|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
This thread is for letters to the editor and responses to them. The topics should be antievolution and evolution.
The Daily Lobo has an opinion letter claiming that ID advocates have no hidden agenda. Along the way, the author compared Behe and Dembski to Gould and Eldredge. That just plain annoyed me.
Here's my response:
Behe and Dembski are not prestigious scientists comparable to Gould and Eldredge, and ID is a sham.
Michael Behe is a biochemist whose scientific output has fallen off to a trickle of papers since he started doing apologetics for intelligent design creationism (IDC). William Dembski has lots of academic training and, depending on how broadly one casts a net, between two and five publications total that might be called "peer-reviewed" or the Discovery Institute's broadened but meaningless term, "peer-edited". As Jeff Shallit's rebuttal expert report for the 2005 Kitzmiller v. DASD case noted, Dembski is not a scientist and is not a renowned mathematician. Earlier this year, Dembski bragged about three essays posted online that were claimed to be "in review". So far, one has been removed from online service because its analysis was based on the output of a program whose variables were obviously improperly initialized. A second one remains online even though its analysis critically depends upon an error Dembski was informed of over seven years ago. This is not the sort of scholarship one expects from someone supposedly changing paradigms; in my opinion, one should expect better from serious undergraduates in the sciences. In no sense have either Behe or Dembski come close to achieving professional prestige and recognition of merit equivalent to either Stephen Jay Gould or Niles Eldredge. It's insulting to both of the latter to even propose the comparison.
Despite the simple fact that the IDC advocates don't fit the "top scientist" billing the IDC public relations machine uses, it is also the case that the IDC arguments have been refuted on their merits, or lack thereof. Probably the best broad technical analysis of IDC claims has come in the form of two books, "Why Intelligent Design Fails" from Rutgers University Press and "Unintelligent Design" from Prometheus Books. The ideas promoted by both Behe and Dembski are patiently shown to be flawed in those books. A broader book explaining problems with IDC for a lay audience is "Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism" from W.W. Norton.
As for not having an hidden agenda, Michael Behe testified under oath in 2005 that those who believed in God were more likely to accept his arguments. William Dembski has stated that intelligent design is "just the Logos theology of Johnís Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory". In a sense, it is true that the agenda is not hidden, but it is nonetheless the case that intelligent design creationism is a sham created specifically to evade the constitutional prohibition on establishment of religion in order to promote narrow sectarian views in public school classrooms.
Speaking of disclosure, I am the co-author of a chapter in "Why Intelligent Design Fails" and author of a chapter in "Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism".
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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker