Unintelligent Debate

Time To Leave Behind The ID Twilight Zone

Always on shaky ground scientifically, advocates of the intelligent-design movement officially entered the Twilight Zone after a federal court ruled against them in Dover, Pa. It looks like they’ll be taking up permanent residence there.

Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity and Colmes” Dec. 22, prominent ID advocate Michael Behe was pressed by co-host Alan Colmes to identify who the “designer” could be if not God.

Behe replied, “Well, you know, other things that would strike us as, you know, pretty exotic, you know &8#151; space aliens or time travelers or something strange.”

You know, that is pretty strange. Behe and his ID cohorts have been shopping space aliens around as possible designer candidates for some time. The time travelers are relatively new contenders.

Of course all of this begs a question: Who designed the space aliens and the time travelers? The fact is, Behe has no  plausible candidates for the designer other than God. The fact that he has to resort to nonsense like this proves it. Either that or Behe has simply overdosed on too many “Star Trek” reruns.

Out in Lebec, Calif., creationist advocate and soccer coach Sharon Lemburg had her own brush with the paranormal. Lemburg conceived a course she called “Philosophy of Design.” It was really traditional creationism, based mainly on a series of videos produced by fundamentalist Christian ministries that claim to be scientific groups.

In an attempt to claim that the course was balanced, Lemburg proposed having “Francis Krich” as a speaker. She apparently meant Francis Crick, who helped unravel the secrets of DNA. There is one problem: Crick died in July of 2004. (Perhaps Behe’s time travelers could go pick him up and bring him to class.)

 ID advocates seem to be increasingly desperate. Slapped down by the courts, they continue to promote their ideas through the media via slick public-relations campaigns. None of this is science, and they know it. The more they talk about little men from Mars and time-traveling cell biologists, the more they discredit themselves. It’s time to stop pretending they even have a point.

Americans United has covered the modern ID movement since its inception. When people like Phillip Johnson discuss ID before friendly Religious Right audiences, they use the language of tent revivals, not the laboratory. Johnson, Behe and the rest of the ID crowd seem to believe that evolution is inherently anti-religious. That’s nonsense.

During the Dover trial, AU put scientists on the stand who explained why evolution does not conflict with faith. Among them was Dr. Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University, author of a highly acclaimed biology textbook that emphasizes evolution.

“I deeply care about my own religious beliefs and my faith, and I also deeply care about science, and I wanted to explain to a general audience how I understand the intersection of those two beliefs, not just to reconcile them, but to confirm and enhance both beliefs,” Miller said.

Amen. In that brief statement, Miller said more of value and made more sense than Behe and the rest of the ID gang &8#151; including their space aliens and time traveling pals &8#151; have in years.

Dr. Foy Valentine

A Strong Advocate For Freedom And Justice

Longtime Americans United activist Dr. Foy Valentine died Jan. 7 at a Dallas hospital after suffering a severe heart attack. He was 82.

Dr. Valentine was one of those rare individuals who dedicated his entire life to defending the rights of others. He was a passionate and powerful advocate of the separation of church and state. Dr. Valentine joined AU’s Board of Trustees in 1965 and served as president of the board from 1989 until 1993. Even when not serving AU in an official capacity, Dr. Valentine’s commitment to AU remained strong. He never hesitated to speak out publicly for this cause.

Accepting the presidency of Americans United in September of 1989, Valentine remarked, “Church-state separation is the brightest jewel in the crown of American democracy. Out of a sense of compelling obligation, I have been deeply involved in the life and work of Americans United. The cause of separation of church and state, based on commitment to the Constitution’s First Amendment, deserves not just to survive but thrive.”

Dr. Valentine was deeply committed to his own faith &8#151; but he insisted that government should have no say in religious matters. In 1966, he penned a short book titled The Cross in the Marketplace containing advice for houses of worship that remains relevant 40 years later.

“Many pulpits during recent elections have sounded ominously like one political party or the other gathered for prayer,” Valentine wrote. He also warned churches that governments were looking at them “as another of their numerous natural re­sources.” Dr. Valentine cautioned church leaders to be careful, writing, “If they do not maintain their freedom, they cannot maintain their usefulness either to the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of men.”

Dr. Valentine’s work on race relations was also pioneering. As executive director of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission during the 1960s, he pressed that denomination to begin the long and difficult process of racial reconciliation and healing.

Dr. Valentine retired as a Southern Baptist official in 1987 after 27 years of service. As fundamentalists took control of the denomination, his stand in favor of church-state separation fell out of favor and was reversed. This pained Dr. Val­entine, but he never gave up on the denomination he loved. Thanks to his work and the efforts of Baptists like him, moderates remain in control of state denominational offices in Texas.

Foy Valentine is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Louise, and three daughters, Jean, Carol and Susan.