA Club for short!

Voila, a perfect example of sympatric speciation that happened right before our eyes. The actual speciation event took place sometime between August 18, 2003 and October 5, 2003. Here is their information sheet about the Creation Science Society, from the wayback machine. It says:

We hold that God, conceived of as a personal, transcendent agent of infinite power and intelligence, has through direct, primary agent causation and indirect, secondary causation created and designed the world for a purpose and has directly intervened in the course of its development at various times (including prehistory, history prior to the arrival of human beings).

And here is their new statement, from the IDEA club FAQ:

Although Intelligent Design itself is not a religious theory, the IDEA Club at OU would like to recognize that while we do not have a specific religious affiliation, our mission statement does say that we hold “that the identity of the Designer is consistent with belief in the Christian God.” Our claim that life was designed by intelligence is a “scientific” claim, while our claim that the Designer is the Christian God is a religious one. For this reason, we promote Intelligent Design “as a scientific theory” but “hold, through other arguments, that the identity of the Designer is the Christian God.” These “other arguments” while logical and rational, are typically philosophical, historical, and religious in nature. The reasons we believe the Designer is the God of the Bible are not scientific in nature. Our beliefs concerning God do not rely upon scientific evidence and it is not our goal to convert anyone to Christianity by way of scientific argumentation.

The problem, of course, is that there are no transitional forms. The new species appears abruptly and “fully formed”, as the creationists like to say, in only a few weeks time. Someone get Niles Eldredge on the phone, I think I’ve discovered evidence for the punctuated equilibrium theory of creationist speciation.


  1. #1 TrekJunkie
    April 27, 2006

    The question is, what environmental change caused the anagenesis? As the Curch Lady used to say, could it be Satan? No, more like judge Jones.

  2. #2 shargash
    April 27, 2006

    Silly! When the leopard changes his spots, he doesn’t become a new species.

  3. #3 Reed A. Cartwright
    April 27, 2006

    It’s more anagenesis than sympatric speciation.

  4. #4 RPM
    April 27, 2006

    Along the same lines as shargash (though not as clever), speciation requires the splitting of a lineage into two. Unless the creation science society still exists, I would argue against this as evidence of speciation. More like adaptation.

  5. #5 Jeff Hebert
    April 27, 2006

    I still ain’t never seen no college club turn into no ape, so this ain’t evolution!!1!

  6. #6 mark
    April 27, 2006

    Keep your eye on this group, because it won’t be long before they rename themselves Controversies Really Are Possible Club–that’s CRAP Club for short!

  7. #7 hogeb
    April 27, 2006

    I hate to be picky, too, because this is an excellent post, but Niles Eldridge has nothing to worry about. Punctuated Equilibrium doesn’t work this way, either.

  8. #8 vhutchison
    April 27, 2006

    As the manager of the Oklahoma Evolution List Serve and a founder of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (See URL) I have observed the shenanigans of the OU IDEA Club for several years. The current leader has sent me e-mails calling me a ‘school-yard bully,” ‘slick politician,’, ‘liar,’ ‘sham’ and other epithets. He complains that we do not list pro-ID items, allow for comments (we do not operate a forum), etc. Their claim to fame on the national IDEA web site (and in a news article in Nature magazine) is that they have been successful in getting biologists to attend their meetings and enter into discussions (never mind that these discussions largely involved presenting evidence against ID).

    In the past they have enjoyed an ‘in your face’ chalking of their meeting announcements at the main entrance to the Zoology building, sometimes very elaborate, colorful and artistic renditions. One such involved an intricate multi-colored drawing of DNA that took several hours to draw. Right after they completed it a large rain storm came along and washed it all away. My immediate comment – ‘God Has Spoken’ – reportedly was taken well and in good humor by the main artist.

    The OU club has been fairly inactive since last September, their last announced meeting and their web site has not been updated since then. Perhaps the deluge of pro-evolution speakers (Massimo Pigliucci. Barbara Forrest, Eugenie Scott, Wes Elsberry, and others)during the last year on the OU csmpus has had an effect?

  9. #9 Imnimo
    April 27, 2006

    This is just microevolution within the idiot kind.

  10. #10 Ereshkigal
    April 27, 2006

    This looks more like a problem with taxonomy than mutation.

  11. #11 Scott H
    April 27, 2006

    From the FAQ: “The age of the earth is not an issue related to intelligent design theory, nor is it necessarily related to the validity of evolutionary theory.”

    Do any of the biologists here think the age of the earth doesn’t matter to evolutionary theory? Old earth, young earth, it all works the same?

    This must be some measure of the IDEA members’ incompetence, thinking you can be agnostic on the age of the earth. Is there enough ambiguity in the geological evidence that even a God-of-the-Gaps could salvage a young earth? Or, more likely, they’re just confessing that considerations of scientific evidence aren’t part of an IDEA’s mission.

  12. #12 vhutchison
    April 27, 2006

    Information on OU IDEA Club in addition to that I posted earlier:

    Just for clarification,as many readers here may know,the statements in the FAQ, etc., of the OU IDEA Club did not originate locally, but came from the natioal organization.

    The removal of the ‘requirement’ that a member be a Christian was determined at the national level. As one can see, however, from the FAQs and mission statement, the attachment to religious doctrine is still there.

    The national headquarters also provide materials, films, PowerPoint presentations. etc. to local clubs. The IDEA clubs around the country usually have relatively few members (the OU club listed only nine on their web site). Their meetings seldom attracted more than about 20 persons, a good number of which were opponents of ID.

  13. #13 386sx
    April 27, 2006

    “The age of the earth is not an issue related to intelligent design theory, nor is it necessarily related to the validity of evolutionary theory.”

    Well of course not. When everything can be “poof magic” then nothing is necessarily related to anything at all. Or maybe I’m just missing something with their arguments or something.

    “Maybe I’m just a simple country boy.” — Harry Reid

  14. #14 J Max
    April 27, 2006

    I attend OU and I have not seen hide nor hair of the IDEA club since the Spring ’05 semester. I dont see how they could do too much with a strait face after Dover.

  15. #15 Gerry L
    April 27, 2006

    “Our claim that life was designed by intelligence is a ‘scientific’ claim, while our claim that the Designer is the Christian God is a religious one. For this reason, we promote Intelligent Design ‘as a scientific theory’ but ‘hold, through other arguments, that the identity of the Designer is the Christian God.'”

    That cracked me up. I’m guessing that when they recite this they use air quotes whenever they say “scientific.” Sort of like crossing your fingers when you tell a lie.

  16. #16 llane1@unl.edu
    April 28, 2006

    Another organization to add to my conspiracy page.

  17. #17 blogista
    April 28, 2006

    The most obvious selection pressure would be the Constitutional interpretations of the Supreme Court decision of 1987, acting on the “intelligent and purposeful design” set of gene mutation sets already present for a decade or more in some offspring of its direct common ancestor Creation Science. Creation Science itself is a divergent line from one of the many strict Biblical Literalist lines existing as many breeds and geographical varieties before it.

    Note that Biblical Literalism and Creation Science to this day are still healthy and robust species existing throughout the globe.

    Of humorous note is the ignorant canard, “If we came from Biblical Literalism, why is there still Biblical Literalism?”

    All three species still compete with each other for resources and political space, each often sabotaging the others’ efforts. They will at times, however, engage in cooperative attacks on common enemies, temporarily setting aside their obvious differences in a faintly comical attempt to preserve their common environment of incredulity.

    However, any attempts to further breed elements of Creation Science and Biblical Literalism, for example, mostly end in sterile offspring. Intelligent Design deliberately attempts to isolate itself from both of its ancestral forebears despite it’s obvious genetic similarities, at once comingling with, and attacking, its slower but more resolute cousins. This is an example of a geographical overlap where the two species increasingly feed on different debate and funding resources within the same ecosphere, and thus participate in their own further genetic isolation despite cohabitating the political and cultural landscape.

    In addition to the selection pressures of the 1987 Supreme Court decision, The divergence of Intelligent Design appears to have changed over time via genetic drift, exhaggerating the presence of their pseudomath protuberances and pseudocosmology plummage. The precise advantage these enlarged and colored characteristics add to the survival of intelligent design is not yet clear, however ID does seem to rely on them for balance, since occasionally the vestigial Biblethump, which exists in all the above species, has been known to unexpectedly swing about and nearly topple the ID beast.

    DJ Blogista
    University of Nether

  18. #18 blogista
    April 28, 2006

    And I meant “co-inhabiting”…

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