Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design is a must read for those interested in the Evolution – Creationism controversy. In particular, this volume is an essential part of the personal library of every science educator, for reasons that I will describe below. If you know a Life Science Teacher, this is a perfect birthday present. If you have a child in the public K-12 education system in the US, or the analog somewhere else, donate a copy of this book to the appropriate life science teacher!
In this important book published by Oxford University Press in 2004, Forrest and Gross assert that there is a new strategy afoot among pro-creationists. What Forrest and Gross claimed four years ago is every bit as much true today. This strategy consists of …
… a no-holds-barred commitment to particular, parochial religious beliefs about the history and fabric of the world … This variant has eliminated brilliantly the obstacle of rational opposition to ideology … The new strategy is wonderfully simple. Here is how you implement it: exploiting that modern, nearly universal, liberal suspicion of zealotry, you accuse the branch of legitimate inquiry whose results you hate, in this case the evolutionary natural sciences, of — what else? — zealotry! … Crying “viewpoint discrimination,” you loudly demand adherence to the principle of freedom of speech, especially in teaching, insisting that such freedom is being denied your legitimate alternative view…
This bold strategy is working, not just with religious fundamentalists, who do not need to be convinced anyway, but with people who have no such fundamentalist commitment and who are in principle well-enough educated to see what is happening. …
This lusty new variant of creationism is advancing rapidly by means of a strategy called “The Wedge.”
Forrest is a philosopher, currently situated at Southeastern Louisiana University in the Department of History and Political Science. She was a key witness in the famous Dover Trial (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District), in which a federal judge ruled (or through upholding earlier decisions affirmed) that religion can not be promoted in a public school, that creationism is religion, and that intelligent design is creationism. This last part … the link between intelligent design and creationism … was based in part, possibly large part, on Forrest’s testimony.
Knowing this was coming, the defendant’s legal team tried very hard to keep Forrest off the stand. She was described by the defendant’s lawyers, in an effort to squash her testimony, as “little more than a conspiracy theorist and a web-surfing, ‘cyber-stalker’ of the Discovery Institute…”
The Discovery Institute, which was involved in this trial in any real way only at the beginning (they pulled out the moment they realized that defeat was a near certainty) tried to smear Forrest on their web site, posting fabricated information.
Forrest’s testimony was critical to the plaintiff in this case. One of the most important features of her testimony was providing incontrovertible proof that the textbook “Of Pandas and People” was originally drafted as an explicitly creationist textbook. (The defendants tried to claim that it was not.)
The key thesis of this book, as indicated in the excerpt provided above, is to contextualize and describe (functionally and historically) the strategy crafted by the Discovery Institute and others to literally sneak past the religion/science boundary, in a number of ways. This strategy, now vehemently denied yet predictably and consistently followed by the Discovery Institute, is a somewhat evolved variant of the Wedge Strategy, outlined in this document. Creationism’s Trojan Horse is an account of this strategy, and an argument that every science educator and school administrator should read, in order to provide the background and, literally, training, to recognize the Trojan Horse when it comes to the gate. Teachers need to develop a significant degree of self confidence in this area in order to deal effectively with creationist students and parents, less than supportive colleagues, and sometimes ignorant (of this issue) administrators. Of all of the books related to this controversy, I would recommend that teachers read two or three (minimally), and this is one of them.