Egnor lashes out at Dunford and hits himself in the face

Ah Egnor. The chief purveyor of foot-in-mouth disease at Evolution News and Views takes on Dunford’s recent post on the intellectual dishonesty of the intelligent design creationist movement and shows exactly why Dunford has a point.

Intelligent design is a cheesy attempt to smear a patina of scientific legitimacy on creationist ideas. Dunford quite reasonably points out that at least the creationists are honest about their objectives, while the ID cranks play a game of hiding their creationist dogma behind psuedoscientific nonsense. Egnor takes offense, and suggests that Dunford is alleging a conspiracy and dishonesty of his own by suggesting the IDers hide their religious views.

Now, as someone who rejects conspiracy theories as a matter of course, I feel like I bear some responsibility for Egnor’s tactics here. I think it’s time I address this argument that ID is injecting religion into science is just a baseless conspiracy theory.

Egnor says

Our “mission is to destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America”? Dunford’s assertion is…well… paranoid. Most intelligent design advocates are teachers — science professors in universities — and it’s fair to say that most are parents with children in the public schools.

And this makes you different from any other crank with kids? Or any other parent who wants to make sure their overvalued ideas persist in the next generation?

We have a huge stake in good science education, and we believe that the problems with Darwin’s theory should be openly and honestly discussed in public schools.

If they were interested in an honest discussion about Darwin’s theory they would acknowledge that the “problems” they point out are baseless and only persist because of their distortions and repeatedly refuted arguments from ignorance. After all, Behe was again touting the idiotic mousetrap argument just last week on the Colbert Report.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support open discussion of Darwin’s theory in schools — are they out to “destroy good science education for every child in the public schools in America” as well?

Majorities of Americans have nothing to do with the validity of science. Scientific fact is not voted on democratically. It isn’t about the majority opinion of Americans but the validity of the science.

It’s Darwinists like Dunford who sue in federal court to silence candid discussion of science in biology classes, and in the process threaten to bankrupt school districts in which parents have the temerity to even question the evolutionary dogma that’s taught in their schools to their children.

I don’t recall Darwinists making threats to bankrupt people, but we should remember that in the Dover case ID proponents basically admitted that ID was no more scientific than astrology, the court’s decision was that ID was not science and the proponents of teaching it in schools engaged in fraud.

Given that 80% of Americans reject the strict Darwinist interpretation of human origins, the current system of “good science education” fails by the Darwinists’ own standards.

Oh wait, I thought 80% of Americans wanted ID taught in schools? No? Now it’s 80% reject Darwinist interpretation of human origins? Actually no, 80% of Americans have some belief in at least some fuzzy role of a magic man in the origin of life. And again, a majority of Americans have no bearing on the validity of science – that is not how one defines scientific standards. If a majority of people did not understand or believe in the theory of Relativity or Gravity, it would have no bearing on what we teach or the legitimacy of the science.

Dunford and his colleagues in the evolutionary-thought-police have enjoyed a federally enforced monopoly on biology education for 50 years. It’s a federal crime to question Darwin’s theory in a public school.

Oops, another lie. Show me the federal statute that it is illegal to question Darwin in public schools. Hmm, not doing a good job showing the intellectual honesty of IDers there Egnor.

Yet they have convinced less than 20% of their students of the validity of their science. What would we say about the didactic skills of physics teachers who, after 50 years of a monopoly on classroom instruction, only got 20% of students to accept Newton’s second law? What an irony; Darwinists are lecturing us about “good science education”! I doubt that teachers who explicitly taught intelligent design for 50 years could have been as effective as the Darwinists have been at discrediting Darwin’s theory.

Again an abuse of the statistics. Again an ad populum appeal to scientific theory. He’s used the same statistic now to say three completely different things. Who is the intellectual bankrupt here?

Dunford then goes on to call those of us who support intelligent design dishonest about our faith (!):

The Intelligent Design folks, on the other hand, loudly declare that they are indifferent to religion every chance that they get… The two-faced nature of the Intelligent Design movement has not gone unnoticed – and it’s not just the scientific community that’s turned off by the “plausible denial” tactics…Personally, I’d suggest that watering down your beliefs in public for “tactical reasons” is more of a moral flaw than a philosophical one.

So, in Dunford’s paranoid world, I.D. scientists are not only out to “destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America,” but we’re liars about our faith as well. What arrogance. Contrary to Dunford’s slander, we’re quite honest about our faith, and we’re not the least bit indifferent about it. We represent a broad spectrum of belief — Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and even several agnostics. Many of us are devout, but very few of us are fundamentalists. We’re much less likely to hold fundamentalist religious views than the American public (nearly half of whom — educated by Dunsford’s Darwinist colleagues in public schools — are young earth creationists). On the other hand, Darwinists are almost all atheists, and are on the fringe of American religious belief. It’s ironic that Darwinist metaphysical dogma skews their science in a way analogous to the caricature of Christian fundamentalists that they deride.

Actually, that’s not what Dunford was saying. Dunford was saying that IDers lie about the religious motive for their promotion of ID psuedoscience as outlined in their own Wedge Document. He is not denying that some IDers are religious or suggesting that they hide their religion – just the role that their religion is playing in their political objectives. He even provides this specific example of Jonathan Wells that Egnor of course ignores. From Dunford’s post, here’s Wells’ reasons for studying ID:

Father’s words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.

Egnor, unsurprisingly, attacks a straw man since he can’t possibly deny the stated objective of the ID movement and statements of its chief proponents. He also lies when he says “almost all” Darwinists are atheists. The data simply do not support this. Biologists, who are “almost all” evolutionists run about 63/37 atheist or agnostic/religious. Is that “almost all”? I think not. A lot, sure, but not all or even almost all (that should be > 90% if you ask me) But why should we be surprised by yet another dishonest statement from someone like Egnor?

Neither am I dishonest about my scientific beliefs.

Here I think Egnor is dead on. Not having any actual scientific beliefs there is nothing to lie about.

Lastly the allegation of a conspiracy theory.

Dunford’s paranoid style is increasingly a staple of Darwinist rhetoric. They don’t have the evidence to support their theory, so all they can do is accuse those of us who question dogmatic Darwinism of conspiring to “destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America” and of lying about our faith. Much of Darwinist rhetoric isn’t scientific at all; it’s ad hominem attacks and conspiracy mongering.

Oh wait. He doesn’t lie about science huh? We don’t have evidence to support our theory? So much for intellectual honesty. With the wave of a hand he dismisses the entire literature as if it doesn’t exist. As far as ad hominem attacks, it’s the classic misunderstanding of the use of ad hominem. If one says, “you’re a liar” that’s an ad hominem. If someone says, “you lie about science for the objective of inserting religion in public schools and here’s the proof” you’re winning the argument that ID is an intellectually bankrupt movement. The argument isn’t that IDers are liars therefore ID is wrong. The argument is that ID is a lie (and has no data) therefore ID is wrong.

Now what about this allegation of a conspiracy theory? Is the wedge document no more valid than Memorandum 46? Well, considering they admit that it is real, and not a forgery, I think they’ve got a problem. Further, unlike other conspiracy theories like they allege – even within this post of Egnor’s – that Darwinists conspire to spread a materialist dogma, the idea that ID exists as a political strategy to wedge religion into schooling does not create unnecessary complexity. I would argue that is the hallmark of a bogus conspiracy theory. The idea that materialist Darwinists are falsifying research over a hundred years to smoosh religion is absurd. There are too many scientists, too many people involved, and too many of them are religious for this to be remotely possible. The data are real. The science is valid.

Then take a look at the output of the IDers. What is their great contribution to the literature? A handful of irrelevant articles in questionable publications, abstract presentation they snuck into conferences, nothing that has undergone peer review etc. Where is their data? All they have is an inference based on promiscuous teleology. The biological examples supposedly supporting this inference – like the bacterial flagellum – when examined are shown to be baseless. It’s not enough to have an inference, you actually have to do science. You must test and explore the natural world using the tools of biology. It’s not enough to say, “I see a pattern” and then go home and declare victory. You have to get off your ass and do some benchwork. So, where is this work? Where is this body of data to conflict with the tens of thousands of articles that support evolution?

The stated goal of the ID movement is in the Wedge document, and they have provided no evidence in the form of scientific publications to contradict the interpretation that ID is political movement, not a scientific one. This is not a baseless conspiracy theory. The data are in, all of it points to ID being nothing but a cheap political attack on science in an attempt to insert religion into science education.


  1. Gordon S

    You left an open link in the body.

  2. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    That’s the problem with being an anonymous commentor on other people’s blogs; I don’t get to have Egnor lash out at me. Thus, my life must remain incomplete.

  3. Pete Dunkelberg

    See “Honest ID’s” new book for kids, distribution controlled by Disco. They repackage the same old deceptions and promote them to teachers, who may be too busy to check the details.

    By the way check your post for typos. Too much of it blue for one thing.

  4. What would we say about the didactic skills of physics teachers who, after 50 years of a monopoly on classroom instruction, only got 20% of students to accept Newton’s second law?

    That’s a great analogy. Because there is a competeing, theologically derived veiw of physiocs, right? What? There isn’t?

  5. Open tags are in ur post, screwing up ur syntax.

  6. Ack! Fixed. Sorry I finished it around 4AM. All pretty now.

  7. PoxyHowzes

    WRT Boris’s comment, what is the biblical literalist’s explanation or theory for what happened when the bible says the sun stood still (for 8 hours)? That’s the most egregious violation of a Newtonian/Keplerian law I’m aware of in that particular text.

  8. Michael LoPrete


    The answer is easy! God did it.

    The more interesting question to the True Believer(tm) is whether he or she thinks we would find evidence of the long day elsewhere in the world (like a very long night on the other side of the planet).

    If he/she states we WOULD see effects, ask for the evidence elsewhere (there is none, of course, but it’s a fun question no less).

    Otherwise, ask about the impact on free will (the crucial piece of the sin/salvation puzzle) if God caused mass-amnesia every once in a while.

  9. That’s the problem with being an anonymous commentor on other people’s blogs; I don’t get to have Egnor lash out at me. Thus, my life must remain incomplete.

    Don’t worry, Egnor is sufficiently petty that he’ll lash out at anyone. He once compared me to Stalin when I removed an unsourced statement from Wikipedia which he’d based an entire argument on.

  10. I remember that! That was hysterical.

    Egnor actually thought the Wikipedia definition of reverse engineering was somehow some great proof of ID. What a moron.

  11. Torbj�rn Larsson, OM

    the problems with Darwin’s theory should be openly and honestly discussed in public schools.

    Another denialist characteristic is to not accept the accepted science.

    Besides that the problems with any science lies mostly in the current research, and that would mostly be too complex, fragmented and fast outdated to discuss in schools. The more basic and persistent problems, such as the slow work with quantizing gravity in physics, are discussed.

    Some persistent basic problems in biology:
    – Education in evolutionary biology is suppressed, for mostly religious reasons.
    – Stem cell research is suppressed, for mostly religious reasons.

    Okay, I wouldn’t mind seeing creationists discuss these problems openly and honestly, and in schools.

  12. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Some persistent basic problems in biology:

    Or more correctly, biology and thereupon informed medicine.

  13. Biologists, who are “almost all” evolutionists run about 63/47 atheist or agnostic/religious.

    Uh… you might want to check the arithmetic there, or risk being labelled as purposely misleading 🙂

  14. D’oh, typo.

    I did mention I wrote this at 4AM right?

  15. I did mention I wrote this at 4AM right?

    Yes. And I forgive you, so I’m sure you feel much better now 🙂

    It truly is frustrating that they feel that simply because a ton of people believe something, ergo it must be true – because hey, that’s how democracy works, right? And it continues to baffle me why they have such a huge personal investment in continuing to believe what they do. Ego? Stupidity?

  16. “Egnor lashes out at Dunford and hits himself in the face”

    This needs a cool Batmanesque SOUND EFFECT damnit!

  17. With some help from the-isb, I discovered one decent example of hitting oneself in the face with associated sound effect:


  18. Not long ago, after visiting one of the better-known blogs run by ID fans, I wrote a post in which I asked two simple questions, one of them being this: “If ID isn’t religious in nature, why do its self-described proponents spend so much time attacking those who criticize religion?”

    I got two very laughable “answers” — here and here. The lesson is that one of the easiest ways to highlight ID-er dishonesty is to point out how high a fraction of their material consists of complaining about anti-religionists (which not only gives their agenda away but gives them a convenient excuse not to post any of that research and data about ID itself that they don’t have).

  19. I’ve had some amusing correspondence with the DI about Egnor’s claim “it’s a Federal crime to question Darwin’s theory in a public school.” I’ve posted it at the Darwin Central blog, at

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