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Anything to Avoid a Debate About Intelligent Design: Another Cheap "Victory," if Short-Lived, for the Darwin Brigade

LA County Museum Natural History.jpg

Isn't this pathetic? Because Darwin zealots can't answer the strong scientific arguments for Darwinism skepticism and intelligent design, including those advanced by Stephen Meyer in Darwin's Doubt and Signature in the Cell, they go for cheap symbolic victories -- like the one at Amarillo College in Texas, where a thug intimidated the two-year school into canceling an adult education class on ID, or now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.

As ENV's Dr. Mike Egnor observes, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne is hailing the erasure of a sign at the museum as a triumph for "secularism." Says Coyne:

I'm pleased that God is out of the Museum and no longer gets credit for "creatures." It's a victory for secularism, for sure.

Here, again, is the text of the sign that's now gone -- the one that busy blogger Coyne, whose job teaching at the University of Chicago evidently doesn't keep him occupied, had undertaken as his latest project as an amateur policeman of ideas:

"The Nature Lab is a gift to Los Angeles to celebrate all of God's creatures and enable NHM to broaden our understanding of the natural world through the process of scientific discovery." Anonymous Donor -- 2013

However the sense of triumph may be short-lived since the museum indicates that it is only removing the sign in order "to modify the way it displayed the quote to make it clear that the sentence was the view of a donor and not the museum itself." Evidently the purpose is to clarify that for visitors who don't understand the grammatical function of quotation marks.

Of course not all the victories for censors like Coyne are merely symbolic. The silencing of physicist Eric Hedin (Ball State University) is quite real. So is Ball State president Jo Ann Gora's gag order against faculty teaching about ID. The attempted silencing of scientists like Richard Sternberg and Douglas Axe (Smithsonian, Cambridge respectively), whom Michael Medved interviewed last week, was serious business.

The effort to thwart the publication of the proceedings of a scientific conference at Cornell on design in nature was serious, and nearly successful.

All these genuine losses for and threats to academic freedom intimidate scientists who privately entertain Darwin doubts. They enforce a code of silence when it comes to acknowledging weaknesses in evolutionary theory when it's possible the public is listening.

Instead of answering us properly, guys like Coyne take out their fury on sympathetic researchers, on community college instructors, on books, now on museum signs! Anything to avoid entering into a real argument -- about the origin of the biologic information that animated the first life or that infused the creatures of the Cambrian explosion -- which Coyne, Dawkins et al. absolutely refuse to do.

They pretend there's nothing to argue about, but a real scientist like UC Berkeley paleontologist Charles Marshall, who respectfully crossed swords with Steve Meyer both in a lengthy radio debate and in the pages of the journal Science, gives the lie to that excuse.

Image source: Vanessa Rose/Flickr.