Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Baylor Lariat Misleading on Intelligent Design and Francis Beckwith

Baylor University's student newspaper The Baylor Lariat printed a front page article today concerning Dr. Francis J. Beckwith and the intelligent design debate at Baylor. However, whether by ignorance or intention, The Baylor Lariat grossly misrepresented the truth of the matter. We wait to see if they will apologize for their misrepresentation of the facts.

Below are the statements issues concerning the Lariat's article today issued by the Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center.


April 19, 2006

The article “Baylor not immune to scholarly feud over origin of life” by Van Darden and Josh Horton inaccurately describes the Discovery Institute as a “conservative Christian think tank.” This is false. Discovery Institute is a secular, non-partisan, non-profit public policy center dealing with national and international affairs. It is not religious in any manner and does not embrace any religion, but rather respects each individual's right to choose their personal religious belief. Discovery staff and fellows comprise a diverse range of political and philosophical beliefs. For more information see

Discovery Institute's mission is to make a positive vision of the future practical. The Institute discovers and promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty. Our mission is promoted through books, reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus the Institute's own publications, blogs and website.

Current Institute projects explore the fields of technology, science and culture, education policy, reform of the law, national defense, the environment and the economy, the future of democratic institutions, transportation, religion and public life, government entitlement spending, foreign affairs and cooperation within the bi-national region of "Cascadia." The efforts of Discovery fellows and staff, headquartered in Seattle, are crucially abetted by the Institute's members, board and sponsors.

I am requesting that The Lariat remove this statement from the article on its website and print a correction in the newspaper.

Please let me know when this correction will be published.

Thank you,

Robert L. Crowther, II
Director of Communications
Center for Science & Culture
Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA
(206) 292-0401 x107


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Baylor University student newspaper, The Baylor Lariat, printed a front page article in today’s newspaper entitled “Baylor not immune t
o scholarly feud over origin of life” written by Van Darden and Josh Horton.

In the article, the Seattle-based think thank, Discovery Institute, is referred to as a “conservative Christian think tank.” Such, is not true. Discovery Institute is a secular, non-partisan, non-profit think tank that deals with a variety of national and international issues, including intelligent design. However, Discovery Institute is in no way a religiously affiliated organization. The fellows, directors, and staff are of a variety of theological, philosophical, and political persuasions. In no manner is the institute a “conservative Christian think tank.”

Furthermore, the article states that “Beckwith, associate professor of church-state studies and outspoken proponent of teaching intelligent design alongside traditional scientific theory, was denied tenure in March, an act some say is due to Beckwith’s membership in the Discovery Institute.”

This statement, however, is also false. Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D. is not a proponent of intelligent design nor an advocate for having it taught in public school science classes. As a constitutional scholar, Beckwith simply holds that the teaching of intelligent design is constitutional. He does not necessarily agree that it is beneficial to teach intelligent design alongside of evolution and he is not a proponent of intelligent design. Beckwith is not a scientist and his research is not along these lines. He merely holds that the teaching of intelligent design is constitutional, contrary to recent court rulings.

Finally, the Lariat printed a diagram of “Two views of history.” The first was labeled “Current scientific consensus” and described the traditional evolution model. The second was labeled “Scriptural ‘young Earth’ history” and described the young earth Creation model. This diagram is very misleading.

First, by labeling the evolution model “Current scientific consensus,” the Lariat has made a statement on their view that evolution as the science, disregarding other views such as intelligent design. Second, the “Scriptural ‘young Earth’ history” model leads readers to believe that intelligent design is merely young earth Creationism repackaged. Such, is not true. Intelligent design is a secular scientific view based upon empirical scientific research.

The article, as written by the Lariat staff, has many false statements and is misleading on the whole. Whether or not this was done intentionally, the article is misleading nonetheless. The Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center stands with the Discovery Institute and demands a correction printed in the newspaper and that the statement that Discovery Institute is a “conservative Christian think tank” be removed form the online article.

Thank you,

Samuel S. Chen
Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center

Student Representative,
Access Research Network

Below is the "Two views of history" diagram printed with the article in the Baylor Lariat:


plunge said...

Um, but they are a conservative christian think-tank. How can there be any doubt about that? I mean, it's absurdly hilarious the contortions they've gone through to deny it in public, but saying it isn't the same thing as not being it. I suppose that the Village Voice is not a liberal paper either. Sheesh.

An ID is simply not part of the Current scientific consensus. How can anyone deny THAT, even if they disagree?

"Second, the “Scriptural ‘young Earth’ history” model leads readers to believe that intelligent design is merely young earth Creationism repackaged."

Well, isn't that exactly what the movement was first concieved of as being?

Look. I understand that for PR reasons it's important to keep asserting the facade. But please don't insult your own intelligence and ours by acting as if describing a movement who has a policy document that says "let's keep quiet about the YEC stuff: it's bad for PR" is really a secular, empirical field.

If you disagree, then by all means, describe some empirical line of research that the DI or any major ID proponent has actually conducted into the positive theory if design. Ever.

Anonymous said...

I found this little tidbit by Barbara Forest that was published in the Natural History Magazine. Looks to me like plunge was dead on in his assessment.

Launched by Phillip E. Johnson's book Darwin on Trial (1991), the intelligent-design movement crystallized in 1996 as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC), sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a conservative Seattle think tank. Johnson, a law professor whose religious conversion catalyzed his antievolution efforts, assembled a group of supporters who promote design theory through their writings, financed by CRSC fellowships. According to an early mission statement, the CRSC seeks "nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies."

Cody Cobb said...

Samuel, why not address the quotes in my post instead of deleting them?

Here they are again, without my snarky commentary:

“Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.”

“Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

"To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

How can an organization with such goals honestly be considered "secular"?

Rich Hughes said...

He's got a point, plus isn't the "center for (the renewal of) science and culture" funded by Christian Reconstructionists...?


A. White said...

Second, you can't read. I didn't say that ID is part of the current scientific consensus. I said that evolution is not. There are nearly 600 doctoral scientists in disagreement with evolution. Learn how to read, please.

Evolution is as close to proven as anything can be in science. So someone has managed to locate 600 scientists (in what fields? I bet most aren't biologists...) who've let their religious convictions overcome the mountain of evidence for evolution? Color me unimpressed.

Nevertheless, I'd like to see the list. Do you have a link? Are you sure you aren't confusing the list with the "Steve" list? This is a growing list of over 730 scientists in biology and related fields, all named "Steve" (in honor of Gould), who have signed on endorsing evolution. It's goal is specifically to show how piddling the numbers of dissenting so-called scientists are in comparison to the scientific consensus (you know, the one you deny).

p.s. How can you possibly say the DI is secular in light of the Wedge document? Similarly, how can you possibly say ID isn't YEC repackaged after what was revealed about the ID textbook, Of Pandas and People, in Kitzmiller? Have you done any independent research at all on the history of ID, or do you only pay attention to what the DI tells you?

amutepiggy said...

Nearly 600 scientists disagree with evolution? WOW! That is just awesome!

Except that there are 733 scientists named Steve who have signed a statement that there is no serious scientific doubt as to the validity of evolution or its proposed mechanism (ie- natural selection).

Additionally, the list of doubters you cite signed this statement: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." Note that agreement with that is not exactly supportive of ID. Therein lies the fundamental problem with ID- its supporters merely try to tear down evolution by natural selection instead of trying to find support for their own theory. That is just not how science works.

dogscratcher said...

"Do it, then come back. I think I've become dumber by reading your comment."


"ID people want more money to research ID."

The Templeton Foundation is more than willing to fund any such research: what is holding you guys back?

buddha said...

Samuel Chen, I am surprised that you would excise the Word of God from comments to your blog. I shall repost these Sacred Scriptures in the hope that you will not deny the Lord a second time:

Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard when one of the High Priest's servant women came to him and said, "You, too, were with Jesus of Galilee." But he denied it in front of them all. "I don't know what you are talking about," he answered, and went on out to the entrance of the courtyard. Another servant woman saw him and said to the men there, "He was with Jesus of Nazareth." Again Peter denied it and answered, "I swear that I don't know that man!" After a little while the men standing there came to Peter. "Of course you are one of them," they said. "After all, the way you speak gives you away!" Then Peter said, "I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know that man!" Just then a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: "Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you do not know me." He went out and wept bitterly.

By the way, I have taken the "three hour challenge". I testify that Intelligent Design is a load of nonsense.

Bob said...


You claim that it is up to the Darwinist to prove their theory. Please see our local college biology library. There should be at least 50 or so journals which have various articles on evolution. Just take Systematic biology for example. Almost all of the articles support evolution, and most of them have original research.

Please list any peer review articles that show positive support for ID. Remember just saying that those evil Darwinist can give an exact account of what happened doesn't count as positive support. Give an example of were ID out performs Darwin's theory and give the research to support it. Give authors, title and journal.

With that said, the lack-of-Discovery Institute has been around for twenty some odd years. They have not produced one scientific study on ID. They have only produced a handful of poorly written and poorly informed papers, in journals with questionable credentials. The lead people of the institute constantly complain that God has been removed from the classroom. Most of the major funders are conservative Christians.

Hmmm...... I guess I could be wrong. Just because an think-tank is funded and staffed by, and promotes causes and ideals of conservative Christians, does necessary mean that it is a conservative Christian think-tank. But in ordered for me to believe that to be true, I would have to ignore all of the facts. As a Darwinist, I just can do that. I should have been a IDist.

Cody said...

"Cody, you are quoting from various parts of the "wedge document" and so forth."

Why yes, yes I am.

"These are documents that we, including DI, do not necessarily agree with. Meaning, we have seen certain errors with intelligent design in the past and with promoting it and have worked to change those errors so we can stay honest."

Really? Because I found this from the Discovery Institute's own webpage, The Wedge Document: So What?

"In what follows we cite and discuss the document's major points and offending passages, none of which support the claims that our opponents have made about us, and all of which we continue to affirm."

You may not necessarily agree with the DI, but I'm pretty darn sure the DI agrees with the DI. As for the clause about not having any support for claims made about the DI, I do hope you understand that I was only quoting their words -- which they continue to affirm! -- and asking how one could rightly reconcile the glaring differences. I.e., how an organization that advocates the overthrow of a secularist philosophy can maintain that they are a secular organization.

"Honesty, something evolutionists have none of."

Ouch, that was too much snark for me to handle.

"Furthermore, if you have a problem with the Discovery Institute, why don't you email them? I don't work for DI and can't speak for them."

Fair enough. As a matter of fact, I'm writing a research paper on intelligent design right now. Maybe I could send it to them and they can peer-review it and I can totally publish my paper on the internationally respected online web log 90% True?

"As for the IDURC, we aren't trying to replace materialist worldview with a science consonant with theistic, Christian views. We're trying to replace materialism with honest science."

Materialism isn't going away any time soon, and that's not because we're all dogmatically clinging to our view that reality is nothing but energy and matter, but because materialism works. It's as simple as that. Methological naturalism has proven time and again to be a useful tool for scientific inquiry. If I limit my explanation to only that which can be known -- you know, natural forces -- I can actually accomplish something. Are you saying you disagree with Mr. Holmes, and we shouldn't rule out the impossible?

"The gentlemen they speak of was indeed a Christian Reconstructionist--until the early 1980s. At that time, he gave up his radical views. Be reminded that DI was founded in the 1990s."

Indeed, this is true. For good overview of who this guy is and what he believes now, check out this salon article.

Look at that -- I'm an evolutionist being honest!

"That would be the same as me saying because the evolutionist Barbara Forest used to advocate legalized child pornography as the President of the Louisiana ACLU."

It would be the same thing if indeed Forrest ever advocated legalized child pornagraphy ... but she didn't, whereas the guy mentioned above really did once state, "My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives." And now he's giving money to the Discovery Institute. Sure, he's a changed man, but your scenario with Forrest as the evil child pornographer (nice visceral imagery there, by the way) is not quite the same thing.

"Concerning the "Steve Project," I have one question. If there's a "Stephanie" and she wants to join, is she allowed or is this list male-exclusive?"

Yes. Any variation of "Steve" is accepted: Stephen, Stephanie, Stefan. Although I always was confused by the inclusion of "Tapani Salmi" -- anyone out there want to explain that one to me?

"The fact that I know about the "Steve Project" and you don't know about the list of nearly 600 scientists that doubt evolution, shows that you simply ignore everything that might just challenge your view."

The only list of unconvinced scientists I know about is the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism list, as touted by the Discovery Institute. The last I recalled, there were only 100 scientists on this list, over half of which weren't biologists. Where did you get the 600 figure from? Oh, wait, I just remember this other list of unconvinced scientists:

"According to Newsweek in 1987, 'By one count there are some 700 scientists with respectable academic credentials (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists) who give credence to creation-science...'" Link.

Assuming your figure is accurate and the 1987 stats haven't changed too much, scientific creationism still trumps your theory by 100 supporters. Teach the controversy.

"Just because scientists doubt evolution, it does not mean they all support ID."

And now you're being honest. Yay! Progress!

"That's the problem. ID people want more money to research ID. Evolutionists don't want to see that happen. Why? What's wrong with research?"

It's not that evolutionists don't want to see that happen, it's that we know that's not going to happen. There's nothing to test. Intelligent Design theory doesn't make any positive assertions of its own, rather it is merely a collection of arguments against evolution -- arguments that have by and large left the majority of biologists unimpressed. Irreducible Complexity is a hurdle for evolutionary thinking to overcome (a rather short hurdle, but there it is, nonetheless); it is not a testament to design.

"Finally, I'm just wondering why you enjoy attacking Discovery Institute and motivation. Certainly, motivation may serve a key role in everything."

The Discovery Institute needs evolution to be false. If they can destroy that, then their ideas and policies have a better chance of being established. They need a type of science that includes the supernatural, because they need the supernatural. What is curious, though, is the degree they go to downplay their motivations.

"However, does motivation mean that ID theory is wrong?"

No, the lack of evidence supporting ID theory is what makes it wrong. Intelligent Design fails firstly as a science, regardless of its religious motivations.

"Try to evaluate the theory, not the motivation. Someone take the three-hour challenge."

I have. I remain unimpressed. And technically, it was more like a two-hour-and-seven-minutes challenge, but what's fifty three minutes between friends?

Anonymous said...

The main purpose of the DI's Centre for Science and Culture is promotion of ID.

In the words of prominant ID advocate and DI Fellow, William Dembski, ID "is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory" - i.e. it is Christian theology.

Therefore the CSC is promoting Christian theology, and thus can be considered a Christian think tank.

Rich Hughes said...

Hi Samuel.

Perhaps you could respond to this:

Mumon said...

I'll leave the fact that DI is an astroturfed "think tank" (one that knows the answers in advance it wants to get and doesn't therefore do any real investigation) to the capable hands of Ed Brayton.

I wanna go somewhere else: How can you folks even countenance a "young earth" creationist who doesn't understand that if the earth was created "6,000 years ago" there was no 100,000 years ago!

Yeah, whatever, I know, we're not dealing with science, but fantasy.

Mumon said...

(note to above: it should say "the universe" instead of "the earth.")

Ed Brayton said...

I've been an ID watcher for a long time and I've seen a lot of funny things get said. But I have to say, this performance may take the cake. It's at least on the level with Dembski's nonsense last fall where he claimed that our side pulled Shallit's testimony because it was an "embarrassment", then was shown that in fact his side had tried frantically to keep Shallit off the stand, and then deleted the posts where he had made the accusations in the first place, saying that it was all just a bit of "street theater". Chen posts a comment claiming that the DI doesn't support their own statements, has it pointed out how absurd that is (especially in light of the fact that they have explicitly stated that they still affirm those statements), and then deletes his own comments from his blog. I have to take my hat off to him; by any measure, this is a bravissimo performance. Keep this up and you'll be working for the DI in no time.

Beaming Visionary said...

"We wait to see if they will apologize for their misrepresentation of the facts."

If you genuinely value facts and believe that those who warp them should publicly make amends, you'd better prepare for a busy couple of days.

Beaming Visionary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

YAY deleted comments. Nothing that glows honesty like silencing critics.

Ed Brayton said...


Hey, at least he's consistent - he deletes his own comments too, when they prove embarrassing or inconvenient. The best thing about this whole situation is how perfectly it demonstrates the truth of our position - the ID advocates have busily tried to cover their own tracks but their own words keep being thrown back in their face. So what they really wish they could do is just make all those old and inconvenient statements disappear down the memory hole. That's why we've seen this sort of thing happen multiple times at Dembski's blog and at the DI blog - if they say it and it turns out to be bad for them, they just delete it and hope no one notices. The punchline, of course, is that Chen, in trying to dispute those facts, has instead engaged in precisely the same behavior. It's a perfect example of ducking into the punch. It's very much like a radical Muslim threatening to kill those who dare to portray them as violent - the attempted response proves that the argument being responded to is true.

Mumon said...

Mr. Chen:

Given all the above, perhaps you are young enough to have the scales fall from your eyes, and see this creationist/ID thing for the sham that it is.

First, from a Christian perspective (I love doing this since I'm a Buddhist...) any realistic, "hard" results on ID would deny the value of faith, thereby invalidating much of the New Testament writings precisely on that subject.

Secondly, your colleagues claiming "ID" have been caught out way too many times for this not to, at this point, be at least some bits of bearing false witness. Why are ID-ers and creationists compromising their moral integrity? For what purpose? Please don't deny this; it looks enough like a duck and walks enough like a duck for only the most stubbornly wedded to their prejudices to deny the metaphysical certainty of the duck.

There is a way out of this ethical morass. Others have done it. You can too.

Good luck to you.