Lauri Lebo: “Academic Freedom” is Creationism 3.0

WE MISSED this last year, but on 01 June 2008 the Washington Spectator‘s website carried this article: Using Academic Freedom to Keep God in the Science Classroom. It was written by Lauri Lebo, the journalist who tirelessly covered the trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District while a reporter at the York Daily Record. Lauri and her work were prominently mentioned in the NOVA documentary, Judgment Day. She is also the author of: The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-town America.

If that weren’t enough praise, you should also know that Lauri sometimes visits our humble blog. We are therefore delighted to present you with some excerpts from her excellent essay. Lauri covers a lot of territory, so we can only mention some highlights. The article starts with the history of the Dover case, and then discusses the latest incarnation of creationism, which now gets touted in the guise of “academic freedom.” The bold font was added by us:

AFTER THE DOVER, PENNSYLVANIA, SCHOOL BOARD adopted the concept of “intelligent design” into its biology curriculum in the fall of 2004, Seth Cooper, an attorney with the Discovery Institute, headed for south-central Pennsylvania to visit the school district. Cooper should have been a supporter of the Dover board’s actions. The Seattle-based Discovery Institute is the nation’s champion of the “scientific theory of intelligent design.” But Cooper realized that the board was driving intelligent design toward a test case. If it failed to pass constitutional muster, that would be a serious blow to Discovery’s long-term goals: defeating “scientific materialism” and replacing it with “a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

Right. Sensing that Dover’s bungling school board was likely to lose their case, the Discoveroids backed off. Their ultimate goal isn’t creationism anyway — it’s social revolution, imposing theocracy as the ruling principle in the US. See: Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science. Let’s read more from Lauri’s article:

For the Discovery Institute, much was at stake in its response to the Kitzmiller decision. The organization’s Center for Science and Culture owes its existence to intelligent design. So in 2006, the Discovery staff published a peevish critique of Jones’s decision in the book Traipsing into Evolution

“Peevish” is a good word for it, as Casey Luskin is one of the authors. Here it is at Amazon: Traipsing into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision. Let’s continue:

Despite the book’s defense of intelligent design, its final chapter reveals that the [Discovery] Institute has abandoned the concept — at least that is Discovery’s public position. Instead of advocating intelligent design, the authors laid out a plan for the next attempt at subverting the teaching of evolutionary theory, this time using the code words “academic freedom.”

Here’s more:

This spring [remember, the article is dated 01 June 2008] , the anti-evolutionists unveiled creationism 3.0. And they’ve already begun a two-pronged marketing campaign. First, they tried to sway public opinion by releasing Expelled, a slickly produced documentary starring Ben Stein, the Nixon speechwriter turned actor. The film argues that academic freedom is under attack because science academics who embrace intelligent design are being persecuted. The anti-evolutionists are also lobbying state legislatures.

As we all remember, things happened just that way. Moving along:

With each constitutional defeat, the movement further dilutes its scientific assertions with vague terms and misleading language, in order to make it over the hurdle of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The latest strategy — using academic freedom to advance their agenda — is essentially creationism distilled down to pure nod and wink. Yet from a legal perspective, the strategy presents special challenges for defenders of the First Amendment.

We’ve previously described the current strategy as a call for intellectual affirmative action, which is nothing at all like freedom.

Here’s one last excerpt, but this is a long article, and although it’s almost a year old, it’s well worth reading in its entirety:

The Discovery Institute’s John West told that the bills do not even mention intelligent design. He said they merely encourage discussion, not outright teaching, of the concept. “We oppose intelligent design mandates,” West said.

West says that the Discovery Institute merely wants to see evolutionary theory taught more fully — what creationists say are its strengths and weaknesses. But as their past actions indicate, they want to pry open the door for sympathetic teachers to teach intelligent design and creationism.

Right — they merely want “to see evolutionary theory taught more fully.” Does anyone believe those guys? Anyone?

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