(Please read the Introduction and Part I of this series before reading this post. References to incidents and abbreviations are not to be understood without reference to these prior articles.)
"I have never been one of those Jews who make facial contortions at the mere mention of the Christian Right; I actually agree with them on some matters...But I'm offended that so many conservative Christians believe that theirs is the only path toward salvation. I'm sick of being proselytized. We Jews enjoy a more basic type of faith, a direct relationship to God that requires no salvation, no penitence, no supplication. We don't proselytize. And we don't worry about the next life..."
Does this person sound like a secret agent for the Christian Right, seeking to cram Jesus down the throats of America's unsuspecting school children? Is this person's modis operendi the advocacy of Intelligent Design (ID), a movement that purports to be science but is nothing more than a Trojan Horse to inject religion into the public schools?
This is what the good folks at the National Center of Science Education (NCSE) would have you believe.
The above quote is from a Wall Street Journal Article by Pamela Winnick. Winnick covered the controversy concerning the teaching of ID in Pennsylvania Public Schools. (A Pennsylvania judge ruled that ID was another version of Creationism and to teach it in the public schools is a violation of Church and State.) Winnick claims that her journalistic career was jeopardized by news paper articles she wrote, treating both side objectively. To give ID proponents a fair hearing offended evolutionist allies in the media. She was interviewed for Ben Stein's Expelled, and expelledexposed, a website sponsored by the NCSE, has attempted to discredit her and her story.
According to expelledexposed, ID is just Christian Creationism in disguise. Creationism accepts as fact the Biblical account of Creation found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Creationism challenges Darwinian Evolution and seeks to have the Biblical Account of Creationism taught alongside Evolution as an alternative explanation.
The ID movement does have Christians in its ranks. But even declared Christians, such as Michael Behe, distance ID from religion: one does not have to believe in the Christian God to be a proponent of ID. Winnick writes in her review of a PBS special on Evolution:
"I'm no creationist (believer in the Biblical Account of Creation), but as a reasonably intelligent person, I think that if there is a God, and if he is really in charge, he would not have left our creation to the mere toss of the genetic dice. Conversely, if God decreed that natural selection would lead to the creation of man, then the process wasn't random at all."
It would seem that from reading Winnick, that one can express doubts about Darwinian Evolution and not be a Christian Fundamentalist.
Dr. Richard Sternberg (see the Introduction and Part I of this series) , also profiled in Expelled, is a scientist who claims to be an evolutionist , but does not adhere to,the totality of Darwinian Orthodoxy. He details his views on his web page in a PDF document:
"I am an evolutionary biologist with interests in the relation between genes and morphological homologies, and the nature of genomic 'information.' I hold a Ph.D in Biology (Molecular Evolution) from Florida International University and a Ph.D in Systems Science (Theoretical Biology) from Binghampton University."
Sternberg also describes the formation of his early religious views in the same PDF document:
"As a teenager, I was repelled by the strain of fundamentalist Christianity that surrounded me in the deep South: the anti-intellectualism, the cultural flatness, and the pessimistic fatalism that seemed to go with the former two. Equally revolting to me was the accomodationism that I saw in the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church, that usually took the form of Liberation Theology on the one hand or a bourgeois moralism on the other. Like some of my peers, I was actively searching for an integrated picture of the world and I just could not find it in what passed for Christianity."
From my reading of Sternberg's statement "How My Views on Evolution Evolved", I would say that Sternberg does not consider himself an atheist, but still would not claim to believe in the Evangelical Protestant Christian God.
Factoring in this background information, any reasonable person, especially one trained to work only with hard evidence, say a scientist, for example, would conclude that Sternberg is not a Right-wing Christian Fundamentalist espousing ID so to sneak Biblical Creationism into American public schools and Universities. Yet, the sponsors of expelledexposed, the NCSE, believe that to challenge Darwinian Orthodoxy is to brand oneself a Right-wing believer in Genesis. The same is true for some of Sternberg's colleagues at the SI.
After the Meyer paper was published, one of Sternberg's superiors inquired of a co-worker of Sternberg concerning Sternberg's religious views:
"...asked me if Dr. Sternberg was religious. I said as far as I knew he was an Eastern Orthodox Christian...Dr...had heard a rumor that Dr. S had two PhD's, one in biology and another in theology. I said no, one was in philosophy (of science I thought). Later I corrected myself and told him that one degree was in biology, one was in systems designs theoretical biology), after I had read his C.V...
"Some time later in the summer we talked again about the paper, as were many in the museum. I told him the paper didn't bother me...He asked if Dr. S was a fundamentalist but I am not sure; I do not recall that he asked me if he was a right-winger. He might have asked me if he was a conservative but I don't remember. I think I told him he was a Republican for whatever reason." (Appendix, p.27)
In the Appendix where the NCSE is clearly shown to have conspired with SI officials to get Sternberg fired, one document from the NCSE's Executive Director claims that Sternberg is a "YEC", a Young Earth Creationist. (This view claims that the earth is only 6,000 years old, or just a little older.) The evidence: Sternberg's connection with the Baraminology Study Group, a YEC group. (Appendix, p. 31) Sternberg's website features a statement by the President of this organization which details Sternberg's association with it. Sternberg has spoken at their meetings and in dialoging with the members, he has made it clear he did not share the group's position concerning the earth's origins. Sternberg was asked to serve on the groups e-journal editorial board so he could contribute his insights as a critic of the group's views. Had the NCSE's Executive Director made a careful inquiry into the matter instead of searching for dirt on Sternberg, then the official would not have called Sternberg a YEC.
Does one have to be an Evangelical Christian to see merit in ID? Apparently not. Author and columnist David Klinghoffer has written articles on both the Sternberg and the Gonzalez cases. He clearly sides with both men concerning their treatment by the scientific establishment. This is how he concludes the article on Sternberg:
"Intelligent Design, in any event, is hardly a made-to-order prop for any particular religion. When the British atheist philosopher, Anthony Flew made news this winter by declaring that he had become a diest--a believer in an unbiblical "god of the philosophers" who takes no notice of our lives--he pointed to the plausibility of ID theory.
"Darwinism, by contrast, is an essential ingredient in secularism, that aggressive, quasi-religious faith without a deity. The Sternberg case seems, in many ways an instance of one religion persecuting a rival, demanding loyalty from anyone who enters one of its churches--like the National Museum of Natural History."
Are these words conclusive evidence that the writer is a Christian Fundamentalist? Hardly. According to editorial reviews at amazon.com, Klinghoffer is an Orthodox Jew. In fact, one of his books is entitled "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History." This book is not written from a Christian perspective.
So we have an example of a reporter who recognizes persecution of scientists when he sees it. He also sees merit in ID. And he understands that Darwinian Evolution can be viewed as a secular religion suppressing rival religious claims concerning the origin of life. And he is not a right-wing Evangelical Christian. This is not the profile of a critic of Evolution that expelledexposed, and its sponsor, the NCSE, would want the world to see.
Ben Stein himself does not claim to be an Evangelical Christian. In an interview in Christianity Today, he states that he is Jewish and always believed in a God who was the prime mover in the Universe, who can be described as the Intelligent Designer. Stein says that his own research into ID strengthed his belief in God and his doubts about Darwinism:
"...It has pointed out something which haunted me ever since I learned about Darwinism, which is, Where did it all start? How did life start? Darwinism has nothing to say about that-nothing useful anyway-but I think Intelligent Design has a great deal to say about it."
At this point, you may be asking "Why is an Evangelical Christian defending these people against the charge of being, well, Evangelical Christians?"
Actually, I don't consider being an Evangelical Christian a chargeable offense. But apparently, the NCSE believes being an Evangelical Christian disqualifies one from being a scientist worthy of the name. That is, if you don't give homage to Evolution as the only explanation of the origin of life. And if you challenge Darwinian Orthodoxy, or speak approvingly of ID, you will be labeled as a Right-wing Evangelical.
Why? First, the mindset of the NCSE concerning ID is truly paranoid. The documents in the Appendix clearly demonstrate this. After the publication of the Meyer paper, the rumor at the SI was that Sternberg is a conservative Christian. The NCSE takes it for granted that Sternberg's association with the Bariminolgy Study Group automatically classified Sternberg as a YEC.
There is a second reason. The NCSE and its allies know that there are those who question the assumptions or conclusions of Evolution. The NCSE knows that there are many within the scientific community who share these doubts. Yet many of these doubters are not Evangelical Christians. If the NCSE can convince these people that to dissent from Evolution automatically classifies one as an Evangelical, if it can make these people fear being labeled as such, then these people will suppress these doubts, or not make them public. "I don't want to be associated with those Evangelical Protestants. My professional life is going to suffer. People will think I'm a character in a Flannery O'Conner story!"
In their effort to silence all opposition to Evolution, reputable scientists will be labeled as Christian Creationists, even if they are not. This strategy serves to isolate the doubters so to convince others from voicing their doubts. The NCSE spends its money to create websites like expelledexposed to convince as many as it can that opposing Evolution makes one a Biblical Creationist.
This is one of the reasons I chose to write this series: to demonstrate that to doubt Darwin does not label you as an Evangelical. Why? For many, this intellectual stumbling block has to be removed before the mind and heart can later come to a belief in Jesus Christ. Before I became a Christian, God removed many intellectual stumbling blocks to my belief in Him. The last one to be removed was the belief in Darwinian Evolution as the only credible explanation for the origin of life. Evolutionists failed to win me over; but some, through the lies and sterotyping practiced by the NCSE on expelledexposed, continue to be kept within Darwinian fold.
Part V will be published soon.