On Wes Elsberry’s blog, there is a fascinating transcript of John Buell’s testimony vis-à-vis the Dover case. I had never read nor heard about it before. Forget about the larger picture of the Dover trial and just read it with this line of thought. Buell is the President of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics. That is the outfit behind the publication of The Design of Life and Of Pandas and People. The latter, of course, was front stage at the Dover trial, and now, sadly, is probably best known for the fact that it has introduced the transitional fossil cdesign proponentsists into the vernacular. Sigh. Perhaps it is well and good that when Christians set out to deceive, we are not very competent. At least that’s something.
Anyway, Buell’s testimony, under cross examination, reveals this about FTE’s raison d'etre:
- The FTE provides documentation to the IRS indicating that its primary exempt purpose is promoting and publishing textbooks presenting a Christian perspective.
- That the FTE was incorporated with goals both religious and educational, and FTE seeks to make known the Christian gospel and understanding of the Bible.
- The and FTE fundraising document states that “The Foundation for Thought and Ethics has been established to introduce Biblical perspective into the mainstream of America’s humanistic society, confronting the secular thought of modern man with the truth of God’s word.”
- In a letter, written after the publishing Pandas, Buell wrote: “Our commitment is to see the monopoly of naturalistic curriculum in the schools broken. Presently school curriculum reflects a deep hostility to traditional Christian views and values, and indoctrinates students to this mindset through subtle but persuasive arguments.”
- Buell, in trying to find a legitimate publishing house for Pandas, projects an explosive market for Pandas, should it come to pass that the Supreme Court would permit state mandated teaching of creationism in public schools. (The Supreme Court, by the way, did not.)
Now, I would say that while none of this is really my cup of tea, I have no problem, except a nebulous unsavory feeling, with FTE as described by the bulleted list above. I guess I would characterize FTE, as described above, as well-intentioned but misguided.
No, the problem with FTE and John Buell is that (read the testimony) he runs away, as fast as he can, from the description above. Why? So that he can pretend that Pandas and its proponents and its publishing are all about science, and nothing about religion. No sir, no religion here. The unintentional religious talk is blamed on, among other things, lawyers using standard boilerplate.
That, in a nutshell, is what I hate so much about the ID movement. The “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” tactic. It’s wrong because it necessarily presupposes that the world is stupid. And it is especially wrong because it disavows (though not sincerely—and I couldn’t say if that is better or worse) its noble goal of spreading the gospel.