The Darwinian Inquisition

One of the big arguments against ID is that so few scientists have adopted it. One of the reason that scientists have been reluctant to adopt ID is the fear of being subjected to the new Inquisition. This Inquisition, like the last, is an ill-informed effort on the part of advocates of a particular worldview (this time, Darwinian Evolution) to convert everyone to their way of thinking not through reasoning and logic, but through threat and intimidation. If a scientist does not fall into line by agreeing to the truth of Darwinian evolution and dares to give ID a fair shake, they are blackballed, abused and maybe even fired.

Not true, you say? Consider the following article from the August 19, 2005 edition of the Washington Post entitled Editor Explains Reasons for 'Intelligent Design' Article by Michael Powell:

Evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg made a fateful decision a year ago.

As editor of the hitherto obscure Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Sternberg decided to publish a paper making the case for "intelligent design," a controversial theory that holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the hand -- subtle or not -- of an intelligent creator.

Within hours of publication, senior scientists at the Smithsonian Institution -- which has helped fund and run the journal -- lashed out at Sternberg as a shoddy scientist and a closet Bible thumper.

"They were saying I accepted money under the table, that I was a crypto-priest, that I was a sleeper cell operative for the creationists," said Steinberg, 42 , who is a Smithsonian research associate. "I was basically run out of there."

An independent agency has come to the same conclusion, accusing top scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History of retaliating against Sternberg by investigating his religion and smearing him as a "creationist."

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which was established to protect federal employees from reprisals, examined e-mail traffic from these scientists and noted that "retaliation came in many forms . . . misinformation was disseminated through the Smithsonian Institution and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false."

"The rumor mill became so infected," James McVay, the principal legal adviser in the Office of Special Counsel, wrote to Sternberg, "that one of your colleagues had to circulate [your résumé] simply to dispel the rumor that you were not a scientist."

(Emphasis added.)

Keep in mind that 400 scientists have, despite the backlash that comes upon them for daring to question the reigning evolutionary paradigm, signed a "Scientific Dissent from Darwinism." As I said in the conclusion of my own essay on why scientists were not adopting ID:

In light of the misrepresentations of the pro-evolution community about the nature of the claims of intelligent design, and given the repercussions that could befall these scientists, the fact that 100 scientists [now 400 scientists] were willing to sign their names to this document forcefully establishes the depth of thir concerns. While the numbers of scientists questioning Darwinism does not establish that Darwinian Evolution is wrong, clearly, the most relevant number is not the large number of scientists who accept the status quo, but the number of scientists willing to stand up to potential ridicule to question one of the central dogmas of 21st Century science.

The example of Richard Sternberg is just another example of the ongoing Inquisition by Darwinists. Recognize it for what it is.

Cross-blogged at Apologia Christi.

Addendum: Victor Reppert, author of C.S. Lewis' Dangerous Idea and of the blog dangerous idea, noted that the letter to Mr. Sternberg from the Office of Special Counsel has been posted on the Internet here. The letter is very revealing. Consider the following story spelled out in the letter, the second paragraph of which is amazing:

An e-mail by a NMNH scientist that was sent to your supervisor sums up the sentiment of the e-mails, as it relates to this issue. It reads, "The whole situation sounds like a pain in the... neck. Hopefully, the ID folks will get distracted with something else soon. After spending 4.5 years in the Bible Belt, I have learned how to carefully phrase things in order to avoid the least amount of negative repercussions for the kids. And I have heard many amazing things!! The most fun we had by far was when my son refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the 'under dog' part..." The e-mail concludes by lamenting that the school teacher was "religious" and it was unfortunate that there was "anti-evolution education" in the schools.

Of great import is the fact that these same SI and NMNH employees immediately aligned themselves with the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Our investigation shows that NCSE is a political advocacy organization dedicated to defeating any introduction of ID, creationism or religion into the American education system. In fact, members of NCSE worked closely with SI and NMNH members in outlining a strategy to have you investigated and discredited within the SI. Members of NCSE, furthermore, e-mailed detailed statements of repudiation of the Meyer article to high level NMNH officials. In turn they sent them to the Society. There are e-mails that are several pages in length that map out their strategy. NCSE recommendations were circulated within the SI and eventually became part of the official public response of the SI to the Meyer article. OSC is not making a statement on whether the SI or NMNH was wrong or right in aligning with the NCSE, although OSC questions the use of appropriated funds to work with an outside advocacy group for this purpose. This is only discussed to show that the actions taken on the part of SI employees clearly had a political and religious component. Therefore, it may lend credence to your allegations that your religious and political affiliations were investigated and made a part of the actions taken against you.

You allege in your complaint that SI managers questioned people that they thought to be your friends at the SI, regarding your religion and your political affiliations. According to your complaint, this occurred on at least two occasions. You learned this through direct statements made to you by the individuals that were questioned. As stated above, our investigation has not been allowed to proceed through the interview process. We have not been able to question the individuals involved in the alleged conversations to determine if the facts would support a specified legal conclusion.

Nevertheless, the current investigative file reflects support for your allegations. First, the e-mail traffic does show that there were meetings between the individuals in question during the time frame that you allege in the complaint. For some reason there was no official record kept by the SI of what was stated in the meetings, at least based on what has been provided to OSC to date. Further, a second e-mail drafted by this same manager several months later admits that one of these meetings to place and, more importantly, these issues were discussed. To put this in context, at the same time many other actions were taken during the uproar over the Meyer article your supervisor was questioning your friends about your personal political and religious background.

C'mon, someone . . . anyone, make the case that this isn't Inquisitorial. Go ahead. I'm waiting.


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