Over at The Best Schools, James Barham interviews design theorist Bill Dembski – who founded this blog – about why he decided to take aim at the Darwin frauds and their “Christian” enablers. Turns out it was a long, slow burn. And not what your local enabler would tell you to expect either.
When our family returned to the U.S. in 1967 [after his dad’s studies in Germany], the country was a very different place. The University of Illinois, though having encouraged my dad to get a PhD, did not hire him back—by “unfortunate coincidence,” as they put it, his job had gone to a young Ph.D. from Harvard. So my dad taught for the City Colleges of Chicago. The campus where he taught had a lot of racial tension, with faculty getting mugged and even killed. Martin Luther King was assassinated during that time. The Black Panthers, with their berets and 50-caliber bullets around their necks, disrupted faculty meetings and forced the school president to resign. When my dad didn’t return home at the expected hour, I recall my mother comforting me with the thought that if he got killed, at least I still had her. I remember the race riots and seeing Madison Avenue burning from our high-rise apartment.
With my dad teaching for the City Colleges of Chicago, I saw first-hand the dark side of academic politics, the self-servingness of teacher unions, and the decay of learning standards. I also saw my dad’s love for teaching and research die. It gave me a bad taste for aspects of the academy and probably more than anything contributed to my unwillingness to sacrifice intellectual work to academic fashion (for which I’ve paid a cost).
Despite my ambivalence toward the academy, it’s always been front and center in my life. I always felt most at home in the world of abstractions and ideas. And I always did well in the academy (until I fell afoul of it for questioning Darwinism). A life of scholarship, teaching, and writing therefore seemed to me inevitable from the start. How it’s all played out has proved less inevitable.
See also: Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers Part 2