Charges against the Discovery Institute and their Dissent from Darwinism

I've been sitting on this for quite a while now because, well, I got busy.  Sorry!  But it's really interesting, really.

One of the sites I have linked on the right side of this blog is the Discovery Institute, an organization that promotes theories in Intelligent Design ("ID").  Since ID has strong Christian and hence, special creationist connections (read, "believers in the six-day creation of Genesis 1"), it is often attacked as a sneaky group of Christians trying to get the Bible into the schools.  This is hardly the case since 1) to my knowledge, not all ID proponents are Christians, 2) ID certainly does not promote special creationism or any specific deity as the "designer," and 3) the only thing ID proponents want taught in schools is that Darwinism is not settled and remains an open question.


It is along that third point that the Discovery Institute has hosted a petition of sorts called "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" (links to a PDF).  According to my count, the list hosts 800 names of scientists, professors, fellows; simply various and sundry PhD's of chemistry, biology, physics, etc.  The concise byline to this petition is as follows:
“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
Not, "We believe in God," or, "Genesis gets it right."  It does not even say, "We reject naturalism or evolutionism."  Just, "We are skeptical."  We have unanswered questions.

This is something that folks who hate God and special creationism cannot stomach, even if it comes close to even affirming that possibly a being maybe like the God of the Bible possibly created the world in a manner similar to that which may be recorded accurately in the Judeo-Christian scriptures.

Take this video for instance.  (Please!  Ba-da-dum!)  I've Splic'd the video to the relevant charges against the Discovery Institute and their infamous list.






Now, this clip presupposes that the dissent list somehow advocates ID.  That ID proponents use the list to show the questionability of Darwinian evolution amongst scientists is not the same as saying that the signers of the said document are supporters of ID.  Further, it attacks a straw-man: again, ID is not special creationism, and the list is clearly not a signatory of Bible-believing scientists.  Let's look at that statement again:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

But let's strip away those layers to the one, substantial charge.  Are there scientists on the list who somehow misunderstood the above wording, scientists who have requested to be omitted from the list but remain against their will? I wrote to the Discovery Institute to see what they had to say to this.  Cassey Luskin responded.  While he had never seen this video, he had seen one similar.  Here is his reply:

Dear Shaun,
Greetings and thanks for your e-mail.  I’ve never seen that video before, although I saw a highly similar one that I responded to about  a year ago at:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/09/final_rebuttals_to_intelligent.html
What’s weird is that if I recall correctly, the original video I responded to was from a guy with a thick British accent. This guy doesn’t have a British accent, but he’s saying virtually exactly the same things.  Kind of seems like a copy job, which isn’t uncommon on YouTube.
In any case, the original video’s arguments were very bad. In this regard, I think that my above critique stands and answers the new video quite comprehensively. 
The YouTube guy claims that scientists asked to be removed from the list but weren’t—but I didn’t see any actual evidence that they had asked to be removed from the list.  For example, one person he contacted was Ralph Seelke, co-author of Explore Evolution—a textbook that challenges Darwinism!  I know Dr. Seelke personally and he’s HIGHLY skeptical of neo-Darwinism, which is why he co-authored a textbook to that effect.
So I think this guy either hasn’t done his homework or is playing fast and loose with the facts.
The only evidence I saw from this guy was that some people rejected ID (or in one case, “special creation”)  So what?  The list is NOT about ID, and we’ve never claimed it was.  (We don’t advocate “special creation,” obviously.)  The list is simply about skepticism of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, and we’ve been very clear that the list is not about ID.  Showing that some of these people aren’t ID proponents doesn’t imply they support neo-Darwinian evolution, the theory of evolution taught as dogmatic fact in biology textbooks.  So his logic is fallacious.
In any case, I’m not aware of anyone who asked to be taken off the list that hasn’t been removed.  In fact, about a year and a half ago, a scientist asked to be removed and I promptly saw to it that he was removed. He was very grateful and we had a very amiable exchange.
In any case, this YouTube guy seems to be ranting and I didn’t see any evidence to back up his facts. In my experience with the list, when people want off the list (or, which is far more common, on the list), we promptly honor their requests.  Thanks.
Sincerely,
Casey

He has instant credibility with me because he spelled my name right.  Funny how, in an email, people will get my name wrong ("Mark" is the most common error [it's true], followed then by "Shawn" and "Sean.").  I suggest following Casey's link for a more comprehensive rebuttal from the Institute, but all this seems to be in order.  I don't think there is anything underhanded going on here.

And yes, I would say so if I thought so.  Nothing makes me more sick then when people who represent views similar to my own are trying to pull something.  It happens occasionally, but usually by some KJV-Onlyist. :-)

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