December 4, 2002

Darwinian Resolution


By Mark Hartwig

Back-to-back victories for “teaching the controversy” (TTC) in Cobb County, Ga., and Ohio have shaken the leadership of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). On Nov. 6, the organization released a resolution by its board urging “citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of ‘intelligent design theory’ as a part of the science curricula of the public schools.”

The resolution also called upon AAAS members to “assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of ‘intelligent design theory’ as subject matter for science education.”

In an accompanying opinion piece that appeared in The Akron Beacon Journal, the association’s CEO, Alan Leshner, warned readers that “the ID movement has been quietly gaining momentum in a number of states” and that it “is emerging as one of the more significant threats to U.S. science education.” These warnings were repeated in a similar op-ed for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, published Nov. 22.

Placed side-by-side with other public statements, the resolution and op-eds show how widespread Darwinist anxiety has become. [1] More importantly, however, they also reveal why Darwinists are losing ground: namely, because they are misleading their supporters.

In his op-ed for the Beacon Journal, Leshner attributed the ID movement’s success to “a sophisticated marketing campaign based on a three-pronged penetration of the scientific community, educators, and the general public.” This echoes a key theme of ID foes, which says the ID movement is succeeding by duping the public with shrewd tactics and a big-bucks marketing campaign.

Such claims are a great way to rally the troops: “Don’t worry boys, they’re just shooting blanks.” But they’re also a great way to get those troops mowed down, due to cockiness and lack of preparation.

Imagine someone repeating Leshner’s claim in a public forum. It would be a small matter to show that the balance of marketing power lies with the Darwinists. Indeed, the byline for Leshner’s piece in the Beacon-Journal notes that his organization “has 134,000 members serving 10 million scientists worldwide and publishes the weekly journal Science.”

Moreover, the AAAS is just one of many powerful organizations backing the Darwinist party line with their prestige, publications, money and media resources. Other groups include the National Academy of Sciences, the government-run National Science Foundation, and the 53,000-member National Science Teachers Association. And that's not to mention textbook publishers and curriculum houses like the Biological Science Curriculum Study, funded by the NSF, U.S. Department of Energy, and so on.

For a single example of sheer promotional power, it would be hard to top the many millions of dollars that were poured into the seven-part Evolution series, which aired on PBS in September 2001 and in May and June of 2002. The series itself was backed by a comprehensive marketing plan that included:

With the financial and talent resources that the Darwinist establishment has at its disposal, anyone repeating Leshner’s claim in a public forum is likely to end up looking foolish or disingenuous.

The same is true for anyone who tries to defend the notion that there is no evidence against evolution and that ID success is a matter of deception and style rather than substance. Darwinist leaders have repeated these claims for years, arguing that dissent is unreasonable and should be banished from science classrooms. Such tactics are an easy mark for ID proponents, who have responded by publicizing scientific evidence against naturalistic evolution, by documenting the pervasiveness of egregious errors in biology textbooks’ treatment of evolution, and by doggedly insisting that debate be based on facts and reason rather than alleged motives.

One of the most recent examples of this occurred at the Cobb school board hearing on Sept. 26. At the meeting, TTC opponents followed the Darwinist party line and got smoked as a result. Accounts from the hearing indicated that while they kept repeating the same formulas (“this is repackaged creationism,” “it’s religion in disguise,” etc.), TTC backers countered with a variety of concise arguments focused on demonstrable facts.

If Darwinist leaders want to win the day, they will have to stop misleading their supporters. But that will mean assessing their own weaknesses, and perhaps conceding some points.

And that is the one thing they resolutely refuse to do.

[1] See also Huffing and Puffing in Cobb County and Congress Urges Teaching of Diverse Views on Evolution, but Darwinists Try to Deny It.

Copyright 2002 Mark Hartwig. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 12.04.02