Caldwell’s “non-Religious” anti-Evolution Materials

A small victory for Larry Caldwell, the California lawyer who believes he has a right to dictate science education in his school district. Caldwell is an anti-evolutionist, and his Quality Science Education for All was set up to promote

a science education that exposes students to the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

Eugenie Scott wrote an attack on Caldwell’s aims and methods, which Caldwell considered to be libellous. The latest California Wild magazine (published by the California Academy of Sciences) now carries a retraction by Scott of some of her accusations, and a response by Caldwell:

Contrary to false statements and implications in Scott’s article, I never asked the district to ban or limit the teaching of evolution in biology classes, or to present the Bible or the Genesis account of creation in biology classes, or to teach creation science, or young-earth creation, or intelligent design theory in biology classes, and our district’s board of trustees never considered implementing any such policy for its biology classes. Contrary to Scott’s claim, our board also never “declared that . . . [any] creationist materials would be ‘recommended’ but not required.”

So it seems from this Caldwell is really just interested in science, and not religion at all. But a prior paragraph suggests otherwise:

The only materials I submitted for adoption and use in classrooms in our district were a video entitled Icons of Evolution Curriculum Modules, and written materials authored by Cornelius G. Hunter, who holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Illinois. The Icons Modules video consists of a discussion of five scientific weaknesses of Darwinian evolution by well-credentialed scientists, including, ironically, Eugenie Scott herself defending Darwin’s theory. Dr. Hunter’s written materials are contained in a Power Point presentation Dr. Hunter made to our science teachers. His Power Point presentation consists of Dr. Hunter’s critique of the District’s biology textbook’s discussion of evolution and suggested written materials to be used in conjunction with the textbook.

Icons of Evolution  is very well-known, and was written as a book by Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute. His work was inspired by Rev Moon, as he explains on the True Parents Organisation website:

Father’s [i.e. Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism…When I finished my Yale Ph.D., I felt confident that I understood the theological basis of the conflict between Darwinism and theism.

The book from which the Icons video is derived was not, of course, scientifically peer-reviewed, and was published by the right-wing publishing house Regnery.

Hunter’s 2001 PhD was entitled Protein structure analysis and prediction (via the University of Illinois library catalogue), but he is better known as the author of Darwin’s God, published by the evangelical Brazos Press, in which he claims

the theory of evolution, from its origins with Charles Darwin up to its present-day proponents, is motivated at bottom by theological concerns. Behind the scientific story is the story of Charles Darwin’s grappling with questions about God, reality, and the nature of the universe. Ultimately, Hunter shows how Darwin’s inability to reconcile his understanding of a benevolent God with the cruelty, waste, and quandaries of nature led him to develop the theodicy called evolution. Importantly, the tale Hunter has to tell is not merely historical. He demonstrates how today’s theory of evolution continues to rely on Darwin’s metaphysics.

Doubtless it is this argumentation, rather than anything derived from Hunter’s study of protein structure, which Caldwell believes qualifies Hunter to critique the biology textbooks currently in use.

So, two religiously-motivated scientists known only for books published by non-scientific and ideologically conservative publishing houses. And just why do they deserve to have the law step in to ensure that their opinions are taught in science classes? Caldwell explains:

The science statements made in the Icons Modules video and Dr. Hunter’s slide show presentation are supported by meticulous citations to peer-reviewed articles in mainstream science journals, and Dr. Hunter’s Power Point presentation and the Icons Modules video have been endorsed by a number of university professors and other scientists.

There. Caldwell’s materials may not have been peer-reviewed, but they do mention peer-reviewed works in them, which is just as good. Plus some other scientists and professors (who may be friends and co-ideologists with Wells and Hunter, but that doesn’t matter) liked them.

UPDATE: I’m always happy to get feedback from someone on the inside; Cornelius Hunter and Larry Caldwell respond in the comments.