[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 early 2007, I wrote a three-part series of blog posts where I discussed how Darwinist author Edward Humes misrepresented himself when trying to convince me to do an interview with him for his book, Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul (Harper Collins, 2007). (That series of prequels can be found at the following links: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.) When Humes first contacted me in 2006, he declared his commitment to non-partisan and objective journalism (he later refused to give me permission to quote directly from his original emails). Humes’ defensive posture immediately alerted me that something was awry, so I declined to do an interview. It turned out my instincts were correct: Edward Humes was not interested in non-partisan journalism regarding the evolution debate. He created a website about Monkey Girl, which had many inaccurate and highly partisan claims, like, “There is more scientific evidence, laboratory testing and direct observation to support evolutionary theory than virtually any other scientific theory, including gravitational theory,” calling intelligent design (ID) a “form of creationism,” and saying ID “posits a supernatural process.” It would be hard to imagine a less-partisan treatment of evolution. At the end of that series of blog posts, before I received Humes’ book, I wrote the following:
At this point, I’ve recounted Humes’ glowing praise from only hardline Darwinists, his partisan and inaccurate FAQ, and the fact that he changed his FAQ in response to my emails and then did not disclose key changes while accusing me of misstating the FAQ. Yet Humes originally came to me soliciting an interview claiming to be fair and neutral.
Some readers may choose to believe that Humes developed his views while he wrote the book and was forthright towards me. Unsurprisingly, that is what Humes claims, and Humes’ Darwinist reviewers will certainly take that line in his defense. And if that’s the case, Humes could simply make his book proposal public, because that should reveal whether he really was non-partisan when he researched his book. That would certainly lay my suspicions to rest. But Humes continues to refuse to make his book proposal public. Other readers may wonder what Humes is hiding in the book proposal.
Regardless, there is no doubt that Humes is now a complete partisan (who believes evolution is better supported than gravity) and that he is promoting much false information about ID.
Because Discovery Institute was unable to obtain a review copy of Humes’ book, I had to order it off Amazon, and I have not yet received the book (somehow many Darwinist bloggers already have copies, as they’ve reviewed [it] for Humes on his blog). Perhaps after the book arrives, further commentary can be made about it. Meanwhile, I’m sure Edward Humes won’t complain too much about the free publicity we’re giving him. After all, you know what they say…
Soon after that posting, I received my copy of Monkey Girl from Amazon and started working on a fairly lengthy review of the book. Because the book had so many inaccurate statements, what started off as a review soon became a time-consuming rebuttal. Unfortunately, in the middle of working on that review/rebuttal of Monkey Girl, my hard drive severely crashed (an IT friend told me it was the worst hard drive meltdown he’d seen), and I also got extremely sick. For a while this project fell by the wayside. But recently I’ve had a couple people e-mailing me, citing Monkey Girl as a supposed objective, authoritative source of information on intelligent design. People behave as if the fact that its author won a Pulitzer prize (for a different work, mind you), suddenly makes Monkey Girl an impartial and inerrant book. As someone who has been closely involved in the ID movement for years and who observed much of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in person, it would be a grave mistake to cite Monkey Girl as a non-partisan — or even accurate — source of information on ID or the Kitzmiller v. Dover case.
In response to some of these e-mails about Monkey Girl, I decided to dig up my prior review of Humes’ book, shorten it, and highlight some of the main points of my review. Because most of Humes’ inaccurate claims about ID have been answered in various other writings, my review of Monkey Girl will consist primarily of short descriptions of his false claims combined with links to articles that address his false statements. I will publish my review of Monkey Girl in a series of six posts dealing with various problems with the book. This first installment will discuss some of Humes’…
Problems Related to Intelligent Design:
- Repeating the rhetoric of ID-critics like Eugenie Scott, Humes implies that ID proponents try to deceitfully hide their true views about the identity of the designer. He states, “There is a bit of a nod and a wink to this, as everyone involved knows that they’re talking about–or more precisely, not talking about–God…” (pg. xiii) In true conspiracy-theorist fashion, Humes contends that “[i]n private, and among true believers, however, the ‘wedge warriors’ admitted that the designer virtually all of them were referring to was the Christian God.” (pg. 71 ) Such claims and insinuations that ID proponents lie about their actual views about the identity of the designer are betrayed by the facts. For details on refutations of this common but false claim, see “Principled (not Rhetorical) Reasons Why Intelligent Design Doesn’t Identify the Designer” and “ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural.”
- One of the most pernicious aspects of Monkey Girl is its extensive use of caricaturing, consistently indulging stereotypes that portray Darwin-skeptics as “yahoos, religious zealots, and scientifically suspect charlatans” (p. 28) while portraying evolutionists as interesting, intelligent, and cool scientists. I have no objections to Humes’ positive portrayals of evolutionists, but it’s difficult to believe Humes’ complaints about stereotyping when his selection and portrayal of pro-ID characters encourages the reader to accept those negative stereotypes about Darwin-skeptics. For example, Humes contrasts a favorable description of a theistic evolutionist geologist with a fundamentalist preacher who preaches that it’s “a sin (not to mention tasteless, unpatriotic, and downright rude)” (p. 21) to accept evolution. Humes characterizes the preacher as close-minded, saying, “the devil with Charles Darwin. Literally.” (pg. 22) Humes gives inordinate amounts of print-space to discussing other extremist examples like the “creationist evangelist” Kent Hovind. Humes admits that Hovind is “probably the last person with whom advocates of design at the Discovery Institute would wish to see their cause associated.” (pg. 67) That may be true, which makes it highly suspicious that Humes spends so much time to discussing Hovind in a book about intelligent design. For details on these “Inherit the Wind Stereotypes,” see Phillip Johnson, “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds,” and for commentary about Monkey Girl‘s use of stereotyping, see Reasonable Kansans blogs at http://reasonablekansans.blogspot.com/2007/03/just-thinking.html and http://reasonablekansans.blogspot.com/2007/03/finished-reading-monkey-girl.html.
- Humes claims that ID “requires a belief that the empirical evidence … shows that the complexity of life cannot be explained without the intervention of some sort of master designer” (p. xiii) and supports the view that “ID is a supernatural, religious idea.” (p. 344) He also insinuates that intelligent design evolved from “creationism” after the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, ignoring the actual history of intelligent design, which shows that it is a project that has always been distinct from creationism because it aims to make its case entirely within the empirical domain. Each of these claims by Humes’ are false recapitulations of typical Darwinist talking points against ID. For more details, please see “ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural.”
- To further his stereotyping and encourage the reader to follow his free-association arguments, Humes engages in tenuous and irrelevant discussions of young earth creationist leaders to try to tie Michael Behe and Discovery Institute to creationism. After discussing Behe, Humes immediately writes that “Henry Morris, a civil engineer with a preacher’s heart, who would later found the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, blazed the trail for Behe with a first attempt to establish ‘creation science.'” (p. 133) But Behe and the vast majority of leaders in the ID movement are not young earth creationists. Humes tries to get around that fact by thinking that if he mentions young earth creationism (YEC) and ID enough times in the same sections, that somehow the reader will be gullible enough make free-association connections between the two groups, even if Humes offers the reader no actual logical connections. If only Humes were forthright enough to admit, Eugenie Scott did, that “most ID proponents do not embrace a Young Earth, Flood Geology, and sudden creation tenets associated with YEC.”
- As another example of his free-association arguments between ID and YEC, Humes tries to connect Henry Morris to Discovery Institute, saying that both claim “that scientists are engaged in a vast conspiracy to prop up evolutionary theory and to conceal divine origins.” (p. 136) Where does Humes get this false idea that we promote such a “conspiracy” theory? He doesn’t say. This seems to be more imaginative journalism on the part of Humes, who gives no documentation whatsoever to back up his claim that Discovery Institute postulates such an outlandish “vast conspiracy” theory. For details on Behe’s actual views on creationism, see his article, “Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism.”