NEVER MIND THE “MISSING LINK”, here at Darwin Central we’re more intrigued at the moment by the strange saga of the Discovery Institute’s very own Darwinist, who moreover appears to have gone ‘Missing in Action.’
One may be forgiven for having missed an item in a local freesheet, Seattle Weekly: Rural School Board Candidate Hasn’t Been Forthcoming About His “Intelligent Design” Agenda (29 August), which reported that Discovery Institute Fellow John Angus Campbell was a candidate in a pending North Mason County school board election. The article reports that Professor Campbell does not include in a biography on his campaign website any mention of his Fellowship at the Discovery Institute, nor refer to the details of his submitted testimony to the Kitzmiller et. al. v. Dover case.
More remarkably still, the article reports the rather astonishing news that Dr. Campbell, a professor of rhetoric, characterises himself as a “Darwinist.” As there can be no question whatsoever that Professor Campbell’s declaration here is in utmost good faith, one is left with something of a conundrum: has the Discovery Institute, which has promoted such works as Philip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1991) and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (1997), or Richard Weickart’s From Darwin to Hitler (2004), been infiltrated by a Darwinist mole?
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, does not appear to think so, as reported in the Seattle Weekly :
Scott isn’t buying it, not least because she says evolutionary biology has advanced way beyond Darwin’s 19th-century tracts, so that a real follower of modern science would never call himself a “Darwinist.”
We wondered what response, if any, either Professor Campbell or the Discovery Institute might make to this point. We presumed, if a rebuttal was offered, it might be to point out that Professor Campbell is perfectly entitled to run for office for his local school board and, given the repeated defence of the Establishment clause by American courts, that no sinister or untoward agenda should be ascribed to Professor Campbell’s candidacy, and that he must be taken at his word.
Instead, no less a luminary than Discovery Institute Fellow Dr. Jonathan Wells has responded in a fresh DI blog, Darwinist or Darwinian, They’re One and the Same (31 August). Dr. Wells, ignoring the message in favour of shooting the messenger, devotes his piece to first dismissing the Seattle Weekly, and then offering 11 paragraphs and 7 footnotes defending the use of the term “Darwinist.” It’s a discussion generating some heat but little light, about as facile as arguing that the term “lunatic” — literally, ‘of or pertaining to the Moon’ — would be an approptiate appellation for an acolyte of Rev. Moon’s Unification Church. But altogether unaccountably, Dr. Wells’ response to an article about a colleague at the Discovery Institute makes no mention whatsoever of Dr. Campbell, who is entirely missing from Dr. Wells’ blog.
What on earth is going on here? We can only conjecture: has school board candidate Dr. Campbell prudently not disclosed his DI Fellowship, not to mislead the voters of North Mason County as the Seattle Weekly implies, but rather to conceal his ‘Darwinism’ from the Discovery Institute itself? For despite Dr. Wells’ catalogue of usage of the term, one need only browse previous blog pieces from the DI itself to learn the perjorative connotation of ‘Darwinist’ among the Desperate Thinktankers of Seattle. In August alone, articles published by the following DI members give a fair indication (my bolding):
* 1 August (Casey Luskin): European Darwinists Attempt to Criminalize Intelligent Design as a “Threat to Human Rights”
* 2 August (Casey Luskin): These claims that teaching about scientific dissent from Darwinism represents a “threat to human rights” or “unethical human subject experimentation” demonstrate that such tyranny could become reality. Such claims also demonstrate the lengths to which some Darwinists must go to insulate their theory from scrutiny.
* 6 August (Michael Egnor): It’s Darwinists like Dunford who sue in federal court to silence candid discussion of science in biology classes, and in the process threaten to bankrupt school districts in which parents have the temerity to even question the evolutionary dogma that’s taught in their schools to their children … Dunford’s paranoid style is increasingly a staple of Darwinist rhetoric. They don’t have the evidence to support their theory, so all they can do is accuse those of us who question dogmatic Darwinism of conspiring to “destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America” and of lying about our faith. Much of Darwinist rhetoric isn’t scientific at all; it’s ad hominem attacks and conspiracy mongering. Darwinists will do anything to avoid debating the science.
* 8 August (Bruce Chapman): The tendentious Dawkins does not answer Behe, but merely vilifies him. This seems to be the standard Darwinist reply to scientific critics of their One True Faith.
* 10 August (Michael Egnor): At the behest of Darwinists, federal judges have silenced criticism of Darwinism in schools in Cobb County, Georgia, and the El Tejon school district in California … My question to Darwinists is this: why don’t you let the normal process of setting public school curriculum decide this issue?
* 13 August (Michael Egnor): Biological complexity can be explained away — however implausibly — as Darwinian, but the origin of life itself is so far beyond the reach of Darwinism that even the teeming imaginations of Darwinists are stymied.
* 16 August (Larry Caldwell): So why, 150 years later, is Darwin’s theory of design considered by Darwinists to be “scientific,” while Paley’s theory of design, like contemporary intelligent design theory, is not considered to be “scientific?”
* 17 August (Robert Crowther): Darwinists Fuel Urban Myths with Misinformation Campaign about Origins of “Intelligent Design”
* 21 August (Jonathan Wells): And Darwinists — with their attitude that they already know all the important things there are to know about life — will not be the ones to make the necessary discoveries.
* 22 August (Bruce Chapman): Stein is truly and properly outraged at the mixture of ignorance and condescension he has encountered from Darwinists and from learning first hand of their ruthless disregard of science’s normal openness to new ideas and new information. … Meanwhile, I know that between now and next February the Darwinists will use all their power and connections to try to stifle or discredit this film; that’s their standard m.o.
* 23 August (Robert Crowther): Well, it is nearly two years later and it’s sad to say, but the Darwinist inquisition is spreading.
With colleagues like that at the Discovery Institute, is it any wonder that Darwinist John Angus Campbell may appear somewhat coy about his views?
And could it perhaps be, that the DI has engaged Dr. Campbell in the same manner that Darwin Central has engaged an elite team of Creationist scholars to compile the DC Conspirawiki?