Intelligent Design: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Darwin’s Dilemma, as you probably know, is yet another creationist-oriented “documentary” being promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

This is of interest to us not only because of the film’s creationist message, but also because the Discoveroids are trying to use its rejection by one theater as part of a strange new legal strategy. See: The Goal of the “Darwin’s Dilemma” Lawsuit.

Therefore we were attracted to this news item at the Discoveroids’ blog: Darwin’s Dilemma Heads to LA This Weekend With ID Scientists, Experts.

Do we care? Actually, the news here is not merely the fact that the film is heading to Los Angeles, but where, exactly it’s going in that city. The Discoveroid article is very brief. We’ll give you just a few excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The last time Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record was scheduled for a screening in the Los Angeles area, it sparked a couple (still ongoing) lawsuits. This time, the film is showing at Biola University, with scientific experts from the film speaking on a panel afterwards, including Paul Nelson, Richard Sternberg, Douglas Axe, and Stephen Meyer.

Ah, Biola! The film is coming home, as it were. We’ve previously posted about all the interlocking relationships between the Discoveroids and Biola University, founded in 1908 as the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles.

As many of you know, two of the “scientific experts” who will be speaking on the panel at Biola — Stephen Meyer and Richard von Sternberg — were central figures in the infamous peer review controversy.

But why is any of this worth mentioning? It’s because the Discoveroids, as part of their campaign to promote creationism, constantly maintain that their version of creationism — the “scientific theory” of Intelligent Design (ID) — isn’t creationism at all. Oh no, they insist, it’s science. They don’t ask who the Designer is, and if anyone were impolite enough to enough to ask, he would quickly learn that they don’t tell.

See this page at the Discoveroids’ website: What is intelligent design?, where they say:

Is intelligent design the same as creationism? No. The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. Intelligent design starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what inferences can be drawn from that evidence.

Despite such claims, when ID “science” experts testified under oath and were cross-examined, the results were genuinely farcical. See: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Is ID Science?

Aside from a few — very few — scientists who promote ID and who retain tenured positions at scientifically respected universities, the typical ID advocate finds employment at various bible colleges. See: Louisiana Legislature Used Creation Science Witnesses, and also William Dembski: Godfather of Trolls, and also Discovery Institute: Stealth Operative Francis Beckwith, and also Guillermo Gonzalez.

So the big news is that Darwin’s Dilemma is coming to Biola, a bible college with exceptionally strong ties to the Discoveroids. Where else should it go if not there? But please, don’t misunderstand. It’s fine with us if churches and bible colleges preach creationism. That’s what they like, and it’s their business, not ours. But surely, dear reader, you can see how increasingly laughable it is for the promoters of ID to maintain that their dogma is science. It’s not, and everyone knows it.

Hey, let’s see one more excerpt from the Discoveroid blog article:

According to the Biola website, the event runs from 9 am – 12 pm this Saturday at Mayers Auditorium, Biola University, and will cost $25. Click here to register.

That’s just a few days from now, and it only costs $25. How can you pass up an opportunity like this? Click over to the Discoveroid website where that registration link can be found. This will be an event to remember.

We won’t be able to attend, but we’d like to send this message to them: The Curmudgeon sincerely hopes that all you Discoveroids have a grand, old-fashioned, down-home creationist revival meeting at Biola. But please, guys, everyone knows you’re creationists, so stop pretending that you’re doing any science. It’s time to accept the fact that “Don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t working for you.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Intelligent Design: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

  1. retiredsciguy

    Can’t read your posts, Curmy. All I’m getting are titles and comments. What’s up?

  2. I just had that experience too. It’s all back now. Very odd.

  3. retiredsciguy

    Hmm. Now that I wrote a comment, your article shows up. Very strange.

  4. Lots of WordPress bloggers are complaining about the same thing, but most are saying it’s okay now. Big mystery.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Here are some snippets from the Biola U website:

    First from the Biology Department:
    Why choose Biological Science at Biola?
    Biology is the branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and vital processes. As such it includes the allied sciences such as zoology, botany, physiology, genetics, ecology, nutrition, biochemistry and immunology. The Biological Science major will develop a basic competence in these areas, and at the same time demonstrate the following:
    An ability to integrate known biological facts with scriptural principles
    An understanding of scientific method and its application
    An understanding of important issues in various biological disciplines and their responsible applications in life
    An ability to discuss theories of origins and evolution within the context of a Scriptural view of creation

    And then from the Biola U Doctrinal Statement
    The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are without error or misstatement in their moral and spiritual teaching and record of historical facts.

    The existence and nature of the creation is due to the direct miraculous power of God. The origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of kinds of living things, and the origin of humans cannot be explained adequately apart from reference to that intelligent exercise of power. A proper understanding of science does not require that all phenomena in nature must be explained solely by reference to physical events, laws and chance.
    Therefore, creation models which seek to harmonize science and the Bible should maintain at least the following: (a) God providentially directs His creation, (b) He specially intervened in at least the above-mentioned points in the creation process, and (c) God specially created Adam and Eve (Adam’s body from non-living material, and his spiritual nature immediately from God). Inadequate origin models hold that (a) God never directly intervened in creating nature and/or (b) humans share a common physical ancestry with earlier life forms.

  6. Is intelligent design the same as creationism? No.

    They’re right. “Creation Science” was honest about what it was (if dishonest in its “arguments”). ID is just as dishonest in its “arguments” but is also dishonest about its aims.

  7. John Pieret says:

    ID is just as dishonest in its “arguments” but is also dishonest about its aims.

    I sense a hint of negative opinion about ID here. But I could be wrong.

  8. Meyer is a religious nut case. I overheard him speaking to his groupies at the Castle Rock fiasco, Jesus this and Jesus that.

    He and his gang are all about making money out of the gullible.

    I’m sure there will be a book signing and lots of things for sale to support the cause.

  9. Not only is the film being shown at a Bible college where it is usually shown, but the panel consists entirely of creationists. (Last year or so it was shown at OU in Norman, Oklahoma, sponsored by a Christian student group, of course, but the paleontology department had a display that blew the creationists away. The DI doesn’t talk much about that Night at the Waterloo Museum)

    On the panel at the Biola showing we have:

    Philosopher and YEC Paul “I’ll explain that Ontogenetic Depth was not just pulled out of my ass tomorrow – SEVEN YEARS AGO” Nelson who philosophically can defend the position that the Moon is made of green cheese regardless of data to the contrary.

    Philosopher Stephen “I see signatures in dead molecules” Meyer who argues that “intelligent design” is not intelligent design in spite of the name “Intelligent Design ™.”

    Baraminologist martyr Richard “I am not a crook!” Sternberg who is known for nothing aside from his nickname.

    Biochemist (!) Douglas “Nothing to Grind” Axe who “proved” that Life most likely, probably, 99.999% sure evolves poorly or not at all in molten lead, and, therefore, extrapolating to a warm little pond – same conclusion.

    What we have here is Larry, Curly, Mo and Ron singing the creationist choir’s favorite tune, Darwin Died in the Cambrian Explosion.

    It’s too bad they didn’t invite even one pre-Cambrian paleontologist to educate the audience on the documented lineage of fauna and flora that the creationists claim didn’t exist before the explosion. I guess they don’t want their cherished opinions sullied by pesky facts.

  10. Doc Bill says:

    I guess they don’t want their cherished opinions sullied by pesky facts.

    The road to hell is paved with pesky facts.

  11. It’s the annual Beckwith comment, apparently. 🙂

    BTW, I don’t teach at a Bible college, and here’s the story with me and ID:

    And here as well:


  12. Good of you to drop in, Francis. You’re at Baylor, I believe. Close enough. They’ve behaved well regarding ID, however.

  13. Yeah, Baylor isn’t a Bible college, it’s a Bible University.

  14. Checked out Francis’ stuff– two questions:

    He mentions that Ken Miller and Francis Collins accept the Cosmological Fine Tuning (CFT) argument of the early universe. He does realize that these two scientists are *biologists* and not *physicists*, right!?!?!

    He also seems to misunderstand/conflate the difference between philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism and why that difference is vitally important to science. While an atheist may have philosophically naturalistic commitments, a person working in science can have *no such commitment*. Period. That is because a person working in science only deals with what is observable through our sensory input, so to make statements on anything beyond the senses, beyond the physical (indeed…. meta-physical) is not a scientific position. Therefore, the scientist is only committed to *methodological naturalism* as anything beyond that (methodological supernaturalism???) is absurd. Right?

  15. LRA, we can save you a bit of work. Barbara Forrest wrote about Beckwith here: Forrest Responds to Beckwith. And I wrote about him here, Discovery Institute: Stealth Operative Francis Beckwith around the same time.

  16. LOL! Thanks, Curmie.

    *sigh* another philosopher pretending to know something about science. 😦

  17. Gabriel Hanna

    another philosopher pretending to know something about science.

    I didn’t think philosophy had anything useful to say about science, until I studied the philosophy of science.

    There are many philosophers who don’t understand science–maybe most–but there are also scientists who can’t explain why they do what they do or how they know it works. They just do what they were trained to do. There are a lot of scientists who are bean-counters and bottle-washers, as Robert Heinlein said. (Maybe I’m one. )

    You can learn a lot about science from people like David Hume, Karl Popper, and Hans Reichenbach (to name the ones with whom I’m most familiar).

  18. Gabriel Hanna

    If I understand Beckwith’s position, and have license to grossly oversimplify, it is that ID is either a good explanation for biology or a bad one, and that question can be addressed in science classes whether or not it is religiously motivated. Analogously, the sun may rise because angels lift it with invisible wires, or it may be because the earth rotates, but surely it is still a scientific topic.

    If that’s all he’s saying, no one can argue with that. The problem with ID is that scientists with the relevant qualifications have almost unanimously rejected it, and consequently it has no place in the science curriculum. Just as the “plum-pudding” model has no place no matter how vociferously parts of the general public might believe in it. There is no SCIENTIFIC motivation to teach ID in the science class.

    Students are not forced to believe in evolution any more than they are forced to believe in atoms, but if they are being educated in science they need to be taught what scientists think science is. They can harbor all the doubts they want about the reality of evolution or electrons (I don’t think electrons are “real” for the record, but that’s another discussion!), but there is no point in questioning those things in science class when scientists do not find them controversial. Students don’t have the necessary knowledge and experience to judge scientific theories. They need to acquire that knowledge; of course they can accept it or reject as they like. But they first need to be taught it.

    This is why ID is unconstitutional–some people want NONscience taught AS science for religious reasons.

  19. Sure, some philosophers know a lot about science. Sahotra Sarkar is both a biologist and a philosopher and he sure knows a lot about it!

    Plenty of philosophers have never set foot in a lab and don’t know the first thing about science, yet claim to be philosophers of science. I’m guessing Francis falls in this category.

  20. Curmudgeon: “They don’t ask who the Designer is, and if anyone were impolite enough to enough to ask, he would quickly learn that they don’t tell.”

    Of much greater threat to their pretense of being scientific is their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward “what happened when.” Does the “documentary” make it clear that the only DI folk who have taken a position on when the Cambrian “explosion” occurred grudgingly admit that it occurred about 530 MY years ago, and lasted millions of years?

  21. Michael Fugate: “Inadequate origin models hold that (a) God never directly intervened in creating nature and/or (b) humans share a common physical ancestry with earlier life forms.”

    So Biola is stating unequivocally that Michael Behe’s model – and the only one proposed by the DI with any “pathetic level of detail” – is inadequate.

    Any bets that they’ll ever state it in those words?

  22. Gabriel Hanna


    Plenty of philosophers have never set foot in a lab and don’t know the first thing about science, yet claim to be philosophers of science. I’m guessing Francis falls in this category.

    You’re probably right–my clue is that he’s always talking about Thomas Aquinas and whether design in “immanent”.