Klinghoffer: “You Caught Us. So What?”

THE sad little Louisiana creationism imbroglio continues, and on the part of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) it’s descending into farce.

Whenever the Discoveroids get caught being creationists, their catalog of defensive moves is very limited. In some cases they use a technique we described a couple of years ago: Discovery Institute — Deny, Deny, Deny! Klinghoffer used that one again recently, and we wrote about it here: “What, me worry?”

They have one last desperate play they sometimes make, but they save it for their most extreme crises. They briefly stop their denials, address their opponents, and in an uncharacteristic moment of honesty they say: “So what?

The only time we know of that they deployed this one was when their monstrously evil Wedge Document was exposed. Their reaction is posted at their website: The “Wedge Document”: “So What?”, and of course we posted about it here. We called that technique a “primitive attempt at new-age apologetics.”

You’re probably familiar with the Discoveroids’ latest crisis. A creationist school board in Louisiana’s Livingston Parish openly declared that they wanted to use the new law in their state — which had been hustled through the legislature with Discoveroid help — to teach creationism. This exposed to all the world what Louisiana’s “academic freedom” bill was really all about. The resulting chaos has been glorious to behold.

We wrote about the school board’s embarrassing indiscretion here: World-Class Idiocy. The National Center for Science Education did here: The latest from Livingston Parish; Barbara Forrest did here Livingston Parish School Board Wants to Implement Discovery Institute’s “Academic Freedom” Law; and Lauri Lebo did here: “Taking a Stand for Jesus” in the Public Schools.

It got so bad that the overlord of the Discoveroids had to throw the Livingston Parish school board under the bus. But that only made things worse. We wrote about it here: Bruce Chapman’s Louisiana Damage Control. Lauri Lebo wrote Don’t Use the “C-Word”.

That’s when David Klinghoffer — the Discoveroid who seems to get all the dirty jobs — wrote Dear Lauri Lebo, Please Help Me Understand Your Conspiracy Theory. It was a spectacularly lame example of their “denial” technique, as we wrote here: “What, me worry?” Lauri actually took him up on it, writing Still Trying to Get Creationism into Science Classes — an absolutely devastating history of Discoveroid blunders, which she began by saying:

So, I figured since I’m being called out and all, this would be as good an opportunity as any for a nice retrospective piece on the Discovery Institute. (And, well, Mr. Klinghoffer did ask me to help him understand.)

As an indication of how disastrous the Discoveroids’ situation in Louisiana has now become, Klinghoffer is using the Discoveroids’ ultimate weapon — he’s saying: “Yeah, but so what?” At the Discoveroid blog we read: The Phantom Menace of Creationism. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Conspiracy theorist Lauri Lebo, writing at Religion Dispatches, seeks to defend once more her cloudy thesis that by criticizing a move in Louisiana to teach creationism in public schools, Bruce Chapman revealed Discovery Institute’s secret plot to support teaching creationism in public schools. Even as conspiracy theories go, this one lacks plausibility.

Klinghoffer — a creationist Discoveroid — says Lauri’s thesis “lacks plausibility”? We are reminded of the immortal words of Bert Lance: “That’s like being called ugly by a frog.” Skipping over some really nonsensical material we come to this:

But as a thought experiment, imagine that ID really did identify the “intelligent cause” as a deity, a creator. Would that make it “creationism”?

What do you think, dear reader? Here’s how Klinghoffer handles that:

No, not unless you are in the habit of buying lame arguments based on tenuous verbal comparisons. Words have meanings. “Creationism” is a useful word to designate the claim of scientific evidence for a literal reading of Genesis, from the creation story to Noah’s flood. ID not only does not provide proof for a literalist Biblical theology. It goes head-on against such a theology on major points.

Right. The Discoveroids are old-earth creationists, not the more unsophisticated young-earth types. But they’re still creationists! Let’s read on:

Ms. Lebo thinks she has another smoking gun in the obvious sociological reality that arguments for ID are more popular among religious believers than among atheists.


But so what? If many people care about the Darwin debate more than about other disputes in science because it has implications for religion, that doesn’t make intelligent design an expression of “religion” or “Christianity,” much less of “creationism,” any more than the fact that Darwinism stirs enthusiasm among many atheists makes Darwinism a species of “atheism.” It isn’t that, is it, Ms. Lebo?

That’s how it ends. Amazing, isn’t it? Despite numerous examples to the contrary — e.g., The Clergy Letter Project — the Discoveroids endlessly bash evolution as being a surrogate for atheism. Now Klinghoffer is saying: “Hey, we know that’s not true, so why is it true that our movement is religious?”

There’s a very simple answer to Klinghoffer’s concluding toughie: Evolution truly isn’t congruent with atheism; but the rubbish pushed by Discoveroids really is creationism. Hey, Klinghoffer — is that the best you’ve got?

Actually, Klinghoffer’s impudent “So what?” is rather appropriate. The Discoveroids’ followers don’t care about the Louisiana affair — they know they’re all creationists and they’re happy with it. The behavior of the Livingston Parish school board doesn’t embarrass them — it probably thrills them. Meanwhile, the Discoveroids’ opponents already know that the Discoveroids are creationists — we’ve always known. So really, what difference does the mess in Louisiana make? Nothing will change.

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

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29 responses to “Klinghoffer: “You Caught Us. So What?”

  1. Hello. Long time lurker here and thank you for the blog. I read it every day.
    Your reference to The Clergy Letter Project would certainly not impress the Discoveroids. They would only point out that the denominations represented (including my own) are not True Scots….er….Christians.
    They prefer to Lie for Jesus. Thanks again for a most informative blog.

  2. ID, in at least one form, is neither Old Earth Creationism nor Young Earth Creationism. It is “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Creationism”. I’d guess that most of the advocates think that YEC is silly, but would rather not say that in so many words.

  3. Ellie, the DI would not be so crass to use the “true Scot” argument so baldly. Rather, they wrap it in a thin veil.

    A good example is the faith+evolution website, which is “developed by the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute [DI’s CSC]. ” John G. West writes: “In the end, the effort to reconcile Darwinism with traditional Judeo-Christian theism remains unpersuasive.”

    While the faith+evolution website explicitly acknowledges its development to the DI’s CSC, the reverse is not true. It’s not listed on the CSC weblinks page, for example. For most practical purposes, you have to find out that the website exists outside of the DI website.

  4. Discovery Institute’s fellows includes some YECs. Paul Nelson, Nancy Pearcey, and Dean Kenyon all into that category. I imagine that there are others as well, not to mention that many DI supporters are young-Earthers.

  5. Curnudgeon: “Right. The Discoveroids are old-earth creationists, not the more unsophisticated young-earth types.”

    Probably no Discoveroid believes that the evidence supports a YE, or even and old-earth-young life, origins account. Some, like Paul Nelson, may believe YEC in spite of the evidence, but he never confirmed or denied that. Most don’t even challege common descent, and even if some have offered vague arguments against it, are careful not to challenge those Discoveroids (e.g. Behe) who have plainly conceded it. But they insist on promoting unreasonable doubt of evolution, using long-discredited arguments that they know they “borrowed” from those whom they do call “creationists.” They also know that “creationism” as used by both critics and many of the DI’s own followers includes their “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy. But they continue to bait-and-switch the definitions anyway.

    The “so what?” amounts to this: Confused Biblical creationists want students to learn what they honestly believe, and in some cases (though probably not often) would not mind students learning weaknesses of their “theory.” But Discoveroids want students to learn only those “weaknesses” of evolution that have been thorougly refuted – and they would undoubtedly censor the refutations. And they have no problem if those studensts allow those bogus “weaknesses” to reinforce fairy tales that Discoveroids themselves know ain’t so.

    If they insist on saying that ID is not creationism, they need to be consistent and admit that creationism is honest and wrong, and that ID is dishonest and “not even wrong.”

  6. Rubble:

    Any former YEC promoter who sells out to the DI’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy can be reasonably suspected of not believing that the evidence supports YEC. Unlike ID, YEC (and OEC) contains many testable hypotheses that can be supported on their own merits. My strong suspicion is that they all had their “Morton moment” (google “Morton’s Demon”) but chose not to make it public because they have a prior commitment to “save the world” from the “evils” of “Darwinism.”


    Klinghoffer and Michael Medved (another Jewish Discoveroid) may be lying – or at least “telling falsehoods for what they think is a noble cause” – but not for Jesus. 🙂

  7. Welcome aboard, Ellie.

  8. Frank J:
    I’m sorry. I’m new at commenting here. Lying For God will do just as nicely as Lying For Jesus since it’s the same basic thing. They are telling lies and blaming their wont to do so, on the god which they have created for themselves. I typed before I gave it sufficient thought.

    I suppose one could Lie For The FSM, but it’s not nearly as likely.

    Thanks for the welcome.

  9. Poor old Klinghoffer. Never an original thought. For years the DI has pulled the old switch-a-roo on the word “creationism” by linking it to one of the creationists variants, Biblical creationism, then pointing out that none of their literature mentions Adam or Noah or dinosaur trail rides, therefore, voila, ergo ID is not creationism.

    Judge Jones saw right through the smoke and mirrors, wasn’t fooled by the switch-a-roo and handed down a clear and decisive analysis of intelligent design creationism as creationism. It’s a ruling worth reading.

    Also, may I suggest “The Creationists” by Roland Numbers, and “Intelligent Design: Creationism’s Trojan Horse” by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross for exciting histories of the transformation of literal creationism to scientific creationism to intelligent design creationism, highlighted by the words of the proponents themselves.

    Unfortunately for Klinghoffer, he thinks he’s still writing for his high school newspaper. Still stinging from that C- he got in journalism is my guess.

  10. Klinghoffer’s latest little scribbling is pathetic. Laurie Lebo has totally eviscerated him, and he stands waiving his arms and flailing about.

    The Disco Toot’s big problem is that the ignorant yahoos that they employ as useful fools on school boards just aren’t bright enough to toe the line and pretend that ID has no religious connection.

  11. waldteufel says:

    … useful fools on school boards just aren’t bright enough to toe the line and pretend that ID has no religious connection.

    But that’s the only reason they care about ID. Thus, their problem in pretending otherwise.

  12. I liked where Meyer and also Klinghoffer himself were trying to claim Thomas Jefferson for ID, because, you know, he did write about “the Creator” in the Declaration of Independence.

    They’re not creationists, though. They just claim affiliation with believers in a Creator, which really means nothing. Why? Because they say that it means nothing. I mean, why can’t Lauri Lebo deal with the rhetorical games that Dembski plays, as David demands?

    Then again, maybe David and the rest, while being plenty disingenuous, are trying to justify their denial of creationism by the fact that they certainly have no evidence for any Designer. Since they really have nothing that indicates that there is a Creator, how can they really be creationists?

    That’s simple enough, because no creationist had any evidence of a Creator. With all of the respect I have for Jefferson’s intellect, he most certainly did not, either.

  13. would go Dr. Dembski one better by saying ID is a restatement of the first word in the Hebrew Bible, Bereishit, which some ancient rabbinic sources translate not as “In the beginning” but “With wisdom” — that is, with information did God create the heavens and the earth.

    I just can’t resist my response to that:
    Yes, Mr. Berei, I agree with your description of the Bible and ID.

  14. I think it’s humorous that to distance themselves from their religious roots, the DI has the temerity to suggest that Intelligent design doesn’t specify that the designer is supernatural. I would like to hear their alternatives. The truth is, any natural designer, whether biological or mechanical, will be designed themselves if the theory is internally consistent. Otherwise you have the strange situation that a complex life form evolved naturally but then travelled to earth and designed the life here – which is of course saying macro evolution is possible but only somewhere else. The bottom line, ID requires a supernatural creator, which is a religious concept and inseparable from creationism. ID is the shiny red gloss on the puckered lips of the creationist pig.

  15. not unless you are in the habit of buying lame arguments based on tenuous verbal comparisons.

    Jesus-tapdancing-Christ, did Klinghoffer really say that? The entirety of the neo-Paleyites Intelligent Design program is nothing but lame arguments based on tenuous comparisons. The bacterial flagellum looks like an outboard motor. DNA looks like a computer program, the cell looks like a city. That is their whole schtick.

  16. “Words have meanings. “Creationism” is a useful word to designate the claim of scientific evidence for a literal reading of Genesis, from the creation story to Noah’s flood.”

    Suddenly, the sound of countless outraged Islamic, Vedic, Native American, etc creationists spitting their drinks in unison! Millions of keyboards cry out in pain!

  17. But as a thought experiment, imagine that ID really did identify the “intelligent cause” as a deity, a creator. Would that make it “creationism”?

    Yes. Yes, it would. That’s precisely what Jones decided in Kitzmiller v. Dover. There’s a reason why both “creator” and “creationism” start with “creat”. If you believe someone or something *created* us and the universe, then that is, by definition, *creationism*.
    Well, that was an easy thought experiment. What else you got?

  18. Had another thought. Why does he save his venom for Lauri Lebo, a reporter? Why not go after Barbara Forrest, who is in the thick of this fight since she’s in Louisiana? Or Eugenie Scott, who is someone that has true scientific chops to her credit? Why Lauri?

  19. Gary asks: “Why Lauri?”

    The Discoveroids are playing a public relations game. In Klinghoffer’s mind, Lauri probably represents a bigger threat than Barbara or Genie.

  20. huh what: “Suddenly, the sound of countless outraged Islamic, Vedic, Native American, etc creationists spitting their drinks in unison! Millions of keyboards cry out in pain!”

    Some of the rank-and-file may be outraged, but I’m confident that their leaders will reassure them that the DI is just playing word games, and that the ID strategy completely accommodates their origins myths. Although they might not appreciate the fact that it also accomodates the Raelians.

  21. Two words suffice to eviscerate DI’s ongoing denial that ID is Creationism in a polyester leisure suit:

    “cdesign proponentsists”

  22. Longie, you’ve inspired me. From now on I’m adding “cdesign proponentsists” to my standard introductory wording for the Discoveroids.

  23. So what if we’re lying ignoramus’? So what if we’re the laughing stock of academia? So what if we can’t take criticism like a big boy? So what?

  24. In a sense, the dopes of DI are employing the “Nathan Thurm” defense strategy: “So what? I never said that. I never said that.”

  25. If you can find the video for this event it’s worth watching:


    In it lawyer Richard Thompson who defended in Dover laments, among other things how the DI left them high and dry at trial, then mentions a booklet produced by the DI on how to teach intelligent design creationism without getting caught.

    Mark Ryland (no longer with the DI, surprise, surprise) counters that the DI never produced such material.

    An incensed Thompson then opens his briefcase, pulls out the booklet and waves it in Ryland’s face, “Oh, yeah, well here it is!!”

    Shut. Ryland. Up.

    You can’t write comedy that creationists produce for free!

  26. Doc Bill says:

    If you can find the video for this event it’s worth watching

    The video is here:
    but it’s a day-long event. Ryland starts speaking around 5:45. Difficult to find the exchange you mentioned.

  27. Ryland’s claim and Thompson’s rebuttal occurs during Panel Discussion 3 at 6:06:38. I remember watching this on BookTV during the trial, and I’m pleased to share it with you here.

  28. Thompson/Ryland is a fascinating exchange the transcript of which and several discussions can be found elsewhere on the web.

    Here you have Ken Miller who knows ID is a scam sitting there enjoying himself. Ryland who knows ID is a scam because he’s a VP at the Seattle stink tank. And Thompson who’s bought into the scam hook line and sinker and wants to take ID to the Supreme Court for a ruling (and win!)

    Thompson THOUGHT he was fighting FOR the Disco Tute when, in fact, he was nothing more than a foil. The Tute not only got off the bus, but they threw Thompson under it.

    Beautiful example, Louisiana, doncha think? Nevermind.

  29. Gabriel Hanna

    The Discovery Institute can’t tell the truth to anyone apparently, not even the people that support it. That’s the problem with playing these kind of deep double games. Klinghoffer has admitted before that evolution by natural selection taking millions of years has to be invoked explain the vast majority of what we see, but refused to clarify further (ask Glen Davidson, he was there).