[Editor’s Note: This review of Monkey Girl was originally posted as a series of posts on Evolution News & Views. The original articles can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.]
“Silly and misleading. Rather like Casey Luskin’s blather.”
—Edward Humes, in his apparently only comments in response to this extensive review of Monkey Girl
Any book with an icon of evolution on its cover — in this case, the fanciful diagram of ape-like skeletons transitioning into a human skeleton — is bound to be unfriendly towards intelligent design (ID). When I received my copy of Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul (Harper Collins, 2007), Edward Humes’ book about the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, I expected no less. Humes’ FAQ on evolution and ID on his website made the incredibly bold claim, “There is more scientific evidence … to support evolutionary theory than … gravitational theory.” What I did not expect to find in Humes’ book were dozens of inaccurate claims about the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial and extensive name-calling and ad hominem attacks against intelligent design proponents. This isn’t upsetting—just surprising given that it comes from a book that is being touted as an objective and accurate historical treatment of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial.
In early 2007, I wrote a three-part series of blog posts where I discussed how Humes misrepresented himself when trying to convince me to do an interview with him for Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul. (That series of prequels can be found at the following links: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.) When Humes first contacted me in 2006, he declared his commitment to non-partisan and objective journalism (he later refused to give me permission to quote directly from his original emails). Humes’ defensive posture immediately alerted me that something was awry, so I declined to do an interview. It turned out my instincts were correct: Edward Humes was not interested in non-partisan journalism regarding the evolution debate. He created a website about Monkey Girl, which had many inaccurate and highly partisan claims, like, “There is more scientific evidence, laboratory testing and direct observation to support evolutionary theory than virtually any other scientific theory, including gravitational theory,” calling ID a “form of creationism,” and saying ID “posits a supernatural process.” It would be hard to imagine a less-partisan treatment of evolution. At the end of that series of blog posts, before I received Humes’ book, I wrote the following:
At this point, I’ve recounted Humes’ glowing praise from only hardline Darwinists, his partisan and inaccurate FAQ, and the fact that he changed his FAQ in response to my emails and then did not disclose key changes while accusing me of misstating the FAQ. Yet Humes originally came to me soliciting an interview claiming to be fair and neutral.
Some readers may choose to believe that Humes developed his views while he wrote the book and was forthright towards me. Unsurprisingly, that is what Humes claims, and Humes’ Darwinist reviewers will certainly take that line in his defense. And if that’s the case, Humes could simply make his book proposal public, because that should reveal whether he really was non-partisan when he researched his book. That would certainly lay my suspicions to rest. But Humes continues to refuse to make his book proposal public. Other readers may wonder what Humes is hiding in the book proposal.
Regardless, there is no doubt that Humes is now a complete partisan (who believes evolution is better supported than gravity) and that he is promoting much false information about ID.
Because Discovery Institute was unable to obtain a review copy of Humes’ book, I had to order it off Amazon, and I have not yet received the book (somehow many Darwinist bloggers already have copies, as they’ve reviewed [it] for Humes on his blog). Perhaps after the book arrives, further commentary can be made about it. Meanwhile, I’m sure Edward Humes won’t complain too much about the free publicity we’re giving him. After all, you know what they say…
Soon after that posting, I received my copy of Monkey Girl from Amazon and started working on a fairly lengthy review of the book. Because the book had so many inaccurate statements, what started off as a review soon became a time-consuming rebuttal. Unfortunately, in the middle of working on that review/rebuttal of Monkey Girl, my hard drive severely crashed (an IT friend told me it was the worst hard drive meltdown he’d seen), and I also came down with a severe illness. For a while this project fell by the wayside. But recently I’ve had a couple people e-mailing me, citing Monkey Girl as a supposed objective, authoritative source of information on intelligent design. As a result, I decided to shorten my former review into this rebuttal.
People behave as if the fact that Edward Humes once won a Pulitzer prize (for a different work, mind you), that therefore Monkey Girl is an impartial and inerrant work. As someone who has been closely involved in the ID movement for years and who observed much of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in person, it would be a grave mistake to cite Monkey Girl as a non-partisan — or even accurate — source of information on ID or the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. In fact, at many points it simply parrots Darwinist talking points and retells many of their patently false urban legends about the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, leaving out crucial facts which contradict common Darwinist claims. Humes says in his book, “if the evolution wars are to continue, let the combatants be armed with facts, not fiction.” (pg. viii.) That sounds good to me. But Humes’ book comes off more like advocacy than an objective evaluation of the facts.
In response to some of these e-mails about Monkey Girl, I decided to dig up my prior review of Humes’ book, shorten it, and highlight some of the main points of my review. Because most of Humes’ inaccurate claims about ID have been answered in various other writings, my review of Monkey Girl will consist primarily of short descriptions of his false claims combined with links to articles that address his false statements. This response will come in six segments.
Part I: Inaccuraces In Monkey Girl Relating to Intelligent Design:
- Repeating the rhetoric of ID-critics like Eugenie Scott, Humes implies that ID proponents try to deceitfully hide their true views about the identity of the designer. He states, “There is a bit of a nod and a wink to this, as everyone involved knows that they’re talking about—or more precisely, not talking about—God…” (pg. xiii) In true conspiracy-theorist fashion, Humes contends that “[i]n private, and among true believers, however, the ‘wedge warriors’ admitted that the designer virtually all of them were referring to was the Christian God.” (pg. 71 ) Such claims and insinuations that ID proponents lie about their actual views about the identity of the designer are betrayed by the facts. For details on refutations of this common but false claim, see “Principled (not Rhetorical) Reasons Why Intelligent Design Doesn’t Identify the Designer” and “ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural.”
- One of the most pernicious aspects of Monkey Girl is its extensive use of caricaturing, consistently indulging stereotypes that portray Darwin-skeptics as “yahoos, religious zealots, and scientifically suspect charlatans” (p. 28) while portraying evolutionists as interesting, intelligent, and cool scientists. I have no objections to Humes’ positive portrayals of evolutionists, but it’s difficult to believe Humes’ complaints about stereotyping when his selection and portrayal of pro-ID characters encourages the reader to accept those negative stereotypes about Darwin-skeptics. For example, Humes contrasts a favorable description of a theistic evolutionist geologist with a fundamentalist preacher who preaches that it’s “a sin (not to mention tasteless, unpatriotic, and downright rude)” (p. 21) to accept evolution. Humes characterizes the preacher as close-minded, saying, “the devil with Charles Darwin. Literally.” (pg. 22) Humes gives inordinate amounts of print-space to discussing other extremist examples like the “creationist evangelist” Kent Hovind. Humes admits that Hovind is “probably the last person with whom advocates of design at the Discovery Institute would wish to see their cause associated.” (pg. 67) That may be true, which makes it highly suspicious that Humes spends so much time to discussing Hovind in a book about intelligent design. For details on these “Inherit the Wind Stereotypes,” see Phillip Johnson, “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds,” and for commentary about Monkey Girl‘s use of stereotyping, see Reasonable Kansans blogs at http://reasonablekansans.blogspot.com/2007/03/just-thinking.html and http://reasonablekansans.blogspot.com/2007/03/finished-reading-monkey-girl.html.
- Humes claims that ID “requires a belief that the empirical evidence … shows that the complexity of life cannot be explained without the intervention of some sort of master designer” (p. xiii) and supports the view that “ID is a supernatural, religious idea.” (p. 344) He also insinuates that intelligent design evolved from “creationism” after the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, ignoring the actual history of intelligent design, which shows that it is a project that has always been distinct from creationism because it aims to make its case entirely within the empirical domain. Each of these claims by Humes’ are false recapitulations of typical Darwinist talking points against ID. For more details, please see “ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural.”
- To further his stereotyping and encourage the reader to follow his free-association arguments, Humes engages in tenuous and irrelevant discussions of young earth creationist leaders to try to tie Michael Behe and Discovery Institute to creationism. After discussing Behe, Humes immediately writes that “Henry Morris, a civil engineer with a preacher’s heart, who would later found the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, blazed the trail for Behe with a first attempt to establish ‘creation science.’” (p. 133) But Behe and the vast majority of leaders in the ID movement are not young earth creationists. Humes tries to get around that fact by thinking that if he mentions young earth creationism (YEC) and ID enough times in the same sections, that somehow the reader will be gullible enough make free-association connections between the two groups, even if Humes offers the reader no actual logical connections. If only Humes were forthright enough to admit, Eugenie Scott did, that “most ID proponents do not embrace a Young Earth, Flood Geology, and sudden creation tenets associated with YEC.”
- As another example of his free-association arguments between ID and YEC, Humes tries to connect Henry Morris to Discovery Institute, saying that both claim “that scientists are engaged in a vast conspiracy to prop up evolutionary theory and to conceal divine origins.” (p. 136) Where does Humes get this false idea that we promote such a “conspiracy” theory? He doesn’t say. This seems to be more imaginative journalism on the part of Humes, who gives no documentation whatsoever to back up his claim that Discovery Institute postulates such an outlandish “vast conspiracy” theory. For details on Behe’s actual views on creationism, see his article, “Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism.”
Part II: Inaccuracies in Monkey Girl Regarding Attacks upon Discovery Institute:
- Humes attacks Discovery Institute by selectively quoting from the “wedge document” and making no mention of its scientific goals: “To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of the theory,” and “To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.” Humes also fails to observe the document seeks to end misuses of science to promote philosophical claims, and that leading Darwinists in fact have expressed their own ideological motives for promoting evolution. For a response on the “Wedge Document,” see “The ‘Wedge Document’: ‘So What’?.” For details on why it is a fallacious argument for Darwinists to cite the alleged religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents in an effort to attack ID, see “Any larger philosophical implications of intelligent design, or any religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents, do not disqualify ID from having scientific merit.”
- Humes relies extensively upon the arguments of Barbara Forrest in her book Creationism’s Trojan Horse, discussing the alleged religious motives and beliefs of ID-proponents. Humes fails to treat the issue fairly and he fails to recognize that Barbara Forrest’s fallacious “Trojan Horse” insinuations could apply equally to his own side. For more information, please see “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part III: Do Religious (or Anti-Religious) Beliefs Matter?,” “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part IV: The “Wedge Document,” and “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part V: Phillip Johnson and Of Pandas and People.”
- Through more free-association arguments, Humes tries to link Discovery Institute to fellows to theocracy. While discussing various Discovery fellows, he mentions some unrelated senator who allegedly “believes America should be transformed into a Bible-based theocracy” (pg. 144). In another section, Humes mentions a preacher who defended Dover and allegedly looked forward to a day where “there will be no separation between church and state” and “[w]e will live in a theocracy” (pg. 20). Humes’ theocracy insinuations are flatly false conspiracy theories (for details, see “The Truth about Discovery Institute and Theoracy”), and his irrelevant discussion of the beliefs and motives of design-proponents reveals his usage of a double-standard: Humes never mentions the fact that many leading Darwinists have equal but opposite anti-religious beliefs and motives which would disqualify evolution from being science if his arguments were applied fairly. If Humes were to be fair, he would have to recognize that his side’s own philosophical and ideological affiliations would disqualify Darwinian evolution from being scientific. For more details, see “Any larger philosophical implications of intelligent design, or any religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents, do not disqualify ID from having scientific merit.”
- Recapitulating Darwinist talking points and parroting Chris Mooney’s rhetoric in The Republican War on Science, Humes claims that Discovery Institute has “manufactured an evolutionary scientific controversy that previously did not exist” (pg. 71). There are some glaring problems with Humes’ conspiracy theory, namely that it’s impossible to “manufacture” 700+ Ph.D. scientists who are skeptical of neo-Darwinism’s central claims. Nor is it possible to simply “manufacture” books published by prestigious academic presses like Cambridge University Press, Michigan State University Press, or MIT Press, giving space to scientists and scholars to debate evolution and intelligent design. Nor is it possible to simply “manufacture” numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles challenging key aspects of modern evolutionary theory or supporting intelligent design. To give one of many examples, in 2004 pro-ID biochemist Michael Behe and physicist David Snoke published in the journal Protein Science the results of their evolution simulations showing certain protein-protein interactions could not evolve within normal eukaryotic population sizes. An evolutionary biologist then wrote a response to Behe and Snoke’s article. (See Michael Lynch, “Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins,” Protein Science, Vol. 14:2217-2225 (2005).) Behe and Snoke then responded to Lynch (see Protein Science, Vol. 14:2226-2227(2005).) If this isn’t evidence of a scientific debate and controversy over evolution, what is? For the list of scientists who doubt Darwinism, see “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” and for a partial list of peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific papers, see “Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated).” For a further response on the claim that Discovery Institute has somehow managed to “manufacture” a controversy over evolution, see “Whose “War” Is It, Anyway?: Exposing Chris Mooney’s Attack on Intelligent Design.”
- Humes tries to paint Discovery Institute as having changed its science education policy since Dover, insinuating that prior to Dover, Discovery supported districts that would mandate ID. His example, however, is our support for an individual teacher who taught about ID — not a school district policy. This example does not challenge our policy, for Discovery’s clearly-stated science education policy supports individual teachers who teach ID at their own discretion in a safe environment, as it states, “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.” That’s all this teacher did: voluntarily discuss ID without any requirement from his district. But as far back as 2002, when Discovery Institute got involved in its first major public policy battle, in Ohio, Stephen Meyer wrote: “First, I suggested—speaking as an advocate of the theory of intelligent design—that Ohio not require students to know the scientific evidence and arguments for the theory of intelligent design…” For more information, see “Discovery Institute’s Science Education Policy.” For a discussion of Discovery Institute’s history of opposing attempts to mandate ID, see “Rebuttal to Irons,” and see Stephen C. Meyer’s “Teach the Controversy” (March 30, 2002).
- Humes attempts to impugn the integrity of the Discovery Institute’s former staff attorney Seth Cooper, who had communication with the Dover School Board before they passed their ID-policy, by insinuating that Cooper actually tried to convince Dover to push ID into its curriculum. Humes is confused about the facts and relying upon inaccurate and untrustworthy sources. Cooper explained what really happened: “I also made clear to Buckingham that Discovery Institute does not support the mandating of the theory of intelligent design. … In the hopes of persuading Buckingham away from leading the Dover Board on any unconstitutional and unwise course of action concerning the teaching of evolution, I sent Buckingham a DVD titled Icons of Evolution, along with a companion study guide. Those materials do not include arguments for the theory of intelligent design, but instead contain critiques of textbook treatments of the contemporary version of Darwin’s theory and the chemical origin of the first life.” Humes also explains that Cooper sent Buckingham the Icons of Evolution DVD, but fails to acknowledge that the Icons of Evolution video is not about intelligent design. To contradict Cooper, Humes relies upon Bill Buckingham, a Dover school board member who alleges that Cooper told Dover to teach ID and claims that later Cooper became “a rat jumping from a sinking ship.” Humes tells the story so as to favor Buckingham’s account, but he has no evidence other than Buckingham’s inaccurate history. It should be noted that Humes is asking the reader to disregard the perspective of an attorney who has worked in this field for many years and instead trust a board member (Buckingham) whom Judge Jones said in his ruling “testified inconsistently, or lied outright under oath” and is therefore “not credible.” For more details, see “Statement by Seth L. Cooper Concerning Discovery Institute and the Decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board Intelligent Design Case.” Further discussion can be seen at “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover” and “Rebuttal to Irons.”
- Humes tries to paint Discovery Institute as having changed its tune in Dover over whether Dover should mandate ID. But statements issued by Discovery Institute — before Dover passed its ID-policy, before the ACLU filed its lawsuit, and at the time the lawsuit was filed — each consistently opposed the mandatory teaching of intelligent design. The Institute was consistent in its position in Dover, and the picture painted by Humes does not fit the facts. For details, see “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover” and “Rebuttal to Irons.”
Part III: Edwards Humes’ One-Sided Attacks and Double-Standard Used against ID proponents Regarding Name-Calling:
Humes tries to paint the Darwinists as if they are the only ones who are victims of personal attacks in the debate over ID and evolution. Anyone who even remotely follows this issue on the internet realizes that namecalling can be a problem on both sides, but that Darwinists are the ones who overwhelmingly participate in personal attacks against ID proponents.
Humes quotes a couple ID proponents who apparently said nasty things about Darwinists, such as one legislator who apparently “offered a chilling comment likening anyone who thought differently to the murderous terrorists of 9/11.” (pg. 207) While it is terrible, to be sure, when anyone engages in such personal attacks, Humes fails to observe the fact that ID proponents are subjected to personal attacks that vastly outweigh those received by Darwinists. In fact, ID proponents are also regularly compared to terrorists, or the “Taliban,” by Darwinists who make such comparisons with a straight face. Such comparisons come not just from hyperbolic politicians with an agenda (like the example Humes gives) but from serious academics and journalists. Even a front page New York Times article in 2005 acknowledged that Discovery Institute “is also fending off attacks from the left, as critics liken it to… the Taliban.” The article had good reason for making that claim, because many ID critics compare ID proponents to terrorists or the Taliban:
- University of Texas law and philosophy professor Brian Leiter calls Darwin-skeptics on the Texas State Board of Education the “Texas Taliban” who are “committed to making the law of (their) God the law of the land.”
- On PandasThumb, University of Minnesota, Morris biologist P.Z. Myers (whose book endorsement Humes once boasted about on the Monkey Girl website) calls the current head of the Texas State Board of Education, Don McLeroy, a “deranged creationist” with a URL that reads “fire-don-mclero.” This led to outcries among readers that McLeroy is part of the “Texas Taliban theocrats in action … the difference between the Texas crowd and the Afghani Taliban or the Ayatollohs of Iraq, Sudan, or Saudi Arabia is…not much. They haven’t beheaded anyone in Texas. Yet. The first one will be either a biology teacher or a lawyer from the ACLU.”
- Austin Cline of About.com follows Leiter’s lead, asking, “Texas Taliban Becoming a Role Model?”
- Perhaps nowhere, however, have the terrorist and Taliban comparisons been more common than in the battle over the 2005 Kansas Science Standards that critiqued evolution. A user at the Physorg, a prominent physics news website, warned that “[t]he American Taliban is on the march in Kansas and if the scientific community does nothing they will take over our childrens education.” Similarly, at the popular science website Bad Astronomy, one user rejoiced, “In a week, the Kansas Science Taliban loses its majority on the State Board of Education, and life will return to something like normalcy.” A commenter at Newscloud.com stated, “American taliban on Kansas school board pushed out in elections.” Another blogger discussing Kansas’ evolution education said, “The know-nothings are really on the march, in so many ways…. but that doesn’t mean deliberately turning our schools into another arm of the American Taliban’s war on reality.”
- Ohio Citizens for Science, a pro-Darwin-only activist group in Ohio, boasts a letter from Reverend Mark Belletini of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus where he states that critical analysis of evolution is “quasi-religious pap that legalized church terrorism conducted by leaders of our local Ohio ‘Taliban’ permits teachers to teach.” He argues that those who supported Ohio’s critical analysis policy are “religious terrorists.”
- A Slate.com reporter commenting on the Ohio evolution debate even noted that, “According to scientists, teachers, and civil libertarians, the Taliban has invaded Ohio.”
- When there was a political battle over teaching evolution in South Carolina, an award-winning blogger stated, “The American Taliban is at it again, pressuring lawmakers to teach creationism alongside bona fide, indisputable, solid science.” Similarly, a commenter at Pandasthumb said that intelligent design is “the American version of the Taliban in action.” Another commenter said that the only difference between Osama Bin Laden and a creationist is that “Osama is relatively honest.” Another commenter called ID proponent Howard Ahmanson “a mentally ill bigot who was born with a $300 million platinum spoon in his mouth” and “a religious lunatic of the sort that would make Osama bin Laden look reasonable.”Many of these examples come from PandasThumb, and it should be noted that on his Monkey Girl website, Humes recommends PandasThumb as “The leading evolution (and Intelligent Design criticism) blog.”
On a personal note, I am familiar with these kinds of attacks. In one single forum at Antievolution.org, created and owned by a former National Center for Science Education staff member, I have been called no less than “Bizarre ignoramus,” “retarded,” “suck-up,” “Pathetic Loser,” “attack mouse, gerbil, rat, or clockwork powered plush toy,” “an orc,” “Annoying,” “a miserable loser with no life,” “an idiot,” “dishonest,” “ignorant cheap poxied floozie,” “fanatic and lunatic,” “A proven liar,” “incompetent,” and many other far more colorful attacks which are probably best left unprinted here on Evolution News and Views.
I don’t list this example to complain — I happily forgive those who have attacked me, and in fact my main response to this behavior is sadness for how it brings the ID-evolution debate down into the gutter. Rather, I mention this example to point out that this example alone finds no counterpart anywhere in the ways that ID proponents have treated Darwinists. The internet Darwinist track record of name-calling against ID proponents speaks for itself, and Humes has portrayed the general nature of personal and ad hominem attacks in this issue exactly backwards from reality.
It is a travesty when anyone — whether a supporter of evolution or ID — is attacked in a mean-spirited fashion in this debate. Humes aims to shock his readers with how evolutionists are treated, while taking no interest in reporting how ID proponents are treated—which is dramatically worse than the treatment of Darwinists. This shows his partisan bias against ID proponents.
Hypocritically, Humes himself engages in much mud-slinging against ID proponents and Discovery Institute, calling them “combativ[e], “running scared,” “angry,” “cocky,” “co[y],” and “masters of anti-evolution spin.” In particular, Humes engages in name-calling in response to Traipsing Into Evolution, our rebuttal to the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling, calling it the “rant of a sore loser” and claiming it was an “an adaptation of angry Internet postings” where we “just made [things] up” and engaged in “complete fabrication.” (He never identifies the “angry Internet postings,” so it’s hard to take this attack seriously, and it seems that he makes this claim to gloss over Traipsing‘s scholarly nature, with 50+ citations to legal cases, 30+ citations to pro-ID scientific references, 25+ citations to non-ID scientific references, and about 30 citations to transcripts and briefs related to Kitzmiller.) Another false claim was Humes’ statement that our book says that “[Judge] Jones has an oversize ego.” Where did we say this in our book? We made no such claim.
For a very small sampling of just some of the attacks we at Discovery Institute received post-Kitzmiller, see “For Many Darwinists, It’s Always Winter and Never Christmas.”
Part IV: Mistakes in Edward Humes’ Attacks in Monkey Girl on Traipsing Into Evolution:
- My first hint that Humes was stretching for ways to attack our book Traipsing Into Evolution came when he complained about the definition we gave for the word “traipse” (a word Judge Jones used in his ruling) at the beginning of the book. Our definition came from a 1982 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary as “[t]o walk about idly or intrusively.” Apparently for Humes, that definition is too old, and the definition of “traipse” has changed in the past 25 years. For the record, the definition of “traipse” hasn’t changed. The 2006 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary uses a near-identical definition (“To walk or tramp about; gad”) and Random House Unabridged Dictionary, published in 2006, defines “traipse” as “to walk or go aimlessly or idly without finding or reaching one’s goal.” It seems that Humes was a little too eager to attack our book.
- Humes then develops much harsher attacks against the book, claiming that Traipsing Into Evolution made a “complete fabrication” by claiming that Judge Jones tried to “conflat[e] ID with fundamentalism.” Since Humes apparently doesn’t want to acknowledge how Judge Jones tried to connect ID to fundamentalism in the Kitzmiller ruling, I’ll trace the connection clearly and show that our claim was not “fabricated” at all. In the Kitzmiller ruling, Judge Jones wrote that “opposition [to evolution] grew out of a religious tradition, Christian Fundamentalism,” and he then went on to show that creation science was tied to Fundamentalism, stating, “The terms ‘creation science’ and ‘scientific creationism’ have been adopted by these Fundamentalists as descriptive of their study of creation and the origins of Man.” He then tried to explicitly tie ID to Genesis-based creationism, stating that “ID is a form of creationism [because] ID uses the same, or exceedingly similar arguments as were posited in support of creationism … the words ‘God,’ ‘creationism,’ and ‘Genesis’ have been systematically purged from ID explanations,” and therefore “ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism,” and “ID is a form of creationism.” The connection that Judge Jones tried to make is simplistic (and false, when one digs deeper): Judge Jones tied fundamentalism to creation science, then he tried to tie ID to creationism. He did this for legal purposes because he wanted to conclude that the Dover School Board’s promotion of ID arguments would, in the eyes of Dover community members, endorse “fundamentalism.” Thus, Jones specifically argued that under the endorsement test, Dover’s ID policy would ‘‘communicat[e] to those who endorse evolution that they are political outsiders, while communicat[ing] to the Christian fundamentalists and creationists who pushed for a disclaimer that they are political insiders.”The word “conflate” means “to bring together” — and that’s exactly what Judge Jones tried to do with respect to ID and fundamentalism. He did it for legal purposes so that supporting one could be seen as endorsing the other. Humes’ harsh attacks on Traipsing Into Evolution are false, and it certainly cannot be fairly argued that our claim was a “complete fabrication.” Can that same charge be made against Humes’ false accusations against the book?For a refutation of Judge Jones’ false history of ID, see Traipsing Into Evolution, “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover,” or “ID Does Not Address Religious Claims About the Supernatural.”
- Humes’ one real substantive critique of Traipsing Into Evolution is his listing of about 4 or 5 different types of arguments to claim that ID requires supernatural creation, thereby arguing that Traipsing Into Evolution “fails to address” (pg. 344) the evidence Judge Jones cited on this point in the Kitzmiller ruling. In contrast, it is Humes and Judge Jones who are “failing to address” the evidence and arguments we raised in Traipsing Into Evolution — evidence which was also put before Judge Jones.Humes’ weak examples include: (1) Out-of-context quotations from Michael Behe where Humes tries to switch philosophical implications of ID with the actual scientific content of the theory; (2) Comments by Behe about the definition of science which had NOTHING to do with claiming ID was supernatural; (3) False claims that Scott Minnich said that the ground rules of science had to be changed for ID to be considered science; (4) Irrelevant comments by Steve Fuller and William Dembski attacking methodological naturalism, and (5) Irrelevant comments about Of Pandas and People (Pandas) that ignore what Pandas actually said. I’ll treat each one of these arguments separately:1. Humes’ Out-of-context quotations from Michael Behe: Humes observes that Behe said that it is “implausible that the designer is a natural entity,” but this small snippet is a quotation that is taken grossly out-of-context. The citation is to where Behe is writing in a PHILOSOPHY journal about the philosophical implications of ID, where he is arguing that, on a philosophical level, there must be a regress back to some non-natural designer. Behe thinks such a regress can be made on a philosophical level, but he’s not making a scientific argument, nor is he discussing the actual scientific conclusions of ID. In fact, Humes ignores that Behe’s same article leaves open the possibility that, philosophically, humans were directly designed by a natural designer, as Behe states: “I should add that there is nothing in the previous reasoning to rule out the hypothesis that we terrestrials were designed by a natural designer which was itself designed by a supernatural designer, or that there was a series of designers between the supernatural one and us, or some variation of this. It simply means that at the beginning of the chain, input from beyond nature was required.”In his response to Judge Jones’ ruling, Behe explained that the court blatantly misrepresented his views, and the theory of ID, because this quote was simply looking at the philosophical implications of ID:
“Again, repeatedly, the Court’s opinion ignores the distinction between an implication of a theory and the theory itself. If I think it is implausible that the cause of the Big Bang was natural, as I do, that does not make the Big Bang Theory a religious one, because the theory is based on physical, observable data and logical inferences. The same is true for ID.”
(Michael Behe, “Whether Intelligent Design is Science: A Response to the Opinion of the Court in Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District”)
Additionally, Humes ignores the fact that Behe has clearly explained in multiple places that the scientific theory of intelligent design does not require the supernatural:
“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, pg. 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. Thus while I argue for design, the question of the identity of the designer is left open. Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel—fallen or not; Plato’s demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being. Of course, some of these possibilities may seem more plausible than others based on information from fields other than science. Nonetheless, as regards the identity of the designer, modern ID theory happily echoes Isaac Newton’s phrase hypothesis non fingo.
(Michael Behe, “The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis,” Philosophia Christi, Series 2, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2001), pg. 165, emphasis added.)
“most people (including myself) will attribute the design to God—based in part on other, non-scientific judgments they have made—I did not claim that the biochemical evidence leads ineluctably to a conclusion about who the designer is. In fact, I directly said that, from a scientific point of view, the question remains open. … The biochemical evidence strongly indicates design, but does not show who the designer was”
(Michael Behe, “Philosophical Objections to Intelligent Design: Response to Critics,” http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_philosophicalobjectionsresponse.htm)
So Behe has been very clear that intelligent design itself does not require a supernatural designer. In fact, he gave clear and direct testimony at the trial, which Judge Jones ignored, explaining that ID does not require the supernatural:
Q. So is it accurate for people to claim or to represent that intelligent design holds that the designer was God? Behe: No, that is completely inaccurate.
Q. Well, people have asked you your opinion as to who you believe the designer is, is that correct?
Behe: That is right.
Q. Has science answered that question?
Behe: No, science has not done so.
Q. And I believe you have answered on occasion that you believe the designer is God, is that correct?
Behe: Yes, that’s correct.
Q. Are you making a scientific claim with that answer?
Behe: No, I conclude that based on theological and philosophical and historical factors.
(Behe, October 17 AM testimony, pgs. 94-95.)
Thus, Judge Jones (and then Edward Humes) misconstrued the actual theory of ID — which Behe makes clear does not require the supernatural — with the philosophical implications that Behe has drawn from the theory.
2. Humes’ misconstrual of Behe’s definition of science: Humes’ comment about Behe’s definition of science (with respect to ID and astrology) is again grossly out-of-context because this segment of Behe’s testimony had absolutely nothing to do with whether ID required supernatural intervention. In fact, evolution fits under Behe’s definition of science, but that doesn’t mean that evolution requires the supernatural any more than it means that ID requires the supernatural.
3. Humes’ uncritical misconstruals of Scott Minnich’s testimony: Humes parrots Judge Jones (who copied and pasted from the ACLU) quoting pro-ID biochemist and Kitzmiller expert witness Scott Minnich out-of-context, stating that “Professor Minnich testified that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural forces can be considered.” No, Dr. Minnich NEVER said anything like that and in fact testified that ID does not require the supernatural. The citation is to page 97 of Minnich’s Nov. 4th AM testimony. I was in the courtroom when Minnich gave this testimony and I remember clearly what he said, and the context of the exchange. Here’s what Minnich actually said in the segment cited by Judge Jones, as it was recorded by the court reporter:
Q. Well, the answer to my question, and I understand you had a qualification, was true. For intelligent design to be considered science, the definition of science or the rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural causes can be considered, correct?
A. Correct, if intelligent causes can be considered. I won’t necessarily — you know, you’re extrapolating to the supernatural. And that is one possibility.
Thus, Minnich’s comment about changing the definition of science (which they claimed was methodological naturalism) is conditional — science only has to be redefined if one defines mere intelligent causes to be supernatural. But Minnich isn’t saying ID necessarily postulates a supernatural cause because the supernatural is “one possibility” and, as he points out, the hostile attorney was “extrapolating to the supernatural,” but Minnich “won’t necessarily” do that. Minnich, however, made it clear that he was not “extrapolating to the supernatural,” as will be seen by looking at various excerpts from Minnich’s testimony:
Q. Do you have an opinion as to whether intelligent design requires the action of a supernatural creator?
A. I do.
Q. What is that opinion?
A. It does not.
(Minnich November 3 PM testimony, pgs. 45-46, 135.)
Q. Is it — does intelligent design tell us how many designers there are? Is it just one or could it be more?
A. It could be more.
Q. So it could be a whole family of designers, right?
A. I suppose so.
Q. It could be competing designers? We could have one designer who’s designing good things and another designer who’s designing bad things, right?
A. I don’t — yeah, what’s your point?
Q. Well, does intelligent design tell us whether there could be –
A. No, no.
(Minnich, November 4th AM testimony, pg. 94.)
Q. Now, the conclusion that something was designed, does that require knowledge of the designer?
A. No. Absolutely not.
Q. Why not?
A. Well, I mean, we can infer design, but the science isn’t going to tell us anything about the designer unless it’s, you know, signed on one of these components, and we haven’t found that yet.
Q. So is it accurate for people to claim or to represent that intelligent design holds that the designer is God?
A. No, absolutely not.
Q. Has science answered this question, the source of design —
(Minnich, November 3 PM testimony, pg. 57.)
Again, during cross-examination, we see that Minnich says that ID permits a supernatural creator, but doesn’t require it:
Q. Would it be fair to say that intelligent design does not exclude the possibility of a supernatural cause as the designer?
A. It does not exclude.
Q. And, in fact, a designer could be a deity, correct?
A. It could be.
Q. And that would clearly be supernatural, right?
A. Right, but that’s — that would be a philosophical addition to that science isn’t going to take, isn’t going to tell us. I think I made that clear.
(Minnich, November 4 AM testimony, pgs. 95-96.)
Thus, Minnich makes it clear that the science of ID cannot tell you if the designer is natural or supernatural. Here, again, is exchange cited by Judge Jones (and thus, by Humes), which comes soon after this last quote given above:
Q. Well, the answer to my question, and I understand you had a qualification, was true. For intelligent design to be considered science, the definition of science or the rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural causes can be considered, correct?
A. Correct, if intelligent causes can be considered. I won’t necessarily — you know, you’re extrapolating to the supernatural. And that is one possibility.
(Minnich, November 4 AM testimony, pg. 97.)
In his answer, Minnich makes it clear that methodological naturalism only excludes ID to the extent that it excludes “intelligent causes” by considering them to be “supernatural” — this is why he says “correct, if intelligent causes can be considered…” He attributed the extrapolation that ID requires a “supernatural cause” to the Darwinist attorney, Mr. Harvey, because Dr. Minnich had already made it clear that the science cannot tell you if the designer is natural or supernatural. It is “one possibility” that the designer is supernatural, but Minnich makes it clear that the scientific theory does not tell you that. The implication of Dr. Minnich’s logic is that if methodological naturalism does NOT exclude merely intelligent causes then, the Mr. Harvey’s answer is incorrect — if intelligent causes cannot be considered excluded.
Minnich also makes it clear that ID goes no further than inferring intelligence, stating, “So we’re looking at the empirical evidence. We find irreducible complex systems. When we find these in any other context they’re the product of intelligence, we infer by standard scientific inference or reasoning that these systems are also the product of intelligence, and we leave it at that.” (Minnich, Nov. 3rd Testimony, pgs. 49-50.) In one final exchange from his direct testimony, Minnich makes it clear that methodological naturalism doesn’t exclude ID because ID doesn’t require supernatural action:
Q. Does intelligent design require the action of a supernatural creator acting outside the laws of nature?
Q. Does intelligent design rule out a natural explanation for design foundation?
A. It doesn’t.
Q. We heard quite a bit of testimony during the course of this trial about methodological naturalism, and I believe you indicated in your deposition you see that as placing limits on intelligent design, is that correct?
A. It does. It can. In the sense that it limits explanations it can be advanced, but it has the same kind of stricture on other avenues of scientific research as well.
Q. Does methodological naturalism necessarily exclude intelligent design from the realm of science?
A. No, it doesn’t.
Q. Why not?
A. Again, I mean, there could be a natural cause for the systems we’re trying to explain.
(Minnich, November 3 PM testimony, pgs. 135-137.)
Thus, Minnich once again makes it clear that methodological naturalism does not exclude design unless design is appealing to a supernatural creator. But he has made it clear that intelligent design is not an explanation to the supernatural, so it isn’t excluded by methodological naturalism. Dr. Minnich’s position should now be clear: he doesn’t think that methodological naturalism excludes ID unless you (a) wrongly extrapolate that ID requires a supernatural explanation, or (b) classify all intelligent causes as “supernatural” such that methodological naturalism would exclude any intelligent causes. This is because Minnich was clear that “we infer by standard scientific inference or reasoning that these systems are also the product of intelligence, and we leave it at that.” Humes, following Judge Jones, misrepresented Minnich’s testimony.
4. Humes cites irrelevant discussions from Steve Fuller and William Dembski: Humes quotes Steve Fuller and William Dembski bashing methodological naturalism, but we explain in our book (in a section that Humes apparently ignores) why, even if methodological naturalism is a correct criterion of science, that it does not disqualify ID from being science:
Whether methodological naturalism is really a foundational ground rule for the operation of science has been sharply disputed by historians and philosophers of science. Assuming ad arguendo that Judge Jones is correct [that science should be defined by methodological naturalism], his argument proves far less than he believes. Intelligent design, properly conceived, does not need to violate methodological naturalism, a point that expert witness Scott Minnich made clear at trial. To understand why this is the case, one needs to understand how a design inference is drawn. Intelligent design theory assumes that intelligence is a property which we can understand through general observation of intelligent agents in the natural world. An intelligent agent exhibits predictable modes of designing because it has the property of intelligence, regardless of whether or not the agent is ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural.’ Thus, the theory of intelligent design does not investigate whether the designing intelligent agent was natural or supernatural because it assumes that things designed by an intelligence may possess certain perceptible properties regardless of whether that intelligent agent is a natural entity, or in some way supernatural. Contrary to Judge Jones, intelligent design is clearly based upon an explanatory cause whose behavior is understandable and yields predictable evidence that it was at work. … Intelligent causes can be inferred through confirmable data. The types of information produced by intelligent causes can be observed and then measured. Scientists can use observations and experiments to base their conclusions of intelligent design upon empirical evidence. Intelligent design limits its claims to those which can be established through the data. In this way, intelligent design does not violate the mandates of predictability and reliability laid down for science by methodological naturalism (whatever the failings and limitations of methodological naturalism).
(Traipsing Into Evolution, pg. 37.)
5. Humes’ Misrepresentations of Pandas: Humes claims that the Pandas textbook shows that “ID is a supernatural, religious idea.” (pg. 344.) But Humes somehow misses that Pandas makes precisely the opposite claim — that the science of ID cannot determine whether the intelligence behind life is natural or supernatural, as these excepts from Pandas demonstrate:
“If science is based upon experience, then science tells us the message encoded in DNA must have originated from an intelligent cause. But what kind of intelligent agent was it? On its own, science cannot answer this question; it must leave it to religion and philosophy. But that should not prevent science from acknowledging evidences for an intelligent cause origin wherever they may exist. This is no different, really, than if we discovered life did result from natural causes. We still would not know, from science, if the natural cause was all that was involved, or if the ultimate explanation was beyond nature, and using the natural cause.”
(Of Pandas and People, pg. 7, emphasis added.)
“Surely the intelligent design explanation has unanswered questions of its own. But unanswered questions, which exist on both sides, are an essential part of healthy science; they define the areas of needed research. Questions often expose hidden errors that have impeded the progress of science. For example, the place of intelligent design in science has been troubling for more than a century. That is because on the whole, scientists from within Western culture failed to distinguish between intelligence, which can be recognized by uniform sensory experience, and the supernatural, which cannot. Today we recognize that appeals to intelligent design may be considered in science, as illustrated by current NASA search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Archaeology has pioneered the development of methods for distinguishing the effects of natural and intelligent causes. We should recognize, however, that if we go further, and conclude that the intelligence responsible for biological origins is outside the universe (supernatural) or within it, we do so without the help of science.”
(Of Pandas and People, pgs. 126-127, emphasis added.)
“The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now include many modern scientists who describe themselves as religiously agnostic. Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs and normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as a young earth, a global flood, or even the existence of the Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.”
(Of Pandas and People, pg. 161.)
Indeed, at one point, Pandas even seems to adopt methodological naturalism, stating that “intelligence . . . can be recognized by uniform sensory experience, and the supernatural . . . cannot.” (pg. 126.) Somehow Humes must have missed those passages where Pandas makes it clear that ID does not require the supernatural. For more details on Pandas, see “Response to ACLU ID FAQ: Part 1” and “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover.”
Part V: Edward Humes’ Misconstruals of Religion and of Science in Monkey Girl:
- Humes asserts that Darwin “did not come to doubt God and religion because of his scientific research or because of his theory of evolution, as critics of evolution sometimes allege,” (pg. 120) a claim countered by some leading Darwin scholars and Darwin’s own autobiography. Darwin scholar (and die-hard Darwinist) George Levine explains that Darwin saw in biology a “horror” because there is “so much that goes awry, so much that is distorted, cruel, violent,” leading to deep “resentment against the beneficent, omniscient Creator who might be thought to have produced such horrors.” Thus Darwin himself wrote, “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [a large family of parasitic wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”In his Autobiography, Darwin took aim at belief in a personal God which he believed was superseded directly by his theory of natural selection, writing: “Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.” Readers can decide for themselves if Humes is correct to state that it is only “critics of evolution” who claim that Darwin’s scientific research impacted his personal faith.
- Humes cites a “computer program” which he claims explains “the plausibility of eye evolution by natural selection with a virtual organism possessed of a flat, three-layer eyespot similar to the sensory organ on many simple microscopic creatures.” (pg. 125.) First we must ask, where did these first “three-layer eyspots” come from? Humes gives no explanation. But evolutionary biologist Sean B. Carroll admitted that it is inappropriate to assume that such early eyes were simple, writing, “do not be fooled by these eyes’ simple construction and appearance. They are built with and use many of the ingredients used in fancier eyes.” Humes’ most egregious error with regards to eye evolution is that Humes apparently didn’t know that there is no such computer program as he cites, and that these claims are a Darwinist urban legend promoted by Richard Dawkins. The real study’s math and the notion that it used a computer program were refuted by Darwin-skeptic and mathematician David Berlinski. For details, see by David Berlinski’s “The Vampire’s Heart.”
- Humes appeals to exaptation to explain how bird wings evolved, claiming that bird wings and their feathers may have been initially used for warmth, or thermal regulation, and then “natural selection could favor these natural capes and select for larger and more thermally efficient variations.” (pg. 126.) In my chapter, “Finding Intelligent Design in Nature” in the book Intelligent Design 101, I explain why this makes a weak argument:
An evolutionary interpretation of the fossil data requires that many key features that allow birds to fly, including feathers, evolved for a purpose other than flight. Feathers supposedly evolved from scales, but pennaceous feathers are so well-suited for flight that it is difficult to imagine transitional stages between scales and fully functional flight feathers. According to much prevailing evolutionary wisdom, natural selection is not the powerful force driving the evolution of traits necessary for flight. Rather, bird flight has become a mere accident and lucky byproduct of a morphological coincidence. This does not make for a compelling evolutionary story.
- Humes claims that molecular biology has “ratified” common descent, stating that “Darwin’s belief in common descent seemed to be ratified by these breakthroughs in the new science of biochemistry and molecular biology.” (pg. 122.) I wasn’t aware that scientific theories were “ratified” by votes like legislation, but Humes apparently is not aware that many leading evolutionists have admitted that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find consensus about common descent from the molecular phylogenetic data. Others have admitted that molecular biology has created turmoil for advocates of common descent. For details, see “Barking up the Wrong Tree” and “Peter Atkins Dramatically Overstates the Evidence for Evolutionary Phylogenies.”
- Humes claims that scientists can trace the “development of modern humans—Homo sapiens—from a long line of earlier hominids and ape-like ancestors,” and he asserts that “[t]he chain of what appear to be transitional species is well documented in the fossil record.” (pg. 123.) The data does not support Humes’ claim. For starters, Humes mislabels Australopithecus afarensis as a “powerful” species of the genus Australopithecus, when in reality it is thought to be one of the smaller, gracile members of that genus. For details, see “Human Origins and Intelligent Design” or “Paleoanthropologists Disown Homo habilis from Our Direct Family Tree.”
- Continuing his trend of making harsh attacks against ID proponents, Humes quotes mathematician Jeffrey Shallit accusing Dembski of “intellectual dishonesty” and stating that Dembski’s work is “riddled with errors and inconsistencies he has not acknowledged.” But Humes fails to recognize that Dembski has responded to Shallit’s criticisms extensively, as is found in Dembski’s book No Free Lunch, and that Dembski feels Shallit’s latest criticisms add little to their current debate and were weak and unworthy of response. For more information on Dembski’s responses to Shallit, see Dembski’s book, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence, http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/jeffrey-shallit/, and http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/jeffrey-shallit-part-ii/.
- Humes praises Darwinists like Nick Matzke who attacked Stephen C. Meyer’s pro-ID scientific article in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (PBSW) for arguing that the paper “was utterly lacking in scientific merit” and because it allegedly “falsely equated arguments against evolution with arguments for design.” Humes should have fact-checked Matzke’s claims. In fact, has Humes even read Meyer’s PBSW article? It contains extensive sections laying out a strong positive case for design, as is seen in the following excerpts from Meyer’s PBSW article (note: each paragraph is an individual excerpt from Meyer’s article):
“Intelligent human agents—in virtue of their rationality and consciousness—have demonstrated the power to produce information in the form of linear sequence-specific arrangements of characters. Indeed, experience affirms that information of this type routinely arises from the activity of intelligent agents. A computer user who traces the information on a screen back to its source invariably comes to a mind—that of a software engineer or programmer. The information in a book or inscriptions ultimately derives from a writer or scribe—from a mental, rather than a strictly material, cause. Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source from a mind or personal agent. As Quastler (1964) put it, the “creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity” (p. 16). Experience teaches this obvious truth.”
“For historical scientists, “the present is the key to the past” means that present experience-based knowledge of cause and effect relationships typically guides the assessment of the plausibility of proposed causes of past events. Yet it is precisely for this reason that current advocates of the design hypothesis want to reconsider design as an explanation for the origin of biological form and information. This review, and much of the literature it has surveyed, suggests that four of the most prominent models for explaining the origin of biological form fail to provide adequate causal explanations for the discontinuous increases of CSI that are required to produce novel morphologies. Yet, we have repeated experience of rational and conscious agents—in particular ourselves—generating or causing increases in complex specified information, both in the form of sequence-specific lines of code and in the form of hierarchically arranged systems of parts.”
“What natural selection lacks, intelligent selection—purposive or goal-directed design—provides. Rational agents can arrange both matter and symbols with distant goals in mind. In using language, the human mind routinely “finds” or generates highly improbable linguistic sequences to convey an intended or preconceived idea. In the process of thought, functional objectives precede and constrain the selection of words, sounds and symbols to generate functional (and indeed meaningful) sequences from among a vast ensemble of meaningless alternative combinations of sound or symbol (Denton 1986:309-311). Similarly, the construction of complex technological objects and products, such as bridges, circuit boards, engines and software, result from the application of goal-directed constraints (Polanyi 1967, 1968). Indeed, in all functionally integrated complex systems where the cause is known by experience or observation, design engineers or other intelligent agents applied boundary constraints to limit possibilities in order to produce improbable forms, sequences or structures. Rational agents have repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to constrain the possible to actualize improbable but initially unrealized future functions. Repeated experience affirms that intelligent agents (minds) uniquely possess such causal powers.”
“Intelligent agents have foresight. Such agents can select functional goals before they exist. They can devise or select material means to accomplish those ends from among an array of possibilities and then actualize those goals in accord with a preconceived design plan or set of functional requirements. Rational agents can constrain combinatorial space with distant outcomes in mind. The causal powers that natural selection lacks—almost by definition—are associated with the attributes of consciousness and rationality—with purposive intelligence. Thus, by invoking design to explain the origin of new biological information, contemporary design theorists are not positing an arbitrary explanatory element unmotivated by a consideration of the evidence. Instead, they are positing an entity possessing precisely the attributes and causal powers that the phenomenon in question requires as a condition of its production and explanation.”
Meyer’s article contains a strong positive argument for design and does not “equat[e] arguments against evolution with arguments for design.” Only by disregarding the bulk of what Meyer wrote in his PBSW paper can Humes, relying on Matzke, make that false claim.
Humes should have also scrutinized some of Matzke’s claims against Meyer, but instead relies on Matzke to claim that “recent discoveries had uncovered predecessor organisms in the fossil record that had previously been overlooked because of their fragility and small size.” (pg. 198.) Mike Gene did some fact-checking on Matzke, noting that Matzke’s claim that “Meyer repeats the claim that there are no transitional fossils for the Cambrian phyla” is false, because as Gene observes, “no where does [Meyer] actually claim ‘there are no transitional fossils for the Cambrian phyla.’”
Matzke attacks some of Meyer’s footnotes and citations, claiming that “of the two papers by Foote cited by Meyer, neither deals with the Cambrian/Precambrian records.” Yet Meyer cited two other studies besides those by Foote to bolster this point, neither of which Matzke refutes, and in fact one of Meyer’s citations to Foote does mention the Cambrian. Unfortunately, Humes repeats Matzke’s criticisms of Meyer without investigating them carefully.
In his description of Matzke’s argument, Humes insinutates that the Cambrian explosion is not a real event, but an artefact of poor preservation in the fossil record. But many experts and authority disagree with this view. Simon Conway Morris explains that “The ‘Cambrian explosion’ is a real evolutionary event, but its origins are obscure.” This corroborates with Meyer’s actual argument, which observes that “several recent discoveries and analyses suggest that these morphological gaps may not be merely an artifact of incomplete sampling of the fossil record … suggesting that the fossil record is at least approximately reliable.”
The alleged Precambrian fossils cited by Matzke comes from a paper by J. Y. Chen, the same scientist who stated that, “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.” Nonetheless, Matzke claims that Chen’s article documents “fossils of the long-hypothesized small, soft-bodied precambrian worm.” Yet Chen’s article does not contain the word “worm” and the word “small” is perhaps an understatement: the fossils are under 180 micrometers, smaller than the width of 4 human-hairs. Having read the paper, I’m not even sure if these microscopic features can be safely called fossils. More importantly, this fossil does not challenge Meyer’s argument: it was already known before this fossil was reported that a precambrian mollusk-like animal existed, Kimberella. Meyer easily dealt with such evidence in his paper, observing that “even on the most optimistic interpretation of these remains, Precambrian strata account for no more than four animal body plans,” and therefore “neither the peculiar Ediacaran fauna nor the Precambrian fossil record taken as a whole establishes the existence of the wide variety of transitional intermediates that neo-Darwinism and punctuated equilibrium require.” Adding the ambiguous microfossil that Matzke cites into the mix hardly changes the reality of the Cambrian explosion.
This same point is implied by Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote:
More importantly, paleontologists have documented a fairly rich record of [Precambrian] benthic tracks and trails (but no body fossils) that could not have been made by the sessile or planktonic Ediacaran organisms and have, by consensus of all experts, been regarded as bilaterian in origin. But-and here’s the rub these trackways are very small, measuring 5 mm in diameter at a maximum, with most only 1 mm. or so in width (see Valentine and Collins, 2000). Moreover, these tracks and trails do not extend deeply into Precambrian time. Hughes (2000, pg. 64) states: “Traces made by bilaterians extend back to about 550 million years at least, but earlier sediments are famous for their undisturbed sedimentary lamination. The rise of animals able to mine organic resources in sediments in complex ways officially defines the base of the Cambrian.” Thus, positive evidence indicates only a late Precambrian origin for bilaterians of any kind. The same data imply that all Precambrian bilaterians ranged in size from the microscopic to the barely visible, and that the Cambrian boundary marks a real and geologically sudden appearance of both large complex bilaterian body fossils, and a major change in the size and complexity of their tracks and trails…
Indeed, a recent discovery showed that Precambrian trail fossils do not necessarily indicate the presence of multi-cellular organisms. It seems that Humes’ mention newly discovered fossils does little to challenge Meyer’s argument, nor does it even clearly affect the number of Precambrian body plans that Meyer acknowledged scientists were aware of when he published his article.
For details on Meyer’s PBSW article and responses to critics, see “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” or rebuttals to critics at http://www.discovery.org/a/2228 and http://www.discovery.org/a/2248, and see also Mike Gene’s article, “ID 102: Design and Creationism.”
- Humes mentions the panda’s thumb, claiming it provides evidence for evolution, calling “the panda’s unusual adaptation for stripping the bark from bamboo shoots—a rather clumsy extra thumb—as a proof of evolution in action.” In fact, computer tomography studies have shown that the panda’s thumb is not clumsy at all. According to an analysis published in Nature, the panda’s thumb works “with great dexterity.” For details, see “Is the Panda’s Thumb a ‘Clumsy’ Adaptation that Refutes Intelligent Design?“
Part VI: Incorrect Claims in Monkey Girl about Science Standards and Education Policy:
- Humes claims that Americans are “divided” on evolution and how it should be taught, but polls consistently show that the vast majority of Americans reject neo-Darwinian evolution and over 75% are united in believing that ID should be taught in schools. For details, see “Americans Overwhelmingly Support Teaching Scientific Challenges to Darwinian Evolution, Zogby Poll Shows.”
- Humes goes after good science education formerly in the Ohio and Kansas science standards, calling them a “concerted attack” on “the teaching of evolution” which shook “bedrock principles of modern science.” (pg. 25.) But a close look at Ohio’s former policy shows that it yielded many pedagogical benefits to students, citing the National Research Council’s suggestion that students engage in “critical and logical thinking.” Does Humes oppose the use of “critical and logical thinking” when it comes to evolution? For more information about Ohio’s former science policy, see Ohio State Board of Education Repeals Critical Analysis Policy; Sends to Subcommittee for Further Review and Recommendation.”
- Humes fails to note that leading ID-proponents criticized the 1999 Kansas school board for removing some aspects of evolution from their state science standards in 1999. For example, when discussing Kansas, Phillip Johnson wrote: “Of course students should learn the orthodox Darwinian theory and the evidence that supports it, but they should also learn why so many are skeptical, and they should hear the skeptical arguments in their strongest form rather than in a caricature intended to make them look as silly as possible.” Michael Behe contends that schools should “[t]each Darwin’s elegant theory. But also discuss where it has real problems accounting for the data, where data are severely limited…” Finally, Jonathan Wells opines that “[s]tudents should be taught about Darwinian evolution because it is enormously influential in modern biology. But they should also be given the resources to evaluate the theory critically.” For more information, see Phillip Johnson, The Wedge of Truth, pg. 82 (Intervarsity Press, 1999); Michael Behe, “Teach Evolution and Ask Hard Questions,” New York Times, (August 13, 1999), and Jonathan Wells, “Give students the resources to critique Darwin,” Kansas City Star, (August 1 1999).
- Humes repeats false Darwinist rhetoric that the former 2005 Kansas Science Standards “opened the door to supernatural explanations … to miracles, to purpose and design in the universe, and to God” (pg. 148), and he reiterates the fear that local school boards would start teaching intelligent design. These are all blatantly false claims that recapitulate Darwinist talking points from the battle over the 2005 Kansas Science Standards. The truth is that Kansas’ 2005 definition of science was simply reset to how most states around the U.S. define science. For more details, see “Kansas Definition of Science Consistent With All Other States Contrary to Media Claims,” “Response To John Rennie at Scientific American,” “Kansas Citizens for Misrepresenting the Kansas Science Standards’ Misinformation Promoted by Scientific American,” “Kansas 101: Why the Kansas Science Standards Do NOT Cover Intelligent Design,” “Black and White: There’s no ID under the Kansas Science Standards,” and “Jack Krebs’ Approach to Statutory Interpretation.”
- Humes claims the 2005 Kansas Science Standards “denigrate evolution,” revealing his partisan assessment of the standards. For more details on the scientific validity of those standards, see “Kansas 102: Do the Kansas Science Standards Contain Claims Made Only by Intelligent Design Proponents?”
- Humes praises a Darwinist attorney, who opposed the good 2005 Kansas Science Standards, whose primary tactic was not to discuss science, but to attack the alleged religious beliefs and motives of experts who testified in favor of teaching scientific critique of evolution. That Humes spends time recounting the religious motives of Kansas Board of Education Members further exposes his support for this tactic. For details on the fallacy of this tactic, see “Any larger philosophical implications of intelligent design, or any religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents, do not disqualify ID from having scientific merit.”
When trying to convince me to do an interview for Monkey Girl, author Edwards Humes told me he was non-partisan. But we have seen that his book unilaterally takes the side of the Darwinists, constantly portrays ID-proponents in a negative light, and often recapitulates common Darwinist talking points. In fact, Humes’ repeated uncritical recapitulation and endorsement of nearly everything Judge Jones and the Darwinists said in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial makes Monkey Girl about as partisan as you can possibly get. But what would you expect from an author who said that evolution is better supported than gravity?
In his book Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul, Edwards Humes says that, “if the evolution wars are to continue, let the combatants be armed with facts, not fiction.” (pg. viii.) Unfortunately, one will not find a balanced treatment of the facts in Monkey Girl, for it offers a strikingly false and inaccurate account of ID and the Kitzmiller case. Monkey Girl is worth reading if you want to understand the popular Darwinist perspective this debate. But if Monkey Girl is any indication, it’s a very one-sided perspective that is betrayed by many facts and filled with false caricatures and stereotypes.