Posts Tagged ‘Intelligent Design’

Dallas Willard on David Hume’s acknowledgement of the design argument in Knowing Christ Today:

The almost irresistible impression of a “maker” of the physical universe is no doubt what Paul was referring to when he claimed that the existence and nature of God was “plain” or “shown” to humans. This impression remains very strong up to today. David Hume, often thought to be the prince of modern skeptics, conceded: “The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion.”5  This same outlook survives in the later, carefully guarded concession of Hume’s “Philo,” in the posthumously published Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, “That the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence.”6

Misunderstandings of Darwin’s theory of “natural selection” have in more recent times blunted the impact of the reasoning behind this conclusion in the minds of people generally. But in recent years an increased understanding of the astonishing complexity of life has led some who were longtime atheists to reconsider their position.7

The notes are interesting too, and I may add a bit more with comment later.


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Ignorance is the handmaiden of prejudice and discrimination.  Here is some more evidence of it at JPL:

Some testimony from Margaret Weisenfelder:

Q. I’m trying to understand why you feel [ID is] a religious viewpoint, not a scientific viewpoint.

A. I’m really not — I’m not clear on the distinction. I’m not well versed in the idea of intelligent design. … I’m not an expert in any of this. (33:9-19)


Q. And your understanding of intelligent design what’s that based on?

A. Just my own surmise.

Q. Okay. It’s not based on any literature, is it?

A. No, it’s not. (April 3, 2012, PM, 239:1-11)

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Perhaps this article and this post help explain why the JPL employees mistakenly believed that David Coppedge had no workplace or Constitutional rights to offer to loan out DVDs discussing evidence of design in nature.  According to Linda Greenhouse, you can throw out journalistic conventions when dealing with intelligent design:

Journalistic convention requires that when there are two identifiable sides to a story, each side gets its say, in neutral fashion, without the writer’s thumb on the scale. This rule presents a challenge when one side of a controversy obviously lacks merit. But mainstream journalism has learned to navigate those challenges, choosing evolution over “intelligent design,” for example, and treating climate change naysayers as cranks.

Ms. Greenhouse does not seem aware that many do not feel the need for an all or nothing choice between evolution and intelligent design.  Michael Behe does not.  Her insistence that journalists must make such a choice suggests an ignorance about intelligent design and the wide range of views held by those who are sympathetic to design arguments.

Could the same brew of ignorance and dogmatism have been driving the employees who went after David Coppedge?  The record seems clear that they were very ignorant of his rights, and did very little when he tried to educate them.

It reminds me of the quote by Pauline Kael:

I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.

As to ignorance of the law, this post discusses the relevant standards for religious expression in the workplace.

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It seems pretty clear that the event that started this whole sad case (Coppedge v. JPL) was when Margaret Weisenfelder complained to a supervisor that David Coppedge made her uncomfortable with his offer to loan her a DVD on intelligent design.  The events that led to her complaint seem pretty straightforward, and her account is pretty similar to his account.  She stated in her interview with the human resources investigator and admitted in her deposition the following (see citations and page numbers below):

When he offered to loan her a DVD, she accepted it.

She watched the DVD and found nothing in it that was offensive.

After watching it, she left it on Coppedge’s desk to avoid speaking to him.

She never told him that his offer to loan her a DVD was unwelcome.

She never had a religious discussion with him.

She never had a discussion about intelligent design with him.

She never asked him what the writing on the sticky note (“try again”) stuck to the DVD meant.

She went to his supervisor and complained about him and said it made her “uncomfortable.”

The supervisor, Greg Chin, said in his interview with HR that Weisenfelder accused Coppedge of harassment based on this.


As noted above, these facts come from the statements and testimony of JPL employees, and is consistent with Coppedge’s testimony.  You can find it here, at the following page numbers:

Weisenfelder interview by the JPL HR investigator, page 16.

Weisenfelder deposition, page 5.

Chin interview by the JPL HR investigator, page 60.

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