Tom Gilson

Opponents, Not Enemies

Once I again just recently I have watched The Return of the King, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, on DVD this time. How I love that story, both in the book and the film version! The DVD is accompanied by behind-the-scenes extra features, which included the actress who played Eowyn saying that though we live in cynical times, yet this is not a cynical story. No indeed; it is a story of courage, loyalty, steadfastness, brotherhood, of evil and righteousness, of discipline and decisions that really matter.

It is a mirror of the real-world battle between evil and righteousness, in which the same virtues are equally called for. Yet the virtue we need is often less obvious: the willingness to love a child, to stay strong in sickness, to keep going after a financial setback, to speak a word of encouragement, correction, even sometimes confrontation. It is the faith to trust in God even when (Psalm 13) we cry out, “How long?” And it is also that which shuns the easy but deadly road of temptation.

This is what speaks to me throughout the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. In one important way, however, the story’s parallelism with reality fails, and that is in its depictions of battle. Apart from perhaps the character of Gollum, the enemy is unremittingly evil and awful. There is no question of sympathizing with the Orcs or the Uruk-Hai, or with Saruman or Sauron. There is nothing to sympathize with in them. They represent what the Bible calls the spiritual forces of darkness, the unseen evil we battle by faith.

So much of what we fight from day to day is not this: it is each other. It is also ourselves (as the movie did capture, in Frodo, Boromir, and others). Standing between the great good of God and the great evil of darkness there is humanity, which is each of us.

Earlier today, I posted a piece criticizing Robert Pennock for the manner in which he opposes Christianity and Intelligent Design (not the same topic in my mind, though it seems to be in his). In a battle of ideas, which I also take to be a spiritual battle for people’s souls, he is my opponent. Yet he is a man like myself. We have walked the same sidewalks at the university I attended, where he now teaches. Though I stand against much of what he stands for, I recognize much of my own situation in his.

I believe he is wrong in many ways. I believe also that he has cut himself off from God, the true source of life, joy, and love. I believe that he has tasted life, joy, and love, as God gives his gifts to all humans, but that he cannot know them in their fullness while he stands apart from God. So this evening, having thought this through with the epic battles of The Return of the King fresh in my mind, though I believe he is wrong, I cannot see him as my enemy.

Unlike the combatants in the trilogy, he and I have much in common, including mutual enemies. There are many of these, of which I’ll mention just one, since it’s very much on my mind. I’m in the sixth week of treatment for pneumonia, and it’s not working yet. I’ll see a specialist tomorrow to see if we can figure out something better than the antibiotics I’ve been on. I’m sure Robert Pennock has faced something like this, in himself and/or his family, and that he’ll face it again. Not that I’m worried about this ending up this way this time, but to face a disease like this is in some measure to face death, to be reminded of the one most significant enemy each of us faces. (Even for Christians who believe God can redeem it, death is still an enemy—1 Corinthians 15:24-28.) It is our common foe.

So looking back on what I wrote this morning, I do not regret saying that I believe he is wrong (massively so). I seem to have the ability to recognize and communicate some of what is going on in this battle of ideas. I do regret this, however: I regret that I do not more often feel, and more effectively communicate, that this battle is with a fellow human.

What I would like most now to communicate, which I’m sure I will fail to do well, and which I’m sure non-Christian readers will hardly believe or understand, is this: that this fellow human, this man with whom I so much disagree and who represents others with whom I disagree—this fellow human, whom God loves, who has for now at least cut himself off from God, is one for whom I have wept today.

Series Navigation (Pennock, Monton, Matzke, Luskin):How Wrong Is It To Suggest a Darwin-Hitler Link? >>>
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52 thoughts on “Opponents, Not Enemies

  1. William Dembski has an interesting quote, in the forward to Thomas Woodward’s book Darwin Strikes Back. He writes:

    the counter-rhetoric of Darwin’s defenders is lurching into a mode so strident and vitriolic as to provoke more curiosity about the psychological causes of Darwinists’ emotional states than about the “evil motives” of ID advocates.

    While I don’t necessarily endorse that claim, I did think of it when I read Pennock’s piece, and I thought of it again when I read Tom’s trenchant mentioning of the point that we all have struggles.

  2. It would be an interesting sociological study, if it could be done, to compare the difference in tone on either side of this issue. Maybe my view is skewed by Pharyngula and Panda’s Thumb, or maybe there’s some reality to the difference.

  3. Um, just to bring some reality to this discussion, why don’t you guys google “Darwin” or “evolution” and “Nazi” and count how many times each side links the other to Nazis.

    Or heck, just look at Casey Luskin’s piece, which is what Pennock was responding to.

    Also, Rob Pennock is a Quaker, so all this stuff about him promoting atheism is just silly & uninformed. Thanks for playing.

  4. Thank you for dropping by, Mr. Matzke.

    I’m quite familiar with the Nazi connection with this issue. In particular I have explored what makes it such a sensitive topic. I trust you are aware that to discuss Nazism in connection with Darwin is not necessarily showing an unfair or critical attitude. Most of it that I’ve observed has been exploring philosophical and historical links between the Darwinism and Nazism. So counting google hits on those keywords wouldn’t show much about attitude at all.

    I do not, by the way, endorse the statement on that topic that Pennock attributed to Ben Stein in his USNWR piece, at least not in the form in which it’s quoted there, but I seriously wonder whether we have it in its full and proper context.

    As to Robert Pennock’s religion, I do have to confess I was unaware of his being a Quaker. His popularity among atheists and freethought groups may have misled me on that, and he has not been very forthcoming about his actual beliefs with respect to God. I will gladly retract what I have said about his Christianity and his beliefs about God, or at least provisionally so, since I don’t know really what he believes at all.

    Do you happen to know what answer Dr. Pennock has for Bradley Monton’s objections?

    I have a meeting coming up in a few minutes, so I will have to come back tomorrow to respond to your suggestion that we view “reality” in light of Casey Luskin’s piece.

  5. From what I understand, modern ‘Quakers’ can be atheists.

    Not to say Pennock is an atheist (or a theist, of course), but ‘He’s a quaker!’ doesn’t mean he’s not an atheist, at least according to my understanding.

  6. By the way, Nick,

    “Thanks for playing” implies a game show, where it’s all competitive, and zero-sum, and the loser leaves in disgrace. By saying it you imply that you’re Pat Sajak and you’re running the show; it’s an attempt at a power play. Further, it exemplifies terribly black-and-white thinking, of the sort I would think you would avoid and eschew.

    I don’t consider you to be the master of ceremonies here, thank you. Perhaps you didn’t notice, but “thanks for playing” represents the same kind of dismisssiveness that Luskin identified among evolutionists. This doesn’t do very much to defeat the point he made, does it?

    I am in this to advocate for what I understand, to learn about what I do not yet understand, and to treat the other person as a human being, not a contestant. I think you will see evidence of all that in these last two posts.

    So I thank you for clarifying some points in your comment, for bringing up some others that need further investigation (since I’m not sure they’re exactly what they seem at face value), and in either case allowing a chance to dialogue and learn. I’m afraid I cannot thank you in the same way for the close of your message. You apparently saw me as a loser who was about to be escorted off the stage to be replaced by a new contestant. I don’t see myself in that way at all. It’s not a game, black-and-white thinking is not appropriate, I’m learning as I go, and I’m not walking away.

  7. Further on comment #4: This is a discussion on the manner in which debate is conducted, and the Pennock/Monton question is still hanging.

    It seems to me that as long as Dr. Monton’s statement goes unanswered by Dr. Pennock, the presumption stands in favor of Monton’s contention that Pennock very badly misrepresented him. I understand that Pennock needs time to respond and to gain the right venue for such an answer, so we can give him the benefit of the doubt—for now. Yet Monton’s case seems awfully solid to me. It will be interesting to see what, if anything Pennock can provide in response.

  8. Two last things, Nick,

    I’ve read Luskin’s piece now, and while it certainly raises points of contention, it provides support beyond name-calling. Maybe you think Pennock’s piece does the same. I don’t read it that way, especially in view of what I consider to be irresponsible rhetorical maneuvering on his part, in tendentiously refusing to acknowledge the crucial difference between ID and creationism. I don’t think much of that tactic.

    Second: based on information you’ve given me here, I acknowledge that I cannot say what I did in this post about Pennock’s Christian beliefs. I just don’t know what they are, so I have to stand down from what I said.

    I could, however, re-write the piece and say almost exactly the same thing about Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Will Provine, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Barbara Forrest. We are opponents in this matter of ultimate explanations for life and reality, but we share our humanness, and for these, who are all quite openly non-theistic, I may also weep.

    I don’t know your own beliefs about God, so I can’t presume anything about that, but I can at least say that while we are certainly opposed on this issue of origins, I do not see you as an enemy either. We too have too much in common.

  9. Tom,

    Thanks for the retraction on Pennock’s religious views. You might see, though, how someone reading your elaborate discussion of his nasty atheist views, who knows the man, might find it rather annoying and thus reply snarkily.

    And it’s not as if Pennock’s Quaker-ness is a secret, it was mentioned in the Kitzmiller trial as well as other places:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS239US239&q=robert+pennock+quaker&btnG=Search

    Re: Nazis. Even if you personally are more careful about making the link, the vast majority of creationists are not. As the google search shows. Monton & you were making statements saying that in the overall debate most of the nastiness was from evolutionists towards ID/creationists. I gave some counterevidence. There is much, much more along these lines. Another great example is linking evolution proponents to school shootings. Heck, even in your own “careful” posts you basically say that evolution = life is random/meaningless = get rid of morality = encourages atrocity. This is pretty much the fundamental issue the creationists/IDists have with evolution, the reason the whole fight exists, not any of the scientific issues.

    And, looking over your “critical” posts on the Darwin-Nazi link: while you are somewhat more careful than the typical creationist, you still don’t say any of the things that *desperately* need to be said. E.g., the Nazis banned Darwin/Haeckel for being materialist, Haeckel was a humanist, pro-Semitic, liberal for his day, etc. (read the new Haeckel biography by Robert Richards, Haeckel has been inappropriately abused by people on all sides), Haeckel died before the Nazis even existed, and Darwin was several generations and an opposing country & language away from the Nazis. I don’t think it’s fair to blame German Christianity for the Nazis either, but if one is bound and determined to make a case, the case is stronger for that causality.

    Re: Monton — It’s pretty clear that Pennock & Monton got off on the wrong foot when Monton basically accused Pennock of “intellectual dishonesty” in Monton’s response to the Kitzmiller decision. All the rest of the bickering stems from that.

    Re: Creationism & ID. The evidence is overwhelming that ID is a direct lineal descendent of the creation science legal movement of the 1980s. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine the evidence could be any more clear, unless they actually deleted creationist terminology and replaced it with design terminology. Oh wait, they did.

    Documentation:

    Scott, E. C., and Matzke, N. (2007). “Biological design in science classrooms.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104(suppl. 1), 8669-8676. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0701505104

    Matzke, N. (2009). “But Isn’t It Creationism? The beginnings of ‘intelligent design’ and Of Pandas and People in the midst of the Arkansas and Louisiana litigation.” Book chapter for the Updated Edition of But Is It Science?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy, Prometheus Books, edited by Robert Pennock and Michael Ruse.

    See also Pennock’s essay in that volume for the full statement of his position on the science “demarcation” issue, methodological naturalism, etc. It points out a number of mistakes made by Monton etc.

  10. And by the way, I just came across this. You’ve surrendered any high ground you might have claimed about civilized, polite debate about evolution when you say things like this:

    “Darwin was responsible in the second sense. This is the sense in which Berlinski (in Expelled), and Weikart (in his book on this topic) said, “Darwinism was not a sufficient condition for Hitler’s atrocities, but it was a necessary condition.” Without Darwinism, I believe, Germany would have resisted Hitler. It was not the only necessary link leading up to Nazism, but it was one of them.”

    When you’ve read broadly about both Darwin and the causes of the Nazis and atrocities generally, as I have, you know this is just ridiculous. Even with minimal knowledge it’s ridiculous. The genocides in Rwanda, Turkey, the anti-Jewish pogroms throughout the millenia, etc., all happened despite a complete lack of Darwin/evolution in the culture. That, plus the fact that the Nazis were more anti-Darwin/Haeckel than pro (read Robert Richards’ Haeckel biography again), the fact that Haeckel himself drew *anti-war* conclusions from Darwinism (because war kills the best & brightest, according to Haeckel), and especially the fact that the major intellectuals who influenced the Nazis are well known, and they were anti-Darwin/anti-materialist (read Schloss’s analysis of “Expelled” here: http://www.asa3.org/groups/expelled/weblog/17854/Jeffrey_Schloss_Review_of_Expelled.html ). Darwin & Haeckel don’t even rank compared to Chamberlain, Wagner, Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau, etc.

    Anyway, making claims that Darwin was necessary for Nazism & its atrocities, without even dealing with obvious, blatant problems with this thesis (the same applies to Expelled and Weikart), is either just ideological & incompetent or downright insulting to evolutionary biologists. If you wonder why there is nastiness in this debate, start with your own actions.

  11. Hitler anti-Darwinian?
    Zweites Buch, Hitler’s second book says:
    http://www.zogsnightmare.com/books/NEWBOOKS2_4_08/newbooks!/ZweitesBuch.pdf

    The struggle for existence and continuance in life waged by billions upon billions of organisms
    takes place on the surface of an exactly measured sphere. The compulsion to engage in the struggle for
    existence
    lies in the limitation of the living space; but in the life struggle for this living space lies also the basis
    for evolution.

    [Darwin, anyone?]

    In the times before man, world history was primarily a presentation of geological events: the struggle of natural
    forces with one another, the creation of an inhabitable surface on this planet, the separation of water from land,
    the formation of mountains, of plains, and of the seas. This is the world history of this time. Later, with the
    emergence of organic life, man’s interest concentrated on the process of becoming and the passing away of its
    thousandfold forms. And only very late did man finally become visible to himself, and thus by the concept of
    world history he began to understand first and foremost only the history of his own becoming, that is, the
    presentation of his own evolution. This evolution is characterised by an eternal struggle of men against beasts
    and against men themselves. From the invisible confusion of the organisms there finally emerged formations:
    Clans, Tribes, Folks, States. The description of their origins and their passing away is but the representation of
    an eternal struggle for existence.

    [For the “Hitler was a creationist” types…]
    In the times before man, world history was primarily a presentation of geological events: the struggle of natural
    forces with one another, the creation of an inhabitable surface on this planet, the separation of water from land,
    the formation of mountains, of plains, and of the seas. This is the world history of this time. Later, with the
    emergence of organic life, man’s interest concentrated on the process of becoming and the passing away of its
    thousandfold forms. And only very late did man finally become visible to himself, and thus by the concept of
    world history he began to understand first and foremost only the history of his own becoming, that is, the
    presentation of his own evolution. This evolution is characterised by an eternal struggle of men against beasts
    and against men themselves. From the invisible confusion of the organisms there finally emerged formations:
    Clans, Tribes, Folks, States. The description of their origins and their passing away is but the representation of
    an eternal struggle for existence.

    ..
    First of all a very violent struggle for existence sets in, which only individuals who are the
    strongest and have the greatest capacity for resistance can survive. A high infant mortality rate on the one hand
    and a high proportion of aged people on the other are the chief signs of a time which shows little regard for
    individual life.
    Since, under such conditions, all weaklings are swept away through acute distress and illness,
    and only the healthiest remain alive, a kind of natural selection takes place. Thus the number of a Folk can
    easily be subject to a limitation, but the inner value can remain, indeed it can experience an inner heightening.
    But such a process cannot last for too long, otherwise the distress can also turn into its opposite. In nations
    composed of racial elements that are not wholly of equal value, permanent malnutrition can ultimately lead to a
    dull surrender to the distress, which gradually reduces energy, and instead of a struggle which fosters a natural
    selection, a gradual degeneration sets in
    . This is surely the case once man, in order to control the chronic
    distress, no longer attaches any value to an increase of his number, and resorts on his own to birth control. For
    then he himself immediately embarks upon a road opposite to that taken by nature. Whereas nature, out of the
    multitude of beings who are born, spares the few who are most fitted in terms of health and resistance to wage
    life’s struggle, man limits the number of births, and then tries to keep alive those who have been born with no
    regard to their real value or to their inner worth. Here his humanity is only the handmaiden of his weakness, and
    at the same time it is actually the cruellest destroyer of his existence. If man wants to limit the number of births
    on his own, without producing the terrible consequences which arise from birth control, he must give the
    number of births free rein but cut down on the number of those remaining alive.

    [Descent Of Man reminder]

    Since the firstborn in no way must grow according to the racially valuable sides of both parents, it lies
    in the interest of a nation that later life at least search out the more racially valuable from among the total
    number of children, through the struggle for existence, and preserve them for the nation and, conversely, put the
    nation in the possession of the accomplishments of these racially valuable individuals.
    But if man himself
    prevents the procreation of a greater number of children and limits himself to the firstborn or at least to the
    secondborn, he will nevertheless want to preserve especially these inferior racial elements of the nation, even if
    these do not possess the most valuable characteristics. Thus he artificially hinders nature’s process of selection,
    he prevents it, and thereby helps to impoverish a nation of powerful personalities. He destroys the peak value of
    a Folk.

  12. Nick,

    Thank you for the continued discussion. You’ve just met our Canadian friend Charlie Scott in the comment prior to mine here.

    I’ll split my response into a couple of parts, and the second one might end up being a new blog post in a day or two.

    Regarding Pennock’s religious views, I have no problem with changing my mind when I have new information. I appreciate your words back to me in that regard.

    You provided “counterevidence” to our claim that “most of the nastiness” in this debate has come from evolutionists. As I have already said, a true sociological study on this would be fascinating. Without that, we only have our impressions. Mine have come from places like Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula. I took part in a discussion on PT once, using a pseudonym, and another commenter there who was using a pseudonym railed on me for cowardice because I was using a pseudonym. That was in many ways the most comical but also the mildest of the abuse that was aimed at me.

    The point I was making was rather limited in its scope, where the original blog post topic was similarly limited, and immediately dozens of commenters (mostly anonymous) were making me responsible for everything Behe, Dembski, Ken Ham, Henry Morris, Kent Hovind, and probably even William Paley ever said. It was clearly their opportunity to play “pile on the IDiot!” There was no interest in discussing the specific topic that the original post presented and that I had responded to. Anyway, you’ve been there; I don’t think I need to rehearse for you all the kinds of insults that commonly get directed at “creationists” there.

    If Darwinists are unhappy with their philosophy being historically associated with Nazism, then people on my side of the camp may also be unhappy with being directly accused of being lying manipulators trying to sneak theocracy upon the world, being fundamentalists like the Taliban, and more. Recent example: the headline of Pennock’s own USN&WR article: “Creation of Christian Soldiers a Chilling Sidelight of Darwin Bashing.” That’s a lovely thing to say, now, isn’t it? But as I said, it would take a proper study to prove which of us is right. I have my strong opinion on the topic but I don’t have the research grant to demonstrate it.

    RE: Monton and Pennock: Are you suggesting (your 8:43 comment) that there was something wrong with Monton’s analysis of Pennock’s testimony, or with the manner in which he communicated it? I don’t see either being the case. You put “intellectual dishonesty” in quotes: is it a quotation? Not from Monton’s paper. The relevant passage is,

    Pennock’s response to this question takes up three pages of the trial transcript. In my opinion, Pennock misleadingly implies that Laudan would endorse methodological naturalism. Pennock says that if creationism is understood as a naturalistic hypothesis (focusing on its naturalistic implications about the age of the Earth, for example), then it is bad science, but if it is understood supernaturalistically, then it is not science at all. Pennock doesn’t explicitly attribute this view to Laudan, but someone who hadn’t read Laudan would probably come away thinking that this is Laudan’s view.

    Now, if Monton’s analysis was wrong here, that would be one thing. If it was correct, then I think he’s being rather nicely restrained in the way he communicates it. (Note that later he also faults the defense in how they handled this.)

    I’m afraid your reference to the current edition of “But Is It Science” is going to take a while for me to respond to. I read the first edition some time ago, and it was a fine book, but I don’t have the current one, and I am behind about five or ten books on other reading I’ve committed to. Could you summarize Pennock’s response to Monton for us, please?

    Re: Creationism & ID. The evidence is overwhelming that ID is a direct lineal descendent of the creation science legal movement of the 1980s

    The evidence is also overwhelming that I am a direct lineal descendant of my maternal grandmother, but I am not my maternal grandmother. Creationism and ID have many, many differences, and to conflate them is either carelessness or intentional rhetorical maneuvering. (I would think that a strong believer in evolution such as yourself would be sensitive to the dangers of claiming that if A descends from B, then A is B.)

    Regarding Darwin and Hitler, my main response will be forthcoming. Just a brief note here, that when you said I “surrendered … high ground” by failing to account for Schloss and Roberts in the post you referenced, you might also have noticed that both of their works were published later than what I wrote. Whether I was wrong nevertheless, or whether I should retract what I originally said in light of this new information, will be a topic I’ll return to later.

    In the meantime please note Charlie’s rejoinder preceding mine. I want to particularly direct readers’ attention to his comment number 12; it’s small and easy to overlook, but you don’t want to miss it.

  13. Nick Matzke:

    \And it’s not as if Pennock’s Quaker-ness is a secret, it was mentioned in the Kitzmiller trial…\

    Was it mentioned in the Kitzmiller trial?
    I made a search using the word \quaker\, but failed to find the claim that Pennock himself is a Quaker (from Dover transcripts). Pennock told in trial that Eddington was a Quaker, but I didn’t find that he had told or mentioned anything about his own religious (Quaker) thinking.

  14. Re: Quaker — ah, you’re right, that Quaker reference was by Pennock but about someone else. But Pennock was affirmed rather than sworn in when he began to testify (this is a famous Quaker thing), I guess that’s not in the transcript but it was noted at the beginning of his testimony:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day3am.html

    In any event it’s in Pennock’s book etc.

  15. Hey, turns out you don’t have to get Robert Richard’s book (although you should), key chunks of it are available as articles, e.g. linked from here:
    http://vfpdissident.blogspot.com/2008/11/ernst-haeckel-scientist-artist-mystic.html

    Remember that Haeckel was a lot more influential in Germany than Darwin (as Weikart admits), then read this about Haeckel from a world expert:

    ================
    Robert J. Richards (2007). “Ernst Haeckel’s Alleged Anti-Semitism and Contributions to Nazi Biology.” Biological Theory 2(1), 97-103.

    Robert J. Richards

    Departments of History, Philosophy, and Psychology, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, and Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine, University of Chicago, IL, USA

    [email protected]

    […]

    Another small example might suffice to indicate that as a free-thinker, Haeckel harbored no egregious anti-Semitic attitudes, and rather expressed views that would be completely anathema to the Nazis. In his later years (from 1912 until his death in 1919), he became especially friendly with Magnus Hirshfeld (1868–1935), a Jewish physician and free-thinker who specialized in research on various sexual practices (especially transvestitism and homosexuality) that would be strictly condemned and regarded as executable crimes by the Nazis.13 Hirshfeld dedicated his book Naturgesetze der Liebe (Natural laws of love, 1912) to Haeckel after securing the latter’s permission.14 The book urged that homosexuality was an innate condition and a natural form of love. Hirshfeld visited Haeckel in Jena several times between 1912 and 1917, and lectured on “Ernst Haeckel, ein deutscher Geistesheld” (Ernst Haeckel, a German spiritual hero, 1914).15 Not the kind of company a proto-Nazi should keep.

    The racism that dominated anthropological thinking — as well as religious and popular discourse — during the 18th and 19th centuries undoubtedly contributed to the ideology of the Nazis, but no less to the cant of American exclusionists during the period of heavy immigration to the United States in the early 20th century. In the case of the Nazis, there is no compelling evidence, however, that evolutionary ideas (as opposed to genetic and eugenic ideas) played a dominant role in forming their attitudes, especially since Hitler and his immediate circle expressed no particularly favorable disposition toward the theory. Moreover, in the case of official party policy, Haeckel’s evolutionism had been explicitly rejected.

    The National Socialist Rejection of Haeckelian Science

    During the early 1930s, there were many efforts to support the fortunes of the Nazi party by associating it with the attitudes and ideas of stellar German intellectuals, among whom was Ernst Haeckel. So, for example, Alfred Rosenberg, chief party propagandist, declared Alexander von Humboldt — cosmopolitan, friend of Jews, and homosexual — to be a supporter of the ideals of the Party (see Rupke 2005: 81–104). In Haeckel’s case, the most visible effort to turn him to Hitler’s side was made by Heinz Brucher, in his Ernst Haeckels Blutsund Geistes-Erbe (Ernst Haeckel’s racial and spiritual legacy, 1936). Notably, however, Brucher did not try to make Haeckel an anti-Semite, except, perhaps, by implication.16

    Yet the efforts to recruit the author of Die Weltrathsel to the Nazi cause foundered almost immediately because of a quasi-official monitum issued by Gunther Hecht, who represented the National Socialist Party’s Department of Race- Politics (Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP). Hecht, also a member of the Zoological Institute in Berlin, explicitly rejected the suggestion that Haeckel’s materialistic conceptions should be regarded as having contributed to the doctrines of the Party:

    The common position of materialistic monism is philosophically rejected completely by the volkisch-biological view of National Socialism. Any further or continuing scientific-philosophic disputes concerning this belong exclusively to the area of scientific research. The party and its representatives must not only reject a part of the Haeckelian conception — other parts of it have occasionally been advanced — but, more generally, every internal party dispute that involves the particulars of research and the teachings of Haeckel must cease. (Hecht 1937–1938: 285)17

    Another functionary writing in the same Party organ seconded the warning issued by Hecht. Kurt Hildebrandt, a political philosopher at Kiel, maintained it was simply an “illusion” for Haeckel to have believed that “philosophy reached its pinnacle in the mechanistic solution to the world puzzles through Darwin’s descent theory” (Hildebrandt 1937–1938: 17). Neither Hecht nor Hildebrandt thought compatible with Nazi doctrine a scientific-philosophical conception that had been embraced by the likes of such socialists and Marxists as August Bebel, Karl Kautsky, Eduard Bernstein — not to mention V. I. Lenin.

    Conclusion

    In the contemporary period, it is easy enough to gaze back at earlier times and morally condemn individuals for attitudes that would deserve execration today. But such easy judgments are beneath the dignity of experienced scholars. Those who labor in the history of human thought recognize that moral judgments have an empirical component: they depend on knowledge of the way the world is, on the understanding of nature and human nature. We may justly expect that individuals who lived long ago display no less moral sensitivity than we do, but we cannot expect them to have the same empirical and theoretical knowledge that we do. That greater knowledge has brought us to realize that the various human groups do not substantially differ from one another in cognitive capacities and therefore that the kind of scale of human worth implied by Haeckel’s stem-trees have no validity. But this does not mean that Haeckel himself and a host of biological scientists of the 19th century did not have good scientific reasons (based in notions of progressive descent) for holding the racial views they did. Their thinking was also ensconced in a matrix of cultural attitudes about race that would have been almost impossible to escape, and very few were able to. The scientific reasons for their racial beliefs had been strongly supported by the growing power of early evolutionary theory, a theory only corrected by the advance in our empirical and critical considerations during the second half of the 20th century. As the purported reasons for deep racial distinctions have fallen away, cultural presumptions have followed in their wake, often more slowly that we would like. But even by the terms of the 19th century, the charge that Haeckel was an anti-Semite could only be grounded in tenuous assumption and uncritical judgment. And if some Nazis used Darwin’s or Haeckel’s ideas for their own purposes, those two individuals stand in the same line with Goethe, Humboldt, and a very large number of Christian apologists.18
    ================

  16. Hi Tom, various points:

    1. On how the Pennock/Monton hostility started with Monton accusing Pennock of intellectual dishonesty, you question this and write,

    You put “intellectual dishonesty” in quotes: is it a quotation? Not from Monton’s paper. The relevant passage is,

    [snip]

    Now, if Monton’s analysis was wrong here, that would be one thing. If it was correct, then I think he’s being rather nicely restrained in the way he communicates it. (Note that later he also faults the defense in how they handled this.)

    No, that’s not the passage we’re talking about. It’s this, from Monton’s original essay, which Pennock was complaining about:

    If our goal is to believe truth and avoid falsehood, and if we are rational people who take into account evidence in deciding what to believe, then we need to focus on the question of what evidence there is for and against ID. The issue of whether ID counts as “science” according to some contentious answer to the demarcation question is unimportant. Of course, on this approach it would be much harder to get a federal judge to rule that ID can’t be taught in public school. But sometimes it is more important to be intellectually honest than to do what it takes to stop people from doing something you don’t like.

    (Monton confirms that this is the quote in this recent post.)

    Here, Monton is pretty clearly accusing Pennock of lying in order to win the Dover case. Whether or not this rises to defamation and whether or not Pennock’s response was appropriate are different questions. Accusations of intellectual dishonesty are serious, particularly accusations about intellectual dishonesty in sworn court testimony, are pretty serious, so Pennock’s response, which was basically complain but not sue, seems pretty reasonable.

    The sentence doesn’t appear to be in later versions of the essay so probably Monton agrees that it was a bit overwrought.

    Anyway, Monton’s critique of Pennock, complete with the intellectual dishonesty charge, appears to be the first interaction Pennock & Monton had on this issue, so like I said it’s not surprising there is some bad blood.

    2. Nazis. Like I said, “Even with minimal knowledge it’s ridiculous.” (Sorry I didn’t realize the Schloss article came out after your post, but for the record, a number of Richards’s articles, which are basically included in the book, had come out. And Schloss’s critical review of Expelled was the most detailed & widely noted one out there, surely some mention on your blog in the last year would be minimal due diligence if you’re going to attempt to claim you’re not insulting people while simultaneously making the extremely emotionally fraught claim that Darwin was a major cause of the Nazis.)

    3. Re: politeness. I agree the commentators at PT can be rude, but it is an uncensored comments bored, the dozen or so people who actually contribute original posts to PT have virtually no control over who posts or what they post. I’ve been insulted & banned on Uncommon Descent just for arguing & presenting counterevidence.

    But I agree it would take a study to resolve which “side” is “worse” in general. But let me know if you see a pro-evolution group put up billboards like this one:

    http://stupiddinosaurlies.org/answers-in-genesis-is-a-hate-group/

    You can see how this might annoy a few people and make them be less inclined to be polite to creationists.

  17. PS: I also did a post with a longish Richards quote, I think it got caught in a spam filter or something, the blog says its a duplicate when I re-post it, but it hasn’t appeared here. Cheers, Nick

  18. In response to Nick Matzke’s post regarding what the “relevant quote” is from my Dover paper, note that in my blog post that Matzke cites, I’ve put in an update explaining why I wrote the passage Matzke cites. See update #4 of:

    http://bradleymonton.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/pennock-on-monton-in-us-news-world-report/

    The pasage from my paper that Tom Gilson quoted in comment #14 is relevant if one were trying to build a case that Pennock was being intellectually dishonest. For the record, I’m not trying to build such a case — I have no idea what Pennock was really thinking when he gave that answer about Laudan. (I think Pennock misrepresented Laudan, but it doesn’t at all follow from that claim that Pennock was being intellectually dishonest.) As Tom Gilson points out, I fault the defense for not adequately responding to Pennock — that’s clearly not Pennock’s fault.

  19. Nick wrote: “Or heck, just look at Casey Luskin’s piece, which is what Pennock was responding to.”

    Huh? I don’t use personal attacks, and I never did so against Pennock. All I did was call out Pennock on his uncivil attacks where he repeatedly has called ID proponents “deceptive” etc. Calling Pennock out on his demonization of ID proponents is not a form of demonization–it’s an attempt to stop demonization and call people back to civility. Apparently Pennock doesn’t want that. After all, it was Pennock who explicitly said:

    “It is hard to know how to respond in a civil manner to such ignorant extremism. Let me go further here: Such views (and I do here mean views, not people) do not deserve a civil response. They deserve more than disapproval and ridicule. They deserve the moral outrage of all who are friends of reason and truth.”

    Pennock sure seems intent on using uncivil methods to promote his viewpoint. Pennock makes my case for me.

    Welcome to the real world Nick: I don’t use personal attacks, though I personally have been subjected to unquantifiable numbers of personal attacks, and have responded with forgiveness, not with attack. Get real, my friend.

  20. Hi Casey,
    Could you link to your piece in question?
    I’m sure it’s linked somewhere around here but I wasn’t able to find it the other day when I went looking.
    Thanks.

    ps.
    Good to see you here.

  21. Hi Nick Matzke,
    Do you stand behind your Panda’s entry of a few years back when you said tha Haeckel was a better candidate for inspiring Hitler than Darwin because…?:

    Haeckel died in 1919 and was active in the early-20th century German discourse that Hitler read
    Haeckel lived and worked in Germany
    Haeckel was an anti-Semite and campaigning biological racist
    Haeckel was a strong, explicit promoter of eugenics
    Haeckel was a strong, explicit promoter of morally radical atheistic philosophies like monism (Weikart makes much of the alleged overturning of conventional religion and moral standards in Germany)

    I do.

  22. Charlie writes,

    Hi Nick Matzke,
    Do you stand behind your Panda’s entry of a few years back when you said tha Haeckel was a better candidate for inspiring Hitler than Darwin because…?:

    My answer: mostly no. I was wrong back then. Like a lot of people, I had absorbed a huge amount of anti-Haeckel propaganda, e.g. from Stephen Jay Gould via Daniel Gasman. Robert Richards’s biography corrects a huge amount of this. Haeckel was not perfect by any means, but he was not an anti-Semite, not really a “campaigning” racist, although he had some background racism like pretty much all Europeans back then. He was definitely a campaigning atheist, which has caused all sorts of problems for Haeckel & for evolution (as Richards discusses in depth), but even here there is evidence of moderation e.g. in the political/educational realm.

    The big thing about Haeckel which has been lost is how much of him is basically Enlightenment liberal and completely amazing scientist.

    It is still true that one can make a far better case for Haeckel influencing Hitler than one can for Darwin, but as it turns out the case even for Haeckel is really weak.

  23. Have you noticed how we’ve gone off topic here? (Comment 25’s author chose his or her nom-de-blog very appropriately.)

    The original post in this series was about Robert Pennock and Bradley Monton. The current post was a follow-up to that, mostly relating to the way I would relate to Pennock or another person whose position differs from mine.

    What ties both posts together is how people approach each other in this debate.

    Changing the subject is not a great way to conduct debate, I might point out, but then I went along with it so I’ll take part of the blame. Nick Matzke steered us off topic by saying I had given up any “high ground” when I concluded Darwin had something to do with Hitler and/or Nazism. I have more to say in response to that, but I don’t want to be complicit any longer in taking this thing off track. Let’s stipulate that Nick’s point is an open question for now. I’ll post a new blog entry on that issue within 24 hours, and we can discuss it there. (If all goes well that new post will be online much sooner than 24 hours from now.)

    If comment moderation works the way it’s supposed to, you’ll find that anything you post on this topic for now will go into the moderation queue.

    I’m asking us not to follow that trail any further on this thread, but to return to where we were before that: Comment 6 through Comment 10 would be good places to go for review.

  24. Casey,

    Pennock explained himself & his problem with your views perfectly well. He quotes you:

    Now on to Luskin’s claims. Commenting upon myself and Richard Katskee, Luskin writes that we and other “Darwinists” aim to “stifle debate” and that we use a “poison pen” and “name-calling” as “intimidation tactics” to silence anyone who dares speak up in favor of ID.

    Then he explains in depth why he disagrees & cites numerous examples of ID advocates, e.g. Expelled, demonizing the opposition — not practicing what they preach.

    And — make no mistake, anyone who endorses Expelled has lost any high ground on the name-calling issue. Juxtaposing biologists with goose-stepping Nazis is pretty much an automatic loss according to Godwin’s Law.

  25. Godwin’s Law, Matzke’s Corollary: Because Hitler’s name has been misused in so many arguments, therefore, if Hitler’s name is used in any argument, that argument is an automatic loss.

  26. Hi Nick,

    It’s interesting that you defend Pennock. He cited Antievolution.org as a repository of incivility of ID proponents. I found that most interesting, because that website actually shows precisely the opposite trend: in one single thread on Antievolution.org I personally have been called unprintable names including, “Bizarre ignoramus,” “retarded,” “bigger tard,” “suck-up,” “brown-noser,” “Casey Luskin asphixiate from his head up his glutious maximus first,” “microcephaloc,” “PHALLO-cephalic,” “an insult to dickheads everywhere,” “a baby–well, okay, maybe a toddler,” “Pathetic Loser,” “attack mouse, gerbil, rat, or clockwork powered plush toy,” “Discovery Institute’s Chief Lap Poodle,” “Discovery Institute’s Chief Lap Peccary,” “an orc,” “Annoying,” “a miserable loser with no life that just plays on the internet all day,” “an a**,” “a lying sack of sh***,” “a pussy,” “a total loser,” “f***ing crazy,” “attack gerbil Luskin,” “douche bag,” “a**hole,” “the Biggest Douche that anyone that has every met him has ever met,” “so totally gay,” “dorky,” “He also has an unhealthy focus on ‘poster children’,” “an idiot,” “dishonest,” “ignorant cheap poxied floozie,” “fanatic and lunatic,” “A proven liar,” and “incompetent.”

    Sadly, that’s just the beginning. That’s the only thread I’ve tried to catalogue, but that’s the point: it’s just one thread on one of many similar anti-ID websites.

    I made only one post to this forum in response, in which I stated:

    “I could say much in defense of myself here, but this is neither the time nor the appropriate venue to do so. In this regard, I have one, and only one post to make, and one, and only one thing to say: I forgive you all for how you have treated me here, and most of all I forgive Wesley Elsberry…”

    When you have been subjected to such namecalling perhaps you can comment on the topic of civility. Heck, when you have responded in such a fashion to any namecalling you received, perhaps you can comment on the topic of civility.

    So please don’t pretend that there isn’t an overwhelming epidemic of evolutionist incivility. All you can do right now is point fingers, and that’s because you’re trying to deflect:

    You recently wrote in Biochemical Journal that “no one with scientific or philosophical integrity is going to take [ID or Discovery Institute] seriously in the future.”

    What is the effect of this? It sends a message to readers of this journal that if they advocate ID or support ID groups (like DI) then they have no “scientific or philosophical integrity.” It proves my essay’s point, which is that when ID-critics use namecalling and demonization, “the message is clear: If you support ID you’re evil, and if you decide to speak out in support of ID, you’ll be called all kinds of nasty names. These are intimidation tactics, pure and simple.”

    I think the way forward is to forgive and make a universal call for civility for all people on all sides. Abbie Smith apparently apparently disagreed with this as she flipped me off even as I was calling people to be civil. This is very saddening.

    Nick, please don’t kid around with us: I’m sure everyone here reads the blogs and we all know that evolutionist incivility is way beyond epidemic proportions. My purpose is to call on both ID proponents and ID-critics to treat one another in a civil fashion.

    Pennock thinks the way forward is to encourage more ridicule and demonization of ID, and more incivility. (He proved my point by stating: “It is hard to know how to respond in a civil manner to such ignorant extremism. Let me go further here: Such views (and I do here mean views, not people) do not deserve a civil response. They deserve more than disapproval and ridicule. They deserve the moral outrage of all who are friends of reason and truth.”)

    Sadly, like Pennock, you too have proven my case for me. It doesn’t have to be this way Nick. There’s a better way. I hope you’ll find it.

    sincerely, Casey

  27. Nick writes:

    Re: politeness. I agree the commentators at PT can be rude, but it is an uncensored comments bored, the dozen or so people who actually contribute original posts to PT have virtually no control over who posts or what they post.

    Nick, unrestrained rudeness, boorish comments and worse have a strong censorship effect. Not official of course but that only adds to the effectiveness of the strategy. When civility is lacking a good many people will not bother to participate in discussions. Most have better things to do than put up with insults and trash talk. It also reveals that those hurling the insults do not have open minds; making exchanges a waste of time.

  28. Casey, do you realize how condescending & insulting it is to “forgive most of all” Wes Elsberry for comments that he didn’t even make? What’s his sin, running a website with a discussion board on it in which some people are rude? For what it’s worth, I agree all of the silly name-calling is juvenile, wrong, and inappropriate, but, really, welcome to the internet. If one decides to have a discussion board, and decides to not devote their life to actively moderating comments (which is what it would take to actively monitor any reasonably popular board), then there will be some of this. You might as well blame the Constitution & Free Speech for the fact that some people get called names on TV.

    Re: Biochemical Journal. I’m sorry if it hurts your feelings, but I stand by that comment. Your own posts on the DI website are evidence enough; you are the most prolific ID advocate, a spokesperson for the leading ID institution, writing for its website, and yet your posts regularly lack even basic competence in the topics they address. E.g. remember the time you double-counted all the flagellum proteins because you missed the fact that the names had changed, or the time you claimed various homologous hand bones in tetrapods hadn’t been identified when in fact they were identified in the very passage you quoted, or the recent Lucy post where you claimed it was the most complete hominid fossil in existence, which is false and well-known to be false by, like, everyone. Or, your most recent post on the frogamander where, amongst ridiculous complaints about bones being small (as if modern frogs didn’t have small bones), you claim,

    “Indeed, their phylogenetic tree for various living and extinct amphibians has a consistency index of only 0.250, meaning that ~75% of the character data conflict with the phylogenetic hierarchy in their tree (i.e. HOMOPLASY). To say the least, this does not inspire confidence in the integrity of their claimed evolutionary relationships.”

    This is just, well, jaw-droppingly silly. The CI (which is about the crudest of the many available metrics for measuring the support for a tree) has to be compared with the null value of CI which would occur if there were really no phylogenetic hierarchy in the tree (i.e., data placed randomly with no phylogenetic signal). For this paper, the # of taxa is 54. The null hypothesis of no phylogenetic signal for 54 taxa predicts a CI of about (reading off the graph here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html ) ~0.1 with a 95% confidence interval (2 standard deviations) of about +/- 0.01.

    *That’s* what they would have gotten if their data really didn’t support the tree. Instead, their CI was, let’s see, about 30 standard deviations above the null expectation. This is incredibly strong statistical disproof of your idea that the data don’t have phylogenetic signal.

    This is phylogenetics 101, available on the web, yet you don’t know it, yet you bash the experts in their field, and the entire discipline of evolutionary biology, as if you knew what you were talking about. Scientific integrity here would mean at least due diligence: do the hard work of learning the relevant science and statistics, and double-checking your work before broadcasting it to the public. And (especially) forthrightly correcting errors and doing better on getting the basics right the next time you sally forth into some area of expertise. None of this has been in evidence in your work or, sad to say, the ID movement’s work.

  29. Nick, really now, you can’t mean what you wrote here, can you?

    For what it’s worth, I agree all of the silly name-calling is juvenile, wrong, and inappropriate, but, really, welcome to the internet. If one decides to have a discussion board, and decides to not devote their life to actively moderating comments (which is what it would take to actively monitor any reasonably popular board), then there will be some of this. You might as well blame the Constitution & Free Speech for the fact that some people get called names on TV.

    At the end of this your point is that you can’t blame the Constitution and Free Speech (and presumably the medium of TV) for people being called names on TV. The point is then that you can’t blame the Constitution, Free Speech, or the Internet for people being called names on the Internet. Then just where does the responsibility land? Is it not with the people who do the name-calling? Is it not also with the one who decides to run an unmoderated forum that permits it? You’re brushing all this aside as if there was no responsibility to be accepted for it by anyone.

  30. Nick:

    If one decides to have a discussion board, and decides to not devote their life to actively moderating comments (which is what it would take to actively monitor any reasonably popular board), then there will be some of this.

    I don’t think moderating is as time consuming or as difficult as presented. A few pointed expulsions directed at blatent offenders gets the word out quickly. It’s not perfect but is an improvement on anything goes.

  31. Further, Nick,

    Casey, do you realize how condescending & insulting it is to “forgive most of all …”? What’s his sin … ?

    Indeed. Those who don’t realize or acknowledge they’ve hurt another human being don’t take forgiveness as a blessing. They take it as a reminder that somebody thinks they’ve done something wrong. It almost seems as if you think everything on that site, and PT and Pharyngula and etc., is strictly for the good of all involved, and with the best intentions besides. I suppose in that case being offered forgiveness really would seem like an insult.

  32. Is it not with the people who do the name-calling?

    Yes.

    Is it not also with the one who decides to run an unmoderated forum that permits it?

    No. If you don’t like the TV analogy, which you dismissed without explaining why it doesn’t apply, here’s another one: you might as well blame Google Groups for hosting the insults on the various newsgroups. Any reasonably active discussion board will have some of this. The options are (1) spend a great deal of time making rules, enforcing them, making judgment calls over what constitutes a bannable insult, having arguments over those judgment calls, and then taking the blame and moral outrage from everyone who thinks you are either too harsh or too lenient over particular posts, etc.; or (2) you just establish an open forum and everyone takes responsibility for their own comments. Either option is fine, but #1 takes a lot more time/infrastructure/money and in my experience is just unworkable for large boards run for free (no paid employees) by busy people.

    Whatever your views on this, hosting an open forum is certainly not *worse* than making insults yourself — but this is exactly what Luskin implied — he more or less said that Wesley was the worst of the lot. Which is particularly silly because Wes is one of the sweetest people I know. He will call out falsehood or dishonesty if he sees it, but he doesn’t do the juvenile name calling.

    This is a generic problem with the discussions here — guilt by association. I happen to believe in personal responsibility. Why don’t we all agree that the insulters bear primary responsibility for their insults, and Hitler and the Nazis bear the primary resposibility for Nazism and its crimes?

  33. This much I certainly agree with:

    I happen to believe in personal responsibility. Why don’t we all agree that the insulters bear primary responsibility for their insults, and Hitler and the Nazis bear the primary resposibility for Nazism and its crimes?

    I would also remind us all that ideas have consequences. They do not relieve anyone of primary responsibility for their own actions, but neither does that fact remove all responsibility from those who develop and promulgate ideas, whether good or bad.

  34. This is a generic problem with the discussions here — guilt by association.

    That’s rich, coming from the guy who prefaces nearly every argument trying to claim that all IDers are creationists because modern ID is within six degrees of association with creationists from the 1980s. In fact, I believe Nick was one of the guys who wrote a paper claiming that Sternberg (an evolutionist) was a “well-known creationist” because he happened to associate with a creationist group. Heck, “Guilt-By-Association” ought to be Nick’s middle name.

    You’ve got to wonder what’s driving it when someone like Nick, of all people, starts earnestly calling for an end to guilt by association. Perhaps he’s worried about he and his friends being associated with some of the individuals and actions that they are in fact (positively) associated with?

  35. Um, at the time Sternberg was on the freakin’ board of a strict young-earth creationist society. This is, let’s see, 0 degrees of separation. Turns out he’s not a young-earth creationist, but it is far from clear that he accepts common ancestry, for instance, or doesn’t think miracles are necessary in evolutionary history. So still creationist.

    Ditto for ID. 0 degrees of separation. Same people, same books (with creationist language switched out for ID language after the Supreme Court case went against them), same arguments, etc.

  36. Hi Nick.

    You’re still engaging in guilt by association regardless of how you spin the Sternberg associations. The asssociations are clearly there and you placed them before us to point to inferences. So let’s look at the guilt word. It’s connected with creationist. But why is that word problematic? Connotations. Conjures up other associations like AIG and Ken Ham. Useful propaganda fodder right? I’ve never ceased to believe that if a causal trail could be outlined God would be the starting point. That makes me a creationist. On the other hand, I also agree with Dembski that it is possible in principle for the constructs of this universe to signal design by virtue of their natural properties. That makes me an IDist. No contradiction. No Trojan Horse. Simply different reasons supporting reconcilable beliefs.

    ID critics could end the ID movement in short order in my view if they would do one simple thing. Simply acknowledge that the views of IDists are rational and do not conflict with science. To conflict with science you would have to have data about the origin of the universe that you will never have. So instead of a science vs. non-science paradigm what we actually have before us are distinct metaphysical views made unresolvable by the nature of that which we investigate.

    You don’t really want the ID movement terminated though do you? It would take the fun out of these topics.

  37. Bradford,

    ID is about way more than the origin of the Universe. It’s about denying the common ancestry of humans & chimps, the origin of the bacterial flagellum & the immune system, the denial that there are transitional fossils, etc. Just read Casey Luskin’s posts on the DI website. Or Pandas. Or Dembski’s 3rd edition of Pandas. At all these points ID conflicts with science. They are the same points where old-earth creationism conflicts with science.

  38. Um, at the time Sternberg was on the freakin’ board of a strict young-earth creationist society. This is, let’s see, 0 degrees of separation.

    Gosh, Nick, that sounds an awful lot like Guilt By Association to me, but I guess it couldn’t possibly be, because you’re on record in this very thread making high-minded calls for an end to Guilt By Association. I might point out, also, that there are exactly 0 degrees of separation between Elsberry and the execrable board that he hosts, and that unlike Sternberg, he hasn’t indicated that he disagrees with what goes on there, and that if he did disapprove, he’s got the ability to put an end to it.

    Turns out he’s not a young-earth creationist, but it is far from clear that he accepts common ancestry, for instance, or doesn’t think miracles are necessary in evolutionary history. So still creationist.

    So, let’s see. It hasn’t been proven that Sternberg accepts common ancestry and the non-miraculous-interventionism of evolution, therefore he doesn’t, and therefore he is a creationist (a very stretchy word, apparently).

    Also, it hasn’t been proven that you don’t have a crush on Eugenie Scott, therefore you do, and are a weirdo. “But wait,” you’re no doubt thinking, “That’s not a fair comparison, because I have a good reason for calling Sternberg a creationist.” That being, of course, that he associates with creationists. I think there’s a term for that line of reasoning. What was it? It’s just on the tip of my tongue. Oh yeah: Guilt By Association. Which of course you don’t do.

    Ditto for ID. 0 degrees of separation. Same people, same books (with creationist language switched out for ID language after the Supreme Court case went against them), same arguments, etc.

    Really? The same people? To be sure, I was a little kid at the time, but I don’t recall ever hearing about Behe or Dembski or any of the other more currently prominent IDers going before the Supreme Court in the 1980s.

    Then again, a number of them have worked with with people who did, and some of them have used similar language and arguments and were surely influenced by people who did, so there’s an association there. So, if one believed that guilt could be transferred by association, then one might say that…

    Hey, wait a minute, I see what you’re doing here, Nick! You’re trying to use reverse psychology to trick me, by pretending to engage in Guilt My Association (something you don’t actually engage in, of course). A truly ingenious ploy my friend, but I have seen through your clever ruse…

  39. You’re Making Enemies Faster Than You Can Demonize Them

    Hi Nick,

    I must have struck a raw chord with you given how you flamed out and started ranting off about alleged mistakes I’ve made in the past, and how this allegedly destroys my integrity. Thanks for further proving my point Nick that you’re more interested in uncivil character attacks than anything else (given your recent behavior, this most recent comment will likely result in more anger from you and more namcalling and uncivil comments from you).

    You see Nick, when you make a mistake (and I’ve found plenty in your posts and your colleagues’ posts before) I don’t flame out and go around telling people that you lack competence or integrity or honesty. I make a logical argument that rebuts your argument, and let people decide who is right. My recent reply to Prothero is a good example of this. I feel no need to make personal attacks. You do. Your colleagues do too. There’s a big difference between us. You should re-read the title of this thread: “Opponents, Not Enemies.” I wish you could appreciate that title.

    You proved by your own self-admitted words and self-defended behavior that you are more-than-willing to stoop to uncivil behavior. And your evidence that I lack integrity comes from the most questionable examples.

    You are so eager to engage in personal attacks that you and your colleagues often invent mistakes and then go for the sledgehammer / jugular by asserting all-out incompetence / immorality / wrongness. Some of your tactics include:

    (1) Ignoring the context of our comments (for example, you failed to mention that in my comment on the flagellum on a non-DI blog, I explicitly admitted in my comment that I wasn’t sure if the names had changed and was just doing a thought experiment).

    (2) Taking passing comments and twisting them in the least charitable interpretation and ignoring the rest of the argument (for example, the Lucy exhibit said she was the most complete hominid to date yet you failed to rebut all my other comments, and my passing comment about the small size of the frogamander bones is not even an important part of my argument–you failed to rebut everything else I said).

    (3) Taking disagreement as a sign of incompetence, or claiming that because you disagree with my argument, therefore I have no idea what I’m talking about (I fully stand by my comments about unimpressively low consistency index of the lissamphibian tree; I fully understand what the term means and ran all of my comments by an ID-friendly evolutionary biologist before publishing them).

    And when I’ve made legitimate mistakes (such as the Tiktaalik example you gave), I’ve corrected them and improved arguments, which resulted in non-responding responses from your colleagues.

    You wrote: “I’m sorry if it hurts your feelings, but I stand by that comment.”

    I reply: That’s a common distraction. My feelings aren’t hurt when people call me names. This isn’t about me or my feelings. This is about something quite different. You have an agenda to paint ID proponents as evil and incompetent. Thus, you regularly misrepresent our arguments as if they are incompetent. You even said regarding flagellum expert Scott Minnich (whom you at times cite favorably in your Pallen paper) that he does not “have a friggin’ clue what [he is] blathering about when it comes to flagellum evolution.” This is why people don’t take your namecalling seriously. Again, for the reasonable people watching this debate, your behavior makes enemies faster than you can demonize them.

    I’m fine if you want to reply to parts of my argument. But the problem is that your allegations about “competence” address trivial non-issues, and rarely discuss actual factual errors. Indeed, I could flame out and call you all kinds of names for disagreeing with your arguments in your Pallen-paper, but I won’t. For example, after observing that your paper attacks “typology” but then contradict itself by discussing the “indispensable” proteins to the flagellum, and discusses the core conserved components of flagellar machines (“it is clear that all (bacterial) flagella share a conserved core set of proteins” and also “Three modular molecular devices are at the heart of the bacterial flagellum: the rotorstator that powers flagellar rotation, the chemotaxis apparatus that mediates changes in the direction of motion and the T3SS that mediates export of the axial components of the flagellum”), I could behave like you and accuse you of all kinds of incompetence and call you all kinds of names. But I won’t.

    Or in your debate with Mustafa Aykol, I take issues with many comments you made, such as claiming that narcissism or “human vanity” drives opposition to evolution, your insinuation that the dissent from Darwinism list is full of janitors, your insinuation that ID is mere Christian apologetics, gosh how long could my list of objections to your comments go? But I won’t call you names. I might disagree with you, but I won’t try to attack your integrity or competence just because I disagree with you.

    Your narrative about ID being invented as a switch after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Edwards ruling in 1987 is SO wrong and SO contrary to history (it misdates the origin of ID thinking by 2000+ years; it misdates the first use of the term “intelligent design” by 100+ years; it ignores the substantive meaning of “intelligent design” in early drafts of Pandas, and it ignores the real reason ID terminology was adopted. The argument is laden with logical fallacies). Were I to adopt your style, I could engage in all kinds of namecalling against you for using this argument. But I won’t. I’ll just rebut it and let people decide for themselves.

    And I do this because, though I disagree with you, I believe you deserve to be treated with respect.

    In contrast, when you disagree with someone on the flagellum, you assert all-out incompetence, claiming University of Idaho microbiologist Scott Minnich does not have a “friggin clue”. Let’s investigate your behavior further.

    In the absence of personal understanding of our enemies, humans naturally tend to ascribe to them the most evil motives and the worst attributes. Whether we do this out of actual experience with our enemies, or out of our own human nature which likes to say hurtful things against those with whom we disagree, this is an unfortunately common practice. Sadly, your writings show many examples of ascribing this behavior.

    I try to generally operate under the assumption that most people have rational reasons for believing what they believe and doing what they do, and that they generally aren’t ignorant, wicked, or stupid. My favorite corporate motto is that of Google: “Don’t be evil.” It seems so simple, and so important, but in this politically charged world, it’s often the first rule tossed out the window.

    My ethic teaches that we should treat people with respect regardless of who they are or what they believe. This, I believe, is the true definition of tolerance. Thus, when people make mistakes, my first response should be to forgive, and seek to correct the mistake in a way which mutually edifies them and rectifies the situation. I’m not perfect, and I have not always lived up to that standard. But I try to live up to it, and if I fall short, I try to apologize and do what I can to rectify the situation.

    You apparently have a different ethic Nick, and it shows. In fact, I have a pretty good idea where the many internet Darwinists get their ethic.

    In 1971, leftist organizer Saul Alinsky made such a proscription in his book “Rules for Radicals.” I learned about this book law school, and I learned that Alinsky’s tactics are commonly used by those embroiled in small-scale political battles over educational issues. I personally deplore the Machiavellian tactics advocated in this book, but it is aimed at those who are organizing small political movements. During the course of debates, you and your colleagues have amply illustrated three of the rules from Alinsky’s book:

    1) Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the target. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety, and uncertainty.

    2) Ridicule, especially against organizational leaders, is a potent weapon. There’s no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force concessions.

    3) Pick the target. Target an individual, personalize the attack, polarize and demoralize his/her supporters. Go after people, not institutions. Hurting, harassing, and humiliating individuals, especially leaders, causes more rapid organizational change.

    Well Nick, you and your colleagues follow Alinsky’s rules very well. And you do this by often inflating non-mistakes or non-issues into alleged mistakes that are allegedly indicative of severe moral deficiencies (see my rebuttals to you above).

    The problem is that you do it so much, that like Chicken Little, nobody cares any more (except for those already in your corner) when you and your colleagues allege incompetence, dishonesty, or a lack of integrity among ID proponents. You say Minnich doesn’t have a “friggin clue” about flagellum evolution even though he’s an expert in the field. Nobody cares Nick, because your alleged attacks on integrity are bankrupt and would quickly cut both ways if my side was willing to stoop to your level of rhetoric.

    For reasonable people who see your behavior, you’re making enemies faster than you can demonize them.

    There’s a better way Nick, and I hope you find it. (Hint: it’s in the title of Tom’s thread.)

    Sincerely, Casey

  40. Good advice to all of us, Mr. Luskin … and Tom.
    Too often this policy slips my mind.
    Thanks.

  41. Casey and friends,

    Nick Matzke isn’t making enemies of people who matter. With the Kitzmiller triumph in his bag, Matzke is now a graduate student of evolutionary biology at UC-Berkeley, well on his way to joining the ranks of the next generation of biologists who are active in the public sphere. As the Dawkins, Dennet, Miller generation moves on, and Myers and Co., train the next generation, Matzke, Roseanau, the Smiths (Tara and Abbie) get ready to join battle. Your advice is better directed towards the likes of Bill Dembski who from a lofty perch at Baylor U. has made so many enemies that he isn’t able to hold a position even at a diploma mill!

  42. Casey Luskin write:

    I feel no need to make personal attacks.

    Umm, I was at your Academic Freedom Day talk in Oklahoma, where you made a very personal attack on the science blogger, ERV, and then conspired with host Don Ewert to deny her the opportunity to defend herself.

  43. Conspired? Really, terryf, without some more information that’s pretty unbelievable. Did they even know she was going to be there? Did they make advance plans together to cut her off (and do you have information on that)? Or did they pull aside for secret private discussions there on the spot? (“Hey, Casey, that’s ERV at the mic! Come here a minute, we need figure out how we’re going to get her out of here without having a chance to defend herself!”)

    Here’s part of Casey Luskin’s report on the day:

    First I discussed false fear-mongering tactics made by two OU facutly in a document they distributed to oppose the Oklahoma Academic Freedom Bill. Continuing with local attacks on academic freedom, I mentioned an incident on Abbie Smith’s ERV blog where she scrambled the comments that a pro-ID blogger Julie Haberle was making on the blog, and then telling Ms. Haberle to post a nude photo of herself to get the comments unscrambled.

    Is that a “personal attack” on Abbie? I don’t think so. The narrative goes on for six more paragraphs describing a back-and-forth exchange between the two of them, several rounds of discussion. She had opportunity to respond.

    Luskin’s report does not say much about the part where the moderator apparently decided she was done at the mic. Does anyone have a recording of the event?

    Some of Abbie’s blog posts include, “I love the smell of roasted creationists in the morning,” “Michael Egnor is a friggen nutbar,” “Casey Luskin: Butthurt.” That’s just a small taste. Her style as a blogger is, shall we say, not exactly one of restraint and politeness. Whatever Luskin said about her, you can be sure it did not approach the kind of personal attack she regularly delivers against ID proponents.

    She has her own story of the day posted. In view of her online personality, I find it hard to believe everything she wrote. Real hard. Consistently, post after post, her style is to insult, demean, and attack; and I don’t know why I should see this post as anything other than that.

  44. Tom – And, so, in defending Casey Luskin, you call a women who was there and a witness to Caseys mendacity a liar – for no good reason? For shame! I read her report, and she was very upfront with her reporting – unlike Mr. Luskin who must be the poster boy for “Why It Is OK To Lie For Jesus”.
    And I see that like a good Christian sheep you just follow along. I don’t think either you or Casey make the Baby Jesus very happy.

  45. All I have to go on, J. Patrick, is what Luskin and Smith reported, and what I know about them from their overall presence and demeanor on the web. You and I both read Smith’s report. I don’t know if you read Luskin’s; you didn’t say. You think Smith was very upfront, and that Luskin was lying. As far as I can tell, you concluded that “for no good reason,” to borrow words you used just now.

    Here’s a good reason for the conclusion I stated: Given the way both of them comport themselves on the web, and that the matter in question right here is their demeanor towards each other, it’s easy to believe that Luskin was more courteous than Smith. It’s even easy to believe she was extremely rude. She’s that way online. Just in her post on this event the word s*** appears 11 times, and f*** seven times. She and Luskin agree she flipped him off.

    By the way, even in Smith’s report, there’s nothing much to support terryf’s claim that Luskin made a “very personal attack” on Smith. It’s just not there. She said he presented a slide showing one of her blog posts, and pointed out what she had done with it. If she thinks he did something wrong with that, other than that he was behind the times on how she had treated that commenter, she didn’t say so. She does not deny that she had been messing with the commenter.

    I’d still like to hear a recording…

    Further: Jesus Christ, who came to the earth as a baby because of his radical love for us and identification with us as humans, grew up to be the most historically significant human being of all time, and now rules in Heaven as the King of all that exists.

    Shall I refer to you as the the Baby J. Patrick, since you too were once a baby? Wouldn’t you take that as condescending, even insulting? Please read the Discussion Policies. We don’t do personal insults here. Thank you.

  46. P.S. I’ve seen your Amazon profile, J. Patrick, and it doesn’t do wonders for your credibility as a cool, even-handed, unbiased reporter. It doesn’t even do much good for your standing as someone who values courtesy and respect.

  47. When somebody pretends to analyze and think while actually misrepresenting a piece of knowledge as does Casey always, it is hard not to question if he is genuine he is about understanding that topic. Casey has by now settled into a predictable pattern, and has been corrected so many times that we know how his response to a research finding, and the rebuttal that will follow. Everyone makes mistakes, but rarely do people try to cover it up as informed conclusion. Abbie Smith is one of the most prominent scientist-spokespeople (a rare combination) of the current generation in training. She has developed an style of writing that for the first time is not only informal and engaging but also peppered with the colloquialisms of our times. She is a big hit among high-schoolers and would be successful if even a fraction of her readers went on to a career in the life sciences. When seasoned anti-science campaigners like Casey, Behe or Dembski hold forth, the issue is never about science, as their assertions have long been discredited. It is about style and tactics – how are they putting it across this time, and what does it read like. Nick Matzke made a name for himself by being combative and helped filet pseudoscience in Kitzmiller. We miss Nick at NCSE and Josh rosenau, although a scientist, lacks the Nick’s flair. Abbie apart from being combative provokes the pseudoscience crowd with her very effective putdowns. I can’t imagine any adherent of the Seattle movement wanting to tangle with her. Which is why although Casey could have sparred with Abbie on her blog, he chose to vent on his own website-disguised-as-a-blog. So far only George Gilder and Berlinski have had the courage to participate in free flowing blog discussion on evolution. In both cases they have fared very poorly and have had to withdraw in embarrassment. Gilder had a tough time on Pharyngula while Berlinski made himself look untutored in the basics of probability on Chu-Carrol’s Good Math. So if Casey is deterred by their example and would rather not join discussion on a real blog I can understand. The complaints about civility are just a coverup.

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