Forrest States it Plain

The Center for Inquiry offers up this excellent summary (PDF format) of the nature and goals of Intelligent Design Creationism. Its author is philosopher Barbara Forrest, whose expert testimony in the Dover trial played a significant role in the successful outcome of the case. Think of it as the Cliff’s Notes version of her excellent book (coauthored with Paul Gross) Creationism’s Trojan Horse, coupled with an update on relevant happenings since the book’s publication. Well worth a look.

Of course, ID folks react to Forrest the way vampires react to sunlight. Here’s William Dembski responding in full whimper mode:

As you link to read the following by Barbara Forrest, ask yourself if ID proponents are really that big a threat to the body politic and if in fact it isn’t the dogmatic materialists, such as Barbara, who pose the bigger threat to our democratic institutions. Also ask yourself who is drawing on public funds to promote his/her point of view (hint: the notorious “Wedge Strategy” is not tax-supported).

Well, at least he’s on a first-name basis with her.

There’s something ironic in Dembski bragging that the Wedge Strategy is not tax-supported. The whole point of Forrest’s essay is that the ID folks are trying to coopt the educational and political systems in this country to promote their religious views. She proves very effectively, with page after page of examples and documentation, that the ID movement is a wholly owned subsidiary of the religious right. It’s not by choice that the Wedge Strategy is not tax-supported.

Even sillier is the response of Larry Caldwell, over at the Discovery Institute’s blog:

One of the key expert witnesses for the ACLU in the Dover trial was Barbara Forrest, a Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. She recently authored a paper entitled “Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals,” (May 2007) in which a major theme is that, since nearly all of the leading intelligent design proponents are Christians who have expressed a preference for a Christian influenced culture, their scientific efforts cannot be trusted as bona fide science. Forrest’s claim, echoing a common theme of Darwinists, is that since the vast majority of intelligent design promoters are Christians, their scientific work must necessarily be so biased by their religious beliefs as to be compromised. On this basis, Forrest essentially argues that anything Christian proponents of intelligent design say about science must be rejected as real science. (Emphasis added.)

That bold-face part is total nonsense, of course. You will search Forrest’s essay in vain for any suggestion that you should dismiss ID’s scientific claims because its leading proponents are Christians. Instead she references various refutations of ID claims by scientists, and then goes about her stated business of exposing the goals and intentions of the movement. She finds that the goals and nature of the movement are religious, and have little to do with the advancement of science. She could hardly find otherwise.

ID’s scientific claims should be rejected because they are totally and laughably wrong. The intentions of the leading mouthpieces for the movement should not be trusted because their public statements about wanting to advance science are easily shown to be false.


  1. #1 Klaus
    July 5, 2007

    Regarding the second quote, I am sure you know the lecture of Ken Miller on the collapse of intelligent design thats flaoting around on YouTube. The news bit about (I think) Pat Robertson warning the Dover residents not to turn for God when the hurricane strikes after the Dover trial cracks me up everytime.
    They certainly know who they are and whom they are doing the whole ID thing for. But to me, it looks like the black knight and his “flesh wound”.
    Btw, thanks for your nice find.

  2. #2 JD
    July 5, 2007

    Creationists always seem to have a severe issue seperating proponents from the things they propose – attacking religiously-motivated ideas is the same as attacking the religious, evolution creates immoral atheists, blahblahblah. Simplistic bores.

  3. #3 Paul Burnett
    July 5, 2007

    William Dembski states “(hint: the notorious “Wedge Strategy” is not tax-supported).”

    But it is. Just as donations to Answers in Genesis and other similar organizations are tax-deductible, donations to the Discovery Institute are tax deductible. And the supporters of the Discovery Institute can also claim tax deductions for the donations they make to their churches, so that means they have even more money available to send to the Discovery Institute to support the wedge strategy.

    But please notice Dembski’s revealing little slip “(hint: the notorious “Wedge Strategy” is not tax-supported).” Not “was not” but “is not,” implying the wedge strategy is alive and well and still happily at work.

  4. #4 Scott Beach
    July 5, 2007

    Jason, you wrote, “ID’s scientific claims should be rejected because they are totally and laughably wrong.” I disagree.

    Richard Dawkins has asserted that the probability that his God Hypothesis is correct is very low but not zero. Similarly, I think the probability that my Intelligent Design Hypothesis is correct is low but not zero. The probability that my hypothesis is correct is so low that the hypothesis does not warrant mention in high school biology texts.


  5. #5 scienceteacherinexile
    July 6, 2007

    I know it is somewhat dated, but I still enjoy reading the article over at Creation and Intelligent Design Watch at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry by Barbara Forrest about the Dover Trial and specifically the “Wedge Strategy”. Just as in the essay, you will find no mention of ID being bad science becase most of its supporters are christian. She does show beyond any doubt that ID is a ruse to get religion back into schools (and beyond).
    She did an excellent job exposing what the IDists were up to in Dover. They knew she would, so look at the treatment she got from them leading up to, and during the trial… It didn’t pay off for them to say the least.

  6. #6 Jason Rosenhouse
    July 6, 2007


    Good point! Wish I had thought of that.


    When I referred to ID’s scientific claims, I had in mind their assertions about irreducible complexity, complex specified information, alledged evidence against evolution and so on. Those claims are completely false, as I said. The basic premise that there is a designer behind the universe I regard as a separate issue. It seems unlikely to me, but it is not what I had in mind when speaking of things that are totally and laughably wrong.

  7. #7 Koray
    July 7, 2007

    Scott, that is not a scientific hypothesis unless there’s a way to falsify it. That is why DI won’t go there; they’d rather throw in some “complexity” mumbo jumbo that’s supposed to signal a designer.

  8. #8 Susan
    July 7, 2007

    Has anyone read Matthew Chapman’s new book “40 Days and 40 Nights”? He gives an interesting overview of the Dover trial. One thing he mentions is that ID is now starting to be refered to as “Sudden Emergence”. I suppose this is ment to remove the appearence of religiousness from ID. Chapman says in “40 Days” that they essentally took an ID reference book (“Of Pandas and People”)changed the title, changed any mention of the words “intelligent design” to “sudden emergence” but left the rest of the text more or less the same. It’s interseting the titles of ID books. I saw one in a book store titled, “The Panda’s Black Box”, I suppose this is a combination of “The Panda’s Thumb” by Stepehen Jay Gould and “Darwin’s Black Box” by Michael Behe. IDers are nothing if not original. And they sure do love pandas.

  9. #9 Susan
    July 8, 2007

    I have to correct my previous post. I looked at the book “The Panda’s Black Box” again and discovered it wasn’t a pro-ID book. It’s another book, similar to Matthew Chapman’s book, that gives an overview of the Dover trial. I have been unfair in my criticism it. The title still bugs me though.