[Editor’s Note: This article combines adapted versions of 10 posts on Evolution News and Views which responded to Dr. Forrest’s piece. The originals may be seen here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.]
Part 1: Introduction
Barbara Forrest is a philosopher and was an expert witness against intelligent design in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. Since she has recently posted her take on the Kitzmiller trial here, I have had the pleasure of responding by constructing a ten-part response. The pleasure is mine because of the interesting comments from Forrest, including affirmatively calling ID-proponents labels such as “creationists,” “legal mincemeat,” “jaw-droppingly stupid,” “evangelical scholars,” “part of the Religious Right,” and “mean-spirited.” Forrest says they have “contempt for the judicial system,” promote “warmed-over creationism,” have “cocksure confidence,” and use “nastiness” and “long-discredited pro-ID arguments” because “they make things up and/or slander their opposition.” She claims that ID supporters are reduced to “peddling ID” and “riding the coattails of conservative pundit Ann Coulter,” while arguing using “standard creationist canards,” which “highlight the bankruptcy of ID and the blustering cowardice of its leaders, who must capture support with brazen deceit and sarcastic punditry.” I’d like to briefly highlight a couple of these expanded quotes, which further show her argumentation style:
(1) A harsh attack by Dr. Forrest upon ID-proponents:
These tactics by DeWolf and Dembski highlight the bankruptcy of ID and the blustering cowardice of its leaders, who must capture support with brazen deceit and sarcastic punditry.
(2) Some Self-Praising by Dr. Forrest:
It probably wasn’t difficult for DI and TMLC to figure out that, armed with my work and that of the other witnesses for the plaintiffs, halfway decent attorneys would make legal mincemeat of them. (emphasis added)
Her piece is going to be an entertaining read at the very least, one that deserves a response, which I will discuss in 10 parts.
Part 2: Assessing Dr. Forrest’s Usage of Quotations from ID Proponents:
Dr. Forrest’s Kitzmiller account discusses what she argued during the Kitzmiller trial about intelligent design:
I included the words of two leading ID proponents, Phillip E. Johnson and William Dembski. Under direct examination by Eric Rothschild, I related Johnson’s definition of ID as “theistic realism” or “mere creation,” by which he means “that we affirm that God is objectively real as Creator, and that the reality of God is tangibly recorded in evidence accessible to science, particularly in biology.
Forrest is trying to argue that because of these quotes, therefore intelligent design is a religious viewpoint. While Phillip Johnson’s work inspired many people to investigate scientific deficiencies of Neo-Darwinism, Johnson is not a scientist and has done not been one who has formulated the actual theory of intelligent design. The theory of intelligent design was first formulated by scientists like Charles Thaxton and Dean Kenyon, and further developed (and popularized) by the research and writing of Michael Behe and William Dembski. If one wants to understand the theory of intelligent design, one has to study the writings of people like people like biochemist Michael Behe:
The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, the design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with all the firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer. (Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, p. 197)
The most important difference [between modern intelligent design theory and Paley’s arguments] is that [intelligent design] is limited to design itself; I strongly emphasize that it is not an argument for the existence of a benevolent God, as Paley’s was. I hasten to add that I myself do believe in a benevolent God, and I recognize that philosophy and theology may be able to extend the argument. But a scientific argument for design in biology does not reach that far. This while I argue for design, the question of the identity of the designer is left open. (Michael Behe, “The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis,” Philosophia Christi, 2(3)(1) (2001), p. 165)
Or they should turn to William Dembski, who makes it clear that ID is inferred using an empirical methodology:
Natural causes are too stupid to keep pace with intelligent causes. Intelligent design theory provides a rigorous scientific demonstration of this long-standing intuition. Let me stress, the complexity-specification criterion is not a principle that comes to us demanding our unexamined acceptance–it is not an article of faith. Rather it is the outcome of a careful and sustained argument about the precise interrelationships between necessity, chance and design. (William Dembski, No Free Lunch, p. 223)
Dr. Forrest ignores Dembski’s empirical methodology and Behe’s unwillingness to make intelligent design into a theory which treads into religious questions, and instead turns to Dembski’s commentary about how he interprets intelligent design within the context of his own Christian faith. Dr. Forrest recounts what she said in court:
To that I added Dembski’s definition: “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”
Is that actually Dembski’s “definition” of intelligent design? Dr. Forrest’s “Logos quote” was taken from an article in Touchstone, a Christian magazine, at the end of an article in a section titled “Design, Metaphysics, & Beyond.” Clearly Dembski is looking at design in a much broader context for a Christian audience, “beyond” its formulation as a science. Previously in the article, however, Dembski explained his methodology for formulating design using purely empirical arguments:
Figure 1: Dembski’s Explanatory Filter from his 1999 Touchstone article: He argues that we infer design based upon our observation-based understanding that complex and specified events are caused by design. In light of this methodology, is Forrest correct to have testified that “Intelligent design is, in essence, a religious belief”? It seems that at essence, ID is an empirically-based scientific argument.
Given that Dembski is a trained theologian (he holds an m-div. from the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary), in addition to holding doctorates in mathematics and philosophy, he has every right to evaluate ID in the context of his Christian religious faith (theistic evolutionist scientists often do the same thing for evolution—see below). This information was omitted in Dr. Forrest’s testimony, allowing her to twist Dembski’s words by taking them out of context.
While Dr. Forrest calls the Logos quote Dembski’s “definition” of intelligent design, it would be more accurate to use the actual definition he provides his section entitled “What is intelligent design” from his book, The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design:
Intelligent design is the science that studies signs of intelligence. Note that a sign is not the thing signified. Intelligent design does not try to get into the mind of the designer and figure out what a designer is thinking. Its focus is not a designer’s mind (the thing signified) but the artifact due to a designer’s mind (the sign). What a designer is thinking may be an interesting question, and one may be able to infer something about what a designer is thinking from the designed objects that a designer produces (provided the designer is being honest). But the designer’s thought processes lie outside the scope of intelligent design. As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such.
(William A. Dembski, “Chapter 1: Intelligent Design: What is intelligent design?” in The Design Revolution, p. 33, The Design Revolution (InterVarsity Press, 2004)
Thus the scientific theory of intelligent design does not even focus on studying any intelligence responsible for life’s design, but focuses upon studying natural objects to determine if they were designed. To accurately understand how Dembski thinks the theory of ID interfaces with the identity of the designer, Dr. Forrest should have quoted Dembski from a religious book Dembski wrote for a Christian audience entitled Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, where he explains this point:
By contrast, intelligent design nowhere attempts to identify the intelligent cause responsible for the design in nature, nor does it prescribe in advance the sequence of events by which this intelligent cause had to act. . . . Intelligent design is modest in what it attributes to the designing intelligence responsible for the specified complexity in nature. For instance, design theorists recognize that the nature, moral character and purposes of this intelligence lie beyond the remit of science. As Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis remark in their text on intelligent design: ‘Science cannot answer this question; it must leave it to religion and philosophy.’
(William Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, pp. 247-248 (InterVarsity Pres, 1999).)
Why didn’t Dr. Forrest give these quotes that provide a full picture of Dembski’s view of how intelligent design interfaces with the question of the designer? Is she right to call the Logos quote from the “Design, Metaphysics, and Beyond” section of an article in a Christian magazine Dembski’s “definition” of intelligent design?
Theistic Evolutionists Say The Same Kinds of Things
But I can spin false arguments myself. Christian theistic evolutionist Keith Miller wrote “Seeing the history of life unfolding with each new discovery is exciting to me. How incredible to be able to look back through eons of time and see the panorama of God’s evolving creation!” (Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, p. 205.) Similarly, Catholic Christian and theistic evolutionist Ken Miller wrote, “Given evolution’s ability to adapt, to innovate, to test, and to experiment, sooner or later it would have given the Creator exactly what He was looking for—a creature who, like us, could know Him, and love Him.” (Finding Darwin’s God, pp. 238-239.) Do these mean evolution is therefore a religious theory? Would I be correct to call these Ken Miller’s and Keith Miller’s “definitions” of evolution? Of course not. These quotes simply demonstrate that theistic evolutionists can interpret the scientific theory of evolution in the context of their Christian faith—something these two theistic evolutionist scientists have every right to do. And that’s precisely what the trained-theologian Dembski was doing in the Logos quote with respect to intelligent design. Dembski was not “defining” intelligent design, nor was he even describing how the theory operates as as science; writing in a section entitled “Design, Metaphysics, and Beyond,” he was clearly only interpreting intelligent design within the context of his own religious faith.
Dembski never said that ID is simply theology. But the difference here is that at trial, the Judge accepted Miller’s statement that “Everything that a scientist writes or says is not necessarily a scientific statement or a scientific publication.” But Judge Jones (and Barbara Forrest) only extended such courtesy to the Darwinists when they made such religious statements. I thus want to propose what I call the principle of methodological equivalence:
The Principle of Methodological Equivalence:
Science is a way of knowing. When assessing whether a given claim is scientific, all that matters is if an empirically-based, scientific methodology of knowing is given to back the claim. Alleging that a claim is religious and unscientific because of (a) the larger philosophical implications of the claim, (b) the religious beliefs of the claimant, (c) the motives of the claimant, or (d) some historical relationship between certain types of religious persons and that claim, uses an irrelevant argument. Evolutionists should consider this carefully because intelligent design and evolution are methodologically equivalent: Any argument invoking (a) through (d) to disqualify intelligent design from being science would similarly disqualify evolution from being science, if the facts and the argument were applied fairly.
Thus, if ID is disqualified from being science because some of its proponents have assessed ID in the context of their personal faith, then if we are to be fair, then such assessments by evolutionists would cut against evolution being science. The best approach is to recognize that personal religious statements or religious assessments do not count against whether a theory is scientific. Dr. Forrest should not have used these types of arguments.
Part 3: Do Religious (or Anti-Religious) Beliefs Matter?
When assessing whether a person is promoting a scientific theory, the simple answer to the question posed in the title is “no.” Yet in her Kitzmiller testimony, as recounted in the Kitzmiller account Barbara Forrest recently posted at CSICOP, she seems to think the answer is “yes.” Dr. Forrest recounts some of the religious beliefs of intelligent design-proponents, as if this implies that intelligent design (ID) is therefore not science. This response will assess her argument that the religious belief of ID-proponents are relevant to whether ID is science. Dr. Forrest writes:
But I had much more, such as CSC fellow Mark Hartwig’s 1995 Moody Magazine article in which he referred to a 1992 ID conference at Southern Methodist University as a meeting of “creationists and evolutionists,” calling Dembski and Stephen Meyer “evangelical scholars.”  During these early years, when they needed money and supporters, ID proponents openly advertised both their religiosity and their creationism.
Hmmm. So now being a “creationist” or an “evangelical scholar” disqualifies you from promoting your views as a legitimate scientific theory, even if your scientific views have empirical justification outside of your religious beliefs? And having a “creationist” religious belief (i.e. believing that God created) doesn’t mean that you can’t support other viewpoints which are indeed completely scientific—Don’t “creationists” fully support scientific concepts like gravity, Newton’s laws of physical mechanics, of the germ theory of disease?
If some “creationists” support intelligent design, so what? Indeed, not all ID-proponents are creationists, and ID is distinct from creationism in many ways. To respond to Dr. Forrest, it’s best to quote from an amicus brief submitted by 85 scientists during the Kitzmiller case in support of [intellectual freedom for discussing] intelligent design:
As this litigation demonstrates, opponents of intelligent design frequently resort to ad hominem attacks, asserting that because some scientists hold religious views, their scientific work should be dismissed as merely “religious.”15 Creationism’s Trojan Horse, co-authored by Dr. Barbara Forrest (one of plaintiffs’ experts), epitomizes the argument that because many intelligent design theorists are devoutly religious, therefore intelligent design proponents intend to pass off religion as science and are not offering design as a scientific theory.16
This “Trojan Horse” method of critique encourages discrimination against intelligent design proponents by fostering a stereotype among academics that supporters of design are incompetent scientists who use deceitful methods to peddle religion as though it were science.17 Such a prejudicial tactic would never be permitted if the alleged agenda of the accused group were, say, feminism or gay rights. Indeed, no other group of academics face attacks on their professional careers based primarily on their alleged personal beliefs.18 Arguments employing such ad hominem attacks on the supposed religious beliefs of design theorists should be decisively rejected by this Court.
It’s easy to spin false arguments theories based upon the religious beliefs of people. Let’s turn this argument around: Dr. Forrest herself serves on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA), which describes itself as “an affiliate of American Atheists, and [a] member of the Atheist Alliance International.” Is she clearly an activist for a particular metaphysical belief system? Absolutely. Do her religious (or anti-religious) beliefs disqualify her views on evolution from being scientific, or scientifically valid? Absolutely not. To again quote from the Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists In support of Defendants:
These anti-religious motivations are cited here not because they disqualify anyone from making a scientific argument, but to demonstrate that the personal beliefs of theists should similarly be ignored in determining whether their scientific claims will be given a fair hearing. Our contention is that religious or philosophical motivations, however strongly held or expressed, should have no legal significance in determining the scientific standing of a theory.
If only Judge Jones and Barbara Forrest had heeded those words. Unfortunately Dr. Forrest’s testimony in Kitzmiller, largely adopted by Judge Jones, threatens the teaching of other scientific theories (even including evolution) because apparently now, the personal religious (or anti-religious) beliefs of scientists supporting a theory do matter when undertaking constitutional inquiries. This is an alarming development in the law.
Part 4: The “Wedge Document”.
During the Kitzmiller trial, Barbara Forrest testified at length about the “wedge document,” insinuating that motives can disqualify a view from being scientific. Discovery Institute responded to these arguments long ago. Dr. Forrest recounts her testimony in her Kitzmiller account:
My first slide made its significance clear: “[C]ould I have the first slide, please? This is the first page of the Wedge Strategy, and this is the opening paragraph of it. Quote, ‘The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which western civilization was built.’ This . . . states very well the foundational belief behind the intelligent design movement and the reason that they have rejected the theory of evolution.”  As I continued, the judge heard the strategy’s explicitly Christian goals: “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialistic worldview and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”
As noted, a full response to Dr. Forrest’s comments cannot be seen unless one reads Discovery Institute’s The “Wedge Document”: “So What”?. But let’s assume that everything Barbara Forrest says here is correct. So what if some ID-proponents believe that human beings are created in the image of God and that motivated them in their work? Even Ken Miller, a notable defender of theistic evolution, would probably agree with the doctrine of “Imago Dei.”
Yet as is the common theme, these types of arguments can also cut against evolution, if applied fairly.
Suppose that during the Kitzmiller trial, an ID-proponent who was brought into court as an “evolution expert” (we’ll call him Jack) and testified about a key passage from the Third Humanist Manifesto. Jack explained that this humanist manifesto includes the “notable signer” Eugenie Scott, who is executive director of the National Center for Science Education and “is perhaps the nation’s most high-profile Darwinist” (Nature, 434:1065). Yet Jack explains that this manifesto states a view in contention with the theistic perspective stated in the “wedge document”:
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life  without supernaturalism … Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing.
Does Jack’s testimony imply some anti-religious motives on the part of some secular humanists like Eugenie Scott? Most likely. Does this mean that evolution is therefore unscientific and unconstitutional? Absolutely not.
My point here is not to harp upon Eugenie Scott’s religious (or a-religious) beliefs, but to explain that the metaphysical views of a scientist have no bearing upon the validity of her scientific viewpoint or whether her viewpoint constitutes a scientific theory.
If desired, it would be easy to use Dr. Forrest’s logic against her. We could construct conspiracy theories about the anti-religious aims of Barbara Forrest and her affiliated groups without any great effort. Consider this quote from the Amici Curiae brief submitted in Kitzmiller by 85 scientists in support of academic freedom for intelligent design:
Plaintiff’s expert Barbara Forrest is on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA). NOSHA is also an affiliate of the Council for Secular Humanism which it describes as “North America’s leading organization for non-religious people.” NOSHA’s links page boasts “The Secular Web,” whose “mission is to defend and promote metaphysical naturalism, the view that our natural world is all that there is, a closed system in no need of an explanation and sufficient unto itself.” Most notably, NOSHA is an associate member of the American Humanist Association, which publishes the Humanist Manifesto III. In 1996, this American Humanist Association named Richard Dawkins as its “Humanist of the Year.” To help underscore the anti-religious mindset of these organizations, in his acceptance speech for the award before the American Humanist Association, Dawkins stated “faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.”
(Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists In support of Defendants, internal citations omitted for clarity)
My point is not that Dr. Forrest’s views are therefore disqualified, but to show that anyone can spin motivation theories if they want. Motives are irrelevant, and claiming that religious (or anti-religious) motives disbar a theory from being scientific is not a valid form of argumentation, for an idea must be judged apart from the motivations or personal beliefs of its proponents. Again, this was explained in the amicus brief:
The motivations and religious views of scientists have nothing to do with the scientific validity of their discoveries. For example, the eminent scientists Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler were devoutly religious and believed God created a rationally comprehendable universe. Despite their religious motivations, their scientific investigations led to accurate explanations of motion which became the bedrock of physical mechanics. Amici thus assert that motivations for conducting scientific investigations have no bearing upon the empirical validity or scientific nature of the conclusions theirin. … Amici detail these [anti-religious] affiliations [of ID-critics] not because religious (or anti-religious) beliefs are relevant to a scientific argument, but to demonstrate that the legal rule proposed by the plaintiffs would jeopardize the scientific contributions of many critics of intelligent design just as much as the contributions of some intelligent design proponents.
Regardless, it is most unfortunate that Judge Jones seems to have adopted Barbara Forrest’s “ignore the ID-science, only talk about religious beliefs of ID-proponents” methodology. He wrote, citing to Dr. Forrest, “A careful review of the Wedge Document’s goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones. (11:26–48 (Forrest); P-140)” (p. 29 of online version). But is that a true statement? Consider these plainly stated scientific goals from the “wedge document”:
“Five Year Goals … To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory. …
Twenty Year Goals … To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
The scientific research goals here are plainly stated. Why did Judge Jones therefore claim “the Wedge Document’s goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones”?
When assessing if an idea is science, motives don’t matter, but Judge Jones failed to recognize the scientific goals of the “IDM” as he puts it. He was purely incorrect on this point, and made this false statement while implying a dangerous rule-of-law which scrutinizes religious beliefs or motives of the proponents behind an idea as a test for whether that idea is scientific. Sadly, this rule, if applied fairly, could prohibit the teaching of evolution.
Also, be sure to read The “Wedge Document”: “So What”? for a complete commentary regarding Dr. Forrest’s allegations on this topic.
Part 5: Phillip Johnson and Of Pandas and People
Barbara Forrest makes the strange argument that “Phillip Johnson had master-minded creationism’s transformation into ‘intelligent design’ after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed creationism in public schools in its 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard ruling.” This conspiracy theory sounds nice because Johnson is a lawyer, but it makes no sense. Paul Nelson’s story about Johnson, which Dr. Forrest cites, picks up with Johnson reading the Edwards v. Aguillard briefs post-1987. Yet the term “intelligent design” existed and was essentially in its present form (see graphics below) prior to the Edwards ruling. Johnson’s work surely inspired many people who later joined the ID movement. But how could Phillip Johnson have “masterminded” the origin of something that existed prior to his involvement with the issue? Regardless, Judge Jones did not seem to buy this argument–I can find nothing in the Kitzmiller ruling adopting Dr. Forrest’s argument that Johnson allegedly “master-minded” the formulation of ID out of “creationism.”
What About Pandas?
But if ID existed before Phillip Johnson got involved (making Dr. Forrest’s theory wrong), then from whence did it come? To understand this, we have to turn to Charles Thaxton, academic editor for the pro-ID textbook Of Pandas and People (Pandas) who explains how he coined the term when helping to write Pandas:
I wasn’t comfortable with the typical vocabulary that for the most part creationists were using because it didn’t express what I was trying to do. They were wanting to bring God into the discussion, and I was wanting to stay within the empirical domain and do what you can do legitimately there.
(Deposition of Charles Thaxton 52-53, Kitzmiller, No. 4:04-CV-2688 (M.D. Pa., July 19, 2005).)
Dr. Forrest writes that in Pandas, “creationist terminology had been replaced by ‘intelligent design’ and other design-related terms, suggesting that the Edwards decision prompted this change.” But she leaves out that pre-Edwards drafts of Pandas ALSO did contain the phrase “intelligent design,” and thus the origin of intelligent design stemmed not from “legal strategies” but as Thaxton explains, it came from an honest effort to limit statements to scientific claims that can be made based upon the empirical data. ID is about respecting the limits of the scientific data–not hiding religion for legal purposes. In other words, even in its pre-publication form Pandas offered a theory that was conceptually distinct from what the courts have defined as “creationism.”
This leads to the final point made by Dr. Forrest—she implies that the “creationist” terminology pre-publication drafts of Of Pandas and People makes the final published version unconstitutional. Yet the early drafts of Pandas actually rejected “creationism” as defined by the courts:
When certain pre-publication drafts of Pandas used terms such as “creation” and “creationist,” they used them in a way that rejected “creationism” as defined by the courts and popular culture. In Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court declared creationism to be a religious viewpoint because it required a “supernatural creator”:
The legislative history therefore reveals that the term “creation science,” as contemplated by the legislature that adopted this Act, embodies the religious belief that a supernatural creator was responsible for the creation of humankind. (Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 591-592, emphasis added).)
Thus, what the Supreme Court found was religion and therefore unconstitutional was not the word “creationism,” but the teaching that a “supernatural creator” was responsible for life. “Creation science” was how the Louisiana Legislature described that religious concept.
Yet pre-publication drafts of Pandas juxtaposed the word “creation” with statements to the exact opposite effect, noting that science cannot scientifically detect a supernatural creator. Consider these important excerpts from pre-publication drafts of Pandas, making it clear that from the beginning, their project did not advocate what the courts have defined as “creationism”:
In each of these excerpts from pre-Edwards v. Aguillard drafts of Pandas, it is clear that the idea of “creation” discussed was specifically NOT trying to postulate a supernatural creator. The concepts advanced by even pre-publication, pre-Edwards drafts of Pandas were sharply different from what the courts have defined as “creationism.” These early drafts were not trying to study the supernatural
ID was formulated in its present form–an empirically based argument that would not stray into the supernatural–before the Edwards case was decided. Thus, even before Edwards v. Aguillard, ID lacked the very quality that caused creationism to be declared unconstitutional: it did not postulate a “supernatural creator.” ID was not “masterminded” by an attorney, but formulated by a scientist who understood information theory and “want[ed] to stay within the empirical domain and do what you can do legitimately there.” Barbara Forrest’s theory about the origins of ID was wrong
Part 6: Three Conspiracy Theories about Pro-ID Expert Witnesses
Barbara Forrest offers three contradictory theories (two of which are conspiracy theories) for why some ID proponents did not testify as expert witnesses in Kitzmiller, yet she writes as if they are all true. It’s not my fault that her arguments are confusing; I’m just going to make her respective arguments separately and explain why none of them really make sense. The reader will see that it is impossible for each theory to be true
Conspiracy Theory #1: They were scared off by my great arguments
Dr. Forrest praises herself writing:
Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell’s exodus is explained by their fear of cross-examination. The public shredding that Irigonegaray had given ID creationists in Kansas one month earlier was still fresh . Moreover, Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell knew what the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses would say in court because they had our reports. DI must have known that our case would be devastating to the defense —and thus to ID— if it was argued before a judge who respected the truth and the Constitution.
“It probably wasn’t difficult for DI and TMLC to figure out that, armed with my work and that of the other witnesses for the plaintiffs, halfway decent attorneys would make legal mincemeat of them.”
So Dr. Forrest accuses Dembski, Meyer and Campbell from not testifying because they were afraid of being proven wrong by attorneys “armed” with her “work.” Yet Dembski easily dealt with the claims of the Darwinist Experts in his Rebuttal to Reports by Opposing Expert Witnesses. If Dembski couldn’t handle the arguments in court, then why did he write this rebuttal? I purposefully spent the first five sections of this response dealing with Dr. Forrest’s in-court arguments to show that they cite irrelevant evidence to propose rules which, if applied fairly, would threaten the teaching of evolution. Her arguments aren’t hard to deal with at all.
Moreover, if Discovery Institute fellows were all scared of the arguments from the plaintiffs, then why did two DI Senior Fellows — Michael Behe and Scott Minnich — remain on as expert witnesses for the trial? Dr. Forrest’s “DI was scared off by my arguments” theory might make her feel smart, but it is betrayed by the facts. Conspiracy theory #1 is wrong.
But her claim here is even more amazing: She claims that Pedro Irigonegaray gave a “public shredding” of Darwin-skeptics in Kansas, and that ID proponents didn’t show up in Kitzmiller—because they feared a “public shredding.” Yet in Kansas, the Darwinists did not show up for the Kansas State Board of Education hearings on evolution. She claims at length that the Darwinists didn’t show up because they “boycotted the hearings.” (The only Darwinist who chose to show up was the attorney Pedro Irigonegaray.) Perhaps that’s true, but perhaps the reasons some ID-proponents didn’t testify in Kitzmiller also had nothing to do with being “afraid” of a “public shredding.”
Were I to use Dr. Forrest’s style, I would easily argue that the Darwinists were afraid of a “public shredding” in Kansas. But I won’t make that argument about the Darwinists in Kansas because that would be what Dr. Forrest is doing: making false conspiracy theories designed to boost your own ego.
In the end, it’s no wonder that Dr. Forrest praises Irigonegaray’s methods as “shredding” the ID-proponents: his primary tactic was to interrogate the scientists testifying at the Kansas hearings about their religious beliefs. That’s Barbara Forrest’s favorite line of argumentation.
Theory #2: They were fired by Thomas More Legal Center
Ironically, Forrest’s own words betray her conspiracy theory #1 about why Campbell didn’t participate:
Everything was proceeding on schedule until only minutes before the deposition was to begin, when defense attorney Patrick Gillen announced that TMLC would “no longer retain” Campbell as a witness because Campbell had “retained counsel through Discovery Institute” and had “discussed matters [with DI] to which I am not privy.”
But wait—I thought Campbell didn’t testify because he was scared of a “public shredding” by lawyers “armed” with Forrest’s arguments from Creationism’s Trojan Horse (see conspiracy theory #1 above)? But now we learn that Campbell didn’t testify because Thomas More fired him, and it had nothing to do with fear of Forrest.
This theory appears to be true, which is why I haven’t called it a “conspiracy theory.”
So in one breath Dr. Forrest would boast that Campbell withdrew because DI was scared of a “devastating” case that would come from lawyers who read Creationism’s Trojan Horse, and in the other breath acknowledges that it was TMLC that fired Campbell. Perhaps, as Pat Gillen stated, Campbell’s withdrawal had nothing to do with “fear” but because TMLC was angry that one of their witnesses talked to a group they didn’t like (Discovery Institute).
Both theories can’t be true, and if Barbara Forrest thinks that Discovery Institute was scared of her arguments, then she hasn’t been reading the extensive responses to her on Evolution News (and responses from other ID-proponents).
Conspiracy Theory #3: ID proponents didn’t testify because Kitzmiller was a poor test case
Dr. Forrest writes:
The problem, however, was that DI did not want this case because the Dover board, urged on by TMLC , had explicitly crafted its policy to promote “intelligent design.” Having come to view that term as a legal liability after encountering opposition in Ohio, Kansas, and elsewhere, DI tried unsuccessfully to persuade the board to either restate the ID policy in sanitized language or withdraw it . They were scared to death of a case they had not initiated and could not control.
I will give Forrest credit for correctly stating that Discovery did not initiate the policy in this case, as it was started by TMLC. Unfortunately, Judge Jones and the plaintiffs “superb” attorneys disagree with her on this point who stated in closing arguments, “[t]his is the Discovery Institute that advised both William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell before the board voted to change the biology curriculum.” (Day 21 Pm, p. 28) Judge Jones accepted the plaintiffs’ argument and canonized into legal cannons the false history that Discovery Institute initiated Dover’s policy by writing, “The Board relied solely on legal advice from two organizations with demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions, the Discovery Institute and the TMLC.”
Thus commentators on this issue have [wrongly] stated that Discovery Institute helped Dover pass its policy and that Dover “worked with the Discovery Institute to promote the institute’s agenda of intelligent design”:
To determine the purpose of the requirement of teaching intelligent design, the judge examined the statements and actions of the members of the school board, which showed that the members who sponsored the new rule had religious motivations and worked with the Discovery Institute to promote the institute’s agenda of intelligent design, including arranging for science teachers to watch a Discovery Institute film entitled Icons of Evolution.
But of course the Icons of Evolution video is not about ID at all, but simply provides scientific critique of evolution. Former Discovery Institute employee Seth Cooper, mentioned by Judge Jones in the opinion, explained what really happened:
To be clear, prior to the filing of the lawsuit I never advised the members of the Dover Board in a privileged, attorney-client capacity. Further, I never advised members of the Dover Board to mandate the teaching of the theory of intelligent design or to adopt the ID policy at issue in the case. Rather, I strongly urged members of the Dover Board to either drop entirely the issue of alternatives to the teaching of evolution, or to only present scientific arguments both supporting and challenging the contemporary version of Darwin’s theory and the chemical evolutionary theories for the origin of the first life. The Dover Board had their own legal counsel in their Solicitor and the public-interest law firm that they later hired. Members of the Dover Board who adopted the ID policy acted completely contrary to my strongest suggestions.
But Forrest’s statement here shows that the Dover Board did not rely upon the advice of Discovery Institute. Perhaps Judge Jones was wrong and Forrest was right (more on Judge Jones misstatements of facts in the next sections).
But what about the conspiracy theory here? Forrest thinks that Discovery Institute feels that ID is unconstitutional and that it is a “legal liability” so we abandoned the case. But the reasons we recommend not requiring the teaching of ID are distinct from concerns over “legal liability” because they are policy related. This is explained in Discovery Institute’s Science Education Policy:
As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community. Furthermore, most teachers at the present time do not know enough about intelligent design to teach about it accurately and objectively.
Nonetheless, we make it clear that, “Although Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about voluntarily discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom.”
We don’t think ID is unconstitutional, but we do think it should not be required because the political climate makes it dangerous to pro-ID scientists when ID is mandated.
For example, when Scott Minnich testified as an expert witness at trial, he immediately faced harsh attacks at his home university—the University of Idaho. An evolution-only speech-code was imposed by the university president, threatening his academic freedom, and Eugenie Scott was brought in by the science faculty to single out Minnich and make him feel uncomfortable during a public lecture. All this occurred despite the fact that Minnich had never even taught his students about ID. Incidents like this threaten the research and careers of pro-ID scientists and validate our claim that the political climate makes it unsafe for school boards to mandate ID and turn it into a political debate, rather a scientific one.
But what of Dr. Forrest’s intimation that Discovery feels ID has legal problems? We submitted an extensive amicus brief arguing that ID is constitutional, and two of DI senior fellows still participated. We don’t think ID is unconstitutional.
Dr. Forrest is right that from the beginning, Discovery Institute realized that this case was a bad set of facts for teaching intelligent design: it started with a school board that didn’t even understand the theory and railroaded an unwise policy past protesting science teachers while having clear religious, and not scientific motives, for passing their ID policy. These are not the kind of cool-headed school board members who genuinely care about science education that we typically encounter. But this conspiracy theory also fails.
If Forrest wanted to know what really happened and why some witnesses chose not to testify, all she had to do was ask, or look at Discovery’s plain explanation on our website:
Mr. Thompson blames Discovery Institute for the non-participation of Discovery Institute Fellows Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and John Angus Campbell as expert witnesses on behalf of the Dover board. However, the non-participation of these scholars was due to Thomas More, which discharged them.
Meyer, Dembski and Campbell were all willing to testify as expert witnesses. They simply requested that they have their own counsel present at their depositions in order to protect their rights. Yet Thomas More would not permit this. Mr. Thompson has been quoted in media accounts as stating that to permit independent counsel to assert the witnesses’ rights would create a “conflict of interest”—a claim for which he can offer no legal justification. When the witnesses refused to proceed without legal counsel to protect them, Thomas More cancelled the deposition of Prof. Campbell and effectively fired all three expert witnesses. After dismissing its own witnesses, Thomas More made an 11th-hour offer to Dr. Meyer alone to allow him to have counsel after all. But Meyer declined the offer because the previous actions of Thomas More had undermined his confidence in their legal judgment.
Since Meyer, Dembski, and Campbell were discharged, it has been reported that two other expert witnesses for the school board have withdrawn from the case. These two witnesses are not affiliated with Discovery Institute, and Discovery Institute had nothing to do with any decisions surrounding their withdrawal.
Final Charges of Abandonment
Finally, Dr. Forrest writes that “like Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell, neither DeWolf nor Cooper was anywhere in sight when they had a chance to defend ID in court.” Is this a fair charge? Firstly, as an attorney of record for Discovery Institute, David DeWolf submitted over 80 pages of amicus briefs to Judge Jones; it seems that David DeWolf was indeed quite busy during this case. Secondly, given that Dr. Forrest admits that there was a falling out between Discovery and TMLC, one would not expect a Discovery lawyer to work on the case with TMLC in the courtroom. Thirdly, Seth Cooper was not even working at Discovery Institute during the time of the trial, as he had accepted a new job wherein he would not have been able to attend the trial, even if he had wanted. Even if Discovery was assisting TMLC in the courtroom (which they were not), Cooper would not have been there because he was no longer employed by Discovery Institute at the time the trial started.
Apart from her accurate intimation that TMLC fired John Angus Campbell, Dr. Forrest’s theories are bankrupt. They contradict one-another, betray the facts, and make unfair allegations of abandonment against people like Seth Cooper who was not even working at Discovery Institute at the time of the trial. One of her theories claims that DI fellows didn’t testify because they were scared of attorneys “armed with my work.” Her theories seem like an exercise in ego-boosting rather than anything relating to reality.
Part 7: Exposing the “Correlation = Causation” Fallacy
According to Wikipedia, a classic example of the “Correlation implies causation” logical fallacy might assert, “Sleeping with one’s shoes on is strongly correlated with waking up with a headache. Therefore, sleeping with one’s shoes on causes headache.” The way to refute this argument is to point out that it is based upon a logical fallacy which proves causation via correlation, and explain how a third explanation better accounts for the observed data than the mere “correlation.” As Wikipedia suggests, “A more plausible explanation is that both are caused by a third factor, in this case alcohol intoxication, which thereby gives rise to a correlation.” If the person arguing this logical fallacy still is not convinced, one can simply find people who slept with their shoes on and didn’t wake up with headaches. This is the same correction I provide to analyze Barbara Forrest’s rhetoric and expose the logical fallacy of her “correlation equals causation” arguments in her Kitzmiller account.
Philosopher Barbara Forrest uses “correlation = causation” arguments prolifically. In her Kitzmiller response she argued that because (1) five years ago, William Dembski apparently used the phrase “Internet stalkers” in reference to Wesley Elsberry and Richard Wein, and (2) Discovery Institute (DI) apparently called Dr. Forrest a “conspiracy theorist” in a response to her book, that when (3) Thomas More Legal Center (TMLC) wrote a brief using the words “stalker” and “conspiracy theorist,” this proved DI helped TMLC write the brief. She therefore asserts a “correlation = causation” argument regarding a motion made by TMLC before the trial to exclude her as an expert witness:
DI and TMLC had apparently overcome their differences long enough to collaborate on the accompanying brief because it contained clear evidence of DI’s input. Although I was not called as a scientific expert, the defense argued that I should be excluded because I had no scientific expertise and because I am, in their words, “little more than a conspiracy theorist and a web-surfing, ‘cyber-stalker’ of the Discovery Institute . . . and its supporters and allies.”
People who overuse “correlation = causation” arguments are sometimes called conspiracy theorists. Dr. Forrest should therefore realize that (1) different groups might independently observe that she overuses “correlation = causation” arguments in conspiracy theorist fashion, and (2) the fact is that Discovery Institute gave absolutely zero input on this brief from TMLC.
This episode illustrates the bankruptcy of Barbara Forrest’s “correlation = causation” arguments. Her arguments that the religious affiliations of ID-proponents make ID religious are similarly fallacious and bankrupt. According to Dr. Forrest, if there’s a correlation between ID proponents and religion, then religion must be the only thing causing ID. Her arguments have already been logically refuted in earlier parts of this ten-part response-series, showing that religious beliefs of ID-proponents don’t matter when assessing whether ID is science (Part II and Part III) and that motives of ID-proponents don’t matter (Part IV) when assessing whether ID is science.
When assessing whether a given claim is scientific, all that matters is that an empirically-based scientific methodology of knowing is given to back the claim. Alleging that a claim is religious and unscientific because of (a) the larger philosophical implications of the claim, (b) the religious beliefs of the claimant, (c) the motives of the claimant, or (d) some historical relationship between certain types of religious persons and that claim uses an irrelevant argument. Evolutionists should consider this carefully because intelligent design and evolution are methodologically equivalent: Any argument invoking (a) through (d) to disqualify intelligent design from being science would similarly disqualify evolution from being science, if the facts and the argument were applied fairly.
But if Barbara Forrest still isn’t convinced, a clearer way to refute her argument may be to ask, “What religious reason did the atheist Antony Flew have to say, ‘[i]t now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design’?” The answer is none, because intelligent design is an empirical argument that anyone can take seriously regardless of their religious beliefs. This demonstrates adherence to intelligent design without any correlation to religion, unambiguously refuting her argument. The actual cause for support of intelligent design must therefore be something other than mere religion: the cause is the scientific data of biological complexity.
Sadly, Dr. Forrest’s “correlation = causation” arguments were foundational to the plaintiffs’ case in Kitzmiller. Not only did they use her arguments about the religious beliefs of ID-proponents, but in one egregious instance, plaintiffs attacked Scott Minnich during cross-examination because a diagram from a creationist publication had long ago made arguments about the unevolvability of the bacterial flagellum, and also contained a flagellum diagram similar to the one Minnich used in court. Minnich simply replied that he’d never seen the creationist publication, and explained where he got his diagram: “Right, and again this [my diagram] is, this picture is out of a biochemistry textbook, Voet and Voet.” Thus, I reported:
Voet and Voet of course is a widely used secular textbook in biochemistry. So, if the plaintiffs’ insinuations have any constitutional meaning then the implication that if a creationist document says something, and then you say the same thing, then what you have said is therefore religious and unconstitutional. Teachers who use Voet and Voet should watch out for the ACLU – you might be next!
These fallacious “correlation = causation” arguments need to be put to rest, so that the teaching of evolution and other science, like Voet and Voet, does not come under threat.
Part 8: Important Facts Left Out About ID Research
In her Kitzmiller account, Barbara Forrest leaves out information about the scientific research supporting ID, claiming “creationists are executing every phase except producing scientific data to support ID.” Ignoring her usage of the “creationist” label, Dr. Forrest’s argument mimics that of Judge Jones. Both Dr. Forrest and Judge Jones ignored the testimony provided in the courtroom during the Kitzmiller trial by Scott Minnich about his own experiments which demonstrate the irreducible complexity of the flagellum. Amazingly, Judge Jones then wrote that “ID has not been the subject of testing or research” (p. 64 of online version).
The best way to refute Judge Jones / Barbara Forrest’s claim is to let the reader see the testimony of Scott Minnich. Minnich is a pro-ID microbiologist who testified as follows on the next-to-last-day of the trial about his own research and experimentation into the irreducibly complex nature of the bacterial flagellum:
Q. Do you know employ principles and concepts from intelligent design in your work?
A. I do.
Q. And I’d like for you to explain that further. I know you’re prepared several slides to do that.
A. Sure. All right. I work on the bacterial flagellum, understanding the function of the bacterial flagellum for example by exposing cells to mutagenic compounds or agents, and then scoring for cells that have attenuated or lost motility. This is our phenotype. The cells can swim or they can’t. We mutagenize the cells, if we hit a gene that’s involved in function of the flagellum, they can’t swim, which is a scorable phenotype that we use. Reverse engineering is then employed to identify all these genes. We couple this with biochemistry to essentially rebuild the structure and understand what the function of each individual part is. Summary, it is the process more akin to design that propelled biology from a mere descriptive science to an experimental science in terms of employing these techniques.
So it was inoculated right here, and over about twelve hours it’s radiated out from that point of inoculant. Here is this same derived from that same parental clone, but we have a transposon, a jumping gene inserted into a rod protein, part of the drive shaft for the flagellum. It can’t swim. It’s stuck, all right? This one is a mutation in the U joint. Same phenotype. So we collect cells that have been mutagenized, we stick them in soft auger, we can screen a couple of thousand very easily with a few undergraduates, you know, in a day and look for whether or not they can swim.
We have a mutation in a drive shaft protein or the U joint, and they can’t swim. Now, to confirm that that’s the only part that we’ve affected, you know, is that we can identify this mutation, clone the gene from the wild type and reintroduce it by mechanism of genetic complementation. So this is, these cells up here are derived from this mutant where we have complemented with a good copy of the gene. One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.
(Kitzmiller Transcript of Testimony of Scott Minnich pp. 99-108, Nov. 3, 2005, emphasis added)
During this testimony, Scott Minnich showed slides in the courtroom documenting his own research experiments, which performed knockout experiments upon the flagellum, and found that the flagellum is irreducibly complex. Minnich produced relevant experimental data which confirmed a prediction made by intelligent design, and he used this research to support intelligent design in the courtroom. Yet Dr. Forrest completely ignored this testimony, as did Judge Jones, who did not even mention it in the Kitzmiller ruling. Given the testimony of an expert witnesses’s own personal experiments which was directly presented before him, it is incredible that Judge Jones could write “ID has not been the subject of testing or research.”
Part 9: The Kitzmiller Double-Standard for ID and Evolution on Peer-Review
Barbara Forrest writes that leading ID proponents have “blustering cowardice … who must capture support with brazen deceit and sarcastic punditry.” Ironically, she later attacks Discovery Institute’s critique of the Kitzmiller ruling, claiming it had “nastiness.” In response to her inconsistent argument, Dr. Forrest would likely respond that her attacks are justified based upon the evidence she presents in her article. (I’m not conceding that her ad hominem attacks are justified, I’m just describing how she would respond.) Yet our simple claim that Judge Jones got some important facts wrong in the ruling is not just an assertion we’ve invented because we have something against Judge Jones. It’s based upon careful analysis of the facts as they were stated in the opinion. I’ve already discussed one example in this series responding to Barbara Forrest. The claim that ID “has not generated peer-reviewed publications” (page 64 of online version) is false, as seen by looking at two examples of pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific papers that were discussed at trial.
Stephen C. Meyer’s Paper
Dr. Forrest testified that she “did a key word and subject searches for peer reviewed articles in science journals using intelligent design as a biological theory” and “found nothing.” (Day 6 pm testimony, pp. 32-33) Perhaps that’s true, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the complete story because she later conceded that there were peer-reviewed papers arguing for intelligent design—namely, Stephen Meyer’s article. (For a good discussion of the Darwinist response to Meyer’s paper, see “The Stricture of Scientific Resolutions” by Mark Hartwig.) But she dismissed Stephen Meyer’s peer-reviewed paper in Proceedings for the Biological Society of Washington because it supposedly “contains no new data” and it’s a “review essay.”
Judge Jones was actually presented with a number of papers which support intelligent design during the trial. Discovery Institute submitted an amicus brief which was accepted by Judge Jones listing some peer-reviewed papers, including Meyer’s. But the evidence was also directly in the testimonial record, through the testimony of Scott Minnich, who testified about various pro-ID peer-reviewed papers:
I think yesterday there was, as I mentioned, there were around, between, I don’t know, seven and ten. I don’t have the specific ones. But Dr. Axe published one or two papers in the journal Biological Chemistry that were specifically addressing concepts within intelligent design. Mike Behe had one. Steve Meyer has had one. So, you know, I think the argument that you’re not publishing in peer reviewed literature was valid. Now there are a couple out there. How many do we have to publish before it is in the literature and being evaluated? I mean, do we have to have 25? 50? I mean, give me a number.
(Minnich Testimony, Day 21, AM, p. 34)
If Judge Jones knew about Meyer’s peer-reviewed pro-ID article, why did he make absolutely no mention of the paper in the ruling, but instead made explicit findings which implied it doesn’t exist? Is it because it was a “review essay” as Forrest says? Judge Jones accepted a review article offered by the plaintiffs entitled “The Origin of New Genes: Glimpses From the Young and Old” (by Manyuan Long, et al., Nature Reviews Genetics (4):865-875 (Nov., 2003)),” claiming that it provided peer-reviewed evidence for “the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes.” (page 86 of online version) Either Judge Jones applied a double-standard to pro-ID vs. pro-evolution papers as regards peer-review, or he wrongly ignored Meyer’s paper.
Michael Behe and David Snoke’s Protein Science Paper
Michael Behe also testified about his peer-reviewed article with David Snoke in Protein Science. At least here Judge Jones did not ignore this paper completely, but he dismissed it as irrelevant in a footnote because he said it “does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID.” (page 88 of online version)
Yet Behe and Snoke’s paper clearly does bear on the topic of the origin of irreducible complexity in protein-protein interactions. Again, a double-standard comes into play: Judge Jones claimed that the aforementioned review paper entitled “The Origin of New Genes: Glimpses From the Young and Old” accounted for “the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes” in a peer-reviewed scientific publication. Yet the body of Long et al.’s review article does not even contain the word “information,” much less the phrase “new genetic information.” The word “information” appears once in the entire article—in the title of reference #103.
The lack of the phrases “irreducible complexity” or “ID” in Behe’s paper does not mean the peer-reviewed paper does not clearly support ID arguments, just like the lack of the phrase “new genetic information” or the word “information” in Long et al.’s review paper does not mean it doesn’t try to address how new genetic information evolves. Once again, it seems Judge Jones applied a double-standard to pro-evolution vs. pro-ID papers as regards peer-review, and he misstated the facts on this matter.
Part 10: Misplaced Praise
In her Kitzmiller response, she wrote that Judge Jones’ ruling is “a marvel of clarity and forthrightness.” Of course she’s entitled to her opinion, but perhaps she should have given more credit to the ACLU, who contributed greatly to the arguments, concepts, and even the verbatim wording on the Kitzmiller ruling’s section on whether ID is science. See this report for details.