We have a new theory about the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
Our theory is that the purpose of their blog isn’t to persuade anyone about the non-existent merits of intelligent design. Creationists don’t need persuading; they’re already willing to go along with the Discoveroids, and the rest of the world either ignores them or laughs at them. Surely the Discoveroids know this. Yet they devote a great deal of time to their blog. So what’s it all about?
We think their blog’s principal purpose is to convince their generous patrons that they’re making progress. There can’t be any other reason for it.
Consider their latest article. The title is Homework Avoidance: A Major Reason for Resistance to Intelligent Design. It’s by David Klinghoffer, whose creationist oeuvre we last described here, and upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist. His name has some of the resonance of Red Skelton’s Clem Kadiddlehopper.
Neither a lawyer nor a fallen scientist, Klinghoffer plays the role of house mystic — a convenient guise for a retained essayist whose principal job is to enthusiastically function as an unrestrained journalistic slasher whenever his creationist masters assign him to the task. There’s really no conflict between his role as both mystic and slasher. Rather, they’re complementary behaviors. Whenever his mystical view of the world is threatened by science, he starts slashing to preserve his rapturous befuddlement.
In this instance, Klinghoffer (or Kadiddlehopper) seems a bit out of character — he’s neither slashing nor being mystical. His post was apparently drafted in response to a patron’s question as to why the Discoveroids aren’t making more progress in the academic world. Their wedge strategy, which we assume was their major fund-raising manifesto when they started, declares their Five Year Goals:
• To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
• To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
• To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.
But they haven’t met those goals, have they? Certainly not the first one — not even close. The same document also declared their Twenty Year Goals:
• To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
• To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts.
• To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.
Again, they’re nowhere near accomplishing that first goal, or the second. So maybe their patrons are growing restless and the Discoveroids have some explaining to do. Here are some excerpts from what seems to be Klinghoffer’s excuse, with bold font added by us:
Probably most serious working biologists dispense with Darwinian theory in their everyday work. It simply doesn’t come up, and insofar as it does, it raises manifest problems in terms of its own scientific credibility.
With a start like that, is there any hope for this article? No, there isn’t, but at least we can squeeze some amusement out of it. Klinghoffer continues:
The defense of the theory is thus left to two notable groups: the Internet atheist brigade of PZ Myers & Co. and celebrity atheists like Richard Dawkins — who, for his part, is no longer considered a serious scientist or even a serious public intellectual — and, curiously, to a fringe of minor academics at small religious colleges.
Wow! No one defends Darwin’s theory except atheists like PZ and Richard Dawkins, and “a fringe of minor academics at small religious colleges.” Evolution must be fading fast! Let’s read on, as he talks about that Darwinist fringe at religious colleges:
You could speculate about what drives some of the religious folks who take Darwin’s side. A desire to curry respect with higher-up figures in the academic world, or a fear of being mocked for holding a controversial minority scientific view.
Observe, dear reader, that Klinghoffer has trouble imagining why religious folks would take Darwin’s side. His puzzlement is rather revealing, coming as it does from an outfit that claims to be doing science, and denies that it’s nothing but a creationist cult. He continues:
I would say there’s an additional factor, though, one that is of much wider applicability: homework avoidance. I see this clearly in the religious community I know best, the Jewish one, and in the professional community I belong to, that of journalists. It’s huge.
Ah, there’s the answer. No one wants to do the necessary homework! It’s laziness that prevents acceptance of intelligent design. Here’s more:
If you’re going to identify yourself with one side or the other in the evolution debate, it’s very, very tempting to go Darwinist. Sure, there’s the consideration of your own social anxiety and eagerness to win the esteem of your peers and betters. But even more important for many is that when you embrace orthodox evolutionism, you can feel confident that for the most part you’ll be able to go about your business without anyone challenging you to defend your beliefs. If they do, you can just say, “Hey, it’s what all those scientists say! Leave me alone.”
Yeah, that must be it. Everyone is going along to get along. That’s how it is in the world of science. No one wants to rock the boat. Moving along:
Identifying with an alternative to Darwinism is far more difficult. What if someone challenges you on that, demands that you defend your regard for intelligent design? To answer creditably, very different from Darwinism, you need to have done your homework. And that’s no easy thing. The science is hard, and I say that as someone, a non-scientist, who’s immersed in it daily.
We won’t bother commenting on that. Another excerpt:
I would say ID’s greatest challenge at the moment is to make its ideas publicly accessible — explain itself to people in a way that’s easy to grasp by any thoughtful individual. This is terribly important.
If only they had more funding, they could really make some progress with their public relations efforts. See how this fits our theory? Their blog all about persuading their patrons to keep the funds flowing. Here’s how the article ends:
Right now, we have a lot of work to do on that front.
So there you are. There’s nothing wrong with the theory of intelligent design. It just needs more publicity — and more money. Then maybe those lazy academics will finally do their homework. It’s their fault the Discoveroids haven’t succeeded yet.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.