Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

A Darwinist tries to understand the durability of the intelligent design community – and gets something right


Here, Jack Scanlan (“Naon tiami”), an Australian biology student, holds forth, from decades of experience:

In ecological terms, the ID movement is far better adapted to the current climate surrounding religion and evolution than the more classical varieties of creationism are or ever were. It easily outcompetes young-earth creationism for access to vital sources of attention and publicity (things that all movements need to survive) in the niche defined by moderately to slightly religious members of the public, because it – for most of its public endeavours – has abandoned the overtly religious language and appeals of scripture that creationism can’t do without, which tend to drive away those who are put off by fundamentalism. Most importantly of all, however, is its strict grounding in public relations and image control. While classical creationism is hampered by a need to proselytise and spout apologetics for evangelical interpretations of religion, ID prides itself on seeming to be a legitimately scientific program. It uses the right type of language, it shows off its shiny PhD-brandishing experts, and it sneaks religious ideas in under the guise of appealing to human design analogies, which are extremely seductive at first glance.

ID’s tight awareness of its public image is also the reason why it is perfectly suited to exploit the anti-creationist attitude of most scientists. The academic community has long known of the real history and motives of the ID movement, and because of this, it routinely places ID in the same category as other varieties of creationism and subjects it to a similar mocking. As mentioned, that strategy may sometimes work for movements that have a self-defeating image, but against the slick-looking rhetoric of organisations like the Discovery Institute, it backfires horribly.

Intelligent design is rhetoricotrophic: it gains nourishment from the rhetoric used against it.

– “Why scientists are feeding the rhetoricotrophic beast of intelligent design, and why they need to stop,” November 28th, 2011

The rest of the outburst is just Darwin’s bilge pipe’s runoff, maybe written to impress his Darwinist profs, so we’ll leave that aside.

However, when Scanlan said that ID “gains nourishment from the rhetoric used against it,” he’s quite right. What he doesn’t see (and probably can’t) is that the situation he resents prevails only because the Darwinist rhetoric sounds hollow to begin with. Suppose a Darwin pressure group hires a flack to tour the country, shrieking, “Darwin is always right! And Uncommon Descent is a front for a proposed right-wing Christian theocracy.”

The first time an undecided person hears that, he thinks, “Holy smokes! There are already 3,000 proposed right-wing Christian theocracies, if you go by News from Nutware. What makes them think they’ll get face time?”

He hears it again, and thinks, “Maybe they’re a threat after all.” Then he checks it out.

Then he thinks, “Maybe listening to Shriekie Flack is a waste of time.”

If he hangs around here for a bit, he will discover many perfectly good, current reasons for doubting Darwin and his loyal heirs. Reasons shared by many scientists working in the area who are not design theorists.

And that is how we grow, folks.

It’s so simple and obvious, it was bound to be invisible to Darwin’s loyalists. They probably can’t even begin to imagine that it would have been better not to make a road show out of Shriekie Flack. Which works out well for us. Darwinists pay, we benefit.

In fact, that’s how we get some of our wasted taxes back.

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Scanlan has clearly identified and expressed a trend that is growing into a major rhetorical dissagreement within the pro darwinism / anti ID community. As ID continues to gain ground, darwinists will divide evr more sharply into the "bash them harder" and "bash them smarter" camps. Alan
They should, but they often don't. I once watched a debate between Michael Ruse and Stephen Meyer in which Ruse didn't address a single point that Meyer made. His entire argument boiled down to this: ID is incorrect because its proponents are just trying to use it to promote Christianity. Bruce David
AMEN. It does help creationism(s0 to have the vocal enemies one has. They have no choice. They are wrong. Their ides can't take the heat. They must discredit motivations because if creationist motivations were pure then it all comes down to the evidence. Evolutionists don't have evidence or evidence against YEC and iD. Perhaps sub consciencely they think this and are frustration is the origin for the undue malice and general weirdness of presentation. many things. Robert Byers
Questioning the motivations of the person making the argument is a logical fallacy; intelligent, rational people should know better than that. Barb
I am so tired of arguments based on the supposed motivations of the proponents. Maybe the rest of the article had more substance, but Scanlan's attack against the "real motives" of the ID movement is really tiresome. Collin
I love how in all these rants by committed evolutionists the implicit ( and sometimes blatantly explicit ) assumption is to consider ID as a propaganda program. Never does he consider it from the standpoint of a legitimate competing theory of how we got here. A mind is a horrible thing to close. JDH
Darwinist labs pride themselves on seeming to be legitimately scientific programs. They show off their shiny PhD-brandishing experts, and they sneak their religious ideas in under the guise of appealing to bones found all over the world, which are extremely seductive at first glance. The academic community has long known of the real history and motives of the Darwinist movement, and because of this, it routinely places Darwinism in the same category as creationism and subjects it to a similar mocking. Mytheos

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