Some good news first: Dembski gave a talk in Kansas. Kansas! You’d think they’d love him there, but his audience was better informed than you might expect, from the example of their elected Board of Education officials.
Dembski, who may have been led to expect a warmer reception for his ideas—he was in Kansas, after all—seemed to grow testy as questioner after questioner expressed doubt about his assertion that evolution is a failed theory and that patterns in nature are best explained as a result of intelligence.
I know there is a solid body of intelligent, well-informed people in Kansas, and the escapades of the klutzes trying to railroad the state back into the Middle Ages are probably rousing quite a bit of antagonism. I also suspect the Discovery Institute schtick is getting old, and since Intelligent Design is a proven loser in the courtroom, its fans are looking for a new angle. The DI Fellows might want to think about revamping their CVs.
The New York Times once again screws up by asking a religion writer to comment on evolution, and of course she casts it all in religious terms, opting in to Ruse’s terrible characterization of it as “evolutionism”. Fortunately, John Rennie has ripped into that claim satisfyingly.
Shulevitz and Ruse can go on about “evolutionism” if they like, but the kinds of claims they find troubling have nothing to do with what would be taught in public school science classes. Thus their arguments might be relevant as social context, but they have no bearing on any of the specific disputes involving whether or how evolution should be taught. Whether Shulevitz and Ruse would want this to be the case, their arguments help the creationists distract the public from the real issues.
Chris Mooney also has some good criticisms of the piece, although he and I do disagree on strategy (I think promoting secularism, of which atheism is a part, is a necessary component of any long term resolution of the creationism problem, and that is not the same as this mythical “evolutionism”.)
There is this fellow, Krauze, who runs some forgettable Intelligent Design blog, who can be best described as polite, persistent, and utterly clueless. He’s been having a little back-and-forth with Jason Rosenhouse (who has a more patient temperament than I do, clearly), and Jason neatly polishes off Krauze’s claim that ID just needs more time to develop. It’s entertaining and thorough.