by Casey Luskin
Updates: To Gary Hurd's credit, he has issued a statement of errata regarding these errors at http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/widf_appendix_e.html. Also, please be sure to read an important correction made to this page, as well as a lesson to be learned by all. Dr. Hurd is to be commended for any efforts he is making to see to it that future editions of WIDF are error free! Below was the original critique:
In 2004, Matt Young and Taner Edis edited a volume critiquing intelligent design theory entitled Why Intelligent Design Fails (Rutgers University Press, 2004; herein "WIDF"). The Appendix, which list various "Organization and Websites" in the intelligent design movement (WIDF, pg. 197), was compiled by scientist Gary S. Hurd. This response is posted for informational purposes to help correct various inaccuracies readers will receive after reading Hurd's Appendix in WIDF.
I would like to note initially that overall, WIDF is one of the most comprehensive scientific critiques of ID put into print as-of-yet. Also, I would like to note that I e-mailed Dr. Hurd (using the address listed at "talkorigins.org/faqs/dinosaur/flesh.html") in a friendly and cordial spirit, on June 2, 2005, 6 days before posting this article, hoping to have a friendly correspondence with him in the mutual hopes of notifying him about these inaccuracies. My primary hope in posting this short response is simply that these inaccuracies can be corrected in future editions of WIDF. Although Dr. Hurd did not reply to my e-mail as of the posting of this article (June 8, 2005), it is still hoped that these inaccuracies will be fixed in future editions of WIDF nonetheless.
All grey boxes contain quotes from Hurd's Appendix in WIDF.
1: Misinformation regarding the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Club
Problem: Hurd's appendix lists the wrong URL.
Hurd lists the web address of the UCSD IDEA Club as "http://www.ucsd.edu/~idea/" when in reality it has always been "http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~idea/. If one goes to the URL listed by Hurd, one obtains a "404", page not found error. As the co-creator of the IDEA Club at UCSD website, I have to admit, it would be pretty cool if the site was hosted directly off the UCSD main server (and thus would have the URL given by Hurd). But since the IDEA Club was formed, UCSD student organization websites are hosted by the UCSD Academic Computing Services server (www-acs.ucsd.edu), and the UCSD IDEA Club has never had the URL given by Hurd. Thus our actual URL is "http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~idea/." Readers of WIDF should be aware of this mistake if they plan to visit this site.
A minor and less important note about this section is the quote Hurd provides to describe the IDEA Club at UCSD:
The segment which Hurd quotes is from the history section of the About the Club page from the UCSD IDEA Club website. I would expect an appendix listing organizations to explain about the purpose, activities, and leadership of an organization. This statement by Hurd tells the reader nothing about the fact that the IDEA Club is a student-founded, student-run club, and it does not tell readers about the mission statement of the club (http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~idea/missionstate.shtml. I would have expected the Hurd's appendix to contain something more along the lines of the approximate blurb from our main home page found in the following search engines descriptions of the IDEA Club (Google Internet Directory or the Yahoo! Directory):
Problems: Hurd inaccurately describes the founding of IDURC; possibly mixes it up with another organization.
Hurd begins his description of the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC) by stating:
The current director of IDURC is Tristan Abbey, who took over running IDURC from the original founders. Tristan is an undergraduate at Stanford. Apparently the student who designed the current GUI of the website was is a UCSD freshman (as of 2004-2005), but the connection goes no further than mere site design. Furthermore, Hurd couldn't be talking about this student because UCSD-student-designed version of the website came online in early 2005, long after Why Intelligent Design Fails was printed. Furthermore WIDF was printed while this current UCSD student was in high school. The site was not "begun" by a UCSD student.
IDURC is a great website and a growing organization which has been attracting increasing numbers of undergraduate contributors over the past few years. It deserves to be on any list of ID websites and organizations. However, it seems possible that Hurd may have confused IDURC with the "IDEA Center." Interestingly, the "Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center" is missing from Hurd's list of ID organizations and websites, and it would indeed be correct to state that the IDEA Center's website was begun by a student (formerly) at the University of California, at San Diego--me.
Hopefully more accurate statements about the origins of IDURC will avoid confusion between their excellent organization and other student-oriented ID organizations.
Problem: Hurd states this site supports intelligent design from a young earth creationist perspective, when it is actually an "old earth" creationist website; site does not belong on a list of ID websites.
Regarding GodandScience.org, Hurd writes:
Hard-core Darwinist critics never miss a chance to highlight and expose supposed connections between intelligent design and young earth creationism. Apparently Darwinists are sometimes so excited to find and expose what they perceive as incriminating young earth creationism connections to intelligent design, that they negligently investigate these connections to find out if their dreams have actually come true. In this case, it's just a dream, and Hurd jumped the gun a little too quickly.
A quick review of GodandScience.org reveals that it is an adamantly old earth creationist website, as is seen in the following staunchly anti-young-earth links plainly listed all over GodandScience.org:
Hurd lists this website as a "young-earth creationis[t]" website despite the fact that the site itself brazenly calls young earth creationism a "heresy." Christian heresy young earth creationism is not, but there is no doubt that the site's creator, Richard Deem would be very unsettled to learn that a book had published that his website supported young earth creationism.
It is possible that this mistake arose because Hurd became confused when he saw talk of "literal" interpretations of Genesis on GodandScience.org, and then assumed the site was pro-young earth creationism. If this is the case, then this shows a high level of unfamiliarity on the part of Dr. Hurd with the creationist movement. Old earth creationists, like young earth creationists, typically attempt to take Genesis literally. The difference is that when old earth creationists look at the literal meaning of the original Hebrew text, they argue that it allows for an old earth.
Old earth creationists commonly argue that Genesis must be taken literally, in its original Hebrew. A lack of knowledge of this fact may have misled Hurd into thinking that GodandScience.org was a young-earth creationist website. As it currently stands, there is not a single website in Hurd's appendix which supports intelligent design from a young-earth creationist viewpoint.
Finally, as discussed further below, this website does simply does not belong on a list of ID websites, because it is clearly an old earth creationist website that simply just has one of its many sections devoted to ID. The IDEA Center has long-listed this website in our links page under our "Creationism Websites" section, which is separate from our ID websites section. Though the site covers many interesting topics, this surely is not an ID-website. It's an old earth creationist website with forays into many other subjects, including social issues like abortion, and the scientific debates over intelligent design and evolution. Please see the discussion below for more details.
For the sake of accuracy, hopefully readers will not be misled into thinking this site represents young earth creationist support for ID, and will also realize that as a whole, it isn't even a specifically ID site.
Problems: This is an exact duplicate mirror-site from another site Hurd lists elsewhere in the Appendix; Hurd criticizes this site as if it represents the ID movement, when it clearly is not a mainstream ID website.
Hurd may not have realized this, but this site he lists is a precise mirror site to another site he lists, GodandScience.org (discussed directly above in item 3). Thus this entry is entirely redundant in Hurd's list of "ID Organizations and Websites." To see this redundancy in action, if one goes to "http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/" (the page Hurd lists, as discussed in item 3 of this page), one will be directed to the exact same page listed at "http://www.evidence.info/design/" (a separate page Hurd lists in his list of ID websites).
However, it is puzzling why Hurd includes this site even once, much less twice, in his list of ID-websites. There are many intelligent design websites out there, but not all of them exist as organizations outside of the web, or have official affiliation with the major players of the ID movement. Thus, many intelligent design websites may not represent mainstream thought in intelligent design. Evidence.info (and its identical-twin mirror site, GodandScience.org) has an impressive amount of material related to intelligent design, but here are some important reasons why this site clearly doesn't belong on a list of ID websites:
c/o Reasons To Believe
P.O. Box 5978
Pasadena, CA 91117
Hurd's claims that the site, "is a good example of the success that the intelligent-design creationists have had glossing over basic differences between what they say and what they mean." Hurd does not explain this comment, so it is difficult to know exactly what Hurd means. Furthermore, his allegation that intelligent design is creationism is simply a rhetorical tactic which has been addressed and refuted by numerous writings of ID proponents. For one small example, see our FAQ Is intelligent design just creationism (or creationism "in disguise")?>. Regardless, Deem's website is specifically devoted to old earth creationism, in the spirit of Hugh Ross and his old earth creationist organization, Reasons to Believe, and thus it is wrong to state that this site is an example of anything coming from organizations representing the mainstream ID movement. The relevance of this site as a representative of mainstream intelligent design thought in the actual ID movement is highly doubtful. To reiterate, there are many intelligent design websites out there, but not all of them exist as organizations outside of the web, or have official affiliation with the major players of the ID movement.
To hold Evidence.info up as necessarily representative of thought of the mainstream ID movement, only to then tear it down, is to criticize only a straw man. Neither Evidence.info nor its duplicate-mirror site, GodandSience.org belong in Hurd's Appendix of ID "Organizations and Web Sites."
Hopefully readers will realize that there are many sites out there that deal with intelligent design. Some of them-even Evidence.info, have some very good information about ID on them. However, readers should realize that if they want information from the mainstream ID movement, they should consult websites which represent organizations or prominent individuals in the ID movement. Readers who are interested in such sites might want to consider some of the following websites (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Hurd's appendix in WIDF contains a number of simply inaccurate statements about the ID organizations and websites it lists. Furthermore, it misconstrues 2 of its listed websites as if these organizations represent creationist, specifically young earth creationist, support for the ID movement. While these "2" websites are inflated, because they are actually just duplicate examples of a single site and its mirror, these sites clearly are NOT representative of mainstream ID thought and seem devoted to many specifically non-ID projects.
To repeat what I stated at the beginning, I e-mailed Dr. Hurd on June 2, 2005, 6 days before posting this article hoping to have a friendly correspondence with him in the mutual hopes of notifying him about these inaccuracies so that they can be corrected in future editions of WIDF. Although Dr. Hurd did not reply to my private e-mail, it is still hoped that these inaccurate statements will be fixed in any future editions of WIDF so that readers can obtain accurate information.
Addendum added 6/28/05: An Important Correction and a Lesson to be Shared for All:
Previously this page stated that Richard Deem, the creator of GodandScience.org was a layperson. That was a mistake, I would like to apologize to Mr. Deem for this mistake as I have now learned that Mr. Deem is a scientist employed in molecular biology research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and has both a B.S. and M.S. in biological sciences. (See his Background at GodandScience.org.) I sincerely apologize to Mr. Deem for this error.
I had originally contacted Mr. Deem on May 31st, 2005 regarding how I was planning to describe his website on this page. I thus contacted him 8 days before posting this arrticle. When I hadn't heard from him for over a week, I went forward and posted my material here. While Mr. Deem did not get a chance to review the e-mail and reply to me until June 28th, 2005, I changed this page immediately when he notified me of the error regarding his academic background and qualifications as a scientist.
This presents a lesson for all of us: Whenever you are trying to describe an organization, website, or person on the internet, make every effort to contact them personally so that you make sure you get your facts straight. I made a strong effort to contact Mr. Deem before posting this material, and for whatever reason it took about a month to get the facts straightened out. But this just demonstrates how easy it is to check one's facts--all that is necessary is to send the people your'e going to be talking about a short e-mail!
People on "both sides" of this debate need not fear contact with the other side. Yet I have found that upon 2 occasions, Darwinists who have talked about IDEA Clubs or IDEA Center in books have published numerous errors about our organization (and others) without having ever contacted us personally to verify their facts. Without commenting on what this says about their level of scholarship in these instances, I'd like to just make one point clear: we're nice people and we don't bite! If you want to talk about the IDEA Center, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (or send me an e-mail personally at email@example.com). Indeed, I have been ignored by Gary Hurd since I posted this, as he never responded to my June 2, 2005 e-mail where I contacted him (before posting this page) asking him if he would like to dialogue over some problems with his appendix.
In conclusion, I sincerely hope that Darwinists will end their strategy of pretending we don't exist on a personal level but constantly attacking us on a public level. It only leads to misrepresentation, and misunderstanding, and I sincerely hope that is not their goal.