Source cues and intelligent design

When comparing News and Views messages with Young Earth Creationist articles, it is apparent that Intelligent Design communications contain the lowest frequency rate of Source Cues among antievolutionist media. Consequently, the Center for Science and Culture is the only Darwin-skeptic group that does not exhibit this message variable as its most ubiquitous persuasive element. Particularly idiosyncratic of News and Views is that its Source Cues incidents are almost exclusively cases involving appeals to evidence and expertise, rather than attempts at establishing religious legitimacy. This seems indicative of CSC assertions that Intelligent Design is not actually a religious enterprise, even though it has been deemed as such in American courts.105 News and Views articles also do not typically contain profiles outlining the credentials of each contributing writer. On the few occasions that such summaries are included, however, the News and Views editor often provides a brief note listing a writer’s prestigious education, scientific accomplishments, and academic awards.106 More commonly, however, CSC writers simply emphasize the expertise of ID proponents when mentioning a Darwin-skeptic’s name, as well as underscoring their important contributions to the corpus of antievolutionist works. In relation to this, after describing an Intelligent Design supporter’s academic proficiencies, News and Views articles sometimes stress that such individuals are “genuine scientists” or “serious scholars.”107 These statements are typically used to counter assertions that the ID movement does not possess credentialed researchers. This is demonstrated in an article responding to statements made by Barbara Forrest of the NCSC against the antievolutionist Don Ewert. “Don Ewert earned his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Georgia in

Echoing credibility 87 1976, and did his post doc under the father of evolutionary immunology, Max Cooper, at the University of Alabama,” clarifies the article. Details are further provided about his research at the “prestigious Wistar Institute,” Ewert’s publications “in leading scientific journals,” and his funding from the NIH, NSF, and the Department of Agriculture. Readers are then told, “Don Ewert is a credible scientist if there ever was one, and he holds serious scientific doubts about neo-Darwinian evolution.”108

Additionally, Center for Science and Culture writers frequently mention if an ID advocate holds an academic degree from an esteemed university. Such comments are most clearly exemplified in numerous references to CSC’s director, Stephen Meyer. Repeatedly News and Views articles explain that Meyer “earned his PhD from Cambridge University” and that he maintains “a Cambridge PhD,” is “Cambridge-educated,” and “Cambridge University-trained.”10’ Other notably credentialed individuals from around the world are also described as approving of Meyer’s work, and as being part of ID’s well-educated global community. “Scientists who have endorsed Meyer’s book include one of the U.K’s top geneticists, Dr. Norman C. Nevin,” explains a News and Views article. Nevin is an “O.B.E., Emeritus Professor in Medical Genetics, Queen’s University, Belfast, who has praised Signature in the Cell as ‘a landmark in the intelligent design debate.’”110 Furthermore, Logan Gage remarks that “My friends in the ID movement have doctorates from Cambridge, The University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, CalTech, etc. They’ve done post-docs at Columbia, Harvard, and other major institutions.”111

While highlighting the expertise of Intelligent Design supporters, News and Views contributors also repeatedly stress that these individuals are generating peer-reviewed academic publications.112 These comments overlap with declarations that numerous credible ID research projects exist, and they affirm that “there are peer-reviewed scientific critiques of neo-Darwinian evolution in the mainstream scientific literature.”113 In this way, the expression ‘peer-reviewed’ is commonly used as a badge of credibility, which distinguishes the academic authority of ID’s promoters and the research that apparently validates Intelligent Design’s brand of antievolutionism:

  • • “Peer-Reviewed Research Paper on Plant Biology Favorably Cites Intelligent Design and Challenges Darwinian Evolution.”114
  • • “Peer-Reviewed Pro-Intelligent Design Article Endorses Irreducible Complexity.”115
  • • “Peer-Reviewed Pro-Intelligent Design Paper Suggests ‘Agents’ and ‘Choice Contingency’ Needed to Explain Life’s Programming.”116
  • • “Doug Axe of Biologic Institute has a new peer-reviewed scientific paper in the journal BlO-Complexity titled ‘The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations.’”117
  • • “Scientific critiques of modern Darwinian theory have a legitimate scientific basis in peer-reviewed scientific studies and teaching studentsabout these scientific arguments against Darwinian evolution in no way injects religion into the classroom.”"8
  • • “In the peer-reviewed article he wrote for Applied Mathematics Letters, Sewell argued that the basic principles underlying the second law of thermodynamics, when properly applied, might be a bar to Darwinian evolution after all.”"9

Moreover, News and Views authors elucidate that there exists a growing contingent of antievolutionist scientists, while using this population as a source of credibility for the CSC’s claims. Luskin, for example, tells readers that “a critical mass of well-credentialed scientists in fact don’t support neoDarwinian evolution,” and even though the majority of scientists endorse evolution, “there are credible scientists who dissent from it - hundreds of Ph.D.s in fact - and that there are plenty of discussions of doubts about core claims of neo-Darwinism in the scientific literature.”'2" Readers are also told of “800+ scientists who have courageously signed a statement agreeing that they are skeptical of the creative power of natural selection,” and that, “For decades now, a growing minority of scientists have argued that the standard explanations of biological origins are prime examples of this - cherished ideas that are spectacularly wrong.”12' Though cases of Social Consensus (Chapter 6) are not particularly common in CSC materials, these sorts of assertions overlap with conceptions of Social Proof, as they describe how an important, multiplying community of international scientists is championing ID. In this vein, Crowther tells audiences: “Look for more scientists hammering Darwin’s coffin shut at a campus near you in the future. In the meantime, just peruse the scientific literature and you’ll see the nails have already been driven pretty deep.”122

What is more, News and Views writers insist that a throng of celebrated scientists, philosophers, and theologians throughout history were ID proponents. The credibility of these individuals is then used to validate ID claims and increase the Messenger Credibility of CSC. As Michael Egnor explains:

ID has a long pedigree in science and philosophy. The great Greek philosophers - Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus - noted the obvious evidence for design in nature, and the design inferences of leading Christian theologians - Augustine, Aquinas, Abelard, Pascal - were inferences to evidence in nature and did not depend on a literal reading of Genesis. Most (virtually all) of the great scientists since the enlightenment (Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Pascal, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, Planck, Schrodinger) inferred design in nature. ID has been the scientific understanding of nature throughout most of history. ID didn’t ‘evolve’ from creationism.123

In another article, Egnor contends that “Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, and Einstein all believed that nature revealed intelligent agency.”'24

Such assertions resemble ICR statements relating how a multitude of scientific pioneers were creationist allies. However, News and Views cases tend to differ in that they more actively reference the academic authority of nonChristians. Particularly notable are several appeals to the scientific credibility of Alfred Russel Wallace and his authority as a cofounder of natural selection. West notes excitedly how “significant numbers of philosophers, scientists, and other scholars have espoused some form of intelligent design over the past century, including the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Wallace!”12' Michael Flannery also explains, “Wallace believed that nature gives manifest evidence of “creative power, directive mind, and ultimate purpose.’ ” He then boasts: “That’s right, the co-discover[sic]of natural selection - indeed, the man who prompted Darwin to stop dawdling and rush his Origin of Species to press - believed in intelligent design!”126 Through these claims, CSC contributors annex the authority of one of the authors of natural selection, and even argue that Wallace was “effectively the founder” of Intelligent Design theory.127 Therefore, even while Darwin was apparently advancing a materialistic view of evolution and the origin of species, natural selection’s cofounder is described as a veritable ID supporter who would have approved of CSC’s interpretations of biology.

Center for Science and Culture writers also maintain that the founding fathers of the United States had important Intelligent Design leanings, and that these suppositions influenced the authorship of the Declaration of Independence. In this way, News and Views contributors acquire both Messenger Credibility and Source Attraction by affiliating ID with the very naissance of America. These claims appear in discussions of Thomas Jefferson and his apparent ID sensibilities. Klinghoffer tells American readers that “we can trace our own liberty back to [Jefferson’s] ideas, which are branches from an intellectual tree that is today called ‘intelligent design,”’ and, “If you like the Declaration of Independence, thank intelligent design.”128 Likewise, Meyer notes that Jefferson and the founding fathers adhered to noteworthy ID concepts, basing “their vision on a belief in an intrinsic human dignity, bestowed by virtue of our having been made according to the design and in the image of a purposeful creator.” With this in mind, he concludes: “The growing evidence of design in life has stunning and gratifying implications for our understanding of America’s political history - and for our country’s future. On the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the evidence for ‘Nature’s God’ and thus for the reality of our rights, is stronger than ever.”129 This comment not only refers to ID’s apparent role in the founding of America but also to the accumulation of pro-ID evidence from which CSC writers also garner Messenger Credibility.

Throughout its corpus, News and Views writers also ardently insist that ID’s credibility is fixed upon the authority of scientific evidence and the integrity of ID-confirming data. In fact, as West remarks, the “accumulated evidence for intelligent design supplied by discoveries in physics, cosmology, astronomy, chemistry, biology, mathematics and related fields is simply too great.”13'1 Readers are frequently told of “the overwhelming scientific evidence that favors design in biology,” that “ID is based on the available scientific data,” and that the “possibility of an intelligent cause is both a valid scientific assumption, and borne out by the evidence itself.”131 Additionally, Intelligent Design is not only fortified by scientific data but is itself an incredibly useful scientific paradigm and practical research method that best fits all of the scientific facts.132 It is an empirical system verified by all of the scientific data, and it is intrinsically a scientific approach. This method, audiences are told, has also led to a vigorous research agenda. Such assertions serve to bolster Intelligent Design’s genuinely scientific foundation, and they are used to oppose complaints that ID does not have functional research ventures. “The anti-ID crowd has an old canard about there being no serious scientists who doubt Darwin, let alone any that support intelligent design,” notes Crowther. “And they like to say that there is no science being done by ID scientists. Both ideas are not just false, but absurdly so.”133 Crowther then lists for readers the names of numerous ID-supporting scientists in an effort to affirm credibility.

CSC communications rarely include images of science-in-action, and very few cases of Source Attraction accompany News and Views Messenger Credibility incidents. These infrequent occurrences include pictures of the American flag or other US cultural symbols, along with relatively intermittent statements that ID members support important socioreligious values.134 For example, after outlining various links between Darwinism and eugenics, Egnor details his own perspective, which would plausibly resonate with an audience of theists:

I believe that man is created by God, for a purpose, and that each of us is in part the image of God. Our dignity is that we carry that image. We are not mere animals to be bred and culled. Our dignity is not that we are smart, or strong, or that we have prevailed in our struggle for survival. Our dignity is that we are human and carry our Creator’s image, and we retain that full dignity despite the accidents of illness or genetics.135

These references to ID’s concern for the image of God in humanity and the value of human distinctiveness are analogous to those expressed throughout a range of other antievolutionist media.136 Notably, on the few occasions that News and Views articles do integrate cultural symbols, these images appear within articles claiming that there exists an assiduous proevolution-ary censorship program against counter-Darwinist ideas (Chapter 5). It is to these proevolutionists that this chapter will now turn in order to outline how the National Center for Science Education and the BioLogos Foundation’s use of Source Cues contrast with those of their Darwin-skeptic rivals.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >