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Darwinists Giving Different Answers When Discussing Robert Pennock’s UCSD Lecture

Casey Luskin

As I noted earlier, some Darwinists have contacted me insisting that not all freshmen were required to attend the lecture by anti-ID philosopher Robert Pennock at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) (first described here). I felt it was clear that freshmen were required to attend the lecture, given that UCSD’s main student website, Tritonlink, stated, “All first-quarter freshmen are required to attend the event.” Wanting to be diligent, I decided to contact organizers of the lecture to find out the facts. What I found was that, when Darwinists inquired, they were given different answers than I was given. Additionally, I gained fascinating insight into the mindset of Robert Pennock himself.

One Answer for Darwinists, a Different Answer for Me
One person I contacted regarding Pennock’s lecture was the provost of UCSD’s 6th College, Dr. Gabriele Wienhausen. Originally, I asked her, “Were all UCSD freshmen were required to attend Dr. Pennock’s lecture? If the answer is ‘no’, why did Tritonlink say otherwise?” She wrote me back confirming that 6th college freshmen in the CAT I course were required to attend but stated she did not know about requirements pertaining from UCSD’s other colleges. She wrote me: “I do not know what the TritonLink main page stated. I realize that my answer only applies to a subset of freshmen – but that is all I know.” (emphasis added)

A Darwinist professor at UCSD then wrote Dr. Wienhausen inquiring about this, and she told him, “Did the other colleges require their freshmen to come? No, they strongly encouraged their students.” (emphasis added)

Obviously, Dr. Wienhausen gave the Darwinist UCSD professor a different answer than she gave me. She told me she didn’t know anything about the requirements of the other colleges at UCSD, but she plainly answered the professor’s questions and told him that the other colleges did NOT require their freshmen to attend (they only “strongly encouraged their students” to attend). I therefore felt that prudence required that I again inquire into the situation. Thus I subsequently wrote Dr. Wienhausen the following in an e-mail:

UCSD Professor [Snip] forwarded me your response to him regarding Robert Pennock’s lecture at UCSD. You had told me you did not know about requirements for freshmen outside of 6th college, but you told Dr. [Snip] that other colleges did not require their students to attend. As you gave Dr. [Snip] a different answer than you gave me, I wonder what additional information you have learned since you last wrote me.

I also asked her, “If Tritonlink was incorrect, will Tritonlink be posting a correction or retraction?” She wrote me back saying: “Dear Mr. Luskin, I have no additional information.” (emphasis added)

Hmmm. So originally Dr. Wienhausen told me she didn’t know anything about the requirements of other colleges. Then a Darwinist writes her and she gives a different answer saying other colleges did not require their students to attend. I write her back asking if she learned something new since our original correspondence, and she says “I have no additional information.” Why can’t this Darwinist administrator at UCSD simply answer my honest questions and give consistent answers to people? Regardless, if I take her claims written to me at face value, she presently has said nothing to me to retract the claim that all UCSD freshmen were required to attend.

Robert Pennock’s Advice to Dr. Wienhausen
The most fascinating part of this investigation is what Robert Pennock apparently wrote Dr. Wienhausen, according to the e-mail forwarded to me by the Darwinist professor at UCSD. Pennock wrote quite a bit, including a section I leave off where he misinterprets something I wrote, which I have now clarified. But I include this highlight to reveal the mindset of Pennock. Pennock reportedly wrote to Dr. Gabriele Wienhausen:

The article on the Discovery Institute website about my talk (actually prior to my talk) is standard propaganda from these guys and filled with their usual deceptions and factual mistakes. They make these misleading claims all the time in public, but when under oath on the stand, the ID expert witnesses all had to admit that ID introduces the supernatural and that this violates the ground rules of science. (emphasis added)

But where in the Kitzmiller record did ID proponents “admit that ID introduces the supernatural”? At trial, when Scott Minnich was “whether intelligent design requires the action of a supernatural creator,” he stated, “It does not.” (Scott Minnich, Testimony Transcript, pgs. 45-46 [Kitzmiller v. Dover, afternoon session, Nov. 3, 2005].) When Michael Behe was asked essentially the same question, he also replied, “No, it doesn’t.” (Michael Behe, Testimony Transcript, pg. 86 [Kitzmiller v. Dover, morning session, Oct. 17, 2005].) As I explained in my original post about Pennock’s lecture, the Of Pandas and People textbook makes precisely the same point-in passages which Robert Pennock completely ignored in his testimony.

How does Pennock rebut this plain evidence? He does not provide a rebuttal to my arguments about intelligent design and the supernatural, but rather advises a university provost that anything coming from the pro-ID viewpoint is “standard propaganda” filled with “their usual deceptions and factual mistakes.” This shows that the Darwinist tactic of instructing people to ‘shut their minds and ignore other arguments because our critics are all liars‘ extends to Pennock’s involvement in the highest levels of academia. When people have to demonize their opponents to keep colleagues from considering the opposing arguments, that should tell you something about the strength of their position.

Perhaps next time there’s a trial about intelligent design, Robert Pennock can be questioned on cross-examination about his statement to Dr. Wienhausen so the judge can learn Pennock’s true views about intelligent design.


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.



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