In response to commenter JS (back on homeschooledmedstudent): I think it’s slightly suspicious that you go to such lengths to complain about the title of the defense that Discovery Institute published of Leonard, but then don’t examine the content of that defense at all. DiSilvestro and Needham explain at length how the committee came to be composed as it was, and the lack of clear procedural standards, which it would be the university’s responsibility to promulgate.
Also, it’s an exaggeration to compare the relative expertise of the committee members to an ob/gyn holding a cardiac surgery exam. The members of the committee were scientists, and were involved in education. It seems to me their fields were close enough to Leonard’s area of study that they could be expected to understand the logic and evidence he needed to present in his dissertation. Finally, let me put the link to Discovery Institute’s response to The Panda’s Thumb, wherein they address all of the charges.
You state, “Contrary to popular belief (at least among creationists), being a creationist does not disqualify someone from acquiring a PhD in science or education.” Let me offer some evidence for our sense of ostracism:
- From the original NYT article: “Dr. Scott, a former professor of physical anthropology at the University of Colorado, said in an interview that graduate admissions committees were entitled to consider the difficulties that would arise from admitting a doctoral candidate with views ‘so at variance with what we consider standard science.’ She said such students ‘would require so much remedial instruction it would not be worth my time.’ . . . Dr. Dini, of Texas Tech, agreed. Scientists ‘ought to make certain the people they are conferring advanced degrees on understand the philosophy of science and are indeed philosophers of science,’ he said.” To me that sounds as though they’re saying creationists are not capable of being real scientists, and if they were admitted to a graduate degree program would require “remedial education” to cure them of their unacceptable beliefs.
- In March 2006 Dr. Francis Beckwith was nearly denied tenure at Baylor University. As that link explains, his academic credentials are so outstanding that his support for discussion of intelligent design is the most likely reason for the controversy. (Further discussion at World Magazine.) – Also check out this transcript from a 2005 NPR segment on intelligent design, in which they interview several IDers/creationists who feel they have been discriminated against by the establishment. Most notable is Dr. Richard Sternberg, who experienced hostile retaliation from the Smithsonian Institute after allowing the publication of an article favorable to intelligent design in a peer-reviewed biology publication. In the NPR transcript, note where the journalist doing the piece explains that she tried to contact numerous intelligent design supporters, who mostly refused to speak to her, saying it would be as much as their career was worth to be so publicly identified prior to receiving their tenure.
To take up your third section second here: You say, “Patently ridiculous nonsense such as global floods is junk science.” Well, that kind of begs the question. We are trying to discuss whether a global flood is a better explanation of the fossil record than Darwin’s theory. It would explain how you have trees and giant animals (whales, dinosaurs) crossing multiple layers of sediment, which according to evolutionary geology ought to have been laid down over millions of years. It would explain the frequent occurrence of more “advanced” animals in the same strata as their much earlier “ancestors.” It would explain how fossils of sea creatures have been found on the tops of high mountains, as in the Himalayans. And of course, it would explain the observation that fossils were formed with great rapidity during disasters like the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, but all carcasses which have been left lying around or in bogs of mud have been observed to rot to bits, rather than fossilizing. Which kind of messes up the whole evolutionary scenario. If I leave a dead bird in my yard, it doesn’t become a fossil. But if there’s a dead bird lying on the bank as a river undergoes a tremendous flood, it might fossilize.
It is precisely the refusal of evolutionists to even allow the discussion of other reasonable explanations which leads IDers and creationists to level charges of witch-hunting and modern inquisitions.
And now, global warming. You say, “The models are very, very good.” Uh-huh. Models made by the same people who in the ’70s were warning of catastrophic global cooling? Models for a planet which is at least thousands (if not, as you say, millions or billions) of years old, based on only a few decades of measurements?
I’m not prepared to tackle global warming in depth; this is one of those issues on which I know I read some good articles and books (can I plug Michael Crichton’s State of Fear again?) back when I had more time, and I’ve seen nothing to change my opinion since then. I’ll just throw out some recent links: Editorial handling of the subject by a senior climatologist, who remembers the scares of the ’70s. And, an article from CO2 Science arguing that events in the upper atmosphere and space could be responsible for any climate change that is being observed (which is in itself a questionable assumption, since, among other inconvenient facts, some arctic ice floes are increasing in size (multiple scientific journals referenced here), while the heavily publicized ones are cracking; see here for the growth of antarctic ice caps).
Ookay, that should be enough controversy for one day.