Science Journals Rally Anti-ID Army 11/08/2007 Language in science journals is typically restrained, genteel and erudite. Editorials value diversity and inclusion, rarely painting any issue black or white. There are two issues, though, that let loose the raging bull: (1) policies that jeopardize funding, and (2) creationism. As illustrations of reactions to the latter, consider two articles this week that snort and paw the ground:
Atheist army: “Call to atheists” was the title of an editorial by Nigel Williams in this week’s Current Biology.1 One might, at first glance, expect this would be a call for restraint amidst the recent bombastic claims of certain popular atheists, such that science be not sullied by association with intolerance. Not so; Williams was their army recruiter
As the media begin increasingly to focus on analyses of the US presidential candidate hopefuls, many people are now beginning to think about the consequences of the end of the Bush era. For researchers many potential changes loom.... the dominance of the Christian right under Bush has now been challenged by a new campaign to raise the voices of the US’s estimated 25 million atheists. Britain’s champion atheist, Richard Dawkins, is spearheading a campaign to challenge the dominance of religion in everyday life and in politics, insisting that the atheists deserve to be heard too.
On that last note, Williams portrayed atheists as a “downtrodden” group who need political clout, which might seem a little odd, considering that at least in science teaching at public schools the feared religious right has almost zero influence. The article, accompanied with a large photo of Dawkins with pensive and determined gaze, gave copious room for the outspoken atheist to specifically ridicule the Bible. If this was a journalistic report, as the heading suggested, it provided no opportunity for balance or rebuttal by any non-atheist – certainly not by one who should know both sides, former atheist Antony Flew (10/29/2007) – speaking of whom, ID leader William Dembski wrote that he likes the old atheists better (see Uncommon Descent).
Abstract expressionism: Here was the depiction of creationists by Adam Rutherford in Nature this week: a bunch of threatening, thieving, feeble-minded, steamrolling, inept, unpleasant, nonsensical, sneaky, fig-leaf-wearing pseudo-intellectual fundamentalists who can’t face the overwhelming strength of the Darwinism-only policy as judicially upheld by that republican lutheran, Judge Jones, one of the 100 most influential people, portrayed as the hero he is by the prestigious Nova in a rigorous television documentary upholding science and reason. (Summarized for succinctness.)2 Rutherford had recently seen Judgment Day by Vulcan Productions, a Nova presentation airing this month about the Dover trial, funded by pro-evolution billionaire Paul Allen (10/12/2007). Overjoyed with it, he painted his review all-black vs all-white, us-vs-them, noble-reason-vs-dangerous-fundamentalism to the point of near obscenity (on another occasion, Rutherford once called pro-ID astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez a “crap scientist”). Creationism and intelligent design were doused with equal torrents of acid rain. And, to poison the wells of rebuttal, he snuck in a line about the upcoming film Expelled, calling it the work of “comedian” Ben Stein, who “duped” certain evolutionists to appear in it. Nothing duplicitous in Judgment Day, of course: “Judgment Day is just the sort of thoughtful programming that celebrates how sensible people – faithful and otherwise – can use science and reason to combat fundamentalism.”
The Discovery Institute was quick to launch a few missives of its own, to intercept some of the damage expected from what they consider a very biased presentation. These are listed at IntelligentDesign.org, a new website hub for ID resources and information. Traipsing Into Evolution is another new site they hope will set the record straight about what happened at the Dover trial. Readers of Nature and Current Biology, however, get the anti-creation, anti-ID, pro-Darwin, pro-atheism free along with the scientific content they subscribed for. It is doubtful those who read the journals will be aware the rebuttals even exist.
1. Nigel Williams, “Call to Atheists,” Current Biology Volume 17, Issue 21, 6 November 2007, Pages R899-R900. 2. Adam Rutherford, “Television: Dover trial documentary screens,” Nature 450, 170 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450170a.
There you have it: reason, open-mindedness, fairness, dispassionate analysis of evidence – everything you have come to expect in a Science Journal, brought to you by people of froth (09/26/2005).