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Why Do Critics Misrepresent Intelligent Design?

Casey Luskin

Over the last few days I have been examining an academic journal article that misrepresents ID. See here and here for my earlier comments. One would hope that in the such literature, the authors would give ID an accurate treatment, even if they disagree with it. But unfortunately we’ve seen this sort of misrepresentation of ID in the mainstream technical literature many times before. 

Many speculations could be offered about why this paper so badly misrepresented my ID arguments. Is it because when you argue against ID in certain intellectual circles, you’re not held to high academic standards, so the facts stop mattering? Is it because some authors have such an animus against ID that they feel like we ID proponents don’t deserve basic academic courtesies such as having our views represented accurately? Do they just have an agenda to slander intelligent design by dressing up uncivil attacks in scholarly rhetoric? Is it because their cause is so important to them that such inaccuracies are tolerated? Or is it because their ultimate goal is to censor ID? Whatever the answer, the result is the same: ID gets misrepresented in journals. 

Why People Doubt Darwin

I will close by revisiting the question of why people doubt Darwin and reject evolution — something discussed in my first post on this paper. There I discussed how the authors seem perplexed that scientists who aren’t ignorant of science can become “creationists.” They observe that “the relationship between scientific training / knowledge and religious belief is far from simple and straightforward. Being a knowledgeable and experienced member of the science profession does not necessarily guarantee one’s full embracement of evolutionary views or dismissal of creationist ones,” but cannot account for these observations. Later in the article, however, the authors unwittingly suggest an answer. Here’s what they say:

In this literature, the question of acceptance of evolution is addressed, with attention specifically paid to factors that can hinder its learning, obstacles such as common-sense teleology and linear causal reasoning. [Internal citation omitted.]

Read that quote carefully. Quite incredibly, they say that factors that “hinder” acceptance of evolution include normal, reasonable thought-processes such as “common-sense teleology” and “linear causal reasoning”! I’m not sure if they intentionally meant to suggest that normal reasoning is part of what leads people to question Darwin, but that is in fact exactly what they just wrote. 

If opposition to evolution were based upon ignorance or misrepresentations, that might be a problem for us Darwin skeptics. But at least in this case that isn’t what’s happening. If opposition to evolution is based upon experience, common sense, and normal cause-and-effect reasoning, then perhaps the evolutionary paradigm has much bigger problems than its advocates are letting on. That’s no misconception.