Twelve months ago I offered a roundup of the "advances" made by the intelligent design movement in 2006, a month-by-month roundup which differed significantly from the assessment of John West. I had started to do the same for this year, but quickly realized that the ID movement achieved absolutely nothing over the past twelve months. They had achieved so little, I was actually not posting much on the subject. Seriously. Sure, I discussed West getting destroyed in public by historian Mark Borrello, and Frank Beckwith quitting the DI, but by and large the year was filled with … nothing. The Disco Institute spent the end of the year either beating the dead horse that is Gonzalez’s tenure rejection, blathering on about Expelled or cheerleading Antony Flew’s conversion. (Of course the latter doesn’t mention Flew’s apparent eugenic sympathies.) Put bluntly, ID has not moved forward as a science one iota since this time last year. Depressing really. I mean, you’d like the opposition to at least try, otherwise the victories are just too damned easy.
To be fair, Bill Dembski gave three predictions for 2007 (wording and screaming capitals are his own) that did actually come true:
- A new ID friendly research center at a major university. (This is not merely an idle wish — stay tuned.)
- The publication of Michael Behe’s book with Free Press: THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION.
- The publication of the sequel to OF PANDAS AND PEOPLE, authored by Jonathan Wells and me and titled THE DESIGN OF LIFE: DISCOVERING SIGNS OF INTELLIGENCE IN BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS.
At the time, I predicted that the "ID friendly center" would be at Baylor and no biology would be involved. Lo and behold, the Evolutionary Informatics Lab appeared at Baylor … and then promptly disappeared from Baylor. In July, it comprised of Dembski, Robert Marks (an electrical & computer engineer), and two students. By September, the wholly virtual "lab" consisted of Marks, Dembski, Tomas English, and William Basener. Currently it is Marks, Dembski, Basener, Granville Sewell, and Gil Dodgen – an engineer, three mathematicians, and a programmer. Dembski’s prediction needs to be modified to "a new ID friendly webpage."
I predicted that Behe’s book would offer no new science and would fail to address previous criticisms. Reading the reviews by scientists of The Edge of Evolution validates my prediction and even within the creationist community, the book has been received with deafening silence – perhaps because of Behe’s admission that the design perspective indicates that malaria was intentionally designed. Tom Woodward’s claim that "in the next six to twelve months, Darwinism will go into a steep nose dive as the result of Behe’s new book" is looking more and more laughable as time passes.
And then we have The Design of Life, a book that I predicted would be re-badged Pandas and People without any positive science of design. The book has turned out to be an abject failure, rehashing the same old talking points and reusing much of Pandas. It’s not going to convince anyone in the biological community that intelligent design offers anything of worth. But then again, it’s not meant to – it is aimed at the general public.
So, at risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s see what we didn’t get from the intelligent design movement this year:
- A peer-reviewed paper by Dembski, Wells, Nelson, Meyer …
- Or for that matter, a single peer-reviewed article offering either (a) evidence for design, (b) a method to unambiguously detect design, or (c) a theory of how the Designer did the designing, by any fellow of the DI.
- An exposition of Nelson’s theory of "ontogenetic depth" (promised in March 2004)
- An article by Nelson & Dembski on problems with common descent (promised in April 2005).
- Nelson’s monograph on common descent (currently MIA since the late 90’s).
Funny. That list is identical to what we didn’t get last year. Wow. It’s like 2007 never happened.
But let’s end on a high note. The ID community did provide us with some fun things; LOLcreationists (see my own contributions – LOLDembski and LOLBehe), a strong candidate for Word of the Year ("egnorance"), and ICON-RIDS "an international coalition of non-religious ID scientists & scholars" which Dembski felt would cause problems for nasty evilutionists. ICON-RIDS turned out to be the brainchild of William Brookfield, a professional solo musician and entertainer, founder of the Brookfield (Saba) Institute of Transparadigmic Science, major advocate of Plesurianism, and founder of a company "specializing in high quality sexual products." Needless to say, ICON-RIDS soon disappeared from the ID radar.
So what does next year hold for us? I predict more political action from DI flacks, a movie – Expelled – that will make nary a ripple, a quixotic attempt to get Gonzalez tenure that will fail (and result in his being condemned to teach in some place like Liberty University), and the non-appearance of the five desired items above. Stay tuned!