Wedge Salad

In their famous policy paper, “The Wedge,” [1] the founders of the modern Intelligent Design Creationism movement stated their political and social action plan for the United States:

  • In Phase 1, entitled “Research, Writing, and Publication,” the authors state that “… [they] are supporting vital writing and research at the sites most likely to crack the materialist edifice.”
  • In Phase 2, entitled “Publicity and Opinion Making,” the authors state that “… the primary purpose … is to prepare the popular reception of our ideas … we seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely Christians.”
  • In Phase 3, entitled “Cultural Confrontation and Renewal,” the authors state that “Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move forward toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science … [and] pursue legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public science curricula.”

Shivers down your spine yet? You should be terrified. Science is not about “confrontation and renewal” – it’s about building a reliable body of knowledge about the natural world, uncolored by personal belief. That requires the long and repetitious scientific method, not “legal assistance” to force ideas into the public sphere. So . . . how’s it going for the ID/C movement? An  article by a math professor from UT-El Paso, laden with pseudoscience, bad logic, and poor argumentation, is a snapshot of how it’s going for them . . . and it’s not good.

Appearing on humanvoices.com, a place for “powerful conservative voices” (not exactly a scientific journal), Prof. Granville Sewell writes an article entitled “Intelligent Design Theories Gaining Steam in Scientific Circles.” [2] It’s a bad title. The article says nothing about scientific acceptance, but rather popular acceptance, commiting the argument fallacy of “ad populum” – appeal to popularity, or the “bandwagon” fallacy. He fails to cite any significant body of published research in support of the claim of intelligent design, choosing instead to discuss a book for sale by a leader of the ID/C movement, Stephen Meyer. Lots of nonsense is popular; that’s not evidence for it being scientifically accurate. Just look at “A Million Little Pieces.” Both that book and Meyer’s book have been thoroughly debunked as nonsense. Both were popular.

ID/C proponents started The Wedge by coming for biology, but scientists always knew that they’d try to twist and distort the other natural sciences after having their way with biology. Sewell’s article is a sneak preview of how physics will be twisted to suit the views of ID/C:

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to state clearly what you have to believe in order not to believe in intelligent design. Peter Urone, in his 2001 physics text College Physics writes, “One of the most remarkable simplifications in physics is that only four distinct forces account for all known phenomena.” The prevailing view in science today is that physics explains all of chemistry, chemistry explains all of biology, and biology completely explains the human mind; thus physics alone explains the human mind and all it does. This is what you have to believe to not believe in intelligent design, that the origin and evolution of life, and the evolution of human consciousness and intelligence, are due entirely to a few unintelligent forces of physics. Thus you must believe that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers and science texts and jet airplanes. [2]

Some big problems with this article, in addition to a fundamental misunderstanding of “science”:

  • Mistaking science as something that happens via “majority vote” or a popularity contest – also known as the “appeal to popularity” fallacy. For example, “The debut at #7 on the New York Times best seller list last July of Stephen Meyer’s new book Darwin’s Doubt is evidence that the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) continues to gain momentum…” and “Until Charles Darwin, almost everyone everywhere believed in some form of intelligent design (the majority still do)…”
  • The fallacy of “false dichotomy” – in other words, “I lack the imagination to understand how physics, chemistry, and natural selection could have led to complicated thing A . . . therefore God made A.”

The author of this article is apparently famous for a total misunderstanding of the laws of thermodynamics [3]. 

So if this is a sneak preview of the quality of argument coming from The Wedge Strategy, it’s incumbent on the scientific community to continue to educate about science, logic, and argument, and how to spot misuse and misunderstanding of those three things. That is an inoculation against nonsense like the claims in this article, which demonstrate a significant lack of understanding both of science and critical thinking.

[1] “The Wedge” http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.pdf

[2] http://www.humanevents.com/2013/12/16/intelligent-design-theories-gaining-steam-in-scientific-circles/

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granville_Sewell

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