Thursday, August 31, 2006


Stanford's David Kingsley, a professor of developmental biology, has been putting manatee pelvic bones on a scale and weighing them. And, he's found that the left pelvic bone almost always outweighs the right.

Science Daily reports that the difference between the two-- the average left pelvic bone is 10 percent larger than its right-side partner--suggests that "mutations in the same gene may be responsible for the evolution of leglessness in animals as distantly related as 1,000-pound manatees in Florida and fish smaller than an index finger living in lakes and streams around the world."

Read more here.


Busting the Myth About the Conflict Between Faith and Science

Are science and religion really in conflict? The conventional wisdom would say, yes.

The reality, however, may be far more complex, ambiguous, and rich than the simple-minded war between science and religion paradigm can account for.

Keith B. Miller, a paleontologist, evangelical Christian, and editor of “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” will discuss these issues in a free public lecture, "Evolution: Science And Faith In Conflict?" on Saturday, September 2 from 3:00-5:30 p.m. at the Manhattan Public Library.

This event is sponsored by: Kansas Citizens for Science, KSU Faculty of Faith, and the Harvest Fellowship


Kansas: Finishing the Job

The Kansas Alliance for Education, a nonpartisan grassroots organization that promotes the election of candidates to the Kansas State Board of Education who support quality education for all Kansas children, was a key player during the primary election. The KAE helped moderates take Kansas back from the right-wing fanatics who've taken over the board of education.

Mailings, phone calls, and radio ads paid for by the KAE were an essential element in the victories of Sally Cauble and Jana Shaver, and the re-election of Janet Waugh.

Now, the KAE is laying plans to finish the job on Nov. 7 by helping to elect Don Weiss in District 3 and Jack Wempe in District 7 to the state board.

During the primary, KAE raised over $130,000, mostly through small to moderate donations.

In order to wage effective campaigns against John Bacon and Ken Willard -- the two remaining right-wing incumbents up for election this year -- KAE needs to raise at least $60,000. It has just five weeks to do it.

Your contribution will help KAE endorse candidates such as Don Weiss and Jack Wempe, publicize their candidacies, encourage contributions to their campaigns, make the maximum allowable contribution from KAE to their campaigns, engage in a public discussion of the issues surrounding the state Board of Education races, and encourage voter turnout.

Please send a contribution to KAE at PO Box 615 , Johnson , KS 67855 or go to the website to contribute by Pay Pal.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing would ruin John Calvert's, and Steve Abrams', and William Dembski's, and Stephen Meyer's, and Casey Luskin's day -- while driving a stake deep into the heart of intelligent design -- like losing Willard and Bacon's seats on the Kansas school board.

Make a contribution today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Pope to Meet With Former Theology Students on Evolution

Reuters: Pope Benedict will meet with his former theology students on Friday for a private weekend debate on evolution and religion, an issue conservative Christians have turned into a political cause in the United States.

However, a clear signal that the upcoming meetings may not be all the denizens of the Discovery Institute and William Dembski's Uncommon Descent blog hope they will be, Father Stephan Horn, a German theologian who is organizing the Pope's meeting, says "It has nothing to do with creationism. Catholic theology does not endorse creationist views."

Moreover, the Reuters article quotes Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, one of the two main speakers at the meeting, as having said last week."The possibility that the Creator used evolution as a tool is completely acceptable for the Catholic faith."


Americans Becoming Uneasy About Christian Conservatives Imposting Religious Values

A public opinion survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that while the public remains more supportive of religion's role in public life than in the 1960s, Americans are becoming increasingly uneasy with the approaches offered by both liberals and conservatives.

According to the report, "fully 69 percent of Americans say that liberals have gone too far in keeping religion out of schools and government. But the proportion who express reservations about attempts by Christian conservatives to impose their religious values has edged up in the past year, with about half the public (49 percent) now expressing wariness about this."


Banned Book Week

According to the American Library Association, which will mark the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week September 23-30, more than one book a day is challenged in U.S. schools and libraries.

In all, there have been more than 8,700 attempts to ban books since the American Library Association began compiling and publishing information on book challenges in 1990.

There were 405 known attempts to remove books from library shelves in 2005, according to the ALA, which defines challenges as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

About 70 percent of challenges take place in schools and school libraries. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2005” were:

“It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;

“Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;

“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;

“Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;

“Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;

“What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;

Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;

“Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and

“It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.

You can order a Banned Books Week poster or vote for your favorite banned book at the American Library Association's Banned Books website. Our vote goes to Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."

Sometimes, people look at RSR with a barely concealed sense of wonder and ask, "How do you find time to write all those posts?"

What they really mean, of course, is don't you have anything better to do, but the simple truth, which I'm almost embarrassed to tell these folks, is that after a few idle minutes cruising various creationist, intelligent design, and fundamentalist websites, this blog practically writes itself.

The photo of Steven Colbert putting bacterial flagella on notice is a case in point. We don't know where it originated, but we came across it yesterday at Telic Thoughts, a small intelligent design blog. It was the photo that initially caught our eye, but it quickly turned out that, good as it was, the photo wasn't nearly as funny as the comment left by kornbelt888:
"I've tried to watch this joker several times. He's just not funny. The left seems loves him I guess."
No, really?

Do intelligent design activists suffer hitherto undiagnosed aphasia? Or, do they inhabit some freakish twilight zone where they are denied access to insights granted the rest of us?

We don't know. All we can say is that those -- like kornbelt888 -- who choose to dwell outside the sunny borders of the reality-based world just seem not to get it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Black and White, and Read All Over, Except...

When you dig to the bottom of things, what is it that really separates those who understand and embrace evolutionary theory from its doubters?

"In some ways," writes Margaret Talbot in "Darwin in the Dock" a New Yorker essay about the Dover intelligent design trial, "the clearest line of demarcation was between those who avidly read the local newspapers (virtually all the plaintiffs) and those who scorned them (virtually all the pro-intelligent-design school-board members)."

Perhaps that explains why William Dembski's Uncommon Descent blog, and Denyse O'Leary -- DaveScott's intrepid pinch hitter -- posted stories asserting -- despite news reports to the contrary -- that Father George Coyne was replaced as director of the Vatican Observatory because he's an outspoken opponent of creationism and intelligent design.

Well, don't worry. They'll surely correct those posts for their readers... just as soon as they pick up a newspaper.


Inappropriate Words

Boy attorney and intelligent design "theorist" extraordinaire Casey Luskin has a post up on the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog this morning that reads like a unconscious satire of his own transparently ingenuous style.

It's an Onion piece, without the onion.

Luskin is flogging his recent appearance with John West on C-SPAN-2's Book-TV to promote their highly fictionalized account of the Dover intelligent design trial, Traipsing Into Evolution.

You can watch the performance here.

According to Luskin, West believes he's found the smoking gun that proves Judge John Jones, who presided at the Dover trial, has used "inappropriate words for any court to make under our First Amendment."

Most amusing of all, Luskin follows his triumphant "inappropriate words" assertion with, "[a]nd you should agree with me regardless of whether you believe that religion can be compatible with evolution."

Well, sorry Casey, we don't quite agree.

Here's the smoking gun that West and Luskin, positively quivering with excitement, believe they've unearthed:
"The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry."

Yes, that's it. The judge was guided in his decision by what the Founders -- the authors of our Constitution -- believed. How rash of him.

Free and rational inquiry? We can't have that.


Crackpot Christianity

Last weekend, writes Walter Uhler on The Huffington Post blog, "Americans were given another opportunity to see "Crackpot Christianity" in action. All they had to do was tune in to The Coral Ridge Hour and watch its presentation of "Darwin's Deadly Legacy."

"Although it would not persuade any educated American, the show's dishonesty implies a staggering contempt for its intended audience -- the untaught."



Latest Lunacy From America's Taliban

"The latest lunacy from one of our more fanatical right-wing American Christian television outfits, the Coral Ridge Ministries," writes John Brummett, an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock, is that the "Holocaust wasn't Hitler's fault. Darwin made him do it."

Coral Ridge, writes Brummett, "espouses that America is not a free-religion nation, but a Christian one. It argues there should be no separation of church and state. Thus it's America's Taliban, America's Shiite theocracy."


Religion, a Divisive Factor?

"The question is whether religion is a reconciling participant in world affairs and American life, or whether it's divisive. To the extent that there has been a marriage of the Republican party with the Christian right, I think religion has been a divisive factor in political life," says John Danforth, an Episcopal priest and former Republican senator from Missouri.

This fall, Danforth plans a speaking tour to discuss his new book, "Faith and Politics," an attempt, he says, to start a discussion about the role of religion in elections and government, according to the Northwest Herald.

This discussion, it would appear, has begun. The role of religion in politics is the subject of a number of books slated to be published over the next few months, including Mel White's Religion Gone Bad, Dan Gilgoff's The Jesus Machine, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and the Rev. Barry W. Lynn's Piety & Politics.


Coyne Rumors "Absolutely False"

The Arizona Daily Star reports that in "an e-mail statement sent to 'friends' on an Internet mailing list, [Father Jose] Funes said the rumors that [Father George] Coyne was replaced [as Director of the Vatican Observatory] because of his stance on Intelligent Design were 'absolutely false.' He said Coyne requested in May that church officials in Rome replace him."


Discounting Deities

School members in Mobile, Alabama have banned the 1963 novel, The Learning Tree, by acclaimed photographer, writer, composer, and Kansas native Gordon Parks. The Learning Tree is a popular and well-regarded autobiographical novel about a black family in 1920s Kansas.

NBC affiliate WPMI reports the novel was assigned as summer reading material by a teacher at Leflore High.

"The racial language that bothered me, the connotations racially, the explicit sexual overtones which are rampant and numerous. Then, the discounting of deities cursing and, then, you attach Jesus Christ to that," says school board member Reverend Fleet Belle.

"It's too suggestive for 9th graders to be reading. Matter of fact, I would say it's too suggestive for even a Senior in high school to be reading as literature," adds Belle.

WPMI reports that Leflore High Principal D.H. Robinson say she will personally screen every piece of required reading material at Leflore.

That way, students in Leflore can be sure they will never again be allowed to read anything that makes them think, because that would be dangerous.

Monday, August 28, 2006


What Pluto's Demotion Can Teach Us About Science

"Rather than complain about Pluto's demotion," write Jeffry Mallow, a professor of physics, and Steven Lubet, a professor of law, "teachers should take this opportunity to educate their children about the scientific method, and how it forces scientists to keep an open mind. In a world of increasingly polarized opinions and dogmatic 'truths,' it is truly wonderful to see scientists engage in a process of open re-evaluation. Now, if we could only get politicians to do the same thing."


Pope to Align Church With ID?

There have been growing signs the Pope is considering aligning his church more closely with the theory of "intelligent design," according to a report in The Guardian (UK).


Wempe Announces Bipartisan Campaign Committee

Jack Wempe, the moderate, pro-science candidate for the Kansas State Board of Education running in District 7 against ultra-right incumbent Ken Willard, announced the formation of bipartisan campaign committee with Democrats and Republicans represented in roughly equal numbers today.

Beverly Ooley, former Rice County Commissioner, a Democrat, and Joan Davison, former Rice County Clerk, a Republican will serve as Wempe's campaign committee co-chairs.

District contact chairpersons named are Les Anderson, of Valley Center; Duane Anstine, of Hutchinson; Greg Bauer, of Harper; Flora Bishop, of Wichita; Rex Boley, of Ellsworth; Nancy Craig, of Newton; Christine Downey-Schmidt, of Inman; Jack Galle, of Pratt; Sue Greenleaf, of Greensburg; Pam Gruber, of Hope; Skip Herd, of Coldwater; Tim Karstetter, of McPherson; Shari McCabe, of Hutchinson; Mel Minor, of Stafford; Ken Peirce, of Hutchinson; Sue Peachey, of Pratt; Sharon Ringler, of Sylvan Grove; Susan Roenbaugh; ofKinsley, Mark Rondeau, of Great Bend; Dorothy Stites, of St. John and Donna Viola, of McPherson.

This committee -- with its impressive bipartisan strength and geographic breadth -- should give encouragement to moderates fighting to take Kansas back from far right ideologues. Wempe's campaign has opened an office at 121 West Main in Lyons (620-257-2213). A website has been developed. The campaign address is P.O. Box 54, Lyons, KS 67554.

This is by far and away the most impressive campaign organization for a state board candidate that RSR has seen. It represents a serious commitment by political leaders in District 7 to put public education in Kansas back on track.

Please visit the website and make a contribution.


Ohio: So-Called Scientists

Will the Ohio state school board race between creationist Deborah Owens Fink and moderate Tom Sawyer really be fought over the issue of how we teach science in public schools?

We'll let you be the judge, but before you make up your mind, here's a piece of evidence to evaluate. It's an excerpt from a fundraising letter mailed out by Fink to her supporters:
As many of you have heard or read, the liberal left have recruited someone to run against me in my State Board of Education race.

The usual trio is at work here: Patricia Princehouse, Lawrence Krauss, and Steve Rising.

For those of you that have followed the Ohio State School Board's decision over the last 6 years: to teach evolution fully- including all of the strengths of the theory- as well as discussion of the gaps, this trio has fought against this notion. While 82% of Ohioans wanted a more open discussion of evolution, other groups such as the Ohio and National Academy of Science have preferred instead to censor the issue. This group of so-called scientists do not want many of the problems of contemporary evolutionary thought analyzed. One must ask: What are they afraid of? (eg, no evidence for chemical origin; or explanation for how the information complexity in DNA originated or evolved)

Yes, that's right, the Ohio and National Academies of Science aren't made up of real scientists as you may have supposed but of "so-called" scientists. Certainly, these so-called scientists wouldn't be nearly as qualified as Fink to determine how DNA evolved.

RSR thinks the Bible is a great piece of literature, and many take solace from its words, but the people who wrote it didn't know how to make a microscope, a telescope, or a refrigerator. For those reasons -- though we know Fink may disagree -- it may be that the good book isn't the best guide to science we could put in our public school classrooms.

One last little point, as recent experience in Kansas demonstrates, creationists and intelligent design activists who blithely assume that public opinion surveys showing support for teaching creationism and intelligent design in public schools can be translated into election victories may end up disappointed. Just ask Connie Morris.


Death of Science

Blogs For Bush, a group blog covering George W. Bush that organizes bloggers who support the President, breathlessly reported this weekend that "Science is Dead."
Why did science stray from the path of truth? I think it is because we ceased educating the men of science [there are no women, apparently, in the Bush blogosphere, RSR] with a knowledge of religion - a knowledge, that is, of genuine truth, genuine reason, and the relationship of man to creation, and his Creator. When science became a narrowly forcused (sic) search for something immediately practical, it was bound to eventually be hijacked by people who wanted to use the cover of science for very impractical efforts.

Yes, the search for "something immediately practical" inevitably leads to "impractical efforts." The cause and effect are indisputable. The logic impeccable. The idiocy undeniable.


Colorado: Flagging Support

Reader JOJ sends along this heartwarming story proving that xenophobia is as American as baseball, mom, and apple pie.

After middle school geography teacher Eric Hamlin was briefly suspended for refusing to take down a classroom display of flags that included those of Mexico, China and the United Nations, "a Littleton middle school removed 30 flags from the gym Friday, fearing that they violate a Colorado law against displaying foreign flags in state buildings," according to Berny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News.
"Perhaps I have a much more cautious interpretation of the law than other people," Oaks said. "I have no idea. I just know that we certainly wouldn't want to be in violation of the state law.

"We don't want it to be anything that anybody would say, 'Do you realize you're violating the law on the wall of your gym?' We don't want that," Oaks said.

Phil Klein, a University of Northern Colorado geography professor who advises school districts on geography curriculums and teaching materials, said he has never heard of anyone objecting to the use of foreign flags in classroom instruction.

"I have not heard of anybody interpreting the law that way," said Klein, who works with all metro area school districts.

Apparently, students will be able to express their "diversity" by painting banners representing the countries of the flags that have been removed, but the lesson in fear they've been taught, we suspect, will much more vivid and long lasting than anything else they learn in school this year.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Coyne Undergoing Chemotherapy

As many readers know, RSR has been suspicious that the replacement of Rev. George Coyne as director of the Vatican Observatory was due to his outspoken criticisms of creationism and intelligent design.

Now, in the comments to one of our posts, Wolfwalker has alerted us to an article in an Italian newspaper that clears up the mystery. Since the issue has received a lot of attention in the blogosphere, we wanted to pull it out of the comments section and post it where everyone might have a chance to read it:

Coyne, who is undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, has been forced to quit because of the pressures of work at a prestigious astronomy lab that has offshoots all over the world, including Arizona in the US .

Shortly before filing his retirement request this month, the stargazer penned an article for the authoritative science monthly Newton in which he said "God isn't a designer and life is the fruit of billions of attempts."

"People who want to see designers...should go to Milan or, if they're looking for engineers, to Dubai where they're building a whole new city," Coyne wrote.

The Vatican has denied a report in the London-based Daily Mail that the ailing prelate was "removed" because he had "irritated" the pope.

Unfortunately, the article also reports that the Pope is scheduled to "brainstorm on evolution with a top theologian [Schoenborn] accused of championing controversial theories that rubbish Darwin."


Run This Up the Flagpole and See Who Salutes

Living in Kansas and fighting the good fight against creationism and intelligent design Red State Rabble sometimes thinks we've seen it all. And then we come across things like this...

Digby reports that a Colorado geography teacher was put on paid leave for refusing to remove Mexican, Chinese and United Nations flags from his classroom.

Oddly enough, reason appears to have reared its ugly head, district officials have backed down and Eric Hamlin, who teaches seventh-graders in Jefferson County, will be allowed to return to school today.

However, former state Rep. Carl Miller, who sponsored legislation in 2002 strengthening a 1971 law restricting foreign flag displays, said the school was right to put Hamlin on leave and should not have let him return so soon.

Miller, a Democrat from Leadville, disagreed with Jefferson County Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, who said the outcome was a "win-win situation."

"The only win-win I see is that Mr. Hamlin wins, China wins, Mexico wins and the United Nations wins," he said.

No word yet on reports that a new Colorado law will soon prohibit geography textbooks that contain world maps, or that French and Spanish classes will be taught in English.


Creation Science 2.0

"Creation Science 2.0," the newly updated and revised chapter on the battle over science education in the just released paperback edition of Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science has been posted on the book's website.


Blogging Evolution and the Public

Jim Chen, associate dean and James L. Krusemark Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School is blogging about evolution and its reception by the public at Jurisdynamics.

In a recent post, Jim writes:
This administration has demonstrated no restraint in playing politics with science," writes Chen. "It deserves no presumption of good faith on matters of this sort. Evolutionary biology has become a special whipping boy for one of this administration's most rabid constituencies, so much so that pandering to antievolutionist sentiment has reached the highest judicial levels.

Why not wander over and take a look at Jurisdynamics?


Ohio: Impressive Credentials

Tom Sawyer has a website up now -- no not that Tom Sawyer -- the one that's running for state school board in Ohio against intelligent design busy body Deborah Owens Fink.

Here's what the Akron Beacon Journal says about Sawyer:

Sawyer brings "impressive credentials to the school board race. He is a former teacher and, most telling, a former lawmaker who has been deeply involved in education at the state and federal level.

"Fink referred to Sawyer supporters as 'just a small group of dogmatic scientists. Hardly. Their numbers are many.

"They grasp the critical need for a rigorous science curriculum, one that avoids detours into the realm of faith. In Tom Sawyer, they have a candidate who recognizes the difference this election can make."

Why not pay a visit to Sawyer's website, and while your there, make a contribution to his campaign and the fight to defend science education and separation of church and state. In RSR's view, it's the best investment you can make.


Church of Rationality

Check out Brother Mark's Church of Rationality which is "dedicated to maintaining fidelity to reason in all areas of our lives. We do not rely," says Brother Mark, "upon prophets, fables, mythology, folklore, or superstitions; for those give us no knowledge, nor do we say “I don’t know,” for that gives us no insight. We believe in what is real, and in the absence of empirical proof, we postulate and accept what is most likely to be true."

RSR, being a writer and one of those sickeningly squishy humanities types shares Brother Mark's distaste for prophets, who in our experience seem to be missing the ambiguity gene, but we are fascinated by fable, myth, and folklore -- it's not that we think these stories tell us much about the natural world, but that they tell us a lot about ourselves.

That little difference in emphasis aside, Brother Mark has compiled a great set of resources for those of us who worship at the altar of rationality.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Ohio: Strong Challenge to Anti-science Faction on School Board

"The state’s Board of Education has the responsibility to provide leadership in finding fair and effective school-funding solutions. Yet a few outspoken members of the board have kept it from this role," says Tom Sawyer, former congressman and mayor of Akron.

Sawyer, who started his career as a public-school teacher, is running for a seat on the Ohio state school board against incumbent Deborah Owens Fink, a Republican who led efforts to challenge the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in high-school science curriculum.

Citing economic strains and global competition, Sawyer told The Columbus Dispatch that, "The state needs to take science and technology seriously."

Fink doesn't think she should pay the price for the board's neglect of other issues while it wrote evolution out of the science standards. She told The Columbus Dispatch "that while she might have opposed the move, questionable sections of the curriculum guidelines were removed earlier this year."

Now, that's leadership.


New Vatican Observatory Director Dismisses Speculation

The Catholic News Service reports that the Rev. Jose Funes, the newly appointed director of the Vatican Observatory, has dismissed speculation that former director Rev. George Coyne "had been forced out of the job because of his strong comments in support of evolution and criticism of the 'intelligent design' movement."
"It's simply not true that this was the reason he left," Father Funes said.

Funes said the appointment was a natural development after Father Coyne's long tenure and one of many personnel changes being made at the Vatican under the new pope.

As for his own views on evolution, Father Funes emphasized that he was an astronomer specializing in galaxies, not a biologist, and so did not plan to make statements about Darwinism and intelligent design.
Rev. Funes told CNS that, "it's important to distinguish between the scientific study of natural causes and the religious beliefs of faith."

RSR was beginning to believe assertions that Father Coyne was suffering from health problems and that he was leaving the job voluntarily, but Father Funes' statement, to our mind, raises more questions than it answers.

For example, Father Funes says the decision "one of many personnel changes being made at the Vatican under the new pope" suggesting that stepping down was not Father Coyne's idea.

There has been, to our knowledge, no public statement by Father Coyne.

There has been no statement from the Pope recognizing Father Coyne's achievements and thanking him for his long years of service as the director of the Observatory.

A retirement for a man of Father Coyne's stature is normally accompanied by a celebration of his accomplishments. To our knowledge, this has not happened.

Assertions that Father Coyne is too sick to continue as director have been contradicted by statements suggesting he is still active and vigorous and that he will continue to work at the observatory in other capacities.

RSR is stuck asking questions. We don't pretend to have any answers. But, until we learn more, we're reserving judgement on whether Father Coyne left voluntarily or he was dismissed for his vocal opposition to intelligent design.


Upping the Ante

Discovery Institute fellows Richard Weikart, Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells have joined hands with Christian Supremacist D. James Kennedy and the boys at Coral Ridge Ministry's to air a pseudo-documentary about Hitler's supposed embrace of Darwin.

Although the Anti-Defamation League lodged a strong protest against the program saying it trivializes the Holocaust, Discovery and Coral Ridge have, apparently, decided not only to plunge ahead, but to pull out all the stops.

According to Baptist Press News, the television special will also link Darwin to Eric Harris, one of the killers at the 1999 Columbine school massacre.

Pity they won't be able to link Darwin to Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, or Jim Jones.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


How Jesus Led to Hitler and Hitler Led to Ann Coulter

Commenting on the D. James Kennedy pseudo-documentary linking Darwin to Hitler, Ellis Weiner, a former editor of National Lampoon and a columnist for Spy, asks:
I'm stunned. How could I have gone through twelve years of public school, and six years of Hebrew school, and four years of college, and two years of drum lessons, and still not know that the deadly career of the world-famous dictator, Adolph Hitler, is directly attributable to Jesus Christ?

Displaying an uncanny knack for grasping the delicate nuance that is intelligent design reasoning, Weiner explains the link between Christianity, Hitler, and Ann Coulter:
Hitler was a Christian and--correct me if I'm wrong--also a Nazi. Christianity led to Nazism. A lot of Nazis were Christians. A lot of Christians were Nazis. Coulter is a Christian just as Hitler was. She wants to invade countries (i.e., she wants others to do it for her; like every other Republican gasbag, she's outspokenly courageous and highly principled with other people's lives), kill leaders, and impose an ideology on them, sort of like Hitler did. So she's probably a Nazi, too.
Don't miss this one. You can read the rest at the Huffington Post.


Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Evangelical churches in Kenya want the country's national museum to take its world-famous collection of hominid bones -- you know, the evidence documenting human evolution -- and put it out of sight in the back room.

That would make more room for artifacts such as the Shroud of Turin, splinters of wood from the real, true cross, satellite photos of Noah's Ark up on Mt. Ararat, and the big green paper mache model of Fred and Dino down at the quarry.

We don't see anything wrong with it, but we know that the Discovery Institute and the ID Network will oppose the move because they want to teach all the evidence.


Dembski's Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Call ID Biblically Based

RSR reader BF, who must have an extraordinarily high pain threshold, has been studying the website of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That's the latest in a series of short layovers where ID luminary William Dembski is currently waiting for the next flight out.

BF has noticed that the seminary's website describes its Institute for Cultural Engagement this way:
Biblically-based principles like Intelligent Design will shine the light of truth into our culture through world-class professors who both teach and sponsor public and academic forums.

Really, ID is biblically-based?


Ohio: Sawyer Announces for State School Board

Columbus Dispatch: "With the strong backing of several scientists and evolution supporters, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer, of Akron, announced yesterday that he will run this fall for the Ohio Board of Education."


Discovery's New Theme Song

Jonathan Witt reports on the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog that they had book party for A Meaningful World yesterday.

We don't know if they wore funny hats or anything, but they did come up with an idea for a theme song for the book "when they finally make it into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Jimmy Stewart: Five for Fighting's 'Reason for the World.'"

RSR hates to dump cold water on this plan, but there are several problems: Jimmy Stewart is dead. Mel Gibson is in rehab. And we all know the Discovery Institute's official theme song begins, " M - I - C - K - E - Y... "

See ya real soon, but probably not on opening night.


Evolutionary Biology Disappears from Grant List

Cornelia Dean reports in today's New York Times that "[e]volutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students."

According to Dean, "Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University, said he learned about it from someone at the Department of Education, who got in touch with him... Dr. Krauss would not name his source, who he said was concerned about being publicly identified as having drawn attention to the matter."

"Though references to evolution appear in listings of other fields of biological study, the evolutionary biology sub-subsection is missing from a list of “fields of study” on the National Smart Grant list — there is an empty space between line 26.1302 (marine biology and biological oceanography) and line 26.1304 (aquatic biology/limnology)," reports Dean.

Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, told the Times that "people at the Education Department had described the omission as 'a clerical mistake.' But it is 'odd,' he said, because applying the subject codes 'is a fairly mechanical task. It is not supposed to be the subject of any kind of deliberation.'”

“I am not at all certain that the omission of this particular major is unintentional,” he added. “But I have to take them at their word.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


ID Advocates Trivialize Holocaust

Right-wing Christian broadcaster Dr. D. James Kennedy is airing a pseudo-documentary on August 26 and 27 on his Coral Ridge Hour that purports to connect the dots between Charles Darwin and Adolf Hitler.

Calling Kennedy a "Christian Supremacist," Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman has called the program an "outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust."

Although a number of announced participants have now dropped out of the program, Kennedy plans to go ahead with the broadcast.

"To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler," says Kennedy. "Hitler tried to speed up evolution, to help it along, and millions suffered and died in unspeakable ways because of it."

Oh, really. Here's how Hitler publicly described his motivation:
"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

Funny, there's no mention of Darwin there.


ADL Blasts Christian Supremacist TV Special and Book Blaming Darwin For Hitler

Yesterday, the Anti-Defamation League blasted a television documentary produced by Christian broadcaster Dr. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries that attempts to link Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to Adolf Hitler and the atrocities of the Holocaust.

The ADL also denounced Coral Ridge Ministries for misleading Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute for the NIH, and wrongfully using him as part of its twisted documentary, "Darwin's Deadly Legacy."

"This is an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust," said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement. "Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.

"It must be remembered that D. James Kennedy is a leader among the distinct group of 'Christian Supremacists' who seek to "reclaim America for Christ" and turn the U.S. into a Christian nation guided by their strange notions of biblical law."

Read more at Pharyngula which reports Francis Collins, who was originally reported to have been a participant in the program, as saying that he was "appalled," and calling the program "misguided and inflammatory."

It strikes RSR that Christian Supremacist is really the proper label for intelligent design activists such as Discovery Institute fellow Richard Weikart and others who demand that their particular interpretation of the Bible be given official status, placing it above other interpretations and varieties of religious belief by having it written into public school curriculums and the law.

Weikart, of course, remains unrepentant:

Weikart's book, From Darwin to Hitler concludes that Darwinism played a key role not only in the rise of eugenics, but also in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis.

"Among German historians, there's really not much debate about whether or not Hitler was a social Darwinist," said historian Richard Weikart, author of "From Darwin to Hitler" and a guest on the television special in response to the ADL statement.

However, as with all things intelligent design, the consensus that Weikart asserts isn't all it's reported to be:

In May 2005, Red State Rabble reported a speech by Robert Richards, the Morris Fishbein Professor in the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Chicago, at the Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture, titled, "The Narrative Structure of Moral Judgments in History," which discussed Weikart's work:

"Weikart offers his book as a disinterested historical analysis. In that objective fashion that bespeaks the scientific historian, he declares ‘I will leave it the reader to decide how straight or twisted the path is from Darwinism to Hitler after reading my account.

’"Well, after reading his account, there can be little doubt not only of the direct causal path from Charles Darwin through Ernst Haeckel to Adolf Hitler but of Darwin’s and Haeckel’s complicity in the atrocities committed by Hitler and his party. They bear historical responsibility.

"It is disingenuous, I believe, for the author to pretend that most readers might come to their own conclusions despite the moral grammar of this history."

Richards concludes his speech by saying, "It can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis."

And, of course, Dr. Richards is by no mean alone among historians in his assessment of Weikart's writings.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Theological Deviations

The Catholic News service reports that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the Rev. Jose Funes to be the new director of the Vatican Observatory, replacing Rev. George V. Coyne, who served as director since 1978.

Rev. Coyne is an outspoken opponent of intelligent design.

The ouster of Rev. Coyne comes in the context of an announcement published in the Dallas Morning News that Pope Benedict XVI plans to lead a seminar next month, "Creation and Evolution," that will reportedly examine Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and its impact on Catholic teaching.

Intelligent design proponent Bruce Chapman, Director of the Discovery Institute, has penned a fascinating commentary on Coyne's ouster on Discovery's Evolution News and Views blog.

His voice dripping with sarcasm, Chapman says, "Dr. Coyne in recent years made himself the public scourge of Darwin critics and scientific proponents of intelligent design. Increasingly his theology resembled that of "process theologians" who believe that God is still learning and could not have known what his world was becoming."

While it's no surprise that Discovery would welcome the removal of Coyne because he's been a vocal opponent of Discovery's pet project, RSR finds it very revealing that Discovery's Director, in outling the reasons he welcomes Coyne's fall from grace, would be so incautious as to weigh in on a purely theological dispute among Catholics.

In the past, both Chapman and the Discovery Institute have gone on record as saying that while some ID proponents may believe that the designer is the God of the Bible, that shouldn't be confused with the Discovery Institute's conclusions which, they say, are based on solely on the scientific evidence.

At the time of the Dover intelligent design trial, Discovery issued Truth Sheet #09-05 titled "Does intelligent design postulate a 'supernatural creator?'" which states:

The ACLU, and many of its expert witnesses, have alleged that teaching the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) is unconstitutional in all circumstances because it posits a supernatural creator.” Yet actual statements from intelligent design theorists have made it clear that the scientific theory of intelligent design does not address metaphysical and religious questions such as the nature or identity of the designer.
That statement was echoed by Discovery fellow Michael Behe in a statement to a British newspaper:

"Although I find it congenial to think that it's God, others might prefer to think it's an alien — or who knows? An angel, or some satanic force, some new age power."
If Discovery, as the main think tank championing intelligent design, doesn't address metaphysical and religious questions then we have to ask: On what basis are they weighing in on theological questions such as Rev. Coyne's alleged support for "Process Theology?"

If intelligent design, as its proponents claim, can tell us nothing about the nature of God, then why is Bruce Chapman – in his official capacity as Director and using Discovery's Evolution News and Views blog to deliver the message – even addressing the question of whether or not "God is still learning and could not have known what his world was becoming."

And finally, if intelligent design is truly a scientific theory as claimed, what is the scientific proof that provides the evidentiary basis for making a determination about the truth or falsity of what God knows and what he doesn't.

More ominously, Chapman writes that, "[w]hat even Fr. Coyne himself apparently could not know is that the Catholic Church, while endlessly tolerant of theological deviations these days, can't really have someone whose views contradict those of the Church representing himself around the world as 'the Vatican.'"

And there, in a nutshell, is the real problem with intelligent design. It isn't science. There is no evidence. Ultimately, it's based – no matter how much its adherents deny it – on the authority of scriptural interpretation. For that reason, it's intolerant of theological deviations.

And if intelligent design activists and their creationist brethren are successful, they will enforce their views on the rest of us – in the classroom and in the political sphere -- just as the Pope has enforced his views on Father Coyne.


Science Night

Kansas Families United for Public Education is sponsoring "Science Night" at 7:00 pm on Oct. 2 at the Lackman Public Library in Lenexa (15345 W. 87th St. Pkwy.)


The Long Haul

Laura Scott, assistant editorial page editor, at The Kansas City Star asks, "So what do Kansans who have worked to change the direction of their state board do now? Rest on their laurels?"

The statewide Kansas Alliance for Education, the Kansas Citizens for Science, and their counterparts in Kansas Families United for Public Education and the ainstream Coalition in Johnson County worked hard, raised a little money and got their message out.

But they ought to keep moving on.

First business up: another election. There’s still time for voters to make the board’s new moderate majority stronger still. Board members Ken Willard of Hutchinson and John Bacon of Olathe survived their GOP primaries. These two, as well as the
moderate Republicans, face Democrats who are solid on science education in

Even more important is the next election — the one in 2008. A new moderate majority could falter if Kansans don’t stay ever vigilant. In that regard, the August primary didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

The turnout was a measly 18 percent, the lowest total in 20 years at least. In two more years, the real test of staying power comes. Those most dedicated to a cause win when others stay home from the polls.

Kansans who value a good, well-rounded education for their children have to be on guard for the long haul

Amen to that.


Selling Books, Saving Souls

Florida Citizens for Science: Todd Leonard, a school textbook salesman wants to instill Christian values in the Escambia County (Fla.) school system by teaching -- you guessed it -- intelligent design.

And, he's running for school board. Suppose he has a textbook he wants to sell 'em?


Critical Mass

"Nobody knows what Global Warming is, or what's going on, because the scientists in this world have been led to believe in the fake philosophical idealism of evolution," according to Bruce D. McKay Elijah.

You may think that a literal reading of the Bible is the source McKay Elijah's startling insight, but you would be wrong. His source is none other than Ovid:
Global warming is Ovid's theme in The Metamorphosis. It is caused by the earth's mantle heating up! It progresses to a New Geological Age. When a critical mass is reached, the sudden surge of energy from the mantle resets the DNA to produce a new Animal Kingdom and a new Plant Kingdom! There are no "missing links!" For that matter, Ovid wrote, “Libya then became a sandy desert.” So how can the evolutionist be right – even if our books say it was 240 to 300 million years ago when the 3.5 million square mile Sahara Desert emerged - covered with NEW sand.

Not only that,
The mantle's release of this highly charged new matter is what the ancients called "chaos." When released, the new matter may, or it may not, contain many millions of pounds of highly compressed, super-cold gasses. It is therefore capable of plunging an entire continent, such as Europe, into a near instant ice age. As a global process, for that matter, millions of tons of highly charged chaos may be released almost all at once - if the heating up of the mantle continues to increase. The effects of this series or this type of event, is well noted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Otherwise, when a critical mass is reached on a global scale, it may even progress into a New Geological Age. And that isn’t all. If such a critical mass is reached, when a sudden surge of energy comes up from within the mantle itself, it may even reset the DNA - in everything!
That's right! Everything! And these are not the ramblings of a lunatic, McKay-Elijah's discoveries are the product of "scientific research" and in that respect they're just like intelligent design or creation science.


"Evolution: Science and Faith in Conflict?"

Keith Miller, a paleontologist, evangelical Christian, and editor of Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, will critique the presumed “warfare” between science and faith on Sat., Sept. 2 from 3:00 to 5:30 pm at the Manhattan Public Library. Miller's talk is titled, "Evolution: Science and Faith in Conflict?"

Monday, August 21, 2006


Connie Denies Write-in Campaign

Hutch News: "State school board member Connie Morris, R-St. Francis, denied rumors that she would seek to run a write-in campaign to regain her seat in this fall's general election.
Asked about any future efforts to run for the board, Morris replied, "At this time, we're not running a write-in."

RSR has been listening to rumors of a Morris write-in campaign. Anybody else hearing anything? Let us know.


UC Admissions Lawsuit

"We chose to send our son to a Christian school because we wanted him to be taught from a Christian perspective and have those values. I don't think it's right for anyone to interfere or try to take that out of the schools," says Sue Brodmann, a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by Calvary Chapel Christian Schools of Murrieta, Cal. along with the Association of Christian Schools International against the University of California.

Of course, the University of California isn't telling Christian schools they have to take anything out. They are just saying the courses and textbooks that distort history or science aren't rigorous enough to meet the standards for admission to the UC System.

Broadman and other plaintiffs are free to send their children to Christian colleges or universities -- or other institutions of higher learning -- that are willing to accept students who may not have met the UC admission requirements.

Perhaps, parents who send their children to substandard Christian schools -- and not all these schools are substandard, incidentally -- should supplement their kid's education with remedial instruction that does meet the requirements.

Most universities require that students seeking admission have completed college prep courses in science, math, and English. Students who fail to enroll in those classes may be denied admission.

Likewise, Christian schools that substitute indoctrination -- such as, sin is responsible for the decay of American government or evolutionary thought is poisoning biology textbooks -- for learning, simply don't prepare students for admission to a major public university.

Admission to a certain college or university, in most cases, isn't a right. It's the responsibility of those who want to enroll to meet the requirements for admission.

As RSR tells his daughters -- perhaps too frequently -- choices have consequences. If the Broadmans chose to send their children to a school that doesn't meet the requirements for admission to the UC system, then they should be prepared to live with the consequences of that choice.


Sharp Mercy

What do you do when the courts reject your arguments, the public votes your supporters out of office, and school boards that once fell for your subterfuge wake up, put their shoulders to the wheel and roll your Trojan horse out of their schools?

Well, if you're a creationist or an intelligent design activist you avoid introspection at all costs. Certainly, you never allow yourself to ask why scientists, teachers, judges, and voters -- reasonable people all -- find your arguments unconvincing. No, for the creation scientist/ID theorist the only possible answer is to escalate your arguments beyond all reason.

We're seeing the first signs of that now:

"The Coral Ridge Hour" plans to broadcast "Darwin’s Deadly Legacy," a program that falsely asserts "Charles Darwin should share with Hitler the blame for the 11 million or more lives lost in the Holocaust" on Aug. 26-27 according to WorldNetDaily.

"This show basically is about the social effects of Darwinism, and shows this idea, which is scientifically bankrupt, has probably been responsible for more bloodshed than anything else in the history of humanity," says Jerry Newcomb, one of two co-producers.
Ann Coulter, Discovery Institute fellow Richard Weikart, Lee Strobel, author of "The Case for a Creator," Jonathan Wells, author of "Icons of Evolution," will appear on the program.

WorldNetDaily reports that Francis Collins, Project Director of the Human Genome, is also scheduled to appear. However, PZ Myers reports that he's received an e-mail from Collins "stating that he was interviewed about his book, and that was then inserted into the video without his knowledge."

That little bit of dishonesty alone is enough to show that this program is propaganda at its crudest.

For our part, Red State Rabble wonders if Coulter, Weikart, and the others will grapple with this:

"... Hitler’s success in fusing racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas." Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and scholar of European history.
No mention of Darwin there. Perhaps, in the interests of objective inquiry, "The Coral Ridge Hour" will examine this statement by Mary E. Teats, the National Purity Evangelist for the Women's Christian Temperence Union, a lecturer for the National Purity Association, and a lecturer for the Correspondence School of Gospel and Scientific Eugenics:

The great and rapidly increasing army of idiots, insane, imbeciles, blind, deaf-mutes, epileptics, paralytics, the murderers, thieves, drunkards and moral perverts are very poor material with which to "subdue the world," and usher in the glad day when "all shall know the Lord, whom to know aright is life everlasting." There are hundreds and thousands of men and women today to whom in the interests of future generations, some rigid law should say, "Write this one childless." Men and women whose habits of life are such as to curse their offspring, should be prohibited from marrying.
We can count on the assembled Coral Ridge experts to come to grips with the role of Southern churches -- still in the forefront in their opposition to evolution -- in defending slavery and Jim Crow, can't we?

The baseless charge by creationist and ID activists that Darwin -- long dead when these movements came on the stage of history -- is somehow responsible for the Holocaust, eugenics, and abortion -- sounds suspiciously to RSR like saying that Wilbur and Orville Wright are responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

If Coulter, Weikart and the other so-called experts truly want to inquire into the causes of the Holocaust, and if they don't care if the culprit was already in his grave when those events unfolded in all their horror, they might want to look into this statement by the founder of their religion, Martin Luther:

What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.


Lip Service

John Brummett, a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock, has written an interesting commentary on how politicians who lack the courage of their own convictions sometimes pay lip service to intelligent design:
Mike Beebe has liberals mad at him for the way he answered that question from the Little Rock paper about "intelligent design," which is a euphemism for a right-wing religious finesse to get church views on divine creation forced on the science teachers in the public schools.

He said he was for it - the teaching, that is - except that it might be unconstitutional and goodness knew he didn't want to do anything unconstitutional.
It's worth reading the whole thing...

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Paying the Price

Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, has told Scott Rothschild of the Lawrence Journal World that moderates will have a tough time toppling Willard and Bacon in the general election because much of the attention on the Board of Education races has subsided.

“The national attention is certainly off, so that will not be as big of a campaign factor,” Beatty said.

During the primaries, the challengers framed the debate as a board in crisis that needed to be “retaken,” he said.

Red State Rabble isn't so sure Beatty is right.

While many right-wing incumbents in the state school board election downplayed the evolution issue in the run up to the primary, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design Network tried to turn the election into a referendum on evolution.

They succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of moderates across the state.

We don't yet know whether those two organizations will again make the science standards a key issue in the general election. If they do, it will play into the hands of moderates.

In addition, a high-profile speakers series that includes intelligent design activist Michael Behe and biologist Ken Miller, an eloquent defender of evolution, sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas and similar events at K-State and Washburn University will focus media attention on the issue in the coming months.

Then there's Bob Corkins.

Our sense is that the anger over the appointment of Corkins, a man with no experience or training in education, still rankles many Kansans. Under his leadership, the Kansas Department of Education is imploding as experienced professionals flee the department.

From what we hear, the exodus can be expected to continue over the coming months and it's hard to believe the media won't report the ongoing disintegration.

Both Bacon and Willard prevailed in the primary election, at least partly, because they were in three-way races where moderate strength may, to one degree or another, have been diluted. In November, Bacon and Willard will face strong challenges from Don Weiss and Jack Wempe in two-way races where moderate Republicans and Democrats can pool their strength to overcome conservative voters.

A second factor that right-wingers won't be able to count on in the general election is the exceptionally low turnout that played into conservative hands in the primary. Not only will the turnout be higher, but the election appears to be shaping up as repudiation of the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans.

There are two schools of thought on whether Kansas Republican, having voted for a Democratic Governor and Attorney General, will vote for a Democrat for school board, as well. RSR doesn't pretend to know the answer to that, but we suspect that the right-wing majority, having placed itself in the moderate's cross hairs, may well end up paying a price for pursuing the far-right social agenda they have over the past two years.



Right-wing activist Cindy Duckett predicts that conservatives will retake the Kansas state school board in 2008, according to Scott Rothschild of the Lawrence Journal World.

“The pendulum will swing in two years,” says Duckett.

Now RSR knows full well that God talks to these right-wing activists. And God knows everything, we're not disputing that.

However, RSR, being the pain in the ass skeptical type that we are -- you know, always demanding evidence, reasons, stuff like that -- we can't help but remember that before the primary these same activists confidently predicted they would hold onto the board majority.

For that reason, it might be wise, given their somewhat sketchy track record, to take that particular prediction with a grain of salt. They might just be wrong.

It would even be wiser, though, to take Duckett's words as a warning of deadly serious intent.

Preventing the pendulum from swinging back begins with winning the District 3 and District 7 school board races in November.

Electing Don Weiss and Jack Wempe would build an 8-2 moderate supermajority that couldn't be overturned in 2008. That would mean the board could actually get some work done over the next four years instead of fighting and re-fighting meaningless culture war battles that have nothing to do with quality public education.


Connie's Competence

Cindy Duckett, a conservative activist from Wichita, tells Scott Rothschild of the Lawrence Journal World that the defeat of right-wing school board incumbent Connie Morris, and drive-by candidate Brad Patzer, in the Republican primary doesn't represent an anti-conservative trend among Kansas voters.
Morris was weakened by charges of exorbitant travel expenses, while Van Meter’s district had no incumbent, she said.

“I’m not sure it is a backlash against conservatives. The primary elections were really about competence,” she said.
Say what you like about right-wingers, it didn't take them long to put that knife into Connie's back.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Sex Toys for Fundamentalists

Fundamentalist and horny?

Need a "Divine Storage Box" ($37.00) crafted of sensuous materials where your intimate items -- say your "2-Touch Bunny" ($36.75) -- can be safely stored under lock and key, safe from children's view?

Then you need to go straight to -- no, not to hell -- straight to Book 22.

"The twenty-second book of the Bible is Song of Solomon," explains Book 22 for those heathern secularists not familiar with the good book. They go on to say:

We believe that God intended that such love, as spoken of in Song of Solomon, be a beautiful and normal part of marital life. Unfortunately this gift from God has been grossly distorted and abused by both ancient and modern people. Book 22 is offering quality products to enhance the intimate life of God's children. Our hope is that our products will serve as intimacy enhancers for your marriage.
RSR was dimmly aware that procreation, like big SUVs, and skepticism about global warming, was part of the fundamentalist plan, but we mistakenly thought actually taking pleasure in the act was one of those forbidden fruits.

Apparently, we were wrong. Sex, it seems, isn't just for godless liberals, anymore.

Susie Bright, who writes about sex and politics at the Huffington Post, has her own unique take on this particular rapture on the religious right.


Bacon: The Issue Won't Go Away

The August 11 issue of Science, (sub. req.) published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world, takes note of the victory by moderates in the Kansas school board primary election.

The article, by Yudhijit Bhattarcharjee, titled, "Evolution Trumps Intelligent Design in Kansas Vote," reports:

John Bacon, one of the two pro-ID incumbents who won last week's primaries, promises that the issue won't go away. "It's unfortunate that we'll now be forced to again teach evolution as the only possible explanation for the origin of life," he says."
The issue won't go away?

As long as John Bacon, Ken Willard, Steve Abrams, and Kathy Martin, the remaining creationists on the school board remain, we're quite sure Bacon is right. The issue won't go away.

But that doesn't mean that creationists like Bacon and Ken Willard -- who also faces a tough election challenge in the general election this coming November -- might not be made to go away.

In District 3, Bacon faces Democrat Don Weiss in the general election. Weiss is the Dean of Evening, Weekend and Graduate Studies for Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University in Kansas City. Previously, he was the Information Services Manager for the City of Olathe. He has a master's degree in Business Administration and Project Management.

Weiss believes it's time to restore dignity and respect to the Kansas Board of Education, the state of Kansas, and to our children’s future. He's fighting for a common sense board that puts kids ahead of the narrow right-wing ideology espoused by John Bacon.

You can visit his website, here. Bacon is sure to be well-financed by the radical right. Please make a contribution to Don's campaign. You can do so by following the link above or in the sidebar under "Donate."

In District 7, Democrat Jack Wempe is taking on incumbent Ken Willard. Wempe worked for twenty years in the field of education as a teacher, coach and administrator. He was the Superintendent of Schools in Little River for seven years.

Wempe served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives for eight years and four years as a member of the Kansas Board of Regents -- two years as Vice-Chairman and one year as Chairman.

"A deep commitment to public education has to be a priority," says Wempe. "An understanding of the role public education plays as a fundamental of democracy is essential. And respect for those who have dedicated their lives to the teaching of children must be a basic characteristic of a Board member."

To learn more about Jack Wempe, or to make a contribution, go here.


School Board Elections: One Stop Shopping

Want to keep track of the school board elections in Ohio, Kansas, and Florida? Want to know who the pro-science candidates in each race are? Then check out this new website from the folks in Ohio.

Sometimes, you can't tell the players without a scorecard -- not surprising when you consider that radical right candidates often run stealth campaigns or intentionally mislead voters about their real positions on the issues. Vote Science is a good place to learn who really supports science -- real science.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The reDiscovery Institute Put On Notice

Discovery Institute, never noted for its sense of humor, has its tighty whiteys in a bind over the dead-on parody site, the reDiscovery Institute.

Discovery's Director of Information Services -- no, that title is not a 1984 parody -- has written reDiscovery to hint darkly that it should "take care to limit your content to parody and not slander. Please refrain from saying false or slanderous things about our fellows and staff."

RSR has always thought the great thing about Discovery is that you don't need to say false or slanderous things about them. They helpfully supply enough raw material that simply quoting Discovery's fellows -- for whom self-parody seems to have evolved into a high art -- is enough to hold them up to richly deserved public ridicule. In that sense, a Discovery Institute parody site is simply redundant.

The reDiscovery website has a Mission Statement that "promotes better education of children, and re-education of certain adults; those on our current Enemies List. The reDiscovery Institute supports Fellows, who write letters to editors, testify at trials, post 'articles' on the web, but never publish peer-reviewed papers."

ReDiscovery has also published a Periodic Table of the Elements complete with a warning that "chemical periodicity is a theory. The theory keeps changing. The theory is under dispute. Teach alternative theories to children."

There's lots more there. You can happily spend an hour or more perusing the site. It's long been one of RSR's favorite destinations when we need a good laugh.

Why not give reDiscovery a visit and offer your support just to let the thin-lipped Minister of Information Services over at Discovery know that they can't push everything they don't like down the memory hole.


Skeptic's Circle

The 41st Skeptic's Circle is up at Interverbal for your skeptical reading pleasure.


Over at the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog, Casey Luskin asks, "[w]hen the Mona Lisa (left) appears on a hillside, do you infer intelligent design?"

RSR's answer: We got no problem with that.

Now, here's one for Luskin.

When the Virgin Mary (right) appears on a grilled cheese sandwich, do you infer design?

Many people do, Casey. Many people do.


Jonathan Wells: The Fading Promise of ID

Not much more than a year ago, the Discovery Institute breathlessly announced that, Jonathan Wells had published an article using the theory of intelligent design to formulate a testable hypothesis about centrioles.

Let's leave aside, for now, that it's rare for a real scientist to put out a news release when she or he formulates an hypothesis -- that usually awaits a confirmation -- and look at what they said then:
Wells' hypothesis--if confirmed by experiments--would explain how centrioles function in normal cell division and malfunction in cancer. The hypothesis could also help to explain why there is a correlation between calcium and Vitamin D deficiency and major types of cancer.
So, in one stroke Wells hypothesis might have explained how centriols function, made a major contribution to our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cancer, and provided the first truly scientific confirmation of intelligent design.

So, Wells -- described by Discovery as a microbiologist -- has been working night and day this past year in his lab on experiments that would confirm his hypothesis, right?


Paradoxically, Wells has chosen not to provide the scientific confirmation intelligent design so desperately needs to take it from a fringe religious belief to mainstream science. Not to make a major contribution to our scientific understanding of cell structure. Not to unlock the secret to cancer. Not even to make a name for himself as a real scientist.

He's chosen instead to churn out yet another forgettable ID tract titled, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwin and Intelligent Design.

The question is why?

Perhaps you'll find the answer to this puzzling question here.


Rovian Political Strategy

"[T]he current climate of hostility to the judiciary cannot be written off as a product of the lunatic fringe," writes Susan Jacoby in an essay at Tom Paine.

"Attacks on 'activist judges'—a phrase that, like 'the elites,' has become a code word for liberals—are regularly issued by Republican officeholders from the White House to state legislatures. The assault on an independent judiciary has always been an integral part of the Rovian political strategy that put President George W. Bush in office."


Florida School Board Election

There's a school board election shaping up down in Citrus County just now, and Florida Citizens for Science has the story.

Would you be very surprised to learn there's a candidate in that race who believes Citrus County schools should be allowed to teach intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution?

They do seem to be slow learners, don't they?


KFUPE Rally Oct. 15th

Kansas Families United for Public Education is sponsoring a Picnic and Rally to introduce the candidates it's supporting in the general election on Sunday, October 15th from 1-3:00 pm at the Smith Barn at the Kansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs.


Dobson Dabbles

Americans United for Separation of Church and State warns that "Religious Right leader James Dobson’s drive to build a church-based political machine will jeopardize the tax exemption of participating congregations."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Sebelius: Teach Science in Science Class

"I've always believed that science should be taught in science classrooms," Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said following a rally Tuesday morning for Topeka public school employees, according to Chris Moon of the Topeka Capitol Journal.

"I think religion is taught in religion classes and humanities classes and science is taught in science classes," Sebelius added.

Sebelius' right-wing Republican opponent in the November election, Emporia Sen. Jim Barnett, apparently, is still pushing a failed talking point -- that the science standards don't mention either creationism or intelligent design.

"If creationism and intelligent design aren't in there, let's be factual about that."

Right-wing Republicans like Barnett have successfully used code words to get their message across to the ranks so long that they seem to be in denial about the fact that we all have the decoder ring now.


Ed Larson to Speak at Washburn

Ed Larson, the Talmadge Chair of Law and Russell Professor of American History at the University of Georgia and the recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, will speak at Washburn University in Topeka on Oct. 12.


Ohio: Return of the Mystery Spot

Red State Rabble, though quite old now, hasn't quite forgotten his youthful fascination with the strange roadside attractions encountered on family vacations back in the 50s and 60s.

One particularly vivid memory is of the Mystery Spots. These are the unexplained places -- always conveniently located near a crossroad or freeway off-ramp -- where the laws of nature do not apply. In these Mystery Spots, tennis balls seem to roll uphill, brooms stand on end, and nine-year-olds can walk on the walls.

One such spot, we now learn, is located smack dab in the editorial offices of the Wheeling, W. Va. Intelligencer.

Perhaps acting under the influence of the strange, inexplicable forces at work there, the editors write that "a group of fanatics, calling themselves Help Ohio Public Education, is working to oust a state board member, Deborah Fink."

HOPE is working against Fink, who is seeking re-election as a board member. Clearly, the group intends to punish her for daring to suggest that Ohio students should be encouraged to use the scientific method — that is, critical evaluation — in looking at all sorts of subjects. HOPE wants to demonstrate that when it comes to the theory of evolution, no dissent — not even any questions — will be tolerated. Ohio voters are more open-minded than that. They should re-elect Fink — and any other candidate who stands for teaching students rather than indoctrinating them.

RSR is not quite certain why a West Virgina paper should be concerned about an Ohio school board election, but then we know of a Seattle think tank that staked its somewhat tarnished reputation on the outcome of a certain Kansas election -- so perhaps it's not so strange after all.

The explanation may be that GPS recievers don't work in the Wheeling Mystery Spot. Or perhaps, the editors came under the influence of the strange forces at work in their offices and lost their bearings.

We don't know, but we are delighted to learn that the Mystery Spots of our long-ago youth, which we thought were all gone, remain with us today.

What the Mystery Spots provided for RSR then, they will supply for chilren trapped on long driving vacatons today. Aside from getting away from the boredom of long drives in the family station wagon and the momentary distraction of fighting with sisters and brothers, the roadside stops -- we trust -- will still offer that cheesy sort of charm so characteristic of the species.

Even the nine-year-old RSR could see that these attractions were strictly for the credulous and children with so much pent up energy they would risk the wrath of their exhausted parents for a moment's diversion.

The Mystery Spots then were quite often rough and unpainted on the outside. Most had seen better days and even then could quite charitably be called run down. They resembled the sorts of places RSR imagined 'Lil Abner and Daisy May might call home. We trust they remain so today.

In this sense, it is utterly fitting that the editors of the Wheeling Intelligencer have chosen to place themselves squarely in that intellectual Dogpatch that is intelligent design.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


We Don't Need No Stinking Evidence

"When I look at things in the world I think it is amazing that God has created it for us," says Kim Nicholas, who is studying to be a primary school teacher at the University of Hertfordshire. "If you have faith in God you can believe he has done it, whether there is evidence or not."

"Such views," reports The Guardian, "are less unusual among UK students than you might think. In a survey last month, more than 12% questioned preferred creationism - the idea God created us within the past 10,000 years - to any other explanation of how we got here."

Read more here.


Coulter: A Piercing Squawk

Jerry Coyne, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, has written a review of Ann Coulter's latest diatribe and it's splendid. Here's an excerpt:
H. L. Mencken once responded to a question asked by many of his readers: "If you find so much that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, then why do you live here?" His answer was, "Why do men go to zoos?" Sadly, Mencken is not here to ogle the newest creature in the American Zoo: the Bleached Flamingo, otherwise known as Ann Coulter. This beast draws crowds by its frequent, raucous calls, eerily resembling a human voice, and its unearthly appearance, scrawny and pallid. (Wikipedia notes that "a white or pale flamingo ... is usually unhealthy or suffering from a lack of food.") The etiolated Coulter issued a piercing squawk this spring with her now-notorious book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism. Its thesis, harebrained even by her standards, is that liberals are an atheistic lot who have devised a substitute religion, replete with the sacraments of abortion, feminism, coddling of criminals, and -- you guessed it -- bestiality. Liberals also have their god, who, like Coulter's, is bearded and imposing. He is none other than Charles Darwin. But the left-wing god is malevolent, for Coulter sees Darwin as the root cause of every ill afflicting our society, not to mention being responsible for the historical atrocities of
Hitler and Stalin.

Of course you want to read the rest. You'll find it here.


Is Ignorance a Value?

Lawrence Krauss, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, writing in the New York Times today observes:
The chairman of the [Kansas] school board, Dr. Steve Abrams, a veterinarian, is not merely a strict creationist. He has openly stated that he believes that God created the universe 6,500 years ago, although he was quoted in The New York Times this month as saying that his personal faith “doesn’t have anything to do with science.”

“I can separate them,” he continued, adding, “My personal views of Scripture have no room in the science classroom.”

A key concern should not be whether Dr. Abrams’s religious views have a place in the classroom, but rather how someone whose religious views require a denial of essentially all modern scientific knowledge can be chairman of a state school board.

Krauss argues that "[w]e must hold our elected school officials to certain basic standards of knowledge about the world. The battle is not against faith, but against ignorance."


ID's Contempt for Kansas Voters

John Calvert, of the Intelligent Design Network, tells Agape Press that they lost the Kansas school board election because science supporters launched a "misinformation" campaign against them.
"That propaganda, which is just completely false, was developed six years ago by the organization that was leading the opposition," he insists. "And it's just false propaganda that is put into the minds of people who don't know the difference."

Kansas Citizens for Science, the organization Calvert is referring to, spent just $1,100 dollars during the primary to show Kansans how the ID inspired revisions to the state's science standards open the door to supernatual explanations of natural phenomena.

If that small sum of money really had the impact Calvert ascribes to it, then that investment has got to go down in history as one of the most savvy and cost-effective public education campaigns ever waged. Marketing and PR types ought to be flocking to Kansas to learn how it was done.

There was, however, as Calvert knows, a very real -- and well financed -- misinformation campaign.

The ID Network and the Discovery Institute printed 100,000 full-color inserts and paid to have them distributed in newspapers in contested school board districts across the state. They purchased radio spots on Christian radio stations. The ID Network sponsored speaking engagements in fundamentalist churches. And, both organizations set up special websites for the election.

We may never know how much these efforts cost, because both organizations -- claiming they weren't attempting to influence the election -- won't have to file campaign finance reports detailing their expenses.

What is most striking about Calvert's comments, however, is the utter contempt they display for the intelligence of Kansas voters.

Do Calvert and the Discovery Institute really suppose Kansans have forgotten that in 1999 all the same people -- Steve Abrams, Celtie Johnson, John Calvert, among others -- tried to re-write the state's science curriculum with standards covertly written Tom Willis of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America?

Sorry Mr. Calvert, no one is that blind.


Australia: Education and Science Minister Denounces ID

"I have had submissions in relation to this matter and as the minister for science I can state that it's my view that it [intelligent design] is not part of a science curriculum," says Australia's Federal Education and Science Minister, Julie Bishop.

According to The Age, "Ms Bishop's comments represent a comprehensive denunciation of the views of her predecessor Brendan Nelson, who last year endorsed 'intelligent design' being taught alongside evolution."


First Kansas, Now Arkansas

WREG-TV reports that many candidates for statewide office in Arkansas -- including Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Beebe -- say information on intelligent design should be available to students alongside curriculum on evolution theory.


ID: Disingenuous Masquerade

Robert Lee Hotz, a Los Angeles Times staff writer who covers science, says it about a plainly as it's possible to say:
In the border war between science and faith, the doctrine of "intelligent design" is a sly subterfuge - a marzipan confection of an idea presented in the shape of something more substantial.

As many now understand - and as a federal court ruled in December - intelligent design is the bait on the barbed hook of creationist belief, intended to sidestep legal restrictions on the teaching of religion in public-school science classes. The problem is not its underlying theology - a matter properly left to individual religious belief - but its disingenuous masquerade as a form of legitimate scientific inquiry.


Ohio: We Aren't in Kansas Anymore (Or Are We?)

Lawrence Krauss, director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University, has agreed to head up Help Ohio Public Education.

HOPE is a coalition of science education supporters that's targeting school board member Deborah Owens Fink, an intelligent design supporter.

And that has Fink worried.

"I don't understand why they are even engaged on the topic," says Fink. "Ohio isn't Kansas."

But Krauss doesn't see it that way.

"We hope to raise the profile of school board elections," says Krauss. "We've seen in Ohio and Kansas how significant these elections can be."


Itching and Flaking

How is intelligent design like incurable dandruff?

"It will continue forever," says John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, which attacks evolution. "It will never end."

Monday, August 14, 2006


At a party Sunday in Topeka, Liz Craig of Kansas Citizens for Science helps Prof. Steve-Steve show off a birthday cake celebrating Kansas Citizens for Science seventh year of fighting for science education.


Close-up of the Kansas Citizens for Science birthday cake featuring Wichita Eagle editorial cartoonist Richard Crowson's brilliant "Voters intelligently redesign school board."


Members of the Kansas school board's moderate minority -- soon to be a majority -- Sue Gamble, left to right, Carol Rupe, Janet Waugh, and Bill Wagnon helped KCFS celebrate its seventh anniversary and the primary election victory yesterday in Topeka.


Auspicious Number

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, sent the following greetings to Kansas Citizens for Science on the seventh anniversary of its founding:

Congratulations to KCFS on your seventh anniversary! Seven, as you probably know, is a highly auspicious number, and full of religious, folkloric, and cultural symbolism, including everything from the seven deadly sins to the seven dwarfs.

God may have rested on the seventh day, but unfortunately, KCFS cannot rest in its seventh year, although it looks like 2007 will indeed be a lucky year for you. Because so many people worked so hard this year, it is highly probable that a new school board in January or February 2007 will rescind the “substandards” and institute standards that will improve the science education of Kansas students. It is fitting that this year ends in a seven.

KCFS has been a model for citizens for science groups, and continues to advise and inspire its colleagues around the country. And as I’m sure you know, NCSE stands ready to help in any way we can. We are proud and honored by our partnership with KCFS.


No Rest for the Wicked

"Enjoy your well-earned celebration," writes Barbara Forrest, an endowed professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert witness at the Dover intelligent design trial, in a letter of congratulations to KCFS on its seventh anniversary.

But, Forrest advises, "don't relax too much, because if history teaches us anything, we know that the creationists are planning their next strategy as we speak."


Good Day for Science

Richard Katskee, assistant legal director, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent these greetings to Kansas Citizens for Science:

Today is a good day for science; a good day for religious freedom; and a good day for the children of Kansas. Today we celebrate the seventh anniversary of the founding of this great organization, Kansas Citizens for Science.

It’s an amazing thing that you parents, teachers, students, working scientists, and clergy members have come together to say that you will not tolerate distorting science for a religious agenda. For seven years, you’ve said that you will not permit state officials to encroach on your right as parents to decide what religious instruction your children receive.

I had the privilege to represent the 11 parents who sued the school district in Dover, Pennsylvania, over intelligent design. Those 11 parents are justifiably proud of what they accomplished when they stood up in court for their children’s education.

But they are equally proud of what their community accomplished. As you all probably know, the citizens of Dover voted last November to remove from office the school-board members who tried to press intelligent design on the students at Dover High School. The people in the community stood up to ensure that the students would learn science in science class, and that they would receive their religious instruction where it belongs — in their homes and in their churches. What the citizens of Dover accomplished for their community last fall, you are doing for the whole state of Kansas.

I grew up in Omaha, and most of my family still lives there. A couple months ago, I was invited home to speak to a community group about my experience in the Dover case. The people I met there were interested in what went on in Dover. But what they really cared about — what they really wanted to know — is “what’s the matter with Kansas?”

Now, they didn’t ask me that question to make fun of Kansas. What happens in Dover, Pennsylvania, is interesting; but Dover is a long way from Omaha. Lawrence and Manhattan and Topeka are right down the road. So when all those people in Nebraska asked me, “what’s wrong with Kansas?,” what they were really saying is, “if it can happen there, it can happen here too.” And they were worried.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?