One of the many smart observations in Tom Bethell’s new book, Darwin’s House of Cards, pertains to the curious relationship of Darwinism and Creationism — and how that bears on efforts to suppress investigation of the theory of intelligent design.
Darwinists seem to long for the good old days when their only opposition was from Biblical creationism. This is reflected in efforts to conflate ID with creationism, or to make the former a kind of forbidden science, off limits to discussion. As Bethell writes in his chapter on “Intelligent Design and Information Theory”:
Darwinians today are eager to stick their own labels onto ID: “Intelligent design creationism” is one favorite. It’s as though an unseen collective voice had cried out: “Give us back our preferred enemy! Bring back creationism! That, we knew how to respond to.” But so far, no intelligent rebuttal of intelligent design has appeared.
The longing, the romance — perhaps “bromance”? [Update: A reader nails it: “frenemies”] — makes sense, since for all that separates them, Darwinism and creationism have in common that they are both inferences from prior doctrines (respectively, materialism, or a particular way of reading the Bible). ID is different. Says Bethell, “Intelligent design is not a deduction from a philosophy but an inference from observed facts.”
This is what’s so enraging to Darwinists, and it goes some way to explaining why they lash out — holding their own tongue, and punishing ID advocates and open-minded researchers for failing to hold theirs.
Bethell cites a telling lecture by University of Akron researcher Nita Sahai, “The Origins of Life: From Geochemistry to Biochemistry.” (See the video by clicking on the image at the top.) You actually see her catch herself, as she’s helped out by a colleague, first saying that her lab work simulating OOL requires “intelligent design” — no, no, no, make that “careful selection.”
Mr. Bethell also tells the story of the publication of The Privileged Planet. Arguably more interesting than the book itself, he says, is what happened to its astronomer co-author at the Iowa State University, denounced by
[o]ver 400 professor across the state [who] signed various statements, opposing “all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor.” Both on and outside the planet, whether in astronomy or biology, the professors insisted, the philosophy of naturalism is expected to enjoy a monopoly.
That monopoly was challenged on another campus, Baylor University, by mathematician William Dembski.
Dembski formed the Polanyi Institute to debate these issues, with Darwinians and ID opponents included on the board. But the Institute was shut down after vehement protests from Baylor’s biology faculty. They did not want ID to be so much as discussed.
Not even discussed. That is about as telling a statement as there could be. ID, unlike creationism, challenges Darwinian evolution on its own turf. That is not acceptable. Creationism for the Darwinist is a welcome foil. On the other hand, ID, which practices science where Darwinism is ultimately an exercise in philosophy, must be silenced.