Epistolary

Steve Matheson writes An open letter to Stephen Meyer:

Dear Steve:

…Yes, it would be great to follow up on our brief meeting onstage, and to find ourselves in situations in which topics of mutual interest are discussed by knowledgeable and intelligent people (at conferences, for example, or in multidisciplinary working groups). …

Right now, I don’t see how you could be a thoughtful contributor to such an effort. It’s not because you’re stupid, or because you have “bad relationship skills,” and it’s not because you prefer ID-based explanations for biological phenomena. It’s because you seem to have abandoned scholarship and the intellectual community, and instead embraced apologetics and political persuasion. …

…you seem not to have any serious contact with scientists and scholars who study [the origins of biological information and genetic control systems]. Do you attend conferences on these subjects, or initiate contact with experts in these fields? … it would be foolish for you to think that you could contribute to the development of new theories or viewpoints outside of regular and rigorous interaction with colleagues who know this stuff the best. I have the impression that you don’t do this. That’s a crazy mistake.

…you desperately need to get out of your freakish little gated community and talk to people who know that the initiation of cancer is indeed fueled to a large extent by driver mutations, and that genome sizes are indeed a hard problem for design theorists to tackle. When you have Wells whispering to you in one ear, and the bizarre perspectives of Richard Sternberg echoing in your mind, you have a huge problem: you’re out of touch with real science, with real biology, with the ideas that you have to engage …

Steve, seriously: you have no chance of having any influence outside of the church school circuit as long as you are isolating yourself and, worse, listening to some pretty confused people who seem not to even understand the ever-changing fields they claim to represent. Get out more. And find some new friends.…

3. Your Discovery Institute is a horrific mistake, an epic intellectual tragedy that is degrading the minds of those who consume its products and bringing dishonor to you and to the church. It is for good reason that Casey Luskin is held in such extreme contempt by your movement’s critics, and there’s something truly sick about the pattern of attacks that your operatives launched in the weeks after the Biola event. It’s clear that you have a cadre of attack dogs that do this work for you, and some of them seem unconstrained by standards of integrity. I can’t state this strongly enough: the Discovery Institute is a dangerous cancer on the Christian intellect, both because of its unyielding commitment to dishonesty and because of its creepy mission to undermine science itself. I’d like to see you do better, but I have no such hope for your institute. It needs to be destroyed, and I will do what I can to bring that about.

4. If you want to … make your movement into something other than repackaged creationism, you should do both of the following. First, you should acknowledge the excellence of natural explanation in general and the steadily growing prowess of origin-of-life theories in particular. … you should stop misleading your credulous audiences (in print and on stage) into concluding that such ideas are silly. Everyone who knows these fields knows that you are engaging in profoundly misleading tactics, and we have a right to question your integrity when we see that kind of stuff. … Stop it. Second, you should pay more attention to the ideas of Simon Conway Morris and (to a lesser extent) Michael Denton. …

Steve, I just don’t see how the Discovery Institute can be saved; from here it looks to be wholly corrupt. But you can still become a part of the scholarly examination of the phenomenon of biological design, and as a Christian you can offer insight into how these questions impinge on issues of faith. It would be a shame if your only contribution was as a political propagandist who served as an impediment to the honest consideration of design and intelligence in biological origins and who was remembered as an enemy of science.

Best regards,

Steve Matheson

And they say the art of letter writing is dead. Sing on, brother!

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    June 7, 2010

    Beautiful letter! Mr. Mathison will be rapidly moved up the DI IDC hit list. I expect he knows this and will be prepared. The Christians at the DI = Spanish Inquisition, without the robes. Except for rent-boy Casey, but that’s another story.

  2. #2 John Kwok
    June 7, 2010

    Wow! I am delighted that Steve, unlike Darrel Falk and Karl Giberson of BioLogos, doesn’t hesitate to pull punches with Meyer, even if Meyer merely is yet another – to borrow Giberson’s euphemism – “brother in Christ”.

    Steve ought to be careful. If he starts using my term “mendacious intellectual pornographer” as an apt description of Meyer, Luskin, Wells and their Dishonesty Institute “colleagues”, then he might be mistakened for me.

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