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This article in the January/February 2005 issue of Academe, Wedging Creationism into the Academy discusses something that should sound familiar ... and chilling--the attempt to insert Intelligent Design (ID aka Creationism) into higher education.

The article describes the effort to develop an ID "thinktank" at Baylor and goes on to give a brief overview of "the Wedge":

Calling themselves "the Wedge," adherents of the movement are avidly pursuing a twenty-year plan to convince the public that intelligent design is "an accepted alternative in the sciences" and to promote "the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science." The sobriquet "the Wedge" reflects movement leader Phillip Johnson's desire to insert "the thin edge of a wedge" into "the ruling philosophy of modern culture." For Johnson, a retired professor of law from the University of California, Berkeley, the Christian gospel is what will follow the thin edge.

Fortunately, they are having problems getting traction on this in the academy.

Its most conspicuous feature, however, is its scientific sterility. The Wedge's most notable attempts to provide a case for intelligent design appear in books for the general reader, such as Dembski's Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology and Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The few university presses (such as Cambridge and Michigan State) that have published intelligent design books classify them as philosophy, rhetoric, or public affairs, not science. There are no peer-reviewed studies supporting intelligent design in the scientific research literature. The scientific community as a whole is unimpressed and unconvinced, and intelligent design's credentials as a scientific research program appear negligible. Indeed, Dembski himself recently conceded that "the scientific research part" of intelligent design is now "lagging behind" its success in influencing popular opinion. So the Wedge needs another way to persuade education policy makers that intelligent design is academically respectable.

And in case anyone has any questions about whether this is science or religion ...

In his keynote address to the RAPID conference, William Dembski described intelligent design's "dual role as a constructive scientific project and as a means for cultural renaissance." (Emphasis added.) Reflecting a similar revivalist spirit, the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture had been the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture until 2002. Explaining the name change, a spokesperson for the CSC unconvincingly insisted that the old name was simply too long. Significantly, however, the change followed hard on the heels of accusations that the center's real interest was not science but reforming culture along lines favored by conservative Christians.

Such accusations appear extremely plausible, not only in the absence of any scientific research supporting intelligent design, but also in light of Phillip Johnson's claim that "Darwinian evolution is not primarily im-portant as a scientific theory but as a culturally dominant creation story. . . . When there is radical disagreement in a commonwealth about the creation story, the stage is set for intense conflict, the kind . . . known as 'culture war.'" Similarly, the "Wedge Document" states that the goals of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (as it then was) were to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies. To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

Anyway, read the whole thing at the source.  It's well worth the time.

Originally posted to ohiolibrarian on Fri Jan 28, 2005 at 04:07 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm beginning to think... (none)
    that this current renewal of anti-Darwinian thinking is in part due to evolutionary biologists, and scientist in general, failing to feel an obligation to educate the public.

    Most professors typically have two objectives: research and teaching. The teaching is typically only done at the University level. Aside from a handful of people like Gould and Dennet and Dawkins, how much effort is there on the part of the research community to explain what science really is.

    I'm starting to think that biology classes should be required to explain ID - an then provide all the reasons why it isn't science whatsoever. In other words, science classes should meet the ID nonsense head on AS A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF HOW ONE DEFINES SCIENCE. Imagine, if in biology classes, there was an effort to explain science to students, and ID was used as an example for showing the students  WHAT SCIENCE IS NOT.

    Part of the problem seems to be that students don't even learn what science is, then they go into the world and start saying stuff like "OH, it's just a theory" etc.

    •  my sentiments exactly (none)
      In all seriousness, when I had biology in highschool, we had some history of biology, with some synopsis of the main pre-Darvin ideas and why the Darvin's evolution was accepted.

      Reasons why a theory is preferred to alternatives may be more important than the theory itself.  To a normal citizen, the accounts of Social Security are changing at a geological pace and are equally beyond the real of common sense as evolution or the lack of it.  How one should compare different sources and "authorities" when you are faced with opposite claims?

      Simple principles like decreasing the trust in a source of information that was proven wrong already are universally applicable, and, in a sane universe, politically neutral.

  •  why not? (none)
    "To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God"

    This could lead to more effective geology (where we should have more oil on an intelligently designed Earth?), medicine and agriculture.  Opportunities are endless.

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