Deception By Design: 

The Intelligent Design Movement in America

 

Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America  

By Lenny Flank, Jr.  ISBN 978-0-9791813-0-6 .  Hardcover 6x9, 244pp.  $31.99 .   

A history of the anti-evolution "Intelligent Design" movement in the US, from the Scopes trial in 1925, through the rise of creation "science" in the 1980's, to the rise of intelligent design "theory" in the 1990's. Appendix includes the Wedge Document, a leaked internal document which spells out the theocratic political goals of the Intelligent Design movement.  

 

"Its real achievement is in providing a meaningful socio-historical context to the creation-evolution 'debate' in the US.  .  .  . Recommended reading for all that fear the encroachment of the religious right, everywhere in the world."

--from Amazon.Com review

 

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About the Author

Lenny Flank, Jr first became involved in the creation/evolution controversy in 1982, when a local school district in Pennsylvania introduced plans for an "equal time" policy for evolution and creation "science".  Lenny helped organize a local coalition of teachers, students, clergy and business leaders to oppose the policy.  He is the webmaster of the Creation "Science" Debunked website, one of the most extensive evolution/creation resources on the Web, and the owner of the DebunkCreation email list, the largest evolution/creation list at Yahoogroups.  During the Pennsylvania "intelligent design" trial in 2005, the DebunkCreation group, with members from the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, organized a donation of 23 science books to the Dover High School Library, to, as they put it, "increase knowledge and decrease ignorance".  Lenny is also a respected contributor/commenter at the Talk.Origins newsgroup and the Panda's Thumb blog.

Lenny Flank's Creation "Science" Debunked website

"Panda's Thumb" Blog On the Effort to Donate Science Books to the Dover High School Library

 

Frequently-Asked Questions; A Mini-Interview With the Author

(Permission is granted for freely linking or reproducing this interview and author bio)

 

Q.  Why did you write Deception by Design?

Lenny Flank:  When I first started posting on the Internet about creation "science" and, later, intelligent design "theory", all of the discussion was about the anti-evolution movement's science, or the lack of it.  Everyone was talking about "transitional fossils" and "genetic mutations" and "irreducible complexity" and "information theory".  But nobody was talking about the political agenda behind the anti-evolution movement -- nobody was talking about Howard Ahmanson or the Christian Reconstructionists or Tim LaHaye.  That has now changed, and I hope that I have helped to play at least a small role in that.  

There have been a number of very good books published recently that discuss and dismantle all of the silly "scientific" claims made by creation "scientists" and intelligent design "theorists".  Deception by Design is unique because it does not focus on all the "scientific arguments" -- instead it takes aim at the political agenda behind the anti-evolution movement.  The ID movement does not like to talk about its  political agenda.  It does not like to talk about who funds the Discovery Institute and why.  It does not like to talk about its close ties to political extremists like the Christian Reconstructionists.   In Deception by Design, I  do talk about these things.

 

Q.  Doesn't basic fairness require that both sides of the evolution controversy be taught in schools?

Lenny Flank:  No.  There is no scientific controversy over evolution.  No serious biologist doubts that life evolved through natural selection.  Neither the creation "scientists" nor the intelligent design "theorists" have ever put forth any supportable scientific alternative to evolution, nor have they offered any scientifically valid criticisms of evolutionary biology.  They do no scientific research of any sort, they have never presented any scientific data or experimental results in any peer-reviewed science journal, and they simply have nothing scientifically useful to say.  The only controversy that does exist is the political controversy, and that was entirely created by the anti-evolution movement itself.   There is no reason at all to present to students a "scientific controversy" that simply does not exist in reality.  I am, of course, all in favor of presenting students with the political controversy and how it came about, but I doubt very much that the fundamentalists themselves would be very comfortable with that.

 

Q.  The intelligent design movement has said that it does have scientific evidence against evolution, but it can't present it because they are unfairly denied funding, and scientific journals refuse to accept their articles.  Is science being unfair to people who are anti-evolution?

Lenny Flank:  Well, the notion that the big bad scientists are all engaged in a global conspiracy to prevent "the truth" from being known, is a standard cry for any lunatic-fringe pseudo-science.  I've heard that very same claim from flying saucer enthusiasts, from "psychic powers" proponents, from Bigfoot "researchers", from alien-abduction "victims", from "moon-landing-was-faked" believers, you name it.  IDers are no different.  I hear that flat-earthers also have a hard time getting funding, or getting their "findings" published in science journals.  And I suspect it's for much the same reasons.

 

Q.  Isn't evolution based on atheism or a rejection of God?

Lenny Flank:   No.  Evolution is no more "atheistic" than is weather forecasting or accident investigation or the rules of baseball.  The vast majority of religious organizations, worldwide, have no problem with evolution or with any other part of modern science, and many scientists and biologists are themselves Christian or Jewish or Muslim or practitioners of other religions.  The fundamentalist claim that science is "atheistic" is simply part of their strategy for taking over science, along with the rest of society, and forcing it to live within their religious restrictions.  There was, of course, a time when science was forced to conform to prevailing religious opinions.  We call those times "The Dark Ages".  They are not remembered fondly by most people.  They are remembered fondly by the fundamentalists, however. And they would like to return us to those times.  The anti-evolution movement is not really a religious movement -- it is a political movement.

 

Q.  Why do you say that the intelligent design movement is a political, rather than a scientific or religious, movement?

Lenny Flank:  Well, it is a religious movement, but religion is one of its methods, not its purpose.  And as far as science, that too is just a means to an end for them, not an end in itself.  The anti-evolution movement doesn't really care about science.  They're not concerned about any scientific questions, they don't care about correctly interpreting any scientific data, and they're not interested in forming better explanations or understanding of the natural world.  Their goal is entirely and totally political -- they want, quite literally, to change all of society -- science, law, art -- to bring it into line with their fundamentalist religious opinions.  In their own words, they want to "see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life".  They are theocrat wanna-be's.  Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

 

Q.  How did the fundamentalists first appear?

Lenny Flank:  One of the things that the fundamentalist Christian movement would have everyone believe is that it represents "the true Christianity", the traditional way in which Christianity has always been interpreted.  And that is flat-out not true.  Fundamentalism didn't appear as a theological movement until 1910, when a series of booklets were published under the title The Fundamentals.  This was in reaction and opposition to progressive Christian support for social goals like women's suffrage and the labor movement, and also opposition to new scientific discoveries which, the fundamentalists felt, undermined Biblical authority -- including evolution.  Throughout the 1910's, the fundamentalist movement attempted to win other Christians to its view by publishing Biblical commentaries and by taking over as many churches and theological institutes as they could to purge them of "liberals"  -- just as they do today.

 

Q.  When did the fundamentalists first begin to gain political influence?

Lenny Flank:   In its early history, fundamentalism specifically rejected the idea of getting involved with politics.  In fact, one of the reasons the fundamentalist movement was formed was in reaction to the progressive "social gospel", the idea that churches should get involved with social programs to help the poor and make life better for everyone.  So, although the early fundamentalists did become involved with politics to some extent -- they helped pass all the anti-evolution "monkey laws" in the 1920's, and had ties to right-wing politicians and organizations like Joe McCarthy and the John Birch Society in the 50's -- for the most part they avoided active involvement in politics for religious goals.  

That changed in the in the 1960's.  Not only were the fundamentalists vehemently opposed to the entire 1960's "peace and love" generation and all of its social goals, but there were a number of Supreme Court decisions during this time that specifically motivated the fundamentalists to form political movements to counter them.  The first of these was the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision, which outlawed segregated schools.  While a large number of churches supported and encouraged the civil rights movement, the fundamentalist wing actively opposed it -- and indeed many of the private "Christian schools" that appeared in the South at this time were a direct response to the Brown ruling (since the Supreme Court's ruling did not apply to private schools, the fundamentalists were free to continue to have segregated schools).  Another decision that galvanized the fundamentalists was the 1962 Engel v Vitale ruling that outlawed sponsored prayer in schools.  And finally in 1973 came the Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortions.  It was at that point that the fundamentalists realized that if they wanted to fight back, they had to gain a significant level of political influence.

 

Q.  And how did they go about doing that?

Lenny Flank:  It began as a part of Richard Nixon's "southern strategy".  During the 1960's, the most active opposition to things like the civil rights movement were the Democratic politicians in the South, the so-called "Dixiecrats".  Nixon's political strategy for the 1968 election was to deliberately appeal to the Dixiecrat supporters -- and that included the fundamentalists -- to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republicans, where they would receive more support.  And that is why the South today is solidly Red States.  

The fundamentalists did make a brief overture to the Democratic Party, though, and that was when Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy in the 1976 election.  Carter, remember, was not only a Southern Baptist, but was one of the first Presidential candidates to talk openly about his religious feelings and about being "born again".  The national press, who had never heard of these things before, thought it a bit odd, but these were things that had always been a part of evangelical religion, and the fundamentalists made the assumption that Carter was "one of them", and that he might be their ticket to national political influence.  Unfortunately for the fundamentalists, Carter was a deeply-committed practitioner of the "Social Gospel", and he and the radical evangelicals were entirely incompatible.  So after the 1976 elections, the fundamentalists turned to the Republican Party instead.

As it happened, the far-right wing of the Republican Party, represented by Ronald Reagan, was at that very time looking for political allies.  And the fundamentalist Christian movement fit the bill perfectly.

 

Q.  What role does the Religious Right play within the Republican Party?

Lenny Flank:  The Religious Right is essentially a vote-delivery machine for the Republican Party.  There is no other political constituency in the United States that is as well-organized, as well-funded, as loyally devoted, or as highly motivated as the fundamentalist Christians are.  The fundamentalist movement is capable of raising massive amounts of money for Republican coffers, it has a very well-run media and communications system that can reach every one of its members with a specific political message, and it can insure that every one of its members votes for all the approved "godly" Republican candidates.  There have been estimates that the fundamentalist Christian network delivers about one-third of the total votes cast for Republican candidates.

It should be noted, though, that the fundamentalists are not universally accepted within the Republican Party.  The neoconservative faction, which rose to prominence in the Bush Administration, thinks quite frankly that the fundamentalists are nutty.  Corporate and big business interests, who have always been the Republican's primary constituent, are also wary of the fundamentalist agenda, because theocracy is very bad for business.  Because of this internal opposition, the fundamentalists have never been able to actually get any of their social and political agenda passed in legislation, even during six years of virtual single-party rule when the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, the White House, and most of the Federal judiciary. The fundamentalists have become very frustrated over that, and they will be pulling out all the stops in order to increase their power and control within the Republican Party.

 

Q.  Can you give a brief history of the anti-evolution movement?

Lenny Flank:  The anti-evolution movement has basically gone through three different stages.  In the first stage, fundamentalist churches and their political supporters attempted to simply blot out evolution by making it illegal to teach.  That strategy resulted in the Scopes trial in 1925, but anti-evolution laws remained on the books until the 1969 Epperson v Arkansas case, when the Supreme Court struck down all such laws.  As a direct response to that court case, the creation "science" movement was born, which tried to argue that creationism was science and not religion, and that any teaching of evolution should therefore be "balanced" by teaching creation "science".  That strategy was killed by the 1981 Maclean v Arkansas decision and the 1987 Supreme Court ruling in the Edwards v Aguillard case.  And as a direct response to those court cases, the "intelligent design movement" was born.  The ID movement not only tried to argue that their anti-evolution religious views were really science, but also tried to argue that those views were not creationism (creationism, of course, had already been ruled illegal to teach).  That strategy was killed by the Dover ruling in the Kitzmiller v Dover case, which concluded that ID is nothing but creationism with a different name.  Most recently, the ID movement has invented something they call "teach the controversy", where they are taking the very same anti-evolution arguments they have always used, but instead of calling them "intelligent design theory", they are now trying to argue that these are just "scientific criticisms of evolution" that don't really have anything to do with either creationism or intelligent design "theory".  That argument hasn't made it to court yet, and given the fact that it's been handily rejected by a number of school districts and school boards, it probably never will get that far.


Q.  What do you see as the objective of the conservative fundamentalist movement?

Lenny Flank:  Let me interrupt to point out something important -----  the fundamentalist Christians are not "conservatives".  Conservatives want to "conserve"; they want to return society to some previous condition or circumstances.  And indeed, the fundamentalist Christians do want to undo all of the social changes brought about in the 60's and 70's  -- the civil rights movement, the feminist mmovement, the environmental movement.  And because of that, the fundamentalists receive the political support of conservatives who want to re-create the United States of the 1950's.  The fundamentalist Christians, however, are not "conservative" in that sense -- they are radicals.  They do not simply want to dismantle the progressive social changes of the past four decades and return the US to the idyllic days of Eisenhower -- they want to completely rebuild American society in their own image.  They don't want to get government off our backs -- they want to get government into our bedrooms.  And indeed, the most extremist of them want to do away completely with the US Constitution and all American law, and transform the United States into a Christian theocracy under Biblical law, with themselves as the unquestioned divinely-appointed rulers.  After all, a police state is wonderful -- if you get to be the police.

A major goal of that extremist agenda is to dismantle the Constitutional wall between church and state, to make it possible for religious authority to rule directly and to use the power of the government to enforce religious opinions.  To accomplish that goal, the fundamentalists have begun to re-write American history, by making the claim that the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation" under Biblical authority, and that it was the evil godless liberals who captured the Supreme Court in the 1960's and hijacked the US away from its divine destiny.  Dismantling the separation of church and state is one of the first steps that must be undertaken by the fundamentalists, and the anti-evolution movement is at the forefront of that effort.

 

Q.  What is Christian Reconstructionism, and what ties does it have to the anti-evolution movement?

Lenny Flank:  Christian Reconstructionism is a radical extremist movement within Christian fundamentalism.  Simply put, the goal of the Reconstructionist movement is to do away with the current structure of the US government, and to replace the Constitution directly with a theocratic state that would impose "Biblical law" onto the US and would rule by religious authority.  That would include implementing all of the Old Testament laws, including such things as criminalizing religious offenses like heresy or blasphemy, and executing sinners such as adulterers, disobedient children, gays, and anyone else who is "un-Biblical" -- and of course the fundamentalist's preferred method of execution would be stoning, just like in the Bible.  In essence, the Christian Reconstructionists are the exact equivalent of the Muslim extremists who want to set up "Islamic Republics" under "sharia law" .  The Christian Reconstructionists want to do for the US exactly what the Taliban did for Afghanistan and the Ayatollahs have done for Iran.

Within the Reconstructionist movement, there is an even more extremist faction called "Dominionists".  Not only do they advocate turning the United States into a theocracy to make it godly, but they then want that godly United States to invade and conquer the rest of the world to make it godly too.

 

Q.  How influential are the Reconstructionists in the US?

Lenny Flank:  In numbers, the Reconstructionist movement has never been very large, and most fundamentalists would repudiate some of its more extreme ideas (such as stoning disobedient children).  But the ideological and political influence of the Reconstructionist agenda has been pervasive, throughout the entire Religious Right political movement.  Some of the most well-known and powerful figures in the Religious Right have been openly sympathetic to the  Reconstructionist agenda, including Randall Terry (the founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue), Gary North (head of the Institute for Christian Economics), David Barton (founder of Wallbuilders), Larry Pratt (founder of Gun Owners of America),  Pat Robertson (founder of the Christian Coalition), Tim LaHaye (author of the Left Behind series and a co-founder of Moral Majority), and his wife Beverly LaHaye ( founder of Concerned Women of America).  The basic idea of the Reconstructionist outlook -- that the United States should use political power to enforce "Biblical" outlooks -- is the very core of the fundamentalist Christian movement.  Whenever you hear a fundamentalist arguing that the US should be a "Christian Nation", or that certain social or economic or education programs are "un-Christian", or that laws should be passed or denied based upon their "Biblical morality", or that the United States should actively oppose cultures or people that hold other religious opinions -- you are hearing the direct influence of the Christian Reconstructionist agenda.

For most of its history, the fundamentalists have always defined themselves in terms of what they were against -- they were against evolution, they were against abortion, they were against civil rights.  Reconstructionism, and in particular the derivative idea that the US should dismantle the wall between church and state and become a "Christian Nation", finally gave them something they could be for.  It was a key reason why fundamentalism was able to unify all its "anti" factions and effectively turn political, back in the early 80's.


Q.  Where do the Reconstructionists get their money?

Lenny Flank:  For decades, most of it came from just one man, a California savings-and-loan bigwig named Howard Ahmanson.  In the 70's and 80's, Ahmanson was a leading supporter of the Chalcedon Foundation, which was formed by Rousas J Rushdooney, the theologian who founded the Christian Reconstructionist movement.  Ahmanson was a member of Chalcedon's board of directors, and donated almost three-quarters of a million dollars of his own money to the foundation.  Ahmanson also gave substantial donations to various fundamentalist programs, including Republican political campaigns, various anti-gay groups, and organizations that were dedicated to opposing an increase in the minimum wage.  

One of the primary beneficiaries of Ahmanson's largesse, however, is the Discovery Institute, the primary advocate of intelligent design "theory" in the US.  In 1995, Ahmanson left the Chalcedon Foundation and put up $1.5 million of his own money to form the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, the branch of the Discovery Institute that runs the ID campaign.  He donated another $2.8 million in 2004.  He now sits on the Discovery Institute's board of directors.

Ahmanson prefers to work quietly behind the scenes, but by 2002 his extremist views were becoming so well-known that politicians were beginning to return contributions from him once they learned who he was.  As a result, Ahmanson went on a media blitz to convince everyone that he was no longer as nutty as he was in his Chalcedon days.  Despite his "kinder and gentler" image, though, Ahmanson could not bring himself to publicly repudiate such extremist views as stoning sinners.

The Discovery Institute does not like to talk about Ahmanson or his extremist views, and has, in several interviews with the press, flatly refused to answer such questions.  

 

Q.  How does the anti-evolution movement fit within Reconstructionist and fundamentalist goals?

Lenny Flank:  The creation "science" and intelligent design movements accomplish two goals for the extremists, and they have openly acknowledged both of those.  One goal is to enable the fundamentalists to convert an entire new generation to their goals and ideas.  In the public schools, the fundamentalists have a captive audience of impressionable children who have not yet learned any of the critical thinking skills that would allow them to really look at the argument and effectively evaluate both sides.  The anti-evolution "debate" depends very heavily on the audience's lack of knowledge about the topic, which enables the creationists to make all sorts of scientific-sounding arguments that are in fact full of baloney and wouldn't fool a first year university student.  That is why the anti-evolution movement has always, throughout its entire history, focused exclusively on using the public schools to reach schoolchildren, rather than on presenting its so-called "science" to university students or to scientific researchers.  The anti-evolutionists don't want to reach audiences that actually understand science and can actually evaluate their arguments -- they want audiences who are utterly ignorant of the whole matter, and who therefore are more likely to be swayed by the essentially religious and emotional nature of the anti-evolution arguments.  That's why most creationist "debates" take place before church audiences, and why the fundamentalists would prefer those debates to take place in middle school classrooms instead of in professional science conferences.

It is very important to realize that creationists and ID proponents do not want to capture the public schools in order to proselytize their kids -- what they want is the opportunity to proselytize your kids.  Their kids are already thoroughly indoctrinated at home, every day.  That's why fundamentalist Christians are the leading force behind the "homeschooling" movement, which removes their kids from the corrupting influence of public schools and allows fundamentalist parents to indoctrinate them to their heart's content.  But they want the opportunity to indoctrinate your kids to their heart's content, as well.

Even more importantly, however, the creation/evolution issue is the "wedge" that the fundamentalists themselves have chosen in order to begin to force their way into decision-making power and to begin dismantling the wall between church and state.  And that strategy has been openly described, by the intelligent design movement itself, in the Wedge Document.

 

Q.  What is the "Wedge Document" and why it is important?

Lenny Flank: The Wedge Document is an internal document prepared in 1998 by the Discovery Institute, a conservative think-tank in Seattle that is the primary proponent of intelligent design "theory".  It was written as a secret internal planning document, but it was leaked to the Internet in 1999.  The Wedge Document appears as an appendix to Deception by Design, which is, I believe, the first time it has ever been published.

The Wedge Document is important because it spells out, in considerable detail, in the IDers' own words, what their specific goals are and what methods they plan to use in order to reach those goals.  It lays out, specifically and in order, a series of five year goals and twenty year goals to, in effect, undo the entire enlightenment, and place all of American society under the sway of fundamentalist religious authority.  And the Wedge Document makes clear that the first step on this path is to use intelligent design "theory" as a method of using public schools to advance their religious and political goals -- precisely what the US Constitution says they can not do.

 

Q.  Is there any difference between "creation science" and "intelligent design theory"?

Lenny Flank:   The only differences are minor and cosmetic, and are there specifically to try to get around the Supreme Court's 1987 ruling that outlawed creation "science".  Creationism and the ID movement have the same goals, use the same arguments, and in many cases even consist of the same people.  Intelligent design "theory" was, if you'll pardon the pun, intelligently designed, specifically to get around the Supreme Court's 1987 decision outlawing creation "science".  And creation "science" was itself designed specifically to get around the Supreme Court's 1969 decision striking down laws that made it illegal to teach evolution.  It is all the same fight, with the same goals.  Nothing has changed except the name adopted by the movement.

 

Q.  Why do you think there is such widespread opposition to evolution?

Lenny Flank:  Part of the reason is that the United States has one of the worst education systems in the industrialized world, and much of the US population is absolutely ignorant of nearly everything going on around it.  According to recent surveys, most Americans don't know even the most basic elements of science.  Most don't know what a "molecule" is; most don't know how long it takes for the earth to revolve once around the sun -- many Americans don't even know that the earth revolves around the sun.  And not just science -- most Americans can't find Iraq or Afghanistan on a world map.  Many can't even find the United States on a map.

The fundamentalist movement takes full advantage of this widespread scientific ignorance.  They know that, in a political debate where the vast majority don't know anything about the subject, facts and data simply do not matter.  What matters is "truthiness" -- any argument will be accepted on purely emotional and ideological grounds, provided that it tells people what they want to believe the truth is anyway.  For the most part, the only organized opposition to the ID movement has come from scientists, and they have tended to treat the matter solely as a scientific debate -- scientists tend to think that if they can just sit everyone down and show them some scientific facts and data supporting evolution, everyone will slap themselves in the forehead, exclaim "My goodness! I've been wrong all these many years!!" and that will end the matter.  It's why most scientists tend to make very poor creationist-fighters.  The simple fact is that people are not won to creationism through scientific arguments, and they will not be won away from it by scientific arguments, either.  

And the mainstream Christian churches also deserve a large part of the blame.  Science and religion made peace with each other over a century ago, and the vast majority of Christians, worldwide, have no gripe at all with evolution or any other part of modern science, and see no conflict whatsoever between faith and science.  Unfortunately, these mainstream churches have for the most part stayed far away from the evolution/creation conflict, and have instead allowed the fundamentalists to wrap themselves in the flag of piety and loudly declare themselves to be the only True Christians, painting any and all opposition as "anti-God", "atheist" and "anti-Christian" -- and few people in the United States want to consider themselves as "anti-Christian".   Nearly all of the mainstream churches actually view the fundamentalists as doing tremendous harm to Christianity, by making all "Christians" look silly, stupid, uneducated, and medieval-minded.  It's time more of these mainstream churches say so, out loud.

 

Q.  Do you think that science is under attack in the United States?

Lenny Flank:  Absolutely.  Science itself, as a way of learning about the world around us, is under massive attack, from two different factions with two different agendas, both of which have found a home within the Republican Party.  The first anti-science faction is, of course, the fundamentalists.  Their goal is to discredit science as "just another religion", one that is no better than their own Biblical views and which therefore should be given no better treatment than their own anti-science views.  That is why the IDers continuously refer to evolution as "darwinism" -- they want people to view it as just anothher ideology, no different than "Marxism".  The other anti-science faction are the corporate big-business sector, which has discovered that it can utilize criticism of science as a weapon against all sorts of social regulations and controls that the corporate sector doesn't want.  By attacking the science behind such things as global warming, pollution, endangered species, and other issues, big business can deflect, delay and sometimes eliminate governmental oversight or regulations.  As a result of these separate but compatible factions, the Republican Party has, particularly under the Bush Administration, launched a full-fledged multi-front war on science.  

Ultimately, of course, such a strategy is self-defeating, since scientific and technological discoveries are the very source of economic strength, and by weakening science and science education, the US is only weakening itself and its position in the world.

 

Q.  What direction do you think the anti-evolution movement will take in the future?

Lenny Flank:  Within the United States right now, the fundamentalist movement is in serious trouble.  The wedge issue which they hoped would help them force their way into power, the intelligent design movement, was crushed at the 2005 Dover trial, and is now all but dead.  The Republican Party took a horrific mangling in the 2006 elections -- and without the active political support of the Republican Party, the anti-evolution movement has no more political influence than the flat-earthers or flying saucer fans do.  The corporate sector is beginning to voice active opposition to some of the Republican Party's agenda -- for example, recently the Walmart company, the largest employer in the US, announced its support for government-provided universal health care.    That is a measure that will bring the big business supporters in direct conflict with the fundamentalist ideologues, and it may weaken the Republican Party enough to guarantee Democratic Party domination for some years to come.  So I look for the anti-evolution movement to lay low for a few years.  It will raise money from its base, it will set up new "think tanks" and new organizations, it will change its name to something else, and it will be back (with the same old arguments) as soon as the political climate allows.

One thing the anti-evolutioners have already done is to redirect their aim away from the US and towards other nations, particularly Europe.  In the United Kingdom, several groups of creation "scientists" have attracted financial support from the US by adopting "intelligent design" verbiage, and they are attempting to use political strength to force their beliefs into science classrooms.  In the Islamic world, a group known as Harun Yahya is attempting to remove evolution from science education, by using recycled arguments from the American creation "science" movement.  Ironically, the Islamic creationists are receiving printed literature and financial support from the American creationists, thus demonstrating that Islamic extremists and Christian extremists have far more in common than either of them would like to admit.

 

Q. What can people do to help stop the fundamentalist political movement?

Lenny Flank:   The ID/creationist movement is a political movement with political goals, and it must be beaten the same way that every other political movement is beaten -- by out-organizing it. The only thing that will beat ID/creationism (and all its future derivatives) is an informed public that makes it clear to everyone that it does not want a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, won’t support it, won’t allow it, and will do whatever it takes to prevent it.