July 2, 2001

Louisville and Kansas City


The Wedge was on the road last week. I spent three days at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, teaching a course to seminarians and pastors on “Equipping for Ministry in Today’s University Culture.” The Southern Baptist Conference (SBC) went through something like a revolution a few years ago, with theological conservatives wresting control from so-called “moderates” and installing new leadership in most of the denomination’s seminaries. As a result, the seminaries are changing course. The emphasis is no longer on conforming the faith to naturalistic concepts, but rather on learning to challenge those concepts effectively. The most visionary leaders of the SBC frankly refer to their denomination as a “sleeping giant,” larger than all the other mainstream denominations combined, and full of people committed to a truly Biblical Christianity, but unprepared to meet the intellectual challenges of the universities, the public school system, and the secular media culture.

My task was to teach persons who minister to the university about epistemic naturalism, and about how the culturally dominant naturalistic definition of knowledge works to marginalize and discredit the concept of creation. It does this by assuming (with the greatest confidence) that “In the beginning was the Word” has been replaced by the more scientific formula that “In the beginning were the particles, and the impersonal laws of physics.” Epistemic naturalism does not rule out “religious belief,” but consigns it entirely to private life, while ensuring that students will be taught to accept naturalistic assumptions as the sole foundation for gaining further knowledge. Many Christians professors have tacitly accepted this division of things without understanding how much they were giving up, but the laity is finally awakening to the disaster these gullible intellectuals have created, I am sure the course last week will be the first of many in which Wedge participants help the Southern Baptist leaders build a generation of thinking Christians who can see through the fog and confusion that a previous generation of misguided academic leaders has left us.

The Kansas Intelligent Design Network

The Kansas school rebellion of 1999 may go down in history as something like the earliest Boston-area battles of the American Revolution. In a narrow sense the battle of Bunker Hill was a defeat for the colonists, but in a broader sense it showed how determined the Americans were to stand up for their liberties, and how prepared they were to suffer defeats on the way to eventual victory.

To put the controversy in a nutshell, the Darwinist science educators in Kansas insisted that the State School Board accept their guidelines, which provided that completely naturalistic evolution must be taught as “science” without qualifications and with no backtalk allowed. The Board agreed that the dominant naturalistic view should be taught, but wanted the curriculum to acknowledge the existence of scientific difficulties and controversies. The educators demanded that their dogma of macroevolution as merely microevolution plus time (“the peppered moth variations explain how moths and birds came to be”) should be taught without any acknowledgment of doubt or difficulties, and so the Board decided to leave macroevolution off the list of mandatory subjects to be tested on statewide examinations. That impasse led to the worldwide media confrontation.

As readers of Chapter Three of The Wedge of Truth know, the national scientific establishment pulled out all the stops to strangle the babe of intellectual freedom in its cradle. As a result of the disinformation campaign that the National Academy waged, most newspaper readers still think that the Board banned the teaching of evolution in Kansas. Kansans who worship at the shrine of naturalism, and the greater number of Kansans who merely crave the approval of those who have money and power at their disposal, were relieved that some of the courageous Board members were defeated at the next election. Now it seemed that Kansas would go back to normal, and slavishly follow the fashions set in New York.

Not exactly. The Kansas rebellion had sent the proverbial “shot heard round the world,” and it inspired the organization of communities of formerly disunited truth-seekers who realized that Darwinism had become a totalitarian philosophy that needed some effective criticism. The result was the Kansas Intelligent Design Network which held its second annual “Darwin, Design, and Democracy” symposium in Kansas City June 29 and 30.

I offered the opening address for the convention, explaining how the original goals of the Wedge have now been accomplished and how we can continue to build a popular movement with a leadership that combines academic excellence with legal and political sophistication. There were many other speakers, including some outstanding new voices from Kansas and elsewhere who will be making a great contribution to the progress of the Wedge.

There was no doubt about who was the star of the show. Jonathan Wells gave the concluding lecture, a very clear and informative powerpoint exposition of the main thrust of Icons of Evolution and the way Darwinists have responded to the exposure of errors and fraud in their textbooks. He did this with a graciousness and good humor that contrasted with the mean-spirited tone of the Darwinist responses. Then he ended with a musical number – yes, a musical number – that had the audience standing and cheering. I’ll let Jonathan himself describe what he did:

My talk on "The Fall of the Darwinian Empire" was the last event of the day-and-a-half symposium. Near the end of my talk, I quoted Mark Twain's famous aphorism: "Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution–these can lift at a colossal humbug–push it a little–weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast."

To provide an example of how this might work, I examined a common response to my book, Icons of Evolution–namely, that the textbook icons are dispensable, because there is overwhelming evidence that Darwinian evolution is true. First I took the serious approach, arguing briefly that all of the major categories of "overwhelming evidence" are underwhelming, at best. I concluded that "overwhelming evidence" is not a statement about science, but an advertising slogan like "This Bud's For You!" or "Don't Leave Home Without It!" or "Just Do It!"

I then explained that a few months ago my wife, Lucy, had the idea to do a musical parody of "overwhelming evidence." Then she found the right song, and I wrote some lyrics for it. I told the audience to imagine a group of Darwinists lecturing them, and then I introduced Kansas City's newest singing group, "The Mutations." Three ladies in sequined gowns waltzed onto the stage and–dancing like the Supremes–sang these lyrics to the tune of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (originally sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell):

Overwhelming Evidence

Listen, people
Evolution's true
We can promise you,
‘Cause weve got evidence, people.
You say our textbooks lie,
But only in your eyes,
‘Cause you're creationists,
While we are scientists.
At the end of the day,
The truth is what we say

‘Cause we've got
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence
To prove that our theory’s true.

Oh, the peppered moths
Aren’t where we thought
It’s a big mistake
And the photos are fake.
We know it’s unreal,
But it’s no big deal

‘Cause we’ve got
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence
To prove that evolution is true.

Haeckel’s embryos
Are not the way it goes.
Fish and human parts
Are different from the start;
But the story’s intact
And evolution’s a fact

‘Cause weve got
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence
So we don’t have to listen to you!

Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence,
Overwhelming evidence
So we don't have to listen to you!

Credit is due to Bill Harris, who provided a CD of the karaoke version (the music without the words), to John Calvert, who put me in touch with the performers, and to Jody Sjogren, who coordinated things from the sound booth. But the main credit goes to the performers: Tammy Heath, Terry Thoelke, and Cynthia Ziesman, three fine Christian ladies from the Kansas City area, all of whom sing professionally. Tammy, Terry, and Cynthia turned in a spectacular performance that brought the audience to its feet.

Jonathan Wells
Discovery Institute, Seattle

The audience did come to its feet. When enough people have heard this song, they won’t be able to hear the Darwinist claims of “overwhelming evidence” without laughing.

Copyright 2001 Phillip E. Johnson. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 7.02.01