Phillip Skell has a long and sleazy history of lying to support creationism. His usual tactic (actually, his only tactic) is to claim that evolution is irrelevant to science, denying the importance of the theory to understanding discoveries about the natural world, and refusing to believe that it has any application at all to anything. In a clear and straightforward op-ed, Stuart Faulk points out how easy it is to pick up any popular science magazine and find counterexamples to Skell’s claims. And then he picks up a knife, sticks it in, and twists:
Given how easily Skell’s arguments can be dismissed, it is reasonable to ask why he would make them in the first place. He is just as capable of reading Scientific American as I am, and probably more qualified.
The short answer is that this is not a debate about factual truth and science, but about public opinion and religion. What Skell neglects to mention (but any Web search will show) is that he has long supported creationist causes. His guest viewpoint is but one of many letters supporting “intelligent design” and opposing the teaching of evolution in public schools, which he equates to “indoctrination of students to a worldview of materialism and atheism.”
That’s an important approach we have to take more often. The vocal charlatans of creationism are actually relatively few in number, and their histories need to be directly addressed and made public. Skell is most definitely not an impartial scientist looking at the evidence objectively: he has his made up, ignores the evidence (where he is even aware of it—professionally, he is a chemist), and then uses his faux authority to claim that the biological sciences lack substantial evidence that we actually have, all in the service of his religious dogma.
One interesting fact emerges at the end of the piece. Stuart Faulk is Skell’s son-in-law. I’d like to know how the family copes with Skell’s uninformed obnoxiousness…