Last week I wrote an article on the documentary, Revolutionary, which followed-up on the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial. With that ruling, Intelligent Design was declared unconstitutional, effectively censoring scientific education, academic freedom, discussion and progress. The ruling smacked of prejudice, and was a publicity stunt filled with factual errors.
Censorship is an ugly reality found in all societies. It’s a repressive power that seeks to delete objectionable matter, and those in power get to decide what is objectionable; it’s expressed in many forms, but is often used against political opponents, intended to silence opposition.
In the documentary, Revolutionary, I wrote about Dr. Scott Minnich being censored for testifying on behalf of Intelligent Design at the trial. After testifying, his career was immediately under assault.
Dr. Gunter Bechly also appeared in the documentary, and now we learn of his fate for daring to support Intelligent Design. Bechly, who considered himself a secular agnostic, was a paleontologist and curator at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany. It was his job to build a display demonstrating that there was no debate about Darwinian evolution among scientists. The display was meant to dramatize the overwhelming scientific evidence favoring evolution, and it consisted of a scale with a stack of books about Intelligent Design on one side, and Darwin’s Origin of Species on the other, and the scale tipped in Darwin’s favor.
Bechly’s first mistake was reading the books on Intelligent Design; he ended up discovering they actually had merit and were misrepresented by its opponents. After further research, he contacted supporters of ID and found them to be scientifically reasonable. Then, by 2015, he publicly announced his support of Intelligent Design based purely on scientific reasons. Boom!
As one can imagine, just like Scott Minnich, Dr. Bechly was immediately attacked and censored. He was pushed out as curator of the museum. But it was the next act of censorship I found particularly interesting. Wikipedia, known as a free online encyclopedia, is considered “the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.” Well, they erased Bechly for not being “notable” enough.
This is significant because one key argument as to why evolution is considered scientific by some- while ID and creation are considered ‘anti-science’- is because they claim there’s no real scientific debate among scientists as to the truth of Darwinian evolution. In other words, ‘real scientists’ don’t question evolution. But in order to make that narrative work, it’s imperative to crush the opposition. marginalize, mock, disparage, and get them fired. Any scientist who strays from evolutionary dogmatism must be dealt with swiftly so as to limit damage and continue the charade. Bechly, they say, must not be construed to be a real scientist.
The entire narrative, of course, is a lie and can easily be refuted. Firstly, we can point out the fallacy of the ‘No True Scotsman’, in which the only true scientist is the one redefined as agreeing with ‘the fact’ of evolution. That’s not how science works. Further, we can point to scientist after scientist (like Bechly) who rejects Darwinian evolution, or supports ID or creation. But don’t bother them with the facts.
Censorship and retaliation are among the best lines of defense for evolution because it’s not very persuasive in light of opposing views. Darwinian evolutionists appear to be the vocal majority, and they know a swift, devastating response can have their opponents removed from their position, and their accomplishments discredited. And that’s what Bechly has faced, and why others in the ID and creation field remain anonymous.
Bechly has a long list of accomplishments, and, at one time, Wikipedia proudly listed them. He’s been published in scientific journals and has “three described new insect orders, more than 160 described species, and insect family Bechlyidae, a genus and 8 species named after (him), 2 edited books and numerous book chapters.”
It’s sad to see science reduced to politics, bullying, and might-makes-right, but, in some cases, that’s exactly what it has become.
But that doesn’t make science bad. Science is about discovering truth and knowledge, and is obviously useful in our everyday lives; we can attest to that by the many inventions we use (computers), including medicine, treatments, and many other discoveries. The problem lies with how science is abused by certain people, especially when it comes to what has happened in the past, or in the future.
We can make a distinction between the type of science used to put a man on the moon verses the kind of science determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect. One can be described as operational science- where the scientific method can be employed in the present; it allows us to form hypothesis, perform experiments, make observations, measure the results, repeat them, and then form conclusions.
But the issue with historical- or forensic science- is that it’s impossible to observe the past. This means we don’t know if our conclusions are correct, or if they’re just conjecture. Whether or not birds evolved from dinosaurs is pure conjecture, and is not based upon any observable evidence. Some scientists would have you think we can make inferences about the past, and that such inferences are unquestionable… but this type of thinking is what makes it a political response rather than a scientific conclusion.
The list of those being censored is long. The atheist Jerry Coyne had astronomer Eric Hedin censored when he presented design evidence to students at Ball State University. Other scientists have learned to remain anonymous in their support for ID or creation because they realize the consequences they’ll face if they’re outed. Even a Nobel laureate refused to be publicly identified when expressing doubts about evolution. And, believe it or not, atheists like Thomas Nagel have been attacked and censored for publicly questioning mainstream, materialistic evolution.
Censorship needs to be stopped. Teachers, professors and scientists should be free to examine all the evidence available and allow others to form their own conclusions. That’s what science is about. But, clearly, that is unacceptable to those wielding the power, and that’s why their victory in Dover was so important. That decision prevents students from examining the same evidence and forming the same conclusions that caused Gunter Bechly to support Intelligent Design, and that’s what they fear.