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November 30, 2003
Intelligent Design and the scientists
Here are the educational qualifications of people associated with the Intelligent Design think-tank Access Research Network.
ARN board of directors:
Dennis Wagner - (?)
Dennis Wagner - (?)
Friends of ARN:
Michael Behe - Ph.D. Biochemistry
Please note that those who espouse Intellligent Design tend to be very averse to making statements along the lines of "The Earth is 10,000 years old" or espousing Flood Geology. Rather, they make a general attack on "methodological naturalism." You know much more what they are against or what they doubt than what they are for. The most prominent biological scientist among them, Michael Behe, even asserted in Darwin's Black Box that he accepts descent with modification, and his Roman Catholic beliefs certainly don't force him to reject evolution in its totality.
Now, look at the Institute for Creation Research and you see people that are more your typical fundamentalist caricatures. The top of their website notes: A Christ-Focused Creation Ministry. Take a look at Dr. John's Questions and Answers and you can at least hand it to the ICR that they aren't trying to hide their true intent.
So who are the people associated with the ICR? Well, here is the Resident Faculty:
Austin, Steven A. - Professor of Geology
Cumming, Kenneth B. - Professor of Biology
DeYoung, Donald B. - Professor of Astrophysics
Franks, Robert H. - Associate Professor of Biology
Gish, Duane T. - Professor of Biochemistry
Morris, Henry M. - Professor of Hydrogeology
Morris, John D. - Professor of Geology
Snelling, Andrew - Professor of Geology
Vardiman, Larry - Professor of Atmospheric Science
Here is the Adjunct Faculty:
Baumgardner, John R. - Associate Professor of Geophysics
Carothers, Linn E. - Associate Professor of Statistics
Chaffin, Imbler F. - Professor of Physics
Chittick, Donald E. - Professor of Physical Chemistry
Deckard, Stephen W. - Assistant Professor of Education
Englin, Dennis L. - Professor of Geophysics
Faulkner, Danny R. - Associate Professor of Astronomy
Fliermans, Carl B. - Professor of Biology
Humphreys, D. Russell - Associate Professor of Physics
Lindsey, George D. - Associate Professor of Science Education
Meyer, John R. - Professor of Biology
Phillips, Doug, Esq. - Professor of Apolgetics
Osborne, Chris D. - Assistant Professor of Biology
Parker, Gary E. - Professor of Biology
Stark, James - Assistant Professor of Science Education
You can find more scientists here. Note that they pad the list of biological scientists by adding medical doctors. Additionally, in the "physical scientist" category they include mathematicians and computer scientists, which is OK in my opinion, but they also include linguists, psychologists and anthropologists. They obviously didn't want to create another list for social scientists. (Also, note that the ICR made it easier to cut & paste, so you see the full credentials. Additionally, a few of the degrees are obviously sketchy, one of the "biologists" has an M.S. from ICR itself for instance, so it's good to see where they got their degrees from. For ARN those issues tend not to come up).
Here is the break-down by discipline for the ARN (I double counted people with multiple Ph.Ds):
Humanities: 11 (Philosophy, history, etc.)
Here is the break down for the ICR Resident Faculty:
Physical Science: 6
For the Adjunct Faculty:
Physical Science: 6
Comments? Well, for the Access Research Network the tendency toward philosophy is pretty surprising. I'm more well read on these sort of things than the typical person (understatement), but, I was expecting more physical scientists. This is because I have noted in online debates the tendency for engineers to argue the Creationist side. But ARN is a different beast. They are very squirrely in debates and tend to be cautious about the fights they pick in comparison to the old-line Creationists. The focus on philosophy for those who are associated with them tells me that they are concerned with more than evolution, something I've noted before. They want to push forward a respectable theistic paradigm in areas outside the modern day domains of religion. Many who argue against the Intelligent Design theorists ask: "Where's your research? How are you going to implement in the lab what you're talking about?" I think the answer is that they aren't going to. They are philosophers, and I don't know what their long term aim is, but history tells us that quite often philosophy becomes little more than high-minded faction and intercine quibbling. I've noted before that Michael Behe, the biochemist, does research that is quite conventional. Jonathan Wells, the other biologist is supposed to be a post-doc at Berkeley, but I don't see him in their directory anymore. I have linked to the page Why I am Not an Austrian Economist before, but I suspect only the libertarians in the crowd followed the link. So let me quote something the author of that piece asserted: Yet all too large a fraction of Austrian research has not been in economics at all, but rather in meta-economics: philosophy, methodology, and history of thought. I think we can say the same of the Intelligent Design circle. They will provide food for thought for intellectual Christians and some non-Christians, but mostly their "research program" will never make the jump from paper & web to laboratory. Just like some libertarians will trumpet Austrian Economics for normative reasons (as I once did without much knowledge of economics), some conservative publications of secular bent have offered a forum for critiques of evolutionary theory to further other ends.
Turning to the old-line Creationists at the ICR, it is interesting to note that very few people from the humanities or even the social sciences are found there. The prevalence of natural scientists might surprise some, especially natural scientists who hold to a fundamentalist Young Earth Creationist paradigm, but it shouldn't if you note that to become a member of the ICR you are usually selected on the basis of those two qualities. This group of Creationists (though not most on the list above) has a history of people claiming bogus degrees. Why do this and hold yourself out for ridicule? It is because these Creationists are out to preach to the choir, they are products of the fundamentalist subculture, and aim to strengthen the beliefs of their fellow believers by adding the weight of science, and their scientific credentials, to biblical literalism. The fact that so many of these people have scientific backgrounds, and often in physical scientific fields, explains some of their lack of ability to communicate with the general culture, they simply lack the verbal finesse of the Intelligent Design crowd, but this is secondary when preaching to the choir-and of course those who have engaged in degree padding will not be as likely to be found out by fellow believers inclined to trust them.
To sum, these two forms of Creationist, the fuzzy-sophisticated Intelligent Design species and the Young Earth Fundamentalist kind, exhibit radically different phenotypes and teleology. The former are by and large clever humanists and abstract thinkers who are deconstructing science, but do little science themselves. The latter are often working scientists (generally outside evolutionary biology obviously), but their primary functional aim to is solidify biblical fundamentalism in their fellow believers, their scientific credentials simply give them more authority to negate any erosion of literal belief that science might imply. To futher simplify and reduce: you have religionists trying to influence science, and scientists trying to influence religionists.