Posted by Nick Matzke on August 4, 2005 11:26 PM
(Note: This is the first post in the new “Evolution of Creationism” category. Since the “intelligent design” movement actively obfuscates its creationist origins, tracing the true origins of “intelligent design” is crucial to understanding what ID is really about, and to understanding the dire peril ID faces in the upcoming court case Kitzmiller v. Dover.)
Earlier today, Steve Reuland discussed an excellent Washington Post essay (“But Is It Intelligent?”) making the connection between the Intelligent Design Creationism and postmodernism. As discussed in the comments to Steve’s post, it wasn’t surprising that the Washington Post picked up on the postmodernism connection, given that it was highlighted in the Post’s profile of Phillip Johnson back in May 2005.
But if you are looking for slam-dunk proof that ID is just creationism in a postmodern, relativist tuxedo, look no further than Nancy Pearcey’s interview with Phillip Johnson in the June 1990 Bible-Science Newsletter.* Speaking of his upcoming book, Darwin on Trial, Johnson told Pearcey,
“We must not forget that the controversy over Darwinism has a sociological or political dimension. Philosophers of science have developed a very relativist approach to knowledge claims. It is now regarded as a commonplace in the field that there is a “sociology of knowledge” and that an intimate relationship exists between knowledge and power [sic**]. What is presented as objective knowledge is frequently an ideology that serves the interests of some powerful group. The curious thing is that the sociology-of-knowledge approach has not yet been applied to Darwinism. That is basically what I do in my manuscript.”
(Phillip Johnson, p. 10 in: Nancy Pearcey (1990). "Anti-Darwinism Comes to the University: An Interview with Phillip Johnson." Bible-Science Newsletter. 28(6), pp. 7-11. June 1990.)
Game, set, match.
Phillip Johnson (1991). Darwin on Trial. InterVarsity Press.
Nick Matzke (2005). “Design on Trial in Dover, Pennsylvania.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education. 24(5), 4-9.
Nancy Pearcey (1990). “Anti-Darwinism Comes to the University: An Interview with Phillip Johnson.” Bible-Science Newsletter. 28(6), pp. 7-11. June 1990.
Michael Powell (2005). “Doubting Rationalist: ‘Intelligent Design’ Proponent Phillip Johnson, and How He Came to Be.” Washington Post. Page D01. Sunday, May 15, 2005.
Editorial (2005). “But Is It Intelligent?” Washington Post. Page A22. Thursday, August 4, 2005.
* NCSE just happens to have a 12-year collection of the Bible-Science Newsletter in its archives, stretching from 1982 to the Newsletter’s apparent discontinuation in 1994. The Newsletter was a rabid young-earth creationist publication, full of reports on the hunt for Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat, and alleged evidence of dinosaurs living with humans. Young-earth creationist Nancy Pearcey was a contributing editor to the Newsletter for many years, before coauthoring Of Pandas and People and joining the Discovery Institute ID program.
Believe it or not, this Phillip Johnson quote doesn’t even scratch the surface of the wealth of proto-ID material that was published in the Bible-Science Newsletter between 1982 and 1994. Stay tuned to PT for more revelations.
** In the original, it appears that a word was accidentally left in or out of this sentence. Probably it should read, “It is now regarded as commonplace…” or “It is now regarded as a commonplace observation…”