Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Getting Forked

The Discovery Institute Ministry of Misinformation is at it again.

This particular instance is occasioned by the case of Marcus R. Ross, looking to complete his doctoral degree in geosciences at the University of Rhode Island on the subject of the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. The unusual thing is that he is a young-Earth creationist. Some people have questioned whether such a person is engaging either in a mammoth mental disconnect or deliberate deception and, in turn, whether he should be awarded the Ph.D. I think that that is a dangerously slippery slope to climb onto, given the relative risk posed.

In any case, there does not appear to be a movement towards any sort of ban on people getting degrees because of their religious beliefs, even where the possibility is high that the person is getting the degree solely to be more effective in attacking science in the name of religion (ala Jonathan Wells). This lack of threat is shown by the fact that the DI is reduced to complaining that such a possibility is "posed coyly as an open question on the news pages of the New York Times."

Next thing you know people will be able to say they don't agree with government or something, if you let this free speech thingie get out of hand!

But back to the dishonest part:
[Reporter Cornelia] Corny Dean, from my experience, decides on her own what terms--and science standards--mean. For example, "creationism" in the Dean Lexicon is a totally flexible term that embraces without distinction people who support intelligent design and those who support a Young Earth. Dean knows the difference in common usage, but she isn't about to let the readers in on it. For her the pejorative terminology carries too much ideological advantage to let mere accuracy, let alone nuance, intervene.
Now, that would be the same difference between IDers and YECers that prompted Phillip Johnson, the "Godfather of ID" to tell Coral Ridge Ministries’ "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in 1999 that "You must unify your own side and divide the other side," adding that the debate between YECs and old-Earth creationists should be temporarily suspended and only resumed once Darwinism is overthrown. Just in case you might think that was a misstatement of ID's aims by Johnson, there is also this statement by Paul A. Nelson, a fellow of the DI's Center for Science and Culture, in his article, "Life in the Big Tent: Traditional Creationism and the Intelligent Design Community":
Under the canopy of design as an empirical possibility, however, any number of particular theories may also be possible, including traditional creationism, progressive (or “old-earth”) creationism, and theistic evolution. Both scientific and scriptural evidence will have to decide the competition between these theories. The “big tent” of ID provides a setting in which that struggle after truth can occur, and from which the secular culture may be influenced.
In short, when they want to keep the Big Tent open and operating, ID is part and parcel of creationism. When they want to pretend they are doing science, they deny ever having even heard the word. Dishonesty, thy name is ID!
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