More of That Famous DI Position Shifting

As usual, the Discovery Institute is having a little difficulty settling on a coherent position on the El Tejon ID class controversy. Their first response, written by Robert Crowther, is entitled "Darwinists Want To Ban Intelligent Design From Not Just Science Classrooms, But All Classrooms." Crowther predictably fumes at us evil "Darwinists" who want the class removed, which of course implies that the course is legitimate and constitutional and therefore it is unreasonable for Americans United to file suit against it. Crowther writes:

What is it that has these United Americans all upset? Well, the school has the nerve to offer a philosophy, not science, course that encourages students to "discuss and debate existing theories" including "components of the intelligent design theory, introductory philosophy, Darwinâs theory of evolution and the origins of life according to Greek mythology." The nerve.

Darwinists have long argued that intelligent design should only be taught in social studies, history, or philosophy courses. But, now that some schools are doing exactly that they apparently think that the theory is too dangerous to be taugh in any classes. This is censorship, pure and simple.

So position #1 is that the class is perfectly legitimate and those who don't agree are engaging in "censorship". That was their position on January 9th at 11:30 pm. The second DI statement, written by Casey Luskin about 16 hours later, is titled "Dogmatic Darwinists Strike Again: Americans United for the Separation of Students and Science." The implication here is obvious as well. If AU is going to be accused of trying to separate "students and science" by objecting to this class, then the class must be offering legitimate science for students to explore, right? The problem is that in this post, Luskin admits that the class does not do that:

The course is misnamed--it actually advocates for young earth creationism and teaches out of the Bible. Such a course would have been more aptly titled something like "Philosophy of Origins" -- but not "Philosophy of design" because intelligent design has nothing to do with young earth creationism or Biblical views.

Notice that Luskin can't even bring himself to say that young earth creationism is an explicitly religious position, which it obviously is. Of course, the advocates of creationism during the legal battles of the 80s said the very same thing that advocates of ID say today, that their theory is not religious at all, it's based solely on the scientific evidence. It was a lie then and it's a lie now.

Their third statement, a press release written by Crowther but based upon a letter sent to the El Tejon school board by Luskin, is telling the school that they should change the content of the course or cancel it:

We support efforts to teach different scientific views on the subject of origins in an objective and pedagogically appropriate manner, which allows students to study the strengths and weaknesses of various views. But if this course is intended to present purely scientific views on intelligent design, the content needs to be reformulated and creationist material should be removed. Otherwise, change the title of the course so it does not misrepresent the theory of intelligent design. A final acceptable remedy is to simply cancel the course.

My oh my, how the tune has changed. On January 9th, the class was a legitimate attempt to teach about intelligent design in a philosophy course and by trying to get it removed, the AU was engaged in "censorship" and trying to "separate students and science". Two days later, the class isn't about ID at all, it's "advocating young earth creationism" and it needs to be changed or cancelled.

There's another notable element in Luskin's letter. He writes:

Moreover, unlike creationism, intelligent design does not try to inject itself into religious discussions about the identity of the intelligence responsible for life. Creationism, in contrast, always postulates a supernatural or divine creator. Thus the U.S. Supreme Court found that creationism was religion in 1987 in the case Edwards v. Aguillard.

Interesting, though, that Luskin, who is an attorney, mentions the Edwards ruling as finding that creationism was religion, but fails to mention the Kitzmiller decision, which found that ID is also religion because it is, for all practical purposes, creationism. A Federal court just ruled, based on overwhelming evidence presented in the case, that ID is as much a question of religious expression as creationism was. But I guess we'll just pretend that one never happened.

More like this

I was gonna fisk the DI's reaction to the El Tejon case, but Mike Dunford already did it quite well. The DI, via Casey Luskin, predictably tries to spin this as proof of us evil "Darwinists" and our intolerance for ID. But at the same time, he admits that this course is not merely teaching about ID…
I was gonna fisk the DI's reaction to the El Tejon case, but Mike Dunford already did it quite well. The DI, via Casey Luskin, predictably tries to spin this as proof of us evil "Darwinists" and our intolerance for ID. But at the same time, he admits that this course is not merely teaching about ID…
Casey Luskin appeared before the El Tejon school board to give them some advice on the creationist "philosophy" course. In short, he told them to cancel it: From what I can tell, this course was originally formulated as if it would promote young earth or Biblical creationism as scientific fact.…
We have many media reports today on the El Tejon ID suit. The full press release from Americans United is available on their website. The LA Times has an article about the controversy that includes a couple of interesting tidbits. Of the district's legal advice, it says: At a special meeting of the…

Nice coverage, as always. I guess the DI fellows never paid much attention to Jesus' warnings about houses built on sand...

I wrote a humble little piece on Crowther's coverage of Ohio (shamless plug), if anyone is interested.

Wait. Isn't this the same class where the syllabus included two people to speak on evolution: a scientist in the community who has already refused, and Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA who died in 2004?

This was clearly a sham from the get-go.

Way to call it.

I like how you so adeptly pointed out that Luskin "agrees" with Edwards but doesn't even mention Kitzmiller.

I guess whatever positions suits them at the time...

Hmm, no wonder most of these people are Republicans!

By beervolcano (not verified) on 12 Jan 2006 #permalink