Slaughter of the Intellect

No, Kevin. It's not religion!

Yesterday we looked at the advertisement that crackpot creatard Kevin Wirth wrote to try to get us to buy his crappy Expelled knock-off, a book called Slaughter of the Dissidents. The book is written by non-expelled young-Earth creationist Jerry Bergman.

That right there is an interesting point. This whole “doubting Darwin” campaign is the brainchild of the “Intelligent Design” folks, such as the Discovery Institute and Kevin Wirth’s own adorable Access Research Network. These old-Earth creationists insist that their “theory” has nothing to do with religion. So what do they do? The Discovery Institute goes out of their way to promote Ben Stein’s movie, which directly links ID creationism to religion. Then Kevin Wirth goes out of his way to publish and promote a book written by a young-Earth creationist. These people are even incompetent at hiding the religious basis of their “theory”!

I took Kevin up on his offer of receiving a free chapter from the book. He sent me chapter 18: “The Peloza, Bishop, and Johnson Cases”. Apparently that’s all this book is, just a long, itemized list of all the alleged cases of “Darwin doubter discrimination”. What a scintillating read that must be! Well, let’s get scintillating!

As a result of attempts by Darwin skeptics to secure a place both at the table of scientific discussion and in the classroom…

These so-called “Darwin skeptics” don’t belong in the classroom until they secure a seat at the table of scientific discussion. And they don’t belong there until they actually come up with some evidence. Whining about being left out or going to court isn’t the way to remedy things. The answer is much simpler. Just give us some scientific evidence. They’ve had 150 years, and they’ve yet to provide any.

…the federal courts have put evolution “virtually beyond criticism.”1

That superscript leads you to the footnotes for this chapter. It’s five whole pages of footnotes! Almost every footnote is to document some quotation that they mined from elsewhere. There’s a total of 78 footnotes for this chapter alone! This book is just one giant Kevin Wirth quote dump!

Court rulings in cases involving those who are open critics of Darwinism have been blatantly discriminatory, dishonest, and unconstitutional. Indications now exist that the Supreme Court is aware of this and may try to correct this problem in future rulings.

So Bergman, a non-lawyer/non-Constitutional scholar, thinks that when his side loses, the ruling is unconstitutional. Protecting the First Amendment is the definition of a constitutional ruling, but Bergman is pouting that impartial courts clearly see that his guys are wrong. Then he tells us that the Supreme Court needs to step in. Why? So the activist judges can legislate from the bench?

In past cases involving Darwin skeptics, my research of over 100 cases over the past 30 years indicates that schools typically presented trumped-up and often obviously bogus reasons for dismissal or denial of tenure such as incompetence, erroneous claims that a faculty member falsified documents, or other allegations that were clearly proposed to cover up the real reason—religious discrimination.

Of course it never crosses Bergman’s mind that maybe those were the actual reasons! Remember that the movie Expelled presented just a few cases of alleged discrimination. You would think that those cases would be the strongest examples. Yet in every case, discrimination is not the real story.

Bergman then gets into the specific cases that this chapter is devoted to: The Peloza, Bishop, and Johnson Cases. I don’t have access to all of the materials that Bergman does, so I have no way of knowing what the real story is. It’s fair to assume that these cases are no stronger than those portrayed in Expelled.

The Bishop case is a possible exception to this. On its surface, and as portrayed by Bergman, it does appear that maybe the courts went too far. Allegedly, Bishop, a college professor, mentioned very briefly that he “doubted Darwin”, and that’s the extent of what he said. Supposedly he spent no more than 2–5 minutes out of the entire 2250 minutes of class time. I have no problem with a professor very briefly mentioning this. In fact, I would think it’s beneficial for the students to know what the professor’s biases are, so they can be aware of how they might color his instruction.

As we’ve seen from Expelled, cases like this are seldom exactly as portrayed by the creationists in their whine-fests. I would certainly be open to finding out more about this case, but I can’t take Bergman at his word here. His book has not managed to prove its credibility in the rest of this chapter.

Throughout Bergman’s discussion of these cases, he repeatedly makes two assertions: That evolution is atheistic and that creationism isn’t religious. Both of these assertions are false.

Evolution is atheistic in the same way that history is atheistic. Neither assumes a divine influence or guiding hand. What’s doubly puzzling is how Bergman can “see” the atheism in evolution, but he can’t see the obvious religion in creationism. He tries to frame the creationism as merely “anti-Darwin”, but this is a mere word-game.

Creationists like Bergman get so hung up on linking evolution to Darwin (apparently trying to paint biology as a cult of hero worship) that they get snagged on the many parts of evolution that are non-Darwinian. Darwin only proposed natural and sexual selection as the mechanisms by which evolution took place. Our understanding is much more complete now. The scientific literature is full of non-Darwinian articles. This fact alone puts the lie to everything Bergman writes in this book and Stein says in his movie.

24 Responses to “Slaughter of the Intellect”

  1. Sharley Says:

    And just think of all the food, money, and even oxygen these people wasted while coming up with this crap. With all the charitable crap out there these ultra-religious people could be turning their hands to, they focus on garbage like this.

  2. Sue Blue Says:

    When drivel like this book can actually find enthusiastic readers among Americans, you know the situation is critical. These people have made anti-intellectualism something to brag about, just like our simian president. Riding the short bus, for them, is something to brag about.

    These are the people who would rather be made of dirt than be related to apes. These are the people that, given the slightest incentive, would probably be writing books about how the earth is actually flat because it says so in the bible, and the fact that you can fly around a globe-shaped thing in a plane is just an illusion trumped up by Satan and his minions, the scientists.

  3. The Watcher Says:

    What’s this Bishop guy’s first name? I’ll see if I can dig some stuff up.

  4. Ron Britton Says:

    Philip

  5. Hooton_Hears_a_Whor Says:

    Why do these dipshits insist that evolution began with Darwin and ended with Darwin? Do they really think that everything we know about evolution came from him?

  6. Ron Britton Says:

    Yes

  7. Kevin Wirth Says:

    “These so-called “Darwin skeptics” don’t belong in the classroom until they secure a seat at the table of scientific discussion.”

    Interesting you should say that. Also convenient. We don’t need a seat at the table of bigots. Science really isn’t the point of interest to opponents of Darwin Doubters, they simply prefer to drone on and on about how “religion” permeates their every waking moment, and oh how dangerous they are to science. People deserve to hear the reasonable arguments that challenge evolution instead of insisting there aren’t any.

    “That superscript leads you to the footnotes for this chapter. It’s five whole pages of footnotes! Almost every footnote is to document some quotation that they mined from elsewhere. There’s a total of 78 footnotes for this chapter alone! This book is just one giant Kevin Wirth quote dump!”

    Actually, the bibliography for this book is huge, and it’s not a ‘quote dump’ – it’s a responsible accounting for comments made by others. That’s what I like about you guys – if we invest the effort to provide thorough documentation, we’re told we’ve just created a “quote dump”. If we don’t document our sources, we’re told that we pulled thsoe quotes out of the blue (or from somewhere else). It’s heads I win tails you lose. What a beauty you are.

    “So Bergman, a non-lawyer/non-Constitutional scholar, thinks that when his side loses, the ruling is unconstitutional. Protecting the First Amendment is the definition of a constitutional ruling, but Bergman is pouting that impartial courts clearly see that his guys are wrong. Then he tells us that the Supreme Court needs to step in. Why? So the activist judges can legislate from the bench?”

    Nope. Jerry and I have seen many instances where the courts have NOT acted impartially or even consistently. There is a need for the courts to define many things, such as Academic Freedom. People who are discrminated against are not the folks who are in the wrong — courts who fail to uphold the legal rights of victims need a ‘correction’. We simply argue for that.

    “Bergman then gets into the specific cases that this chapter is devoted to: The Peloza, Bishop, and Johnson Cases. I don’t have access to all of the materials that Bergman does, so I have no way of knowing what the real story is. It’s fair to assume that these cases are no stronger than those portrayed in Expelled.”

    Oh, so, you think it’s fair to make that assessment without access to the evidence? Kinda like the way you assess the evidence for evolution, right?

    I think you’ve just made my point. Good night.

  8. Ron Britton Says:

    People deserve to hear the reasonable arguments that challenge evolution instead of insisting there aren’t any.

    As soon as you come up with some, we’ll let people hear them. We’ve been waiting for 150 years, and you people haven’t come up with anything.

    That’s what I like about you guys – if we invest the effort to provide thorough documentation, we’re told we’ve just created a “quote dump”. If we don’t document our sources, we’re told that we pulled thsoe quotes out of the blue (or from somewhere else). It’s heads I win tails you lose. What a beauty you are.

    No. I said it’s a Kevin Wirth quote dump. That’s the whole point. If it were anyone else but you, the bibliography might be credible. But as you demonstrated ad nauseam a few months ago, all you do is drop a buttload of quotes on people, hoping to overwhelm them.

    Oh, so, you think it’s fair to make that assessment without access to the evidence?

    It’s fair to make that assessment based on everything else I wrote in the article. Based on the fact that I shot down most of your points. Based on the fact that I demonstrated that the other parts of your book weren’t credible. When faced with that, it is fair to conclude that the part I can’t check is also not credible.

    Kinda like the way you assess the evidence for evolution, right?

    No, Kevin. I studied evolution extensively. I had access to much of the evidence. Evolution is real. Sorry to break it to you.

  9. Parrotlover77 Says:

    People deserve to hear the reasonable arguments that challenge evolution instead of insisting there aren’t any.

    I don’t disagree. But I have yet to hear any reasonable arguments. Care to find one?

    Jerry and I have seen many instances where the courts have NOT acted impartially or even consistently.

    Translation: Jerry and I have seen many instances where we lost.

  10. Sharley Says:

    We don’t need a seat at the table of bigots.

    From what I’ve seen (and admittedly I haven’t seen it all), YOU are the table of bigots. If it isn’t creationism, it’s wrong, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Science is about FACTS, not wishful thinking, and until you can produce concrete evidence you don’t belong in the scientific community. While I have not ruled out the idea that something may have influence over the forming of life, the lack of any proof vs. the abundance of proof for evolution means I believe in the latter. It’s called common sense — if one thing is backed by hard evidence, and another is not, pick the one that can be quantifiably verified.

  11. ericsan Says:

    What are you talking about, Sharley, there’s PLENTY of evidence, it’s all there in the bible! What more scientific proof do you need? What are you going to trust, your puny human logic or the word of god?

  12. Kevin Wirth Says:

    Ron Britton Says:

    May 20th, 2008 at 1:28 am

    “People deserve to hear the reasonable arguments that challenge evolution instead of insisting there aren’t any.

    As soon as you come up with some, we’ll let people hear them. We’ve been waiting for 150 years, and you people haven’t come up with anything.”

    Gee, you don’t get out much, do you Ron.

    Let’s do this a little differently. You show ME that you’ve done your homework by going out there and looking for arguments that challenge evolution. If you can’t find any, then come back to me, and I’ll help you out.

    If you’ve never seen any, it’s because you haven’t looked. And if you haven’t looked, you shouldn’t be posting here.

  13. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Kevin Wirth: Master of Redirection. Or not.

    1. Why should we do YOUR homework?
    2. How does challenging any aspect of evolutionary theory validate intelligent design? Where’s the evidence for ID?
    3. Goddidit != Reasonable (which is about all I’ve ever seen from IDers, personally)

  14. Kevin Wirth Says:

    To Parrotlover77:

    So, I’m not redirecting anything here — you simply were not thinking in the same vein I was.

    I’m not talking about ID here, or the Bible, or religion – or any challenges or arguments from any of those sources. I’m talking about reasonable challenges to any aspect of your pet theory – evolution – from respectable sources.

    YOU guys have the responsibility to respond to reasonable challenges to your pet theory. You’re so sure of yourselves. If you can’t come up with any, haven’t heard any, don’t believe there are any, then just say so and I’ll let you speak for yourselves (or not).

    And that will tell the rest of us how well read you really are.

  15. Kevin Wirth Says:

    [Deleted by admin for violation of comment policy]

  16. Sarah Says:

    Kevin, I think YOU need to get out more (and into the scientific community)

    If evolution did not work (and link up with every other biological theory) then why are there so many successes in the field of medicine? Why are we able to find so many similar genetic sequences among species? What about viral infections that are found in the SAME places along the human genome and that of a chimp? Why keep it if it doesn’t work? What is the point? Do you see any advantages to this (other than the “oppression” of religion)? Science isn’t politics, because unlike politics, there is nothing to gain by lying and cheating.

    And no, science is not opinion, it follows the evidence trail. If science was truly opinion, then evolution would have been thrown out by now and replaced by creationism (Because despite what many people think, ID is popular, but thanks to all the court rulings saying that it’s religion…which it pretty much is, ID is not taught in most public schools).

    If science were opinion, then Galileo’s theory would have never been looked into again after he was forced to denounce his life’s work by the church.

    If something is kept in science, it is because it WORKS. Once evolution does not fit the evidence found then that like many other theories, will either be modified or tossed away, but most likely (considering how much evidence supports it today and how long it has survived scientific evaluation, criticism, etc) this will never occur.

  17. Ron Britton Says:

    Kevin:

    Let’s do this a little differently. You show ME that you’ve done your homework by going out there and looking for arguments that challenge evolution. If you can’t find any, then come back to me, and I’ll help you out.

    I’ve looked at a lot of stuff. It’s all laughably bad. The only thing that came even remotely close was Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box. The guy established his credibility by demonstrating that he understands how cells work. But then he fell short when he attributed everything to God a designer. All Behe managed to demonstrate in that book was his lack of imagination.

    I’m not talking about ID here, or the Bible, or religion – or any challenges or arguments from any of those sources. I’m talking about reasonable challenges to any aspect of your pet theory – evolution – from respectable sources.

    We have. Like I said, it’s all crap. So now you have to put up or shut up. Where’s the proof for ID creationism?

  18. Parrotlover77 Says:

    YOU guys have the responsibility to respond to reasonable challenges to your pet theory. You’re so sure of yourselves. If you can’t come up with any, haven’t heard any, don’t believe there are any, then just say so and I’ll let you speak for yourselves (or not).

    Actually, no I don’t. I’m not an evolutionary biologist. I’m a network engineer. lol. All I do is advocate on their behalf from a political (ie, voting, writing, calling) perspective. You are also reasonably in a similar position, but I would never force you to do the research yourself. All we ask is you point us to the research that supports your argument. A debate is not a scientific publication, it is a structured argument where you are required to present facts to backup an assertion. Now, many MANY times on this blog Ron has done JUST that, and then the rest of us as well in the comments. You, on the other hand, have mostly spat forth logical fallacies, quote mined (frequently out of context), and “yelled” really loudly. But there is no evidence. It is the burden of the person making the extraordinary claim to PROVE the extraordinary claim. That doesn’t mean I personally have to find evidence for evolution, millions of people much smarter than I am have already done that. It’s up to the challengers to do that. Since you are advocating for them here, provide some proof. Every time you have attempted to do that, it’s been dissected for what it is: BS. Because there IS no proof for ID. If anybody ever finds some and it passes scientific scrutiny, you better believe I’ll start believing it. But I’m not holding my breath.

  19. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Why keep it if it doesn’t work?

    I can answer that one! ID proponents think we keep it because it’s what they are used to. The bible predicts nothing accurately and offers very little modern moral guidance (I’d rather not stone Sarah to death for speaking out). But it’s a tradition and it’s a dogma. IDers mistakenly assume that “darwinism” is the same for the scientific minded. It’s not. If tomorrow the theory of gravity was turned upside down by some new amazing discovery, how can I deny it? The same is true for evolution. If the designer left a “made in China” sticker with maybe a warranty card for the Earth deep in the crust and there was no natural way something like that could have gotten there, we would be forced to re-examine what we know — AND WE WOULD. But that’s just not likely to happen. And that’s what burns up the IDers.

  20. Kevin Wirth Says:

    Parrotlover77:

    I’m certainly not going to re-state what others have already stated. I’m assuming you’ve already read widely and are pretty acquainted with the arguments, otherwise you wouldn’t be so snotty about it. My question is a fair one: which issues do you have a problem with? Remember, I’m not willing to discuss any religion-based content, but prefer to stick strictly with science, logic, mathematics, probablity, etc.

    Actually, in a different post, I already pointed to a book called “The Design of Life” by Dembski and Wells, published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 2008.

    I would prefer to solicit YOUR problemtaic commentary with any of the issues raised in that book or any of the following resources:

    No Free Lunch, by Dembski, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002

    Darwin Retried by Norman MacBeth, Gambit, 1971

    Signs of Intelligence, edited by Dembski and Kushiner

    And of course, any other peer reviewed journal articles like “Dogma and Doubt” by Ronald Brady, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 17 (1) , 79–96 doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.1982.tb02015.x

    So now, it’s YOUR turn to put up.

  21. Kevin Wirth Says:

    Ron,

    Hey dude, I just noticed that you’ve censored my post above:

    Kevin Wirth Says:

    May 22nd, 2008 at 3:37 pm
    [Deleted by admin for violation of comment policy]

    What’s your problem? Can’t handle what other folks have to say about your pet theory? Couldn’t deal with a couple of quotes, eh?

    OK, I think I’m done posting to your site.

    Have a nice life.

  22. Parrotlover77 Says:

    My question is a fair one: which issues do you have a problem with? Remember, I’m not willing to discuss any religion-based content, but prefer to stick strictly with science, logic, mathematics, probablity, etc.

    Okay let me see if I got this straight…

    What part of a pseudoscientific religious belief do I have a problem with… But, you are not willing to discuss anything related to religious beliefs but will stick strictly with real science.

    How the hell can I even respond to that?

  23. Parrotlover77 Says:

    YAY! Kevin is leaving. Now we can stop being quote-mined to death.

  24. Ron Britton Says:

    Hey dude, I just noticed that you’ve censored my post above:

    What’s your problem? Can’t handle what other folks have to say about your pet theory? Couldn’t deal with a couple of quotes, eh?

    And once again Kevin ignores all facts and thinks he’s being persecuted. “Oh noes!! It’s because I’m a Darwin doubter!! Boo hoo!!”

    Sorry, dude. Censoring you isn’t worth the effort. The best defense against your ideas is to let everybody see them. They’ll wither on their own, because nobody here is stupid enough to fall for what you call “evidence”.

    Your post was deleted because you violated the terms of the comment policy, which is clearly spelled out on the About page. These are the rules that everybody lives by on this site, not just “Darwin doubters” (read: fools). This policy has been in effect for several months now. If you scan through the comments of some of the more controversial subjects, you’ll see that I’ve occasionally had to enforce the rules.

    If I were trying to censor you, I would have deleted all of your other comments, too.

    You have a lot of nerve claiming that I’m trying to suppress dissenting opinions. Your own blog (Access Research Network) doesn’t allow comments at all. What’s wrong? Afraid too many people will leave sensible comments pointing out what’s wrong with every single one of your posts?