Monday, April 30, 2007
It's Only a Theory
Luskin complains that "the school district entered into a lose-lose-lose settlement" when it agreed to permanently remove the disclaimer stickers it placed on biology textbooks there, promised not to make any disclaimers about evolution in the future, and paid the plaintiff's court costs.
How, asks Luskin, can you be wrong to say evolution is only a theory, when it clearly is a theory?
Luskin cites as evidence that the school board was wrong to settle a law review note by a student published in Temple Journal of Science Technology & Environmental Law.
Perhaps the Cobb County school board went with the advice of their own attorneys on the prospects of winning in the case in court -- they lost in the initial ruling -- rather than take the word, as Luskin does, of a law student.
Since the Discovery Institute bailed on the Dover school board in its moment of need the board may have felt that Luskin's grudging rhetorical support for the disclaimer just wasn't enough to risk a second judgement from the court.
But that's only a theory.
PA School Considers Bible Course
The school board, voted 9-0 to give the course tentative approval earlier this month. Final approval is expected May 9.
"What we're going to do is study the Bible academically," says Northern Lebanon School District Superintendent Don Bell.
One of the best courses Red State Rabble ever took in graduate school used the Old Testament as one of several texts from ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome. We think there's nothing wrong with studying the Bible as long as that study doesn't slip into -- as it so often does -- the proselytizing of students by members of right-wing Christian sects.
And that's a danger here.
According to The Patriot News, Wentling says his interest in the Bible goes back to his childhood.
"It's part of my beliefs," he says. "That's something I'm going to have to be conscious of when I teach this as an academic subject."
The ACLU is monitoring the class.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Flock to Wichita
- Friday, May 4: Exploration Place at 6:30 p.m. Admission $5.00.
- Monday, May 7: CAC Theater on WSU campus at 7:00 p.m. Q & A with Randy Olson will follow the screening. Admission free.
More info here.
Kansas Education Commissioner: Back to the Future
That appointment drove many of the Education Department's professional staff, including Posny, to resign.
Now, Posny is one of five highly qualified finalists to replace Corkins.
The only question remaining is whether the new moderate school board majority -- and the rebuilding of the state's Education Department -- will survive the next election.
Kansas voters will be faced with a stark choice in 2008. Either move forward with educating kids or fight the battle over creationism in the curriculum a third time.
Which will it be?
WorldNetDaily loves the fact that some Christian fundamentalist pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills out of religious conviction, but they loathe Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis who refuse passengers who carry alcohol or use seeing eye dogs for the very same reason.
Seems that for fundamentalists of every stripe, one man's religious ritual is another's blasphemy.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Colin McGinn: The Atheism Tapes
Jonathan Miller interviews philosopher Colin McGinn about atheism and anti-Theism. The interview was done for the BBC series "A Brief History of Disbelief."
59th Skeptic's Circle
SMU: Blatantly and Unequivocally False
Jonathon Wells, a Discovery Institute fellow, Philipp Johnson and other ID and creationism proponents have asserted that there is no evidence of transitional intermediates between species in the fossil record and have inferred from this that a creator must have intervened. Their assertion is blatantly and unequivocally false. It's rock for goodness' sake. It's hard to ignore tons of rock with whale-like tetrapods, tetrapod-like whales, reptile-like birds, bird-like reptiles, fish with arm bones, and the many other transitional forms found in them over and over again without losing credibility.
Of course, if you believe, as Wells does, that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is Christ's heir, and that buying Moonie trinkets can make life easier in the afterlife for those who have already died, ignoring a few tons of rock isn't really that difficult.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Consolation of Philosophy
Naturally, there was some grousing from the philosophers among RSR's readership who don't believe proselytizing is quite the same as philosophizing, but for the most part they kept a stiff upper lip as they took one for the team.
That's why we wanted to link to this story, "Science, a Creation of God," by Gailon Totheroh on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Togheroh turns the usual Christian right rant against science and scientists as the spawn of Satan on its head by writing about scientists who were devout Christians.
Togheroh cites sociologist Rodney Stark as calculating "about 96 percent of innovators from the mid-1500s to 1700 were Christian believers. And the great majority of those-- 61 percent -- were devout Christians." (To achieve these figures, current fundamentalist opinion about who qualifies, and who does not, as a Christian, had to be broadened to include deists such as Isaac Newton.)
Amusingly, in Togheroh's revisionist view of the Christian origins of science -- the early Greeks and Muslims get short shrift here -- scientists aren't the god haters, it's those damn philosophers:
"The views of leading intellectuals like Hobbes, Voltaire, and Rousseau show that fields like philosophy were often the province of unbelievers ... "
He goes on to quote Henry Schaefer as saying, "You can give basically a library list of all the great contributors to philosophy, and they're all skeptics - skeptics, agnostics or atheists -- so it is clear that science has been a particularly Christian activity."
We don't know if that's a consolation for philosophers, or the consolation of philosophy, but there it is.
Scorecard: 21 distortions, 15 half-truths, and 10 untruths
Follow the link above to read more about the hilarity that ensued when a man who believes the earth is 6,000 years old tried to make the case that intelligent design is anything more than creationist fine print and legalese.
Frank Schmidt, an MU biochemistry professor, said he counted "21 distortions 15 half-truths and 10 untruths" in Marshall’s 45-minute presentation.
"What you are doing is cloaking a narrow definition of Christianity, which I find personally offensive, as some sort of scientific truth," Schmidt said. "And that is what really hacks me off."
Schmidt questioned Marshall about whether intelligent design proposes a testable prediction, as he said real scientific theory does, or if it simply says that we can’t understand everything. When Marshall would not directly answer the question, Schmidt turned and left the
auditorium, saying Marshall should not "pretend to be objective."
A Brief History of Disbelief II
However, the IHS broadcast calendar currently lists just three PBS affiliates that will be airing this important program:
- KPTS in Wichita will air the program on May 5, 12, and 19 at 11:00 p.m. (well after the children are in bed.)
- WBRA in Roanoke will air it on May 8, 15, and 22 at 7:00 p.m.
- WIPB in Muncie will air all three episodes beginning at 1:00 p.m. on May 7.
RSR is grateful to have been able to view the program online, but this highly sophisticated look at disbelief, which may now be embraced by 1 in 10 Americans, deserves a far wider showing than can be afforded by the web and three PBS stations.
We encourage readers to take a look at Miller's insightful presentation on the web and then insist that your local PBS affiliate agree to air the program, as well. We'll start the ball rolling by listing the contact information for a number of PBS affiliates in this area:
- KCPT, Channel 19 in Kansas City, MO
- KTWU, Channel 11 in Topeka, KS -- 1-800-866-5898
- SHPTV, Channel 9 in Bunker Hill, KS
- OETA, Channel 11 in Oklahoma City, OK
- Ozarks Public Television, Channel 21 in Springfield, MO
- NET1, Channel 12 in Lincoln, NE
- Rocky Mountain PBS, Channel 6 in Denver, CO
Please send you local affiliate a pleasant little note letting them know how much you'd appreciate seeing "A History of Disbelief" aired.
Note to skeptical bloggers: Please help spread the word about the program on your blog or discussion board and encourage your readers to contact PBS affiliates in your area to air the program.
Sign of the Times
New board Chair Bill Wagnon says all five candidates for Education Commissioner "have demonstrated experience in education management."
That wasn't the case with the old board, which chose Bob Corkins, an anti-tax lobbyist with no experience or training in the field of education as commissioner.
Before he resigned abruptly after moderates won a majority on the board, Corkins nearly decimated the professional staff at the Dept. of Education.
Let the rebuilding process begin.
We thought it was important enough to pull out of the comments section and post here. Who knows, Connie Morris and Kathy Martin are fascinated by prebiotic soup, maybe they'll actually read something about it.
Here's the link.
Santorum Gets Back to his Roots
That brings the right-winger -- he was the chief spokesman for intelligent design in the Senate -- full circle. Santorum originally honed his political skills and plotted strategy as a lobbyist for the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
A Brief History of Disbelief
Update: We've removed the slow-loading embed of Episode 1 of Jonathan Miller's inspiring BBC television program "A Brief History of Disbelief," and replaced it with a shorter, faster loading YouTube of Episode 1 Part 1.
This is the best thing we've seen yet on skepticism and we strongly recommend watching all three hour-long episodes. Here are the links:
In the sidebar, check out the excerpt titled Myth of a Christian Nation from Episode 1.
We were tipped off to "A Brief History of Disbelief," which will air on selected PBS stations in early May, by PZ Myers Pharyngula blog.
RSR also recommends Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Michael Hecht.
"Hecht's poetical prose beautifully dramatizes the struggle between belief and denial, in terms of historical currents and individual wrestlings with the angel," says Publishers Weekly. "Doubt is revealed to be the subtle stirring that has precipitated many of the more widely remembered innovations in politics, religion and science, such as medieval Jewish philosopher Gersonides's doubt of Ptolemaic cosmology 200-300 years before Copernicus, Kepler or Galileo. The breadth of this work is stunning in its coverage of nearly all extant written history."
Bible Display Barred
Creationist Logic 101
A recent letter to Birmingham Press-Register about a visit to Ken Ham's Flintstone Museum and Gift Shop illustrates the reasons why acceptance of a teleological approach to study of the natural world acts as a set of blinders preventing creationists from seeing the world as it truly is:
"Yes, the museum believes the biblical account of creation ("intelligent design") because God's word says it, but it also gives you the scientific evidence from real scientists, which shows the evidence for design and the scientific facts that do not support 'natural selection.'"Captured in this one short sentence are all the things about creationism in its various forms that turn logic on its head:
- Despite all the carefully crafted denials and fine print from Discovery's legal team, true believers understand that intelligent design is identical with the biblical account of creation found in Genesis.
- They believe the biblical account not because of any scientific evidence, but because "God's word says it."
- They assume without evidence that there is a God and that they, and they alone, understand him.
- Having adopted this belief, they blind themselves to the abundant evidence provided by a study of the natural world, or distort the meaning of that evidence.
- Fundamentalist preachers, often with no more than a bogus degree from an unaccredited bible college, call themselves "real" scientists and the gullible fall for it.
- The scientific facts that do not support natural selection are often alluded to, but never enumerated.
Having embraced a belief system for which there is exactly zero empirical evidence, they cry endlessly about various gaps in the fossil record and demand that scientists supply ever more evidence, which the creationists will never bother to read anyway.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
A Dispassionate Weighing of the Relevant Evidence
Suddenly, as Marshall tells it, he found it hard to "reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis, the biblical account of how God created the earth and everything on it in six days."
Following his conversion it became apparent to Marshall that there are gaps, holes, missing pieces in -- no, not Genesis -- Darwin's theory of evolution. He became a proponent of intelligent design, the view that there are some natural systems that cannot be adequately explained by natural forces, and therefore must be the result of ID," according to The Columbia Missourian.
And, although the number of intelligent design activists who are not biblical literalists is roughly equivalent to the number of politicians in heaven, Marshall assures us "that belief in intelligent design does not necessarily require adherence to a religious doctrine."
RNA and the Origins of Life
The list of speakers includes Dr. Harry Noller of UC Santa Cruz who will speak on the "Origin of the Ribosome: The Cell's Protein Factory," Dr. Norman Pace of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who will discuss the "Origin of the Eukaryotic Cell," Dr. Ronald Breaker of Yale University, who will adress "Regulatory RNA: Evolution in Test Tube" Dr. Michael Russell of JPL Caltech, who will speak on "Evolution of First Cell: Biogeochemical conditions on early Earth," and Dr. Katsura Asano, of Kansas State University.
According to the event organizers, studies on the origins of life have recently made three major breakthroughs:
- First, the recent discovery that the ribosome is a ribozyme has demonstrated that an RNA molecule can catalyze protein synthesis or translation, an essential part of reactions leading to gene expression. This strengthens the case for RNA as the basis of first life, “RNA world”. Studies on RNA-based machines including ribozymes and riboswitches have provided clues to potential ancient genetic and biochemical reactions. These reactions may have preceded the present form of life that is based on DNA information transmission and protein-mediated enzymatic activities.
- Second, genome sequence information from diverse organisms on earth has clarified the deepest roots of divergence of life and distinguished the three major Domains of life, the Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya.. In addition sequence information has allowed us to deduce a set of genes believed to have been present in the last common ancestor. Strikingly, these genes do not include membrane lipid synthesis genes. This lack may explain why the membrane lipid composition of Archaea is totally different from that of Bacteria or Eukarya. Does it mean that the last common ancestor was not bound by lipid membranes? If so, what did the first cell look like?
- Third, the discovery of a unique ecosystem around the alkaline hydrothermal vents on the deep ocean floor in 2001 has given a boost to the idea that life originated at such a location. Laboratory conditions mimicking the alkaline hydrothermal vents lead to the production of simple organic compounds such as amino acids and peptides. So such sites are an excellent candidate for the origin of life: they are protected from the intense UV irradiation and catastrophic meteorite impacts that characterized the early earth. Hydrothermal vents also produce the redox gradients that could have been exploited for energy by early chemosynthetic organisms.
You can register for the symposium here.
Military to Recognize Wiccans
The settlement came as the result of a lawsuit filed by Americans United on behalf of Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2005; Karen DePolito, whose husband, Jerome Birnbaum, is a veteran of the Korean War who died last year; Circle Sanctuary, a prominent Wiccan congregation; Jill Medicine Heart Combs, whose husband is severely ill; and the Isis Invicta Military Mission, a Wiccan and Pagan congregation serving military personnel.
Surely this victory for religious freedom will be welcomed by the Christian right. Right?
Yabba Dabba Doo
"The 217 staff members in the Answers in Genesis ministry believe that God created the world in six 24-hour days on a planet just 6,000 years old," According to Ryan Clark of the Louisville Courier-Journal. "They believe the Grand Canyon was formed not by erosion over millions of years, but by floodwaters from the biblical Great Flood in a matter of days or weeks. "
Janet Browne at Harvard
What Would Be Wrong With Teaching 2+2=5?
Monday, April 23, 2007
Egnorance Exposed (Yet Again)
True Colors: Discovery and the Far Right
But the truth is that Discovery, while condemning repression in the past, has joined with anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant extremist groups in the present whose intolerance and xenophobia are reminiscent of the Nazis before they came to power. In the latest example, Discovery, along with James Dobson's Focus on the Family, is sponsoring the World Congress of Families next month in Warsaw.
According to The Baltimore Sun, members of the European Parliamentary Working Group on Separation of Religion and Politics say that several people scheduled to speak at the three-day conference have taken positions that clash with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.
One scheduled conference speaker for example, Steven W. Mosher, of the Population Research Institute, is notorious for asserting that Muslims and other immigrants are contributing to the "demographic destruction" of Europe. A claim that echoes soberingly with Nazi propaganda against Jews and Gypsies during the Holocaust. The victims may have changed, but the message remains the same.
The opening address is to be given by Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who has called homosexuals "perverts" and who has been accused by Human Rights Watch of sanctioning "official homophobia."
Yet another speaker, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, has publicly accused Jews of controlling the abortion-rights movement and calling sniper attacks on doctors who perform abortions “a superb tactic,” according to Catholics for Free Choice.
Fr. Peter Skarga, of Poland, will represent the Association for Christian Culture, whose chairman gave a speech in October 2004 during which he vehemently opposed the European Constitution's Charter of Fundamental Rights claiming that “the equality of sexes in all areas shall lead to the obliteration of traditional and natural social roles of men and women.”
Austin Ruse, another conference speaker who is president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute has said when he was at the United Nations for a speech by Hilliary Clinton, a priest from the Holy See "offered me guaranteed absolution if I just took her out—and not on a date.”
Intelligent design, far from being scientific as its proponents claim, is really part of a far-right movement whose ultimate aim is the overthrow of a free, democratic, open society. Like Big Brother they're adept at manipulating democratic ideals, such as freedom of speech, while they work tirelessly behind the scenes to undermine the institutions that support our Constitutional rights. They must be opposed.
Arkansas: Science Textbooks Approved
Most of the supplementary materials were from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based intelligent design advocacy group.
Mission From God
That's why he's considering filing a $20,000 suit against the Bentonville Library for putting for The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman back on the shelves.
"For some reason, God placed this burden on me, and I will follow God’s plan to preserve a sense of decency in our public libraries," Adams wrote in an e-mail to a Daily Record reporter Friday afternoon. "The responsible adults in our community need to ban together and protect our children from the self destructive paths that have been paved by the immoral counterculture that dominates our legal and educational institutions."
Adams must not have cable. What will he do when he finds "The L Word" is on television?
Dr. Dino Denied
In January, Hovind was found guilty on 58 federal counts, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jo Hovind was convicted of 44 counts of evading bank-reporting requirements. She will face sentencing soon.
Hovind thought the evidence against him was as thin as the evidence for evolution, but he's still going to do 10 years hard time.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Nebraska Creationism Class Removed From Science Dept.
The Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education has decided to "change the prefix of the course to philosophy to better reflect the nature of the subject matter," according to academic programs officer Dr. Kathleen L. Fimple.
According to the McCook Daily Gazette, the course was to have included:
- The age of the earth, the earth's beginning, and where the earth is heading
- The Garden of Eden and life on earth before the flood and the major changes which have taken place since that time
- Dinosaurs in the past as well as in the present
- The flood, ice ages, mountain formation, coal and oil formation, and the Grand Canyon
- History of evolution through the ages and the effect it has had on the world as well as many very influential people
- What is taught in school textbooks, without factual supportive evidence?
What is taught without factual supportive evidence? All of the above.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Mousetrap for the New Millenia
The post even features a photo of Michael Behe presenting a PowerPoint slide of a "A Natural Molecular Motor."
RSR doesn't like to nitpick, but we much would have preferred to see the slide Behe presented of a radio falling from the upper floors of an apartment building to embed itself in the dashboard of a car below which, we are told, is a model -- a mousetrap for the new millenia, if you will -- for how God put ribosomes with a similar molecular makeup into both bacteria and humans.
What Does William Dembski Really Believe About Common Descent?
Casey Luskin, in particular, likes to point out that not every Discovery fellow believes the earth is just 6,000 years old. Few Discovery fellows, if Luskin is to be believed, spend their Sundays speaking in tongues, their holy spirit antennae raised to the sky. There are some, if not many, who believe in certain limited aspects of evolution. There are even a few daring enough to believe in common descent.
The list of names invoked by Luskin of those who hold these enlightened views -- views marginally at odds with orthodox young or old earth creationism -- is invariably limited. The usual suspects almost never extending much past Michael Behe, David Berlinski, Anthony Flew, or William Dembski.
That's why RSR perked up when we read this post by Dembski on his Uncommon Descent blog about a poster held up by student protesters at the recent Discovery Darwin vs. Design road show at SMU:
The poster read “Why do the ribosomes (protein synthesizing machinery) in our mitochondria match those of bacteria?” The intent behind this question was to suggest that we evolved from bacterial ancestors, [emphasis added, RSR] whose remnants in us are the mitochondria and, presumably, their ribosomes, which the poster asserts “match” those of bacteria.
Since I’m happy for the sake of argument to allow common descent... [empasis added]
So, here's the question: Does Dembski really accept the evidence for common descent, or does he merely "allow" it as a rhetorical device? Is the notion that there's any fundamental difference between biblical literalism and intelligent design merely an illusionist's slight of hand? Did Dembski forget, for a moment, to pull his ID tuxedo over his creationist bib overalls?
Luskin will surely tell us. The only question is how many installments it will take him to convey the message.
Added Bonus: For a man who frowns at moral laxity, the title of Brother Bill's post, "Mitochondrial ribosomes — Define 'match'” provides an amusing echo of Bill Clinton's famous "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."
PS: You can read Dembski's assertion -- modeled after Alberto Gonzales' various denials that politics had anything to do with the U.S. Attorney firings -- that ID is perfectly compatible with common descent, here.
All That Glitters is not Gold
Answer: Anything but evidence.
Statements like this, from Roger Parks, a Spanish lecturer at SMU, "mainstream science has chosen, a priori, to ignore massive evidence... of a designer, or creator... " tease the reader with the promise that some small portion of that massive evidence will be enumerated in the following sentences and paragraphs.
But, that promise, like the proverbial check that's in the mail, is never, ever forthcoming.
If you take a biology class, read a scientific book about evolution, or attend a public lecture by a working scientist, you will be treated to cross section views of geological strata and the characteristic fossil flora and fauna associated with each. You will be shown fossils. You may be shown slides showing the evolutionary history of genes that document common ancestry in widely separated species of animals.
In short, as thunder follows lightning, you will be provided with evidence that you can hold in your hand and see with your own eyes.
You will get none of that at a Discovery Institute event such as the Darwin vs. Design prayer session at SMU.
Test it for yourself. Next time you hear a supporter of intelligent design tell you about all the "massive evidence" look closely at what follows immediately after. You will get one of five things:
- The bald, unsupported assertion that it's just too, too complex to have happened without the intervention of a designer.
- Some blather about gaps in the fossil record.
- A long lecture on the amorality of atheism or "Darwinism."
- A piece of evidence, such as the bacterial flagellum that's interpreted one way by scientists who actually work in the field and another ID "theorists" who are almost without exception lawyers, philosophers, theologians, or engineers who can't tell an opsin gene from a hole in the ground.
- Or, some mention of Mt. Rushmore, a mouse trap, or the fantastic "micromachinery" found inside the cell.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Darwin vs. Design: The Evidence is (Th)In
While it's almost surely true that given enough time monkeys pounding randomly on keyboards might one day produce a Shakespeare play, all the Casey Luskins, Anika Smiths, Michael Egnors, Bruce Chapmans, John Wests, and a thousand more just like them, will never be able to cover all the crap emanating from the Discovery Institute.
Despite all their apparent industry, they've been unable to prevent the stink of these these little absurdities from reaching the public nose over their Darwin vs. Design road show and gospel hour at SMU:
- After loudly calling "Darwinists" cowards for being unwilling to debate at SMU, it came to light that Discovery quietly turned down a debate challenge from Ken Ueda, a sophomore math, physics and philosophy major there.
- Discovery howled their right to free speech was endangered by SMU faculty who objected to the perception of an association between the university and Discovery. Then they turned around and called the cops on student protesters who handed out leaflets and displayed posters during a silent protest at the conference.
- Discovery promised "astonishing scientific evidence." It delivered a talk by Lee Strobel identifying the designer as the God of the Bible.
- They also guaranteed us "astounding implications," and here, for a change, they delivered. Michael Behe told the crowd that ID theory can't explain the similarity between protein synthesizing machinery in human mitochondria and those of bacteria. Perhaps, Behe ventured, there is no good reason. Perhaps they just landed there by chance -- like a radio falling from the upper floors of an apartment into the dashboard of a car.
And now there's more coming out. Blogger Zach Moore, who has a PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine, attended the conference. And, he's written a couple of long, lovingly detailed posts on the conference here.
Here's what Moore has to say:
Stephen Meyer, writes Moore, is a likable, charismatic guy who exudes an air of intelligence. Although he's a philosopher, not a scientist, Meyer did a better job with the science than other speakers, but still appeared out of his element. In essence, Meyer made a philosophical appeal couched in scientific language.
On the evening that Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator, made his presentation, Moore, detected "a slight air of a revival." He even caught a few "Amens" echoing through the audience when speakers made a point about science proving God's existence.
Jay Richards, who has a doctoral degree in philosophy and theology though not astronomy, did "nothing but speak authoritatively about astronomy." Richards spent most of his time making a fine tuning argument whose "major premise seems to be an obvious non sequitur leading into a tautology -- discovery isn't possible without the existence of sentient organisms to do the discovering, which would require the existence of habitable locations in the Universe."
By the way, if you're still interested in those student protesters, Moore reports them to be "about as tranquil and unassuming as protesters can be."
Like WMD in Iraq, astonishing scientific evidence, with or without astounding implications, was hard to come by at the Darwin vs. Design conference. On the other hand, there was a super abundance of evidence that intelligent design, even with the slickest of spinning, is nothing more than a right-wing religious movement that seeks to replace science with fundamentalist Christianity.
Many of the SMU presentations were identical to those presented at the Louisville Darwin vs. Design conference. Moore refers to Jason Rosenhouse's reports on that conference, which can be read here.
Sophistry: Piling It Higer
Eckard, who describes himself as a Christian, doesn't want to teach creationism or intelligent design, oh no, he says, all he wants is for students to be exposed to "the scientific evidence that both supports and refutes evolution."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Discovery's SMU Debate Dodge Exposed
- April 13: Discovery Institute scientists offered a real debate... We sent an invitation to the heads of the departments of biology, geological sciences, and Wetherington's own department of anthropology. Wetherington's department declined due to a scheduling conflict, but the other two did not respond at all.
- April 10: Discovery's Bruce Chapman and John West ask in a Dallas Morning News OpEd, "Are the Darwinists afraid to debate us? We want a discussion of ideas."
- April 8: "... the faculty don't want to engage in public debate on the issue. Fine, we'll proceed as originally planned. Likewise at future conferences we will plan them as educational events primarily, but will remain open to considering options to include public debates."
Despite all the public posturing about a debate, we've now learned that "Darwinist" students at SMU offered to debate the ID brain trust at the conference, but were turned down.
And the proof, like evidence in the Justice Dept. scandal over the firing of U.S. Attorneys who weren't loyal Bushies, is contained in e-mails that are now available online.
The first is from Ken Ueda, sophomore math, physics and philosophy major at SMU, to Sarah Levy of the Christian Legal Society, the group that sponsored the Discovery event at SMU:
I have heard that the Discovery Institute has supposedly invited some of the faculty of SMU to debate against intelligent design. I have also heard from members of the SMU faculty that none of them plan on attending so I was wondering if I may speak on their behalf. All I ask is for really a small amount of time on stage so I may refute their claims and I think that isn't too much to ask since the conference is 2 days and I'm sure they will have plenty of time to argue against me.
Here's the eventual reply from Discovery's Anika Smith (we have shortened her response for reasons of space without changing the meaning, but you can read the whole e-mail exchange here and decide for yourself):
It is true that we invited representatives from the anthropology, biology, and geology departments at SMU to debate our speakers as fellow scientists and peers... While I understand your desire to present your view for 15 minutes, the format does not allow the time or the patience for the audience to do so. I suggest that you attend the conference with your questions and really stick it to the speakers during the Q & A... hopefully the Q & A will be engaging and provocative."
Well that is strange because I believe the reporter from the Dallas Morning News revealed that the Q&A session will be pre-screened. If this is true, I wonder how is it even possible to "really stick it to the speakers" if they are able to dodge the more important questions.
Ueda reports that Smith did not respond to this last e-mail and he poses the following question: "So who's doing the censoring?"
Denied the opportunity to debate the ID theorists, the students printed up leaflets and posters and went to the conference anyway. Apparently the questions posed on those leaflets and posters were so provocative that Discovery tried to rip them from the student's hands, eventually calling SMU's finest to escort some from the conference hall.
Board Narrows Field of Commissioner Candidates
Book Ban Supporters Go Down to Defeat
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut's great book about the Dresden fire bombing was among the nine books a board member proposed dropping from classroom use last year.
"Somewhere, Kurt Vonnegut is smiling," write the Chicago Sun Times staff writers who covered the story.
In fact, all opponents of censorship are smiling over this victory.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Discovery Calls Police on Student Protesters at SMU
Now here's the best part: Remember all the crying from Discovery about censorship when faculty members protested having the conference on campus, and all the chest thumping about how "Darwinists" were afraid to debate the ID geniuses?
Here's what happened when the students showed up with their posters and fliers for the silent protest:
The students, who call the Discovery event more of an "indoctrination seminar" than a conference, report that Lee Strobel, the first speaker said "he believed the world's creator and designer was the 'God of the Bible.'"
We began handing out fliers and were receiving mixed reviews - until a tall, lanky, and toothy man jittered his way over to us and demanded to know who was handing out these fliers. We all took responsibility, and he began ripping the flyers out of our hands, saying that we could not distribute anything of the sort. I told him we paid to go to school here and that we were students who could walk anywhere on our campus, and that it just so happened that we walked into McFarlin, and it also just so happened that we had fliers to distribute.
He didn't take too kindly to that, and in two minutes' time, we had two police officers who all of a sudden had a real job to do watching us instead of sleeping the night away in the back. I'm sure if we had been distributing thank-you notes expressing our gratitude for the institute coming to our campus, he would've given us a warmer reception
"That's interesting," say the students, "seeing as how he said nothing of the God of the Jews, Muslims and other religions; apparently Christianity's God is the only one we have to believe in. And his entire speech dealt with differentiating atheists from Christians, where he seemed to use the word atheist as a synonym for 'Darwinist' or 'evolutionist.'"
Disappointed at not having heard any of the much promised evidence that supports ID theory, the students held up the signs:
- "Why do we have wisdom teeth if they do not fit our jaws?"
- "Why did it take 20 species of elephant to go extinct to get two species that survived?"
- "Why do the ribosomes (protein synthesizing machinery) in our mitochondria match those of bacteria?"
According to the student's report in the SMU Daily Campus News Michael Behe attempted to answer the question on ribosomes. Here's what he is reported to have said:
His answer was that ID theory does not allow for explanations regarding interspecies commonalities such as those implied in the question.
"In short," say the students, "his answer was that he couldn't explain it with ID theory."
Well, what can you explain with ID theory?
Here's Behe's description of how it might have happened according to the students:
... the Creator may have given humans similar ribosomes for no good reason. His logic was that when one sees a car with a radio, one can ask how that radio got there and there are many explanations. One such explanation was provided by Behe, and it was so very realistic: He said the radio could've fallen from an apartment and landed in the car, suggesting that a Creator could have simply thrown ribosomes all over the place, and they just landed in humans by chance.Behe, who said in his testimony at the Dover trial that redefining science to let intelligent design in would also open the door to occult sciences such as astrology, now apparently believes that design should be defined to allow for chance.
I wonder how that will sit with his fellow design theorists who seem above all to fear random and unguided processes.
When some members of the group attempted to move closer to the front, they were escorted from the hall by SMU's finest.
There's more, much more. The story is long, detailed, and highly satisfying. Don't fail to follow the link and read it for yourself.
Francis Goldshmid, Junior, Biology B.S., Chemistry B.A.; Nicolas Sanchez: Junior, Biology B.S., Italian minor; Jani Brackett, Junior, Biology B.S., German B.A.; Desiree Brooks, Sophomore, Biology B.S., Chemistry B.A.; Ati Nayeb, Junior, Phsycology major, Biology and Chemistry minors; Mahmud Shurafa, Biology and Spanish double major, Red State Rabble salutes you. Well done!
NYT: "Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter."
Chimps display a remarkable range of behavior and talent. They make and use simple tools, hunt in groups and engage in aggressive, violent acts. They are social creatures that appear to be capable of empathy, altruism, self-awareness, cooperation in problem solving and learning through example and experience. Chimps even outperform humans in some memory tasks.
Robin Ince on Creationism
UK Comedian Robin Ince talks about Creationism and Intelligent Design. From the show "Comedy Cuts."
Another sign of the Apocalypse?
Has this site gone extinct?
No Sense of Decency
Not so for Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham. Less than 24 hours after the killings he said:
“We live in an era when public high schools and colleges have all but banned God from science classes. In these classrooms, students are taught that the whole universe, including plants and animals — and humans — arose by natural processes. Naturalism (in essence, atheism) has become the religion of the day and has become the foundation of the education system (and Western culture as a whole). The more such a philosophy permeates the culture, the more we would expect to see a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness that pervades people’s thinking. In fact, the more a culture allows the killing of the unborn, the more we will see people treating life in general as ‘cheap.’
Students of history will recall that there never was a murder, torture, or war in the world until 1859 when Darwin published The Origin of Species. That's when all the violence started. Until then, the world was just brimming with purpose. Filled with hope.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A Page Right Out of History
We knew the lion laid down with the lamb, and all that. But we didn't know about the mastadon. If only the American Museum of Natural History had known about all this before they opened the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins.
Maher Than One Way to Skin a Cat
It won't happen again though.
"It was a good wake-up call for us," says Ham, "Our security crew is already taking measures – ahead of the museum's opening on May 28 – to prevent a reoccurrence."
Unique Doesn't Begin to Describe It
"The second floor of Discovery Express will house a unique history and science museum," say the PR materials from the museum.
And unique doesn't begin to describe it
" It will feature interactive exhibits designed for all ages. Guests will explore the days of creation, the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, and the Tower of Babel. There will be opportunities to learn how science and history confirm that the Bible is trustworthy and accurate in all that it teaches."
Hey kids, don't climb too high in that Tower of Babel.
Hat Tip to reader RF for calling the story to our attention.
Right On, Sisters!
Helphinstine, a brand-new teacher, introduced materials from a highly dubious source that proclaims its creationist agenda proudly. Those materials strayed from science into discussions of the eugenics movement and Nazi Germany.
Such topics would be wonderful grist for a sociology or history class, but they are not appropriate for a biology class. Oregon law is clear: public schools in Oregon must teach evolution. Helphinstine was not doing that.
The school board had to fire Helphinstine because he deviated far from the curriculum he was contracted to teach. He did so in a most sensitive area subject and without bothering to mention the deviation to his supervisor, Principal Bob Macauley.
Seeing and Believing
"The model of religious knowledge inverts that proverb and declares instead “Believing is seeing.” And that is why, as I have already acknowledged, teaching religion in the strong sense – the sense that would internalize its truths rather than study them – does not belong in the public schools."
I highly recommend Fish's columns in general and his recent writing about religion in particular. He brings to the subject what few other observers are able to -- finely honed reasoning skills.
Reader Warning: Don't look to Fish for easy answers. You won't find them there.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Join the Conversation on Science Education
Forum participants will discuss where Americans get their science information, the state of science literacy, what science education looks like today, and what it will look like in the future.
Special guests include Julie Holland, science education researcher with the Kauffman Foundation; Sue Gamble, Kansas State Board of Education; Sharon Spence, science curriculum coordinator for the Shawnee Mission School District; and Liz Craig, citizen science activist.
The discussion will be moderated by David Smith from KCConsensus.
April 19, 2007 from 7:00-8:30 PM Carmack Community Room of the Central Resource Library, 9875 W 87th Street, Overland Park, KS
Register by phone at 913-495-2497 or online.
BBC on Truth in Science, the British ID Group
The BBC asks, "Are zealots trying to infiltrate... "
He Can See Clearly
Looks like the old Discovery shell game isn't going over too well at SMU.
Kansas: Campaign Finance Disclosure Weakened
At the end of the regular session earlier this month, lawmakers had passed five provisions on campaign disclosure and government ethics -- one benefiting voters and four relaxing restrictions on politicians and state employees.The state received a grade of F from the Campaign Disclosure Project, a collaboration of the UCLA School of Law, the Center for Governmental Studies, and the California Voter Foundation, supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Their study reported:
Access to campaign finance data in Kansas is still well below average, and there is much room for improvement in this area. Because the Governmental Ethics Commission currently data-enters filings, it takes up to two months for that information to be made available on the Internet, though the agency reports it plans to scan and post filings within two days in 2006. Itemized expenditure data is currently not available on the web site at all. While several other states actually decreased the cost of paper copies of campaign finance
reports this year, the Secretary of State’s office continues to charge a relatively high 50 cents per page for such copies.
And, as Red State Rabble has reported, the failure to make disclosure reporting available to the public has real world consequences. Right-wing political action committees such as the Kansas Republican Assembly, Free Academic Inquiry and Research, and the Kansas Republican Victory Fund have thumbed their noses at contribution limits by setting up a network of interlocking state and federal PACs -- a slush fund, in effect -- to get around contribution limits in the law.
Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
Redfern and Scott weren't able to look at the Flood and Grand Canyon exhibits -- they're still under construction. At the rate they're going it'll take longer to build the museum displays than creationists claim to took to carve the canyon out of solid rock or move Australia to the antipodes.
Check out the article for a photo of Prof. Steve Steve, who Eugenie slipped into the museum.
"Inherit the Wind" Back on Broadway
Tony Award-winning director, Doug Hughes, says efforts to weaken the teaching of evolution in public schools in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Georgia, make the work more relevant today than when it first opened in 1955.
Enter the Microverse
Sunday, April 15, 2007
You Too Can be an Intelligent Designer!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
The March of Egnorance: Which is it?
Darwin asserted that all natural integrated biological complexity arose by random variation and natural selection. Cancer does seem to grow in accordance with Darwin’s mechanism. The “variation” of cancer cells seems random, and cancer cells are certainly “naturally selected,” in the tautological sense that replicating cells eventually outnumber non-replicating cells. Darwin’s theory can be applied to cancer, trivially.
And here's Michael Egnor yesterday:
Cancer is real biological evolution by random mutation and natural selection, writ fast. There’s no reason to invoke encyclopedia typos or tractor engines in order to understand what "chance and necessity" can do to a living system. Brain tumors are perfect little Novellian "two-cycle engines" nestled inside the skull, "random mutations" coming out the ears, and "natural selection" like there’s no tomorrow (excuse the metaphors). Brain tumors are constantly generating new biological variation, and they are avatars of natural selection... Cancer wards are full of patients brimming with "two-stroke engines" of evolutionary change.
From "trivial" to "engine of evolutionary change" in just two days.
Michael Egnor, proving once again that brain surgery -- at least the ID inspired kind -- ain't rocket science.
On the bright side, Egnor's post will give Casey Luskin the opportunity to condemn any Darwinist who writes that IDers believe cancer is not an example of evolution or, conversely, that IDers believe cancer is an example of evolution.
Those Darwinists, they won't debate, and they misrepresent what we believe. They are baaaad people.
Loyal? To What?
We all know that Monica Goodling, a former aide to embattled Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, who resigned after advising Congress she would invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, is a graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University.
We also know from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone that many of the incompetents sent by Bush to staff the Coalition Provisional Authority were from the far-right religious fringe.
A not inconsiderable number of those who got us where we are in Iraq today shared a similar trajectory: home schooling followed by Christian University -- usually Regent or Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. -- and on to government employment.
And, as we've reported in the past, the nation's military institutions, such as the Air Force Academy, also harbor a disproportionate number of evangelical Christians in relation to the population as a whole. While a 2001 American Religious Identification Study reported that 76.7 percent of the adult population in the U.S. identify themselves as Christian, more than 90 percent of Air Force Academy's students say they are Christians.
Jews, who comprise 1.4 percent of the population, but only 1 percent of cadets, are underrepresented at the academy as are Seculars, the 14.2 percent who responded to the ARIS study that they had no religion or did not declare a religion. While Seculars constitute the second largest group in the survey they are virtually unrepresented at the academy.
Perhaps that explains why nearly 50 percent of non-Christian cadets said in 2004 that their classmates have "a low tolerance for those who do not 'follow a religion' or 'believe in a divine being.'"
Despite all that, we didn't know until we read it in Krugman's column that Kay Cole James, a former dean in Regent’s government school, was the federal government’s chief personnel officer from 2001 to 2005.
Regent's law school, which inherited its library from Oral Roberts, was ranked in the bottom tier by U.S. News and World Report, coming in tied for 136th place out of 170 schools surveyed. Just 61 percent of Regent students pass the bar exam on their first try. The state average in Virginia is 74 percent.
Despite its dismal reputation Regent grads have found a warm welcome in the Bush administration.
"We've had great placement," Jay Sekulow, who heads a non profit law firm based at Regent that files lawsuits aimed at lowering barriers between church and state, has told The Boston Globe. "We've had a lot of people in key positions."
Goodling and at least 150 other Regent graduates are known to be working for the Bush administration in some capacity. Are they following a 1981 injunction from Christian Reconstuctionist Gary North "to infiltrate the existing institutional order”?
Perhaps it's time that we found out where other Regent graduates are working in government and just what they're doing.
Goodling is gone, but Red State Rabble readers can help us ferret out other Regent grads who are funneling public money to the religious right organizations, rewriting the laws, weakening government regulations, silencing scientists, firing capable government workers to make room for politically connected incompetents, and otherwise breaking down the barriers between church and state.
Know of any other Regent or Liberty grads in government? Got a brilliant insight on how to search for them on the Internet? Let Red State Rabble know. We'll compile a list of our readers findings and publish them on the web for all to see.
Perhaps that can be the beginning of a process of finding out how far the infiltration of our government by the theocratic right has gone and what its effects have been.
Friday, April 13, 2007
58th Skeptic's Circle
Best American Ringing Defeat of Religion Masquerading as Science
Well, get this:
According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Judge Jones' landmark decision ruling against the Dover School District's efforts to promote the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution has made its way into the latest edition of "The Best American Nonrequired Reading.''
The anthology is edited by Dave Eggers and compiled by a committee of readers, mostly California high-school and college students. It includes their choices for the year's best magazine articles, short stories, speeches, cartoons and more.
An excerpt from Jones's U.S. District Court decision is included under the title "Best American Ringing Defeat of Religion Masquerading as Science."
Morals, What Morals?
Apparently, teaching about the immorality of racism is less important than preventing children from learning that human beings sometimes engage in an activity called sex.
New Baptist Covenant
In their statement they committed themselves to "promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity."
While some of us will be unable to share their religious motivations, we should all welcome the effort to break with ultra-right wing causes that so many evangelicals have for too long uncritically embraced.
Hat tip to TB.
Dinosaur Protein Recovered
According to the report, analysis of the protein confirms a link between dinosaurs and birds. Several of the protein sequences are closely related to chickens.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Out of Gas
"They've lost on immigration issues ranging from requiring photo ID to vote to requiring birth certificates to prove that potential voters are U.S. citizens," writes Hawver. "They've lost on the effort to prevent Lawrence from registering domestic partners. And they've lost embryonic stem-cell research bans and even an effort to force Attorney General Paul Morrison to prosecute Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller."
Reality, it seems, is just to difficult for students to grapple with. First we prevent high school students from learning anything about the world. Then, soon as they graduate, we ship them off to Iraq.
Quite a plan.
Pope Benedict: God Created Life through Evolution, Religion and Science need not Clash
Initial optimism among ID activists was sparked by a July 2005 New York Times OpEd, "Finding Design in Nature," by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vienna.
"The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth," wrote Schönborn, "proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things."
The April 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI, widely viewed as a defender of traditional Catholic doctrine and values, also seemed to give added weight to the notion that the church might soon reverse course and reject evolution.
It was widely known that Cardinal Schönborn and Pope Benedict were closely allied. Schönborn was once a student of the future pope, and the two co-authored an Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
According to Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman, Schönborn had complained that "neo-Darwinists recently have sought to portray our Pope, Benedict XVI, as a satisfied evolutionist." And Chapman further reported on Discovery's Evolution News and Views blog, that the Cardinal said he'd been encouraged by the Pope personally.
ID activists looked forward with high anticipation to an informal gathering at Pope Benedict's summer palace outside Rome this past summer, where it was said evolution and intelligent design would be discussed, in the hope the church might abandon "Neo-Darwinism" for intelligent design.
Despite all the favorable signs, from time to time a discordant note was sounded both in Vienna and Rome.
First Cardinal Schönborn clarified his NYT OpEd in a sermon saying, "I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained."
And following the Dover ruling against intelligent design, the New York Times reported that L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, had published an article calling Judge Jones decision -- that intelligent design should not be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution -- "correct."
And now, all those high hopes have been dashed.
Yesterday, Reuters reported that the Pope says "science has narrowed the way life's origins are understood and Christians should take a broader approach to the question." According to the report, the Pope "praised scientific progress and did not endorse creationist or 'intelligent design' views about life's origins."
"Benedict defended what is known as 'theistic evolution,' the view held by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches that God created life through evolution and religion and science need not clash over this," according to the Reuters report.
As always, Discovery can be expected to put the best face on this disappointing news, but however they spin it, the fact is, as their repeated attacks on biologist Ken Miller -- a practicing Catholic who is an articulate defender of evolution -- demonstrate, they are die-hard opponents of theistic evolution.
In an Evolution News and Views post on Ken Miller's lecture at the University of Kansas last September it was reported that Miller, "like most TE’s, [theistic evolutionists, RSR] holds to his religious beliefs on faith ~alone~. That’s the problems with TE’s - they can give you no reason whatsoever as to why they believe what they do in regard to their religious beliefs other than they take it all on faith."
That remarkably faithless statement is mirrored by Phillip Johnson, the founding father of the intelligent design movement:
"... Darwinism and theism are fundamentally incompatible ... To infer that mutation and selection did the creating because nothing else was available, and then to bring God back into the picture as the omnipotent being who chose to create by mutation and selection, is to indulge in self-contradiction."
With the Pope's latest statement, another door has closed on the intelligent design experiment. It's becoming clearer and clearer that the ID movement has shut itself in a windowless room. There's no way out.
40 Days and 40 Nights
The Philiadelpia City Paper has reviewed the book, noting that "Most of the angry parents [who filed suit against the district mandated intelligent design statement, RSR] are faithful Christians and some are Republicans, which challenges the red state/blue state stereotype. The trial ends with Judge John Jones, a Bush appointee, declaring the school board's actions unconstitutional. Chapman celebrates this but warns of the rise of fundamentalism in America."
Vonnegut, along with Joseph Heller, was one of the great moral voices for RSR's generation. I don't think we could of made sense of those times without the benefit of the dark, but very human, comedy he gave us through his writing.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
No Safe Haven
Those who follow the intelligent design pseudo-controversy know, of course, that Darwinist is right-wing code-speak for atheist. So, it must be a bit worrying to Chapman and West that their appearance at SMU has raised the ire of the faculty there.
Even a private school, founded by Methodists, -- although it now describes itself as nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to freedom of inquiry -- in the heart of Bush country is no longer a safe haven for intelligent design.
You could believe, as Chapman and West profess to believe, that SMU is run by atheists. That there's a Darwinist laying in wait for them under every bed, behind every bush, or you could conclude that ID's 15 minutes is simply over. We have their number. The sophistry of their arguments has been sufficiently exposed. Everyone -- even in Texas -- knows their game.
ID Meets the Grassy Knoll
Mr. Kincaid's angry at the fact that the media covers gay rights, going so far as to publish gay marriage announcements, but won't give Aids deniers the sort of coverage he thinks they deserve.
Global warming? Despite the fact that DaveScot says coverage dropped off after cold weather hit the nation last weekend, Kincaid sees deeper, darker forces working tirelessly to pull the wool over the nation's eyes.
Concerns about black helicopters, the United Nations, and one world government have given way, in Kincaid's loony toons world to worries about a shadowy North American Union run by the Canadians or Mexicans. There are hidden documents and secret working groups -- but the media just won't cover the issue.
Oh yeah, they won't give coverage to the Discovery Institute or intelligent design, either. The media conspirators kept Anthony Flew's earth-shattering conversion from atheism off the front page of the New York Times. It wasn't even the lead story on the NBC nightly news.
Now that's power.
It's Young, Really Young
Nepotism first, age of the earth second. Kent Hovind before the orange jumpsuit.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Mount Rushmore School of Design
Signs of the Apocalypse
We'd surprised the folks at WND are just now learning about Faux News. We assumed they were part of the demographic.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Illinois Censorship Case
What does the opposition to the book banning say?
"People on the ultra-right -- the radical right -- have made this a cause celebre," Arlen Gould, campaign chairman for incumbents Bill Dussling, Alva Kreutzer and Robert Zimmanck tells The Chicago Sun Times. "They want to impose their religious beliefs in the public school arena."
Looking at Evidence for a Change
"But God's Word NEVER changes. It's NOT subject to modification every couple of years when a new discovery is made about the universe. If you really want to have the absolute, unchanging account of everything, go to the book of Genesis."
Yes, what Answers in Genesis says is quite true God's word never, ever changes, even when new evidence is discovered that contradicts what the Bible says:
- The earth isn't flat, as the Bible says, it's a globe.
- The earth isn't fixed and immobile, as the Bible says, its moving through space.
- The earth isn't the center of the universe, and the sun doesn't orbit the earth, as the Bible says, rather, the earth orbits the sun.
- The whole world can't be seen from a tall mountain, as the Bible says, but as Columbus and other explorers discovered there were whole continents unknown to the God of the Bible.
- The God of the Bible knew nothing about telescopes, the moons of Saturn, microscopes, bacteria, electricity, democracy, the internal combustion engine, the light bulb, computers, CD-ROMs, television, the printing press, or the germ theory of disease, either.
So, maybe it's a good thing that scientists change their minds when new evidence is discovered. Perhaps that's a problem with a literal reading of, and unquestioning belief in, the myths recorded by a primitive Middle Eastern people.
They're talking about this on the Internet Infidels Discussion Board now.
At It Again?
Then again, maybe it's just an example of those odd annual phenomena that occur early in April.
In a "This Day in WND History" feature under the title "Forget? No way, says southern heritage group" they link to an April 2001 story reporting favorably on a white power group that seeks reparations for "people of historic Southern ancestry."
These "people of historic Southern ancestry," reacting to a demand by African Americans to be compensated for the enslavement of their ancestors, want to dip into the public till themselves to make up for the "barbaric dispossession and destruction of the Southern people and their way of life" during, you guessed it, the Civil War.
"The private property of non-combatants was ravaged, burned, stolen and destroyed as a deliberate policy of an unconstitutional war of invasion, conquest and occupation," sniffs Dr. Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, which describes itself as a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.
When they speak of dispossession of their property, do you suppose they mean this?
At Regent, they like to say they combine quality education with biblical teachings to "produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world."
Of course their number has been reduced by one now that Monica Goodling, a former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has resigned from the Justice Department after asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for her role in the firing of eight US attorneys.
Do you suppose Goodling skipped the Regents class on thou shalt not lie?
You can read the Boston Globe story "Scandal puts spotlight on Christian law school" here.
Or Dahlia Lithwick's piece in the Washington Post about how Gonzales' predecessor, Pentecostalist John Ashcroft fired or forced out career professionals in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to make room for conservative Christians with no civil rights experience.
Our friend Mousie Cat, who writes the Evolving in Kansas blog, also has a post on our truth-challenged morality police.
Oh, That Explains It
He was especially elated by the cold snap that hit the country over the Easter weekend because, "nary a mention of global warming can be found in the news. Talk about putting a cold damper on Friday’s release of the 2007 IPCC report on so-called global warming, the timing couldn’t have been better."
April is, as T.S. Eliot wrote, the cruelest month, but did the cold snap really drive global warming news off of television screens and front pages as DaveScot suggests? We weren't so sure.
A Google news search conducted this morning for the terms global, warming, climate, and change returns this:
- "A report released Apr. 6 in Brussels by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected the effects of global warming on the planet's ecosystems... " 645 references.
- Even up in chilly Canada, "UN Report Proves Canada Must Act Now On Climate Change... " got 44 references.
- "As debate over the scope of global warming continues, local officials across the country have crafted their own policies. Austin, Texas, has a 'Climate ... " 108 references.
- "Diplomats from 115 countries and 52 scientists hashed out the most comprehensive and gloomiest warning yet about the possible effects of global warming, ... " 65 references.
Adding "IPCC" to the search terms listed above returned a total of 2,202 news articles
Perhaps DaveScot's inability to discover news about global warming should give the rest of us some insight into his corresponding incapacity to detect any evidence for evolution in the natural world.
We've updated our YouTube Video of the Day in the sidebar with a "Listen to the Scientists" on Global Warming and the IPCC featuring Dr. Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute.