Dobson group pushes religious nature of intelligent design, in New Zealand

In the end, Dr. James Dobson and other ideological Christians may be the worst enemies of the idea that intelligent design should be taught as science. They just can’t resist emphasizing that ID is, to them, good Christian doctrine.

In the latest outbreak, the New Zealand chapter of Dobson’s group Focus on the Family has sent copies of the DVD, “The Privileged Planet,” to 400 New Zealand high schools. Why?

Focus on the Family’s executive director Tim Sisarich said the material was intended to expose pupils to an alterative theory of cosmology.

“We’re a Christian organisation so we believe that God made the planet and God made the cosmos … Science takes a theory and tries to establish it as the truth, and that’s all this is.”

Education Ministry senior manager Mary Chamberlain said parents had a right to withdraw children from religious instruction.

This undercuts the lobby group, Discovery Institute (DI), which argues that intelligent design should be considered good science and not religiously related. The DVD in question features an intelligent design advocate, Guillermo Gonzalez, who was denied tenure at Iowa State University in 2007 — in that flap, DI argued that the DVD was good science, not religion.

Creationism does tend to require being flexible on the truth. When fundraising, or when trying to defend Christian ideas, intelligent design is Christian doctrine. When DI and others are trying to sneak ID into science curricula in the U.S., it’s not religion at all, but scientifically related.

Treating subjects in that fashion is a form of moral relativism, or to most people, simple dishonesty.

(The discussion at the site of the Dominion Post is quite lively; see what New Zealanders think of intelligent design.)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dr. Bumsted at Grassroots Science.

Update: P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula was already on it. Morris, Minnesota is just such a hub of scientific activity, it’s difficult to stay ahead of Dr. Myers when we’re stuck here in what appears to be the scientific backwater of Dallas.

13 Responses to Dobson group pushes religious nature of intelligent design, in New Zealand

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    ID has no observation, no hypothesis, and no experimentation.

    Evolution? Each step of evolution theory has been observed in real time, in the wild and in the lab. There are thousands of productive hypotheses. There are thousands of experiments going on as we write.

    What is science? Any fair definition excludes ID.

    Who is being honest? In that case, Crick. He’s saying that we have to let the evidence speak for itself, and not force a predetermined answer on the data. It looks designed? Let’s take it back a step. Who designed that child? Can we explain how the egg and sperm united and developed into a baby? Then Crick is right, isn’t he.

    It’s the ID folks being dishonest. Never forget that until they change their spots and stripes.


  2. mac says:

    I keep hearing the comment that ID it is not science. So what is science? it is simply three steps, 1. observation, 2. hypothesis. 3. experimentation. if the third step can’t be done it is now moving into the realm of what is known as origin science, part science part history, similar to the TV show CSI – a good guess. since we can’t recreate the expanse of the universe, the beginning of life, we then have to guess at how it happened. this is what evolutionist do, this is what ID does. both are science! Neither can recreate life. Neither are Provable(to testing) the question then becomes, Which has a higher probability? when Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA says. “we constantly have to remind ourselves that what looks designed is not.” who is the one being dishonest?


  3. Ken says:

    Yes, Dale. I agree from the comments I have heard. But from the interview FotF didn’t have science in mind.


  4. Dale says:

    Fair enough on the way that FotF is using the doco… Point taken.
    It’s a shame, I say, because the doco itself isn’t worth fussing over – it actually has some worthwhile presentations of scientific observations in it…


  5. Ken says:

    This incident is discussed in an interview on Radio New Zealand – spokespersons from Focus on the Family & the Ministry of Education. (see

    Clearly, from this interview, Focus on the Family do see this material as supporting intelligent design (which they claim is supported by a large number of scientists) – they have done this with the intention of promoting ID in our schools.

    It is the thin edge of the Wedge.


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    It’s the philosophy I object to, then, if you want to call it that. Here in the U.S. they’re urging this DVD be used in science. On the science, it’s not much. There isn’t any real science behind the inference of design (“I know it when I see it” is a famous phrase from an obscenity case in U.S. law — not good science). Philosophy doesn’t belong in science class, either.

    So, if it provides no great insights, why clutter the curriculum with it?

    Ken’s right: Were it from a science organization, I’d not be so suspicious. But Focus on the Family fights against good science on several fronts here in the U.S., resisting vaccinations, resisting medical care for indigents, fighting family planning information, and so on — the DVD’s being lukewarm on science is no endorsement of the DVD, but is instead just further indictment.


  7. Ken says:

    Dale, your comment “I don’t know why Stuff ran the anti-evolution headline that they did – maybe for hits/comments?”. Obviously newspapers choose their headlines for effect. But it is disingenuous to imply the headline was misleading. The documentary is one of the thin edges of the Discovery Institute’s Wedge. The comment of the Focus on the Family spokesman showed the religious motivation (remember this is aimed at science classes, not theology classes) and the organisation does promote and sell/distribute many other clearly ID documentaries and books.

    Why else would they send the material – they are not an organisation which promotes science. It would be very different if the material came from the Royal Society.

    This particular incident (not the first from this organisation) probably will have minimal effect. But that shouldn’t be used to cloud their motives. We will probably see more of this sort of thing as interest in evolutionary science heightens coming up to next years jubilees (Darwin’s birth and publication of The Origin of Species). It’s certainly stepping up in the US.


  8. Dale says:

    Thanks Ed,
    I think it’s important to be fair in our judgments of such things – the DVD doesn’t teach ‘religion’ at all, still less ‘bad religion’.
    It does include helpful presentations of scientific concepts and facts, and from these, it highlights the philosophical inference of design.
    In order to get to the ‘bad religion’ or ‘devaluing the miracle of creation’ stage, you’ve got to think way beyond what the documentary actually presents.


  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Dale, I found the Privileged Planet tamer than a lot of creationist stuff, but still not scientific. There are a lot of claims that things that are most likely coincidence are instead issues of design.

    From the science side, it’s just lacking in evidence, and it fudges how one evaluates and finds evidence. From the Christian side, I think it devalues the miracle of creation. I object to it for use in science classes in schools not only because it’s not science, but also because it’s a narrow religious view somewhat contrary to most Christian sedts. Teaching religion is a big enough problem; teaching bad religion makes it worse.


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m concerned at the bold way “The Quest for Right” has abandoned the more practical, and to me more moral, quest for facts, information and knowledge.

    Right from the get-go, where this series claims that biology assumes no God, you know it’s a polemic, and not a science tome. Darwin, of course, assumed God, being Christian as he was when he discovered the theory of evolution.

    I figure, if the authors can’t get such a simple and important fact of history right, there is little chance they’ll get anything else right.

    David, do you plan to propose these texts for adoption in Texas?


  11. Dale says:

    C. David Parsons.
    C. David Parsons select text on his computer screen.
    C. David Parsons skillfully perform the ‘copy’ maneuver.
    C. David Parsons search the entire freeking internet for blog posts with ‘evolution’.
    C. David Parsons creatively perform the ‘paste’ maneuver.
    C. David Parsons as not engaging with anyone in real discussion!!!





    The reason is elementary: the Discovery Institute and other ID proponents leave out the Triune God, Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Hence, Richard Dawkins can make the case for “aliens” seeding the earth.

    The Quest for Right, a series of 7 textbooks created for the public schools, represents the ultimate marriage between an in-depth knowledge of biblical phenomena and natural and physical sciences. The several volumes have accomplished that which, heretofore, was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who desire a return to physical science in the classroom and those who embrace the theory of evolution. The Quest for Right turns the tide by providing an authoritative and enlightening scientific explanation of natural phenomena which will ultimately dethrone the unprofitable Darwinian view.

    “I am amazed at the breadth of the investigation – scientific history, biblical studies, geology, biology, geography, astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, and so forth – and find the style of writing to be quite lucid and aimed clearly at a general, lay audience.” ― Mark Roberts, former Editor of Biblical Reference Books, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

    The Quest for Right series of books, based on physical science, the old science of cause and effect, has effectively dismantled the quantum additions to the true architecture of the atom. Gone are the nonexistent particles once thought to be complementary to the electron and proton (examples: neutrons, neutrinos, photons, mesons, quarks, Z’s, bosons, etc.) and a host of other pseudo particles.

    To the curious, scientists sought to explain Atomic theory by introducing fantastic particles that supposedly came tumbling out of the impact between two particles, when in fact, the supposed finds were simply particulate debris. There are only two elementary particles which make up the whole of the universe: the proton and electron. All other particles were added via quantum magic and mathematical elucidation in an attempt to explain earthly phenomena without God.

    Introducing the scheme of coincidence, which by definition, “is the systematic ploy of obstructionists who, in lieu of any divine intervention, state that any coincidental grouping or chance union of electrons and protons (and neutrons), regardless of the configuration, always produces a chemical element. This is the mischievous tenet of electron interpretation which states that all physical, chemical, and biological processes result from a change in the electron structure of the atom which, in turn, may be deciphered through the orderly application of mathematics, as outlined in quantum mechanics. A few of the supporting theories are: degrading stars, neutron stars, black holes, extraterrestrial water, antimatter, the absolute dating systems, and the big bang, the explosion of a singularity infinitely smaller than the dot of an “i” from which space, time, and the massive stellar bodies supposedly sprang into being.

    The Quest for Right is not only better at explaining natural phenomena, but also may be verified through testing. As a consequence, the material in the several volumes will not violate the so-called constitutional separation of church and state. Physical science, the old science of cause and effect, will have a long-term sustainability, replacing irresponsible doctrines based on whim. Teachers and students will rejoice in the simplicity of earthly phenomena when entertained by the new discipline.

    The Quest for Right.


  13. Dale says:

    Hi there,
    I must say that – though ‘design’ ideas do come through, of course, the DVD ‘the Privileged Planet’ is far from ‘creationism’ of any kind. I don’t know why Stuff ran the anti-evolution headline that they did – maybe for hits/comments?


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