bill dembski's tilting at windmills…

August 11, 2009

Since we all know that creationism, err, I mean intelligent design is a very strict and careful science, one of its professional proponents is teaching at a theological seminary. And he gave his students a rather bizarre assignment worth as much as a fifth of their grade. Rather than do any studies or experiments which could show that intelligent design isn’t just a fancy way of rejecting the theory of evolution on religious grounds, his pupils are supposed to go to “hostile web sites” and leave at least ten comments defending the concept from those sinister materialists with their high and mighty secular biology.

don quixote

The funny thing about posting your syllabus on the web though, is the fact that it will be found and it will be disseminated for review and critique just like anything and everything else on the web. However, it’s simply not in Dembski’s nature to take critique lightly and he lashed out at his critics over at the highly moderated ID blog, Uncommon Descent…

I’ll make you a deal: let Darwinist, atheist, skeptic, freethinking, and infidel websites state prominently on their homepage the following warning — “Intelligent Design Supporters Strictly Prohibited” — and I’ll make sure my students don’t post on your sites.

What’s that whooshing sound? Ah yes, it’s the concept of what actually makes a scientific education sound flying over his head. If you want to give your students a good grounding in a theory, you don’t send them out to defend it against people who could teach them a thing or two. You give them the basic ideas and tell them to go and explore. The purpose of a fruitful scientific debate isn’t to clobber the opponent but to enhance your knowledge of the relevant concepts. To pit your pupils against those evil “Darwinists” and their icky theory isn’t good pedagogy. It’s just bitter obstinacy, Demibski’s full time gig since his shot at becoming a famous scientific figure fell through…

Let’s be honest for a second Bill. You tried to play scientist. You really did. You even wrote a book that was supposed to prove the presence of design in our DNA but when real scientists started to ask you questions, you shrunk from the challenge. When they pointed out the flaws in your arguments, you started snapping at them and sending Casey Luskin to whine on your behalf. In the meantime, you were daydreaming about the imminent collapse of modern evolutionary theory and the rise of ID like a phoenix from the ashes, with you at the head of the movement. And this stunt of sending students to post pro-ID comments on sites you don’t like is just another example of why you’ll never be a paradigm shifting scientist outside your personal fantasies.

It’s not that scientists and science writers don’t want to allow people to post messages about ID. In fact, we’re happy to let them. But we reserve the right to point out their motivation (getting a good grade in your class) and their factual flaws. Go ahead Bill, add me to your list and send me all the students you want. I will let every single one of their messages through, just like I always do on my posts. I will of course try to rebut those arguments since I’m the blog’s author and have both the ability and right to do so. Maybe, just maybe, some of them will be able to learn something about real science rather than blindly adhering to the self-indulgent, pseudoscientific concoction you espouse.

It’s funny how things work out when pseudo-scientists try to spread their woo and come up against volumes of evidence to the contrary. Instead of working in the lab or doing some groundbreaking research, they stomp their feet, dig their heels into the ground and start making excuse after excuse, complaining about the mean old scientists trying to keep them out of their sandboxes. And when that’s not enough for their tastes, they send others to make excuses and whine on their behalf, calling it legitimate, open-minded education.

[ illustration by CG artist Fabricio Moraes ]

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  • http://www.clistersbackchannel.wordpress.com Brian In NYC

    Funny piece Greg, but I’m going to defend the dimwit’s side in this because the task he gave to his students makes sense to me. After all what is there to teach when it comes to ID, it’s not as if we all don’t know the story, And on the 7th day he rested…. He is preparing his students to do what is expected of them in the future, browbeating boards of education, threatening librarians, spitting on queers (being one I’m allowed to use the word), you get the idea.

  • musubk

    Dembski’s assignment makes absolutely no sense in a science class but it makes perfect sense in an apologetics class, which is all ID has ever been.