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Gary Hurd’s Shot Hurd ‘Round the World

Casey Luskin

In a recent editorial, Gary S. Hurd complains about an apparent misquote on a quote from Bill Gates about the software-qualities of DNA. Hurd devoted a large portion of his editorial to complaining about the fact that apparently I and some others have misplaced a comma and accidentally inserted the word “we’ve” into the quote when quoting Gates (this did not change the meaning of the quote, in fact it may have lessened its impact if anything). Firstly, I thank Dr. Hurd for alerting me to the fact that there was a misquote. For the future record, here is the accurate quote:

“Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

(Bill Gates, “The Road Ahead,” pg. 188 (Viking, Penguin Group, 1995))

In his editorial, Dr. Hurd made a big hullabaloo about the misquote, which amounted to a misplaced comma and an extra word “we’ve.” Hurd also semed to imply that we were saying that Gates was himself an adherent of intelligent design–but that also was a misrepresentation of our usage of the quote. The point was simply to say what Gates said: that human DNA has software-like qualities. I think that points towards design, but we never implied that Gates necessarily thought it implied design.

It’s fine if Dr. Hurd wants to correct people–but why turn it into some big drama-show? After all, Hurd himself made numerous non-trivial mistakes in print in his appendix to “Why ID Fails.” To his credit, Dr. Hurd promised to fixed the mistakes in the future. That Hurd would now nitpick over an extra comma and an inaccurate word in an otherwise compelling quote shows the mindset of many hardcore Darwinists critics of ID: ignore the forest for the twigs.

Regarding the errors he put into print, read “Appendicitis: Corrections to the Appendix of Why Intelligent Design Fails” which is a response to the errors in Gary Hurd’s appendix to the book “Why Intelligent Design Fails.” I wrote that page because there were some serious non-trivial substantive errors. I also contacted Dr. Hurd ahead of posting it, in good faith, and a spirit of cooperative correction, offering to let him know about the errors. Dr. Hurd subsequently posted my e-mail on the internet without my permission, accused me of wanting to play “‘cat n’ mouse’ games.” He also never replied. So much for trying to be nice to Darwinists (though I’ll keep trying). Here’s a brief summary of the errors described on that page:

  • 1) Hurd’s appendix lists the wrong URL for the IDEA Club (the URL he gives doesn’t exist)
  • 2) Hurd inaccurately characterizes the founding of IDURC; possibly mixes it up with another organization.
  • 3) Hurd states the website supports intelligent design from a young earth creationist perspective, when it is actually a STAUNCH AND VEHEMENT “old earth” creationist website (and is harshly anti-YEC)–a major mistake on Hurd’s part!
  • 4) Hurd lists as a separate entry in the appendix when that site is an exact duplicate mirror-site of which Hurd also lists in the appendix; Hurd criticizes this site as if it represents the ID movement, when it clearly is not a mainstream ID website.

We’ve all made mistakes in this debate. I try my best to not misquote people, as is evidenced by my recent immediate correction to a Ken Miller quote, as well as the corrections stated here. This is a great example of a Darwinist going nuts over a miniscule misquote–when he himself has done far worse!

I’m not interested in playing games–I’m interested in playing nice. Any Darwinists out there game?

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



Gary Hurd