Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Derbyshire on Expelled

John Derbyshire, the National Review writer who can be so absurd on other subjects but tends to be dead on when it comes to evolution and creationism, has a post at NRO about Expelled. He argues that the many deceptions and falsehoods in the film flow from one central deceit at the core of the ID movement, and I think he’s right. Long excerpt below the fold.

My own theory is that the creationists have been morally corrupted by the constant effort of pretending not to be what they are. What they are, as is amply documented, is a pressure group for religious teaching in public schools.

Now, there is nothing wrong with that. We are a nation of pressure groups, and one more would hardly notice. However, since parents who want their kids religiously educated already have plenty of private and parochial schools to choose from (half the kids on my street have attended parochial school), as well as the option of home schooling, now very well organized and supported (and heartily approved of by me: I just wish I knew how they find the time); and since current jurisprudence, how correctly I am not competent to say, regards tax-funded religious instruction as unconstitutional; creationists are a pressure group without hope, if they campaign openly for the thing they want.

Understanding this, the creationists took the morally fatal decision to campaign clandestinely. They overhauled creationism as “intelligent design,” roped in a handful of eccentric non-Christian cranks keen for a well-funded vehicle to help them push their own flat-earth theories, and set about presenting themselves to the public as “alternative science” engaged in a “controversy” with a closed-minded, reactionary “science establishment” fearful of new ideas. (Ignoring the fact that without a constant supply of new ideas, there would be nothing for scientists to do.) Nothing to do with religion at all!

I think this willful act of deception has corrupted creationism irredeemably. The old Biblical creationists were, in my opinion, wrong-headed, but they were mostly honest people. The “intelligent design” crowd lean more in the other direction. Hence the dishonesty and sheer nastiness, even down to plain bad manners, that you keep encountering in ID circles. It’s by no means all of them, but it’s enough to corrupt and poison the creationist enterprise, which might otherwise have added something worthwhile to our national life, if only by way of entertainment value.

Hard to disagree with much of that. The old-fashioned young earthers did have the false pretense that the Bible can be proven solely by looking at the science, but that pretense was easily shredded. When push came to shove and the evidence lined up against them, they would resort to honesty and admit that they didn’t really care what the evidence says, faith was more important. Most of the ID crowd believes that too, but you won’t get them to admit it. And they’ve worked so long and hard to establish this veneer of being religiously neutral, a baldfaced lie if ever there was one, that they can no longer distinguish reality from fiction.