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Apr 21 2012

William Dembski’s new job

I first encountered the work of William Dembski during the time I was engaged in efforts to counter the intelligent design movement. He struck me as a smart guy who was trying to have his feet in two boats. He sought to be accepted by the scientific community by spouting sophisticated intelligent design stuff, while at the same time not alienating the fundamentalist Christian base that has no patience for anything that counters biblical orthodoxy. It is, of course an impossible task to bridge the two worlds as can been from his tortured attempts at bridging the Genesis story with evolution, that culminated in his laughable effort to explain how Adam and Eve killed the dinosaurs.

The high water mark for his career was being named the head of a center at Baylor University that the religious president created just for him. But after furious protests by faculty because the normal faculty approval processes had been bypassed, he was fired and afterwards seemed to get job offers only from outright creationist institutions of the most biblically literal kind. From Jerry Coyne I learn that Dembski has now taken up a new position at the Southern Evangelical Seminary which is about as fundamental as you can get.

The seminary’s doctrinal statement says:

We believe in the special creation of the entire space-time universe and of every basic form of life in the six historic days of the Genesis creation record. We also believe in the historicity of the biblical record, including the special creation of Adam and Eve as the literal progenitors of all people, the literal fall and resultant divine curse on the creation, the worldwide flood, and the origin of nations and diverse languages at the tower of Babel.

Frankly, I don’t think Dembski believes any of that doctrine. I genuinely feel sorry for him because when you sign on to stuff like that, you have publicly abandoned any and all scientific pretensions. For how long can he suppress his scientific inclinations? Can he withstand the cognitive dissonance?

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Martin, heading for geezerhood

    He deserves it and any intellectual angst he may suffer. After all he did inflict “Specified Complexity” upon a trusting and unsuspecting world.

  2. 2
    mnb0

    Thanks for the links to the old articles. I had several good laughs. Dembski manages to be even more absurd than John Cleese:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo&feature=related

  3. 3
    raven

    For how long can he suppress his scientific inclinations?

    He is long past that point. Dembski has been a member of the science haters cult for decades now.

    I genuinely feel sorry for him because when you sign on to stuff like that,…

    I don’t. As a scientist and huge fan of science, I’m everything Dembski hates and has been trying to destroy for most of his life. I know what the creationists think of me. Like a lot of scientists, I’ve been getting death threats for over a decade. They want to kill me. They say so often.

    Frankly, I don’t think Dembski believes any of that doctrine.

    He might not have at one time. But we all have to eat. His job depends on him either believing that or pretending real hard to believe all that.

  4. 4
    raven

    Fired for acknowledging evolutionary science: Bruce Waltke …
    baptistplanet.wordpress. com/…/fired-for-acknowledging-evolutionar…

    12 Apr 2010 –

    Fired for acknowledging evolutionary science: Bruce Waltke. Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) Professor Bruce Waltke was forced to

    The fundie xians are big fans of Joseph Stalin. They frequently have purges and remove the ideologically questionable. Unfortunately for them, in our lax democracy, they have no slave labor camps to send them to.

    Bruce Waltke, a noted OT scholar, was fired for daring to say that someday the fundies will have to engage with the real world.

    They do this a lot. In may well be that Dembski was purged from the lunatic asylum knows as Mohler’s Southern Baptist Seminary. Mohler took over and purged anyone to the left of Ghengis Kahn. He might also have been purged from SW Baptist Seminary for recently bringing up the possibility that the Happy Genocide Flood was local.

    I’m always amused at their claims.

    4500 BC The Egyptian Third Dynasty starts building pyramids

    4400 BC God floods the world killing all by 8 people

    4300 BC The Egyptians are still building pyramids, not realizing that there was a global flood and that they, in fact, were dead.

  5. 5
    Sunny

    I think that you will find the following article amusing:

    Tracking Creation in Glen Rose

    http://www.texasobserver.org/postcards/item/18410-tracking-creation-in-glen-rose

    It is full of priceless quotes. For example, “Yeah, I don’t believe in the Darwin deal,” he says. “The Bible says God created everything, you know.”

  6. 6
    Mike de Fleuriot

    I have to admit when I saw the title of this article, the word “Zamboni” came to mind. I was thinking of a clown employed to do the ice scraping. Dunno why, must be my meds…

  7. 7
    Stacy

    I genuinely feel sorry for him because when you sign on to stuff like that, you have publicly abandoned any and all scientific pretensions.

    For years, he pretended that “Intelligent Design” was scientific, and not about religion or “creation science.”

    Now he’s accepted a position with a Seminary whose doctrinal statement you think he might not believe.

    So you feel sorry for him because he’s just become a different sort of hypocrite than he was before?

    Don’t waste your empathy like that.

  8. 8
    Mano Singham

    My reading of Dembski (I have not met him personally) is that he really thought that ID was scientific and that while he thought that it provided an opening for his god, he did not think the latter fact made it unscientific. He thought it irrelevant. It is true that he was pushing ID to advance a religious goal, but this was not inconsistent with him thinking that ID was scientific. What was wrong was his denying that the ID movement had religious goals.

    His current situation is very different. He seems to be signing on to something he does not believe.

    Maybe I am being too sympathetic to him but that is how I read him.

  9. 9
    thewhollynone

    Why try to give a rational explanation for why obviously irrational people believe or don’t believe obviously irrational foolishness? Dembski’s brain processes might be of interest (and embarrassment) to the people who supposedly taught him science, but to the rest of us, not so much. I am of the opinion (rationally or otherwise) that Dembski only truly believes in making money for himself and drawing attention to himself, in reverse order; everything else to him is make believe.

  10. 10
    raven

    Demsbki once turned in a famous Texas ecologist, Eric Pianka, to the FBI, accusing him of bioterrorism.

    The FBI investigated and found no evidence. Pianka, being in Texas got a huge number of death threats and is probably still getting them.

    Dembski has done a lot of stuff like this. Feel sorry for him if you want but chances are, in a different time, you would be standing on top of a stack of firewood. And he would be lighting it with a torch. He is not a nice person, QED.

    This incident is well known.

    Eric Pianka: Smear victim, eco-fanatic, or neither? – Hit & Run …
    reason. com/blog/2006/04/10/eric-pianka-smear-victim-eco-f

    10 Apr 2006 – My Y Files post on the Eric Pianka controversy has generated … fallen for a right-wing creationist smear against an innocent scientist accused of …

    I believe that for “Intelligent Design” maven William Dembski to report Pianka to Homeland Security as a potential terrorist was ludicrous and reprehensible.

  11. 11
    thewhollynone

    Indeed! If you read his biography on Wikipedia, and if it’s at all accurate, you have to feel sympathy for his parents.

  12. 12
    raven

    Dembski’s father was or is a Ph.D. level scientist who has taught evolutionary biology and a Catholic.

    It is possible that Sigmund Freud might have something to say about why William Dembski converted to fundieism and became a creationist.

  13. 13
    Martin

    OMFG! Stanley Unwin is reincarnated!

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