Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Melanie Phillips is just plain wrong

Melanie Phillips, a Daily Mail Columnist recently wrote an article called "Creating an insult to intelligence" and either is poorly educated on the subject or ,giving her the benefit of the doubt, been severely misled.

I think she heard Kenneth Miller speak and raises some issues that really show a lack of understanding. Ms. Phillips heard Dr. Miller characterize Intelligent Design as "nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable." and she claims this is untrue. In her article she seems to think Judge Jones decided the way he did because of:"But the court was simply wrong, doubtless because it had heard muddled testimony from the likes of Prof Miller." That would only be said by someone who failed to research her subject, or someone with her own agenda. She seems to forget the Court also heard testimony from Michael Behe and Stephen Fuller. Here is something I would certainly characterize as muddled:

As a primary witness for the defense, Behe was asked to support the idea that intelligent design was legitimate science where he conceded that

  • "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"
  • The definition of 'theory' as he applied it to intelligent design was so loose that astrology would qualify as a theory by definition as well.
  • His 2004 simulation modelling of evolution paper, which had been claimed by the Discovery Institute as "Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design", under oath he revealed that it showed that the biochemical systems in question could evolve within 20,000 years, even if the parameters of the simulation were rigged to make that outcome as unlikely as possible.
Let's see . .no peer reviewed articles, change the definition of science, and mis-representing one article. Sounds like a good reason to doubt the whole "ID is not Creationism" line Ms. Phillips is bandying about.

Central to the dependents case was the textbook "Of Pandas and People" started life as a Creationist text, titled "Creation Biology Textbook Supplements" went through many revisions like "Biology and Creation " and "Biology and Origins " clearly demonstrate the theme of Creationism. However, the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court case determined that teaching creationism in public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the United States constitution, but that alternative scientific theories could be taught. So the text was re-born as "Of Pandas and People" and the drafts clearly demonstrated that the text underwent minor revisions to change the Creationism references to ones supporting intelligent Design, the latest recast of doctrine into language of more indicative of science. One typo shows this more than any other. The term "creationists" was changed to "design proponents", but in one case the beginning and end of the original word "creationists" were accidentally retained, so that "creationists" became "cdesign proponentsists".

So obviously Ms. {Phillips needs to work on her research if she still thinks the Judge was in error. The testimony and evidence clearly showed the Creationist underpinnings of Intelligent Design. In my opinion the only way to be ignorant of that is to either deliberately ignore the testimony and evidence, or to not having done your homework before rendering an opinion . . . something Ms. Phillips demonstrates much more than Judge Jones!


  1. Ms. Phillips was abjectly wrong in any case. Prof. Miller did not testify at all as to the religious status of intelligent design. That fell to Barbara Forrest, whose book, Creationism's Trojan Horse contains a thousand documented references to support her position. She was the only witness that the defendants sought to disqualify, and the Discovery Institute mounted a personal smear campaign against her on the web and in the media.

    Not a single point of her testimony in the Kitzmiller trial was refuted by any evidence put forth by the defendants. Nothing.

  2. For the most part you are correct, but he certainly offered his expert opinion that ID was Creationism by a new name. He certainly made his religious opion clear under cross examination as well.

    "And I had never heard of the book [Of Pandas and People] at the time. They mailed me a copy. I read through the book. And I was unfamiliar with the person who opposed me in debate at that time, but his name was Michael Behe, and as I mentioned, he's a biochemistry professor from Lehigh University. And that was the first place where I heard the term "intelligent design" used in place of the more familiar creation science, which I had debated with various people in the early 1980s."

    "Q. Do you have an opinion about whether intelligent design is a particular religious view, namely a form of creationism?

    A. Yes, sir, I do.

    Q. And what is that opinion?

    A. I believe that intelligent design is inherently religious and it is a form of creationism. It is a classic form of creationism known as special creationism."

    Both from his original testimony, accessed at

  3. Sorry, I misspoke in saying that Prof. Miller did not testify at all as to the religious nature of intelligent design.

    The focus of Prof. Miller’s testimony was the status of evolution as a scientific theory, including the nature of and requirements for such theories. The purpose of that was to demonstrate that the content of intelligent design does not qualify as a scientific theory. TH’s single quoted Q & A asked Miller his opinion as to whether the content of ID conformed to religious creationism , but this subject was not elaborated upon. That is, Miller did not present evidence on this question, merely his bare opinion.

    The focus of Prof. Forrest’s testimony, on the other hand, was precisely the religious history and motivation of intelligent design, and the presentation of evidence to support this conclusion.. Miller’s contribution to the judge’s holding on this point was almost nothing.

  4. Absolutely! I also found Dr. Forrest's paper on the subject ( quite interesting.

  5. Forrest's book Creationism's Trojan Horse has a 2006 edition that includes a chapter on Kitzmiller.