A while back the Discovery Institute invited me to come to their Evolution News and Views website to debate the Hedin case, intelligent design in general, and Stephen Meyer’s new creationist book on the Cambrian Explosion. They would then, they said, respond to me on that site.
Now why on earth would I do that? I can discuss ID and the Hedin case right here, and, unlike the DI, I allow readers to comment.
My response to the DI’s “invitation” is the same as that given by ecologist Bob May when asked to debate a creationist:
“That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine.”
As for rehashing my views on ID, I’ve done that at length in two essays in The New Republic, “The faith that dare not speak its name” (2005) and “The great mutator” (2007; both free online). And I’ll leave the assessment of the Meyer book to the paleobiology pros, as I have my own book to write.
But the DI persists, and is so desperate to engage me in their pages that they’ve posted an appeal to my readers—that’s right, folks, to YOU—asking you to importune me to debate them on their site.
The inimitable David Klinghoffer sounds this note of desperation at Evilution News and Views in “An appeal to Jerry Coyne’s readers“:
That’s why I turn to [Coyne's] readers. I suppose the leading Darwin defenders in the academic world have a professional stake in seeing lively, informed, critical discussion of their crippled theory muffled. I can also see why some angry, resentful folks among the Darwinist rank-and-file likewise only want to see competing theories squelched, not debated — theories that are friendly, perhaps, to worldviews they have rejected for private, personal reasons of their own.
But the average reader who enjoys Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True for its spritely, pugilistic tone? I’m talking to you. Surely you would enjoy seeing your hero come over and teach us a lesson about “good science” by trouncing us on the actual merit of our ideas, or lack of it? The author of Why Evolution Is True has never done that. Rather than bluffing like Nick Matzke, give us the real goods — the details please — on why ID fails as science.
Or how about you other pro-Darwin bloggers. What about your own readers? I trust that some of you, for goodness sake, would enjoy seeing a champion of the Darwin community like Coyne, having read Darwin’s Doubt, come over here and trounce us? So let Jerry Coyne know your feelings.
Sometimes I’ve wondered if Darwinists really are completely united in a wish to run from any fair fight. Am I wrong to wonder? At least show me that. Go back over to Why Evolution Is True now and tell Coyne you want to see him take us apart, on our home turf. Go on, what are you waiting for?
Now somehow I feel that most of my readers aren’t going to urge me to engage in a debate that is, after all, just putting my regular posts on the DI site instead of here. That would do nothing but get them the traffic they desperately want. And I can tell you that I am not going to engage in that debate. I have the purity of my c.v. to worry about.
But if you want to importune me, or respond to Klinghoffer’s desperate plea, feel free to do so in the comments below. After all, he’s talking to you, but you can’t respond over there.
You ID advocates can also make your case, but the website rules are that we can then ask, before you post further, about your evidence for
God The Intelligent Designer.
This is the last time I’ll be engaging the Discovery Institute directly on these issues. DIers are not scientists but religious zealots concealing clerical collars beneath threadbare lab coats. I will debate real scientific issues with other scientists, but not creationism with creationists who pretend to be scientists. After all, real scientists are open to reason, and don’t spend their time making up evidence to buttress a priori emotional commitments.