Wednesday, August 31, 2005
New Line of Anti-Scientist Stamps
Respectful Insolence (a.k.a. Orac Knows) called our attention to a series of antiscience stamps featuring George Bush, Rick Santorum, William Jennings Bryan, and, who else, God.
You can download a sheet of the parody stamps at Stay Free, who saw a new series of stamps devoted to American scientists, while standing in line at the post office. It's kind of ironic, says the developer of the parody stamps, considering how our sciences are now under attack from all corners, kind of like singing "Happy Birthday" to a man as he's being taken away on a gurney.
War on Science Casulty
In the meantime, here's a portion of an e-mail from the latest casulty in that war, Susan Wood, director of FDA's Office of Women's Health. The New York Times reports that she resigned Wednesday in protest over the FDA's refusal to approve over-the-counter sales of the morning after pill.
"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," wrote Wood, who also was assistant commissioner for women's health. "The recent decision announced by the Commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit women's access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions, is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health."
Rick Santorum: Bringing Us Closer Together
They love him there, don't they?
Member of Parliment calls for Britain to ban Pat Robertson over assassination comment
Anti-terror laws, proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been designed to prevent some Islamic preachers who back suicide bombers and terrorism from coming to Britain. If those laws are adopted, they would give the government the ability to refuse entry to anyone found to have incited terrorism -- including the good reverend Robertson.
According to a report in The Scotsman by Hamish McDonnell, "Mr Griffiths said yesterday that he supported the new anti-terror laws, but argued the legislation should be used in an even-handed way, and if that meant annoying the US government, that was not his concern."
No doubt, Mr. Blair did not expect the anti-terror law to be used to "catch Christian preachers, however radical, particularly those with influential friends in the US Republican Party, such as Mr Robertson."
The Government refused to comment on Mr Griffiths' remarks, according to The Scotsman.
"Is (our existence) the product of a mind? Or is it completely the product of mindless forces?"
Perhaps so, but is it a scientific question? Part of the diffiiculty of doing science is that not all questions rise to the level of a scientific hypothesis -- an idea that can be experimentally tested. The problem for intelligent design proponents, such as Gonzalez, is that their philosophical speculations offer no guide for what series of astronomical observations or experimentation might be conducted to move them out of the realm of metaphysics and into science.
There's nothing wrong with this sort of idle speculation. We all do it. It's very human. It's just that most of us understand this sort conjecture, while highly interesting, isn't what science is about.
That is why 124 of Gonzalez' colleagues at Iowa State University have signed a petition opposing the teaching of intelligent design as a scientific fact.
The DesMoines Register has a good story on the issue by Reid Forgrave that gives an overview of this developing story, including the story of Gonzalez' conversion during a solar eclipse.
Solar System -- Just a Theory
The orbits of the planets, are not a fact as most people have been led to believe. Rather, their foundation is based on a rather flimsy theory of gravity. It's nothing more than a hunch. A guess at best.
In fact, as we now know, the so-called theory of gravity has had to be constantly reworked as scientists have added three new planets to their solar system since 1781. When is it going to end?
Learn more about the solar system fraud at the reDiscovery Institute.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
According to Wikipedia, the Flying Spagetti Monster religion has become an Internet phenomenon. The FSM site reports over 10 MILLION people have been touched by His Noodly Appendage.
Bill F. suggests that it's time for a new list: Scientists (it's okay if you just walked through a bookstore that has a science book on the shelves) Who Doubt Darwin, Creationism, and Intelligent Design, But Love Parody.
Send your e-mails to Red State Rabble and we'll post a list.
NYT on FSM
Ken Miller to Speak at Lehigh University, Biology Dept. Adopts Position on ID
Lehigh University is the home of intelligent design advocate Dr. Michael Behe.
The Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh has adopted the following position on evolution and "intelligent design."
The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.
The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.
Connie Morris: Role Model
Now she wants to tell us what to teach our kids.
In The Times interview Morris confided:
“I’ve read stacks of stuff . . . which refutes evolution.” She confirmed that, along with two-thirds of the US public according to a recent opinion poll, she believed that mankind was created directly by God. How long ago — 5,000 years? “I’m not sure that matters,” she said.
KU Ranking Drops in Wake of Intelligent Design Battle
Sophia Maines reports on the reaction in "Within science circles, Kansas square: KU officials say standards debate has harmed state’s reputation, prospects" in the Lawrence Journal-World.
The Evolution of Intelligent Deception
From a column by Reg Henry in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brighten your day, take a look at it.
RSR's advice? Recognize that you are descended from monkeys (oh, all right, a prehomminid ancestor) but don't let the creation scientists, or their more refined cousins, the intelligent design theorists, make a monkey out of you.
Too bad, these right-wingers are using our kids for cannon fodder in this cynical battle in a culture war that aims to turn back the clock to pre-Enlightenment times.
Is there really any substantive difference between the Muslim fundamentalists who demand a return to the Caliphate and Sharia Law, and Christian fundamentalists who want to return to the "Dark Ages" and Mosaic Law?
ID a Metaphysical Concept Says Newsday
Monday, August 29, 2005
Flintstones: The Documentary
More good stuff from an article by Ashley Powers in the LA Times, "Adam, Eve, and T. Rex."
Fundamentalists Now Singing from a Different Hymnbook
- “The Antichrist is probably a Jew alive in Israel today,” Pat Robertson once confided to his followers.
- "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing," adds Robertson. "Nonsense, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist."
Well, they don't have to be nice, but now that they've decided to sue the University of California over its admission policy of requiring incoming students to know something of biology, they're certainly changing their tune.
''A threat to one religion is a threat to all,'' says Wendell E. Bird, a lawyer for the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents some 800 schools.
You've Been Warned
From a good article by Ashley Powers in the LA Times, Adam, Eve, and T. Rex.
Flying Under the Radar
His recent statement that, "Both sides ought to be properly taught so people can understand what the debate is about," said Mr. Bush, referring to intelligent design and the theory of evolution. "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought."
Yes, Red State Rabble believes supporters of real science education owe President Bush a deep debt of gratitude for raising the profile of intelligent design.
Since Bush spoke out for the "teach the controversy" side on intelligent design, the issue has received unprecedented coverage in the media worldwide.
Not long ago, RSR sometimes feared there was not enough happening on the ID front to merit daily blog posts. Now we can't even begin to keep up.
And the good news is that the media -- with very few exceptions -- have done a good job of explaining the links between intelligent design and its country cousin, creationism. They've looked at the so-called science behind ID and found it wanting. Most have pointed out there is no controversy, as ID proponents claim. Almost all see ID for what it really is, a political issue. A tool of the right. A battering ram in the culture wars.
Those who understand evolution, and those who have followed this issue for some time have expressed a certain disappointment or frustration with the coverage, and, indeed, there have been weaknesses.
That being duly noted, we have to resist the urge see this coverage through our own eyes. We have to try to see how it looks to someone for whom the evolution, intelligent design, creationism issue has flown across the radar screen for the first time.
Polls show that less than half the population knows what intelligent design is. RSR is confident that when people learn what intelligent design really is, they will reject it.
That's is why so many of the biblical literalists who run in local school board elections -- as Iris Van Meter did in Kansas -- run stealth campaigns. They understand instinctively that the more voters know about the real aims of the intelligent design and creationist activists the more likely they are to reject them.
Getting intelligent design out in the open is a positive first step in defeating it.
Thank you, Mr. Bush.
The Fly in the Intelligent Design Ointment
Roger Pulvers, writing in the Japan Times, interviews I.M. Lord, the principle of Dorothy Toto School of Intelligent Design in Rumsfeld, Kansas.
Bipartisan Kansas Group Wants to Unseat Conservatives
Christian Schools Sue UC Over Admissions Policy
Last year, University of California admissions officials adopted a policy that denies certification to high school science courses that use textbooks, from the well-known science textbook publishers Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books, that challenge Darwin's theory of evolution.
"It appears that the UC system is attempting to secularize Christian schools and prevent them from teaching from a world Christian view," Patrick H. Tyler, a lawyer with Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which is assisting the plaintiffs, told the LA Times.
The Questionable Authority has a post up there [also cross posted to Panda's Thumb] on the contents of the Bob Jones University biology text that the University of California finds less than scholarly. I strongly urge RSR readers to visit there to see what science textbooks will look like after the creationists and intelligent design activists have their way with us. I assure you that even the most cynical among you will not believe what is in the textbook.
The A Beka Books website says its 10th Grade biology text, Biology God's Living Creation is "[t]horoughly Christian in perspective and tone. Truly nonevolutionary in philosophy, spirit, and sequence of study."
Truly nonevolutionary in sequence of study? We truly love that one.
Is the University of California attempting to "secularize Christian schools and prevent them from teaching from a world Christian view"? Is it discriminating against Christians?
Of course not.
First, the Christian schools that teach biblical literalism, are a minority among all Christian schools. For example, UC officials have no problem accepting students -- provided they meet admissions criteria -- from Catholic schools or from schools of other Christian sects that teach real science.
Christian fundamentalists -- who, more often than not, claim to be the only real Christians -- don't really speak for all Christians. They can't legitimately complain that the UC admissions policy discriminates against Christians -- it just requires students who attend schools that dispense with all that "teach the controversy" nonsense and go straight to that good old time religion to meet the same requirements demanded of all incoming freshmen.
Likewise, if these schools taught their students that they might believe what they want about Genesis -- even what their biblical literalist teachers tell them they must believe to be good Christians -- but that they also need to understand what science is all about, they would have no problem with UC admissions officials, either.
All universities have an admissions policy that requires students to master a number of disciplines -- algebra, biology, English, a foreign language, and so on. If a student attends a school that fails to meet the entrance requirements, they do so at their own risk.
The UC admissions policy does offer these students two options -- they may be admitted if they first complete required course work at a community college, or if their SAT scores are high enough. The lawsuit suggest that this last option is "heavily stacked against students seeking admission through that route." A telling admission about the overall quality of education at these schools.
For our part, we applaud the policy adopted by the University of California. Will they apply the same standard to Kansas schools after the board approves the antiscience revisions to the science curriculum this fall? Certainly that would be a first step at putting a stop to this nonsense.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Connie Morris Paints a Target on her Back
Connie Morris is a big political target for people who don't share her
conservative views, and her attempt to win re-election next year to the State Board of Education again could put the global spotlight on Kansas.
Five of the Board's 10 seats are up for election. Conservatives hold four of them.
The Republican War on Science
That's why we were excited when we noticed a review of Chris Mooney's new book, The Republican War on Science in our old hometown paper.
[The latest example of this war was brought home to us tonight as we typed up this post. The ABC Evening News reported that the FDA -- which had previously announced that its decision on the morning after pill would be driven not by politics, but by the science -- would instead delay its ruling 60 days for public comment.]
The review of Mooney's book, by Eric Baerren, the Sun News editor observes:
One of the most obvious defects of modern journalism – well, the kind that most people are exposed to daily – is that it preaches objectivity, but practices something more akin to equal time for both sides...
Avoiding the appearance of taking sides when one side is full of crap rewards the outlandish and even crackpot, while punishing experts whose only sin is being part of the consensus majority...
In no other area will this be more damaging than in science-related issues. How we, as a nation, approach science will affect almost every facet of our lives – from public health, to more wisely protecting the environment, to competing for future foreign investment, and to – yes – national security.
That's what makes Chris Mooney's "The Republican War on Science“ such a valuable book.
A Modest Proposal
I have a great idea. To improve the scholastic ability of our children, let’s teach them that the Earth is flat.
And let’s be serious about it – really try to convince them the Earth is indeed flat as a pancake, and that all those laws of physics and pictures from space showing a round Earth have been misinterpreted by those arrogant scientists.
Read it all in the Tacoma (Washington) News Tribune.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The key for science supporters is that most people do not yet know what intelligent design is. That means there is an opportunity to frame this discussion. Let’s take advantage of it.
Yet despite all the attention they've drawn, critics of evolution are losing in court and making little headway so far in most state legislatures and school boards. And intelligent design remains mysterious to many; more than half in the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll say they are not
familiar with it.
Says It All
Sixteenth Skeptics Circle at Red State Rabble Sept. 1
The Skeptics' Circle is a biweekly carnival for bloggers who apply critical thought to questionable stories, such as Urban Legends, the Paranormal, Quackery, Pseudoscience, Historical Revision. Posts dealing with the meta-analytical process behind sorting reason from the misinformation -- Critical Thinking -- are also welcome.
To have your writing included in the Sept. 1 edition of the Skeptics' Circle, send an e-mail to Red State Rabble with the URL for your post along with a brief description.
Here are the guidelines Orac made RSR sign a blood oath to follow:
The Skeptics’ Circle is meant to be apolitical, and here that means not touching social causes mired in political action. We don’t want to read posts about how Bush’s Social Security reform is going to bankrupt our nation, or how liberal activists are pushing “institutionalized racism” or malpractice caps or anything about abortion.
This is also not the place for personal causes. If you think personal light rail is a bad idea in your area, take that up with your local media. The Circle was created to clear up things rendered unnecessarily mysterious and fight frauds, not to push anyone’s agenda.
Finally, the data used to debunk or make a case should be empirical. Hotly debated social issues where there really is no answer at present are outside the scope of this carnival.
We are looking for your best writing. Bring it.
Michael Shermer: Deepak Chopra and the Skyhook of Supernaturalism
[J]ust because we cannot at the moment explain some particular complex phenomena such as bacterial flagella, Cambrian body plans, or even consciousness, does not mean that we must abandon the crane of naturalism and turn to the skyhook of supernaturalism.
Pat Robertson, Stem Cells, Hugo Chavez: The Moral Disconnect
A Jewish victim undergoing experiments would not have consented to such experiments whether they were beneficial and conducted humanely or not, especially if such experiments ended in death.
Similarly, a human being in the embryonic stage does not wish to be destroyed in the name of societal benefits. Both the life of the Jew and the embryo are devalued, and a similarity can certainly be made between the experimenters, for both attribute no value to their victims, regardless of their intentions.
And, it's not just Mr. Messenger. Jerry Falwell is on record as equating stem cell research with the crimes of the Nazis. James Dobson and Pat Robertson, likewise, see stem cell research as murder.
"Before long, we'll be harvesting body parts from fully formed people. Once you begin this concept of utilitarian use of cells, then everything is up for grabs," says Pat Robertson.
When will Christian fundamentalists, the Pat Robertsons of this world, grant living, breathing human beings like Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, the same right to life they demand for a clump of cells?
These Old Testament prophets are always lecturing the rest of us about values. Maybe, just maybe it's time for them to shut up and put their own houses in order. There is a moral disconnect of cosmic proportions in a man, a church, or a faith that equates stem cell research with murder, yet calls publicly for the murder of another human being.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Bill Maher on Teaching Both Sides
"Now, President Bush recently suggested that public schools should teach intelligent design, alongside the theory of evolution. Because, after all, evolution is quote, "just a theory." Then the President renewed his vow to drive the terrorists straight over the edge of the earth... "
"It just seems pathetic to be so insecure about your biological superiority, to a group of feces-flinging, rouge-buttocked monkeys, that you have to make up fairy tales. Like we came from Adam and Eve, and then cover stories for Adam and Eve like, intelligent design. Yeah, leaving the Earth in the hands of two naked teenagers. That's a real intelligent design... "
"I'm sorry, folks, but it may very well may be that life is just a series of random events. And that there is no... master plan. But enough about Iraq . Let me instead restate my thesis. There aren't necessarily two sides to every issue. If there were, the Republicans would have an opposition party... "
"And finally New Rule: You don't have to teach both sides of a debate, if one side is a load of crap... "
Thanks to RSR reader Bill F. for sending the transcipt along.
And then it was 399 on Discovery Institute "Scientists Who Doubt Darwin" List
That's because Bob Davidson, an M.D., scientist, and professor for 28 years at the University of Washington medical school -- an ardent Christian whose name appears on the list -- says he believes "the scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming."
"When I joined [the Discovery Institute] I didn't think they were about bashing evolution, says Davidson. "It's pseudo-science, at best ... What they're doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion."
"I'm kind of embarrassed that I ever got involved with this," Davidson now says.
To fully understand the depths of Davidson's disillusionment, to get a glimpse at the utter cynicism and the dishonest manipulation of at least some of those whose names appear on Discovery Institute's much touted list of Darwin doubters you really must read the report by Seattle Times staff columnist Danny Westneat.
We were sorely tempted to post the entire article -- or at least more of the choice quotes from Davidson that Westneat supplies -- but we didn't want to cheat our readers of the pleasure of reading it all in the original context.
By the way, the Clergy Letter Project currently lists 7,016 signers of a statement that reads in part, "We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children."
The National Center for Science Education's Steve-O-Meter currently sits at 589. Project Steve is a tongue-in-cheek parody of creationist and intelligent design lists such as Discovery's Darwin Doubters list. NCSE's list of scientists -- all with the first name of Steve or Stephanie, in honor of Stephen Jay Gould, have signed a statement that reads in part, "Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. " NCSE estimates that roughly one percent of the population -- and, therefore, one percent of working scientists -- have a first name of Steve or Stephanie.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Pat Robertson: Role Model
We godless Darwinists are often told that a universe without God is a universe without morals. If evolution is true, then we humans are no better than the beasts. Without God, the only law is the law of the jungle.
How then, did God fail Pat Robertson? How could God have failed to inform the good reverend that murder and assassination violate His covenant with Moses? How did Robertson become disconnected from the moral vision that we are told belief in God is supposed to supply?
The good Rev. Robertson is not just a believer. He's one of God's generals in the battle with sin. The leader of a mighty army of evangelicals who fight to restore the lost moral basis for Western society. These are the people -- they never seem to tire of telling us poor lost souls -- who live and vote their values.
These are people who believe in the right to life -- unless, of course, they don't agree with you.
Dover Board Appoints Buckingham Replacement
Napierskie is new to Dover having moved from California in 1999, according to Michelle Star of the York Daily Record.
Napierskie, who was the only person to apply to fill the vacancy left by Buckingham's abrupt resignation -- just as the board was being taken to court by parents unhappy with the interjection of pseudoscience into the curriculum -- refused to be pinned down on his position on the controversy, saying only, "I think all exposure to science would be great. I am not opposed to my children to be educated on anything new or different."
Dover CARES is running a slate of candidates in the November election to restore real science to the school district curriculum.
Read Your Bible: RSR's Advice to Christian Fundamentalists
The reason RSR is venting like this, is the call Monday by the televangelist Pat Robertson for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela. Are we the only ones who find it chillingly similar to the Fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie?
Now in our own fumbling, highly skeptical way, Red State Rabble has read the Ten Commandments. We see no mention there of gays. And yet, for men like Robertson, gays seem to have become special targets for hate. Here's but one example:
“If the world accepts homosexuality as its norm and if it moves the entire world in that regard, the whole world is then going to be sitting like Sodom and Gomorrah before a Holy God. And when the wrath of God comes on this earth, we will all be guilty and we will all suffer for it.” - 700 Club, 9-6-95 (source: People for the American Way Foundation)
While we see nothing in the Ten Commandments about gays, we do note that one of them in particular seems to take an especially strong line against murder. Without mincing any words at all, one of the commandments comes right out and says, "Thou shalt not kill."
We don't pretend to be experts, but the assassination of a democratically elected leader of another country sounds an awful lot like an out and out violation of God's covenant with Moses. Am I missing something, here?
RSR doesn't often offer advice to right-wing Christians -- we don't see that as our particular function -- but we can't hold back this time. Okay folks, if you're going to insist on a literal reading of the good book, read it. Is that too much to ask?
The Early Earth: Life and Climate
I believe that is what gave the Theory of Evolution legs in the first place. I truly do. The whole fat lie was embraced and promoted by people who did not want to believe in any superior creative entity that might condemn them for their immorality or wrongful and selfish actions, and it’s beginning to appear that is why the Theory of Evolution survived even until today.Just remember Darwinists, on your best day, you'll never be a Real American.
New Mexico School District Opens Door to ID
The alternative is apparently not Lamarkism, but intelligent design, according to Peter Simonson of the New Mexico ACLU.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Vote for Pedro
Vermont Curriculum Designed With Intelligence
The debate over evolution vs. creationism - or "intelligent design" as proponents are now calling it - seems to have skipped over the Bennington County area which probably says something about how local school curricula are intelligently designed.
This is not to disparage anyone's religious beliefs. Many scientists and many of those who oppose teaching intelligent design are deeply religious.
However, despite strenuous efforts that have been made recently to blur the line between church and state, we believe that there are important reasons for the distinction to remain clear.
Depends on How You Define Normal
Never mind that millions of Christians, including me, are quite comfortable with the teaching of evolution, since it neither attempts to confirm nor deny the existence of a Creator. Never mind that countless believers support broadening research on donated embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. The absolutes of a narrow minority rule the day.
The United States stood in the vanguard of the fight against communism and fascism, ensuring that democracy survived the last century and would flourish in the next. But in the race for scientific hegemony, we've tied a white lab coat to a stick and are waving it at Asia: We surrender.
Kansas, as usual, is at the forefront of this new scientific revolution. The new, simplified Periodic Table -- coming to Kansas schools soon -- lists all four elements: earth, fire, air, and water
Division of Labor
From an article in the Bennington Banner by staff writer Chris Parker.
One Stop Shopping
Monday, August 22, 2005
NYT on ID
Today, the Times comes back with Kenneth Chang's "In Explaining Life Complexity Darwinists and Doubters Clash" that presents the ID criticisms of evolution and rebuttals by scientists. The article comes complete with a graphical sidebar summarizing ID claims and the scientific response.
Democrat to Challenge Morris
For our part, Red State Rabble will miss Connie -- she's always been our go-to gal on the board when we needed something funny to write about. In her own inimitable way, Connie's fashioned herself into a reliable source of humorous posts -- so much so that we've come to think of her as the Old Faithful of intelligent design creationism.
RSR is trying to come to grips with the loss. Right now, we're consoling ourselves with the knowledge that the election is still a way off -- in 2006. We don't have to go cold turkey. We'll be allowed to wean ourselves away, slowly.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
An Eye for an Eye
His video diagnosis of Terry Schiavo already forgotten, Frist lost the support of hardcore right-wingers recently when he came out in support of embryonic stem cell research. As a result, he was judged not pure enough to rail against activist judges with Tom Delay and James Dobson at Justice Sunday II last weekend.
Apparently, no one has had the heart to tell Frist the game is up. In an attempt to woo the base back to his side, The Harvard M.D. told a Rotary Club meeting in Nashville yesterday he favors exposing children to both evolution and intelligent design
"I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future," says the clueless Frist.
The back-to-the-future Christian right -- in a its headlong rush to embrace Old Testament family values -- is no longer moved by quaint notions of Christian forgiveness. Turn the other cheek is out. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is in.
Frist and his fellow country-club Republicans thought they'd discovered a clever strategy to herd large numbers of yokels into the voting booth to pull the levers for corporate conservatives. Now they are beginning to perceive -- perhaps only dimly -- that they are merely the dog being waved by the tail.
Will somebody please call Frist and tell him that he can go to a zillion NASCAR races. He can pander. He can surrender anything that's left of his dignity, his reputation, his soul -- but it will never be enough for the Christian fundamentalists in the Republican base. He crossed them once on stem cells. They will never trust him again, and for that reason, he will never be elected president.
They created a new class -- under the heading of social studies -- that examines all the theories on human origins. Not only did the class cover evolution and creationism, it also surveyed Navajo beliefs, the Hindu creation story and a host of other perspectives.
ASBMB to Sponsor Evolution Symposium
The decision to sponsor the symposium, sponsors say, is a response to continuing and ongoing efforts in many states and localities around the country to mandate the teaching of philosophical alternatives to the theory of evolution in K-12 science classes such as creation "science” or its close relative, “intelligent design.”
The session will be chaired by PAAC Chair Bill Brinkley, Baylor College of Medicine. The panel of speakers includes:
- Dr. Ken Miller: Brown University, a prominent cell biologist and advocate for the theory of evolution who has authored a book on the subject, Finding Darwin’s God.
- Dr. Don Johanson: founder of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, Tempe, is a worldfamous paleoanthropologist who is the discoverer of the “Lucy” fossil, the 3.2 million-year-old partial skeleton of a female member of the species australopithecus afarensis.
- The Reverend Ted Peters: Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley, California, speaks frequently on the compatibility of science and religion, and is a co-editor of the journal, Theology and Science.
- Dr. Eugenie Scott: Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, in Oakland, California.
Friday, August 19, 2005
One Seat Majority
Why is Abrams backing the values challenged Morris? Bluff City resident Frank Smith, who has examined Morris' expense report thinks he knows why:
"The taxpayers are not being represented by Dr. Abrams, and the reason is, I think, he needs the votes," Smith said. "His problem is, he's got a one-seat majority. If one seat changes, he's got an impasse and that's not what he wants, so he's doing his best to protect her. It's very unfortunate."
"She frolicked in free love, drowned in drugs and endured domestic violence and sexual abuse before giving herself to Christ. But even Jesus couldn't tame
Hillary Clinton? Well, no, actually it Kansas' own Connie Morris, creationist, fiscal conservative, and Kansas State Board of Education member who feels that teaching evolution will corrupt the morals of our youth.
If you don't do anything else today, read "Unnatural Selection: The strange redemption of Connie Morris, high school slut turned Kansas State Board of Education anti-evolutionist" by Justin Kendall in The Pitch, Kansas City's alternative newsweekly
Read the Fine Print
Now we are beginning to detect a pattern of political corruption among the true believers, as well. Consider these examples:
- Ohio Citizens for Science and the Columbus Dispatch have reported on the behind the scenes maneuvering between religious fundamentalists and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft to introduce intelligent design into the Ohio public school science curriculum. Yesterday, Taft pleaded no contest to charges that he broke state ethics law by failing to report golf outings and other gifts. A judge fined him $4,000.
- Missouri House Rep. Cynthia Davis -- sponsor of an intelligent design textbook bill -- used her campaign funds to pay taxes on a second home.
- Kansas School Board member, creationist, and fiscal conservative Connie Morris recently was forced to reimburse the state for creative expense reporting for her Miami Beach boondoggle.
The moral values crowd has been telling us that the problem with evolution is that it takes God-given laws and morality out of the picture, making human beings into little more than beasts. If we teach evolution, they say, the law of the jungle will prevail.
RSR's take is that biblical literalism and religious fundamentalism seem an easier path to throwing off the shackles of conventional morality. Anything goes if you're doing it for God.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Trashing the Constitution at Justice Sunday
James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, joined House Majority Leader Tom Delay -- possibly the most corrupt politician in U.S. history -- at Justice Sunday II in Nashville. Co-equal branches of government may be in the constitution, but it's not in the Ten Commandments.
If it Quacks Like a Duck
In one post, "It's Been a Busy Weekend" Jonathan Witt asks rhetorically if "the case for Darwinism is so powerful, why the repeated attempts to duck both competition and critical inquiry?"
In the very next post, Witt notes that some "Darwinists have complained that we don't allow comments at our blog."
Just who is ducking who?
The Juicy Bits
American Chemical Society supports teaching evolution in K-12
“Evolution is a well-established, central scientific concept,” said William F. Carroll, Jr., Ph.D., ACS president. “In the proper context, students should be exposed to a wide diversity of ideas to help them shape their own opinions. But they should get a solid understanding of science from their science teachers through a full and robust scientific curriculum. Evolution is the proven scientific model that we should be teaching in the science classroom.”
Carroll said: “Because the debate has recently moved to the national stage, the American Chemical Society wants to reiterate its position that the curricula in our nation’s science classrooms should be based on well-established science, such as the theory of evolution in biology and other sciences.”
In a recently adopted policy statement, the Society said that “evolutionary theory is not a hypothesis, but is the scientifically accepted explanation for the origin of species, and explains significant observations in chemistry, biology, geology, and other disciplines."
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
From a smart and funny piece by Harold Evans in BBC News World Edition.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Evolution Vs. Religion?
Red State Rabble noted the appearance of Weisberg's article when it was posted without commenting on it -- other than to say it was important and to urge others to read it. We have been thinking about it, and reading the reaction to it on other sites over the last few days. Now, we'd like to offer some tentative observations.
First, although the discussion Weisberg's article provoked has been more heated, in some ways, than may have been absolutely necessary, we think it's been valuable and should continue in various forms. It's forced many of us to confront the issue in a way that we haven't until now.
For RSR's money, the most thought provoking element of Weisberg's piece was this result from a 1993 NORC study:
In the United States, 63 percent of the public believed in God and 35 percent believed in evolution. In Great Britain, by comparison, 24 percent of people believed in God and 77 percent believed in evolution. You can believe in both - but not many people do.
To us, this says less about any possible incompatibility between evolution and religion than it does about the different strategies pursued by Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins, who might be said to be on opposite sides of the question Weisberg raises.
Both Gould and Dawkins are (were) atheists. Both exemplary defenders and popularizers of evolutionary thought. Even so, they had sharp disagreements about how to interpret the evidence supporting evolution, how to explain evolution to the public, and what philosophical conclusions might be drawn from evolutionary theory.
Gould championed what he called Nonoverlapping Magisteria (NOMA):
The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). (Stephen Jay Gould, "Nonoverlapping Magisteria," 1997) [The online Stephen Jay Gould Library from which I originally printed this article is not online as I write this, so I am unable to provide a working link]
Dawkins, on the other hand -- calling religious faith a "brain virus" -- rejects any religious authority in the area of morality. The violent conflict between adherents of Catholicism and Protestantism in Northern Ireland and Jews and Muslims in the Middle East being but the latest examples of the utter failure of religion to lead its most passionate followers to respect the ideas, property, and lives of their fellows. Dawkins also allows science more of a role in areas that Gould would concede to religion:
Religion may aspire to provide its followers with various benefits -- among them explanation, consolation, and uplift. Science, too, has something to offer in these areas.
Could it be that as an American, living in a society in which a majority reject evolution, believe in God, attend church, and where science education is under constant attack from religious fundamentalists, Gould's formulation of NOMA should be seen primarily as a strategy of building a united front between secularists on the one hand and believers who accept evolution on the other?
Is it unreasonable to think that Dawkins, living in the U.K., where science education is not under serious attack and more than three people in four say they do not believe in God, is addressing a different audience with other concerns.
Writing from Kansas, where young earth creationists recently voted to inject antiscience nonsense into the state's science curriculum, it's hard for RSR to see how to successfully defend evolution teaching without building a movement that includes believers and nonbelievers alike. We support the position of Kansas Citizens for Science which states that people of faith do not have to choose between science and religion.
Is this strategy tenable, or are Weisberg and Dawkins right that evolution and religion are fundamentally incompatible.
First, it should be noted that the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 for the intelligent design inspired proposal. The four board members who voted to defend science education are not secular humanists, agnostics, or atheists. Apparently, they do not find one incompatible with the other.
There is much other evidence that many believers themselves find no conflict between their religious faith and their acceptance of the findings of science about the natural world. Many Catholics have reacted strongly against Cardinal Schönborn's New York Times Op-Ed supporting intelligent design. Most Jews are suspicious of the motives of the Christian fundamentalists who are driving the antiscience bus and have no trouble reconciling their faith with modern science. In Kansas, one of the most eloquent supporters of evolutionary theory is a Presbyterian theologian.
Those of us who are secular in outlook should be careful not to conflate the childish literalism of the fundamentalists with more sophisticated religious belief that can be tolerant, comfortable with metaphor, and widely varied in content.
Skeptics, secular humanists, agnostics, and atheists -- however they describe themselves -- should remember that while science is very good at what it does, it's not a Swiss Army Knife. There are other ways of knowing. Science can explain the workings of the natural world, but has little to say about the existential questions we humans have. Music, film, literature, the visual arts, dance -- all of which might be seen as filling the role that religion once did -- can get at these existential questions in a way that science can't.
Having been raised a Catholic -- that great transmission belt to doubt -- Red State Rabble rejected religion long before we knew much of anything about evolution. Our confirmation class was so out of control that the nice little old lady who was our teacher withdrew and was replaced by a martial arts expert and physical education professor from the university.
We don't think Weisberg has made a convincing case for cause and effect between evolution and doubt.
As a skeptic, RSR has a profound sympathy with the argument advanced by Richard Dawkins' that religion has been a spectacular failure as a guide to living the moral life. We disagree with those who say that atheists -- and here PZ Myers at Pharyngula has been particularly eloquent in debunking this notion -- should refrain from writing or speaking out about their views because it may endanger science education in this country.
There is no way -- and no need -- to silence thinkers like Dawkins who speak plainly about the philosophical conclusions they draw from the study of science.
Inevitably, creationists and intelligent design proponents will use what Dawkins and others say. That is unimportant as long as we clearly separate our own philosophical speculation from what we propose to include in the science curriculum -- in Kansas, the majority of the science curriculum writing committee -- mostly theistic evolutionists -- was meticulous in this regard.
Secularists should clearly and patiently explain their own philosophical views even as they join hands with men and women of faith to defend science education from the know-nothing attacks of the fundamentalists. There is nothing incompatible in this approach.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Harvard Launches Origins Quest
''We start with a mutual acknowledgment of the profound complexity of living systems," said David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard. But ''my expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention."
More on John Calvert Esq.
While not licensed in the state of Kansas, Calvert nonetheless represented himself as an attorney in the science hearings last May.
Steve Case, chairman of the science standards writing committee, has filed complaints against Calvert in Kansas and Missouri -- where Calvert is licensed.
Is it really a big deal? Here's what Krebs says:
Calvert has been passing himself off as “legal counsel” for the Minority since December, when the state Board and the writing committee were informed by email that the Minority had “appointed John Calvert, Esq. as counsel and as a spokesman for the group.” As a member of the writing committee and as Irigonegaray’s assistant during the hearings, I can certainly say that in both settings I believed that Calvert was actually legal counsel for the Minority.
S.C. Schools Candidate to Push ID
Fish Drowned in Worldwide Flood
From an article by Alexander Alter in the Miami Herald. Take a look at this one to see how creation "scientists" and intelligent design "theorists" work together tag team fashion -- think Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant -- and tailor their message depending on the audience they're addressing. John Calvert speaking for ID and Tom Derosa, for the Creation Studies Institute, an arm of Coral Ridge Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale, are featured.
Lives of the Saints
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Calvert Licensing Controversy Deepens
Although he is not licenced to practice law in the state of Kansas, John Calvert questioned witnesses, as here, filed briefs, and represented himself as an attorney during the science hearings in the state last May.
On Thursday, August 11, the Morning Edition of NPR News on KANU Radio in Lawrence, Kansas broadcast a one-minute segment on retired intelligent design attorney John Calvert. During the science curriculum hearings last May, Calvert represented himself as legal counsel for the antiscience minority on the Kansas science standards committee despite the fact that he is not licensed to practice law in Kansas. Calvert is, apparently, licensed in Missouri.
Red State Rabble has obtained a transcript of the KANU segment in which Calvert makes an astonishing assertion. Here's the transcript:
Pedro Irigonegaray (counsel for the mainstream science at the state science hearings): Not only is the practice of law without a license a violation of ethical guidelines, it is also a crime.
Peter Hancock, for NPR: Calvert admits he’s not licensed in Kansas but says
he did nothing wrong by accepting clients in this state and acting as their attorney.
John Calvert: Just because I don’t hold a Kansas bar license does not mean that I can’t come into Kansas and practice law.
Red State Rabble is curious about something and would like to enlist the aid of our readers. If you have any knowledge of Calvert having accepted fees or expense money for his intelligent design advocacy while representing himself as an attorney, please drop us an e-mail and let us know where we might lay hands on it.
If you'd like to see the depths of Calvert's misrepresentation of himself, visit the web site that reflects the views of the intelligent design minority on the standards committee: Kansas Science Standards 2005 where you will find a half dozen examples of Calvert's legal briefs representing himself as an attorney, such as this:
Bringing Us All Together
“Our enemies are no longer the Democrats, they are the RINOs — Republicans In Name Only — who side with the Democrats,” says Mark Gietzen, former Sedgwick
County GOP chairman, now director of the anti-abortion group Kansas Coalition for Life.
Interestingly, Gietzen is not just critical of the RINOs -- he's also going after state GOP chairman Tim Shallenburger, a fellow conservative:
“He’s made a point of welcoming pro-aborts into the Republican tent. He wants to make them an integral part of the party,” Gietzen said. “So at a time when other state parties are becoming more and more pro-life, we’re moving to the middle. This is stupid, it’s ‘Bleeding Kansas’ all over again.”
Garden City Telegraph Calls for Connie Morris Defeat
Thanks to RSR reader JW for sending this item along.
The Little Institute that Cried Wolf
This amounts to a steady stream of complaints about the coverage they get from journalists and the media. To listen to the fellows at DI's Center for Science and Culture tell it, no group in history has been so misunderstood.
And yet, as RSR reader Bill F. points out:
The DI says "aliens did it" and the newspapers are all over it. TheNational Academy of Sciences issues a statement and it's already yesterday's news. Page 9.
Friday, August 12, 2005
It was then that Mrs. RSR stuck her head out the door to say -- a little more pointedly, we thought, than was absolutely necessary -- that the grass was getting a little long.
We pointed out that the Kansas City Metro, sweltering as it so often does this time of year in the upper 90s, was currently under an ozone alert and that residents were strongly advised to postpone mowing.
Mrs. RSR, an ardent environmentalist, was momentarily defeated. She withdrew into the air conditioned house commenting darkly that she hoped the condition of our yard wouldn't compel the neighbors to revive their petition drive.
We returned to our book, although not with the same concentration as before. It seemed to us that every time we saw one of our neighbors talking across the fence, or going next door to borrow a cup of sugar that they might be talking about the state of RSR's lawn.
Then, winking slyly up at us from the page, we saw what every blogger who has to feed that voracious beast on a daily basis is looking for. An insight. An idea. The subject for our next post. And we promptly forgot about the sorry state of the lawn.
What caught our eye was Dawkins description of how bats find their way around in the dark using echolocation:
You might say that if this is a problem [finding their way in the dark -- RSR] it is a problem of their own making, a problem that they could avoid simply by changing their habits and hunting by day. But the daytime economy is already heavily exploited by other creatures such as birds. Given that there is a living to be made at night, and given that alternative daytime trades are thoroughly occupied, natural selection has favored bats that make a go of the night-hunting trade (p. 22).
In reading this passage, with its references to economy, a living to be made, and night-hunting trade, we were immediately struck by the paradoxical positions taken by those on the fundamentalist right who are at once supporters of a decentralized, market-driven economy and bitter opponents of evolution.
Evolution, it seems to us, is the ultimate in market driven economies. Each gene, each organism, each species fights for its own survival. Each operates in its own self interest. Dawkins' bats could be thought of as entrepreneurs of the night. A start up operation exploiting a hitherto unrecognized niche market. Isn't this the rugged individualism, the unregulated creativity, the magic of the market, that those on the right so claim to admire?
Creationism and intelligent design, on the other hand, it seems to us are the ultimate in centralized planning -- the six days of creation sounding like nothing so much as a highly compressed five year plan. No wonder 99.9 percent of all the species that ever lived on the earth are now extinct. Think of the waste, the inefficiency, the bureaucracy.
Think of the contradictory ideas the wingnuts must try to reconcile inside their aching heads.
The right claims that evolution is cruel. They claim that if it is true, human beings are no better than beasts -- that without god-given laws there is no basis for morality. And yet, they work tirelessly to tear down the man-made laws and social institutions that protect the poor, the elderly, the infirm.
What sense does it make to reject evolution in nature, but espouse rugged individualism -- otherwise known as social Darwinism -- in relations between human beings?
Attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, who represented mainstream, pro-evolution scientists during hearings in May on science standards, accused attorney John Calvert, who represented the anti-evolution scientists, of misstating his official job position.
Irigonegaray said of Calvert, “He has never been licensed to practice law in the state of Kansas and all the time in those hearings he was acting as a Kansas lawyer.
“It’s an outrage. It is both illegal and unethical to do so. There are criminal statutes that sanction against false impersonation and that includes acting as though one was something that one isn’t.”
Calvert on Wednesday conceded he is not licensed to practice law in Kansas. He said he is licensed in Missouri.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Jacob Weisberg, writing in Slate today, argues that we should quit pretending that evolution and religion are compatible. Weisberg cites the official position of Kansas Citizens for Science -- People of faith do not have to choose between science and religion -- but argues that as a practical matter of fact they do.
To support this argument Weisberg points out that:
In the United States, [in a 1993 NORC study -- RSR] 63 percent of the public believed in God and 35 percent believed in evolution. In Great Britain, by comparison, 24 percent of people believed in God and 77 percent believed in evolution. You can believe in both - but not many people do.Red State Rabble is still thinking through the implications of American scientist, educators, and their supporters adopting such a strategy. Whether Weisberg is right, or whether he is wrong, the Slate piece is well worth reading.
Connie Morris: Annals of a Fiscal Conservative
Just when we thought nothing more would be revealed about Kansas school board member Connie Morris' $339 a night taxpayer funded junket to Miami Beach last April we get this report from Duane Schrag in the Salina Journal:
- During her six nights in the $339-a-night room at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort in Miami Beach she had a studio ocean-view suite. According to resort staff, it is “very nice.”
- Promotional material from Magnet Schools of America, according to Schrag's report, says that a special conference rate of $147 a night was available for attendees who registered before March 29. Morris registered in late February.
- Her receipts include a $147 cab ride, although, she may have rented a car.
- A receipt for a $75 cab ride to the airport is day one day before her flight left.
There is more, much more.
Just the other day, Red State Rabble had a little fun at retiree John Calvert's expense. You remember him, he's the ID advocate and FOCM who is leading the charge for intelligent design with the school board.
Now, however, we've come to a new appreciation for our retired citizens. It seems like the information in Schrag's report come not from the tireless work of a MSM investigative reporter, but from Frank Smith, a Bluff City, Kansas resident who, according to Schrag, describes himself as a retiree who likes to stir up trouble.
We reported a couple of days ago that Connie has reimbursed the state board $2,890 for her boondog... eh, trip. Even so, our favorite fiscal conservative refuses to be drawn into any long-winded explanations:
“I’m done haggling about it,” Schrag reports her as saying. “I just don’t have anything to say.”
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Telling it like it is...
Thanks to RSR reader Bill F. for bringing this commentary from the Philiadelphia Inquirer by Marci A. Hamilton, the author of God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law to our attention.
Hopeful Sign of the Second Coming?
He will explore this "curious" verse, 2 Peter 3:10:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
"Bring a pen," says Pastor Jerry, "it is going to be phenomenal night of learning!"
Red State Rabble noted that, in the wake of President Bush's endorsement of intelligent design, there was an uptick in the number of bloggers who wrote posts saying it was time for any sane person to move to Canada or New Zealand -- in fact, any reality based country would do.
For our part, we're going to stay and fight. We don't think it's possible to move far enough away from people who believe that nuclear war is a hopeful sign of the second coming of Christ. We certainly don't think these biblical literalists should be left alone and in charge of the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.
A Dead Body
The latest sign that Calvert has far, far too much time on his hands is his 20-page reply to a statement adopted by the majority of the Kansas science standards writing committee that opposed adding intelligent design inspired pseudoscience to the science curriculum taught in the state.
Here's a sample:
A second problem that plagues the [Majority -- RSR] response is the claim that the Changes [Made by the school board -- RSR] are false or erroneous without describing in particularity the words that make the statement false and without providing any evidence that supports the claim of error. Thus, the claim of the Response that it is incorrect to say that there is no known cause for the Cambrian Explosion is not supported by reference to a known cause for the event. A known cause would falsify the Change. Instead the claim of error is accompanied only by a statement that science has much information about the products of the event. A claim that we have much information about a dead body does not explain the cause of its death.
No, we couldn't make much of that either, but that doesn't stop it from going on for page after mind-numbing page. If you have far too much time on your hands, or you're having a hard time getting to sleep, you can read the whole reply here. If you still can't sleep, they've also posted a reply by Jonathan Wells.
ID's Last Gasp?
In reality -- and yes, this is a reality-based blog -- these two events may be seen in the light of later events as ID's last gasp.
From all indications, Cardinal Schonborn's Op-Ed have generated a furious opposition from progressive forces within the church, who have no problem reconciling deep faith with modern science. In RSR's view, the Op-Ed gave the boys at Discovery a short-term public relations coup, but will offer nothing of lasting value in terms of a change in church policy.
The statement by President Bush generated an enormous amount of publicity. For a time, intelligent design was reported by Technorati to be the most popular search term on the Internet.
The endorsement by Mr. Bush may, in the end, prove only a mixed blessing. After all, the president is still more likely, by several orders of magnitude, to find WMD in Iraq than the fellows at the Discovery Institute are to find scientific evidence backing their "theory."
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Morris Claims the Moral High Ground... Again
Naturally, Morris, who originally submitted an expense report claiming $3,600 for a six-day Florida junket -- including $339 a night for luxury hotel accommodations at the Fountainebleau Hilton Resort in in Miami Beach -- claimed the moral high ground.
"No amount of media bullying can take from the good people I serve the vision and knowledge gained from the conference," Morris said. "God says avoid the appearance of wrongdoing. My dad says that if you want to know the character of a man, look in his billfold."
The vision and knowledge Morris gained was from the Magnet Schools of America Conference in April -- unfortunately there are not magnet schools in Connie's district. Kansas only has three magnet schools. They are in Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City.
Fortunately, Connie's daughter lives near the Miami Beach conference site, so the trip probably wasn't a total loss.
Calvert Not Licensed in Kansas
"This brings into question the veracity, the accuracy and the truthfulness of this entire process," Irigonegaray said, according to a report by Josh Funk for Knight Ridder newspapers.
Kansas Board Approves Science Standards
The majority of the science standards writing committee, which opposed the inclusion of antiscientific intelligent design and creationist arguments against evolution in the standards asked to have their names removed from the standards and the board agreed.
The subject of President Bush's endorsement of intelligent design came up.
In the interest of preventing a massive pile up on the interstate, RSR refrained from writing what Maher said about ID on the back of an envelope that was lying on the floorboards under a mound of trash, but we think we can paraphrase his words quite closely, nonetheless.
Maher said he doesn't hate America -- as those on the right sometimes claim -- but he is embarrassed by her leaders from time to time. One of the things that embarrassed him recently was the president's endorsement of intelligent design, which he called a code word for creationism.
Republicans wouldn't be Republicans, Maher said, if they didn't use code words.
That, we think, is an interesting observation that hasn't received enough attention here, or anywhere else for that matter.
While it is true that some proponents of intelligent design are utterly sincere -- we're convinced there are at least six of them in North America -- there are many others who see it as just the vehicle -- a Hummer, perhaps -- to drive through the front doors of your local high school in order to put creationism into the public school curriculum.
And those are the good guys.
There are some more Machiavellian types -- Karl Rove comes to mind -- who see both intelligent design and creationism as the ideal blunt instrument. The perfect accessory for the well-dressed culture warrior.
And for them, the culture wars have little to do with abortion, gay rights, public education, and the Ten Commandments. For them, the culture wars have everything to do raising money to elect politicians who will maintain the system of crony capitalism that came to power with the Bush family. Their job, as they see it, is the sale of the people's government to the corporate class. All prices have been marked down. No reasonable offer will be refused. Everything must go.
As Maher also observed, lobbyists have now become the fourth branch of government.
In this context, intelligent design can proudly take its place next to States Rights, Southern Strategy, Defense of Marriage, Activist Judge, and Family Values as the double talk that now dominates our political life.
The supreme irony of our current situation -- which we are convinced will become the hallmark of our era when historians look back from the future -- is that those who run the government now, those who say they are for traditional values and old fashioned morality, are presiding over the most corrupt era of American political life. The robber barons that came to power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries never had it this good.
Creation Science and the Ark: How Did Noah Do It?
Origins or Evolution: What are we Debating?
For example, Joe Garofoli, writing an otherwise excellent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, says:
The real impact of President Bush weighing in on the national debate over how to teach the origins of life may be felt in the classroom, where much of the anti-evolutionary lobbying is done under the radar.
The fact is, however, scientists and educators aren't the ones who propose teaching the origins of life in high school science classrooms -- creationists and intelligent design "theorists" are the ones who want desperately to inject origins into the science curriculum and use it to sow doubts in student's minds about evolution.
In Kansas, for example, the pro-science majority of the science curriculum committee didn't propose teaching the origins of life -- that is the change from inorganic matter to living organisms -- it was, instead, the intelligent design activists organized by the Discovery Institute and the ID Network who pushed for inclusion.
Most of the witnesses they brought to Kansas focused their testimony on origins. In fact, they devoted so much time to origins that at one point board member Connie Morris blurted out "I'm a little confused by the prebiotic soup!"
Fellow board member Kathy Martin rushed to her aid, as she so often does. "We can't see a soup in nature, so talking about it is not naturalistic. It's speculation."
At this, all three board members nodded sagely.
Scientists and educators don't propose teaching origins in an introductory biology class because there is, as yet, no scientific consensus on how life grew out of inorganic matter. As Ernst Mayr puts it in What Evolution Is:
In the last 75 years, an extensive literature dealing with this problem has developed and some six or seven competing theories for the origin of life have been proposed. Although no fully satisfactory theory has yet emerged, the problem no longer seems as formidable as at the beginning of the twentieth century (p. 42).
If there is no scientific agreement about origins, then why do creationists and intelligent design activists want to teach it to high school students getting their first exposure to the biological sciences?
First, it is a gap in our knowledge -- like the so-called gap in the fossil record they seem to find so congenial -- that science has not yet been able to fill. It's a gap that ID activists want to exploit to raise doubt in student's minds about the scientific consensus on common descent and other widely accepted elements of evolutionary theory.
Second, because these members of this holier-than-thou "values crowd" have absolutely no compunction -- the depth of their cynicism, apparently, is boundless -- about using our children as cannon fodder in this culture war they have chosen to fight.
Origins is an interesting area of research that one day may yield new insights into the story of how we humans got here -- but it is not one that scientists, educators, or supporters of science education propose putting into the high school science curriculum now.
Science Teachers to Bush: Intelligent Design is not Science
"We stand with the nation's leading scientific organizations and scientists, including Dr. John Marburger, the president's top science advisor, in stating that intelligent design is not science. Intelligent design has no place in the science classroom," said Gerry Wheeler, NSTA Executive Director.
Read the whole statement here.
Synchronicity: Discovery and Swift Boat Vets
Red State Rabble must admit that their is a certain synchronicity between the Swift Boat Vets and the intelligent design movement. CRC must have understood immediately that the casual disregard for the truth shown by both groups makes them a particularly good fit for the firm.
In Seattle, hiring CRC is undoubtedly is viewed as a move to shore up support from those in the values crowd who see no problem with lying, as long as it's done for God.
The Practice Areas page of the Creative Response Concepts website advises potential customers that "[w]hether you are launching a new product, facing an imminent crisis, or looking to educate the public, CRC helps you achieve your goals."
RSR can see that all three "practice areas" might be highly useful for Discovery just now, especially advice on "facing an imminent crisis."
UW-Madison Biochem Faculty Urges Wisconsin School District to Teach Evolution
Last year, according to Nathans', the district voted to require teachers to explain the "scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory."
The letter from the biochemistry faculty said in part:
"Scientists accept evolution as fact precisely because of the overwhelming mass of evidence behind it. This evidence has accumulated in countless thousands of carefully refereed and published studies in dozens of scientific disciplines over the last 150 years."
Monday, August 08, 2005
Uncommon Dissent Conference No Match for Creationism Mega Conference
At the Mega Conference, intelligent design took something of a beating from the creationists there. In one presentation reported by Ronald Bailey on Reason Online, Georgia Purdom, identified as an assistant professor of biology at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio, had this to say about the citified airs being put on by her intelligent design cousins:
"I couldn't believe it [intelligent design] because it did not fit with the God I know; the God with whom I have a personal relationship," insisted Purdom. Intelligent designers share the same problem with evolutionists—both ignore Scripture.
So, we wondered, would the intelligent design "theorists" outmobilize their increasingly discontented country cousins in Greenville.
We were concerned because the Uncommon Dissent Conference seemed to have dropped off the face of the planet. As of Monday morning, no report has appeared on the Evolution News and Views blog, and unlike the Mega Conference, the event seemed to have drawn little MSM attention.
Then we saw this Associated Press report. Despite Discovery's intense promotion of the event, only 200 people bothered to attend. Even Discovery's newly hired Swift Boat Vets PR firm couldn't get this dog to hunt.
[BTW Jason Rosenhouse also had an excellent series of reports from the Mega Conference at Panda's Thumb]