Dave Thomas has written an op-ed opposing a bill in New Mexico that would promote Intelligent Design creationism in the classroom under the guise of academic freedom. This is a standard ID game; carefully word the bills so that they refer vaguely to some evidence that doesn’t exist, so that they can pretend they are asking for equal time for the same category of scientific story when it is actually a case of promoting the guesswork, handwaving, and religiously-motivated biases of the creationists to have equivalent status with the evidence of scientists.
Casey Luskin is on the job, though, and he tears into Thomas’s op-ed … or rather, he tears it into little pieces and rearranges the words until he’s got a pastiche he can criticize. It’s a shameful performance that puts the dishonesty of the Discovery Institute on display.
First, here’s the section where Luskin quotes Thomas.
So what does Dave Thomas have to worry about? Thomas thus exposes his true reasons for opposing the bill: He laments that “the driving purpose” behind the bill “would have permitted and encouraged teachers to present so-called weaknesses of evolution science in biology classes” and asserts that we shouldn’t “encourage students to ‘reach their own conclusions.’” Dogmatic Darwinists like Dave Thomas apparently find it very scary that students might not reach his preferred “conclusion” if they are taught the full range of the scientific evidence about Neo-Darwinism. So he’s forced to oppose a bill that sanctions the teaching of science, and science only, in the science classroom.
Wow, that certainly sounds mean of Thomas, as if his arguments are all based on denying students their right to think independently. The weird thing, though, is that if you actually read Thomas’s op-ed and look for the words Luskin quoted,you find them in a very different context.
The carefully crafted “academic freedom” measures made no specific mention of intelligent design. But it was clearly the driving purpose behind these, which would have permitted and encouraged teachers to present so-called weaknesses of evolution science in biology classes.
The measures would have also have given students the “right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about biological origins.”
We don’t encourage students to “reach their own conclusions” on how to add fractions. Why should we suddenly do so with the biosciences?
Hmm. So Luskin says Thomas objects to the driving purpose of the bill, which is to teach the weaknesses of evolution; but if you read Thomas’s actual words, the driving purpose to which he objects is that it’s all about teaching intelligent design. That’s a sloppy distortion. It just tells me that Luskin didn’t read very carefully; it also suggests that perhaps he thinks “weakness of evolution” is equivalent to “intelligent design”.
The quote about encouraging students to reach their own conclusions has been woefully truncated, too; the comparison with adding fractions is the significant point, and Luskin left off the part that would have made him look like a wishy washy relativist. There are a lot of facts in biology, and scientists who are masters of a large proportion of them have come to the conclusion that they support evolutionary theory. We’re supposed to expect that kids who learn a few very basic ideas about biology are then going to come up with valid interpretations that contradict the scientists’? If the creationists idea of teaching the evidence is to mangle it as badly as Luskin has done this op-ed, I wouldn’t trust them.
There’s another point that Luskin throws in at the end, his denial that religion has anything to do with the ID movement.
Thomas is so desperate at this point that he attacks the religious beliefs and religious motives of various proponents of the bill. He says that the “creationists” are getting “sneakier,” but in reality it’s the Darwinists who are getting more desperate in their attempts to oppose legitimate bills which would allow the teaching of science which challenges neo-Darwinism.
It wasn’t a measure of desperation, it was a statement of the facts…a rather thorough and overwhelming presentation of the motivations of the backers of this bill. Here they are:
While supporters insisted that “this is about science, not religion,” Williams [sponsor of the House bill] was much more honest. At a hearing Jan. 29 in the House Judiciary Committee on the memorial, Williams declared: “What we evolved from we will never figure out. There are many people who are absolutely convinced God did all of this, and if you have the faith I have, God did it all.”
In public, they will claim intelligent design is not creationism, but only “science.” But on the Jan. 13, 2005, “Family News In Focus,” James Dobson’s radio news program, Renick [president of the New Mexico Intelligent Design Network] revealed his agenda: “If there’s no transcendent designer or creator, such as the God of Genesis, well then, that’s going to say a whole lot about what this life is about and what it means.”
Yet, the webmaster for the foundation [New Mexico Science Foundation] is Mark Burton, a high-ranking member of the Creation Science Fellowship of New Mexico, a creationist organization committed to biblical inerrancy, Noah’s flood and a 6,000-year-old Earth.
There’s the evidence. Do you think you can reach a conclusion?
Do remember Bill Buckingham, the fellow who pushed the Dover school board to adopt a pro-ID policy. He made statements like those of Williams and Renick, too, and the judge was clearly able to see that the “driving purpose” behind that effort was the advancement of a religiously-motivated doctrine, intelligent design creationism, that had been cobbled together to circumvent rulings that showed creationism to be a religious idea. I see that Buckingham’s ideological and intellectual peers are hard at work in New Mexico.