Discovery Institute: Carville Calls Them Creationists

THE most vulnerable spot to aim for when criticizing the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) is the simple fact that they’re creationists.

To many of us that’s the most obvious thing about them, so we don’t think to emphasize it. What we tend to focus on is that they’ve got a lot of people fooled with their pseudo-science chatter, so too often we start out challenging them on scientific grounds — and that’s where the public gets lost. We think their creationism is the most important point to be made. It should be made often, and it should never be overlooked.

There are a few reasons for their vulnerability about creationism. First, they’re desperate to appear scientific. It enhances their self esteem, which we imagine is in dreadful shape. For all their ranting against the imagined evils of “materialistic” science, they crave the respectability that science enjoys.

Also, when they’re shown to be old earth creationists, it reveals the schism between them and their more primitive brethren who espouse young earth creationism. Being associated with young-earthers is a great intellectual embarrassment, and it always triggers vehement denials. See: “Don’t Call Us Creationists!” When they go into denial mode — as they must — they drive a wedge (so to speak) between themselves and their young-earth supporters.

Further, when it becomes generally known that what they’re really peddling is a jazzed-up version of creationism, they are easily defeated by the numerous court precedents that prevent their pseudo-scientific theology from being taught in public schools. See: Ten Major Court Cases about Evolution and Creationism.

Finally, when they’re exposed as creationists, their flimsy facade of fake science falls away, and all that’s left is their true motive — theocracy. To most people, that is singularly unattractive. See: Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science.

We don’t advocate focusing only on their creationism. Each instance of the Discoveroids’ pathetic pretense of science should be — and always is — swiftly debunked. But although that’s satisfying to the scientific community, it’s not where the public relations struggle is being waged, and it’s not necessarily what judges will find persuasive — although Judge Jones was a splendid exception. See: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Is ID Science?

To demonstrate the Discoveroids’ extreme sensitivity to this issue, the Discoveroid blog has a new article by Casey Luskin: How James Carville’s New Book, “40 More Years” Misrepresents Intelligent Design. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

In his new book, 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation, Democratic strategist James Carville badly misrepresents intelligent design (ID) as a wholly negative argument against evolution.

What’s wrong with that? It’s probably the only part of Carville’s book we’d enjoy reading. ID, when all the double-talk is stripped away, is nothing but a long string of negative arguments. “You can’t explain this!” “You haven’t explained that!” Etc. They have absolutely no evidence that contradicts the theory of evolution.

Let’s read on:

Carville then asserts: “Basically, because they don’t understand evolution, and they can’t replicate it, these intelligent design ‘scientists’ have decided it can’t have taken place.” (pg. 89)

It’s always risky to accept a quote from a Discoveroid, but without a copy of Carville’s book — which we’re unlikely to purchase — we have no choice. Besides, if Carville wrote what Casey claims he wrote, it’s a good description of the “science” of ID.

We’ll skip over Casey’s rapturous recitation of the “scientific” claims of his intellectual heroes, Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer. After gushing about “irreducibly complex features” and parts that “appear arranged to serve a purpose,” Casey continues:

It seems clear that Carville has little or no idea of what ID actually is. Moreover, Carville’s book really doesn’t offer any serious treatment of this topic. In fact, he has a clear agenda in misrepresenting ID: his purpose to miscast the whole matter as a Democrat vs. Republican issue.

Alas, Carville may be right about that. It causes us endless grief to see creationism so prominently supported by so many Republican candidates. See our Open Letter to the Republican Party.

Here’s more:

Carville’s chapter on evolution really boils down to a rhetorically outlandish defense of intellectual intolerance a la Richard Dawkins’s infamous line, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

If Casey’s description of Carville’s writing is accurate, we may have to modify (but only slightly) our unfavorable opinion of Carville. And now we come to the end:

My guess is that Carville would be horrified to learn just how many Democrats disagree with him, and support academic freedom in evolution education.

You already know that what Casey calls “academic freedom” is affirmative action for creationism. But it doesn’t surprise us that loads of democrats are creationists. After all, William Jennings Bryan was a democrat. In fact, we’re delighted that the Republicans don’t own the exclusive franchise on creationism.

You know what just flashed into our mind? We’d love to see a debate about ID between James Carville and Ann Coulter. Think about it.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Discovery Institute: Carville Calls Them Creationists

  1. How can the Disco’tute call their musings a blog? They don’t even have a place where we can leave comments! (Lucky for them… if they did, I’d rip ‘em a new one.)

  2. I think Wells made a “testable, quantitative
    hypothesis” about centrioles once…

    Looks like Wells was trying to help out the cancer researchers. Nice guy.

    Here’s a cite for Mr. Luskin’s quote…

  3. We’d love to see a debate about ID between James Carville and Ann Coulter. Think about it.

    Or how about a liberal-conservative tag team vs. the Discoveroids? Like Carville and Krauthammer vs. Meyer and Wells? I’d pay to watch that.

  4. Curmudgeon wrote: “We think their creationism is the most important point to be made. It should be made often, and it should never be overlooked.”

    As long as one makes it clear that “creationist” does not mean only an honest believer in a 6-day creation, but also “anyone who promotes unreasonable doubt of evolution and proposes or implies an unscientific design-based alternate ‘explanation’.” And that IDers deliberately bait-and-switch the 2 definitions. Otherwise the IDers will get just what they want.

  5. BTW, the schisms within OEC are at least as hopeless as those between OEC and YEC: old life or young life?; common descent yes, no, maybe?; criticize YEC or ignore i?t; bible as evidence, yes, no maybe?; say “what happened when” or play “don’t ask, don’t tell”? etc.

  6. Frank J says:

    As long as one makes it clear that “creationist” does not mean only an honest believer in a 6-day creation, but also …

    Yes, but one should keep the message as uncluttered as possible, and that’s not a primary point to make. Once they’re shown to be creationists, and the theological nature of their “science” is exposed, the game’s over. Obviously, they’re not sitting back in Sunday school teaching Noah’s Ark to the flock. If that’s all they’re up to, there’s nothing to talk about. The fact that they’re aggressively promoting their creationism in public schools speaks for itself.

  7. Curmudgeon wrote: “The fact that they’re aggressively promoting their creationism in public schools speaks for itself.”

    That mat help them lose in courts – so far – but as you know, ~75% of the public, including many who accept evolution, still falls for some variant of “teach both sides.” I agree that they need an uncluttered message, not because it’s too complicated, but because most don’t have the interest to listen to anything beyond catchy sound bites.

    Since you mention public schools, one sound bite I think might get the attention of much of the ~75% is “Why are they so interested in public schools when they are already free to peddle their propaganda everywhere else, including the home schools that they overwhelmingly prefer?”

  8. I borrowed the book from my local library to check out on the quote.

    Chapter 8 is “Res Judicata: We Argue About Things That Aren’t Arguable”, pages 85-108.

    Three of those things are of interest to this discussion:

    Age of the earth
    Grand Canyon

    In writing of “Evolution Occurred”, there is a quote from Casey Luskin:

    “Intelligent design postulates that humans originated due the intentional arrangement of bio-matter – including the human genetic code – by the action of intelligence.”
    (Casey Luskin, “Human Origins and Intelligent Design.” Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, Volume 4.1 (July 2005))

    And then quotes something from the Discovery Institute, and then concludes with the quotation given above. Thus I would say that the quotation as given is a fair representation.

  9. TomS says: “I borrowed the book from my local library to check out on the quote.”

    Thanks for going to all that effort.