Ball State Imbroglio: John West Is Angry

Buffoon Award

We recently posted Ball State to Discoveroids: “Bugger Off!”, in which we congratulated the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana for saying:

The [Discovery] institute is an anti-evolution, pro-creationism intelligent design think tank in Seattle that maintains supernatural forces shaped the universe.

(All the background information leading up to that can be found here: Ball State Imbroglio Update — 03 Oct 2013.)

Today we have a response from the Discoveroids in that same newspaper. It comes from none other than John West (whom we affectionately call “Westie”). He’s Associate Director of the Discoveroids’ creationist “think tank,” which makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy. He was also an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo above this post.

Westie’s latest is in the form of a letter-to-the-editor. It’s titled Intelligent design and creationism, in which he claims the Discoveroids aren’t creationists.

It’s the usual blather the Discoveroids sling around. We wrote about a recent example of the same thing here: Casey Luskin: Intelligent Design Isn’t Creationism. They’ve made such denials before — see Discovery Institute: “Stop Calling Us Creationists!”, and also “Don’t Call Us Creationists!”.

One of the most amusing things about the Discoveroids is watching them deny what is so obvious to everyone. If you like that sort of thing, we have some other examples: Discoveroids: “We’re Not Crazy!”, and also “We’re Not Science Deniers!”

Now they’re at it again. Let’s take a look at Westie’s denial. The bold font was added by us for emphasis:

The article, “BSU reviewing alleged ‘atheism’ class” (Oct. 1), falsely claims that Discovery Institute is a “pro-creationism … think tank.” Creationism is commonly understood as a belief that the earth was created by God a few thousand years ago during seven 24-hour days based on a literal reading of the Bible. Discovery Institute does not advocate creationism, and we oppose its introduction in public schools.

Note the ellipsis in Westie’s quote, and also Westie’s carefully-chosen starting and ending points. The Star Press had said the Discoveroids were “an anti-evolution, pro-creationism intelligent design think tank in Seattle that maintains supernatural forces shaped the universe.”

We’re not sure what Westie’s omissions are supposed to accomplish. He seems to have no objection to the Star Press statement that the Discoveroids are anti-evolution, or their mentioning intelligent design’s claim that supernatural forces shaped the universe. Despite those tacit admissions, Westie denies that he and his gang are creationists.

According to the Discoveroids, the only true creationists are the young-Earth creationists like Ken Ham. The modern, up-to-date types are old-Earth creationists. The Discoveroids are mostly old-Earthers, and they’re careful not to mention the bible or to identify their magic designer as Yahweh. But they’re still evolution deniers, and that requires them to be science deniers in general. Nevertheless, they insist that we shouldn’t call them creationists. Sorry, Westie. You are what you are.

On with his letter:

Discovery Institute does support scientists who think there is evidence of intelligent design in nature. Intelligent design is not based on an interpretation of the Bible, but on the clear evidence of nature itself, such as the fine-tuning of the laws of physics, the digital information encoded in DNA, and the thousands of exquisitely-functional molecular machines operating inside our cells.

Nothing new here. It all goes back to William Paley’s watchmaker analogy — if something looks designed, then by golly it is designed. It’s the Discoveroids’ main argument in support of their “theory” of intelligent design. Let’s read on:

Critics of intelligent design who mislabel it “creationism” are trying to avoid genuine debate by stereotyping intelligent design proponents rather than engaging their actual arguments. This tactic is unbefitting a free and open society.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Westie continues:

So is Ball State University’s new speech code that prohibits faculty from expressing support for intelligent design in the classroom, but apparently does not restrict them from attacking intelligent design.

It’s probably never come up before, but we imagine Ball State would have exactly the same policy for topics like astrology, magic crystals, ancient aliens, crop circles, haunted houses, astral projection, and moon-landing denial. None of that junk belongs in a science class. Here’s the rest of Westie’s letter:

Censoring one side of a debate is not a good way to find the truth. As Darwin himself advised: “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

Yeah, yeah. The Discoveroids have used that before. It’s from the Introduction of Origin of Species. What the quote-miners fail to point out is that Darwin did present the objections to his theory. See, for example, Chapter 6 – Difficulties on Theory, in which he fairly described (and clearly rebutted) the creationist arguments of his day, all of which are still commonly used by evolution deniers.

How long must we continue to entertain the same, endlessly repeated and decisively rebutted arguments? Consider what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence about the limits of patience:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

[Long list of abuses.]

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

The creationists — and that includes the Discoveroids — have been engaged in “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” We have patiently and politely endured their behavior. The facts have been “submitted to a candid world” for generations. It’s time for this silly game to end.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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31 responses to “Ball State Imbroglio: John West Is Angry

  1. Richard Olson

    The silly game will end when the last believer drops the holy book from his warm, live fingers in exchange for reality. Not before.

  2. Actually, I believe that–for once–Westie is correct here in charging that, in his words, the Star Press article

    falsely claims that Discovery Institute is a “pro-creationism … think tank.”

    The ‘pro-creationism’ part is accurate, of course, but to characterise the Discovery Institute as a “think tank” is indeed a grotesque error.

  3. Hopefully, some local (or other) anti-creationists will respond to Westie in the newspaper, using he DI’s own words to show that they really are what they say they are not! Rebuttal of their drivel is important.

  4. Am I the only one who thought of this when I saw the headline?

  5. Retired Prof

    I visited an imbroglio once, but decided I really preferred singles bars.

  6. Retired Prof

    Wait. Am I thinking of an intaglio?

  7. Westie is getting hammered in the comments. Nobody is buying his snake oil.

  8. Eddie Janssen

    As far as I know Genesis tells us that God created the world in 6 days.

  9. @Eddie – more accurately, unknown ancient stories handed down by preliterate tribesmen asserted that the world was created in six days by a god.

  10. So if they aren’t creationists, why do so many creationists agree with them?

  11. Someone needs to post a link to the wedge document in the comments to the article.

  12. @Ed: I don’t think you need to do that. The commenter “Jeff Weiss” did a fine job of posting links to the DI’s own website showing how disingenuous Westie’s words are.

  13. Eddie Janssen

    @Ed
    I have seen christian people make this mistake quite a few times. I think I forgot to quote the part in West’s letter where he states that:
    “Creationism is commonly understood as a belief that the earth was created by God a few thousand years ago during seven 24-hour days based on a literal reading of the Bible.”
    Not seven days, six.days.

  14. “… such as the fine-tuning of the laws of physics, the digital information encoded in DNA, and the thousands of exquisitely-functional molecular machines operating inside our cells.”

    All anthropomorphic observatiions and conclusions. The universe is fine-tuned so we are here to declare the universe is fine tuned for us to be here, and around and around. Digital information? Molecular machines operating inside our cells?

    The reference to “think tank” is incorrect. John really meant to say “stink tank.”

    Then the always present dishonesty institute Darwin quote:
    “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

    But Westie and his dishonesty folks always leave off the rest of the sentence: and this is here impossible.” Perhaps they don’t think they need to use ellipsis at the end of the sentence?

    HEY WESTIE, WHY CAN’T YOU EVEN GET THE DARWIN QUOTE RIGHT? Are you trying to hide something?

  15. Censoring one side of a debate is not a good way to find the truth.

    Westie is absolutely right, of course. So the big question is why is he and his Discoveroid buddies censoring his critics, and deceased scientists who would undoubtedly be critics today, by incessant quote-mining and pretending that their refutations of his misrepresentations don’t exist? And why is he censoring himself by refusing to state testable “what happened when” claims of his “theory” that would clearly show the difference between it and what he calls “creationism”? Or for that matter, censoring the fact that “creationism” as understood by his critics and many of his fans includes OEC and ID.

    More importantly, dear fellow “Darwinists,” why is it that ~99% of the time I read an accusation of “censorship” it comes from the ones that actually promote it, instead of from you that do not???

  16. How interesting it is that West, who has published revisionist histories, won’t touch the history of “cdesign proponentsists” with a ten-foot marotte. It seems that he’s similarly averse to lexicography (see sense 2 in Wiktionary and sense 1 in Dictionary.com), preferring to declare what creationism is commonly understood to mean.

    I went for years without referring to ID as creationism, considering that to be prejudicial. But then Dembski and Marks proclaimed in “Life’s Conservation Law” that intelligence creates information, where information is a physical entity, not an abstraction. I’ve tacked “creationism” onto the end of “intelligent design” ever since, without the least pang of guilt.

  17. Information is a physical entity? If I feel ambitious enough I’ll try to find the source amongst my books, but there was yet another attorney back I think in the ’60’s who used the term “atomis mentis” whereby he was saying that those itsy, bitsy little atoms had minds of their own and just knew which other atoms it was okay to associate with.

  18. West is taking such a pounding in the comments, his computer now only displays the colors black and blue.

  19. Isn’t Intelligent design “just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory” anymore? Or don’t ID-creationists know their bible anymore?

  20. The whole truth

    John West is a blatant liar and senior fellow at the Seattle-based discovery institute where he is associate director of discovery’s center for science & culture and vice president for public policy and legal affairs, and he’s an arrogant whiner regarding a free and open society, allowing both* sides, avoiding genuine debate, engaging in actual arguments, false claims, censorship, etc., yet comments are not allowed on his creationist stink tank’s website and he and his fellow DI ‘fellows’ are virtually always afraid to openly engage with people on forums that do allow comments. As usual, westie preached his dishonest, one-sided sermon and then ran away from challenges to what he preached.

    *Both sides my ass. There are way more than two sides to opinions/beliefs about the origin and diversification of life, especially when considering all of the versions of religions and other woo around the world. Westie, like other god pushers, thinks that his version of his religion (christianity) is the only alternative to natural processes, and he conveniently and arrogantly ignores or disputes the fact that the only “side” that has any scientific, evidentiary support is natural processes. Westie is just another typical, deceitful, hypocritical, narcissistic dominionist with delusions of godhood.

  21. “We’re not sure what Westie’s omissions are supposed to accomplish.”
    Quite simple: respectability. Part of DI’s strategy (and creationists’ in general) is to use language to their benefit. They want to decide what words mean. Creationism is not science hence Discotutes aren’t creationists. They need to smear Darwin’s reputation, hence they call evolutionary biologists Darwinists.
    Imo we shouldn’t let them get away with it. So yes, I agree, Westie is a creationist and when he calls me a Darwinist I take it as a compliment.

  22. Cardinal TA stated:

    West is taking such a pounding in the comments, his computer now only displays the colors black and blue.

    And red. He’s been skewered to a fare-thee-well. It does my Hoosier-born heart good to see the drubbing, nay mud-hole stompin’, that he’s getting.
    Oh, and thanks for the “Ctrl” + “=” sign trick for enlarging websites.

  23. Fifty-two comments as of 10/7 afternoon and not a single one in support of West. I’m surprised Westie didn’t send out the Attack Gerbil to correct all the “misrepresentations.”

  24. docbill1351 says: “Fifty-two comments as of 10/7 afternoon and not a single one in support of West.”

    One sided? How typical of Darwinists! In Westie’s own words: This tactic is unbefitting a free and open society. It shows how wise they are not to allow comments on their blog.

  25. This made me smile: an article, by Westie himself, on this exact same topic: Intelligent Design and Creationism Just Aren’t the Same. It’s dated 1 December 2002 🙂

    He gives 5 reasons why they ain’t the same; the bullet points are his words (click over if you want his detailed commentary on each point, but that won’t really tell you anymore than his bullet points):

    1. “Intelligent Design Creationism” is a pejorative term coined by some Darwinists to attack intelligent design; it is not a neutral label of the intelligent design movement.
    […snip…]

    2. Unlike creationism, intelligent design is based on science, not sacred texts.
    […snip…]

    3. Creationists know that intelligent design theory is not creationism.
    […snip…]

    4. Like Darwinism, design theory may have implications for religion, but these implications are distinct from its scientific program.
    […snip…]

    5. Fair-minded critics recognize the difference between intelligent design and creationism.
    […snip…]

    And that’s all! That’s all he had in 2002, and it’s all he’s got in 2013, on the “difference” between creationism and ID.

    Pathetic….

  26. DocBill: No, I think one commenter is standing up for religion, Scott Conway, who says that we really want to put Christians in a dungeon and, uh, treat them the way Christians historically treated heretics:

    “There it is right there, Amy: CHRISTIANS!
    Shall we pull out the rack and the iron maiden?
    You’re deranged.”

    “Perhaps you would be made happier by having them hauled off to concentration camps?”

    Oh my. Methinks he is fantasizing about being tortured, like Mel Gibson in South Park.

  27. @Doc Bill & Diogenes: Make that 65 as of the evening of 7 Oct, with the only ones in support (3 of them) from the same troll Diogenes identified. And, frankly, his comments were the typical “You’re all liberals!” pathetic, ad hom attack.

  28. @G, DB & D, you are correct. I’m one of the commenters that was trolled by Scotty.

  29. Gary says:

    And, frankly, his comments were the typical “You’re all liberals!” pathetic, ad hom attack.

    I’ve never understood that. It’s true that a lot of academia is liberal, but there’s absolutely nothing about Darwin’s theory — natural selection, etc. — that leads to … well, to food stamps and such.

  30. Paul S said:

    I’m one of the commenters that was trolled by Scotty.

    Ah! I didn’t connect your screen name there and here and put them together. But I loved (!!!) your last comment with your “like” to him. Beautiful!

  31. Scotts taken part in several of the Ball state threads. He has a particular dislike for Amy Edmonds who as far as I have been able to confirm actually works at ball state as a music librarian.

    However, we should really thank scott for taking part. He has shown very clearly the quality of person who is attracted to ID theory.