Book Review: Slaughter of the Dissidents
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth about Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters
by Dr. Jerry Bergman
(Leafcutter Press, 2008, 477 pages)
If Ben Stein's 2008 documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was the tip, then Dr. Jerry Bergman's Slaughter of the Dissidents is the rest of the iceberg. With clarity and thoroughness, Bergman provides detailed accounts of 17 of the over 300 scientists and educators he has interviewed, all of whom have advanced degrees. Though their views range from creation science to intelligent design to evolution, all of them expressed some doubt regarding neo-Darwinism, observing that selection of mutations is not creating life's diversity. And all of them have received some form of discrimination.
Dr. Bergman has observed that evolutionary elitists incorrectly lump all "Darwin Doubters" into one group, "creationists," who are then categorically ridiculed. Though highly qualified, these scientists and educators are verbally and physically threatened, lose privileges, lose opportunities for promotion, and lose jobs and whole careers, just for expressing some measure of doubt about the standard evolutionary story.
One example is Rodney LeVake, the only high school biology teacher in his Faribault, Minnesota, public school with a master's degree in biology, who was displaced in 1998 strictly for the inadequacies he noticed in evolution. His school administration required (only) him to write a "position paper," wherein LeVake noted that "life's complexity and the fossil record do not support the theory of macroevolution" (p. 217). Another biology teacher stated that evolution "is a fact like gravity, and a teacher who questions Darwinism is blatantly incompetent and should be fired" (p. 220). LeVake made it clear that he was "not interested in teaching creationism in biology class" (p. 219), but he was reassigned to teach chemistry. In June 2000, the Rice County District Court ruled that LeVake "has no constitutional right to teach his proposed criticisms of evolutionary theory, though they may be scientifically meritorious" (p. 221).
Dr. Bergman points out that if teachers were required to believe all that they teach, then history teachers would have to believe Marxism and Christianity when those subjects are covered, and religion teachers would have to believe all the different religions that they survey. Bergman quotes legal scholar Francis Beckwith's opinion that "since the court concedes that Mr. LeVake's reassignment was based on his beliefs, an act that is de facto unconstitutional, therefore, the Court should have ruled in his favor on these grounds" (pp. 223-224).
The purpose of Slaughter is to call us to "recognize that the pendulum has swung too far away from a reasonable center and against Christians." It is "a plea that readers and supporters will work to move the pendulum toward…accommodation of Darwin skeptics in line with the principles of a free and just society" (p. 15). Slaughter firmly verifies the theme of Expelled, that our rights to free speech are being taken away. When freedom of speech is revoked from one group, then the precedent is set to revoke it from others. Who knows what group will be targeted next for academic "slaughter," and who knows when the "slaughtering" will expand beyond academia? Slaughter calls us to do the work of defending the innocent now, before such a task grows monumental or even impossible.
With a total of 477 pages, Slaughter contains 386 pages that recount and analyze cases of discrimination, a useful index, and a 68-page bibliography. The second volume will detail the means by which discrimination is carried out, and the third will focus specifically on cataloging censorship. Slaughter provides ample evidence that "Darwin fundamentalists," a phrase penned by Stephen J. Gould, are determined to punish others who do not agree with their beliefs.
Well-documented, well-referenced, and well-analyzed, Slaughter of the Dissidents presents a clarion wake-up call for those who are interested in freedom.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.
Cite this article: Thomas, B. 2008. Book Review: Slaughter of the Dissidents. Acts & Facts. 37 (11): 19.