Just recently, it came out that some Darwin lobbyists are attempting to get redress for the fact that the journal Synthese was forced to disclaim an unscholarly attack by one of their number on Baylor philosophy professor Frank Beckwith in one of Synthese’s guest-edited issues.
I can shed a bit of light on the affair. Frank Beckwith contacted me January 31, and we later spoke by phone. His problem was this: Barbara Forrest, a philosophy prof at Southeastern Louisiana University (and author of anti-ID screed The Trojan Horse) , had published a hostile account of his life and work in Synthese which implied that he was an ID advocate.
That was astonishing because we are led to expect that profs do their homework. Thus, Forrest should have known what everyone else does, that Beckwith is no such thing. I wrote about Beckwith’s rift with the ID theorists years ago here. I took the view that he had made his point far more loudly than was necessary, under the circumstances. My personal relationship with him, slight as it was, stemmed from the fact that he returned to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church at a time (May 2007) when he was president of an evangelical scholars society (and, of course, had to resign).
Well, Beckwith rightly suspected that I am tired of the “Madame DeFarge” element that currently blights academic life, forever pointing the finger at supposed enemies of the people. I told him that, were he given the right to speak in his own defense, he could count on me to allow as many people as possible to know. He also told me, probably later though I cannot now remember, that the misleading material about him had been disowned by the journal.
My encouraging response was not due to great affection for his views, which I have critiqued here.
No, it came down to “Madame Defarge” vs. “Or we can be philosophers” (Beckwith) – a matchup I thought very much in the public interest. Who, after all, should rule philosophy? Madame Defarge or the philosophers?
We shall see which side Synthese comes out on, in face of the Darwin lobby’s agitation.