Faith and Evolution: Intelligent Design's Latest Ploy seems like a harmless domain name. We evolutionists do have our members of faith in our ranks, like it or not. It has generally been the policy of those of us who support science education to allow the theistic evolutionists to join us in fighting creationist tactics of getting Genesis or the relabelled “intelligent design theory” taught in schools. But what’s really going on here on this website?

Let’s do some poking around, shall we?

When one first visits, one is greeted by an automatically playing video, first with a bunch of people on the street saying that they believe that humans evolved from apes. Note that every one of them gives an answer saying they accept evolutionary theory, but, one must ask, in a country where just under 40% of the population say they believe in evolution, why go through the lengths to give such a biased sample of opinions in favour of evolution?

Suspicions increase when familiar names and talking heads appear saying “I don’t know how to explain this biological process, therefore there was a designer,” (I leave it up to the reader to spot the logical fallacy) and one just has to click on the “About” page.

The video that plays automatically on this page says:

According to noted biologist Richard Dawkins, Darwinian evolution makes it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist. According to Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, evolution is perfectly compatible with his Christian faith.

Well that sounds just like they’re only concerned about the compatability of faith and evolution in the way theistic evolutionists are. Not a question of the validity of intelligent design, right?

Scroll down…

This site was developed by the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute

So what’s going on here? It would appear that the Discovery Institute is trying to narrow the gap between intelligent design and evolution by trying to equate intelligent design with the theistic evolution subscribed to by somewhat more sensible scientists so that they can claim them as one of their own. “See?! We’re evolutionists too!”

Just like when saying the Earth is flat fell out of style, just like when saying the Earth is 6000 years old fell out of style, just like when saying “creationism” fell out of style, use of the term “intelligent design” appears to have gone the way of the dodo as well. They’re finally at the point where the only way to fight evolution is to tone down the use of “intelligent design” and gradually relabel their product as “evolution” as well.

As has been said before, it would appear that the creationists just keep evolving. I provide the following cladogram showing their phylogenetic history:

Here we can see the narrow but not too far distant separation between the two members of the “Creationista” genus, flat earthers and young earthers. In another clade, we have Designista intelligentia which thrives in habitats where human minds have little means of filtering its fountain of logical fallacies, and Designista evolutia which has the survival advantage of Batesian mimicry of the colours of Evolutionista theistica in the hopes that they will be ignored by Evolutionista materialistica, which preys on members of Creationista and Designista.

Dear Discovery Institute, if you think posing as theistic evolutionists will keep you safe just because we like to have Francis Collins and Ken Miller around (Ken Miller has pretty eyes, by the way), think again.

Update: Oh, and apparently there’s a post about this too at Homologous Legs. This is what happens when you stay out of the blogosphere this long to finish AP exams.

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  1. May 28, 2009 at 8:12 pm —

    Fun fact: By calling Google 411 (1-800-466-4411) you can be put through to the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington, for free and without having to pay long distance (international users of Skype can call U.S. 1800 numbers free too).

  2. May 29, 2009 at 1:46 am —

    Hmm… I would actually put cdesign proponentist after creationsim subspecies of youngearthea subspecies, which branched into another subspecies intelligent design. They have slightly different pattern of behaviour, which doesn’t allow them to mingle and breed often. What was it called? Some sort of pre zygotic barrier. ^_^

  3. May 29, 2009 at 8:26 am —

    Actually, yeah. In fact, there’s also a lot of horizontal gene transfer going on here…

  4. May 29, 2009 at 9:29 am —

    Good post. 😀

  5. Resfirma
    May 29, 2009 at 11:48 am —

    As usual, Splendid E, your postings are impeccable.

    However, since we’re making evolutionary analogies, I see the conflict between Francis Collins and the fundies at the Discovery Institute as a good thing. The zeitgeist is evolving and although evolution by natural selection is not necessarily directional, cultural evolution may well be…

    Consider the secularization of many formally religious cultures. The new book, “Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment” argues that the most secular nations in the world enjoy strong economies, low crime rates, high standards of living and social equality. In my view, in the long run, secularization will win… (Of course if some crazy fundies get hold of some powerful technology… well… but I’m staying positive here.)

    Take for example this article from the Atlantic on “The Coming Religious Peace…” I’ve linked you to its reference over at Richard’s place:,2296,The-coming-religious-peace,Alan-Wolfe-The-Atlantic,page2

    In the end, Collins is a good thing because he encourages a religious practice that moves away from supernaturalism. I may not agree with his views, but they move us in the right direction. In my view, it is not the myth and poetry of religion that is harmful, it is the uncritical thinking that literalizes these stories that threatens us.

    Yes, Collins has supernatural beliefs, but they are benign in comparison with those of say, Pat Robertson. I know that the Four Horsemen argue that liberal theologians pave the way for the fundies, but I do not agree. The fundies (and I was one so I have some experience here) have no use for the liberal theologians. They see them as even more hellbound than the atheists. “Twice dead, plucked up by the roots…” is what they like to say.

    We skeptics have plenty of work to do. But there is reason for optimism.

  6. May 30, 2009 at 12:52 am —

    Oh, you mean like bacteria mating, conjugation? ^_^

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