Irrational Robot has a great post on the “intelligent design” movement. Upside, they haven’t made as much progress as they’ve claimed. Downside, they’re trying very hard.
The geeky negative angle: In the middle-earth of public school academia, we’ve been letting Mordor gather power for too long, and can’t rely on Gondor (Kansas Citizens for Science) to hold the fort forever. Mordor is well-funded, well-organized, and has new tricks we haven’t seen yet.
For those playing at home, here are the core arguments of the bad guys:
1) Grond, the hammer of the underworld: “Academic Freedom. When there is an active controversy in science, it is irresponsible to only teach one side of the story. Let the kids decide.” Grond is supposed to knock in the gates so that the orcs of the Discovery Institute can discuss these issues on a level playing field with the tired knights of the public schools.
2) The Nazgul, the ringwraiths leading the army: Philip Johnson (author of Darwin on Trial, who can be slayed by no scientist, as he is a lawyer), Jonathan Wells (author of Icons of Evolution), William Dembski (author of a bunch of books no one has read, and holder of a bunch of PhDs from Baylor), and a handful of others.
3) Sauron, the mysterious shadowy evil that looms over middle-earth: The scientific controversy, and the fear that “there is something to all of this intelligent design stuff.”
4) Saruman, the power that betrayed us to the shadow in the East: Anthony Flew, a rather unimportant atheist philosopher who announced rather suddenly that he read a science book he didn’t understand and concluded that the universe must have been designed. Once the troops marched to his door for an interview, and he confessed that he thought the universe had been designed by a “cosmic Saddam Hussein,” we left some giant tree-people in the philosophy community to tend his garden and the forces of Mordor became a little embarrassed.