A Letter To Dr. Larry Moran

Michael Egnor

Much to my surprise, when I opened my email this morning, I found this letter, obviously not intended for me. It was intended for Larry Moran, from one ‘C.D.’ (a pseudonym no doubt). I guess it’s about the latest kerfuffle among Darwinists.
I decided to pass it on.
To: Larry Moran, PhD.
Professor of Biochemistry
University of Toronto

From: The Central Committee
Office of Framing

Dearest Larry,
It’s hard for me to write this, given my affection for you and my admiration for all of your work for our cause. But the Central Committee is not pleased. Brayton and Myers aren’t talking to each other. Mooney keeps shouting ‘framing…framing’ at our meetings, and Nisbet, in particular, is beside himself. It’s fratricide. You really must do something to rectify this.
‘Rectify what?’, you ask.

You know. Your inopportune musings about the proper fate of undergraduate students who aren’t ‘Bright’ enough. Your casual threats to destroy the careers of graduate students who deny Our Faith. Your proclamations that could be interpreted (not implausibly) as bigotry. …Oh, now you’re starting to remember…
Perhaps this will refresh you. Four months ago you wrote:

Of course, we all recognize the problem here. How do you distinguish between a good Christian who is lying for Jesus and one who has actually come to understand science? It seems really unfair to flunk the honest students who admit that they still reject science and pass the dishonest ones who hide their true beliefs…As we’ve seen time and time again on the blogs (and elsewhere), the Christian fundamentalists have erected very strong barriers against learning. It really doesn’t matter how much they are exposed to rational thinking and basic scientific evidence. They still refuse to listen…This is one of the reasons why I would flunk them if they took biology and still rejected the core scientific principles. It’s not good enough to just be able to mouth the “acceptable” version of the truth that the Professor wants. [emphasis mine]

And a year and a half ago, referring to members of the freshman class (17 and 18 year olds!) at the University of California at San Diego who doubt Our Faith in Darwin you wrote:

Flunk the IDiots…40% of the freshman class [at UCSD] reject Darwinism… the university has become alarmed at the stupidity of its freshman class and has offered remedial instruction for those who believe in Intelligent Design Creationism…UCSD should not have required their uneducated students to attend remedial classes. Instead, they should never have admitted them in the first place…[T]he University should just flunk the lot of them and make room for smart students who have a chance of benefiting from a high quality education.

And if that weren’t enough, in your reply to that infernal pest Egnor (that IDiotic bastion of sh*t-headed egnorance…steaming pile of…sorry, I get carried away) about your long history of public threats against students and scientists who doubt Our Faith and who retain their own silly religious beliefs, you wrote:

Michael Egnor has posted a number of quotations from me about how I would deal with people who don’t understand the basic principles of science…[h]e get it mostly right. If they are undergraduates who don’t understand that evolution is a scientific fact, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, then they flunk the course. If they are graduate students in a science department, then they don’t get a Ph.D. If they are untenured faculty members in a science department, then they don’t get tenure.

The only method of ferreting out religious believers that you left out was pre-natal testing.
What were you thinking! The Committee will have none of ‘Oh…gee…I can’t believe I said that…’ You’re a senior professor and a highly prominent proponent of our cause. Our whole goal here– our Frame— is to keep the creationist dupes who pay tuition and fund our grants from realizing that we have an agenda. If they get a whiff that this is about atheist metaphysics, we’re sunk. I mean, they could put this stuff in a movie. Why reveal so much?
Do you think that revealing our goal helps us? This is the difference between us and the IDiots. They’re afraid the public won’t understand what they mean. We’re afraid the public will understand what we mean. Their strategy is exposition; ours is suppression. They give lectures and write books about their theory. They keep trying to debate us. They even publish papers about their theory, although we try our damndest to stop them. We deny tenure, we shred careers, we ridicule, we frame. But we must never publicly link our version of science to atheism. We must never– NEVER– link what we say to what we mean. Do you think we’re IDiots? We don’t do candor. Get with the program, Larry.
So these are the instructions from the Central Committee, unanimous (except for Myers):
Zip it.
Leave it to the professionals. NCSE, Nisbet, Mooney, all those guys. They’re on board with you, 100 %, but they know how to do it right. They really don’t need biochemists to fight this battle. You don’t think Eugenie Scott got where she is because of her scientific acumen. We need ‘Framers’. Hardcore types like you can’t spin it like they can. In fact, very few of our big boys are working scientists. Candidly, you’re not the first one who’s stepped over the line. We’ve had to assign a politruk to Dawkins. But let them do their work, and we’ll end up where you want, with less mess.
So hush up. Keep talking about ‘science’ of course, but no more bragging about ruining the careers of Christian freshmen in your classes. Despite all that you’ve said, the creationist dupes still think of you as a teacher. Don’t be so explicit about our ultimate solution to the problem of religious believers in science. We can solve that problem– we have been solving that problem— far more effectively, and far more subtly, with less explicit measures.
But we do appreciate all that you have done. Don’t get us wrong. It’s your candor, not your ideology, that we oppose. We’re all together on this:–Breaking the Spell– The God Delusion– God Is Not Great– The End of Faith. You’ve been to the rallies. You know the Doxology. We all work for the same cause.
Oh, speaking of rallies, mark your calendar. We’re planning a big rally next Darwin Day. It will be a little chilly (why couldn’t He have been born in July!), but it’s going to be great. The stadium opens at 10:00 pm; Dawkins is speaking. He’s very impressive, and we’ve got better loudspeakers this year. And there’s something about the torchlight that inspires.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.