Meyer Responds to the Charge that ID Was Created to Get Around Court Decisions

Since in the past few days a number of people have repeated the item of the anti-ID creed that states that ID came into existence purely as a legal stratagem to get around court decisions, I thought that these people might want to hear Stephen Meyer, who is in a position to know both the facts and the exact chronology, respond to the charge:

…a partisan account from a biased source with a specific interest in concealing the facts. Ok!

In that entire article, he spends approximately three paragraphs trying to substantiate that claim. It’s a pathetic attempt, which never once actually addresses the evidence or reasons why people view ID as rebranded creationism.

The modern theory of intelligent design was not developed in response to a legal setback for creationists in 1987. Instead, it was first formulated in the late 1970s and early 1980s by a group of scientists-Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Roger Olson, and Dean Kenyon-who were trying to account for an enduring mystery of modern biology: the origin of the digital information encoded along the spine of the DNA molecule.

No mention of the fact that the authors were Christians, or that Thaxton is a Special Creationist who belongs to the Discovery Institute. Also, curiously no mention of the fact that Thaxton was academic editor of the infamous “cdesignproponentist” work “Of Pandas and People”.

Nevertheless, only the most committed conspiracy theorist could see in these intellectual developments a concealed legal strategy or an attempt to smuggle religion into the classroom.

Talks about “intellectual developments”, and totally avoids discussing any of the actual evidence for ID as a creationist Trojan horse. Not even a single mention of the unfortunate “cdesignproponentist” blunder. Meanwhile, this.

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LOL! Meyer is the Director of the Discovery Institute. Do you really think he is going to be honest and admit to the DI’s disingenuous tactics?

Go read the DI’s Wedge Document

THE WEDGE

CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE

INTRODUCTION

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

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. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.

The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.

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None of your objections responds to the point that the theory of ID came into being before the court judgement which supposedly generated it. How do you get rid of those inconvenient dates?

There is no ID theory.

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Gotta love it. Eddie’s “evidence” ID isn’t religious Creationism rebranded for political reasons is the Director of the religious think tank which orchestrated the rebranding claiming it isn’t. :rofl:

Cdesignproponentist for the win!

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I note you didn’t address anything I wrote. Why not?

Firstly there is no ID theory. Secondly, the book referred to never uses the terms “intelligent design”, or even “intelligent designer”. Do you know what it uses? The term “intelligent Creator”, complete with the capital “C”!

Meyer never tells us that. This is all he says about the book.

The modern theory of intelligent design was not developed in response to a legal setback for creationists in 1987. Instead, it was first formulated in the late 1970s and early 1980s by a group of scientists-Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Roger Olson, and Dean Kenyon-who were trying to account for an enduring mystery of modern biology: the origin of the digital information encoded along the spine of the DNA molecule. In the book The Mystery of Life’s Origin, Thaxton and his colleagues first developed the idea that the information-bearing properties of DNA provided strong evidence of a prior but unspecified designing intelligence. Mystery was published in 1984 by a prestigious New York publisher-three years before the Edwards v. Aguillard decision.

This is huge foot-shot. He’s trying to represent this book as ID, so he conceals the Christian beliefs of the authors, and conceals the fact that the book itself makes an explicit case for a divine creator, and argues that scientists should be open to the existence of a supernatural intelligent Creator. This is the exact opposite of how the Discovery Institute describes ID.

Have you even read this book? There’s pages of stuff like this.

Throughout history, many writers have attempted to describe the work of the Creator. What they all seem to hold in common is the idea that an intelligent Creator informed [sic] inert matter by shaping it as a potter fashions clay. Some representations are quite anthropomorphic, others less so. But there is considerable agreement that somehow an active intellect produced Iife. (page 200)

Creation involves the supernatural. It is common knowledge that the claim that an active intellect informed [sic] nature has been on uneasy terms with the mainstream of science. To anyone trained in science, the reason is no mystery. It involves the supernatural. (page 201)

So it is the supernatural that concerns many scientists. But what is it about the supernatural that troubles them? Why is creation difficult to accept? (page 201)

But would creation necessarily destroy the scientific quest and hence bring an end to science? In giving answer to this question it will be necessary to briefly consider the nature of science. (page 202)

Operation Science and the God Hypothesis (page 202)

We agree with OrgeI that miracles must not be posited for operation science." We disagree with Orgel however, and others, when it is merely assumed that the exclusion of the divine from origin science is valid. This has not been demonstrated. (page 205)

The perception of a threat to scientific inquiry and the possible end of science are legitimate concerns. But we question whether the God-hypothesis in origin science would necessarily have this disastrous effect. Just a little reflection on the history of science brings out the irony in the current state of affairs. For there is a rather impressive reason to doubt that science (i.e., operation science) would suffer much by positing Special Creation by a Creator beyond the cosmos. (page 205)

In our view, as long as one acknowledges and abides by the above distinction between origin science and operation science, there is no necessary reason that Special Creation would have the disastrous effects predicted for it. (page 206)

Why then is Special Creation so summarily dismissed by nearly all writers, especially since it is typically listed as a theoretical alternative for the origin of life? Our analysis suggests that failure to properly distinguish origin science and operation science has led many to dismiss creation. (page 206)

There’s pages and pages of this stuff, as he explicitly argues not only that the “intelligent Creator” is God, but explicitly argues that scientists should take seriously the existence of God and the idea that God’s work (which he describes as “Special Creation”, capitals and all), has a role in understanding “origin science”, which he differentiates from “operation science”. All of this is the complete opposite of what ID is supposed to be. If this really is ID, then ID is not merely explicitly religious, it’s explicitly Christian theology.

Seriously, I doubt you have ever read this book, you simply took Meyer’s description of it on face value and didn’t bother checking to see if his characterization was accurate. Talk about relying on hearsay and not doing your own research.

Look at what Meyer says.

Even as early the 1960s and 70s, physicists had begun to reconsider the design hypothesis. Many were impressed by the discovery that the laws and constants of physics are improbably “finely-tuned” to make life possible. As British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle put it, the fine-tuning of numerous physical parameters in the universe suggested that “a superintellect had monkeyed with physics” for our benefit. Nevertheless, only the most committed conspiracy theorist could see in these intellectual developments a concealed legal strategy or an attempt to smuggle religion into the classroom.

No one is saying that stuff was an attempt to smuggle religion into the classroom. In a typical ID sleight of hand, he says “See this stuff isn’t remotely a concealed legal strategy or an attempt to smuggle religion into the classroom!”, while ignoring all the actions and events which are cited as evidence for an actual attempt to smuggle religion into the classroom. You want to talk about intellectual honesty? This ain’t it.

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Not only have I read it; I’ve gone over it with fine-toothed comb. But you’re still off-topic. The issue we are discussing is not whether or not the first ID theorists had a possible Christian bias; the issue we are discussing – did you even read the title above? – is whether the theoretical basis of ID was formulated in order to get around a court decision. The dates don’t bear out that hypothesis. You can keep trying to dodge this, but I won’t let you off the hook. Account for the dates, or yield the point. (You never have yielded a point, so I don’t expect you will do the latter, but I’ll wait to see.)

In related news, the Big Bad Wolf issues statement that there is no truth to the widespread belief that he huffed and puffed and blew down the houses of two little pigs, and attempted to so with that of a third, in an attempt to eat them.

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You would be wrong. Rational people want sources that will present the facts accurately.

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I seriously doubt that you have read it. You demonstrated absolutely no knowledge of its contents whatsoever. So you agree with Meyer that this book is an ID book presenting the ID case?

As I have pointed out, I am not simply discussing whether the first ID theorists had a possible basis. I am addressing the issue of whether ID was formulated in order to get around a court decision.

You and Meyer present that book as evidence that the ID theory existed before the court case. So that book, according to you, is arguing the ID case. Is that really where you want to go? That book contains open creationism, explicitly and by name. Yet you are telling me that’s ID? You are completely hoist by your own petard.

Of course they do.

  1. The book “Of Pandas and People” starts as a 1983 draft called “Creation Biology”. It makes the case for creationism, and never argues for ID.
  2. The “God Hypothesis” book is published in 1984. It makes the case for creationism, and never argues for ID.
  3. The book “Of Pandas and People” is revised in 1986 and called “Biology and Creation”. It makes the case for creationism, and never argues for ID.
  4. The Edward v. Aguilard decision is made in 1987.
  5. The book “Of Pandas and People” is revised in 1987 and called “Of Pandas and People”. It makes the case for creationism, and never argues for ID.
  6. The book “Of Pandas and People” is published in 1989. It makes the case for creationism, and never argues for ID.
  7. From 1989 to 1994 various petitions try to get “Of Pandas and People” into schools as a class textbook. In 1990 it is rejected in several places.
  8. The book “Of Pandas and People” is revised and republished in 1993. This second edition replaces almost every instance of “creationist” and “creationism” with “cdesignproponentist” and “intelligent design”. This book now (ostensibly), argues for ID, and its supporters and promoters claim it is arguing for ID. They claim that this is an ID book, setting forth the ID case. This takes place years after the Edwards v. Aguillard decision, and was clearly intended to try and get around the decision.
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I don’t care what you doubt. You also seriously doubt that I have a Ph.D., that I have done graduate work in Biblical Studies, etc. You doubt all kinds of things that are true. And you fail to doubt all kinds of things that are worthy of doubt, i.e., the claim that evolution is unguided and unplanned, the claim that virtually all of global warming is caused by human CO2 generation, the claim that the Gospel authors did not believe in demons, etc.

I wasn’t discussing its contents, so how could I fail to demonstrate knowledge of them?

The book appeals to the Bible as a reliable source in scientific matters? Where? What verses of Genesis are appealed to?

I note that all your references are from the very last part of the book, where the authors discuss some implications of their arguments. You conveniently fail to tell the readers here that the vast majority of the book consists of technical arguments in chemistry, geochemistry, etc. presented without reference to religious concerns. That is, the vast majority of the book proceeds in the way that ID writers proceed – arguing from nature rather than Scripture. It is thus a sort of template for future ID writing. And many of the particular arguments it makes, and general theoretical principles it argues for, are found in ID writers later, and predate the court decision that Meyer is writing about. Those inconvenient dates!

I’ve never denied that the specific book Of Pandas and People was revised for the sake of getting around a court ruling. I don’t know whether it was or not, but it could well be the case, so I don’t deny it. But ID would have been born even if that book had never been written. All the necessary influences were in place: centuries of prior discussion of design in nature, by the greatest philosophers, theologians and scientists; Denton’s 1986 book; the Mystery of Life’s Origin book; Hoyle’s remarks; the rise of computer science and information theory; the critique of Darwinian theory at the Wistar conference; rumbles of dissent from NAS scientists like Skell; etc. The ID movement was going to come along, sooner or later.

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I don’t doubt those things. Given your pathological emphasis on training, I doubt that you have any significant academic accomplishments since you got a PhD.

Really, Eddie, the fact that you brag about having a PhD is pathetic, particularly since you do so while hiding behind a pseudonym.

For almost 35 years, the only times I have ever uttered the sentence “I have a PhD,” is as a joke when I do something incredibly stupid.

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Provide some independent verification the details in Meyer’s story are accurate. Meyer is a proven liar who has impeached himself many times over in the DI’s scheme to sneak the Christian origin stories back into public school science classes. His credibility in honestly representing any aspect of ID is zero.

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If it presents “technical arguments” and doesn’t present hypotheses, it’s worthless educationally.

Luckily, science education is moving in the direction of teaching science not as a bunch of facts, but as hypothesis testing. That also will make it more likely that when today’s students become adults, they will not be fooled by pseudoscience like ID.

Kenyon was a creationist too. In fact he became one right after having a religious conversion. Horrified the department. The point is that conversion precedes creationism.

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In other words, exactly the opposite of the way biology was taught when I went to high school and undergrad. Back then, biology was the subject that people took if they were good memorizers; chemistry and physics were what they took if they were better at math and conceptualization.

It may also make it more likely that they won’t be fooled by some of the overclaims of evolutionary theory, much of cosmology, and some of the extreme claims about global warming. :smile:

I have good reason to.

  1. You are unable to provide any evidence for these claims.
  2. You demonstrate none of the knowledge which would be expected of someone with all of the many graduate qualifications you claim to have earned, all of the academic positions you claim to have held, and all of the scholarly publications you claim to have written.

This is your usual grab bag of muddled and confused claims, demonstrating your lack of knowledge.

  1. I believe there are good reasons to doubt that evolution is unguided and unplanned.
  2. I believe there are good reason to doubt that “virtually all of global warming is caused by human CO2 generation”.
  3. I believe there are good reasons to doubt “that the Gospel authors did not believe in demons”.

By representing the book as an ID book presenting the ID case for ID theory.

As usual you avoid addressing the point and try to change the subject to something I never said. I will repeat what I said previously. That book contains open creationism, explicitly and by name.

This again suggests that you have not read the book. The authors present their case in the completely opposite way. On page 188 they say that the foregoing sections are only “a first step toward a more satisfactory theory of origins”. They then examine five possible alternatives to evolution. They spend two and a half pages on “New natural laws”, three pages on “Panspermia”, two pages on “Directed panspermia”, four pages on “Special creation by a creator within the cosmos”, and a massive fifteen pages on “Special creation by a creator outside the cosmos”, which they represent as their preferred explanation.

The fact that the first section of their book is “presented without reference to religious concerns” is utterly irrelevant to the fact that their explicit conclusion is that life and biodiversity on earth is the product of “Special creation by a creator outside the cosmos”, whom they identified as God. You have not addressed this at all.

Again, here’s the question you have not answered. Is that book arguing the ID case? is it an ID book presenting the ID theory? Meyer says it is.

What is your problem?

1 – It’s a book which argues for design in nature, based on established results of biological, chemical, and geological science.

2 – It’s a book which does not rely on the authority of the Bible to make any of its arguments.

In these two respects, it is a book of the type that will later be written by the people called “ID proponents.”

But when the book was written, the term “ID proponent” had not yet come into existence. Why does that matter?

3 – It is also a book where the authors indicate that they think the designer is God. So what? Many later ID proponents will also indicate that they think the designer is God. Does thinking the designer is God invalidate the arguments for design? What’s your point?

4 – It’s a book that was written before the 1987 court decision, and therefore not inspired by it.

What is the big deal about any of this? What do you expect people to be agonizing over? I’m not agonizing over any of this.