The last time I saw an appearance of the founder of the Intelligent Design movement, Johnson was looking very frail, recovering from a stroke. It’s also been quite some time since I’ve seen him make an appearance. I hope that his mental faculties are also strong, and that he’s alert and aware. The IDists are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of his book, Darwin on Trial, so I’d love to know that he’s having a grand time.
Why, you might wonder…after all, that book they’re celebrating is dishonest tripe, and the ID movement has been pure poison to science. I make no bones about the fact that I consider Johnson to be an intellectual criminal.
The reason is simple: Jason Rosenhouse is right. Intelligent Design is dead. I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.
His book was a cobbled together hodge-podge of specious reasoning, using legal logic to raise unwarranted doubts over concepts he couldn’t understand. He was no scientist; neither are his followers. He was a pettifogging lawyer coming off a divorce and a midlife crisis who tried to find redemption by lying for Jesus. It didn’t work.
Creationism staggered out of the Edwards v. Aguillard case in 1987 in a shambles — creationism was repudiated, it was tarred entirely as a religious concept, and prohibited from schools as a violation of the Establishment Cause. They had to find a strategy to hide its religious underpinnings, and there was good ol’ Lawyer Johnson, happy to provide it. That was his contribution, the smokescreen of ID.
It thrived for a while; it had its successes as yokels everywhere embraced it as a way to pretend their Old Time Religion was actually cutting edge science. It received a mortal blow in the Kitzmiller trial, which saw through the nonsense. It’s tainted fruit now. THey’re struggling to find a new frame in which to cloak their agenda, but the Discovery Institute is always going to be associated with Intelligent Design.
All they have succeeded in doing is flooding the discourse with fallacious turds like “irreducible complexity”, which still gets parroted by ignorant politicians, like Michele Bachmann.
Irreducible complexity is poorly formulated and not an obstacle to evolution; at this point, the explanations are so common that bringing up IC is simply an admission of ignorance, of someone with a Bachmann-like understanding of biology.
And for a scientific movement, look at the quality of the proponents who have flocked to it: basically no one. The primary spokesperson of the Discovery Institute is Casey Freakin’ Luskin, a freshly minted lawyer with an undergraduate degree in earth science, and who is demonstrably incompetent at basic biology — not that that prevents him from flooding the DI website with patent nonsense.
They’ve got propagandists like David Klinghoffer, who’s reduced to sticking his fingers in his ears and chanting la-la-la to the existence of criticisms.
It’s latest pseudo-scholarly efforts are bloated, preening, vacuous babble like Signature in the Cell, books that even fans of the idea find tedious and uninspiring.
Their websites are little walled garden, either no comments allowed or comments carefully screened, because they cannot tolerate open discusssion and criticism.
They’ve got nothing new. There is no new science emerging from the cesspit of ID.
I think we’re done.
I really just hope that Phillip Johnson is vaguely aware of, and vaguely perturbed by, the failure of his ideas. And I hope he lives many more years, to witness the continuing decay of his pathetic movement.
(Also on Sb)