One of the embarrassing facts about the Intelligent Design scam is how many law professors are involved in it. Their leader is Philip Johnson, a scholarly mediocrity in his chosen field (criminal law), who found a new raison d'etre by campaigning against Darwin.
As mathematician Jeffrey Shallitt puts it in an amusing review of one of Johnson's books:
"Imagine this: a law professor with no scientific training, after a mid-life crisis in which he became a fundamentalist Christian, announces that Newton's laws are wrong. Scientists only believe Newton's laws, he claims, because they have a prior commitment to 'naturalism'. The scientific evidence for Newton's laws is weak, he claims, and depends mostly on clever word games, where scientists first talk about motion of objects on the earth ('micromotion') and then extrapolate to the movements of the heavenly bodies ('macromotion'). We do not see objects on the earth moving about by themselves; any moving object is always the result of an intelligence that set that object in motion. The law professor writes books decrying Newtonism and discussing the social decay it leads to. He organizes conferences and develops a strategy for getting supernatural explanations for motion taught in science classes.
"Sound farfetched? Perhaps. But just change 'Newtonism' to 'Darwinism' and you've got the strange crusade of Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, exemplified in this silly and dishonest book. "Looking for scientific evidence against evolution? You won't find it here (or anywhere else, for that matter). What you will find is the kind of rhetoric lawyers are skilled at: if the facts and law are against you, pound the table.
"You'll also find deep misunderstandings of the nature of science (which doesn't 'prove' its theories, as suggested on p. 42) and information (which, contrary to Johnson's claims on p. 73, can indeed be generated by physical processes). "This book could be the basis for an easy and fun game called 'liar or fool'. Nearly every page offers a choice. When Johnson claims (p. 94) that 'We know that the Darwinian mechanism doesn't work and that complex biological systems never were put together by the accumulation of random mutations through natural selection', is it a lie or just stupidity? And who is the 'we', anyway? It certainly doesn't refer to people who actually study biology for a living, since 99% of them accept that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life as we see it today.
"When Johnson defines macroevolution as 'the vaguely described process that supposedly creates innovations such as new complex organs or body parts' (p. 57), is it a lie or just ignorance of the definition actually used by biologists?"
Or consider John Eastman, a conservative law professor at Chapman University in California, who decided to interject himself in to the Leiter/VanDyke debate, though without, rather clearly, doing any research in to this matter beyond what he "learned" [sic] from National Review On Line. He did so, bizarrely, on a listserve devoted to scholarly discussion of law and religion issues, in which serious scholars of the subject, such as Eugene Volokh (UCLA), Steven Gey (Florida State), and my colleagues Douglas Laycock and Lawrence Sager participate (which is how I learned of it). Here is what Professor Eastman saw fit to write. And here is what I wrote to Professor Eastman in response (who didn't, shall we say, cope with it too well).
Dear Professor Eastman:
A colleague has forwarded to me your astonishing and irresponsible posting attacking me from the Law & Religion listserve. Your posting is astonishing on many levels:
(1) You misrepresent as my 'key charge' what is in fact the conclusion of my critique of the Intelligent Design proponents, a critique which you nowhere reference or discuss. My detailed critique of Mr. VanDyke, which was the basis for my conclusion, is available by starting here--then follow the links therein.
(2) You misquote the conclusion, as did National Review Online, which suggests that your only source for your smear job on me was the National Review. Is your practice to attack your professional colleagues based on reports by journalists? And are you aware that the author of the NRO article is one of Francis Beckwith's graduate students, though that is nowhere noted at the NRO site? Might that not warrant greater scholarly caution on your part in relying too heavily on his misrepresentation and selective representation of my views?
(3) Why do you think a scholarly listserve devoted to law and religion issues is a forum in which to speculate about whether a professional colleague has defamed someone?
(4) That you think the proponents of Intelligent Design have 'take[n] seriously Darwin's own methodology' suggests that you are spectacularly ignorant about the relevant science, and thus would do well to refrain from comment on these matters. As you are no doubt aware, the overwhelming majority of biologists, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and on and on, all reject your view of the matter.
(5) Your reference to 'the tyrannical orthodoxy of the Darwinian crowd' confirms, I'm afraid, the suspicion that you are ignorant about the state of biological science. But let me pose this to you as a hypothetical. Suppose a Note appeared in the Harvard Law Review arguing that the constitution permits a state to enact a law that would bar Christian fundamentalists from serving as law professors; the author argues that this presents no Establishment or Free Exercise issues. The Note, by necessity, is shoddily documented, full of bold assertions, but inadequate support throughout. It is an incompetent piece of work; one might even call it a 'scholarly fraud.' (Let's suppose too, just for fun, that the Note is quickly picked up as ammunition by a political movement in dozens of states bent on barring Christian fundamentalists from serving as law professors).
Suppose, in response, you called the Note incompetent and fraudulent in its scholarlship, and then others responded by mocking 'the tyrannical orthodoxy of the Religious Liberty crowd.' This would be an odd response, would it not, since views that are correct ought to be orthodox, and they ought to exercise the tyranny appropriate to truth, namely, a tyranny over falsehood and dishonesty. Of course, it would be odd, under those circumstances, to call it, pejoratively, 'tyranny' and 'orthodoxy,' would it not? But that is what you have done with Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, and the only explanation can be that you have no idea what the actual state of the relevant biological science is. In light of that, you might be better served by silence on these matters.
Philip Johnson might be well-served by the same advice. Alas...