Saturday, April 22, 2006

Undercover creationists

Infiltrating the laboratory

Creationists keep trying to persuade the general public that there is a genuine scientific controversy over the fact of evolution. Their public-relations efforts are devoted to highlighting the small handful of creationists with actual scientific credentials. There are so few of them that their names are instantly recognizable, familiar from constant repetition. They are “the usual suspects”:
  • Jonathan Wells, who earned his Ph.D. in biology as part of a religious assault against evolution; Wells specializes in propaganda like his Icons of Evolution rather than in research;
  • Michael Behe, whose meager professional work is overshadowed by his role as an icon of antievolution; he was a star witness for intelligent design in the Kitzmiller case in Dover, Pennsylvania;
  • William Dembski, a genuinely qualified mathematician who uses symbology to obscure the vapidity of his creationist arguments;
  • David Berlinski, mathematician and author, whose antievolution tracts provide rich fodder for demolition by more qualified parties; Berlinski's prose is more ornate than Dembski's, but operates in the same obscurantist mode;
  • Kurt Wise, who earned his biology degree under the ardent evolutionary scientist Stephen Jay Gould but managed to hold on to his Genesis-based perspective; Wise spends less time on center stage than the other people in this short list because he strives to work as a scientist rather than as an antievolution polemicist, placing him outside the current mainstream of “scientific” creationism.

We could add a sprinkling of engineers to this roster, but we've just about run out of actual scientists. Creationists have noticed this shortage and are planning to do something about it. Just as Jonathan Wells enrolled in grad school to advance the religious agenda of his spiritual leader, Sun Myung Moon, young creationists are being encouraged to infiltrate the scientific community with the express purpose of overthrowing its secular paradigms. The Institute for Creation Research is leading the charge.

Mentoring Antiscientists

The April 2006 issue of Acts & Facts, the newsletter of the Institute for Creation Research ( in El Cajon, California, carries a short article by John Baumgardner, Ph.D. (the degree is in geophysics). Baumgardner's piece contains some of the clearest language about the creationists' plan of attack since the notorious Wedge document:

Training the Next Generation of
Professional Creation Scientists

With so many exciting young-earth research issues in genomics, modeling of sedimentary processes and tectonics, and cosmology, to name but a few, what can be done to train a new generation of gifted and motivated Christian students to become mature scientists and make fundamental contributions in these research areas? ICR's answer to this important question is to mentor, at a Ph.D. level, talented students who sense a distinct call by God to invest their lives in creation-related research.

In this new ICR initiative, the student obtains his/her professional training at an existing university with an established program in an appropriate specialty area. An ICR faculty member, working with the student's faculty advisor, serves as a mentor to help the student plan his/her academic program and to assist the student in identifying an appropriate dissertation research topic. The mentor helps advise the student in the research and coaches the student in navigating the challenges of today's academic and professional environments.

To launch this initiative, ICR, together with the Society for the Advancement of Creation Science at Mississippi State University, is sponsoring a Graduate Mentorship Workshop this summer at MSU in Starkville, Mississippi, July 16–21, 2006, for both students and Christian faculty who would like to be involved. ICR faculty, MSU faculty, plus four outside academic speakers will highlight recent research results, focus on promising new research topics, and lead an open forum to discuss how this sort of mentorship can be successful. Do you know someone who should attend this workshop? See for schedule and registration information.

The MSU website provides more information about the intent of the ICR-sponsored initiative, in case you couldn't already guess.
Our vision includes training the next-generation of Ph.D. scientists who become faculty members at secular universities throughout the world, who in turn train more students and advance the creation model yet further....

A related goal is to identify research topics, particularly in the realm of computational simulation, that are relevant and publishable within the current scientific framework but also strategic to the Biblical creationist paradigm....

We also hope to develop a new geneation [sic] of faculty at secular universities who confidently express a Biblical creationist worldview in their research and teaching.
So, do you know anyone who would like to be in Starkville this July?


klaus said...

So their plan is to have budding creationists train to become better scientists than their non-creationist fellows (to earn tenure)while still retaining a complete lack of critical thinking? Interesting...

Actually, I know someone who wanted to use her biology degree (cum laude)on behalf of AIG. And that was without the direct guidance of a creationist institution. If she'd had positive faculty feedback about it, like this scheme proposes, that's probably what she'd be doing right now. So I'm more than a bit worried about what this means for the fate of biology.

monado said...

I'd be surprised if they got twenty. And they still can't make the evidence go away.

monado said...

Well, what happened? Did passels of young creationists show up to be the next generation of stealth professors?