Intelligent design contrast and censorship claims
Notably, unlike all other Evolution Wars media, the Contrast Principle and Negativity Effect proves to be the most ubiquitous message variable in the
Center for Science and Culture’s Evolution News and Views. While Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis Darwin-skeptic communications are most likely to include appeals to sacred or secular credibility, the CSC’s Intelligent Design-supporting writers instead display a greater propensity to dispute the credibility and conclusions of ID’s opponents through contrast. Such biting discourse includes repeated assertions that evolutionists lack evidence and are morally deficient individuals, who intentionally misrepresent or simply misunderstand Intelligent Design theory. Additionally, News and Views articles are brimming with sharp criticisms leveled at any attempts to reconcile evolution with religion.
The most persistent negative CSC contention is that Darwinists fraudulently present evolution as being substantiated by incontrovertible, empirical data. These sorts of proclamations are described by News and Views contributors as being brazenly misleading and are regularly contrasted with claims that the theory is truly deficient of evidential support. Additionally, the paucity of evolution’s hard evidence is compared with ID’s apparently overwhelming empirical support. This negative contrast accentuates the movement’s professedly scientific nature while juxtaposing the honesty of ID proponents with the duplicity of evolutionists.87 Michael Egnor clearly articulates such contrast claims in an article subtitled, “Why Evolution is False.”88 Within this piece he compares faulty evolutionary interpretations of subcellular intricacies with Intelligent Design’s ostensibly superior perspectives on biomolecular complexity. “Darwinists claim that all of this originated from random mutations and unguided natural selection, without design,” Egnor notes. “Yet there isn’t a single detailed, evidence-based explanation for the evolution of any biomolecule from primordial precursors. All Darwinists have to offer are ‘just-so’ stories about how biomolecules might have originated.” Conversely, “Intelligent design is a scientific inference based on knowledge,” and the “more we learn about living cells, the more they look like things that can only be made by design.” He further clarifies, “Science, properly conducted, follows the evidence wherever it leads,” which is exactly how ID is practiced. ID “is open to any kind of causation - random or designed - in accordance with the evidence.” Not so with evolutionists, however. Egnor argues that in fact it is not evidence which propels Darwinism, but a malignant “Fundamentalist atheism” that causes biologists to “defend Darwinism in spite of the evidence.”89
The contention that ID pursues scientific evidence to its appropriate conclusions is restated by numerous other News and Views contributors. For instance, Casey Luskin insists that, contra Darwinism, “ID simply wants to follow the evidence where it leads.”90 Alternatively, evolutionists are forced to maintain an ongoing proevolutionist conspiracy by ignoring data entirely and embellishing or even faking scientific evidence.91 In like manner, biologists are mockingly portrayed as invoking magic to account for incomprehensible evolutionary processes. For example, Luskin tells readers sardonically, “Using the three magic wands of duplication, rearrangement, and
Comparisons and suppression 153 natural selection you can provide a full and complete detailed explanation for the evolution of virtually any gene.’”2 Likewise, John G. West reports: “Over at BioLogos, biologist Kathryn Applegate has offered what has to be one of the more creative alternatives to the intelligent design of the bacterial flagellum: Magic. I'm not kidding.” Furthermore, while the flagellum’s selfassembly is difficult to understand, “Dr. Applegate assures her readers that this is not really a problem because ‘Natural forces work like magic.' Presto, chango, something appears!”93
Within this discourse CSC writers consistently assault the moral integrity of proevolutionists. Various scientists are directly accused of such offences as “bluffing, evasion, error, and distortion,” as well as the “intentional misrepresentation” of science.94 These defamatory assaults tend to occur within articles that review expert testimonies evolutionists have supplied for American state legislators. For instance, one article identifies numerous “instances of egregious falsehood” throughout the statements that David Hillis and Ronald Wetherington offered to the Texas State Board of Education. After listing a series of apparent untruths in Wetherington’s deposition, David Klinghoffer comments:
I’m not calling Wetherington a deliberate liar. Rather, it seems obvious that men and women who invest themselves in their work over a lifetime may come to tell lies to themselves without ever knowing it, in order to maintain crucial fictions on which their life’s work depends. It’s human nature.... Wetherington chose to be fooled and to fool those of his listeners who also wished to be fooled.95
Such poor character assessments extend back to Darwin himself. He is depicted as a man who “presented to the public an elaborate and even deceptive story about himself and his work to advance a philosophical agenda.” Darwin is described as a rather narcissistic individual who displayed an “obsession with notoriety and recognition, something he saw his theory could provide.”96 In contrast, ID’s contemporary founders, including Phillip Johnson, are exemplified as having humble natures and even “gentlemanly responses to critics.”97
Evolutionists are further charged with practicing censorship and attempting to indoctrinate the public with fallacious unscientific dogma through insincere propaganda. For example, science textbooks are described as “Forcing Students to Assent to Darwin,” and being infused with “evolutionary newspeak” and outright lies.98 These indoctrination attempts are condemned because they are designed to expressly reach young audiences, and not only suppress counter-evolutionist data, but also conceal the fact that evolution is a scientifically questionable theory.99 “Darwinian propagandists would like the public to believe that there is no scientific debate about the adequacy of evolutionary theory,” notes Robert Crowther. However, scientists “have actually been debating it ever since The Origin of Specieswas published in 1859.”10" By contrast, ID proponents are cast as defenders of academic freedom and unrelenting communicators of scientific truth. “What you’re promoting is called dogmatism and intolerance,” states Luskin, while attempting to address the counter-creationist Barbara Forrest. By contrast, “What we’re promoting is called academic freedom.”101
A number of CSC articles further assert that evolution is an entirely useless scientific enterprise and that devoted evolutionists are societal parasites. “Evolution is worthless to experimental biology and worthless to medical research,” maintains Egnor. “A lot of taxpayers realize that Darwinist ‘just-so stories’ are of little value to the real research going on in biology and medicine.”102 This language is perhaps most striking in a diatribe against the New Atheist P. Z. Myers, which contrasts the majority of principled, civic-minded scientists with leechlike Darwin advocates. After describing the majority of scientists, who “do their work with humility and integrity,” Egnor explains, “I reserve the appellation ‘parasites’ for Darwinists, at least those Darwinists who oppose academic freedom and who sneer at most Americans for whom scientific explanations in nature need not be restricted to unintelligent causes.”101 With added warning, evolutionists are told: “Keep in mind that you’re living off the people you’re censoring and boycotting. Your livelihood is dependent on their largesse, and, in ‘comparative biology’ vernacular, it’s unwise for parasites to boycott their hosts.”104
Center for Science and Culture writers also volley consonant accusations against researchers who contend that global warming is anthropogenic. These claims parallel indictments against climate change scattered throughout AiG materials, and they involve attacking the apparent lack of empirical data and truthfulness maintained by environmental scientists.103 In particular, climate scientists and evolutionists are together portrayed as close-minded ideologues who appeal to a consensus of opinion rather than genuine data.106 At the same time, evolution itself is described as a type of atheistic mythology and a naturalistic religious faith that falsely exhibits the appearance of a true science.107 Such comments mirror comparable remarks made by Institute for Creation Research writers, and they delineate that evolution is primarily “religious dogma,” a “metaphysical treatise,” “atheist metaphysics,” and the “creation myth of atheism.”108 With this in mind, CSC contributors describe proevolutionists as atheistic missionaries, striving to evangelize the world with Darwinist religion.10’
Evolutionist religious zeal is also expressed as dulling its adherents with a type of insular fundamentalism, ensuring that no contrary evidence can threaten Darwinistic blind faith. In this vein, Klinghoffer remarks: “Responses from the Darwin faithful to anything touching upon intelligent design are often so thoughtless it takes your breath away. I guess this is how they manage to stay impervious to the evidentiary challenge to their religion -they just don’t think it through, or even read it.”110 This religious fanaticism is contrasted with ID’s scientific impartiality, while counter-creationists are
Comparisons and suppression 155 also often berated for conflating ID with religious beliefs.111 Audiences are insistently told that, unlike the religion of evolution, ID is not akin to religion in any way, and all claims to that effect are boldfaced lies or ignorant misrepresentations of Intelligent Design theory’s fundamental principles. Therefore, while Center for Science and Culture advocates gamely call evolutionary theory a religion, they bewail any associations between Intelligent Design and religiosity, all while contrasting the intolerant fundamentalism of evolutionists with the unbiased science of ID.
CSC writers further assert that ID has been dealt a great injustice in the way that it has been both misunderstood and misinterpreted to the public. At the heart of these popular distortions are proevolutionist leaders who are seditiously linking ID with Young Earth Creationism and Christian fundamentalism. Klinghoffer thus expounds, “In the history of modern propaganda with its technique of the Big Lie, it’s hard to think of a brazen untruth more successful in shaping opinion than the one that equates intelligent design with Christian Fundamentalist creationism.” Almost as prominent is the “related lie that there is no serious scientific controversy over Darwinism, that main support pillar of contemporary materialist or naturalist doctrine.”112 Luskin further reports, “By branding scientific views they dislike as ‘religion’ or ‘creationism,’ the Darwin lobby scares educators from presenting contrary evidence or posing critical questions - a subtle but effective form of censorship.”113
This false image is persistently contrasted with ID’s non-creationist, veritably scientific nature.114 “Unlike creationism, intelligent design is an inference from scientific evidence, not a deduction from religious authority.”115 However, CSC writers lament that no matter how many times ID proponents clearly demonstrate the wholly scientific and non-creationist nature of its enterprise, proevolutionists somehow still misapprehend ID.116 As a result, Anika Smith tells readers, “Having one’s position repeatedly mischaracterized by those who refuse to be corrected is an annoyingly common problem for intelligent design.”117 CSC writers further state that evolutionists wrongly portray ID as merely an appeal to ignorance or as a basic God of the gaps argument. Nonetheless, by way of comparison, Richard Sternberg responds, “The reality is that the case for Darwinian evolution is much more reasonably shown to depend on gaps,” and evolutionists can appropriately be described as defending “Darwin of the gaps.”118 In association with such claims, CSC contributors also bemoan insincere counter-creationist charges that ID theorists do not produce peer-reviewed research, that no academic studies support Intelligent Design, and that ID actually has no operative research program.119 However, as West maintains, this sort of allegation is patently false, even though Intelligent Design proponents must overcome evolutionist censorship in order to get research published: “But the fact that intelligent design scholars do publish peer-reviewed articles is no thanks to Darwinists, many of whom do their best to ensure that peer-reviewed articles by intelligent design scientists never see the light of day.”120
CSC’s contributors also habitually underscore and oppose proevolutionist claims that ID proponents are merely seeking monetary gain, that Intelligent Design is primarily an American movement, and that ID’s founders have been furtively promulgating their ideas in order to lead the public away from both evolution and philosophical materialism.121 In particular, evolutionary creationists and members of the National Center for Science Education are indicted as being key perpetrators of such distortions.122 For example, it is expressed that BioLogos’ Kenneth Miller “uses the same arguments against intelligent design (ID) when he lectures, and unfortunately, his arguments are not only weak, but they are rife with misrepresentations of ID.” This occurs even though “Dr. Miller has been informed about many of these errors before.”123 Lamentedly, West ponders “what the BioLogos Foundation would do if it didn’t have intelligent design (ID) as its favorite punching bag.” He then adds that those “affiliated with BioLogos seem to devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to simply bashing intelligent design.”124 While articles claim that ID proponents seek open discourse with evolutionists, Francis Collins is described as avoiding sincere dialogue, and Karl Giberson is accused of actively trying to “[s]mear the integrity” of Intelligent Design theory.125 However, CSC’s primary concern with evolutionary creationists is not necessarily their closed approach to ID, but their inescapable failure to reconcile Christian theology with evolution.
In comparison to ID’s sound empirical foundations, theistic evolution is presented as being both scientifically and theologically bankrupt. Thus Egnor remarks, “Theories of theistic evolution are generally stated with such imprecision as to render them sentiment rather than science,” and, “They are generally poor theology as well.”126 Audiences are told that, in a manner resembling similar Young Earth Creationist claims, theistic evolution represents a form of “surrender” to ontological materialism, usually “at the cost of clarity, orthodoxy, or both.”127 Though people like Francis Collins earnestly desire to integrate the “science-flavored” theory of evolution with Christianity, Klinghoffer cautions that these efforts are wasted on an “impossible quest.”128 This is partly because, at least from a Jewish perspective, anybody who rejects ID is a heretic who must rebuff fundamental tenets of Abrahamic faiths.125 At the same time, the NCSE’s endeavors to reconcile evolution with religion are characterized as being disingenuous because evolution is invariably a menace to authentic religious belief.130
Amid such allegations are reports that Darwinism is a worldview essentially incompatible with religion, because it is founded upon naturalism and randomness. Moreover, with its survival of the fittest anthem, the evolutionary worldview has provided an impetus for great evils. In fact, Darwin’s ideas actually helped shape the Weltanschauung of Hitler himself, such that “Nazism is indeed a kind of applied Darwinism.”131 This Darwin-Hitler connection appears in several places throughout News and Views media, and readers are told “Adolf Hitler’s murderous policies arose from a scientific racism inspired by Charles Darwin’s most famous ideas.” Apparently,
Comparisons and suppression 157 “In their scientific racism, little daylight passes between Hitler and Darwin, and “The most ghoulish evils of Nazi foreign and domestic policy were made possible in the first place because Hitler sought to apply Darwinian concepts to the world outside the biology lecture hall.”132 Like Young Earth Creationist writers, CSC members warn of “the uncanny way evolution has had of supplying the rationale and creating the backdrop for the most twisted, monstrous social movements that have sprung up in Western culture in the past century and [a] half.”133 As Chapter 1 touched upon, these evils include school shootings as well as eugenics programs.134 While these negative effects of Darwinism are apparently quite obvious, CSC writers insist that the popular media have been whitewashing its continued detrimental influence. For example, Klinghoffer suggests that reporters intentionally did not mention the 2009 Holocaust Memorial shooter’s Darwinist convictions. With that in mind, he argues conspiratorially, this represents “nothing less than a cover-up,” while further asking readers: “Is it somehow petty, offensive, exploitative, and beyond the pale to point out how the Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter, who murdered a guard on Wednesday, writes about evolution in his sick manifesto?” In the same article he goes on to associate evolutionary theory with numerous other disreputable social movements and inquires rhetorically, “Should it be ignored?”135
Klinghoffer’s question reveals again how Center for Science and Culture’s negative contrast meshes with Asking Questions, while also expressing aspects of the Scarcity Principle. In regard to scarcity and allegations of censorship, which have been alluded to already in CSC materials and reflections on conspiracy theories, it should be noted that News and Views is the only Evolution Wars media to exhibit substantial instances of the Scarcity Principle. These cases involve recurring claims that evolutionists are performing censorship in the desperate attempt to suppress anti-Darwinist information. Such assertions overlap with several other persuasive cues, and as Figure 5.4 details, they can be subdivided into declarations that the venal repercussions of Darwinism are being concealed, that scientists are covering up pro-ID and antievolutionist empirical data, that Darwin-skeptics are experiencing intense employment discrimination, and that government-affiliated organizations are prohibiting ID proceedings. The first of these subcategories proves to be the least common variety of CSC’s Scarcity Principle incidents, and statements related to this topic have been briefly considered above in relation to such topics as the 2009 Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting. The most prevalent expressions of the Scarcity Principle, however, are related to the implication that Intelligent Design concepts and scientific evidence have fallen victim to an insidious anti-ID coverup.
Center for Science and Culture writers persistently maintain a conspiracy theory narrative in which evolutionists have secured a pro-Darwinist monopoly on scientific data interpretation, in order to manipulate what facts about the theory are being disseminated to the public. As Smith explains, evolutionists often deny “that evidence against evolution exists,” and when
Figure 5.4 Antievolutionist Scarcity Principle
“scientists do lab work and publish papers in journals” endorsing ID or discrediting evolution, their chief tactic is to “deny that they exist and cover it up as fast as you can.”136 This censorship is described as a grave attack upon academic freedom and the freedom of speech. In fact, readers are told that “fairness and academic freedom” are feared by proevolutionists, and the “first rule for many Darwin lobbyists is this: ‘stifle academic freedom for dissenting scientists at any cost, but don’t invite real scientific dialogue over these issues.’”137 Allied to these censorship claims are appeals to fairness, in which CSC media makers question why there cannot simply be a fair hearing of scientific data. Is it not best to listen all sides of an issue, instead of simply accepting the scientific orthodoxy that is being feverishly protected by a censorial scientific community? Such appeals to fairness and equity can be remarkably persuasive because to many audiences having a fair hearing of all sides in a debate seems to be a reasonable prospect.138 Through these calls for impartiality, the unjustness of evolutionist censorship is accentuated that much more. This censorial inequity is made known by how various “Darwin defenders,” such as the journalist Chris Mooney and members of the National Center for Science Education, seem to recommend “such things as suppressing dissenting views from the media, to spinning science in such a way as to manipulate public opinion.”139 They have made it one of their primary pursuits “to supress [sic] critique of Darwin’s theory - that is, to suppress science.”140 This suppression of antievolutionary ideas is enunciated in language suggestive of a fascist regime’s secret police force, who are actively “discovering and punishing those who disagree.”141
CSC media insist that there exists a “Darwinian intelligentsia” who are tenaciously repressing the free speech of underdog antievolutionists and forcing scientists to conceal pro-ID data.142 Though some debate regarding
Darwinism is allowed, anything resembling an Intelligent Design conjecture is strictly prohibited. Luskin explains, “The message is clear: Dissent from neo-Darwinism is tolerated so long as it lends no credence or ‘ammunition’ to proponents of intelligent design (whom they would lump with the ‘creationists’ or ‘Fundamentalist’).” He further notes, “If dissent from neoDarwinism is so difficult to make that one must carefully frame it so as not to lend any support to ID, imagine how difficult it is for ID proponents to promote their viewpoints in the academy.”143 Certainly, the “positively Stalinist” enforcement of this anti-ID censorship by the Darwinian intelligentsia has led to the understanding that: “When it comes to intelligent design, silence is the safe policy. The preferable strategy is to align your view with Darwinian orthodoxy.”144 In fact, if these authoritarian restrictions were not in place, there would truly be an appreciable increase of scientific opposition to evolution. Thus, Luskin contends, even “more scientists would come out of the closet to express their doubts about evolution were it not for the intolerance in the scientific community toward dissent from Darwinism.”145 In an article entitled, “Academic Elites Don’t Appreciate Uppity Scientists Who Buck the Consensus,” Crowther further details how the prevailing culture of evolutionist bullying and censorship in academia quiets discordant views:
The average scientist can find lots of fruitful areas of research that won’t get her in hot water with the pointy-headed elites who’s [sic] all-seeing academic eyes keep a watch out for anything that is out of line with the current orthodoxy. And journal editors will avoid publishing controversial papers for fear of reprisal. If you are already overwhelmed in your job, you are unlikely to take on a risky paper. Better to just steer clear of such areas.146
This censorial activity is said to be particularly evident in the “antifreedom behavior” of evolutionists struggling to ban pro-ID information from public school curricula.147 “If anyone is seeking to censor scientific information from students, it’s the Darwin lobby,” argues Luskin. This is because proevolutionists are using the courts to “impose nothing less than the one-sided teaching of evolution in public schools, where any scientific evidence that challenges the prevailing consensus of neo-Darwinian evolution is effectively censored from students.”148 As Egnor confirms:
The real evolution of ID-Darwinism debate has been the evolving willingness of Darwinists to use increasingly stringent court-imposed censorship to defend Darwinist dogma in public schools. They have been quite successful at imposing their ideology on our children. The underpinning of Darwinists’ aversion to open discussion or criticism of Darwin’s ‘Fact’ in public schools is their obvious fear of the scientific evidence itself. The survival of Darwinist ideology as the only acceptable theory of biological origins depends almost entirely on censorship. There is no other field of science in which scientists go to court to silence opposing theories.149
News and Views contributors further maintain that scientists who claim global warming is a human-induced fact are also guilty of censorship.150 It is asserted that both evolutionists and climate change scientists do whatever they can to forward their evidentially feeble ideologies: “Censorship, invocation of ‘consensus science’ to elide scrutiny, real or threatened use of judicial coercion, and professional destruction of skeptics - which are characteristic tactics of global warming alarmists and of Darwinists - are tactics used to circumvent the scientific process.”151
The previous excerpt’s reference to the “professional destruction of skeptics” refers to the apparent targeting of antievolutionists with strategic employment discrimination. CSC writers profess that this unscrupulous activity has become a principal means by which evolutionists are silencing Intelligent Design advocates and censoring their opinions. The single most-discussed case of such apparent employment inequity is the demotion of David Coppedge, mentioned briefly in the previous chapter. CSC media communicate that it was Coppedge’s belief in Intelligent Design, and “ideologically based persecution,” which led him to be fired from his job.1’2 As CSC’s Jay W. Richards insists: “This is yet another case of the materialist zeal for punishing thought crimes, and exhibits, yet again, the metaphysical insecurity of many who claim to be defending science.”153 In addition to Coppedge’s reprimand, CSC articles mention the denial of tenure for the astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, which was said to ensue from an “ideological witch hunt in which he was punished for [ID] views he holds outside the classroom.”1’4 CSC materials also discuss Richard Sternberg, who was apparently “persecuted” for editing a “peer-reviewed research paper supportive of intelligent design,” and the legal case of Martin Gaskell, an astronomer “rejected for a job because he expressed very modest Darwin doubts.”155
Finally, News and Views contributors warn audiences of censorship perpetrated by government-funded organizations, including the California Science Center. In 2009 this tax-funded government agency initially rented its IMAX theatre to the American Freedom Alliance, which intended to show a pro-intelligent Design documentary. However, the California Science Centre breached its contract with the American Freedom Alliance by cancelling the event after it was learned the film would advocate for ID. This cancellation was described by Intelligent Design media as “blatant viewpoint discrimination,” resulting from evolutionist pressure as well as fear that the institution would be perceived as being in support of ID.156 CSC writers also alerted readers to the fearful consequences that may result if government-funded organizations were to regularly censor unwanted opinions. “Those who think that the Science Center (again, a government agency) did nothing wrong in banning the privately-sponsored screening of an intelligent design film might want to consider how far they are willing to apply their support for government censorship,” comments West. He then asks, “Would they also approve a town council deciding that a public park can be rented for a demonstration to denounce Obama administration policies, but not for a counter-demonstration supporting the Obama administration?” Because there exists no “principle difference between a government agency denying equal access to the rental of park facilities for demonstrations and a government agency denying equal access to the rental of a government auditorium.”157
With censorship and conspiracist narratives in mind, readers are instructed that these sorts of suppression tactics demonstrate exactly how evolutionists rely on any number of unprincipled schemes to protect Darwinism. “Censorship and the use of legal force to shelter atheist creation myths from public scrutiny,” argues Luskin, “are filthy politics, and not science of any kind.”158 This is contrasted with ID’s reliance upon scientific facts. What we see in Intelligent Design mass media then are numerous cases of the Contrast Principle and Negativity Effect, alongside reactance-triggering statements concerning a censorial enemy, as well as caustic rhetoricals. Though no other Evolution Wars communications contain such a substantial Scarcity Principle focus, scathing negative contrast appears in New Atheist materials almost as often as it does in Intelligent Design communications.