It's been ten years since the landmark decision
of Kitzmiller v. Dover
was handed down, the case that exposed the religious fraud of that absurd pseudoscience, "intelligent design". The ID movement, and especially its "think tank", the Discovery Institute, has never recovered.
I had the honor of meeting the lead plaintiff, Tammy Kitzmiller, a few years ago at one of the trial reunion parties. (I played an extremely minor role in the case, meeting with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and preparing as a possible rebuttal witness, but I never appeared in court because one person on the other side never testified.) A more pleasant and modest (yet determined!) person you can't imagine. In fact, all the people involved in the case in various ways, including Eric Rothschild, Nick Matzke, Steve Harvey, Kenneth Miller, Wes Elsberry, Genie Scott, and Lauri Lebo are about the nicest and most interesting people I've ever met. The contrast with the other side couldn't be more stark.
Ten years later, what's happening? Well, the Discovery Institute and their friends continue to churn out lies pretty much unabated, but nobody's listening any more. Even the "academic wing" of intelligent design seems to have given up. Bill Dembski just threw in the towel. At the same time Casey Luskin tries to boast about all the scientific work published by ID advocates, the flagship scientific journal for the movement has only published a single paper in calendar year 2015, despite getting a new editor and having an editorial board with 29 members.
There's just so long you can keep up this charade.
Meanwhile, the same nasty, deplorable tactics that renamed the Discovery Institute the "Dishonesty Institute" continue unabated. When one of the Kitzmiller team recently got a paper accepted to Science, one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, all the Discovery Institute (and their slavering friends) could do is make ridiculous and groundless insinuations about misconduct. Truly, they have no shame at all.
Why do the ID folks behave so reprehensibly, over and over again? Of course, it has nothing at all do with science. They behave this way because they are motivated solely by their conservative religious beliefs. Recently a window opened on the ID world view, when one creationist was so disillusioned by their behavior that he posted a private e-mail message from ID advocate Barry Arrington that clearly revealed their motives. Arrington wrote
"We are in a war. That is not a metaphor. We are fighting a war for the soul of Western Civilization, and we are losing, badly. In the summer of 2015 we find ourselves in a position very similar to Great Britain’s position 75 years ago in the summer of 1940 – alone, demoralized, and besieged on all sides by a great darkness that constitutes an existential threat to freedom, justice and even rationality itself."
When you view your opponents this way, then no tactic is off limits. Lying is permissible because otherwise the "great darkness" will win. Insulting, making insinuations, likening your opponents to Nazis or Communists or fascists are all perfectly fine tactics, because your opponents constitute "an existential threat to freedom" and "justice". Treating your opponents as subhuman is ok, because after all, they threaten "rationality itself". And of course, they never, ever, admit they were wrong about anything.
I feel sorry for the ID folks today, I really do. Ten years after Kitzmiller, ID advocates are like the Millerites on October 23 1844, when their predicted triumphal ascent into heaven didn't happen. They are wandering around feeling puzzled and alone, and it's natural that they will lash out against any available target in an effort to cure their misery. It won't work, I'm afraid. Intelligent design is, for all practical purposes dead. Prop up the corpse all you want -- it won't work.
Meanwhile, science and evolutionary theory continue unabated. Those of us who enjoy and respect science (and there are lots!) continue to think about and solve interesting problems. The joy of discovery is genuine for us. May you find it, too.
So, to you and yours, I wish you a very merry Kitzmas.