First, a little background:
Creationism as a political movement is largely a late nineteenth / early twentieth century American invention; it's often forgotten that Darwinian Evolution, when it was first presented as a scientific theory, did not cause a major outcry in mainstream Christianity, at least in England. Most educated people had come to accept that the universe was a changing place and was not created as is a few thousand years ago; that the earth had a long geological history, though they estimated this in tens of thousands, perhaps millions, rather than billions of years. Evolution was just an extension of this principle of change and development into the realm of biology. Most people didn't seem to understand it well enough to realise how thoroughly it undermined the notion of divine creation. In fact, mainstream Christianity had become more deist than theist.
Ironically, in America, which was founded by liberal progressive deists like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Paine and where the constitution they introduced specifically prohibited an 'established' church and guaranteed freedom of conscience, the influence of itinerant fundamentalist preachers had produced a land of primitive fundamentalists with no central religious authority.
What fundamentalist Americans reacted to most strongly was the idea that they could be cousins to apes because it was this, rather than the method of creation, which denied the special nature of humanity as described in the Bible. Some argued that, since Jesus had come to earth in the form of a human, evolution implied Jesus was merely an ape.
Also ironically, it was these very primitive fundamentalists who understood the incompatibility between Darwinian Evolution and religious ideas of creation. It wasn't that they didn't understand Darwinian Evolution; it was that they understood it all too well.
So, despite the constitutional prohibition on governmental endorsement of religion, several US states had enacted laws forbidding the teaching of 'Darwinism' in public schools. Instead, schools were required to teach that the Bible account of creation was a scientific account of how life arose.
Despite their victory in the 1925 Dayton, Tennessee Scopes 'monkey trial', Creationism was considered to have lost the scientific and moral argument. Never-the-less, several states had similar statutes on their books until overturned by the Supreme Court in 1968.
Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.This defeat spurred Creationists to greater efforts. Now, instead of banning the teaching of established science and requiring the teaching of religious dogma instead, they began a drive to have 'creation science' taught as a valid alternative scientific theory. A law requiring this in Arkansas was struck down by a federal court in 1982, the judge, William R. Overton, ruling that 'creation science' is not science. The Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Louisiana in 1987.
Adolph Hitler, 26 April 1933.
Speech to mark the concordat between
the Third Reich and the Vatican.
Speech to mark the concordat between
the Third Reich and the Vatican.
So, the Creationist movement retrenched and came up with yet another plan.
Led by biochemist posing as a microbiologist, Michael Behe, and theologian posing as a biologist William Dembski, they came up with a new term - 'Intelligent Design'. The plan was not to directly claim the Christian God was the 'intelligent designer', although both Dembski and Behe are devout Catholics, but merely allow people to assume it must have been, in a culture which only recognises one god as being capable of creating and designing living things. This allowed them to claim the idea didn't support a particular religious view whilst giving unswerving support to biblical creationism disguised as science.
Supported by rich backers, their views and books were given wide publicity and mass media exposure. Creationists soon began to clamour for the teaching of 'the scientific theory of Intelligent Design' as a valid scientific alternative, presenting it as an unresolved scientific controversy.
The fraudulent nature of their claim was exposed in the 'Dover Trial' in Dover, Pennsylvania. Dover school board had required teachers to read a statement asserting that Intelligent Design provides an alternative explanation for the origins of life. In the ensuing court case, Behe, who has proved something of a disaster area for Creationism in his court appearances, was forced to admit:
There are no peer-reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial transcript: Day 12 (October 1, 2005), AM session, part 1,
http:// www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12am.html (accessed November 16, 2012).
Judge John E. Jones III (a conservative George W. Bush appointee) ruled that the Dover school board had violated the Establishment Clause, that ID was not science and that some members of the school board had lied repeatedly to disguise the real purpose of the ID policy, being staunchly and proudly religious in public but denying it in court. The Dover school board was ordered to pay over $1,000,000 in costs.
Once again, fundamentalist Christians had been caught trying to subvert the US Constitution and being prepared to lie to do so.
But who was backing this campaign? Here is where the story starts to move from the surreal spectacle of a few flat-earther fundamentalist lunatics making themselves look stupid, to something much more sinister.
The organization behind the ID movement is the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. In a 2004 book, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge Of Intelligent Design, Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross exposed the tactics, aims and objectives of this organization. This is how Victor J. Stenger summarises it:
[T]he institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now called the Center for Science and Culture) sought nothing less than a scientific and cultural revolution by overthrowing “scientific materialism.”1
The movement to renew science and culture was spearheaded by a retired criminal law professor, Phillip Johnson, who wrote a series of books denouncing evolution. Johnson recognized what many people still fail to grasp about the impact of Darwinian evolution on religion. As Johnson says in his book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, evolution “doesn't mean God-guided, gradual creation. It means unguided, purposeless change. The Darwinian theory doesn't say that God created slowly. It says that naturalistic evolution is the creator, and so God had nothing to do with it.”2 That's exactly what I have been trying to say.
Johnson attributes to naturalism many of the evils of the world, from homosexuality to genocide.3 He proposed the “wedge strategy”4 adopted by the Discovery Institute, a five-year plan to drive a "wedge" into the trunk of scientific materialism and split it at its weakest points. The primary goals of the wedge were:
- To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies
- To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.
The method was to promote intelligent design theory and see it become the "dominant perspective" in all fields of science until it permeates "our religious, cultural, moral, and political life."5
The startup funds for the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture were provided by the estate of Howard F. Ahmanson, whose company, the parent of Home Savings of America, had over $47 billion in assets in 1997. Ahmanson and his wife were associated with the movement called Christian Reconstruction, which seeks nothing less than to replace American democracy with a fundamentalist theocracy. This organization, according to one source, would require the death penalty for adulterers, homosexuals, witches, incorrigible children, and those who spread "false" religions.6 [my emphasis]
- Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford, UK; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
- Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), p. 16.
- Phillip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995).
- Phillip E. Johnson, The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).
- “The Wedge Strategy,” Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html (accessed January 6, 2011). For more details, see Forrest and Gross, Creationism's Trojan Horse.
- Steve Benen, “From Genesis to Dominion: Fat-Cat Theocrat Funds Creationism Crusade,” Church & State (July/ August 2000). Online at http://www.texscience.org/files/discovery.htm (accessed March 4, 2011).Stenger, Victor J. (2012-04-03). God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion (pp. 116-117).
Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.
It's maybe worth repeating that last bit: The aim of the Creation Institute is to use the 'Wedge Strategy' to circumvent and subvert the American Constitution in order to establish a fundamentalist Christian theocracy which would require the death penalty for adulterers, homosexuals, witches, incorrigible children, and those who spread "false" religions!
In other words, a theocracy based on a penal code which would sit well in a radical Sharia court or a Taliban government. And these nutters would control a nuclear arsenal sufficient to destroy life on this planet several times over.
That, is why Creationists are lying to us.