Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Nick Matzke has an excellent post at the Panda’s Thumb poking a rather sizable hole in the latest ID strategy and the rhetoric used to defend it. The seeds of this strategy were sown in Ohio in 2002, where the Discovery Institute was pushing for inclusion of intelligent design in public school science classrooms in that state. They didn’t quite have the votes on the board to get that done, so they settled for a fallback position: teaching “critical analysis” of evolutionary theory – which, of course, just means teaching all the ID arguments without using that label. They are now pursuing that strategy across the nation, including here in Michigan and in Kansas.

Here’s the funny part: when you point out that “critical analysis of evolution” really just means teaching all the ID arguments, the ID advocates scream bloody murder. Nick quotes a typical ID response: “A favorite Darwinist conspiracy theory is to claim that education policies requiring critical analysis of evolution are simply a guise for teaching intelligent design.” Ah yes, it’s a conspiracy theory! It’s sheer lunacy! But Nick goes on to point out many of the obvious connections between “critical analysis of evolution” and ID.

I’ll add one more to the list. When the House Education Committee in Michigan held hearings on a bill that would require teaching students to “critically evaluate” scientific theories “including, but not limited to, the theories of global warming and evolution” (what a coincidence that those just happen to be the two theories that conservatives generally object to, eh?), the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Moolenaar, got up and cried in mock outrage at those who would dare to call his bill a way to sneak ID into the classroom, despite the fact that he has sponsored multiple bills that would explicitly put ID into the schools over the past few years.

He then introduced Ralph Seelke, an ID advocate, to support the bill and Seelke himself also feigned shock at how anyone could possibly think that this bill would open the door to ID in science classes. But he then proceeded to run down a litany of all of the big ID arguments, from irreducible complexity to the cambrian explosion. He specifically cites Phillip Johnson and Michael Behe. Gosh, where would anyone ever get the idea that “critical analysis of evolution” is just a new label for all the old ID arguments?

The fact is that ID is nothing but arguments against evolution. Dembski’s explanatory filter begins by having to rule out evolution as an explanation. Behe’s irreducible complexity begins by ruling out evolution as an explanation. The entire focus of Wells’ book Icons of Evolution is on rehashing arguments against evolution, every single one of them being identical to arguments found in young earth creationist material for decades prior to that. ID is nothing but an attempt to knock down evolution in order to allow for ID as the “god of the gaps” default position. And Nick does an excellent job of interrupting their little semantic game.