Thursday, October 06, 2005

On rhetoric

The Pennsylvania ACLU's blog asks What, or who, is on trial here?, noting that in questioning Barbara Forrest, author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design

Dick Thompson, the director of the Thomas More Law Center, launched into Dr. Forrest's membership in the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way, and the New Orleans Secular Humanists Association (NOSHA).

When Thompson framed a question by listing a variety of stances the ACLU takes, our attorney Eric Rothschild objected, stating, "This has absolutely no relevance."

Judge Jones agreed and said, "We could be here for days if we go into other issues."

After Thompson questioned Dr. Forrest about her membership in NOSHA, her belief in the supernatural, and her belief in "the immortality of the soul," Eric objected on the basis of a federal rule that prohibits questioning a witness on his/her religious beliefs in an attempt to impeach his/her credibility.
Dr. Forrest testified about the underlying religious motivations of the IDolators, and the fact that early drafts of the textbook at issue talked about "creationism" and that was later find-'n'-replaced with "intelligent design." This is relevant because creationism isn't science, that's settled. If ID is just an alias for creationism, the judge doesn't have to work very hard.

How Dr. Forrest's political or religious affiliations undermine that evidence is not clear. This is called an ad hominem attack, it's an attack on the witness's name, rather than her argument.

In a similar vein, Billy Dembski is upset with this article. Note how Billy talks about everything but the issue raised, that IDC is not a scientific program, but a religious program, and as such, doesn't belong in science classes.

Like the PA ACLU, I think it makes perfect sense to teach about IDC in a course on philosophy or comparative religion. One of my favorite classes in high school was a comparative religions class. Of course, the teacher was a bit of a hippie and was more than a little crazy, so I may not have been responding to the subject matter alone.

All this other stuff is just cheap rhetoric designed to disguise the fact that IDolators cannot answer the critiques being offered.