It's much more interesting to evaluate whether the legal victory in Pennsylvania had any significant effect on the general public. Did it cause people to change their minds and abandon Intelligent Design Creationism to embrace science? Has America moved closer to the time when real science can be taught in the schools without interference from religion? Have politicians stopped trying to water down evolution in the public schools because of Judge Jones' decision in Kitzmiller v Dover? Have politicians stopped opposing evolution and has the public stopped voting for those who do?
Let's look at what the IDiots are saying. Somebody put up a post on Evolution News & Views (sic) a few weeks ago. The title speaks for itself ... Following Kitzmiller v. Dover, an Excellent Decade for Intelligent Design.
Most of us can't suppress a snicker when we see such a claim but do they have a point? Who is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans? My own view is that nothing much has changed in the past decade. Intelligent Design Creationism isn't winning but it isn't losing either. If Kitzmiller v Dover had any effect at all then it was only to keep the anti-science group from gaining more ground.
The post on the Discovery Institute site has a list of recent ID "victories" that was first published by Casey Luskin last January [In the Darwin Debate, How Long Before the Tide Turns in Favor of Intelligent Design?].
All of these "victories" are laughable but the science ones are also scary because scientists have proven that they are dead wrong but that doesn't matter to creationists.
- Lots of pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific papers being published.
- Experimental peer-reviewed research coming out showing the unevolvability of new proteins.
- Theoretical peer-reviewed papers taking down alleged computer simulations of evolution, showing that intelligence design is needed to produce new information.
- A major ID research conference at Cornell leading to the publication of the volume Biological Information: New Perspectives.
- Huge victories for ID in the area of junk DNA, thanks to the ENCODE results.
- Data supportive of ID coming out all the time as the epigenetic revolution proceeds.
- ID pretty much shut down the competition in debates relating to Stephen Meyer's book Darwin's Doubt. The book was appraised by one of the world's top two science journal, Science, (in a tellingly weak review).
- Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller's No. 1 argument in the Dover trial has now been shot down as the beta-globin pseudogene was found to be functional.
- The Darwin brigade's favorite argument against Michael Behe was refuted as chloroquine-resistance turns out to be a multimutation feature.
- Major concessions from leading atheists like philosopher Thomas Nagel that ID arguments have merit and should be taken seriously.
- Concessions from influential evolutionists that neo-Darwinism indeed faces serious criticism in biology.
- In recent years, many peer-reviewed articles in the mainstream scientific literature have critiqued Darwinism.
- And revealingly, the more that victories for ID multiply, the more the Darwin lobby tries to suppress free speech for ID proponents, and in turn is forced to squelch their own criticisms of the orthodox evolutionary paradigm.
I've concentrated on debating the "science" behind Intelligent Design Creationism as part of my contribution to the battle for hearts and minds. I'm hoping to do my bit in preventing the IDiots from making unsubstantiated claims. Maybe I'm wasting my time?
From a purely scientific perspective, the good guys have refuted and exposed many of the claims on that list. Any objective outside observer would have to agree that scientists have effectively demonstrated that ...
- Very few pro-ID papers have been published.
- The evolution of new proteins is quite consistent with evidence and evolutionary theory.
- Intelligent design is not needed to produce new information and good computer simulations show this quite clearly.
- Cornell had nothing to do with the meeting of creationists.
- 90% of our genome is junk in spite of ENCODE and IDiots.
- Epigenetics has nothing to do with Intelligent Design Creationism unless it's to show that the creator wasn't very intelligent.
- Darwin's Doubt is a travesty of misrepresentation of facts, misunderstanding of science, and fuzzy thinking. The creationists did a terrible job of defending it.
- The β-globin pseudogene is still a pseudogene and the presence of 15,000 pseudogenes in the human genome still poses a problem for Intelligent Design Creationism.
- The latest data on chloroquine resistance in malaria parasites doesn't support Michael Behe's claims, it refutes them.
- Thomas Nagel says we should listen to some of the arguments from the IDiots and show why they are wrong. Done.
- Neo-Darwinism does, indeed, face serious criticism among biologists. That's because the strict version is incorrect as has been pointed out to creationists repeatedly over the past 25 years.
- Strict Darwinism has also been rightly criticized. This is a victory for science, not Intelligent Design Creationism, unless you are stupid enough to fall for the false dichotomy fallacy. We now have a much better understanding of evolutionary theory although attempts to teach it to creationists have been spectacularly unsuccessful.2
- The vast majority of those trying to suppress free speech are fundamentalist Christians like most of the supporters of Intelligent Design Creationism.
The IDiots can post a list of "victories" that are not victories at all but their followers don't care about the science. Lies are as effective as truth in the cultural war—sometimes even more effective.
The IDiots are very good at lying for Jesus.
As Richard Dawkins pointed out in The God Delusion, the real war is between rationalism and superstition.
I maintain, then—and here I diverge from the many "accommodationists" who see religion and science, if not harmonious or complementary, at least as not in conflict—that religion and science are engaged in a kind of war: a war for understanding, a war about whether we should have good reasons for what we accept as true.Kitzmiller v Dover was victory for accommodationism. The winners were the side that convinced Judge Jones to say that in general science and religion are compatible but you can't teach intelligent design in public schools because it's not science.
Although this book deals with the conflict between religion and science, I see this as only one battle in a wider war—a war between science and superstition.
What did Judge Jones say in 2005? (Part I)
What did Judge Jones say in 2005? (Part II)
What did Judge Jones say in 2005? (Part III)
To the extent that it was an accommodationist victory, the decision in Kitzmiller v Dover may have done more harm than good. That's because it had little effect in changing people's minds about creationism but it did legitimize the compatibility of science and religion. America now has a legal decision saying that it's okay to believe in a creator and in evolution. That's not a problem for evolution according to the accomodationists.
The court decision did not advance the war between rationalism and superstition. It came down on the side of superstition in the form of Ken Miller and John Haught and the defenders of superstition like Robert Pennock and other accommodationists. In the long run, that's like winning a local skirmish but losing the main battle that's being fought on the other side of the field.
I think we need to show that Intelligent Design Creationism is bad science but Kitzmiller v Dover concentrated on showing that it is not science. This view is easily refuted by the IDiots who have continued to publish sciency books and blog posts supporting their position. Look at Casey Luskin's list (above). It all looks very much like science supporting ID in spite of the fact that the decision in Kitzmiller v Dover said ID wasn't science.
But, unfortunately, just showing that ID is bad science isn't going to work either. The enemy is superstition in the form of religion and we are wasting our time if we think that legal and scientific arguments are all it takes to make religious people accept science.
Like it or not, America is still a land full of IDiots.
1. The cultural battle has been won in many Western industrialized nations without resorting to legal quibbling over the separation of church and state. Creationism is not a major force in many of those countries even though they allow religion into public schools and may even have a state religion.
2. That being one of the reasons I call them IDiots.