The Haters: Volume Six: William Dembski

Louis_Cypher's picture

William A. Dembski was born July 18, 1960 to William and Ursula Dembski.  He showed a great deal of promise in his youth, finishing high school (an all male Catholic Prep School) a year early. On entering the University of Chicago, he ran into a wall both academically and personally, dropping out to work in his mother’s art business. It’s said that during this down period, he became fascinated with the Bible and Creationism.


Dembski eventually returned to school, garnering an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Masters Degrees in Statistics, Mathematics and Philosophy as well as Doctorates in Philosophy and Mathematics.


He went on to acquire a Master of Divinity in theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary. It was at the Seminary that Dembski was involved with the Charles Hodge Society, named for one of the founding fathers of the University, an arch conservative Calvinist and slave owner famed for his scathing criticism of Darwin and who is credited as the inspiration for modern fundamentalism. The society while Dembski was associated with it, worked to counter the ‘free swinging academic style’ and the ‘theological disarray’ of the Seminary. They also managed to be sued twice, facing everything from accusations of racism and sexism to threat s of funding cuts and curtailed academic careers. There were also rumored threats of a good old fashioned Christian ass kicking.  Oh, those wacky Seminarians…  

 

In 1987, the Supreme Court shut the door to “creation science” in the case Edwards v. Aguillard,  in which it ruled that creation science was just a ruse to promote Judeo-Christian religious doctrine. They did, however leave open a back door in saying;

“…teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction."

In March 1992, Dembski met Phillip Johnson (author of ‘Darwin on Trial&rsquoEye-wink the godfather of the creationist cabal known as the Intelligent Design Movement. They, together with Michael Behe would later form what is known as the ‘wedge’, spurred on by the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, adopting  the tactic of trying to ‘wedge’ creationism into public school curriculum's under the disingenuous guise of replacing the phrase ‘creation science’ with the phrase ‘Intelligent Design’.  

In the creationist inspired ‘textbook’ Of Pandas and People, the offensive phrase was replaced and in the  l1993 edition, Behe contributed an article that would become his doctrine of Irreducible Complexity from which Dembski drew his concept of ‘Specified Complexity’.

On graduation, Dembski found himself unable to get a job so he did the next best thing, accepting a position with the Center for Science and Culture, an offshoot of the Discovery Institute, for which he shills to this day most notably helping to formulate and promote the “Teach the Controversy” meme so popular with right wing-nut politicians as a talking point.

Dembski did manage to land an Academic gig when Robert Sloan, president of Baylor University invited him to form the Michael Polanyi Center, which Dembski went on to describe in his humble style as "the first intelligent design think tank at a research university". The ‘think tank’ consisted of Dembski and Bruce L. Gordon, yet another creationist flack. The whole thing was done beneath the table, and no one knew about the Center until Dembski put its web site online.
The faculty reacted with a kind of low key horror, fearful that the  hard earned reputation of the school as a center for real science was about to go down the toilet. Eventually, an independent academic committee voted for the Center to be closed.

 Dembski, with typical creationist logic claimed victory saying the committee had given him an "unqualified affirmation of my own work on intelligent design", that its report "marks the triumph of intelligent design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry" and that "dogmatic opponents of design who demanded that the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression."

Even his friend and benefactor Sloan couldn’t stomach that and amid Dembski’s loud wails of “McCarthyism”, fired Dembski in place, allowing him to retain a title and a salary, but not allowing him to teach or utilize the university facilities…

Dembski’s claim to fame rest in his idea of Specified Complexity, which is essentially a mathematical apology for the watchmaker argument. It is only Dembski’s obsession with self promotion that has kept his theorems from sinking to the dusty basement where academic failures go to die.  But don’t take my word for it;

“A study by Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit states that "Dembski's work is riddled with inconsistencies, equivocation, flawed use of mathematics, poor scholarship, and misrepresentation of others' results"

and; “The field of artificial life evidently poses a significant challenge to Dembski's claims about the failure of evolutionary algorithms to generate complexity. Indeed, artificial life researchers regularly find their simulations of evolution producing the sorts of novelties and increased complexity that Dembski claims are impossible.”

Dembski’s work has never seen the light of day in academic circles, and nothing at all relating to his Intelligent Design work has ever been near a peer reviewed journal. He remains a frequent lecturer on the fundamentalist circuit, because where else could a failed mathematician with no credible work in his field be considered “the smart one”?

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.

Brian37's picture

Princeton has a school of

Princeton has a school of theology? Why? That's like a fancy restaurant having a kiddy menue.

When someone gets a degree in religious studies, to me that is like studying all of the Harry Potter books and the history of the movie series and actors and directors and characters.

It is merely having a PHD in Marvel Comics.

Why not have Yale or Harvard teach the Klingon Language?

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Louis_Cypher's picture

I concur

I was as surprised as you were. A PHd is hard to swallow, but at least offering a BS degree makes sense...

 

LC >;-}>

 

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.

Brian37's picture

Louis_Cypher wrote:I was as

Louis_Cypher wrote:

I was as surprised as you were. A PHd is hard to swallow, but at least offering a BS degree makes sense...

 

LC >;-}>

 

A PHD in theology is a BS degree, just not a B.S. degree.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37