Intelligent Design Movement in
copyright 2007 by Lenny Flank, Jr
Cataloging in Publication Data –
Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America/Lenny
Includes bibliographical references.
Creationism – United States. 2. Evolution (Biology) – Religious aspects
–Christianity. 3. Religion and
and Black Publishers, PO Box 7542, St Petersburg, Florida,
us at: info@RedandBlackPublishers.com
and manufactured in the United States of America
To Matt Duss and Tim Rhodes, who originally leaked the Wedge Document to the Internet. They did far more to protect democracy than they ever could have realized at the time.
What is evolution? 11
ONE: A History of Fundamentalism 17
TWO: Separation of Church and State 33
The courts and church/state issues 44
Efforts to undermine church/state separation 49
THREE: Creation “Science” Appears 59
FOUR: Creation “Science” Arguments 77
What is the scientific theory of creation? 78
The age of the earth 85
The fossil record 87
Microevolution and Macroevolution 87
Information theory and “genetic information” 114
What good is half an eye? 115
Cambrian explosion 118
Probability of life 120
FIVE: Arkansas and Louisiana 123
SIX: The Birth of Intelligent Design “Theory” 141
SEVEN: Intelligent Design Arguments 157
What is the scientific theory of intelligent design? 166
Irreducible complexity 170
Complex specified information and Dembski’s filter 174
Cambrian explosion 178
EIGHT: The Rise of Intelligent Design 181
NINE: The Fall of Intelligent Design 193
TEN: “Teach the Controversy” 215
Appendix: The Wedge Document 227
Sources and Reading List 237
This book has one very clear objective in mind—to present a history of creation “science” and its latest reincarnation as Intelligent Design “theory”, and to lay bare the political and social roots of this movement. There have already been several excellent books that have dissected the scientific distortions and errors made by the creationist/ID movement and the devastating effects they would have on science education. This book aims to go beyond that, and to instead examine the underlying social/political aims of creationism/ID. It is impossible to fully understand the anti-evolution movement in the US without looking at the political Christian fundamentalist movement of which it is a larger part, and for which it has been selected as the “wedge issue”. As a longtime grassroots activist, with decades of experience in the environmental, antiwar, labor and consumer rights movements, I have come to view the ID/creationists as a well-defined political movement, with carefully selected theocratic political goals, and a well-financed deliberately-planned strategy to implement them.
It is my opinion that the ID/creationists (along with the rest of their Religious Right companions) represent, in their attempts to re-mold all of American society in accordance with their own narrow sectarian beliefs, the single greatest threat to freedom and democracy in the United States today.
Lenny Flank, Jr
St Petersburg, Florida
For most of the world, the controversy over creation and evolution was settled way back in the 19th century, after the theory of evolution was presented in a paper by Charles Darwin to the Linnean Society in July 1858. During the five-year around-the-world trip of the Royal Navy ship Beagle, Darwin had collected a variety of specimens from South America and across the globe, including the various finches that inhabited the Galapagos Islands and which now bear his name. Darwin’s study led him to conclude that species were not, as was generally accepted at the time, fixed and immutable, but changed over time to become entirely new species, through the process of natural selection. Although he had written about the evolution of species in private notebooks as early as 1844, Darwin did not publish his ideas at first, knowing that they would be highly controversial. Instead, he wrote detailed studies of coral reefs, volcanic islands, and geology—work which placed him among the best-known and most highly regarded naturalists in Britain. Darwin’s hand, though, was forced in 1858, when another naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, working in southeast Asia, independently formed the same idea of evolution through natural selection, and wrote to Darwin asking for his opinion about it. Darwin and Wallace’s papers were jointly submitted to the Linnean Society, and Darwin followed up the next year with On the Origin of Species, which spelled out his ideas with detailed supporting arguments and evidence.
Within the space of a few years, Darwin’s theory of evolution was accepted almost universally by the scientific community. Conservative religious groups, however, particularly in the United States, were outraged by the idea. The wave of religious opposition to evolution peaked in the United States in 1925, when Clarence Darrow eviscerated William Jennings Bryan in a country courtroom in Dayton, Tennessee, in the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial”. The anti-evolution movement fell to virtually nothing after Scopes.
After decades of quiet, however, the creationist movement surged back into prominence in the 1980s, when the fundamentalist Religious Right took up the anti-evolution cudgel, and allied itself with the conservative elements of the Republican Party to form a powerful political constituency that has dominated American politics for the past 25 years. During this time, anti-evolutionists, first under the name “creation scientists”, led by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and then later as “intelligent design theorists”, led by the Discovery Institute, waged pitched battles against evolutionary science, culminating in a series of Federal court fights in Arkansas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. In Arkansas in 1981, a Federal judge ruled that teaching creation “science” was an impermissible violation of the Constitution, a ruling that the Supreme Court echoed in a 1987 case from Louisiana. Within a few months of the Supreme Court ruling, creation “science” was transformed into Intelligent Design “theory” (ID), and the effort to depose Darwin began anew. In 2005, a Federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that ID was nothing but creation “science” renamed, and was unconstitutional to teach. Nevertheless, the campaign against the theory of evolution continues.
The popular image of intelligent design/creationists tends to picture a group of rural hayseeds with not much education, who continually thump the Good Book as they speak. This image is completely wrong. Modern anti-evolutionists are very slick, tend to be quite well-educated, and are very well-versed in the tactics of sophistry and debate. Their “scientific” arguments, while nonsensical, are very intricate and detailed, and certainly sound convincing to people who do not have enough scientific knowledge to make a good judgment (such as local school board members). The ID/creationist movement is well-organized, well-financed, and is fanatically dedicated. It also exercises an enormous amount of political influence at the federal, state and local levels.
Although the stated aim of the ID/creationist movement is to oppose what they see as the “godless theory of evolution” and to, quite literally, change the definition of “science” to include the religious and to make science “theistic”, it must be recognized that the evolution/creation debate is, at core, not really about science or education. The creationists are not concerned in the slightest about scientific questions, or about correctly interpreting data, or about forming better explanations and understanding of the natural world. Instead, creationism/ID is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the fundamentalist Religious Right—it is a religious and political movement, not a scientific one, and its goals are entirely religious and political, not scientific. The ID/creationists are a part of a larger political movement with radical theocratic aims, and their anti-evolution and anti-science efforts are, as they themselves declare, simply the “wedge issue” which they have chosen in order to gain entry for their wider anti-democratic political agenda. Indeed, the most prominent “intelligent design” group in the United States today, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, is largely funded by a single extremist Christian fundamentalist billionaire who, for 20 years, preached the Taliban-like idea that the US should repudiate the Constitution, dismantle the wall between church and state, and place the country completely under “Biblical law”, to include such Biblical imperatives as stoning sinners and executing nonbelievers or heretics.
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