The Intersection

Here is how Wells ends his book:

So a growing number of bright young men and women have the courage to question Darwinism, study intelligent design, and follow the evidence where it leads. They know they are in the middle of a major scientific revolution. And the future belongs to them. (p. 207)

This is wildly overstated. There is no paradigm shift going on. This isn’t plate-tectonics. Kuhn doesn’t apply.

Nevertheless, I actually agree with something that Wells says in his last chapter as he builds up to this, namely the following: “Anyone who studies American history knows that telling people they are not allowed to talk about something is the tactic least likely to succeed in the land of the free and the home of the brave.” There’s something to this. Evolution defenders have been forced into the position of trying to shut down the teaching of ID; that in turn allows the ID people to have the enviable rhetorical stance of invoking free speech and the freedom of ideas. Wells is wrong that a scientific revolution is happening, but right that our strategy needs a lot of work.

In fact, there’s something else about the strategy inherent in Wells’ book that bears noting. Last year, you will recall, ID suffered its greatest defeat ever. A federal judge unmasked it, threw it out of court, called it not science, an updated form of creationism, and so on. And yet here Wells is claiming victory. This, again, is a cunning strategy: Don’t linger on your losses. Project strength.

Still, the IDistas do have some bile to direct towards the man who did them the most damage, Judge Jones. Not only does Wells attack “judicial megalomaniacs” at one point. There’s this, which I found troubling:

Judge John E. Jones III was so impressed by the testimony and materials presented by the Darwinists that he apparently didn’t bother to read much of the material presented by their critics, and he came down squarely on the side of the ACLU. (p. 155)

Using words like “apparently” doesn’t legitimize this kind of speculation. Wells can’t possibly know what material Judge Jones did or didn’t read in preparing his decision.

By the way, Wells also has this to say:

defining science as the search for natural explanations leads to serious problems. Miracles might really happen. Laboratory experiments generally focus on phenomena that obey natural regularities, for which appeals to miracle would be inappropriate. But if God does work miracles, whether in the present or in the past, we would be seriously mistaken to insist that they can be explained by natural regularities. Acts of God that take place in the real world would have objective effects, and if methodological naturalism prevents us from even considering an essential element in their causation, but claims to lead to the truth, then it is the same as metaphysical naturalism. (p. 133-134)

You see where this train of logic leads, of course. I can just badly assert that a miracle happened to me today. I can’t provide any evidence that you would accept, of course. But believe me, it happened.


  1. #1 J-Dog
    August 22, 2006

    I would only believe in miracles if Wells, Luskin, Behe and Dembski et al finally go public and admit that they were just kidding, and it’s all been a big scam for them to make money without actually working for a living. Now THAT would be a miracle.

  2. #2 matthew
    August 22, 2006

    Well you know, if in fact there are more and more people researching ID now because the “man” (which is, in this case, 99.99% of scientific community) says that ID is junk then I actually think that’s a GOOD thing. Why? Well, because that means as more and more people find out that ID is junk, it’s demise will be hastened.

  3. #3 Corkscrew
    August 22, 2006

    Don’t linger on your losses. Project strength.

    Of course, the problem here is that to scientists the most interesting areas of a field will always be those that are throwing up problems. Which means that, if we focus entirely on evolution’s strengths when discussing it with laymen, ID proponents can then draw unfavourable comparisons between the certainty demonstrated in our PR work and the uncertainty demonstrated in “internal” documents. This makes it look like there’s some sort of conspiracy going on.

    ID doesn’t do any research so doesn’t have this sort of dilemma.

  4. #4 Dark Tent
    August 22, 2006

    “Wells is wrong that a scientific revolution is happening, but right that our strategy needs a lot of work.”

    It’s not so much a strategy as a policy: to inist on teaching only science in science class.

    It may not be the best strategy, but its definitely the best policy.

    There is one very ironic thing about all this. Conservatives always criticize liberal academics for their inistance on political correctness and “equal time for all views” and in the one area where the academics have resisted political correctness — science — they get clobbered by the Conservatives for not giving equal time to all (including religious) views.

    There is no way you can “win” complete victory against such people — only keep them at bay.

  5. #5 Anonymous
    August 22, 2006

    What bugs me is that you won’t just be having a logical debate… he’ll actually be debating you on FACTS. E.g. you may have different “opinions” about how many scientists support ID. I would make a list of facts that he’s likely to deny and then have some clever rebuttals ready.

  6. #6 Steve T
    August 22, 2006

    I agree with Dark Tent. I teach evolutionary biology at the college level and I DON’T teach ID. And I don’t give a rat’s behind whether or not it is good *strategy.* There is no science in ID and it shouldn’t have a place in the science curriculum. I DO teach about the scientific challenges/unknowns in evolutionary theory, so in a sense I follow through on the IDista call to “teach the controversy.” But I limit myself to the controversies that are science-based. I don’t pretend that science is the ONLY way of knowing about the world, but it IS the way of knowing that defines the domain of my class, and I draw the line at teaching controversies that are outside of that domain. Any “strategy” that involves letting THAT elephant in the door will only lead to disaster.

  7. #7 mark
    August 23, 2006

    Did Wells provide a discussion of how miracles could be studied? I suspect this might be a tad difficult, especially for those miracles that might have occurred in the past, and were only described many many years after they allegedly occurred. Perhaps the local university could hire one of those New Age “channelers” to provide accounts directly from Noah, Moses, and Balaam. Would the laboratory be required to construct special containment facilities for the testing of miracles? Who would be liable if some miraculous thing escaped the lab and resulted in serious environmental impacts?

  8. #8 rubble
    August 23, 2006

    Actually, Wells can “know what material Judge Jones did or didn’t read in preparing his decision” — assuming, of course, that Judge Jones limited his decision to the materials introduced in the case. Indeed, one of the more interesting moments was Jones striking an amici curiae brief, filed on behalf on Stephen Meyer and William Dembski of the Discovery Institute — meaning that Jones excluded any consideration of material following solely from that source. As both Meyer and Dembski were scheduled to testify, but were subsequently withdrawn from such testimony, Jones rightfully saw through this attempt to introduce their testimony without exposure to cross-examination. The bottom line: ID proponents had their chance to present their best case, fairly and impartially, and they blew it — big time. IMO Wells bears partial responsibility for the ID defense impotence in the Dover case, and you should hammer him on that.

  9. #9 umilik
    August 23, 2006

    “….bright young men and women have the courage to question Darwinism, study intelligent design, and follow the evidence where it leads”

    That would be the evidence as described in the bible, right ? Not the kind one actually derives from controlled experiments and other such tedious and godless undertakings.

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