Abe: I got a riddle for you, Sol. What’s green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?
Sol: I give up.
Abe: A herring.
Sol: But a herring isn’t green.
Abe: So you can paint it green.
Sol: But a herring doesn’t hang on the wall.
Abe: Put a nail through it, it hands on the wall.
Sol: But a herring doesn’t whistle!
Abe: So? It doesn’t whistle.
Everyone knew it was coming; Ben Stein goes on Bill O’Reilly’s show and says that intelligent design has a religious agenda and is concerned with showing people the “gaps in Darwinism,” and now the Disco. Institute has released an arm-waving statement that asks us to please stop looking behind the curtain when it comes to the supposed identity of the ever-mysterious “designer.” In case you missed it (or are just a masochist), here’s the horrid Stein/O’Reilly interview;
I won’t go into everything that was incorrect about what Stein and O’Reilly said (noticed how creationism was framed as a “freedom of speech”/”freedom of inquiry” issue), but what is notable for our purposes here is that to both of them creationism = intelligent design, the “creator,” “designer,” or “higher power” unquestionably being the Judeo-Christian God. Fair enough; at least they just said it instead of acting otherwise. Now along come our pals from Seattle who say that ID is not creationism as it has been described by the very person who just made a film about it (Stein), issuing this short missive on the subject;
Last night Ben Stein showed up on The O’Reilly Factor to talk about his forthcoming documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, and the fact that scientists are being persecuted for simply questioning Darwinism in some case, or for researching and advancing the theory of intelligent design in others. Interestingly, I would bet that none of the scientists who will appear in Expelled (and by all accounts there will be a LOT of them) are creationists. Unfortunately, Bill O’Reilly simply conflates intelligent design with creationism, mistakenly defining it as an attempt to find a divine designer. Not so…
It was unfortunate too that Ben referred to the “gaps” in Darwin’s theory, as if those are the only issues that intelligent design theory addresses. To be sure there are shortcomings with Darwinism, the scientific literature of late is full of them. However, intelligent design also provides a robust positive case, and a serious scientific research approach. This is the news that O’Reilly’s viewers need to hear about.
But wait, didn’t the Discovery Institute just try and switch tactics with the awfully-slim textbook Explore Evolution? After getting thoroughly drubbed at Dover it seemed that ID advocates were trying to confuse schools by claiming that they were primarily interested in the gaps of evolution, even Michael Behe’s latest book The Edge of Evolution being far more interested in the “limits” of evolution than making a positive case for ID. Indeed, there’s little different from what Stein said and what Behe said some time ago on the Colbert Report, so why didn’t Behe receive the same rebuke? Indeed, it seems that intelligent design advocates can’t even keep things straight for themselves anymore, and they might as well be trying to tell us that the answer to the riddle “What’s green, hangs on a wall, and whistles?” is “A herring.”
Still, I’m sure the DI and advocates of intelligent design will continue to try and hide the fact that their ideas stem from theology and not scientific observation, their rhetoric being strangely reminiscent of a certain clinic I once heard about;