Much of the debate about Darwinian evolution is conducted in public online forums. If interpreted with some care, these give a convenient way of measuring the real confidence of leading spokesmen on the Darwin side. I don’t mean the level of bluster — they’re all full of bluster — but rather what they really must feel at some level deep down.
If you follow the top Darwin blogs you’ll notice how eagerly and often they go in for mocking extremely marginal and daffy creationists. PZ Myers specializes in this. So too, in his books, does Richard Dawkins. How about answering the arguments of a real scientist who advocates intelligent design on scientific rather than Bible-thumping grounds — a Douglas Axe or Ann Gauger, for example? How about a thoughtful critique of The Myth of Junk DNA or Signature in the Cell? A response to serious science bloggers like ENV’s Casey Luskin or Jonathan M.?
Uh, no, thank you!
It’s quite a contrast with intelligent-design advocates who, like them or not, wrestle with the top scientists and thinkers on the other side, while ignoring the small timers.
Now, to offer a perfect illustration, we have Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True who runs with a story he picked up about a supposed Jewish creationist group. I say “supposed” because while I’m sure Coyne think it’s real, his source sets all kinds of bells ringing that suggest it’s a Darwinist prank or at best the work of a lone idiot. The alleged “group,” Jewish Political Action Committee or “JPACNY,” set up a street-corner creationist display on New York’s Upper West Side with some stuffed animals. JPACNY explained the meaning of this with a wildly illiterate pseudo-press release that says the stuffed toys somehow “proove evolution is a myth.”
Coyne complains: “I’m not sure which is more embarrassing to me: Jewish creationists who make really stupid arguments, or Jews who can’t write and spell.”
One odd thing is if you look at the photos, which Coyne got from a spiteful website that specializes in bashing Jews and Judaism, there are no human beings in them, just a sidewalk and a childish sign and stuffed animals. The source website, Failed Messiah, has another post quoting a “reader” who reports seeing
Black-hatted guys standing around discussing evolution with non-Jews telling them how its a fraud. On top of this car were three stuffed animals and their babys. People pulled out their phones to take pictures of the crazy scene. I thought I saw it all. I guess not.
The reference to black hats has to do with a style of dress among many ultra-Orthodox Jews. There too, there are more photos of a sign and stuffed animals but no people. If it’s really some creationist Orthodox Jews who are behind this, they would be easily recognizable in a picture. So where are they? As the occasion for the display, the sign also cites the coming Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah, falling this year on September 29 and 30, but gives the date as September 29. Actual Orthodox Jews would, if nothing else, get that right.
Look, maybe this “JPACNY” actually exists and is what it purports to be. Certainly, from the evidence presented, it should arouse suspicion. But not with Jerry Coyne.
I’ve often thought that goofy, wild-eyed creationists are such a useful foil for Darwinists that if they didn’t exist, then Darwin advocates would have invent them. In this case, it kind of looks like they did. Why the credulous Dr. Coyne is all over this non-story, while ignoring serious arguments against his position, is a question worth pondering.