[Editor’s Note: For a full and comprehensive review and response to Edward Humes’ book, Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, and the Battle for America’s Soul, please see A Partisan Affair: A Response to Edward Humes’ Inaccurate History of Kitzmiller v. Dover and Intelligent Design, “Monkey Girl.]
In Part I, I discussed how in the spring of 2006, I was contacted by a reporter named Edwards Humes who was writing a book on the Dover trial. He claimed to be supremely neutral, fair, and non-partisan. (Humes now refuses to grant me permission to directly quote his emails where he made these claims of neutrality.) But I had reasons to be suspicious. Reporters who go out of their way to claim to be fair often turn out to be agenda-driven Darwinists in non-partisan clothing. Indeed, Humes’ present FAQ on his book’s website is entirely pro-evolution and anti-ID. This second installment will discuss additional inaccuracies in Humes’ evolving FAQ.
Humes on ID and Creationism
Humes’ present FAQ states: “Intelligent Design is a non-biblical form of creationism that avoids overtly religious references but posits an unnamed master ‘designer’…” But he specifically told me in one of his original emails requesting an interview that he did not equate ID with the unqualified descriptor creationism. (As noted, Humes refuses to grant me permission to directly quote his original e-mails.) Does his FAQ now provide a neutral or non-partisan description of ID? Obviously, the claim that ID is creationism is a “form of creationism” is wrong, as was compellingly argued to Judge Jones here and here.
Humes on the “infinitely powerful designer”
Humes’ present FAQ states that ID “posits a supernatural process — an intelligent designer fashioning life and the universe…” But that isn’t what his FAQ always said. As of January 28, it stated that ID “posits a supernatural process — an infinitely powerful designer creating life and the universe…” (emphasis added) Why did his FAQ change? Because I challenged him. I e-mailed Humes a few weeks ago noting that the theory of intelligent design does not try to identify the designer as “infinitely powerful” or “supernatural.” Humes apparently has fixed the former error, but not the latter. But that’s not the interesting part of the story.
After I challenged Humes’ false characterization of ID, he removed the words “infinitely powerful designer,” and then sent me an email which accused me of misstating his FAQ, making no disclosure whatsoever that he had changed those words in his FAQ. That he would change his FAQ in that manner, not disclose that change, and then accuse me of misstating it only made me more suspicious of him. (Of course I saved the original version of his FAQ.)
But even Humes’ improved FAQ does not accurately characterize how leading proponents of ID define their theory. For one of a great many examples, the Pandas textbook states: “Surely the intelligent design explanation has unanswered questions of its own … [I]ntelligence .. can be recognized by uniform sensory experience, and the supernatural … cannot. … We should recognize, however, that if we go further, and conclude that the intelligence responsible for biological origins is outside the universe (supernatural) or within it, we do so without the help of science … All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.” (Of Pandas and People, pg. 126-127, 161) According these passages which Judge Jones and Humes’ FAQ ignore, the theory of ID does not conclude whether the designer is supernatural or natural.
Should ID proponents be allowed to speak for themselves, or will Humes simply repeat the partisan misconstruals of Darwinists? Apparently Humes’ FAQ employs the latter option.
Humes on ID and Science
When Humes emailed me in spring 2006, he implied that he accepted that ID had science, and he claimed to be non-partisan and neutral. He gave no indication that he believed ID was merely a religious idea. But when I first encountered his FAQ a few weeks ago, it stated that “evolution is a scientific idea, while Intelligent Design is a religious idea.”
After reading the original wording of the FAQ, I emailed Humes and challenged his claim that “Intelligent Design is a religious idea.” Where in Cambridge University Press monograph The Design Inference does William Dembski use a religious methodology to infer design? Is not the design inference based upon the scientific methodology that we observe that intelligent agents are the sole known cause of high levels of specified and complex information, and then we find high levels of specified and complex information in nature? You can disagree with the ID-inference, but you can’t deny its empirical, non-religious methodology.
Humes mustered no response my challenges about ID’s methodology. Instead he changed his FAQ and e-mailed me back, again, not disclosing that he changed this statement in his FAQ and again, accusing me of misrepresenting his FAQ. The new version of his FAQ has slightly softer language stating that “evolution is a scientific idea, while Intelligent Design is seen by many as a religious idea.” That he would backtrack and then not disclose it in the email accusing me of misstating his FAQ has further heightened my suspicions.
Interesting Choices of Reviewers…
There are other problems with Humes’ FAQ which I will leave alone for now. Darwinist defenders will claim Humes developed his highly-partisan viewpoint while researching the book. And who are Humes’ defenders? His book has received glowing endorsements from hard-line Darwinists like P.Z. Myers, Michael Shermer, and even Judge John E. Jones. However Humes started out, to get an endorsement from P.Z. Myers and Michael Shermer, I expect his final take to be anything but neutral.
No one can blame me for my present suspicions. Of course Humes claims, and others will claim, that he was neutral when he started his research and developed his partisan views as time passed.
But Humes’ own self-proclamations carry little weight in this analysis.
All I really have to go on are the original assertions from Humes which claimed he was non-partisan and fair while simultaneously trying to convince me to do an interview, and his present highly partisan FAQ. Given that Humes now refuses to both disclose his book proposal (which might reveal the truth) and grant me permission to quote his original emails, and that he is changing his FAQ and then privately accusing me of misstating it while not disclosing all the changes he made, I feel my suspicions are not unreasonable. If only Humes would give me a credible reason–besides his own assertions–to change my mind, perhaps I might. Perhaps Humes will even respond to this page, making baseless accusations against me for exploring my reasonable suspicions, like he did privately in his recent emails to me. Most likely he’ll just rely on his Darwinist reviewers / bloggers to defend him. The nature of their responses are fully anticipated.
But there is more evidence to weigh at the present time. Part III will discuss Humes’ glowing endorsements from leading Darwinists. Apparently Humes only felt comfortable sending the book out to Darwinists like P.Z. Myers and Michael Shermer for review…