June 14, 2010
California Science Center to Pay Attorneys' Fees and Settle Open Records Lawsuit by Intelligent Design Group

The California Science Center (CSC) has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute and release records that it previously sought to conceal regarding its cancellation of the screening of a pro-intelligent design film last year.

"After months of stonewalling by the Science Center, this is a huge victory for the public’s right to know what their government is doing, especially when the government engages in illegal censorship and viewpoint discrimination," said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

The Science Center continues to "deny any and all liability relating to the claims," according to the settlement agreement. However, it agreed to pay Discovery Institute’s legal fees and to surrender more than a thousand pages of documents it had been withholding since they were requested under the California Public Records Act last year.

Documents to be released relate to the Science Center’s cancellation of a screening of the science documentary Darwin’s Dilemma in its IMAX theater by the non-partisan American Freedom Alliance (AFA) last October. The AFA has filed its own free speech and breach of contract suit against the Science Center, which is still pending. Darwin’s Dilemma investigates the intelligent design of organisms during the "Cambrian Explosion" more than 500 million years ago.

The Science Center claimed that it had turned over all the documents requested by Discovery Institute, but when Institute staff learned that this was not true the Institute filed suit to compel full disclosure. In response, the CSC made the incredible claim that its key decision-makers, clearly identified as CSC staff on the museum’s website, were really employed not by the museum but by a private foundation and so were immune from the public records request.

"It was an obvious shell game," explained Discovery Institute staff attorney Casey Luskin. "The California Science Center is a state agency funded by California taxpayers. The public has a right to expect transparency, not secrecy, in government institutions. The Science Center’s attempt to evade public accountability for its actions has been disgraceful."

Discovery Institute was represented in its lawsuit by Peter Lepiscopo of Lepiscopo & Morrow (San Diego and Sacramento).

June 11, 2010
David Coppedge’s Critics Take "Ready, Fire, Aim" Approach

Critics of David Coppedge's lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) alleging discrimination against his pro-intelligent design views have been repeatedly misrepresenting the facts of his case. The latest example is an attorney quoted in an article with Federal News Radio who makes a number of factual errors. According to the article, Bill Bransford, a partner at the Washington D.C.-based law firm Shaw, Bransford and Roth, stated, “Coppedge apparently ‘believed he was talking to willing people about his theories, but apparently some of these people complained.’” Bransford does not seem to be aware of the facts of Coppedge’s case, since Coppedge was specifically told by his supervisors that no one he’d spoken to about intelligent design (ID) had complained.

Bransford goes on to make more misplaced criticisms of Coppedge’s suit:

Continue reading "David Coppedge’s Critics Take "Ready, Fire, Aim" Approach" »

June 1, 2010
Teaching More, Not Less

Any critically-thinking parent whose child has been forced to watch Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth will sympathize with petitions to ban discussions of global warming in public school science classes. Apparently such petitions are starting to crop up around the US. But I think this impulse, while understandable, is deeply misguided, as Vincent Carroll argues in the Denver Post.

While it might be easier just to avoid subjects like man-made global warming (or Darwinian evolution), it's hard to see how scientific literacy will be improved by avoiding them altogether. It's much better to separate the data from the propaganda (a tall task, to be sure) and to help students learn to analyze the issue. As Carroll argues:

Climate change happens to be an important scientific issue, and it would be foolish to ban its discussion simply because some teachers are too unsophisticated — or too ideological — to distinguish between propaganda and an appropriate lesson plan. In fact, climate change is a model topic for teaching students the complexities and uncertainties that characterize evolving scientific theories, while introducing them to a range of opinion among scholars — from MIT's Richard S. Lindzen to NASA's James Hansen — as well as the "consensus" view represented by the scandal-plagued Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Students could examine a phenomenon often linked to warming, such as natural disasters. Have they become more common and more deadly? Is there a debate about it? Why? And just how do scientists reconstruct surface temperatures from long ago? Are some of their methods controversial?

A global warming unit would also provide an opportunity to point out that science itself does not dictate the appropriate policy response, whatever activists (and some scientists) insist. Students could be asked to identify the best arguments for taking dramatic steps to reduce consumption of fossil fuels as well as the counter-arguments — that such steps won't achieve their goals, for example, and would meanwhile slow economic growth and thus cripple the world's ability to adapt to whatever warming eventually occurs.

Exactly right. In fact, I suspect that if schools could implement such an approach with controversial issues, the desire to ban their teaching would disappear.

April 28, 2010
Correcting Myths About Coppedge’s Intelligent Design Discrimination Lawsuit

There’s a lot of speculation flying around about David Coppedge’s lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) alleging wrongful demotion, harassment, and religious discrimination. While more information will undoubtedly come out as the case progresses, here are a few facts that refute some of the false claims being stated:

(1) Based upon the allegations of the complaint, there’s no evidence that Mr. Coppedge was on a campaign to distribute intelligent design DVDs to everyone at JPL. His contacts were reasonable and infrequent, intentionally low-key, one-on-one, not disruptive of work, and only about once a month on average. It was far less than the amount of airtime JPL gives for its views endorsing a purely naturalistic origin of life. His sharing was only among coworkers he knows and has worked with for years (not strangers), and none of whom he had any reason to believe would have a hostile reaction.

(2) Likewise, there’s no evidence that the punishment against Coppedge had anything to do with his job performance, technical competence or honesty, which was always rated high. One has to be trustworthy in his position because system admins have the root access to all the computers, which is like having the skeleton keys to everything.

(3) No one told Coppedge to stop discussing ID or giving out these DVDs until March, 2009. And when he was told to stop, he stopped.

Despite all of these facts in Mr. Coppedge’s favor, he still got demoted for handing out DVDs supporting intelligent design.

April 23, 2010
Coppedge Meets Kafka

When I first read the complaint filed in the David Coppedge case against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I had a sense of déjà vu. Something similar happened to me in college.

As Jay Richards points out, a striking thing about the computer specialist’s experience with the thought police is the way he was punished by Darwinist supervisors (for occasionally distributing samizdat documentaries on intelligent design) after having already agreed to abide by the outrageous demand to stop loaning out the DVDs and talking about intelligent design. There’s no indication he did anything other than keep his promise. Yet his supervisor came down hard on him, stripping Coppedge of a prestigious title and position, embarrassing him in front of colleagues. In Kafkaesque fashion, Coppedge received a formal written warning (against promoting ID) at the very same meeting where he was informed of his punishment.

With me, the issue wasn’t evolution but race. I was a junior at the time, at Brown, beginning the year as a counselor on a freshman hall and as a new columnist on the Brown Daily Herald. My inaugural column objected to the way well intended liberal race policies on campus -- for example, allowing racially exclusive black fraternities and sororities -- unwittingly promoted racial separatism. Sadly, black and white students ended up eating and socializing separately, taking different classes, and so on. Boy, was I ever naïve. When the column came out I realized I had ticked off not only the black fraternities and sororities -- graffiti such as “F--K YOUR RACIST A--” appeared on my door -- but, worse, the university administration.

The dean of freshmen reprimanded me and appointed a student committee to monitor my counseling. For protesting racism, I stood accused of racism. The student committee -- headed by a guy whose name was, no kidding, Josh Kafka -- informed me that I was also being investigated for not spending enough time counseling. Kafka warned me to shape up or I’d be out of the counseling job and also out of my dorm room.

Continue reading "Coppedge Meets Kafka" »

April 20, 2010
Do the JPL Supervisors Who Demoted Coppedge Know Who Appears in The Privileged Planet?

The current travails of David Coppedge at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory hit close to home. He’s being unjustly, perversely punished simply for lending copies of two ID documentaries, Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet, the latter based on the book by Guillermo Gonzalez and yours truly. Guillermo, of course, suffered similar bigotry at Iowa State a few years ago, and endured (among other things) a barely disguised campaign to deny him tenure led by, among other people, an atheist professor of religion at Iowa State.

It’s hard even to figure out what David Coppedge is supposed to have done wrong. There were no complaints against him by people to whom he had lent these documentaries. He wasn’t proselytizing. He wasn’t even, so far as I can tell, actually doing anything naughty that he had been told not to do. It’s not like he had been told not to lend out copies of the documentaries and had continued to do so (even though such an order would itself have been outrageous). Can you imagine any other legal subject on which such an action would be treated as anything other than unjust discrimination?

This is yet another case of the materialist zeal for punishing thought crimes, and exhibits, yet again, the metaphysical insecurity of many who claim to be defending science. They are reduced here to the raw and preferably secret exercise of power against the very presence, apparently, of people who might voluntarily commend ideas they don’t like. Well, the secret’s out. This unjust exercise of power is no longer under the cover of darkness.

There’s an irony in this. Since 2004, The Privileged Planet has been broadcast around the country on various PBS stations, has been broadcast widely on private cable channels, and has been translated into several foreign languages and shown to public gatherings around the world, including in China. You know, that’s that big, censorious, Communist country on the other side of the world. And guess what? Several scientists affiliated with JPL are featured prominently in the film itself—about a fourth of the featured experts, in fact. (These scientists, so far as I know, disagree on the question of intelligent design.) I wonder if Coppedge’s persecutors even know who is in the film?

April 19, 2010
Mainstream Media Now Picking up on Intelligent Design Discrimination Lawsuit Against NASA's JPL

Last week we reported on a discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of JPL employee David Coppedge. Over the weekend the San Gabriel Valley Tribune ran a lengthy story reporting on the suit.

After Coppedge discussed intelligent design with JPL scientists, his supervisors told him to stop discussing religion. Last April Coppedge's bosses demoted him. Coppedge had been a leader on the system administrator team for the Cassini mission, according to the suit.
The paper also reports that after being ordered by his superiors at JPL to stop talking about intelligent design, Coppedge did just that. Even more interesting is this:
Earlier this month Coppedge claims he met with his supervisors, who told him that the written warning was inappropriate and it would be removed from his file. The suit calls this is "an admission of liability."
The AP report is short, but this is just the beginning.

JPL Discrimination Lawsuit Latest in Long String of Free-Speech on Evolution Controversies

Former Jet Propulsion Laboratory Team Lead, David Coppedge’s case is only the most recent of a series of similar free-speech controversies, including:

  • The California Science Center in Los Angeles, a state agency, is currently entangled in a pair of lawsuits following its discriminatory cancellation of a contract with a private non-profit group to screen a film for the public on intelligent design.

  • At Iowa State University in 2006, supervisors denied tenure to and forced out a distinguished astrophysicist for co-authoring a book on intelligent-design in cosmology.

  • At the Smithsonian Institution in 2005, supervisors investigated, harassed and demoted an evolutionary biologist for editing a pro-intelligent design article in a peer-reviewed technical journal.

  • At the University of Idaho in 2005, the university’s president banned faculty on campus from teaching against evolutionary orthodoxy.

April 16, 2010
How NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Punished David Coppedge for His Views on Intelligent Design

David Coppedge has worked on the Cassini mission since 1997. In 2000 he earned recognition for excellence, receiving the important role of “Team Lead SA” (system administrator), a role he held until his demotion in 2009. coppedge%20mission.jpg
SAs oversee 200 Unix workstations, several high-capacity data storage units, networking equipment, and other specialized computing equipment across America and Europe. He has a wide breadth of knowledge about technical aspects of Cassini's computers and networks and was heavily involved in all the mission operations. Coppedge has been a faithful and highly regarded JPL employee for many years, has led tours of the lab and has served as an outreach speaker presenting the Cassini findings to civic and astronomy clubs and school groups.

Now, though, this exemplary employee has been demoted. Why? Did he do something to jeopardize the mission? No. Was he guilty of incompetence? No. Was he lazy or just lackadaisical in his work? No. David Coppedge's sin was a thought crime, the mere willingness to challenge the ruling authority of Darwinian evolution. In conversation he asked colleagues if they'd be interested in watching a documentary that dealt with evolution and intelligent design. For this he was harassed and discriminated against.

Continue reading "How NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Punished David Coppedge for His Views on Intelligent Design" »

April 15, 2010
What You Can Do to Help David Coppedge's Fight for Academic Freedom

It's an outrage that JPL employee David Coppedge was harassed and discriminated against for his pro-intelligent design views, but you can help him. If you want to stand up for academic freedom, there are three people who need to hear from you:

First, call 818 354-4321 and ask for Director of JPL Dr. Charles Elachi, respectfully letting him know that your tax dollars should never be used to fund discrimination against a government employee.

Second, you can call and email President of Caltech Jean-Lou A. Chameau (626-395-6301, chameau@caltech.edu) and politely tell him that you support David Coppedge. Caltech oversees the JPL and has some jurisdiction.

Third, the JPL is NASA's laboratory. Call them at 202 358-0001 and email public-inquiries@hq.nasa.gov.

Your voice has an impact in this debate -- make sure it gets heard!

Discrimination Lawsuit Filed against NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab for Harassing and Demoting Supporter of Intelligent Design

coppedge1.jpgSupervisors at NASA’s prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) illegally harassed and demoted a high-level computer system administrator for expressing support of intelligent design to co-workers, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed in California Superior Court.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys on behalf of David Coppedge, an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a NASA laboratory managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where robotic planetary spacecraft, such as the Mars Rovers, are built and operated. Coppedge was a “Team Lead” Systems Administrator on the Cassini mission until JPL demoted him for allegedly “pushing religion” by loaning interested co-workers DVDs supportive of intelligent design.

“For the offense of offering videos to colleagues, Coppedge faced harassment, an investigation cloaked in secrecy, and a virtual gag order on his discussion of intelligent design,” said attorney Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Luskin serves as a consultant to the Coppedge lawsuit. “Coppedge was punished even though supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design prior to their investigation, and even though other employees were allowed to express diverse ideological opinions, including attacking intelligent design.”

Coppedge is suing JPL and Caltech for religious discrimination, harassment and retaliation; violation of his free speech rights; and wrongful demotion. Coppedge is represented by Los Angeles First Amendment attorney William J. Becker, Jr., of The Becker Law Firm.

“Intelligent design is not religion, and nothing in the DVDs that Coppedge shared deals with religion,” noted Luskin. “Even so, it’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on what they deem is religion.”

The case is the latest in a string of free-speech controversies surrounding allegations of public and private institutions punishing scientists and other experts for holding controversial views on evolution.

The California Science Center is currently facing two lawsuits similarly alleging attempts to squelch free-speech rights by a group that contracted to screen a film on intelligent design for the public at the Los Angeles facility.

“Anyone who thinks that today’s culture of science allows an open discussion of evolution is sorely mistaken,” said Dr. John G. West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture. “When it comes to intelligent design, private and government-run agencies are suppressing free speech.”

March 9, 2010
New York Times Repeats NCSE's False Account of Selman v. Cobb County Case

Last week’s New York Times article on academic freedom legislation makes a false assertion that the Selman v. Cobb County Board of Education claimed it was illegal to single out evolution in a curricular policy. The NY Times article wrongly states:

The legal incentive to pair global warming with evolution in curriculum battles stems in part from a 2005 ruling by a United States District Court judge in Atlanta that the Cobb County Board of Education, which had placed stickers on certain textbooks encouraging students to view evolution as only a theory, had violated First Amendment strictures on the separation of church and state.

Although the sticker was not overtly religious, the judge said, its use was unconstitutional because evolution alone was the target, which indicated that it was a religious issue.

The problem with the NY Times’ claim is that the Selman case did NOT rule that the sticker was unconstitutional due to the fact that “evolution alone was the target.” In fact, in the Selman v. Cobb County ruling, Judge Cooper held that the Cobb County sticker had a valid secular purpose and that it was permissible to single out evolution. In the words of Judge Cooper’s lower court ruling in Selman, “The School Board's singling out of evolution is understandable in this context” because “evolution is the only theory of origin being taught in Cobb County classrooms,” and “evolution was the only topic in the curriculum, scientific or otherwise, that was creating controversy.”

Continue reading "New York Times Repeats NCSE's False Account of Selman v. Cobb County Case" »

March 5, 2010
Proliferation of Academic Freedom Bills Is Darwin Lobby's Worst Nightmare

The recent front page New York Times article on academic freedom legislation offers a stark reminder that the intelligentsia is very worried about the prospect of teachers gaining academic freedom, as a bill presently in the Kentucky legislature would allow, “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

From 2008-2009, 12 academic freedom bills were submitted into state legislatures, including Florida, Alabama (2), South Carolina (2), Missouri (2), Michigan, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, and New Mexico. Now in 2010, there are 3 bills already, including bills in Kentucky, Missouri, and Mississippi.

The Kentucky bill contains an excellent example of language refuting assertions from critics that these bills allow the teaching of religion: “This section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.” The operative language of the academic freedom bills is entirely beneficial:

Continue reading "Proliferation of Academic Freedom Bills Is Darwin Lobby's Worst Nightmare" »

What Do Darwinism and "Climate Change" Have in Common?

It's the question raised by yesterday's New York Times article on the push for balance in classroom discussions of global warming, though, as Jay Richards aptly notes over at The American, the real point of Leslie Kaufman's story is "to connect the teaching of evolution to the climate change debate."

Now when I read anything on the environment in the New York Times, I try to keep a couple of deconstructionist qualifiers running in the back of my head: “This is what the New York Times wants me to believe about the issue” and “What are they trying to accomplish with this piece?” I know it’s cynical, but when it comes to environmental stories, I just don’t trust New York Times reporters to keep it straight.

Some things they want to accomplish with this piece:

(1) Divide and conquer skeptics of global warming orthodoxy and Darwinism, by painting the latter as ignorant religious zealots, in hopes of starting a fight among conservatives. No doubt they’re hoping that, say, Richard Lindzen will have to explain why he agrees with those nefarious creationists on the global warming issue, and that he’ll have to spend his time issuing statements of agreement with evolution.

(2) Make it harder for official bodies to encourage critical thinking on global warming, since attempts to do the same with regard to evolution have, in recent years, met with fierce resistance and only modest success.

This is the media analysis required with today's journalism, though I would call it prudent rather than cynical.

Richards goes on to consider how the debate over evolution and the debate over climate change are alike — and how they differ:

Continue reading "What Do Darwinism and "Climate Change" Have in Common? " »

March 4, 2010
New York Times Front Page Highlights Movement for Academic Freedom on Evolution, Global Warming and Other Science Issues

The nationwide effort to protect the freedom of teachers to hold balanced classroom discussions of evolution, global warming, and other scientific issues is highlighted on the front page of today’s New York Times. The article, “Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets,” contains the usual errors and mischaracterizations one expects from the establishment media. But mischaracterizations or not, the article gets one thing right: It reveals how both the public and policymakers are increasingly dissatisfied with the scientific establishment’s attempt to misuse science to support various ideological agendas, whether it be Richard Dawkins’ scientific atheism or some global warming alarmists’ efforts to push us back to the Stone Age. People want genuine education about scientific topics, and that includes being able to study all of the evidence, not just a few data points cherry-picked for their propaganda value.

Of course, the Times’ article parrots the standard refrain that there are no legitimate scientific criticisms of things like Darwinian evolution or man-made global warming. Tell that to the more than 800 doctoral scientists who have signed the Dissent from Darwin statement, or to anyone who has read the “Climate Gate” emails. It’s a measure of the obtuseness of the Times that an article that discusses concerns about one-sided teaching on global warming doesn’t even deign to mention the cascading avalanche of revelations of misconduct by scientists among global warming alarmists. The Times’ motto, “All the news that’s fit to print,” has taken on a new meaning: Hide from the public any “inconvenient truths” that may upset the establishment’s ideological apple cart. Fortunately, the Times and the rest of the establishment media are no longer the gatekeepers for what most people learn about the world.

If you’d like support the right of teachers to present all of the scientific evidence, consider signing the Academic Freedom Petition or learning about our model academic freedom legislation.

Support Academic Freedom in the Teaching of Evolution

Across America, the freedom of scientists, teachers, and students to question Darwin is coming under increasing attack by self-appointed defenders of the theory of evolution who are waging a malicious campaign to demonize and blacklist anyone who disagrees with them.

You can help by signing the Academic Freedom Petition and standing up for free speech and free scientific inquiry.

We, the undersigned American citizens, urge the adoption of policies by our nation's academic institutions to ensure teacher and student academic freedom to discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Teachers should be protected from being fired, harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for objectively presenting the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory. Students should be protected from being harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for expressing their views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory in an appropriate manner.
Go to www.academicfreedompetition.com and sign the petition today, and tell your friends and family to sign up as well.

Here's a brief message from Ben Stein about Academic Freedom:

March 3, 2010
Will Tomorrow's Academic Freedom Story in The New York Times Accurately Reflect Discovery's Science Education Policy on Teaching Evolution?

UPDATE: A sentence in the original post has been corrected to read: I stopped her right there and explained that we do not favor mandating the teaching of intelligent design — as is so often misreported — but rather that we think when evolution is taught teachers should present both the evidence the supports Darwinian evolution as well as some of the evidence that challenges it.

http://www.academicfreedompetition.comTomorrow The New York Times will publish an article about academic freedom bills being considered in a few states. We've obviously had some involvement: in 2008 we created the Academic Freedom Petition, which has sample language that legislators could adapt for use in their own states. That led to a very good piece of legislation, the Louisiana Science Education Act, that was finally signed into law last year.

Months ago NYT reporter Leslie Kaufman interviewed CSC associate director John West about academic freedom bills, our views on science education policy, and whether or not we were turning our focus to the global warming issue. As usual, West explained our longstanding science education policy position, which is: "As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community." Bills that don't follow this approach are not ones we're likely to support. When they do, we're glad to lend our seal of approval, for what it's worth.

I greatly appreciate that Leslie had the integrity to call us today and verify the quote she wanted to use from West and to make sure it still reflected our general position. I spoke with her briefly and she told me she also planned to describe Discovery Institute as leading the movement to get intelligent design taught in science classes. I stopped her right there and explained that we do not favor mandating the teaching of intelligent design — as is so often misreported — but rather that we think when evolution is taught teachers should present both the evidence the supports Darwinian evolution as well as some of the evidence that challenges it. She said that was too long to fit in her story (in the New York Times, remember, where they promise to report "All the News That's Fit to Print"; maybe letting people speak for themselves isn't fit to print, we shall see). So I was encouraged when she read back to me a sentence that describes the Institute as endorsing the teaching of critiques of modern evolution. I agreed to that. Upon reflection I probably should have insisted on finding out how she plans to define both "critiques" and "evolution." Again, we shall see what sort of meanings are implied and what perceptions readers are likely to take away from the story. I hope her context is as accurate as the sentence she read back.

She might just as well call it what it is, the teach the controversy approach. As I've explained it previously:

One of the reasons CSC has advocated for the teach the controversy approach is because it is a good way to teach critical thinking to students who all too often are not learning to analyze things and think critically about the arguments for and against.
Darwinian evolution is mostly taught as if it were a done deal, as if there were no unsolved problems, as if the theory had been proven. Such is not the case. Telling students about the debate amongst scientists over certain evidences for Darwin’s theory is not only necessary for good science, it is a pedagogically sound way of teaching a controversial subject.
See here for some other good reasons this is a good approach.

The important point of couse is

Continue reading "Will Tomorrow's Academic Freedom Story in The New York Times Accurately Reflect Discovery's Science Education Policy on Teaching Evolution?" »

February 10, 2010
Want to Make a Difference for ID? Enroll in Discovery Institute's Summer Seminars

Academic freedom week is about more than quoting Darwin and maybe watching an appropriate film for the occasion. (No, not that one. That one’s boring. This one.) It’s about the scientists, scholars, journalists, teachers and students who are affected when fear of inquiry rears its ugly head in the debate over evolution. When you hear the stories of ordinary men and women who have been targeted in this battle over an idea, the importance and impact of the debate becomes clear.

So you’re informed about the issues — you read the blog, listen to the podcast, get the newsletter, and stay involved in the debate as it continues. What else can you do?

If you’re a college or graduate student, you can learn even more about intelligent design. In fact, you can get equipped and be inspired to join the movement.

Continue reading "Want to Make a Difference for ID? Enroll in Discovery Institute's Summer Seminars" »

Vandalizing Bookstores and Censoring Books in the Name of Darwin

Just in time for Academic Freedom Day, Feb. 12 (aka Darwin Day), graduate student Michael Barton at Montana State University boasts of regularly going into his local bookstore and purging books critical of Darwin from the science section of the store and reshelving them in the religion section. This past Sunday Barton posted a report about his most recent act of vandalism:

Today I moved [Michael Behe’s] The Edge of Evolution and [Benjamin Wiker’s] The Darwin Myth away from the shelve directly under where copies of Dawkins’s The Greatest Show on Earth were, and placed them next to--I just had to--the Adventure Bible and the Princess Bible in the religion section.

Whatever Barton claims, his actions constitute censorship, pure and simple. Barton is trying to hide books he doesn’t like in order to prevent others from being exposed to views with which he disagrees. Indeed, he is apparently so insecure about the ability of Darwinists like Dawkins to make their case that he thinks he has the duty to vandalize private bookstores in order to keep the books of Darwin’s critics away from the public. Barton’s activities are not only juvenile, they may well be illegal.

Censors like Barton aren’t doing Darwinian evolution any favors. They merely prove to the public just how bigoted and intolerant the Darwinist establishment has become. Much like certain global warming fanatics, Darwinist ideologues increasingly place themselves above the law and try to exempt themselves of any sort of real accountability.

Ironically, Darwin himself was a lot more fair-minded than his latter-day defenders. Writing at the beginning of On the Origin of Species, Darwin acknowledged that “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

January 28, 2010
Academic Freedom Day Events in Arkansas

Discovery Institute is proud to announce a series of Academic Freedom Day events at the University of Arkansas happening on February 11 (Darwin Day Eve!).

First, there's a free screening of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed starring Ben Stein. Q & A about the movie with Casey Luskin, Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute, will follow.

Time: 5 pm
Location: University of Arkansas Union Theatre

Following that is a lecture, "The Positive Scientific Case for Intelligent Design and Why it’s being Expelled from Academia," by Casey Luskin.

Time: 7 pm
Location: University of Arkansas Union Theatre

January 13, 2010
California Senate Minority Leader Launches Probe into California Science Center's Alleged Violations of First Amendment Rights

SACRAMENTO--California Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth has sent a letter to the California Science Center (CSC) requesting documents related to the Center’s cancellation of a screening last October of the pro-intelligent design documentary “Darwin’s Dilemma.” The screening was sponsored by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA), a private group that had rented the Center’s IMAX theater.

Senator Hollingsworth’s letter follows two lawsuits filed against the state government-operated Science Center charging that it violated both the First Amendment and California’s open records law in its effort to stop the screening and then cover up the real story behind the cancellation.

“The constitutional implications of [the Science Center’s] actions are concerning” wrote Senator Hollingsworth in the letter, citing various court decisions protecting private parties against viewpoint discrimination. “It is fundamental that when a governmental entity or sub-unit (such as CSC) opens its facilities as a public forum, it is not constitutionally permissible to censor speech based on viewpoint or content.”

“The California Science Center’s assault on free speech should alarm everyone,” said Casey Luskin, Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs for the Discovery Institute. “If the government can ban a private group from renting a public auditorium to show a film favoring intelligent design, it can ban private groups from showing films in support of Darwin’s theory. Where does it stop?”

“Senator Hollingsworth is to be commended for launching this inquiry,” added Dr. John West, Vice President for Public Policy and Legal affairs at the Institute. “Free speech is the foundation of a free society. Government agencies have no right to discriminate against citizens because of their legally-protected viewpoints.”

Hollingsworth’s letter is directed to Dr. Joel Strom, Chair of the California Science Center Board of Directors, requesting that he instruct the museum’s management to provide copies of documents pertaining to the cancellation of the event, including e-mail communications from Science Center staff, employees, and board members which discuss the event and the topic of intelligent design versus Darwinism.

January 4, 2010
California Science Center Engaged in Illegal Cover-Up to Hide the Truth About Its Censorship of Pro-Intelligent Design Film

There are two big stories arising from the California Science Center’s censorship last October of the pro-intelligent design film Darwin’s Dilemma. The first big story, which was the primary focus of a Los Angeles Times article last week, is the act of censorship itself. As an agency of state government in California, the Science Center is required to abide by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The Science Center didn’t have to rent its facilities to the public, but once it did so, as a government agency, it was legally obliged by the First Amendment to treat all citizens equally.

But there is another big story tied to the Science Center that hasn’t received sufficient attention yet: The Center’s illegal cover-up.

The California Science Center has flagrantly violated California’s open records law in an apparent effort to hide the real story behind its censorship of Darwin’s Dilemma. The Center’s evasion of the law is the reason for the open records lawsuit recently brought by Discovery Institute against the Center. In October, the Institute filed a comprehensive open records request demanding that the Science Center turn over all documents relating to its abrupt decision to cancel the privately-sponsored screening of Darwin’s Dilemma. In early November, the Science Center released 44-pages of documents in response to the records request. At that time, the Center assured Discovery Institute that it had turned over "all documents" and that "no documents have been withheld," apart from a few e-mail addresses that were redacted. The Science Center did not tell the truth. Discovery Institute independently obtained incriminating emails involving Center officials that should have been turned over by the Center but weren’t.

Most importantly, the Institute obtained a smoking-gun e-mail confirming that the censorship of Darwin’s Dilemma was connected to the Science Center’s relationship with the Smithsonian Institution. In an Oct. 6 email to the American Freedom Alliance, Science Center Vice President Christine Sion specifically cited alleged damage to the Center’s “relationship with the Smithsonian” as the reason for canceling the Darwin’s Dilemma screening. In its open records request, Discovery Institute had asked for all documents relating to the screening cancellation that referenced the Smithsonian. The Christine Sion e-mail was clearly covered by that request and therefore should have been produced. It wasn’t. Another email from a Smithsonian official to the Science Center complaining about the screening was likewise suppressed.

These missing emails may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is a huge unexplained gap in the documents produced by the Center thus far, raising suspicions that the Center may have suppressed many more incriminating documents. Notably, the Science Center failed to disclose even a single email or document relating to the Darwin’s Dilemma screening written by any decisionmaker at the Center who actually made the determination to cancel the screening. In other words, the Science Center would have the public believe that although there was lively email traffic about the screening by others at the Center, no one involved in making the cancellation decision composed even one email or other document mentioning the screening.

It is certainly beginning to look like someone at the Science Center scrubbed the record in order to hide any incriminating documents from the public in violation of the law. And that’s outrageous.

Even those who don’t care one whit about the debate over Darwinism and intelligent design ought to be concerned when a state agency flagrantly violates an open records law and then lies about it. Let’s hope that the judicial system in California is prepared to defend the public interest and to force the Science Center to comply with the law.

December 30, 2009
Why the California Science Center's Censorship of Pro-Intelligent Design Film is a Big Deal

It’s amazing to me how many Darwinists are willing to embrace government censorship in order to prop up their favored theory. It’s equally amazing to me how few Darwinists understand the key difference between what private groups can do (they can sometimes discriminate based on viewpoint) and what government agencies are allowed to do (they must treat all citizens equally, regardless of viewpoint). These issues are coming out with full force in discussions spurred by the Los Angeles Times story this week highlighting the California Science Center’s censorship last October of a privately-sponsored screening of the pro-intelligent design film Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record.

On a radio show this week, someone defended the Science Center’s censorship of Darwin’s Dilemma by equating intelligent design to Holocaust denial and arguing that the Science Center’s censorship was no different from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (a private group) denying someone permission to screen a Holocaust-denial film at its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

The fact that some Darwinists can’t resist comparing intelligent design to Holocaust denial tells one more about their own insecurity and incivility than it does about the legitimacy of intelligent design. The debate over whether nature is the product of intelligence or a blind process is one of the great debates of Western Civilization, and significant numbers of philosophers, scientists, and other scholars have espoused some form of intelligent design over the past century, including the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Wallace! Comparing support for intelligent design to Holocaust denial is a shameful effort to suppress open debate by smear tactics. This tactic is especially appalling given the clear historical connection between Darwinism and the development of Nazi ideology itself. Given the role played by Darwinism in the ideology of the Holocaust, one would think that modern Darwinists would be a little squeamish in equating their critics to Holocaust deniers.

Darwinist smear tactics notwithstanding, the comparison between what the California Science Center did and the hypothetical case of the Simon Wiesenthal Center completely misses the point. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a private entity, and so it certainly has the legal right to limit the rental of its facilities to those who support its mission.

But the California Science Center is a government agency, not a private organization. As a part of California state government, the Science Center is required to abide by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. Unlike private groups or individuals, a government agency is obliged to treat all citizens equally regardless of their religious or political viewpoints. In this case, once the California Science Center decided to rent its auditorium to the public, it couldn’t discriminate against groups whose viewpoints it might not favor. The Science Center didn’t have to rent its facilities to the public, but once it did so, as a government agency, it was required by the First Amendment to treat all citizens equally. Allowing the Science Center to deny citizens equal access to its facilities would be a clear violation of the Constitution.

Those who think that the Science Center (again, a government agency) did nothing wrong in banning the privately-sponsored screening of an intelligent design film might want to consider how far they are willing to apply their support for government censorship. Would they also approve a town council deciding that a public park can be rented for a demonstration to denounce Obama administration policies, but not for a counter-demonstration supporting the Obama administration? If not, why not? There is no in principle difference between a government agency denying equal access to the rental of park facilities for demonstrations and a government agency denying equal access to the rental of a government auditorium.

If you are a proponent of Darwin’s theory, I’d urge you to think long and hard about how far you are willing to go down the path of trashing the Constitution. Are you really willing to jettison the First Amendment in your obsession to shield Darwinian theory from scrutiny? Are you that insecure? Do you think that the evidence for your theory is so weak that you need to resort to government censorship to prevent anyone from even hearing another point of view?

December 29, 2009
Los Angeles Times Reporting on Lawsuit Against California Science Center for Cancelling Intelligent Design Film

censorshiplogo.jpgFinally, it seems that the filing of two separate lawsuits against the California Science Center for its blatant viewpoint discrimination when it censored Darwin's Dilemma has caught the attention of the mainstream media. The Los Angeles Times is now reporting on the story.

Strangely, the California Science Center (CSC) claims to have cancelled a contract with the American Freedom Alliance not because of something the AFA did, but rather because they didn't like the press release put out by Discovery Institute. It might come as a shock to the CSC, but free speech is still protected in this country. The Institute can, and will, say whatever it wants to about the public activities of its scientists and researchers. The CSC has no right to limit our speech, and they have no leverage to bring to bear against the AFA and punish them for something they also have no control over. That is just a ploy to avoid the real issue, theviewpoint discrimination engaged in by a department of the state government.

We've covered this story since the beginning , especially the part played by the Smithsonian, which The Los Angeles Times is also focusing on. I asked in a blog post on Oct. 10 whether the Smithsonian bullied the CSC into cancelling the film. It sure looked like it then.

Earlier this week, Discovery Institute issued its own press release (independent of AFA) announcing that the AFA would be hosting a screening of the film, followed by a discussion with Discovery scientists at a Smithsonian affiliated museum. That is apparently when the screening became a problem. The LA Daily News reports that Smithsonian spokesman Randall Kremer said "he saw the press release a few days ago and was concerned by its reference to the Smithsonian." It certainly seems that the Science Center didn't have a problem until the Smithsonian had a problem.

"The only reason I spoke with anyone at the California Science Center is I was concerned by the inference (in the press release that) there was a showing of the film at a Smithsonian branch, which is how the California Science Center was portrayed in the news release," Kremer said. "Of course, that is not the case. They are independent and any decisions they make on this are on their own."

Really? The Science Center had already made the decision to allow the screening. Canceling it only happened after the Smithsonian saw the press release and at least one Smithsonian official called the Science Center in concern.

And it looks even more so now that the Times is revealing that yet another person at the Smithsonian was complaining to the CSC, though he claims to have stopped short of ordering them to cancel the film.
On Oct. 5, the science center, one of 165 national affiliates of the Smithsonian that enjoy special access to loans from its massive collection, received an alert -- and a complaint -- from Harold Closter, director of the Smithsonian's affiliates program. Closter gave the science center the head's-up about a news release that had been issued not by the AFA but by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that promotes intelligent design and whose researchers are featured in "Darwin's Dilemma." In an e-mail that's an exhibit in the lawsuit, he wrote that the news release wrongly implied that the California Science Center is "a West Coast branch of the Smithsonian, and that the film showing is a Smithsonian event." Closter asked science center officials to correct the error but did not mention canceling the screening.
And of course there was the little fact of a VP at the CSC admitting that just scheduling Darwin's Dilemma to be screened at the science center damaged its reputation and its relationship with the Smithsonian.

December 17, 2009
Santorum Compares Lack of Free Speech on Global Warming to Darwin Debate

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has an article well worth reading in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Santorum compares the tactics of suppression used in the global warming debate to similar tactics used in the debate over Darwinism:

Questioning the scientific consensus in pursuit of the truth is an important part of how science has advanced through the centuries. But what happens when the scientific consensus becomes an ideology that trumps the pursuit of truth? Answer: Those making legitimate inquiries are ostracized, the careers of dissenters are destroyed, and debate is stifled.

Unfortunately, I am referring not only to the current proponents of the theory of man-made global warming. In 2001, I offered a legislative amendment about teaching the subject of evolution. I caught more flak for this simple amendment than for almost anything else I championed in the Senate.

December 2, 2009
Discovery Institute Sues California Science Center for Suppressing Public Documents Showing Viewpoint Discrimination Against Intelligent Design

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 -- Discovery Institute has filed a lawsuit against the California Science Center (the "Center") for unlawfully refusing to disclose public documents requested by Discovery Institute under the California Public Records Act.

Discovery Institute filed the public documents request on October 9, 2009, following the Center's October 6, 2009 cancellation of a contract with the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) to screen a pro-intelligent design video, Darwin's Dilemma, at the California Science Center's IMAX Theatre on October 25, 2009.

On November 2, 2009, the Center released 44 pages of documents claiming to have disclosed "all documents" and that "no documents have been withheld," apart from a few e-mail addresses that were redacted.

"California Science Center's claims are not true, and we know for a fact that e-mail communications exist, including communications with the Smithsonian Institution, that should have been disclosed in response to our public documents request but weren't, showing clear violation of California's Public Records Act," said Casey Luskin, Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute.

"The Center withheld public communications by decision makers who cancelled the contract with AFA," said Luskin. "We believe the reason the California Science Center withheld these public documents is simple: the e-mails show evidence of discrimination against the pro-intelligent design viewpoint."

Discovery Institute's lawsuit follows a separate lawsuit filed against the California Science Center by the AFA for cancelling its contract to show the pro-intelligent design video.

"We also have evidence that the California Science Center had written communications with the Smithsonian Institution expressing angst over the AFA's pro-intelligent design event," explained Luskin. "Yet not a single e-mail, letter, or other document disclosed by the California Science Center mentions the Smithsonian, even though our public documents request specifically asked for documents referencing the 'Smithsonian'."

The California Public Records Act guarantees the public "access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right."

"If the Center wrongfully refused to disclose certain now-known public documents, how many other public documents remain to be uncovered that evidence the California Science Center's viewpoint discrimination?" asked Luskin. "We hope this lawsuit will answer that question."

The lawsuit was filed in State Superior Court in Los Angeles County. Docket number is BS123905. Stay tuned to Evolution News and Views for more information on this case as it develops.

November 30, 2009
The Truth about Richard Sternberg's Persecution by the Smithsonian

Will Michael Shermer and Donald Prothero tell the truth about what happened to Richard Sternberg? That’s one of the open questions going into tonight’s debate in Los Angeles between Shermer and Prothero and ID proponents Stephen Meyer and Richard Sternberg. Shermer and Prothero have a record of misstating the facts about Dr. Sternberg’s persecution at the Smithsonian. It will be interesting to see whether they are willing to make their misstatements to Dr. Sternberg’s face.

For those interested in the truth about Dr. Sternberg’s mistreatment, a good place to start is Casey Luskin’s excellent rebuttal to some of Shermer’s earlier misstatements.

Those who want a more comprehensive recital of the facts should check out the reports issued by federal investigators at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and a congressional subcommittee.

November 1, 2009
More People Flock to Second Day of Colorado Conference to Hear Behe and Berlinski

More than a thousand people attended the second day of the Legacy of Darwin ID Conference this weekend in Castle Rock, Colorado. Saturday morning started off with a strong talk by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, who synthesized the main points of his books Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution. Behe, in his usual winsome and accessible style, drove home just how much empirical evidence has accumulated in recent years demonstrating the sharp limits to the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random mutations.

During the question period that followed, two people offered long-winded “questions” to Behe that seemed to come straight from the talking points of the National Center for Science Education.

Continue reading "More People Flock to Second Day of Colorado Conference to Hear Behe and Berlinski" »

October 31, 2009
Free Speech Prevails as Stephen Meyer Speaks on Intelligent Design to Huge Crowd at Colorado Conference

Updated photo from Friday night:


Castle Rock, Colorado—Despite the first major snowstorm of the season, and unrelenting efforts by malicious Darwinists to prevent people from registering, a huge crowd of around 1,000 people showed up Friday night to hear Dr. Stephen Meyer present the DNA evidence for intelligent design based on his new book Signature in the Cell. Meyer, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and myself are in Colorado to speak at the Legacy of Darwin ID Conference sponsored by Shepherd Project Ministries. On Saturday, Michael Behe will present the evidence against modern Darwinism from his books Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution; David Berlinski will talk about The Devil’s Delusion and The Deniable Darwin; and I will talk about my book Darwin Day in America. Any fair-minded person in the Denver-Castle Rock-Colorado Springs area who still wants to come is welcome to purchase tickets at the door on Saturday morning starting at 8:15 am. The conference is taking place at the Douglas County Events Center. As of tonight, the malicious jamming of the Shepherd’s Project website seems to be continuing. Not content to suppress free speech about Darwin’s theory in schools and colleges and the media, some Darwinist vigilantes are now apparently even trying to stop intelligent design proponents from speaking at private conferences. Fortunately, their suppression tactics don’t seem to be working!

October 29, 2009
Who are the real proponents of hate speech on campus?

Supporters of Darwin’s theory continue to distinguish themselves on America’s college campuses—not for their reason and logic, but for their incredible ill manners and an almost pathological inability to engage in civil discussion. Last week, a factually-challenged attack on intelligent design was published in The Nevada Sagebrush, the student newspaper at the University of Nevada, Reno. Nothing new in that; I see ill-informed articles on intelligent design all the time. But after my colleague Rob Crowther posted a short comment suggesting that readers might actually want to hear from intelligent design proponents themselves (imagine that!), the Darwinist thought-police came out in force. One writer who is so courageous that he hides behind the pseudonym “bobxxxx” fulminated:

Robert Crowther… and the rest of the theocratic morons of the Dishonesty Institute are traitors who want to destroy America’s science education. If it was up to me they would be put in prison for treason. They are enemies of America, no better than terrorists, and they should be treated like terrorists.

Traitors? Terrorists? Enemies of America? ID proponents should be “put in prison” for freely expressing their views?!! Perhaps the University of Nevada should consider requiring its students to take a course on the First Amendment. It's pretty obvious that some of them don't understand the value of free speech.

Continue reading "Who are the real proponents of hate speech on campus?" »

October 10, 2009
Did the Smithsonian Bully the California Science Center to Expel Intelligent Design Film?

The knee-jerk response of Darwin's defenders is to suppress any message that challenges Darwinian evolution's orthodoxy. Case in point, this past week the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the California Science Center, a “department of the State of California,” banned the screening of the new intelligent design film, Darwin’s Dilemma, after the screening became public knowledge and there was intense pressure to cancel.

And get this, from what we've heard the intense pressure came from the Smithsonian Institution with which they are affiliated. That's right, the very same Smithsonian Institution that trampled evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg's academic freedoms. The very same Smithsonian Institution that apologized for allowing another ID film, The Privileged Planet, to be shown at the Institution's Museum of Natural History.

In this instance the American Freedom Alliance entered into what was presumably a legally binding contract with the California Science Center when it rented its facilities. That they would be a screening a pro-ID film was never a secret. The Science Center apparently had no problem with the film being screened there and okayed the contract. So, who did have a problem? Why did the screening have to be canceled?

Earlier this week, Discovery Institute issued its own press release (independent of AFA) announcing that the AFA would be hosting a screening of the film, followed by a discussion with Discovery scientists at a Smithsonian affiliated museum. That is apparently when the screening became a problem. The LA Daily News reports that Smithsonian spokesman Randall Kremer said "he saw the press release a few days ago and was concerned by its reference to the Smithsonian." It certainly seems that the Science Center didn't have a problem until the Smithsonian had a problem.

"The only reason I spoke with anyone at the California Science Center is I was concerned by the inference (in the press release that) there was a showing of the film at a Smithsonian branch, which is how the California Science Center was portrayed in the news release," Kremer said. "Of course, that is not the case. They are independent and any decisions they make on this are on their own."
Really? The Science Center had already made the decision to allow the screening. Canceling it only happened after the Smithsonian saw the press release and at least one Smithsonian official called the Science Center in concern.

It seems pretty clear that here you have a department of the California state government --a science center clearly affiliated with the Smithsonian-- that is breaking a legal contract (for undisclosed reasons) because someone (the Smithsonian?) was upset that a pro-intelligent design film was about to be screened at a well-known science center that is a Smithsonian affiliate.

We've contacted the Science Center by phone and e-mail and they have so far refused to answer any questions about pressure they may have received from the Smithsonian or indeed provide any concrete reason that the screening should be canceled. Their only response was to reissue their singularly uninformative talking point:

"The American Freedom Alliance event at the California Science Center was canceled due to issues related to the contract. With regard to your other questions, we do not discuss contract issues."
As a state government entity, the Science Center surely can do better than that (especially since a number of the questions we asked did not deal with "contract issues" but rather the Center's position on intelligent design.)

I'd wager good money that the American Freedom Alliance doesn't have time to return all the calls from attorneys wanting to take this case.

This isn't the first time a major academic or scientific institution has trampled academic freedom of scientists who are proponents of intelligent design. Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez was the victim of very shameful treatment by the faculty and board of regents at Iowa State University. Dr. William Dembski was hounded out of Baylor University for his views on intelligent design. There's an entire film that millions of people have seen, Expelled starring Ben Stein about what happens to people who are advocates of design theory. Even Stein was later sacked from his position at The New York Times, in part, according to him, for his having made that film.

Rather than debate the science, Darwinists try to suppress it. They simply can't stand to let people know the truth about the shoddy case for Darwinian evolution.

October 9, 2009
Los Angeles Daily News: Cancellation of Darwin Film Creates Uproar

The Los Angeles Daily News this morning is reporting the California Science Center’s outrageous cancellation of a screening of the new intelligent design documentary, Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record. The California Science Center is a “department of the State of California,” and its IMAX Theater had been rented by a private group, the American Freedom Alliance, to hold the Los Angeles premiere of the film as part of a series of activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. But after the screening became public knowledge, the pressure from Darwinist censors apparently became too intense. So this week the Science Center expelled the film, possibly after being intimidated by the Smithsonian Institution, which clearly was upset by publicity promoting the screening that mentioned the true fact that the Science Center is an official “Smithsonian Affiliate.” The Science Center is now claiming that it canceled the event “because of issues related to the contract,” issues its spokesperson conveniently refuses to identify. If you believe that, I have some swamp land you might like to buy in Florida.

Censorship is apparently alive and well in southern California. Given that the Science Center is a state entity, its heavy-handed cancellation of this event raises significant free speech issues. This is viewpoint discrimination plain and simple. A state agency has decided to ban speech it doesn't like in a public facility that is supposed to be open to all citizens. And that's an outrage.

August 12, 2009
Darwin Lobbyists Urge Ban on "Dangerous" Words in State Science Standards

If you needed more evidence that the Darwin lobby wants to turn science education into little more than unquestioned propaganda, take a look at the outlandish new “study” evaluating state science standards published by two officials of the National Center for Science Education, the leading Darwin-only lobbying group. Published by a journal devoted to the one-sided teaching of evolution, the article by Louise Mead and Anton Mates condemns various states for filling their science standards with “dangerous” words and “creationist jargon.”

Just what are these “dangerous” words that must be banned?

“Assess,” “Analyze,” “Evaluate,” and “Critique.”

No, I’m not kidding.

Evolutionists typically claim that the evidence for modern Darwinism is “overwhelming.” But they act as if they know that the evidence is so shaky that the slightest whiff of open discussion will topple the theory, and they are working overtime to prevent students and teachers from being able to evaluate the evidence for themselves.

Increasingly, the Darwinists’ justification for shutting down open inquiry by students and teachers is the patronizing insistence that high school students are too infantile to be allowed to discuss things like adults. In the words of Mead and Mates: “Expecting high school biology students to be able to evaluate evolutionary theory is no more reasonable than expecting high school physics students to evaluate quantum field theory. If students had the necessary knowledge and skills to make such judgments, there would be little reason for college science courses!” Rubbish. If high school students are capable of understanding the arguments and evidence for evolutionary theory, then they should be able to understand—and rationally discuss—scientific criticisms of modern evolutionary theory.

At some point, reasonable people outside the Darwin lobby are going to realize that the real threat to science education in America isn’t coming from proponents of intelligent design or other critics of Neo-Darwinism. It’s coming from the Darwinists themselves, who are trying to replace the scientific method in science classrooms with unthinking dogmatism and learning by rote.

July 9, 2009
New Law Review Article Surveys Case Law on Teaching Evolution

In May, pro-Darwin-only education advocates issued a press release lamenting that “25 percent of biology teachers do not know it is unconstitutional to teach creationism.” Then last month the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) publicized its new “Creationism and the Law” web page, which states that “Since 1968…, U.S. courts have consistently held that ‘creationism’ is a particular religious viewpoint and that teaching it in public schools would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.” While these statements are legally correct, they leave out a crucial point of law that the NCSE may not wish to publicize: “scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories [may] be taught provided that such curricula are enacted with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.” That latter quote comes from the abstract of a new law review article, “Does Challenging Darwin Create Constitutional Jeopardy? A Comprehensive Survey of Case Law Regarding the Teaching of Biological Origins,” that I recently published in the Hamline Law Review (Vol. 32(1):1-64 (Winter, 2009)).

Continue reading "New Law Review Article Surveys Case Law on Teaching Evolution" »

March 8, 2009
My Reply to Timothy Sandefur: The teaching of only the strengths of Darwinism in public schools is inherently the propagation of atheist belief.

Timothy Sandefur, a Panda’s Thumb contributor and an atheist, is a leader in the Darwinist crusade to censor balanced discussion of evolutionary theory in science classrooms. Mr Sandefur responded to my open letter to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, a Darwinist organization that lobbies for censorship of discussion of the weaknesses of evolution in public schools and has boycotted the citizens of Louisiana because they recently passed legislation protecting academic freedom in public schools.

Mr. Sandefur begins his post with a sneer:

With the possible exception of Casey Luskin, no Discovery Institute fellow seems more eager to embarrass himself in public than Michael Egnor…
I always strive to be more embarrassing than Casey, but now it seems I’ll have to try harder. Here goes.

Mr. Sandefur asserts:

The problem with creationism is precisely that creationists like Dr. Egnor want their religion to be taught in government classrooms.
Mr. Sandefur misrepresents my views, which I have explained at length on this blog for several years and will now explain again.

This is my viewpoint on evolution:

I am a Christian and I believe that God created man and the universe. The Bible isn’t a science textbook, although it does offer insight into truth about the natural world. Reason, one form of which is science, can lead us to important truths about nature. I believe that faith and reason cannot ultimately be in conflict, because God is the source of both.

I believe that the earth is ~4.5 billion years old, and the universe is ~14 billion years old. Universal common ancestry is a reasonable inference from the evidence, and life evolved over several billion years. Some aspects of life arose by random variation and natural selection, and some aspects of life (e.g. the genetic code, molecular nanotechnology) show evidence for design by intelligent agency.

Continue reading "My Reply to Timothy Sandefur: The teaching of only the strengths of Darwinism in public schools is inherently the propagation of atheist belief." »

March 6, 2009
Censorship Is Wrong

Oklahoma State Representative Todd Thomsen has filed a resolution in the Oklahoma State Legislature asking the University of Oklahoma to dis-invite Richard Dawkins, who was invited to speak at the university as a part of the university’s Darwin 200th birthday celebration. The proposed resolution reads:

Continue reading "Censorship Is Wrong" »

February 27, 2009
Associated Press Corrects Misreporting on Iowa Evolution Academic Freedom Bill

The Associated Press has corrected an inaccurate article about the Iowa Academic Freedom bill which had stated that "The bill asserts that teaching religious theories of evolution falls under academic freedom. It would let teachers at all education levels teach religious theories as science and forbid them from discounting non-science based answers from students." The bill, of course, says precisely the opposite, as it expressly states: “This section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.” Thankfully, after being shown the actual text of the bill, the AP realized that it was erroneous to claim that the bill allows the teaching of “religious theories” and it has now printed a correction stating:

In a Feb. 26 story about a legislative bill that protects criticism of evolution, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the measure would let educators teach religious theories as science. The bill would prohibit promotion of religious doctrine, and the question of whether religious-based arguments would be allowed in classrooms is a matter of debate among supporters and opponents.
This just shows that when the media uncritically repeats the talking points of Darwinist critics of academic freedom, that the truth is not heard. The AP should be commended for fixing their error.

February 25, 2009
Darwinist Opposition to Academic Freedom Bills Demonstrates the Need for Legislation to Protect Academic Freedom

Much to the chagrin of those who wish to prevent students from learning about science that challenges neo-Darwinism, academic freedom bills have been submitted to the legislatures of five states so far this year. The arguments from critics against these bills are utterly predictable — but they unwittingly demonstrate the need for academic freedom legislation.

Before the Oklahoma Academic Freedom Bill died in committee last week, two Oklahoma Darwinists created a scare-FAQ to lobby Oklahoma legislators, stating: "This bill is designed to cast doubt on science as a valid way of understanding the world and to promote ideas based on religious faith. … This is a ‘Trojan horse’ bill intended to open the door for the teaching of religious concepts in school science classes." Similar arguments were made by Iowa Darwinists, who signed a petition stating that “’academic freedom’ for alternative theories is simply a mechanism to introduce religious or non-scientific doctrines into our science curriculum.”

These arguments are difficult to take seriously, because the actual text of the Oklahoma bill, for example, says precisely the opposite:

Continue reading "Darwinist Opposition to Academic Freedom Bills Demonstrates the Need for Legislation to Protect Academic Freedom" »

February 21, 2009
Civility of Darwinists Lacking at Academic Freedom on Evolution Event in Oklahoma (Updated)

Casey Luskin and John West were in Oklahoma yesterday at an Academic Freedom Day event hosted by the IDEA club at University of Oklahoma. Not surprisingly Darwinists were in attendance, and showed their complete and utter lack of civility. Casey sent me this e-mail recapping once such encounter during the Q&A following his presentation.

Pro-Evolution Blogger Abbie Smith Flipped Me Off on Friday Night, and Here’s the Story

University of Oklahoma (OU) graduate student and science-blogger Abbie Smith flipped me off during my talk about academic freedom at the University of Oklahoma on Friday night. But before I get to that part, I’d like to tell what actually happened.

Continue reading "Civility of Darwinists Lacking at Academic Freedom on Evolution Event in Oklahoma (Updated)" »

February 18, 2009
MSNBC's Birthday Present to Charles Darwin: Puff-Pieces on Evolution (Part 1)

With Darwin’s 200th birthday recently upon us, the media is pushing Darwinism harder than ever. MSNBC, in particular, has recently posted three puff-pieces about the evidence for evolution. My purpose here is not to exhaustively rebut everything these articles say, but to show that for a lot of the evidence they cite in favor of evolution, there’s another side to the story that isn’t being represented. It’s too bad the media is only telling the public one-side of the story.

Fluffy Evidence for the Dino To Bird Transition
The first piece, titled “9 links in the dinosaur-to-bird transition is intended to bolster the theory that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs. The MSNBC piece cites as its primary piece of evidence the fossil Archaeopteryx, about which it says: “Archaeopteryx's feathers and birdlike wishbone – along with reptilian features such as a long bony tail, claws and teeth – are seen as strong evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs.” While there is no doubt that Archaeopteryx represents a bird species with a mosaic of some reptilian and many avian traits, these observations are not support for a transition unless the fossil fits a larger, coherent picture of evolution.

Continue reading "MSNBC's Birthday Present to Charles Darwin: Puff-Pieces on Evolution (Part 1)" »

February 13, 2009
200 Years After Darwin -- What Didn't Darwin Know?

This was the Darwin Day video podcast from ID The Future yesterday, but I thought it would be good to highlight it for regular ENV visitors as well.

This special video episode of ID the Future celebrates Darwin Day with a look back at the man and his theory by three scientists and scholars who join in the scientific dissent from evolution.

Biologist Jonathan Wells, author and M.D. Geoffrey Simmons, and molecular biologist Douglas Axe shed light on the problems with Darwin's theory as they share what led each of them to their skepticism.

Jonathan Wells first became skeptical of Darwin's mechanism of natural selection, but it was in his studies in embryology that he became skeptical of common ancestry. Dr. Wells takes a historical look at the impact of Darwin's theory and discusses how unnecessary it is for modern science.

Geoffrey Simmons, M.D., explains how he became a Darwin skeptic after looking at the evidence and finding the evidence for evolution lacking.

And Molecular biologist Douglas Axe from Biologic Institute explains the problems genetic mutations pose for Darwin's theory.

Listen in to their stories and appreciate again the scientific evidence against Darwin's theory.

February 12, 2009
Academic Freedom Day Video and Essay Contest Winners

We're happy to announce the winners of the 2009 Academic Freedom Day Video and Essay Contest. We had lots of great entries, but the judges have narrowed it down and finally selected a Grand Prize overall winner ($500 award), and a 1st place winner ($250 award) in each category.

Grand Prize Overall Winner: Joshua Owens, Forth Worth, TX (read the essay here).

1st Place Essay Winner: Jaron Daniel Schoone, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (read the essay here).

1st Place Video Winner: David Daudelin, Hackettstown, NJ (watch the video here).

Essay honorable mention: Sarah Horton, Grove City, PA (read the essay here).

Video honorable mention: Brian Miller, Amy Ingermanson, Michael Curtain and Aubrey Burd, Battleground, WA (watch the video here).

Other Views on Darwin on His Big Day

The number of fawning pieces about Charles Darwin of late have been overwhelming, to say the least. Likewise the celebrations at biology departments across the country are in full swing today with cake eating contests, Darwin carols, game shows, honorary operas, and even the minting of new money with his likeness in the UK.

But there are some over takes on Darwin and his legacy, including a number of articles we're happy to highlight for your Darwin Day reading pleasure.


Happy Atheist Day

Dr. Steven Novella recently took issue with an essay I wrote for Forbes.com. Forbes has a fair survey of differing opinions on Darwin’s theory, which, of course, has angered Darwinists, who realize that the continued viability of Darwin’s theory depends on its insulation from criticism. They censor criticism of Darwinism in schools, and they aren’t happy to see the weaknesses of Darwinism discussed in the public forum, along with its strengths.

In my essay, I reviewed some of the scientific problems with Darwin’s theory, and I pointed out that Darwinism is itself a religious ideology. Darwin’s theory is the creation myth of atheism.

Dr. Novella begins:

Continue reading "Happy Atheist Day" »

Darwin Day Poll Shatters Stereotypes: Democrats Favor Freedom to Discuss Evolution’s Strengths and Weaknesses More than Republicans

From the new Zogby poll this week:

QUESTION: Would you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory?graph2z.JPG

Strongly agree 54%
Somewhat agree 26%
Total Agree 80%
Somewhat disagree 6%
Strongly disagree 11%
Total Disagree 16%
Not sure 4%

A large majority of respondents (80%) agree that teachers and students should have academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory, with more than half (54%) saying they strongly agree. Only 16% disagree.

Although the media consistently portray support for the freedom to discuss both sides of the evolution debate as coming primarily from conservative Christians, these poll results show something far different and will shatter some preconceptions about who supports letting students hear a balanced presentation on Darwinian evolution. It turns out that:

Continue reading "Darwin Day Poll Shatters Stereotypes: Democrats Favor Freedom to Discuss Evolution’s Strengths and Weaknesses More than Republicans " »

February 11, 2009
Dramatic Increase in Support for Teaching Scientific Evidence Both For and Against Darwinian Evolution

From the new Zogby poll this week:

QUESTION: I am going to read you two statements about Biology teachers teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution. Please tell me which statement comes closest to your own point of view—Statement A or Statement B?

Statement A: Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it.

Statement B: Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.

Statement A 14%
Statement B 78%
Neither 5%
Other/Not sure 2%

graph.jpgA large majority (78%) say Statement B, “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it,” comes closest to their point of view, while 14% say Statement A, “Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it” comes closest to theirs.

The majority supporting teaching both sides of the evolution debate jumped by 9 points since 2006, when this question was last asked:

Results from Zogby nationwide poll in 2006

Statement A 21%
Statement B 69%
Neither/Other/Not sure 10%

Random sample of 1,004 likely voters. Conducted by Zogby International on Feb.27-Mar. 2, 2006. Margin of error +/-3.2%.

Continue reading "Dramatic Increase in Support for Teaching Scientific Evidence Both For and Against Darwinian Evolution" »

Darwin Day Poll Elicits Response From Richard Dawkins

This morning the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog picked up the news about the national Darwin Day poll making waves for teaching evolution, even paying us a nice compliment or two while re-imagining history (for the record, DI's ed policy has always been to teach the controversy). But the really interesting thing is that they wanted an "expert" opinion on the poll (besides the professionals at Zogby) and so they turned to — who else? — Richard Dawkins:

Continue reading "Darwin Day Poll Elicits Response From Richard Dawkins" »

February 10, 2009
Zogby Poll Shows Dramatic Jump in Number of Americans Who Favor Teaching Both Sides of Evolution

Surprisingly Strong Support Seen Among Democrats and Liberals

A new Zogby poll on the eve of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday shows a dramatic rise in the number of Americans who agree that when biology teachers teach the scientific evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, they also should teach the scientific evidence against it. Surprisingly, the poll also shows overwhelming support among self-identified Democrats and liberals for academic freedom to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” evolution.

Over 78% of likely voters agree with teaching both the evidence for and against Darwin’s theory, according to the new national poll.

“This represents a dramatic 9-point jump from 2006, when only 69% of respondents in a similar poll favored teaching both sides,” said Discovery Institute’s Dr. John West. “At the same time, the number of likely voters who support teaching only the evidence that favors evolution dropped 7 points from 21% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2009.

“We need to change Darwin Day to Academic Freedom Day because just when Darwinists are celebrating evolution’s triumph, this poll shows that they have been losing the public debate over whether students need to hear both sides,” added West. “There appears to be a public backlash against the strong-arm tactics being employed by many Darwinists to intimidate scientists, teachers, and students who want to raise criticisms of Darwin’s theory.”

Continue reading "Zogby Poll Shows Dramatic Jump in Number of Americans Who Favor Teaching Both Sides of Evolution" »

February 6, 2009
University of Vermont Biology Prof: Ben Stein Has No Peer-Reviewed Scientific Research!

This keeps getting better and better. First the University of Vermont announces that they've replaced Ben Stein with Howard Dean (yes, that Howard Dean) as their commencement speaker.

Then UVM biology prof Nick Gotelli writes an opinion piece in the Burlington Free Press arguing that Stein is unqualified to be a commencement speaker because he has no peer-reviewed scientific scholarship.

I kid you not:

The real issue is not political correctness, but scholarship. I will leave it to my colleagues in the economics department to weigh in on Stein's scholastic achievements as an economist. As far as the sciences go, I am unaware of a single publication by Stein that has appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. In the sciences, these peer-reviewed journal articles are the currency by which we judge all scholars, and they form the basis for job offers, promotions and advancement in academia.

Stein's ideas are widely discredited by reputable academic scholars as well as by the mainstream media, and that is the real reason we don't want him to represent us on graduation day.

Hey, if the mainstream media says it, it must be true! Good thing UVM now has that paragon of scientific research, Howard Dean, to restore their honor.

Forbes.com Balances Darwin and Evolution Coverage With Wide Range of Thinkers on Both Sides

Over at Forbes.com they've just posted over 20 articles related to Darwin and evolution in advance of next week's hoopla around the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. Kudos to editor Hana Alberts for compiling such compelling reading. As she notes in her introduction to the special report:

More questions than we'd like were raised long ago, and remain unanswered. Two of the biggest: If humans are no different than animals, what is the status of free will, of morality borne from the brain, not the body? Can and should we apply ideas about the "survival of the fittest" to economics, to population control, to law, to love?

These gripping uncertainties spring from our common desire to eliminate uncertainty, or the unknowns of the surrounding universe, by subjecting them to knowledge, scrutiny and documentation. And as a result, we gamely hope that we'll stumble into some unequivocal truths about our place in the world, and why we are where we are.

To their credit, Forbes solicited articles from a variety of viewpoints, and the authors include CSC Fellows John West and Jonathan Wells, as well as Darwin skeptics like Michael Egnor and Michael Flannery, along with Darwinists like Michael Ruse, Larry Arnhart, Lionel Tiger and more. Here are a few highlights.

Continue reading "Forbes.com Balances Darwin and Evolution Coverage With Wide Range of Thinkers on Both Sides " »

February 4, 2009
Puppetmaster Richard Dawkins Pulls Strings to Get Revenge on Ben Stein

[Note: For a more comprehensive rebuttal to critics of Ben Stein's documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, please see: NCSE Exposed at NCSEExposed.org]

Alas, poor Richard. Out of a job, and still twitching from Ben Stein's unveiling of his pro-intelligent design tendencies in Expelled last year, he apparently spends his time dogging Ben Stein's heels. Here's how a fawning university president gushed about getting an e-mail from Dawkins telling him to bounce Stein as a commencement speaker later this year.

Is the correspondence between you and Professor Richard Dawkins authentic?

Fogel: It is authentic; I admire his work greatly. I have read his work and I have been deeply instructed by it., as I said to him. I was really quite honored to have an e-mail from him directly.

What was the first e-mail from him about?

Fogel: It was to discuss his dismay and concern along the lines we have already discussed.

And also to give me some of his more person background that I had certainly been unaware of. I did not know that he was shown in the movie ‘Expelled’ and that he had been manipulated by the producers and that his words had been used out of context.

Continue reading "Puppetmaster Richard Dawkins Pulls Strings to Get Revenge on Ben Stein" »

Discovery Institute Honors Charles Darwin With Academic Freedom Day

Discovery Institute today announced the launch of Academic Freedom Day in honor of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday on February 12, 2009.

"We’re celebrating Charles Darwin’s birthday by supporting what he supported: academic freedom,” said Robert Crowther, Director of Communications at Discovery Institute. “Like Darwin, we recognize the importance of having an open and honest debate between evolution and intelligent design.”

In his revolutionary On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” This quote is the cornerstone of the Institute’s Academic Freedom Day efforts.

The Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is sponsoring Academic Freedom Day, assisting student groups, clubs, and individual students to organize Academic Freedom Day Events centered on Darwin’s birthday and his fair-minded approach to freedom of inquiry.

These events will give students and youth workers a way to express their support for free speech and the right to debate the evidence for and against evolution. In preparation for Academic Freedom Day, the CSC has launched academicfreedomday.com, a website where students and others will be equipped to support academic freedom and fight censorship in tangible ways, like signing the academic freedom petition on evolution, wearing Academic Freedom Day t-shirts, entering the academic freedom on evolution video and essay contest, screening movies like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed starring Ben Stein and Icons of Evolution, and starting Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) clubs.

“With the release of Expelled last year, we found that many young people want to know what they can do to stand up for academic freedom,” Crowther explained. “Now we’re equipping them to make a difference in science education across the country.”

For more information on Academic Freedom Day, visit www.academicfreedomday.com.

University of Vermont President Engages in Double-Speak and Double-Standards When It Comes to Disavowing Pro-Intelligent Design Commencement Speaker Ben Stein

Let your voice be heard: If you think it was wrong for Ben Stein to be pushed out as this year’s commencement speaker at University of Vermont, send a message to University President Daniel Fogel at Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu or 802-656-3186.

Apologizing for inviting gifted actor and writer Ben Stein to be commencement speaker at the University of Vermont, University President Daniel Fogel has highlighted what he called Stein’s “highly controversial views” about “evolutionary theory, intelligent design, and the role of science in the Holocaust.” Fogel went on to express penance for inviting Stein by claiming that “Commencement should be a time when our community gathers inclusively, not divisively.”

I guess inclusivity is why in 2007 Fogel chose as commencement speaker Democratic congressman John Lewis, who in 1995 compared Republicans to Nazis (last year Lewis compared John McCain and Sarah Palin to segregationist George Wallace and racist church bombers). Or perhaps President Fogel’s concern for inclusivity is better demonstrated by his 2006 commencement speaker, Gustavo Esteva, a far-left activist and advisor to the radical Zapatista National Liberation Army in Mexico.

In today’s academic double-speak, invitations to far-left revolutionaries and race-baiting Congressmen are apparently “inclusive,” while inviting a speaker who favors free speech on the issue of evolution is beyond the pale.

Of course, it’s being reported that Stein withdrew as the university’s commencement speaker “voluntarily.” “Voluntarily,” that is, after he received a phone call from Dr. Fogel likely making clear he was no longer welcome. Given Fogel’s subsequent disavowal of inviting Stein in the first place, it’s pretty obvious that his phone call was designed to elicit Stein’s withdrawal. Fogel’s spinelessness in the face of the Darwinist thought-police is equaled only by his tone-deafness to his own rhetoric. After disowning Stein, Fogel has continued to insist: “I am firm in my belief—profoundly held—that, as a university, UVM is and must remain a marketplace of ideas.” Fogel's ideal marketplace must have a lot of empty shelves.

February 3, 2009
Darwin Defenders Get Ben Stein Expelled from University of Vermont’s Commencement Address

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Ben Stein “has withdrawn from an engagement to speak at the University of Vermont’s spring commencement after his invitation drew complaints about his views on biological evolution.” The article reports: “According to the Burlington Free Press, the vast majority of protesters were not affiliated with the University of Vermont; only ‘about a half dozen’ objections came from the campus.” So why did protests about Stein start pouring in from outside the University of Vermont (UVM)? The answer seems clear: Stein’s invitation to speak at UVM was first raised to the Darwinist community in a post by PZ Myers titled, “University of Vermont makes an embarrassing decision.” Given the large following of PZ’s blog, this undoubtedly resulted in readers who were “not affiliated with the University of Vermont” sending e-mails protesting Stein’s involvement.

Continue reading "Darwin Defenders Get Ben Stein Expelled from University of Vermont’s Commencement Address" »

January 15, 2009
Louisiana Passes Rules Implementing Historic Academic Freedom Act

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted unanimously to adopt rules today implementing the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), the landmark academic freedom bill passed last summer.

The rules approved by the BESE effectuate the academic freedom bill’s purpose to allow teachers to use supplementary materials to teach controversial scientific theories without threat of recrimination.

A subcommittee of the Board removed a provision prohibiting intelligent design before passing the rules unanimously. The legally redundant provision would have gone beyond the intent of the legislation and was dropped after the subcommittee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of the language.

In adopting these rules, the BESE reiterated its support for academic freedom for teachers to teach controversial scientific theories.

According to Discovery Institute education policy analyst Casey Luskin, “This is another victory for Louisiana students and teachers to have a climate of academic freedom to learn about scientific controversies over evolution and other topics in the curriculum.”

Several Louisiana scientists testified in favor of academic freedom of evolution-education, including biologist Wade Warren, biochemist Brenda Peirson, and chemistry professor Joshua Williams.

Louisiana biology teacher Patsy Peebles testified in favor of the language prohibiting intelligent design. When she falsely claimed that ID had been banned by the U.S. Supreme Court, attorney John Wells corrected her, reminding the BESE that the Supreme Court has not ruled on intelligent design.

Stay tuned to Evolution News & Views for more as the story develops.

December 11, 2008
What Is More Important Than Your Freedom?

We are teaming up with the IDEA Center (Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness) to help students in starting IDEA chapters on their campuses. Such campus clubs are a fun and educational way for students to examine all sides of the debate over evolution.

Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Clubs are student-initiated clubs that foster academic freedom as students learn about scientific evidence that supports intelligent design and also learn about modern evolutionary theory. IDEA Clubs are a growing network of student-led clubs on university and high school campuses around the United States with thirty new chapters formed to date.

Visit www.ideacenter.org or e-mail Brian Westad at brianw@ideacenter.org for information on how you can start an IDEA club in your area.

December 5, 2008
Encouraging Students to Speak Out About Academic Freedom, Evolution and Intelligent Design

On Charles Darwin's 200th birthday (February 12, 2009), students everywhere can speak out against censorship and stand up for free speech by defending the right to debate the evidence for and against evolution. Let's turn Darwin Day into Academic Freedom Day.
As regular ENV readers are aware, we just launched the grassroots Academic Freedom Day campaign. Our goal is to transform the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth on Feb. 12, 2009 from an uncritical celebration venerating Darwin to a day that highlights the need for academic freedom to debate the evidence for and against Darwinism. As a follow-up to the release of Expelled this year, we want to continue to raise awareness of efforts by Darwinists to stifle scientific inquiry at all levels, and we want people to sign the Academic Freedom Petition. The centerpiece of our campaign is the website www.academicfreedomday.com.

Announcing the Academic Freedom Video & Essay Contest
Darwin once wrote,

A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.
That famous quote will be the touchstone for students to communicate their support for academic freedom to explore the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution. The video and essay contest is open to high school and college students and will be judged based on creativity, accuracy, and persuasiveness. One grand-prize winner will be announced and have his or her entry officially unveiled at academicfreedomday.com on Academic Freedom Day, Feb. 12th 2008. For details on entering the contest, go to: www.academicfreedomday.com/actUp.php.

We need your help in promoting the contest to ensure that as many students as possible hear about it and are able to participate.

Here are five things that you can do to help us promote the Academic Freedom Day Video & Essay Contest:

Continue reading "Encouraging Students to Speak Out About Academic Freedom, Evolution and Intelligent Design" »

October 24, 2008
The Catechism Versus the Data: A Reply to John Timmer about Explore Evolution (part 1)

This is the first in a series of blog entries replying to John Timmer's online critique of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution, posted by Paul Nelson on behalf of the book's production team.

1. Introduction: Sending Him the Book Didn’t Help

On September 24, 2008, biologist and science writer John Timmer published an online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution (EE). Timmer had previously written about EE without having read it, so Discovery Institute sent him a copy.

Continue reading "The Catechism Versus the Data: A Reply to John Timmer about Explore Evolution (part 1)" »

September 2, 2008
Prominent Atheist Professor of Law and Philosophy Thomas Nagel Calls Intelligent Design Scientific and Constitutional to "Mention" in Science Classes

Prof. Thomas Nagel, a self-declared atheist who earned his PhD. in philosophy at Harvard 45 years ago, who has been a professor at U.C. Berkeley, Princeton, and the last 28 years at New York University, and who has published ten books and more than 60 articles, has published an important essay, "Public Education and Intelligent Design," in the Wiley InterScience Journal Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 36, issue 2, on-line at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118493933/home (fee for access US $29.95).

Prof. Nagel's paper is a significant and substantial opening, at America's highest intellectual level, that encourages all intelligent, educated, informed individuals — particularly those whose interest in this issue derives from intellectual curiosity, not the emotional advocacy excitement for any side — that it is legitimate as a matter of data, science, and logic, divorced from all religious texts and doctrines, to consider that intelligent design may be a valid scientific approach to understanding how DNA and the complex chemical systems of life came to attain their present form. Prof. Nagel's article is well worth the price to put it in the library of any inquiring mind.

Continue reading "Prominent Atheist Professor of Law and Philosophy Thomas Nagel Calls Intelligent Design Scientific and Constitutional to "Mention" in Science Classes" »

August 2, 2008
Hypocrisy on Display at The Des Moines Register: Academic Freedom Protects Bullying Students about Religion, But Not Presenting Evidence for Intelligent Design

Academic freedom doesn't protect a professor's right to talk about the scientific evidence favoring intelligent design. But it does protect a professor's right to belittle his students' fundamentalist religious beliefs. That's the hypocritical view being championed by Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu. Unfortunately, her mindset reflects the views of a lot of pro-Darwin apologists in the media.

When astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez was being harassed and discriminated against at Iowa State University (ISU) because of his support for intelligent design, Basu actually cheered on the inquisitors. When atheist religion professor Hector Avalos spearheaded a campus petition against intelligent design in 2005, for example, Basu wrote that “it would be would be a serious breach of academic integrity” for universities to hire intelligent design proponents. Basu even demanded that ISU impose a gag order to prevent any professor from defending intelligent design as science in ISU classrooms:

Continue reading "Hypocrisy on Display at The Des Moines Register: Academic Freedom Protects Bullying Students about Religion, But Not Presenting Evidence for Intelligent Design" »

June 26, 2008
ACLU Says Louisiana Science Education Bill on Evolution and Other Issues Is Fine As Written

After all of the harrumphing by Darwinists that the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) promotes “creationism” and is therefore unconstitutional, the director of the Louisiana ACLU has now conceded that the bill is actually fine as written according to a Louisiana TV station:

ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said that if the Act is utilized as written, it should be fine....

Of course, Ms. Esman goes on to fret that some people might misuse the bill, and in that case the ACLU might sue. Well, I have news for Ms. Esman: Any law can be disregarded, and so yes, if a teacher wants to willfully ignore what the Louisiana Science Education Act says and try to endorse religion, the teacher no doubt can do so (until the ACLU comes knocking at the door). But in such a case the teacher would be violating the law itself as well as the Constitution, because the LSEA explicitly states that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or promote discrimination against religion or non-religion.” Incredibly, Ms. Esman suggests that this wording doesn’t mean what it says, insisting that “It does not say it prohibits the introduction of religion, and there’s a difference.” Actually, the language is even broader than that, prohibiting anything that might be used to promote a religious doctrine or religious discrimination.

In any case, the bottom line is that even the ACLU has had to acknowledge that the LSEA as written is constitutional. I guess the sky isn't falling, after all.

May 22, 2008
Louisiana One Step Closer to Instituting Evolution Academic Freedom Act

In Louisiana, a state legislative committee unanimously has passed to the full state house a bill that will protect the rights of teachers to present scientific evidence both for and against modern evolutionary theory. A slew of local scientists were on hand to support the bill, along with educators and students. It's not hard to understand why when you know what the bill actually says:

"teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught."
The next step is for the House side of the legislature to vote on the bill, which has already passed the Senate with a 35-0 vote, and that could happen as early as next week. Because of a new amendment allowing for the state board of education to have final say on supplemental texts used the bill will still have to go back to the Senate for final ratification.

After the clock ran out in Florida and Alabama, it seems that Louisiana might actually take a big step forward and send an evolution academic freedom act to the governor. Bills are still alive and under consideration in Michigan and South Carolina, as well.

May 17, 2008
Letter Sets Wall Street Journal Straight on Teaching Strengths and Weaknesses of Darwinian Evolution

HIgh school biology teacher Doug Cowan has a letter in today's Wall Street Journal responding to a recent article which misreprsented his comments on the debate over how to teach evolution.

Science Looks at All the Evidence
May 17, 2008

Your article "Evolution's Critics Shift Tactics With Schools" (Currents, May 2) claims that I would "like a legal guarantee [so I] can teach as I see fit." Actually, I believe in teaching the prescribed curriculum, and I do so. But I don't think a teacher should be penalized for exploring required topics in greater depth, especially in cases where scientists have different views. One should have the freedom to pursue and teach all the evidence even if it leads to disturbing conclusions.

I teach students the evidence both for and against Darwin's theory, with the goal of fostering critical thinking, allowing them to arrive at informed conclusions. The core of evidence I teach that supports evolution is derived from fossil succession, anatomical and molecular homologies, natural selection-mutation, embryology, artificial selection and real-time observations from microbes and sickle-cell disease.

Doug Cowan


May 16, 2008
Evolution Academic Freedom Bill Submitted in South Carolina is Sixth this Year

South Carolina Senator Mike Fair has submitted an Academic Freedom Bill into the South Carolina State Legislature. This is now the sixth academic freedom bill submitted this legislative session, as other bills have been submitted in Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Alabama, and Louisiana. The text of Senator Fair’s bill would require that, “The State Board of Education, superintendents of public school districts, and public school administrators may not prohibit a teacher in a public school of this State from helping his students understand, analyze, critique, and review the scientific strengths and weaknesses of biological and chemical evolution in an objective manner.”

Meanwhile, like other commentators, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) cannot admit that South Carolina's state science standards require critical analysis of evolution. The NCSE recently reported that Senator Fair lost his push in 2006 to include an indicator requiring critical analysis of evolution into the South Carolina State Science Standards. But in fact he didn’t lose, for the South Carolina Science Standards now state, students will learn to “Summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” What part of “critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory” does the NCSE thinks doesn’t mean “critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory”?

As Senator Fair stated regarding his present bill, “The very nature of science is to ask questions and to go where the evidence leads.” If the evidence is on the side of evolution, then the NCSE has nothing to fear from this bill.

May 12, 2008
Criticism of evolution not safe for discussion in Florida schools

The Florida state legislature's inability to push through an academic freedom bill highlights the difficulty of passing any legislation, expecially one that has strong opposition. Any legislation dealing with the teaching of evolution is bound to face an uphill battle as Darwinists are effective at organizing groups and people to pressure the legislators. Where does that leave the teachers in Florida?

Continue reading "Criticism of evolution not safe for discussion in Florida schools" »

April 30, 2008
Evolution Academic Freedom Bills Spread to More States: National Movement Grows

Five states are currently considering adoption of academic freedom legislation designed to protect teachers who teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. Introduction of similar legislation is being considered by legislators in several other states, indicating the national scope of this movement.

“Often in this debate the issues at hand get misrepresented, and so our goal is to fully and straightforwardly explain that this is about science and helping prepare the best scientists of the future for our state and for our country,” said Rep. John Moolenaar, sponsor of academic freedom legislation in Michigan. "And a big part of that is enabling them to have the academic freedom to explore and critically examine scientific theories.”

Many of the bills have been adapted from sample legislation developed by Discovery Institute, including a model statute posted online at www.academicfreedompetition.com.

Continue reading "Evolution Academic Freedom Bills Spread to More States: National Movement Grows" »

April 29, 2008
Michigan Becomes Fifth State to Introduce Evolution Academic Freedom Bill

An Evolution Academic Freedom Bill (HB 6027) was introduced today in Michigan by Rep. John Moolenaar. The bill is similar to academic freedom legislation introduce in several other states earlier this year and, if enacted, will provide public school teachers with academic freedom to present both the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution.

“Often in this debate the issues at hand get misrepresented, and so our goal is to fully and straightforwardly explain that this is about science and helping prepare the best scientists of the future for our state and for our country,” said Rep. Moolenaar. “And a big part of that is enabling them to have the academic freedom to explore and critically examine scientific theories.”

Discovery Institute has long supported academic freedom for teachers and scientists to explore and explain the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“In many states public school teachers, students, and even college professors have faced intimidation and retaliation when they attempt to discuss scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution,” said biologist Jonathan Wells, a research scientist at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture who holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. “In educational institutions that receive taxpayer support, it is entirely appropriate for the government to ensure that teachers and students have the right to discuss freely the evidence and scientific arguments for and against evolutionary theory.”

April 23, 2008
Florida Senate Passes Academic Freedom Bill

Orlando Sentinel and Florida Baptist Witness report that the Evolution Academic Freedom Act was passed by the Florida Senate today.

April 18, 2008
Opponents of Academic Freedom on Teaching Evolution Using Outlandish Rhetoric

A modified version of the Louisiana Academic Freedom Bill moved out of the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday, following testimony from both proponents and opponents of the bill. I recently predicted that, "For the Darwinists who oppose the bill, this battle is about falsely appealing to people's emotions and fears in order to suppress the teaching of scientific information that challenges evolution." If you don't believe me, consider the latest testimony from Darwinists encouraging legislators to oppose the bill yesterday before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee:

Continue reading "Opponents of Academic Freedom on Teaching Evolution Using Outlandish Rhetoric" »

April 6, 2008
Lengthy Interview with Ben Stein About Expelled and Evolution

April 5, 2008
World Mag's Olasky Says Expelled is "Seriously Funny"

Marvin Olasky has a great review of Expelled in the new issue of World magazine.

Ben Stein takes on the debate-phobic Darwinian establishment"The shot heard round the world" that started the American Revolution came on April 19, 1775. On April 18 this year, a seriously funny documentary is scheduled to hit 1,000 theaters across America and fire a shot that will go unheard if debate-phobic Darwinists get their way.

The 100-minute documentary, Expelled, is perfect for adults and children of middle-school age or above: It should be rated R not for sex or violence but for being reasonable, radical, risible, and right. (It is rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images, and brief smoking.) The expelling of Intelligent Design (ID) proponents from universities is not a laughing matter, but star Ben Stein is amusing as he walks, in dark suit and bright running shoes, from interview to interview with scientists and philosophers on both sides of the evolution debate.

Expelled rightly equates Darwinian stifling of free speech with the Communist attempt to enslave millions behind the Berlin Wall. One Expelled scene shows Stein, mathematician David Berlinski (a sophisticated Paris resident), and nuclear physicist Gerald Schroeder (wearing a yarmulke), all now ID advocates, discussing the importance of freedom as they visit a remnant of the Wall. All three are Jewish, and they don't look or talk like the hicks portrayed in Inherit the Wind.

Click here to read the rest of Seriously Funny.

April 4, 2008
Dr. Larry Moran and Censorship of Intelligent Design


Commenting on the recommendations by Matt Nesbit and Chris Mooney that Darwinists tone down the venality of their attacks against religious faith and against scientists who support intelligent design, atheist "evolutionist" Dr. Larry Moran, professor of biochemistry at the University of Toronto, replied:

I'm opposed to censorship of any kind but I really wish Matt Nisbet and Chris Mooney would voluntarily decide to keep their stupid mouths shut for a few years.

Is Dr. Moran genuinely "opposed to censorship of any kind"? Consider his statement a few months ago on the moral dilemma that Darwinists face regarding students who are Christians:

Of course, we all recognize the problem here. How do you distinguish between a good Christian who is lying for Jesus and one who has actually come to understand science? It seems really unfair to flunk the honest students who admit that they still reject science and pass the dishonest ones who hide their true beliefs…As we've seen time and time again on the blogs (and elsewhere), the Christian fundamentalists have erected very strong barriers against learning. It really doesn't matter how much they are exposed to rational thinking and basic scientific evidence. They still refuse to listen…This is one of the reasons why I would flunk them if they took biology and still rejected the core scientific principles. It's not good enough to just be able to mouth the "acceptable" version of the truth that the Professor wants. You actually have to open your mind to the possibility that science is correct and get an education. That's what university is all about. [empahsis mine]

Dr. Moran insists that professors investigate students’ religious beliefs in order to ascertain whether or not Christians who "mouth the acceptable version" (i.e., who pass their exams) genuinely believe "science," which Dr. Moran defines as materialist metaphysics. If they don’t accept Dr. Moran's personal atheist ideology, he "would flunk them," regardless of their grades.

Continue reading "Dr. Larry Moran and Censorship of Intelligent Design " »

April 3, 2008
Bring Expelled to a Theater Near You

Expelled continues to generate buzz. Earlier today, Ben Stein spoke in support of the Academic Freedom Act introduced this week in the MIssouri state legislature, and both he and the film were praised by Governor Blunt. With all the academic freedom issues coming to a boil the film is receiving more attention than ever.

grouptix.png We get a lot of e-mail asking how people can find out if Expelled will be showing in their local theater. Well, here's where to check. The Expelled website features a theater locator which will tell you the theater closest to you that will be screening the film when it opens on April 18th.

If you don't find a theater near you in the list generated from the locator, or you know of a particular theater that you'd like to see carry the film but currently isn't on that list, here's what to do.

Continue reading "Bring Expelled to a Theater Near You" »

Missouri Becomes Third State to Introduce Academic Freedom Legislation on Teaching of Evolution

Following on the heels of Florida and Louisiana, Missouri legislators have now filed an academic freedom act bill, and a companion bill to protect scientists and researchers, along with educators.

Legislators in Louisiana and Missouri have introduced academic freedom bills that would ensure the freedom of teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological and chemical evolution. Florida legislators introduced a similar bill recently which passed through its first committee hearing on a 4-1 vote.

In Louisiana, Sen. Ben Nevers introduced SB 561, and in Missouri Rep. Wayne Cooper has introduced HB 2554. Both bills would protect teachers’ academic freedom to teach scientific information that supports or challenges biological and chemical evolution, but expressly do not protect the teaching of religion.

Thursday morning, Ben Stein will be at a press conference in Jefferson City, MO, to throw his support behind the efforts. One state was a breakthrough, two states was great, but three states clearly indicates a growing trend. I know other states have considered such bills in the past, so it will be interesting to see if more states step forward on this issue this year. Read more about the bills here.

April 2, 2008
Darwinist Objections to Louisiana Academic Freedom Bill Based (Predictably) upon Misinformation

An academic freedom bill has been submitted in the state of Louisiana, and Darwinists have been quick to claim that the bill promotes religion. Columnist James Gill followed the Darwinist talking points perfectly in his editorial in The Times-Picayune, using the fear-mongering tactic of claiming that this bill is part of a "creationist attack" and that "[t]he bill is of no conceivable benefit to anyone but Christian proselytizers."

So what exactly does this bill's dangerous "attack" say? The language of the bill simply states that "teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught." The only people who would find such language threatening are those who would oppose an objective discussion of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like neo-Darwinism.

Continue reading "Darwinist Objections to Louisiana Academic Freedom Bill Based (Predictably) upon Misinformation" »

March 28, 2008
Darwinist Biologist P.Z. Myers’ “Nice Feedback Mechanism”— “Greater Science Literacy…Is Going to Lead to the Erosion of Religion”

The most astonishing thing about Premise Media’s new documentary Expelled is the candor with which prominent Darwinist scientists admit their own ideological agenda in science education. In the film, Darwinists admit that atheist metaphysics is essential to their science. They insist that scientific education should erode their students’ belief in God.

Among the most prominent Darwinists interviewed in the film is Dr. P.Z. Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris and author of the science blog Pharyngula. Pharyngula is one of the most popular science blogs, and Myers mixes Darwinist science with unvarnished venom for Christianity. Dr. Myers posted one of his more polite descriptions of Christianity on Easter Day:

This is Easter, the day Christians everywhere set aside to celebrate the day they were hoaxed by a gang of Middle Eastern charlatans into believing a local mystic rose from the dead.

Continue reading "Darwinist Biologist P.Z. Myers’ “Nice Feedback Mechanism”— “Greater Science Literacy…Is Going to Lead to the Erosion of Religion” " »

March 14, 2008
Florida Darwinists Can’t Get Story Straight about Opposition to Academic Freedom Act

Darwinists in Florida are in a tizzy trying to figure out why they oppose the proposed Academic Freedom Act in their state. Sometimes they claim the act isn’t needed because no one who questions Darwin is being denied academic freedom. Other times they insist the act should be rejected because academic freedom is nothing but “smelly crap.” Still other times, they insist the act is bad because it supposedly authorizes the teaching of religion in science class, even though the text of the act clearly says the exact opposite (“This section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”)

Continue reading "Florida Darwinists Can’t Get Story Straight about Opposition to Academic Freedom Act" »

March 13, 2008
Listen to Ben Stein's Comments at Academic Freedom Act Press Conference

(UPDATE: I've updated this post with two smaller MP3s to make downloading easier. Part 1 features a number of speakers including Rep. Hays describing his bill. Part 2 features Casey Luskin and Ben Stein at the end, among others.)

If you'd like to hear for yourself what was said at the press conference in support of Florida's proposed Academic Freedom Act in Tallahassee yesterday you can download an MP3 part 1 here and part 2 here. The speakers at the press conference included CSC's own Casey Luskin, and Ben Stein, among others.

Florida Legislator Cites “Inherit the Wind” as Authority for Opposing Academic Freedom in Evolution Debate

Now we know where some Florida legislators who oppose academic freedom in the evolution debate are getting their ideas about evolution. And it’s not from any science textbook. It’s from the bombastic play Inherit the Wind, long discredited by historians for its fantasy version of the history of the Scopes trial.

Last week, Florida’s Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller cited Inherit the Wind in his attack on the proposed Academic Freedom Act in his state that would prevent teachers from being disciplined or terminated “for objectively presenting scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological or chemical evolution.”

Continue reading "Florida Legislator Cites “Inherit the Wind” as Authority for Opposing Academic Freedom in Evolution Debate" »

March 12, 2008
Ben Stein Stands Up for Academic Freedom in Tallahassee


For another story on the press conference today about the Florida Academic Freedom Act, see here. And you can watch a news report here.

Ben Stein Promotes Academic Freedom in Florida

The Tallahassee Democrat has just posted an updated article about the Florida Academic Freedom Act press conference earlier today:

Actor and social activist Ben Stein visited Florida's capitol today, urging lawmakers to pass an "academic freedom" bill that would protect teachers and students from questioning evolution under newly adopted science curriculum standards.

Stein also joined John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council, and Casey Luskin, a lawyer from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, in defending a private screening of Stein's new film that has been arranged tonight for legislators. They showed a brief preview of the film, in which Stein recounts his meetings with teachers and scientists who have been shunned for questioning evolutionary theory.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Prepared Remarks for Florida Academic Freedom Bill Press Conference

Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin is in Florida today participating in a press conference with sponsors of the proposed Academic Freedom Act there. The press conference also featured actor Ben Stein, who will be screening a pre-release version of the film Expelled for Florida legislators tonight. The press conference just concluded, and so here is the text of Luskin's prepared remarks. (Because of limited time, some parts of these remarks may not have been actually delivered.)

Continue reading "Prepared Remarks for Florida Academic Freedom Bill Press Conference" »

March 10, 2008
Anti-Freedom Activists Try to Censor Science Education in Florida

TALLAHASSEE – “Academic freedom is not ‘smelly crap.’ It’s the foundation of a free society,” says science education expert Casey Luskin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute. “That’s why Florida’s proposed Academic Freedom Act on evolution is so important.”

Florida legislators recently introduced SB 2692, the Academic Freedom Act, to protect teachers and students from retaliation for discussing the scientific evidence for and against Darwin’s theory.

Opponents are already trying to scare the public about what the Act is meant to do, falsely claiming it is an attempt to put religion in the classroom. Some have gone so far as to call academic freedom “smelly crap.”

Continue reading "Anti-Freedom Activists Try to Censor Science Education in Florida" »

March 9, 2008
More Propaganda in the Classroom

Recently Channel One News decided to tackle the evolution debate and focused on the Florida state board of education's decision to revise science standards to proclaim Darwinian evolution as the foundation of biolgoy. If you're not familiar with Channel One it probably means you're not a high school student. Channel One is the self-poroclaimed "news and public affairs content provider to teens" and claims to reach six million students across the country every single day.

Continue reading "More Propaganda in the Classroom" »

March 5, 2008
Darwinist Activists at Florida Citizens for Science Think Academic Freedom Is "Smelly Crap"

The media in Florida are all aflutter this week on a bill introduced into the state legislature by state senator Ronda Storms, called the Academic Freedom Bill. Discovery Institute has recommended such legislation in the past. We even maintain a website at www.academicfreedompetition.com that has a model of an academic freedom bill. So we’re happy that Storms has taken the ball and run with it.

Not everyone is happy though, which is clear from reading the newspaper stories on this latest development in the debate over how to teach evolution. Darwinists are downright unhappy, so much so those at Florida Citizens for Science think academic freedom is “smelly crap.”

This academic freedom stuff is merely the next evolutionary step as anti-science folks continue their attempts to shove creationism into the public school classroom. First, there was blatant creationism. Next there was intelligent design. Both failed miserably. Now comes along academic freedom. Same smelly crap, different packaging.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that the media got the story wrong. They’ve been fed some “smelly crap” from FCS.

Continue reading "Darwinist Activists at Florida Citizens for Science Think Academic Freedom Is "Smelly Crap"" »

Expelled and the Argument against Denying the Discussion

CT Movies reviewer Brett McCracken has seen Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, and his thoughtful review is available online. It’s worth noting that McCracken, in his own words, “came into this film very, very skeptical . . . But I was pleasantly surprised with Expelled on a number of levels.”

McCracken seems to get the point of the film, that it’s an argument against censorship.

Indeed, the film hits a nerve in its critique of the contemporary American academy. As a graduate student immersed in academia and all its idiosyncrasies, I can attest to the pervasive and disturbingly hypocritical sense of close-mindedness that stifles the spirit of progressive discourse. It goes beyond the scientific communities in higher education and touches many disciplines. Quite simply: if you are not on the “right” side of the wall (whatever wall it may be), your voice is stifled, your work discredited, and your intelligence questioned. It’s gone beyond political correctness and is now something altogether more militant and sinister. Sadly, the academy today is less about the sharing and discovery of truth as it is about the wielding and protecting of power.

Continue reading "Expelled and the Argument against Denying the Discussion" »

March 4, 2008
Woodstock of Science Set to Dethrone Darwin's Theory of Evolution

At Scoop freelance reporter Suzan Mazur pulls back the veil on one of science's dirty little secrets — Darwinism is dead as a theory of evolution. This won't be surprising to the early adopters here at ENV, but it will come as a surprise to many in the media who have lazily just regurgitated the tired old refrain of the NCSE that Darwinian evolution is the be-all and end-all of modern biology.

Mazur reports on an upcoming conference at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria which she thinks will be the Woodstock of evolution.

What it amounts to is a gathering of 16 biologists and philosophers of rock star stature – let's call them "the Altenberg 16" – who recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence. It's pre the discovery of DNA, lacks a theory for body form and does not accommodate "other" new phenomena.
Say what? Sixteen scientists who recognize that the theory of evolution, which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence. (Suzan, shhhh, don't tell anyone, there's hundreds more over here.)

Mazur seems a bit surprised to find out something that intelligent design advocates have known for years. It is not safe to doubt Darwin.

Continue reading "Woodstock of Science Set to Dethrone Darwin's Theory of Evolution" »

February 26, 2008
Evolution's Glass Ceiling

Discovery senior fellow David Klinghoffer has an interesting piece just out in the new Townhall Magazine, in which he looks at whether or not scientists really are free to research intelligent design. Of course, ID-critics claim that academic freedom reigns supreme:

I asked leading ID-critics whether Darwin-doubters face any hurdles, beyond the strength or weakness of ID itself, to researching and testing their ideas. Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biologist, emailed me with a withering reply: “The conclusion of ‘Design’ should follow from well-done research on comparative genomics, molecular biology, gene expression, and biochemistry. There is, as you surely know, no barrier to such research.”

Francisco Ayala, a biologist at the University of California, Irvine, was emphatic: “I cannot imagine any serious scientist or academic administrator trying to dissuade anybody else from carrying out any well-designed research project.”

But scientists who've suffered the consequences of challenging Darwinian dogma tell a much different story.

Continue reading "Evolution's Glass Ceiling" »

February 19, 2008
Florida State Board Tricked into Meaningless "Compromise" to Retain Dogmatism and call Evolution "Scientific Theory"

Today the Florida State Board of Education voted 4-3 to adopt science standards that call evolution “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology.” While it is good that students will learn about evolution, these standards will make for bad science education because they elevate Darwin’s theory to a dogma that cannot be questioned. Even worse, some board members thought that they could rectify the dogmatic tone of the standards by calling evolution a "scientific theory." Some news articles are even calling this a "compromise." Those board members were tricked into a false compromise: inserting the word “scientific theory” before the word "evolution" is a meaningless and impotent change that will do absolutely nothing to actually inform students about the scientific problems with evolution.

Despite the fact that the meaningless words "scientific theory" were inserted into the standards, the standards still retain dogmatic language and reject the excellent suggestions of the Minority Report that would have required that “Students should learn why some scientists give scientific critiques of standard models of neo-Darwinian evolution or models of the chemical origin of life.” If the State Board of Education wanted to do it right, then they should have protected the academic freedom of teachers to teach students about both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolution.

One good aspect of Florida's new standards is that their section on the Nature of Science states that students should “use critical and logical thinking, and the active consideration of alternative scientific explanations to explain all the data presented.” But as Mr. Fred Cutting, writing-committee member, wrote in the Minority Report, “Somewhat inexplicably, there is no indicator in the proposed standards that applies this philosophy of science education to biological origins.”

Unless Floridans now demand change, Florida’s biology classrooms will follow the dogmatism of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which recently published a booklet, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, similarly proclaiming that “[t]here is no scientific controversy about the basic facts of evolution” because “no new evidence is likely to alter” it. Contrary to what the NAS and the Florida Science Standards assert, there are fundamental questions among scientists about Darwinian evolution.

Continue reading "Florida State Board Tricked into Meaningless "Compromise" to Retain Dogmatism and call Evolution "Scientific Theory"" »

February 15, 2008
Ben Stein Wins Money from Intelligent Design Community

http://www.expelledthemovie.comFrom a press release issued by Biola University:

La Mirada, Calif. -- Ben Stein, known for his lead role in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day and his Comedy Central show Win Ben Stein’s Money, believes in liberty and truth. In recognition of this, Biola University’s masters in science and religion program will present him with the 2008 Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth on March 27, a month before the release of his major controversial motion picture, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Continue reading "Ben Stein Wins Money from Intelligent Design Community" »

February 13, 2008
What They Didn't Tell You about the National Academy of Sciences

In the recently published booklet Science, Evolution, and Creationism, the National Academy of Sciences claims that science must be limited to naturalistic explanations:

In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. (p. 10)

Evolutionists have always been dogmatic about naturalism. They believe that science must, in principle, be absolutely constrained to naturalistic explanations. This is a philosophical position — there is no scientific evidence that could make evolutionists think twice.

Continue reading "What They Didn't Tell You about the National Academy of Sciences" »

February 12, 2008
Happy Darwin Day!

Darwin Day is finally here, which means the second annual Darwin Day broadcast is now available online at ID the Future. The video “Proselytzing for Darwin’s God” presents the outrageous story of evolution activists who are inviting theologians into public schools. After years of accusing Darwin’s critics of trying to bring religion into science class, this willingness to undermine the separation of church and state is hypocritical to the core.

Click on image to watch the video.

Continue reading "Happy Darwin Day!" »

Darwin Day and the New Campaign to Inject Religion into Public Schools

As schools and museums celebrate the 199th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday today, a new push is being made to inject religion into the nation’s science classrooms.

But it’s not coming from those you might think.

After years of accusing Darwin’s critics of trying to insert religion into biology classes on the sly, leading defenders of evolution are now campaigning to incorporate religion explicitly into classroom lessons on evolution.

Continue reading "Darwin Day and the New Campaign to Inject Religion into Public Schools" »

February 11, 2008
In Florida Evolution Debate, We See More Turning Non-Issues into Issues

Every so often there's a report about teachers who are under pressure not to teach evolution. With Darwin's day nearly upon us (have you finished all your shopping?) and the debate over how to teach evolution at a tipping point in Florida, here it comes again.

This article makes many, many assertions without ever giving any real hard data to support the claims that 1) teachers don’t teach evolution, and 2) they skip it because they are afraid.

The closest they come up with are NSTA polls from 2005, which I reported about then. Then, like now, the results are cleverly communicated with misplaced emphasis to imply that teachers are under overwhelming pressure to not teach evolution. It just isn't so. Here they report that, according to the poll, 31% feel pressured to avoid teaching evolution or to include other theories. What they don’t report is that the vast majority, more than 2-to-1, 69% don't feel pressured to teach other theories.

Continue reading "In Florida Evolution Debate, We See More Turning Non-Issues into Issues" »

February 7, 2008
Protect the Rights of Teachers and Students to Question Darwinism

Should scientists who believe the universe is the product of intelligent design be fired? Should science teachers who tell students about evidence that challenges Darwin’s theory of evolution be reprimanded? Should students who want to explore both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution be discouraged from doing so? If you answered no to these questions, click here and sign the Academic Freedom Petition.

If you answered yes, then keep reading and hopefully you will change your mind.

Continue reading "Protect the Rights of Teachers and Students to Question Darwinism" »

Stellar Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez Denied Fair Hearing by Iowa State Board of Regents

The Board of Regents of the State of Iowa has denied the tenure appeal of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University (ISU). Dr. Gonzalez’s appeal has been ongoing since the summer of 2007, when he was first denied tenure by ISU.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Board of Regents refused to give Dr. Gonzalez a fair hearing in his appeal,” said Gonzalez’s attorney Chuck Hurley. “They say in Iowa that academic freedom is supposed to be the ‘foundation of the university.’ That foundation is cracked.”

ISU has consistently maintained that Dr. Gonzalez’s tenure denial has nothing to do with intelligent design (ID). But secret e-mails exchanged by ISU faculty who voted against his tenure and statements in Dr. Gonzalez’s tenure file showed that intelligent design was the overriding factor in his tenure denial. The Board of Regents refused to admit much of this evidence into the record in Dr. Gonzalez’s appeal.

“The Board of Regents would not allow into the record extensive e-mail documentation showing that Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure not due to his academic record, but because he supports intelligent design,” said Casey Luskin, Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute, where Gonzalez is a senior fellow. “Then the Board refused to grant Dr. Gonzalez the right to be heard through oral arguments. Does it come as any surprise that now they denied his appeal?”

“They’ve denied his due process rights throughout this entire appeal,” Luskin continued. “This kangaroo court decided its verdict long before today’s deliberations even began.”

“The most disheartening part of this appeal is that they refused Dr. Gonzalez the opportunity to present his case fully to the Board and to have face-to-face contact with the Board through oral arguments,” said Chuck Hurley.

“The Board of Regents had an opportunity to give justice to an outstanding scientist who is a leader in his field,” Luskin concluded. “Instead, they caved in to political pressure and threw academic freedom to the wind.”

February 5, 2008
Florida Voices Fear of "Sub-Standard Science Standards"

As the debate over the science standards in Florida gets interesting, the Florida Baptist Witness just published an editorial by James A. Smith Sr. which sees the situation for what it is:

In spite of growing concern and opposition, Florida education leaders are on the brink of requiring an evolution-as-dogma approach to teaching origins in public schools in the Sunshine State.
Read the rest here.
Florida State Board of Education Receives Minority Report That Covers Evolution Objectively

Rob Crowther recently discussed the fact that the proposed Florida Science Standards take an extremely dogmatic approach towards evolution education. The proposed standards assert that evolution is “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology,” and they claim that it “is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.” There are no mention of any scientific problems with neo-Darwinism anywhere in Florida’s proposed standards. Notwithstanding the extremely well-organized efforts of the Darwin-only contingent in Florida, Fred Cutting, a member of the Framing Committee for Florida’s science standards, has written and submitted a Minority Report to the State Board of Education that would introduce objectivity into the evolution curriculum.

Continue reading "Florida State Board of Education Receives Minority Report That Covers Evolution Objectively" »

February 4, 2008
In Florida the Debate over How to Teach Evolution Is One of Science

The Florida state board of education is expected to adopt science standards later this month that will finally include the word evolution. The standards also include language calling for students to learn the argumentation of science and to examine all the data presented in order to learn critical thinking skills. This, too, is a good thing. But what if all the date isn't presented? What if only one side of the issue is presented? Then instead of students learning to critically analyze, they are simply getting a one-sided view of the subject. This is what happens all too often when biological evolution is presented. Students learn about evidence supporting Darwinian evolution, but seldom learn about any of the evidence that challenges it.

Interestingly, in Florida Darwinian activists have crowed long and loud about attempts to insert intelligent design into the state science standards and to teach the theory in science classes. Although no one has proposed teaching intelligent design, and no one has suggested inserting anything about intelligent design into the standards, the Darwinists continue to falsely claim this is what is going on. (Not unlike Texas — do we see a new strategy developing?)

Today the Tallahassee Democrat published a short op-ed by one of the members of the committee that developed the new state standards, who is now submitting a minority report. He makes it very clear that intelligent design is not what is at issue, but rather teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution.

As a member of the Framers' Committee, I am submitting a minority report suggesting that the following language be adopted into Florida's science standards:

"Students should learn why some scientists give scientific critiques of standard models of neo-Darwinian evolution or models of the chemical origin of life."

And he makes clear that for him this is a scientific debate, not a religious one.
I oppose including religion in the science classroom, and this proposal in no way brings religion into the science classroom. There are serious scientific critiques of neo-Darwinism that deserve to be heard by students. This is a scientific debate, not a religious one.
There are lots of people expressing lots of opinions about how evolution should be handled, on both sides of the issue. But there is only one proposal being considered, that put forward by the Framers Committee. Instead of worrying about what is being talked up and down in letters to the editor, attention should be paid to what is really going on. Here is the only serious attempt to improve the proposed standards, and Floridians should consider it carefully.

January 27, 2008
In Texas, Here Comes the Rain Again

Like rain dancers, Darwinists in Texas are busily engaging in political cloud seeding, trying to whip up a storm of controversy about science education. As usual they mistakenly equate creationism with intelligent design, knowing full well that the two are very different.

The drum beat of these evolutionary rain makers started up last summer when the Dallas Morning News published a thumb-sucker of a story about the majority of the state board of education’s oppostion to inserting ID into Texas science classes. Even though it was clear that no one was proposing inserting ID into the curriculum, all of sudden Darwinists began chanting that the sky was falling. Throughout the fall they picked up the tempo, constantly, falsely claiming that there was an effort to revise Texas science standards to include ID. (And not just in Texas, they're dancing their pants off in Florida as well.)

Continue reading "In Texas, Here Comes the Rain Again" »

January 21, 2008
Attacks on Intelligent Design Enabled by Biased Media

The issue of how to teach evolution in Florida has almost nothing to do with intelligent design. Indeed, the proposed standards are not recommending intelligent design. Instead, they seek to include evolution, thankfully. Students need to learn more about evolution, not less, which has always been our position. Unfortunately, the draft Florida standards don't call for teaching students the full story about evolution, which is a shame. The best solution to that problem would be to add more about the scientific weaknesses of evolution, not mandate intelligent design. Never mind, that hasn't kept Darwinists from trying to make intelligent design an issue.

Still, it is interesting that intelligent design even comes up in Florida. But it does.

Continue reading "Attacks on Intelligent Design Enabled by Biased Media" »

January 19, 2008
Dallas TV Report on Teaching Evolution and Intelligent Design

This CBS News report falls immediately into the hole of stereotyping the debate over
evolution as simply a religious issue. The reporter ominously opines: "How did life begin? The question often divides faith and science." This is an all too familiar setup for an Inherit the Wind style treatment of the issue — as if the only questions about Darwinism are religious ones. Not so. There are a lot of scientific questions at play in this debate — indeed, all of the serious questions about the evidence are scientific.

Yet, as the report goes on, it manages to climb out of that hole to give a better, fuller look at the overall debate. This story shows that while there may be philosophical or religious implications to the science, it is the science that is at the heart of the debate. It's an interesting clip, and the reporter has an insightful commentary at the end, where he says:

If we as adults keep our minds open, and are willing to explore all possibilities, that is one of the most important lessons we can possibly pass along to our children.
Watch it here. Click on the clip titled: Teaching Evolution in Public Schools.

January 18, 2008
Discovery Institute Announces 2nd Annual Darwin Day Celebration

Supporters of Darwin's theory have claimed to oppose teaching religion in the nation's science classrooms for years. Now, just in time for Darwin Day 2008, leading evolution proponents (including the National Academy of Sciences, the Public Broadcasting Service, and the National Center for Science Education) are cynically promoting religious instruction in schools as a way of defusing opposition to Darwinian evolution.

On February 6, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Dr. John West, author of Darwin Day in America (ISI Books), will present a tale of hypocrisy and hubris on the part of leading Darwinists. Join Dr. West at Discovery Institute in Seattle as he examines how these organizations are willing to undermine the First Amendment's Establishment Clause in order to promote their views. This event will be taped for online viewing as part of the ID the Future Darwin Day broadcast on Darwin Day, February 12.

Watch last year's Darwin Day broadcasts:

Darwin Day and the Deification of Charles Darwin — Part 1
Darwin Day and the Deification of Charles Darwin — Part 2

January 12, 2008
Darwin's Failed Predictions, Slide 14: "What would Darwin do?" (from JudgingPBS.com)

[Editor's Note: This is slide 14 in a series of 14 slides available at JudgingPBS.com, a new website featuring "Darwin's Failed Predictions," a response to PBS-NOVA's online materials for their "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" documentary.]

PBS presents a thoroughly pro-Darwin only account of the debate over evolution. In fact, there are many reasons why we should teach the controversy over Darwinian evolution:

(1) Congress supports such a policy:
"The Conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."1

(2) The United States Supreme Court has sanctioned such a policy:
“We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught.”2

(3) Darwin himself supports such a policy:
In Origin of Species, Darwin stated, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”3

PBS's propaganda doesn't even employ the approach that Darwin himself purportedly recommends. Viewers of PBS’s “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” documentary will do well to learn about both sides of this debate.

Continue reading "Darwin's Failed Predictions, Slide 14: "What would Darwin do?" (from JudgingPBS.com)" »

January 9, 2008
Letter Responding to Editorial Praising NAS Efforts to Suppress Scientific Criticisms of Darwinian Evolution

CSC senior fellow John West had the following letter to the editor published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today, responding to a short editorial they published earlier this week.


The P-I Editorial Board applauds efforts by National Academy of Science officials to suppress scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution in classrooms across the country. Such criticisms, we are told, are a sham.

But some of the academy's own eminent scientists such as Dr. Philip Skell strongly disagree. The Evan Pugh Professor (emeritus) at Penn State University, Skell argues that "scientific journals now document many scientific problems and criticisms of evolutionary theory and students need to know about these."

Skell is not alone. More than 700 Ph.D. scientists have adopted a statement expressing skepticism of the core mechanism of modern Darwinian theory and urging a careful examination of the evidence (dissentfromdarwin.org). Those scientists include members of the national academy of sciences in several countries, as well as professors at Princeton, MIT, Tulane, UCLA, Ohio State, and the University of Michigan. They include molecular biologists, microbiologists, biochemists, ecologists, physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, engineers, and many others.

Contrary to the P-I's editorial, those of us at Discovery Institute do not support teaching "religious" criticisms of evolution in science classrooms. Instead, like the scientists above, we advocate teaching the scientific evidence critical of modern Darwinism along with the best scientific evidence that supports the theory. This approach can be found modeled in the new textbook Explore Evolution (exploreevolution.com).

John G. West, Ph. D.
Vice president for public policy and legal affairs
Center for Science and Culture
Discovery Institute

January 7, 2008
The NAS Should Explore Evolution

Explore Evolution: The Case for and Against Neo-Darwinism is a new supplementary textbook published by Hill House Publishers.

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