Michael Medved, a conservative radio host of the Rush Limbaugh stripe, hosted a 20-minute “debate” on his show the other day between Dan Barker (co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, or FFRF) and Casey Luskin, creationist and research director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design “think” tank. (The “thought” is obviously not scientific, but about how to make up stuff to hide the lack of evidence for ID.)
The debate dealt with the case of Eric Hedin, the professor at Ball State who teaches a science class for honors students that is heavily infused with his love of Christianity. I brought Hedin’s proselytizing for Jesus to the FFRF’s attention, and their lawyers wrote to Ball State University saying that Hedin’s activities may constitute a First Amendment violation and, at any rate, are certainly not “science.”
I was initially asked to debate Luskin on this show, but had to teach at that time—thank Ceiling Cat!! Barker is a much better debater than I, and you can hear on the PodoMatic recording how coolly and calmly he responds to Medved’s constant interruptions and Luskin’s overheated rhetoric. The debate is 20 minutes long followed by 15 minutes of audience questions. (I haven’t had time to listen to the questions.)
Medved is obviously not an unbiased moderator, and I found out with a few strokes of the keyboard that he is in fact a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute. That’s unbelievable: Medved has no scientific training whatsoever. I guess the Discovery Institute just wants his name. In their announcement of Medved’s appointment as a Senior Fellow, the Discovery Institute said this:
“Michael Medved is an intellectual entrepreneur, a political and cultural polymath with great insights, judgment and wit. We are delighted to have this new relationship with him,” said Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman.
. . . Chapman saluted Medved “as the national radio host—make that ‘media host’—who is best able to understand science issues, including the current conflict over Darwinism and intelligent design. He’s very smart, quick and resourceful. Yet he also is respectful of those he disagrees with.”
“Over the years, I’ve greatly appreciated Discovery’s scholarship and advocacy in many areas,” Medved commented. “We may not agree on every issue, but I often have been struck by how much our worldviews overlap. It has been my pleasure to have Discovery fellows on my show as guests, including Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells, and David Klinghoffer. Formalizing the relationship will, I’m sure, only deepen the feeling of collegiality I already have with my friends at Discovery. I look forward to working with Discovery on future projects.”
Oh, and Barker makes a slip of the tongue around four minutes in, when he says I teach “biography” at the University of Chicago. I think he meant “biology.” But he does a remarkable job of keeping his cool in trying circumstances.