December 7, 2005

Intelligent Designers Communicate Their Argument With Fists

For a few weeks, I’ve been planning a post about Kansas.

After I read this story:

Creationism and intelligent design have found a home at The University of Kansas. But supporters of the two theories are none too happy that the home is in a course being offered next semester by the religion department, titled “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies.”

(found via Verbatim)

After reading this, it occurred to me that I had, in the past, been a little hard on Kansas. Clearly, there are people in Kansas who are stuck fighting off the crazy injection of religion into science. If I’m going to say things like “Kansas Science” I ought to exempt the people who are fighting for good science to be taught. They’ve got it pretty hard. But I dragged my feet on the post. And it turned out that they have it even harder than I thought.

Thugs beat up the professor who had been planning to offer that class juxtaposing evolution and Intelligent Design.

University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki said that the two men who beat him made references to the class that was to be offered for the first time this spring.

Originally called “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies,” the course was canceled last week at Mirecki’s request.

The course was already canceled, possibly as a result of the reaction to Mirecki’s lack of respect for religion in email comments that were made public in local newspapers. This made for an environment that Mirecki claimed would not serve the educational process of serious students well.

But the cancellation of the course was not enough. Apparently, some thought that Mirecki needed to be taught a more painful lesson in what happens when you want to teach others about the lack of science in their mythology.

Perhaps these people are feeling desperation, fearing the imminent academic death of Intelligent Design? According to the newspaper of record:

Behind the headlines, however, intelligent design as a field of inquiry is failing to gain the traction its supporters had hoped for. It has gained little support among the academics who should have been its natural allies. And if the intelligent design proponents lose the case in Dover, there could be serious consequences for the movement’s credibility.

On college campuses, the movement’s theorists are academic pariahs, publicly denounced by their own colleagues. Design proponents have published few papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

ID supporters, of course, are already starting to downplay the importance of the Dover case. In fact, they feel that failure is such a high probability and carries with it high profile damage that they took surprising measures:

Advocates of intelligent design perceived the risk as so great that the [pro-ID] Discovery Institute said it had tried to dissuade the school board in Dover from going ahead and taking a stand in favor of intelligent design. The institute opposed the Dover board’s action, it said, because it “politicized” what should be a scientific issue.

Now, with a decision due in four or five weeks, design proponents like Mr. West of Discovery said the Dover trial was a “sideshow” - one that will have little bearing on the controversy.

Politics works when it is in your favor. But when you’re losing on the science and the courts wake up, you start to realize the free ride you’ve been getting by hiding in the dark of a demon-haunted world. And you try to claw your way back out of the light.

Posted by James at December 7, 2005 8:05 AM
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Saw a couple of things related to this while flipping through a recent Science this morning.

The first is this article:

Which basically seems to say that allowing ID to be taught alongside evolution (at least at the college level) is a great way to convince people that evolution is the more valid theory. Wouldn't it be great if the ID people "won" and got ID into classrooms only to find out that it had the opposite effect of what they intended?

Also saw this:

which is a blog dedicated to correcting errors in media coverge of evolution/ID and highlight evolution research.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 7, 2005 12:04 PM

That's a neat blog, Bob. Thanks for posting it. That's the name of one of my favorite Gould collections. :-(

Posted by: Maggie at December 7, 2005 1:11 PM

That's where the name comes from actually. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet but I plan to.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 7, 2005 3:08 PM

I wonder if I can get my hands on the reading list for this now-cancelled course. I'm betting I've got most of the books, given the exhaustive reading list from an excellent history of science course I took, which was heavy on discussion of evolution and what would have been called intelligent design, if the phrase had existed 100 years ago.

Add to that all the mythology courses I've taken, and I've probably got a good chunk of his required reading, but if there's something new, I'd like to read it.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 7, 2005 4:25 PM

Actually the print magazine has pictures of the two books used (or at least two of the books used). They are Richard Dawkins "The Blind Watchmaker" for the evolution side and Jonathan Wells "Icons of Evolution" for the ID side. I'm pretty sure you don't have either of these.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 8, 2005 8:06 AM

Hey, Bob, I think I see a hint for a "holiday" present for Patti.

Posted by: Maggie at December 8, 2005 10:36 AM

Selections of "The Blind Watchmaker" may appear in a compillation I have, but I wouldn't swear to it.

It's in the newly designated and expanded history section of our new bookshelves; I'll check it today.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 8, 2005 12:03 PM

The author is Richard Dawkins, correct? Yes, excerpts to appear in "Darwin." ISBN 0-393-95849-3

Posted by: Patti M. at December 8, 2005 12:13 PM

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