Free Speech Icon Free Speech
Intelligent Design Icon Intelligent Design

Stanford Medical School Dean Indulges Intelligent Design “Theocracy” Fantasies While Projecting Charges of Viewpoint Suppression

Multiple choice quiz. Where did the following words first appear?

“We need to move forward in our human evolution and not regress to the flawed passions of the crusades, the suppression of science by religion, or the intolerance of theocracy over freedom of the human spirit.”

Was it:
A. The latest blog post from PZ Myers?
B. The bumper sticker on some 1968 VW Bus owned by a hippie commune?
C. The manifesto of the Allied Atheist Alliance?
D. The latest Dean’s newsletter from Philip A. Pizzo, Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine?

If you guessed…

…D, you’re correct.

As I reported recently, Dean Pizzo’s latest December 1, 2008 newsletter extols those who would make scientific research “free” by keeping it “protected from non-scientific influences such as … ‘Intelligent Design.'”

Dean Pizzo’s tragically common Darwinist blindness of his own intolerance piqued my interest, so I decided to search his newsletters for other statements. What I found is that Dean Pizzo has all kinds of fantastical fears about intelligent design (ID) and theocracy.

In his November 14, 2005 newsletter, Dean Pizzo expresses his fear that interest in teaching intelligent design is a sign that some communities “increasingly see[m] to be promoting theocracy over democracy.” He plays heavily on the theocracy theme, charging that “Evangelical Christian groups” allegedly “ignore or dismiss other religious or faith based beliefs or traditions,” and then reminding, “When potential religious oppression becomes politically based, the fine line is crossed between democracy and theocracy.” Pizzo closes his newsletter with the fascinating quote at the beginning of this post, which is worth repeating here: “We need to move forward in our human evolution and not regress to the flawed passions of the crusades, the suppression of science by religion, or the intolerance of theocracy over freedom of the human spirit.’

Thus, we can see that the same Dean Pizzo who three years ago lamented the “suppression of science by religion” and “intolerance” is now, in his latest newsletter, expressing the view the scientific community should suppress the science of intelligent design.

Rhetorician Thomas Woodward has developed his own terms for these kinds of common hypocritical Darwinist arguments–“projection themes” and “fantasy themes”:

Far more hot and dramatic was the rhetoric of ID critics. A series of nightmares was painted, in which ID threatened the educational and scientific future of modern societies. Rhetoricians have a name for these imaginative constructions, mixtures of fact and faith: fantasy-themes. Normally fantasy-themes function as collages of images and concepts; at the center are interwoven plot elements, usually including heroes and villains. In my earlier work, I proposed projection themes as a more congenial and accurate term, since such projections aren’t complete fantasies.

(Thomas Woodward, Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent Design, pg. 25 (Baker, 2007).)

If only Darwinists would stop inventing fantasies that ID will lead to “theocracy,” and stop projecting fears about viewpoint suppression (as they themselves try to suppress the pro-ID viewpoint), perhaps this could become a fascinating and fruitful scientific debate.

In the meantime, if you’re a pro-ID medical student at Stanford, you might want to lay low, because Dean Pizzo fears he must “protect” science from the “influence” of your pro-ID views, because he mistakenly thinks you’ll bring theocracy, intolerance, and of course, the “suppression of science by religion.” What tragic irony.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, 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.



Philip A. PizzoStanford University