Steve Reuland posted Entry 1932 on January 23, 2006 09:45 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1927

It was bound to happen. A colleague recently described South Carolina as “low hanging fruit” for the ID movement. Nevertheless, the creationists have been relatively quiet in this state, and have instead been acting up in places that you wouldn’t normally associate with the Religious Right – Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, etc. Well, that’s changing.

South Carolina received an “A” for its treatment of evolution in the Fordham Foundation’s recent report, and this has angered state Senator Mike Fair (R-Greenville), who is presumably afraid that this could ruin SC’s reputation as a backwards state. This isn’t the first time. Back in 2003, Fair reacted to the Fordham Foundation’s report by authoring a bill that would put warning labels in text books containing the following bizarre and plainly untrue statement: “The cause or causes of life are not scientifically verifiable. Therefore, empirical science cannot provide data about the beginning of life.” The bill, thankfully, went nowhere. Last June, he filed a bill that would require teaching “alternatives” to evolution, which he specifically said would require teaching ID. I believe that one has yet to be taken up by the legislature, but the Kitzmiller decision pretty well preempted it. More recently, he’s tried to amend an education bill to establish a “science committee” to explore whether “alternatives” to evolution should be taught in schools. The efforts of a few local scientists who spoke out against it helped get the amendment removed.

But now he’s at it again.

Fair is a member of the Educational Oversight Committee (EOC). The EOC is tasked with the job of approving the curriculum standards submitted by the Board of Education before they go into effect. Recently, the committee approved to accept all of the standards as written except for four biology indicators dealing with evolution. At Fair’s behest, the EOC voted 8-7 to remove these indicators for “further study”. According to an excellent article in the Charleston Post and Courier (not currently available online), these are the indicators under attack:

  1. Explain how genetic processes result in the continuity of life forms over time.
  2. Explain how genetic variability and environmental factors lead to biological evolution.
  3. Exemplify scientific evidence in the fields of anatomy, embryology, biochemistry and paleontology that underlies the theory of biological evolution.
  4. Use a phylogenetic tree to identify the evolutionary relationships among different groups of organisms.

Fair wants to change these around to include language that students should “critically analyze” evolution, whatever that means. He’s made it clear that he wants to encourage teachers to discuss “alternatives” to evolution, which of course means Intelligent Design, but at the same time he’s claiming that the changes he wants have nothing to do with ID. It’s the same dishonest shell game that the Discovery Institute, the leading group pushing ID, has become notorious for.

And here’s something else right out of the Discovery Institute playbook: taking a cue from Kansas, Fair decided to convene a “balanced panel”, consisting of four members, two of them to be chosen by Mike Fair, who will testify in front of the Academic Standards and Assessments Subcommittee (led by Fair), which will then make a recommendation to the whole EOC. In the true tradition of creationist language-abuse, “balanced” in this case means giving a position accepted by almost no credible biologist 50% of the representation. As we reported previously, Fair refused to even name his panelists on the rationale that he wanted to “minimize scrutiny of their views and credentials prior to their appearance”. Because naturally, the only way to assure the public that his experts are actually objective experts, and not just ringers who can be counted on to agree with the changes he already knows he wants, is to keep their views and credentials under wraps. Heaven forbid anyone critically analyze his choices.

But nonetheless, it was reported the next day that Fair’s two panelists will be Richard von Sternberg and Rebecca Keller, and that Fair will be paying for their expenses out of his own campaign funds. Anyone familiar with these pages will have heard of Sternberg, who has become the Discovery Institute’s poster child for fake martyrdom. Keller should also be familiar to those who keep tabs on cre/ID, especially those from New Mexico who have had to put up with her shenanigans in that state. Fair, staying true to his open government policy, refused to explain why he picked two people from out of state who just so happen to have well-documented sympathies for ID. He was quoted as saying that, “Intelligent design is not part of this argument. I have not asked either one of (the out-of-state advisers) what their views on intelligent design are.” But Keller was quoted in an article in the Charlotte Observer as saying that she had been tagged for the job by the Discovery Institute. Hmm, curious. While we have no way of knowing for sure just what happened (in spite of Fair’s helpful efforts to be an open book), the most likely explanation is that Fair went straight to the Discovery Institute and asked them to recommend two people to serve as panelists. (Update: According to an article in this morning’s State, Casey Luskin of the DI admits that Fair contacted them directly.) Yet he insists that he had no foreknowledge of their views, and that the changes he wants have nothing to do with ID.

The two panelists representing the good guys are Mary Lang Edwards, who is a biologist from Erskine College, and Karen Stratton, a science coordinator for the Lexington school district. By all accounts, both are highly qualified and understand the issues at hand, and therefore can be counted on to make good presentations. Still, it’s strange that no one was chosen from one of SC’s three major research institutions, as there is certainly no shortage of scientists around here willing to speak out against this abuse. Even stranger is that Fair went out of state to find his ID-friendly panelists, given that South Carolinians really don’t like being told what to do by people “from away”. Hopefully, the public will come to realize that Fair was forced to do so because of the extreme paucity of scientists who agree with him. The panel convenes today (Monday the 23rd), and we’ll keep you posted on what transpires.

In case it’s not clear by now, Senator Fair is a real piece of work. He seems to have a flair for pointless theatrics. During an earlier meeting of the EOC, according to those in attendance, Fair referred to university scientists who objected to his plans as “on the dole”, a rather offensive and, needless to say, inaccurate epithet. (I’m sure Fair accepts no salary for his position as state Senator – he wouldn’t want to be thought of “on the dole” himself, seeing as how being a blowhard is such demanding work.) But that’s mild compared to some of his other antics. He recently sponsored a bill that would have the state DMV provide “Choose Death” license plates, so that people who were pro-choice could express their views along with those who buy the “Choose Life” license plates currently being offered. And then there was the time he actually subpoenaed a plastic penis used in sex-ed classes, and then proceeded to prominently display his star witness during an Education Committee meeting. But my personal favorite is the bill he introduced to jail men found in public with “discernibly turgid penises”. That has got to qualify for an award of some kind. And if you’ve guessed by now that Fair hates gays, congratulations, you are of extremely low intelligence or higher. So let’s see: dishonesty, buffoonery, and an unhealthy obsession with other people’s sex lives. He’s a natural ally of the Discovery Institute alright.

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Comment #75039

Posted by Mike Walker on January 23, 2006 10:29 AM (e)

Sometimes I wish I still believed in a Hell so that I could imagine a special place there for such blantant liars as Senators Fair and Buttars.

Are these guys really that dumb, or is it just that they’ve been getting away with such ridiculous and dishonest for so long that they feel the no longer need to even pay lip service to the truth?

Comment #75044

Posted by Raging Bee on January 23, 2006 10:36 AM (e)

Are these guys really that dumb, or is it just that they’ve been getting away with such ridiculous and dishonest for so long that they feel the no longer need to even pay lip service to the truth?

Yes. Notice the lack of concerted high-profile Democratic opposition or ricicule?

Comment #75046

Posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 10:51 AM (e)

One of the warts of our political system. Fair’s opponents (and even most of his political bedfellows) are well aware that his attempts are both embarrassing and doomed. But they’re equally aware that an uncomfortably high percentage of the eligible voters in their own districts agree with Fair (this IS South Carolina, after all), and taking any sort of principled position against him is hazardous to the career.

So politically, the most expedient opposition consists of staying silent (or mouthing platitudes about “giving due respect and consideration to the views of our honored colleague”) and getting the dumbest ideas tabled indefinitely. Fair may be a hoot, but his religious motivation is a third rail in South Carolina - attack it and die. Even pointing out that the reason Fair had to seek help from California is because scientists willing to promote anti-science are so rare South Carolina has none, would be picked up by the fundamentalists and touted as a personal attack by Godless monkey-lovers. Which would meet with widespread public approval even Tom Tomorrow couldn’t exaggerate.

Comment #75048

Posted by NJ on January 23, 2006 10:54 AM (e)

It should also be noted that Bob Jones University is in Fair’s district….

Comment #75049

Posted by Greg H on January 23, 2006 11:01 AM (e)

begin sarcastic rant
But the TruthTM is what these guys are all about! Don’t you read? Don’t you understand that these are not lies, but casualties in the war against the evil of materialist doctrine that will spawn more and more atheists until we finally get the point where they lie in wait for little old ladies on their way to meeting on Sunday. If a few … obfuscations have to be used to protect those morally upright enough to stand against the evil doctrine of Darwin, then this is the Cross…err..spaceship…err burden that we must bear.
end sarcastic rant

What a disgusting nightmare. One day the American people are going to get sick and tired of being lied to and misled by politicians, and start ousting the ones that commit such blatant transgressions. Or maybe not. Sheep rarely question the shepherd.

Comment #75051

Posted by steve s on January 23, 2006 11:07 AM (e)

Agape Press on the matter:

State Senator Wants Students to Hear ‘Full Range’ of Evolutionary Theories

By Jim Brown
August 26, 2005

(AgapePress) - A South Carolina lawmaker has introduced a bill that would free up public schools to teach the controversy surrounding evolutionary theory by requiring them to expose students to the “full range of scientific views that exist” on biological evolution.

State Senator Mike Fair says his bill would not prevent teachers from discussing evolution, but would require them to present other theories such as intelligent design, which says that life is too complex to have evolved by accident. The bill has gained local support from U.S. Senator Jim DeMint and Congressman Bob Inglis.

Fair believes what students learn in public school science classes should not undermine what they are taught at home or at church.

“Many of us – most of us, I hope – come from homes where children are taught by their parents that there’s a reason behind it all,” Fair says. “The biblical worldview, the one that I embrace, is that our Creator God spoke things into existence, and that same creator God demonstrated His love for me by sending His only son, Jesus, to die on the cross. And what a wonderful message that is.”

According to Fair, science needs to be taught in the classroom as education, not indoctrination. But he admits he is troubled that evolution is currently being taught in schools as a solid fact – not a theory.

“The approach that I think needs to be made – and, of course, the president spoke, I think, very succinctly to that circumstance – is [that] the subject of Darwin’s theory of evolution should be handled more thoroughly,” he says, “both [with] that information that supports it and that information that challenges it; things such as the Cambrian Explosion.”

Fair also notes the absence of “missing links” of any kind continues to be a problem for Darwin’s theory – yet that is not talked about in the classroom.
________________________
Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.

bible…jesus…creator god….I’m sure out on the west coast, where it’s 8:13 am, Casey Luskin is crying into his Froot Loops right now.

Comment #75052

Posted by NJ on January 23, 2006 11:14 AM (e)

Greg H wrote:

Sheep rarely question the shepherd.

Oh, yeah? How about this one?

Roger Waters wrote:

Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream…

Now if I can just find that giant inflatable pig!
NJ

Comment #75053

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 23, 2006 11:14 AM (e)

Steve S:

That article comes from last August and concerns the bill that Fair introduced in July. It has nothing to do with the current situation with the EOC.

Fair was nice enough back then to make his religious motivations prefectly clear. Now that he’s doing essentially the same thing with the curriculum standards, he’s claiming not to have any religious motivations at all. We in South Carolina have a special term for that: it’s called lying.

Comment #75054

Posted by Paul Flocken on January 23, 2006 11:16 AM (e)

Greg H wrote:

One day the American people are going to get sick and tired of being lied to and misled by politicians, and start ousting the ones that commit such blatant transgressions. Or maybe not. Sheep rarely question the shepherd.

Artificial selection at its finest. The sheep are bred that way, selected for docility, after thousands of generations. Is it a coincidence that religions select for thoughtless faithfulness?

Comment #75056

Posted by Paul Flocken on January 23, 2006 11:18 AM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

Fair was nice enough back then to make his religious motivations perfectly clear. Now that he’s doing essentially the same thing with the curriculum standards, he’s claiming not to have any religious motivations at all.

Post Kitzmiller, I wonder why not?

Comment #75058

Posted by steve s on January 23, 2006 11:22 AM (e)

Oh, I see. I wonder if the June statements would be useful in court w/r/t the later bill.

Comment #75059

Posted by BWE on January 23, 2006 11:29 AM (e)

@@#!!!^&(@@(&!!!***$#%^)*&^#$@!!!

A Fair victory can be expected to increase the demand for closet space throughout the district.

Ha ha.

Christians. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t feed ‘em to the lions anymore.

Comment #75060

Posted by Rich on January 23, 2006 11:35 AM (e)

Both Fair and Buttars have the same track record.

(1) some sosrt of looney creationist *god did it* bill

(2) A teach ID, it’s scinece bill

(3) A teach the strengths and weakness / ‘other scientific theory’ bill.

At what point / how can we string them up by there transparent religious motivations and track records?

Comment #75065

Posted by k.e. on January 23, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

Well I wonder what Fair thinks of the Christian Screen Writers club trying to break into Hollywood saying they are such underdogs that they are the ‘New Gay’.
Perhaps Fair could pick that one up and say the Darwinists are making his life so miserable he could say his group are the ‘New Gay’.
He could say that he has come out of the creationist closet and say “I used to be a Darwinophobe” …..hmm that won’t work….….. how about.
They could have uniform’s and meet in bars and….oh never mind
I wonder what he did with the liberated pink thingy.

Comment #75066

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 23, 2006 12:10 PM (e)

From today’s article in The State

Luskin described Sternberg as “not an intelligent design proponent.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yeah, that’s why the Discovery Institute recommended him to Fair.

Comment #75071

Posted by Albion on January 23, 2006 12:37 PM (e)

These people would be terrified if genuine critical thinking were taught in schools, not just the selective “these are the problems with Darwinism” version of “critical thinking.” That would make it a little bit easier easier for at least some people to see through the “Goddidit and we demand that this be taught but it isn’t about religion, and materialism is godless and evil but this really isn’t about religion” stuff.

As it is, they know they can lie and get away with it because there are so many people out there who accept what they say on the strength of what they believe in, not on the strength of what they’re saying. It was really sad to see the response to Judge Jones’s statement about defence witnesses lying - it was just shrugged off as the exaggeration of an activist judge who had no business doing anything but agreeing with them. The Kitzmiller trial showed, among other things, that cdesign proponentsists will even lie under oath if they think it advances their cause, and precious few people if any on their side will think it was a bad thing to do, if indeed they even realise that the lying actually happened.

Comment #75072

Posted by rich on January 23, 2006 12:38 PM (e)

“No public input will be taken.”

Kangeroo Court is now in session. I hope the two scientists are getting maximum support?

Comment #75073

Posted by BWE on January 23, 2006 12:38 PM (e)

A friend of mine actually has a masters in divinity from yale. His spiritual ideas are pretty complex needless to say. He once told me that it was better for simple people to have simple religion because some was better than none.

Incredulously, I asked him if that meant pat robertson too. He kind of nodded/shook his head and said, “people can’t live without hope. If their lives are difficult, they need something to cling to.”

I asked him, “Even if it isn’t true?”

“yes, even if it isn’t true.”

I know that he probably had a complex idea but I couldn’t finish the conversation. These guys are wrong and education could fix their god problem.

Comment #75075

Posted by Raging Bee on January 23, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

So politically, the most expedient opposition consists of staying silent (or mouthing platitudes about “giving due respect and consideration to the views of our honored colleague”) and getting the dumbest ideas tabled indefinitely.

That may be expedient in the short term, but in the long term, it only makes the enemy stronger, by reinforcing their image if invincibility. Directly attacking Fair’s lunacy may lose votes in the short term, but each attack will embolden others to do the same. Fair’s faction is not strong because everyone agrees with him; it’s strong because those who disagree don’t hear anyone issuing a rallying-cry; and because those who are undecided don’t hear a clearly and strongly stated alternative.

Comment #75077

Posted by Greg H on January 23, 2006 12:46 PM (e)

Paul Flocken wrote:

Greg H wrote:

One day the American people are going to get sick and tired of being lied to and misled by politicians, and start ousting the ones that commit such blatant transgressions. Or maybe not. Sheep rarely question the shepherd.

Artificial selection at its finest. The sheep are bred that way, selected for docility, after thousands of generations. Is it a coincidence that religions select for thoughtless faithfulness?

Of course not. Freedom of thought does not pay tithes, nor does critical analysis.

Interestingly enough, on the teach the controversy side of the house - I read an article on CNN about a man who is suing the Roman Catholic Church for teaching the existence of Christ as a fact. I wonder if the DI will take up that as another thread of the Teach the Controversy strategy.

Here’s the story:
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/01/04/italy.jesus.reut/

Comment #75081

Posted by steve s on January 23, 2006 12:55 PM (e)

Bayesian, sometimes I think Casey Luskin spends more time trying to stop Intelligent Design advocates that we do.

Comment #75083

Posted by k.e. on January 23, 2006 12:59 PM (e)

Albion
Your friend probably thinks god gave him educated people to ‘test his faith’.

Comment #75089

Posted by Mark Duigon on January 23, 2006 1:26 PM (e)

Greg H wrote:

One day the American people are going to get sick and tired of being lied to and misled by politicians, and start ousting the ones that commit such blatant transgressions. Or maybe not. Sheep rarely question the shepherd.

Well, voters booted out the bunch on the Dover, Pa., school board. And it’s refreshing to note how the Judge and many commentators refer to the lying by certain former board members. But more reporters need to be forthright in alerting their readers to the lies and deceptions so liberally offered by ID proponents.

Comment #75092

Posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

Raging Bee:

Fair’s faction is not strong because everyone agrees with him; it’s strong because those who disagree don’t hear anyone issuing a rallying-cry

Sorry, but in places like South Carolina, this is sadly not true. Those who issue the rallying cry are *defeated at the polls*. Over and over. And while we may snicker at how dumb politicians are, one thing they learn very damn quickly: how not to lose elections. We’re seeing NOT a majority of milquetoasts afraid of their own shadow and waiting for someone else to rally the troops. We’re seeing the product of *natural selection*.

Recall that in Dover, even after “leading” their constituency to an expensive and humiliating defeat, the creationist candidates only lost by fairly small margins, this time. We saw this in Kansas as well. The politicians rallied the troops, they beat the creationists, they reversed the damage, the people looked upon their works and…put the creationists right back in. Do you think nobody notices this?

Do you think it’s an accident that the creationist’s primary political target is public education, in as early a grade as they can finagle? In their dreams, every state will achieve what Kansas, South Carolina, Ohio and others have.

Comment #75127

Posted by RupertG on January 23, 2006 3:47 PM (e)

All these people who want to teach ‘all the alternatives’ to evolution - has anyone collated the lot? There must be thousands. Would make a nice leaflet.

R

Comment #75130

Posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 4:00 PM (e)

RupertG:

Just visit a creationist blog. Post an alternative. With any luck, they’ll show you how they plan to “teach alternatives” within an hour or so.

Comment #75142

Posted by allygally on January 23, 2006 4:48 PM (e)

Mark Duigon wrote:

“But more reporters need to be forthright in alerting their readers to the lies and deceptions so liberally offered by ID proponents”.

It’s not just reporters: this is a PR war, and everyone who cares about science education has to play their part. PT is a great resource, but sometimes it feels like a place to hide amongst like minded individuals, where we can slag off the fundieloons and wallow in our intellectual superiority and complain the Joe Public just doesn’t get it. I’m afraid if we are going to win this war, we have to get our hands dirty. We must simplify with the best of them. Of course reporters need to get the real story out there, but who feeds the reporters? And don’t newspapers have letters pages and guest columnists and other forums for lay and expert views? Not to mention local TV and radio stations.

A few weeks ago I suggested on PT that the Dover trial had exposed ID as hoax, and that the phrase “The Intelligent Design Hoax” should be forced into common parlance, revealing the IDers to ridicule. Because this is not just (or even primarily) a scientific battle, it is a political war, and we need the appropriate weapons, such simplification is not just justified, it is essential.

The essence of every political message is repetition, repitition, repitition! Simplify and repeat. That’s how political campaigns are won.

The Panda’s Thumb has just celebrated 1 million hits – that’s a lot of like minded, and intelligent and articulate, people. If every person who habitually contributes to, comments on, or just visits, PT and other similar pro-science weblogs, would write one letter a week to their local or regional newspaper, making a simple point and calling ID “the Intelligent Design Hoax”, the phrase would soon pass into public consciousness. If every spokesman for science used the phrase in every reply to every media enquiry and at every other opportunity, it would gain more and more credence.

Then the IDers would be on the defensive, defending their hoax. And every time they tried to push their argument in a different direction or change their language or cover their tracks, we could say “yes, but that’s just a different version of the Intelligent Design Hoax”. The more they wriggle- with ID instead of religion and IC instead creationism and “critical analysis” instead of “teach the controversy” - the more we pin them on “the Intelligent Design Hoax”.

But it needs numbers to do the repeating. High-minded isolation and refusal to get down and dirty will not win the war, and if PT contributors are not the troops, who are?

Comment #75144

Posted by AC on January 23, 2006 4:58 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

He once told me that it was better for simple people to have simple religion because some was better than none….

Better, as he proceeded to tell you, in that it gives them hope. But hope of what? Not practical things, but absurd fantasy. Immortality. An invincible ally. Someone who loves them no matter what.

These are infantile hopes, and it is a troubling statement about humanity that most people seem to never outgrow them. However, it is an encouraging statement that, as you said, people tend to outgrow them as they learn more about the world.

Comment #75145

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 23, 2006 5:03 PM (e)

The Panda’s Thumb has just celebrated 1 million hits – that’s a lot of like minded, and intelligent and articulate, people

2 million, and a whole lot of the exact opposite folks (like Larry) contributed to that number as well.

as to how much “traffic” that really represents, we used to get that much in ONE DAY on the official NSYNC website we built a few years back.

no kidding.

I’ve learned over the last year or so that PT does two jobs: try to expose the scientific vacuity of ID, which it does quite well, and present and analyze some of the recent primary evolutionary science literature.

This is a big job, in and of itself, and has shown time and time again that it has value in this debate on the whole.

Several of the primary contributers have served as important players in the Kitzmiller trial, for example. their value there wasn’t in terms of playing a political role, but as qualified scientists debunking the “scientific postulations” of folks like Behe.

they do that here every day for the thousands of lurkers who come to see what all the fuss is about.

It’s just as important as getting “out there” and forming a counter political action group.

got nothin to do with being “high minded”, but working where one’s own expertise can make the most difference.

If you think you have sufficient political expertise to organize significant efforts on the political front, please do! But don’t expect a scientist, whose expertise lies in, well, science to think his efforts would be better spent there than here.

A better forum to bring this up might be found over on Open Democracy:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/home/index.jsp

now there are some folks that are interested in politics!

Comment #75146

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 23, 2006 5:08 PM (e)

Comment #75092 posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 01:47 PM

Recall that in Dover, even after “leading” their constituency to an expensive and humiliating defeat, the creationist candidates only lost by fairly small margins, this time.

Also, in the Dover school board elections, it is believed that a significant factor in the defeat of the incumbents was voter fear and resentment of the big potential legal bill that the board was running up in the defense of the ID rule. The lies of the incumbents were probably another factor. Many people incorrectly see the vote as just a referendum on ID.

The popularity of public officials who favor ID/creationism should not be surprising — opinion polls show that most people want ID or creationism to be taught in public schools as well as evolution theory.

Comment #75148

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 23, 2006 5:19 PM (e)

it is believed … probably … Many people …

more unsupported supposition from larry. How is it that your mind can continue to function based on pure supposition?

it doesn’t even matter whether you actually are correct or not, larry (except in your own mind, i guess), but your continual suppostional postulation has gotten quite boring, to say the least.

opinion polls show that most people want ID or creationism to be taught in public schools as well as evolution theory.

didn’t your parents even give you the “If your friends jumped off a bridge..” speech, Larry?

Comment #75150

Posted by Rich on January 23, 2006 5:26 PM (e)

And me and millions others would like donuts to be low calorie… wanting doesn’t make it true.

Comment #75154

Posted by allygally on January 23, 2006 5:32 PM (e)

Sir Toejam

2 million: thanks for the correction and the Open Democracy link. I will certainly go there.

You may be right about scientists’ reluctance to “do politics”,( to be absolutely clear, I am not a scentist, just a concerned layman, so I guess my implied criticism of scientists is a bit unfair). Nevertheless, scientists are citizens too, and it is disheartening that (you imply) they are somehow unable or unwilling to run a simple campaign which doesn’t even take any organising….

Repeat after me “the Intelligent Design Hoax”, “the Intelligent Design Hoax”, “the Intelligent Design Hoax”….…. See, it’s easy…..

Comment #75160

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 23, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

It should also be noted that Bob Jones University is in Fair’s district….

Yeah, but Buttars’ state (though not district) includes the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Brigham Young University (and Weber State, for basketball fans). These are good, sometimes great science institutions. All three have powerful biology departments. Utah has a great medical school. Utah’s governor’s family fortune is based on good, applied science.

Shame on the state and on the dominant church don’t seem to be enough to shut this guy down.

I got a mug at Dallas’ Shakespeare-Beethoven & Co., featuring a good drawing of Albert Einstein and a saying, “The difference between intelligence and stupidity is that intelligence has its limits.” I don’t know that Einstein ever actually said that. Sen. Buttars appears bent on proving it true.

Comment #75161

Posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

STJ:

No, Larry makes a good point, but doesn’t support it real well. Polls and surveys WERE taken in the Dover area. The overwhelming majority were bible-pounding Christians. A distinct majority favored teaching creationism as a scientific alternative (and saw no irony). The district voting population was also distinctly below state and national average in years of education received. In general, we’re talking about a small, poor, uneducated, backward community. Exactly where something as brainless as creationism can be expected to thrive.

And some several interviews I’ve read here and there (admittedly very anecdotal) also supports what Larry said: The interviewees resented the money that had been wasted, and didn’t want any appeals to add to the bill.

Basically, Larry is correct here: no court decision, however obvious, well-written or comprehensive, is going to educate a community of bible-pounding ignoramuses. Simplistic, magical answers will always be popular among the ignorati. I also doubt the vote was a referendum on ID, and I fully expect a repeat of Kansas - once the dust settles, the lunatics will be voted back in to run the asylum.

As Gould was fond of saying, admitting that people are contingent animals no different from any other in the process by which we evolved, isn’t something simpleminded uneducated insecure people are going to accept willingly. It’s just a truism that the ignorant will vote to stay that way, and the educated will vote to stay educated. That’s why we’re battling over schools, right?

Comment #75163

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 23, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

No, Larry makes a good point, but doesn’t support it real well

actually, if you will note, I wasn’t calling larry’s conclusions into question (at least in this one specific instance), so much as how he makes them, so starting off with “no” as a rebuttal to my argument is inconsistent when you follow it with… “doesn’t support it real well”

surely you aren’t going to argue that the way larry reaches his conclusions is valid?

as to whether whether larry’s conclusions are correct or not, hell, even a clock is right twice a day, yes?

I don’t feel the need to validate my clock, do you?

Comment #75168

Posted by Moses on January 23, 2006 6:03 PM (e)

Comment #75092 posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 01:47 PM

Recall that in Dover, even after “leading” their constituency to an expensive and humiliating defeat, the creationist candidates only lost by fairly small margins, this time.

It’s kind of sad that professing overt religiosity (even if no one has ever seen you voluntarily go into a church) is such a strong draw.

Comment #75169

Posted by KiwiInOz on January 23, 2006 6:03 PM (e)

Can we ask Sternberg and Keller to ensure that the role of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the creation of the universe and all within it gets a fair and balanced hearing as an alternative? Where do we send our letters?

Comment #75170

Posted by ben on January 23, 2006 6:06 PM (e)

Larry, are there any public policy decisions you wouldn’t like to see made via opinion polling?

Comment #75172

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 23, 2006 6:10 PM (e)

Larry, is there anything you know that isn’t “just an opinion”?

If not, why not?

Comment #75173

Posted by KiwiInOz on January 23, 2006 6:11 PM (e)

Further to RupertG’s question and my little comment above, can we not arrange a mass promotion of all (well as many as we can find) of the “alternative” explanations prior to the Fair and balanced sideshow, and demand that they all be taught? Surely there must be some sympathetic advertising execs out there who could help. This would help expose the vacuity of the teach the alternatives mantra for what it is. Even 20 alternatives over 10 days prior to the show would have impact.

Comment #75174

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 23, 2006 6:13 PM (e)

@ally:

don’t forget that there are also plenty of scientists who get involved in this issue on a more political front, like NCSE, for example:

http://www.natcenscied.org/

There are a lot more, if you take a gander. even NSF and AAAS have become more involved in recent years.

I guess what I’m saying actually is, think bigger; take whatever ideas you have, and your enthusiasm for the political/marketing aspects of this struggle, and go where these would have more “play”.

PT is small potatoes on the “marketing” front.

Comment #75179

Posted by Wayne B. on January 23, 2006 6:50 PM (e)

“Sheep / shepherd,” “god problem,” “ignoranti”…the terms that you all are using in this discussion is a little off-putting. While I might agree with many of the arguments you are making, you are speaking with considerable disdain towards those that you wish to persuade. Do you really expect to win converts to the cause with this sort of ad hominem / accusatory discourse?

Is there a way to couch anti-intelligent design discourses that doesn’t immediately turn off those in the “radical middle”?

Is there a way to resolve this debate that charts a middle ground rather than further polarizing opinion?

Comment #75182

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 6:55 PM (e)

I *love* fundies. They’re the best opponents I’ve ever had. Just sit back, crack open a beer, let them talk — and voila. Easy win.

Comment #75183

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 23, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

Wayne B.
I tend to agree with your sentiment. First impressions here are quite off-putting. It is understandable though that people who actually know Biology are bloody annoyed that, people who virtually nothing about it, think it is an opinion pole matter.

Could you imagine the reaction of aeronautical engineers if a political movement was persuading people that aircraft design studies should be “teaching the controversy”, and heavier than air flying machines are impossible?

Comment #75186

Posted by KiwiInOz on January 23, 2006 7:09 PM (e)

OK, so the hearing has already happened. But it would be nice to have a package to pull out whenever ‘teach the alternatives’ is paraded.

Comment #75190

Posted by Ron Okimoto on January 23, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

Someone should clue these guys in that this creationist scam wording has been tried before. They just have to look at Jones’ decision and look at the old “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act.” that was shot down in Arkansas. It has been around 25 years, but that isn’t any excuse to be so stupid. These guys are just substituting in ID for creation-science and they think that they are fooling someone.

Comment #75191

Posted by Jim Harrison on January 23, 2006 7:16 PM (e)

South Carolina played a poisonous role in American history. Despite the Palmetto on the flag, it is more properly called the treason state. Over and beyond its key role in fomenting the Civil War, the South Carolinian ruling class pioneered the use of democratic forms for tyrannical purposes. If, as seems likely, America becomes an oligarchy in which the wealthy and unscrupulous dominate an ingnorant and cowardly population with rigged plebecites and gross superstitions, they ought to put the monument to the New American Banana Republic in Charleston.

Watch these guys.

Comment #75194

Posted by Wayne B. on January 23, 2006 7:38 PM (e)

‘Rev. Dr.’ Lenny Flank said “I *love* fundies. They’re the best opponents I’ve ever had. Just sit back, crack open a beer, let them talk —- and voila. Easy win.”

I don’t mean to jump into the fray and just start making meta-commentary about the ID-evolution ‘debate.’ But, Rev. Dr. Flank, this is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not about “winning”–it’s about making a difference in people’s lives. When we construct this issue as one of “winning” and “losing,” then people are less likely to want to tune into the debate in the first place. Politics isn’t a zero-sum game, and when we construct it as such then the only real loser is public discourse. We need to figure out how to make zero-sum games into win-win games.

I suspect that this might sound naive to some of you ‘grizzled veterans’ of the ‘ID wars’ out there…but isn’t such a metaphor fundamentally one that makes the conflict seem so intractable?

Thanks, Stephen, for your kind words. I can understand your analogy to aerospace engineering (though I’m not sure how apt the analogy is–that example seems much more tangible and testable than the ID-evolution debate.) In any case, I understand where you’re coming from, and, like I said, I fundamentally agree with you and the anti-“teach the controversy” debate. Ultimately, this is a question of how to advance the debate rather than continue to polarize it.

Comment #75196

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 23, 2006 7:53 PM (e)

Wayne B.

To understand what is going on you have at least 2 choices (not exclusive BTW).

1. Learn Biology.
or
2. Learn what the ID movement has been doing.

Option 2 is much simpler (biology is a difficult subject if you are short on time).

Find out about the Wedge document. That is very plain about ID/DI objectives. There are lots of other things I could tell you, but the wedge spells everything out.

Stick around this site. Watch how the 2 sides argue. You will pretty quickly see who backs arguments up with research.

I will give you a link to wedge here.

http://www.public.asu.edu/~jmlynch/idt/wedge.html

Check it out and see if it is religious/political in its nature.

The DI/ID has proven itself to be dishonest. That was enough to convince me not to pin my colours to their mast.

Comment #75197

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 23, 2006 7:55 PM (e)

BTW Wayne B.

Lenny has been dealing with these people for over 20 years. Understand why he has little patience. Arguing with dishonest people is very infuriating.

Comment #75198

Posted by K. Foss on January 23, 2006 7:56 PM (e)

Wayne,

With apologies, you _are_ naive. They have money. They have power. They have “teaching the controversy.” All we have is the truth. It won’t automatically set us free–but if we ram it down enough people’s throats it will eventually sink in. There can be no middle ground when you’re up against opponents who will do anything to win, and who themselves perceive any sort of compromise as a bargain with the devil.

Comment #75199

Posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 7:56 PM (e)

that example seems much more tangible and testable than the ID-evolution debate

Unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s exactly the same. The central problem here is, and has always been, that faith trumps evidence. If faith tells them heavier than air planes can’t fly, then they can’t fly. Just *showing* the evidence won’t work. Explaining it won’t work. Proposing tests won’t work. Faith pays no attention.

So now, what are you proposing? Some nice “Something to be said for both sides” of the heavier-than-air “controversy”? And how do YOU respond to the repeated (ad nauseum) reply that you are a believer in the “heavy aircraft religion” but they’ll pray for you anyway?

If you really wish to puzzle this out, you’ll soon discover that the creationists have polarized the discussion by sitting at the extreme polar end and *refusing to budge* regardless of any tenor of discussion, any volume of evidence, any offer to meet halfway.

Or should we rather ignore the creationists who show up here to waive their ignorance around, on the grounds that repeating the same refutations of the same lies endlessly has no persuasive effect on those who do NOT ever post anything, but will nonetheless somehow consider facts politely presented to be, I don’t know, “factier” somehow?

Anyway, there is an element of winning and losing here. The fundies are trying to use lies to win souls for their gods. The scientists are trying not to lose good minds permanently to that black hole. So join in the discussion. The first time you unpolarize a creationists, I can guarantee everyone here will sit up and take notes.

Comment #75202

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 23, 2006 8:12 PM (e)

Posted by Wayne B. on January 23, 2006 07:38 PM (e)

Thanks, Stephen, for your kind words. I can understand your analogy to aerospace engineering (though I’m not sure how apt the analogy is—that example seems much more tangible and testable than the ID-evolution debate.) In any case, I understand where you’re coming from, and, like I said, I fundamentally agree with you and the anti-“teach the controversy” debate. Ultimately, this is a question of how to advance the debate rather than continue to polarize it.

Not particularly true Wayne,
Evolutionary Biology explains why anti-viral inoculations need to be updated.

ie. A “flu jab” needs to be changed as the flu virus evolves in a way that makes it resistant to old “jabs”.

What would ID predict? Does the designer keep designing new viruses to thwart medical attempts at prevention?

Comment #75204

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 23, 2006 8:18 PM (e)

“factier”

I think that’s the corollary to the word of the year: “truthiness”.

Colbert made some rather witty jokes out of that recently.

and I’m really not kidding:

http://www.americandialect.org/

Truthiness Voted 2005 Word of the Year

sounds silly, but I think you actually touched on a key issue in this whole ID/Evo “debate”.

Comment #75209

Posted by the pro from dover on January 23, 2006 8:30 PM (e)

Once more as the voice crying in the wilderness I say don’t call intelligent design a hoax. It doesnt fit that description at all. Hoaxes are simple tricks designed to decieve people and make them look foolish. Intelligent design is pseudoscience; not as sexy a word but absolutely accurate. It is essentially no different from astrology as Michael Behe so thoughtfully testified in Dover. Intelligent design is a belief, a religious belief or at minimum a metaphysical belief. Dont equate religion with hoax even if you believe it. We have a big fight on our hands that is just warming up, the vast majority of Americans (about 78%) are religious people, we want and need them to support us.If “they” say Darwinism is godless atheism don’t lend credence to that because it is plain and simple not true.

Comment #75215

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 9:08 PM (e)

But, Rev. Dr. Flank, this is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not about “winning”—it’s about making a difference in people’s lives.

Keeping ID out of science classrooms, and blunting ID’s wedge-for-theocracy, WILL make a difference in people’s lives.

A very BIG difference.

Education and all that is well and nice, but never forget that it wasn’t “education” or “science” that kicked the IDers’ ass in Dover. It was a handful of lawyers, who were sharp enough to use the IDiot’s own words against them. Fundies have always been their own worst enemies, simply by their utter inability to shut their mouths about their (ilelgal) religious aims and goals). I thank them for that.

This is a political fight. It’s not about science, and it won’t be won with science. That is why, whether we like it or not, it’s almost a complete waste of time to try to defeat ID by pointing out all the scientific flaws in their “arguments”. People simply don’t care. (shrug)

Comment #75217

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 9:14 PM (e)

It’s not just reporters: this is a PR war, and everyone who cares about science education has to play their part. PT is a great resource, but sometimes it feels like a place to hide amongst like minded individuals, where we can slag off the fundieloons and wallow in our intellectual superiority and complain the Joe Public just doesn’t get it. I’m afraid if we are going to win this war, we have to get our hands dirty.

I quite agree. But —– this is not about “science education”. It is not a scientific dispute. The fundies don’t know diddley about science, don’t care about it, and aren’t interested in it. This is a POLITICAL war. What they want – ALL they want – is theocracy. Literally. Their openly-stated aim has always been to dismantle the wall between church and state and to make the US a “Christian Nation”. They are ayatollah-wanna-be’s. Nothing more, nothing less, ntohign else. Science (and more specifically, evolution) is simply the “wedge issue” that they have chosen to pry their way into their larger theocratic political goals.

Treating this as a matter of ‘science education’ is a sure way to lose.

Comment #75218

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 9:23 PM (e)

I suspect that this might sound naive to some of you ‘grizzled veterans’ of the ‘ID wars’ out there…but isn’t such a metaphor fundamentally one that makes the conflict seem so intractable?

You *ARE* naive, and the conflict *IS* intractable.

The fundies want to dismantle the wall between church and state and impose theocracy upon all of us, whether we like it or not. If you doubt that, then please visit:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

This is not a tennis match. This is not a genteel debate. They absolutely will not give up, ever. We can’t either. Either we will lose to the fundies and suffer theocracy, or we won’t. This is a fight to the death. Punches will be thrown, teeth will be knocked out, and blood will hit the walls. One side will walk away alive. The other side won’t.

This is not about science. This is about political power and who gets to weild it. ID will not be beaten by science. It can only be beaten the same way that any OTHER political movement is beaten; we need to crush it as an effective political movement by undermining its support, driving away its supporters, undercutting its finances, frustrating all its tactics, and pounding away at them without mercy utnil they simply can’t fight any more. I fully intend to kick them, kick them again, kick them till they’re down, kick them in the head as they lie there, and then run them over with a truck just to make sure.

And if you don’t want to get your hands dirty with that, then I suggest you find another intellectual hobby to dabble in.

Comment #75232

Posted by Wayne B. on January 23, 2006 10:08 PM (e)

Rev.,

Can you imagine how perhaps you might have alienated someone (who, btw, explicitly identified with your position and was trying to think of different ways to argue so as to be more effective) with your ‘my way or the highway’ approach?

Can you imagine how perhaps being told to go ‘dabble’ in another intellectual hobby might be seen as frustrating?

Can you imagine how you look to others who are looking in on this debate and trying to figure out how they can make a contribution?

Perhaps it is time to climb out of the ‘trenches,’ lay down the ‘big guns,’ and think about some rhetorical choices that might be more inviting for others to participate in. Perhaps, then, the public which so many on this list seem to disdain will take you more seriously. Calling them ignorant sheep with a god problem doesn’t exactly make people inclined to hop on board with a more enlightened agenda.

Look at the numbers: with the current highly partisan, polemic approach, a substantial majority people think that ID and evolution should be taught as a controversy. I would say that the slash-and-burn approach has been less then effective.

You have to make cultural changes in order to effect political changes, and part of that cultural change has to involve a move away from a kneejerk culture of critique.

But, of course, I’m just a dilettante, who will now move on to another controversy where I don’t have to get my hands dirty–anyone know of an intellectual hobby that involves touching knees and singing?

Comment #75235

Posted by Ron Zeno on January 23, 2006 10:13 PM (e)

Is intelligent design creationism a hoax? Yes, in that is meant to decieve, but it is an extremely complicated hoax that is intended to promote creationism, and ultimately create a theocracy. Though much of it is pseudoscience, more importantly it is anti-science.

I prefer the frame of “intelligent design creationism”. It’s true, the intelligent design creationists have to deny it, and the courts have now supported it as a legal truth.

Comment #75237

Posted by Moses on January 23, 2006 10:21 PM (e)

Comment #75194

Posted by Wayne B. on January 23, 2006 07:38 PM (e)

I don’t mean to jump into the fray and just start making meta-commentary about the ID-evolution ‘debate.’ But, Rev. Dr. Flank, this is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not about “winning”—it’s about making a difference in people’s lives. When we construct this issue as one of “winning” and “losing,” then people are less likely to want to tune into the debate in the first place. Politics isn’t a zero-sum game, and when we construct it as such then the only real loser is public discourse. We need to figure out how to make zero-sum games into win-win games.

Not all situations are amenable to “win-win.” This happens to be one of them - teach science or teach religion pretending to be science. To make a dubious analogy - they’re like gas & water. Both are important, but your car runs on gas and if you want it to get anywhere you better be putting gas in your tank, not water.

I suspect that this might sound naive to some of you ‘grizzled veterans’ of the ‘ID wars’ out there…but isn’t such a metaphor fundamentally one that makes the conflict seem so intractable?

Whose “war?” I don’t see scientists going on TV and denouncing religion and trying to force evolution into churches.

Thanks, Stephen, for your kind words. I can understand your analogy to aerospace engineering (though I’m not sure how apt the analogy is—that example seems much more tangible and testable than the ID-evolution debate.) In any case, I understand where you’re coming from, and, like I said, I fundamentally agree with you and the anti-“teach the controversy” debate. Ultimately, this is a question of how to advance the debate rather than continue to polarize it.

In seeking to “advance the debate” you’ve fallen into a constructed fallacy – that there is actually a debate about the validity of evolution as a scientific concept. There is no “debate” about evolution as a scientific concept in the biological sciences. Sure, there are a few cranks who’ve put religion ahead of science, but there always are. But, within biological science, there is no debate.

There is a phony “controversy” about evolution fostered by a certain segment of authoritarian Christians who want to force us into a Christian theocracy. But there is no “debate.” Evolution is just a flash-point concept used to whip up fervor in their followers.

And if they win, then where do we go? Do we let them change medical school curriculum for Christian doctrinal purity? Been there, done that, the cemeteries are full of people who died unnecessarily young with that kind of “medicine.”

And it can get scarier. How about biblical law in our courts? You definitely don’t want to go there.

Anyway, if I continue on, I’ll rant.

Comment #75238

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 10:25 PM (e)

Can you imagine how perhaps you might have alienated someone

Tough. (shrug)

This is a fight to the death. People with thin skins should stay out of politics.

Can you imagine how you look to others who are looking in on this debate and trying to figure out how they can make a contribution?

If you want to contribute, then begin by learning what the fight is all about, and why any effort whatsoever to “reach a middle ground with them” is doomed to failure, right from the start.

If you want to sit around the campfire with the fundies and sing “Kumbaya” with them, then have at it and enjoy yourself. But you won’t accomplish a damn thing. They will roll right over top of you.

Comment #75242

Posted by Kevin from NYC on January 23, 2006 10:35 PM (e)

Rev,

You are so absolutely right. The theocrats want to control what we read, hear and say. THey want constant government suppression at home and constant war overseas.

“I fully intend to kick them, kick them again, kick them till they’re down, kick them in the head as they lie there, and then run them over with a truck just to make sure.”

and poke them with a sharp stick.

Comment #75243

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 10:39 PM (e)

Anyway, if I continue on, I’ll rant.

And a wonderful rant it’d be, I wager. ;)

“Compromise” with the fundies is just as impossible as “compromise” with the Klan or the Nazis or the Leninists. It simply can’t be done. If they win, we all lose.

That is not an exaggeration.

The fundies have a clearly stated political goal. Either they will reach it, or they won’t.

I am determined to see that they won’t.

And in the process, I see no need or necessity to make nice-nice with them.

Comment #75247

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 23, 2006 10:43 PM (e)

When we construct this issue as one of “winning” and “losing,” then people are less likely to want to tune into the debate in the first place.

Well, that would be a good thing, since there is no debate. Anything that reduces the popular interest in ID is good, because the interest created by DI and its PR is the only reason ID has any traction at all. But you contradict yourself when you write

with the current highly partisan, polemic approach, a substantial majority people think that ID and evolution should be taught as a controversy

You were right the first time. The reason that some people (not a “substantial majority”) think that “alternatives” to evolution should be taught is because they have been propagandized to believe that and they haven’t been well educated in biology, science, critical thinking, etc.

Don’t feel too bad though, since there’s plenty of contradiction to go around – for instance, when the same person says both “game over” and “the conflict *IS* intractable”. Neither is entirely true.

Comment #75255

Posted by Tom Slay on January 23, 2006 11:49 PM (e)

I am sick and tired of you atheists. Thank Jesus for fair and honest men like Mr. Fair. You all talk about how smart you are and that we “Fundies” as you put it, are not critical thinkers. Well, think of this. Science is the problem with this country. If it wasn’t for science we wouldn’t have all of you atheists. Science should be only taught so it supports the Bible and God’s Sun Jesus. Jesus is the Sun of God and you deny it and so are choosing to go to the underworld for all eternity. God knew it before he created you and so prepared a place for all of you to burn forever. God is love, but his name is Jealous, because you only worship science and evolution his jealousy will send you to hell. Think of that. Our schools should only hire teachers that are born again believers to teach science. No evolution or any of that men from monkeys stuff should be taught there. The penalty for teaching that nonsense should be stoning to death because it leads helpless children to hell. Did you ever critically think of that? We have the President on our side and so is the Congress and soon to be we will have the Supreme court and then where will you be, so you had better shut up or face the wrath of God through our Christian nation and leaders like Mr. Fair.

Comment #75257

Posted by Rich on January 24, 2006 12:26 AM (e)

Tom Slay - 3 arf points for your parody.

Comment #75259

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 24, 2006 12:48 AM (e)

Lenny Frank wrote:

Can you imagine how perhaps you might have alienated someone

Tough. (shrug)

This is a fight to the death. People with thin skins should stay out of politics.

The unquoted part of Wayne B.’s sentence continues as follows:

…might have alienated someone (who, btw, explicitly identified with your position and was trying to think of different ways to argue so as to be more effective) with your ‘my way or the highway’ approach?

The “only shoot the other side” rule does not apply to its biggest advocate, does it.

Comment #75260

Posted by limpidense on January 24, 2006 12:51 AM (e)

Funny stuff, Tom!

Comment #75264

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 1:47 AM (e)

Think of it this way, How many people does satan kill in the bible? Ok, now how many does god kill? Now, who’s side are the fundies on?

Lenny, I had no idea you’d been at this so long. 20 years? Woo Hoo! I just hurl random insults like my dog does to people that she doesn’t like. But you’ve really put some effort into it.

Religion is inherently dangerous and at odds with free thinking. It isn’t that you can’t feel the awe of creation it’s just that god, well, no one knows. No one. Never did because creation is outside of our closed universe. And that, we

Comment #75268

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 24, 2006 2:03 AM (e)

Comment #75148 posted by Sir_Toejam on January 23, 2006 05:19 PM

it is believed … probably … Many people …

more unsupported supposition from larry. How is it that your mind can continue to function based on pure supposition?

“It is believed” was based on newspaper reports. “Probably” was based on common sense. “Many people” was based on my own personal experience.

Would you rather that I simply flatly state that something is true when I am not sure that it is true ? I also say “I think” or “I feel” to show that I am just stating my own opinion ( sort of like IMO and IMHO ). But Lenny Flank has a real problem with that – he responds, “no one cares what you think. (shrug).” I cannot say anything here without someone having a big problem with it. I pointed out that what the Ohio board of education did – holding a vote before hearing public comments – is illegal in California ( as it should be everywhere ), and Bob O’H thought he was being real clever in responding, “I was not aware that California had annexed Ohio for itself.” And that attracted the attention of Wesley Elsberry, who then kicked me off his thread to “[preserve] good discussion on the thread.” I no longer post on – or even read – Elsberry’s threads.

Comment #75170 posted by ben on January 23, 2006 06:06 PM
Larry, are there any public policy decisions you wouldn’t like to see made via opinion polling?

Speaking of opinion polls, a great deal of weight is given to scientists’ — particularly biologists’ – opinions about evolution theory and ID. So why aren’t there more opinion polls of scientists about this subject ? The only such poll I could find on the Internet was an outdated 2002 poll of Ohio scientists.

Also, all this hoopla about ID and irreducible complexity is obscuring the fact that there are other scientific criticisms of evolution theory.

Comment #75269

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 24, 2006 2:04 AM (e)

“Many people” was based on my own personal experience.

Comment #75271

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 24, 2006 2:11 AM (e)

Fair also notes the absence of “missing links” of any kind continues to be a problem for Darwin’s theory — yet that is not talked about in the classroom.

If the missing links weren’t absent, they wouldn’t be missing.

Geniuses, the lot of ‘em.

Comment #75276

Posted by Renier on January 24, 2006 4:03 AM (e)

Larry wrote
Also, all this hoopla about ID and irreducible complexity is obscuring the fact that there are other scientific criticisms of evolution theory.

Such as ??? If you do mention some sample (dont think you will), please remember you said “scientific criticisms”.

Comment #75277

Posted by Tom Slay on January 24, 2006 4:21 AM (e)

What Parody?

Comment #75280

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 24, 2006 5:34 AM (e)

Posted by Tom Slay on January 24, 2006 04:21 AM (e)

What Parody?

This parody.

Posted by Tom Slay on January 23, 2006 11:49 PM (e)

I am sick and tired of you atheists. Thank Jesus for fair and honest men like Mr. Fair. You all talk about how smart you are and that we “Fundies” as you put it, are not critical thinkers. Well, think of this. Science is the problem with this country. If it wasn’t for science we wouldn’t have all of you atheists. Science should be only taught so it supports the Bible and God’s Sun Jesus. Jesus is the Sun of God and you deny it and so are choosing to go to the underworld for all eternity. God knew it before he created you and so prepared a place for all of you to burn forever. God is love, but his name is Jealous, because you only worship science and evolution his jealousy will send you to hell. Think of that. Our schools should only hire teachers that are born again believers to teach science. No evolution or any of that men from monkeys stuff should be taught there. The penalty for teaching that nonsense should be stoning to death because it leads helpless children to hell. Did you ever critically think of that? We have the President on our side and so is the Congress and soon to be we will have the Supreme court and then where will you be, so you had better shut up or face the wrath of God through our Christian nation and leaders like Mr. Fair.

Nobody could be that dumb and know how to breath. If I am wrong, you are only still functioning due to a miracle. You should go to the DI where those scientists can test you, prove the miraculous and thus advance their hypothesis.

Comment #75281

Posted by DrFrank on January 24, 2006 5:48 AM (e)

I had a girlfriend that was constantly jealous, and that wasn’t much fun. You’re saying God is like an enormous all-powerful version of her? Eep :O

Could I live a good Christian life and get up to the gates of Heaven only to have God look at me and say “Get away from me! I saw you talking to that scientist! And you watched that Dawkins program that time!” ;)

Comment #75282

Posted by ts on January 24, 2006 6:08 AM (e)

[qs]And a wonderful rant it’d be, I wager. ;)

“Compromise” with the fundies is just as impossible as “compromise” with the Klan or the Nazis or the Leninists. It simply can’t be done. If they win, we all lose.

That is not an exaggeration.

The fundies have a clearly stated political goal. Either they will reach it, or they won’t.

I am determined to see that they won’t.

And in the process, I see no need or necessity to make nice-nice with them.[/qs]

I wish you would make your wishes clear lol

I’ve gotten a mite crusty.

Comment #75283

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 24, 2006 6:33 AM (e)

Comment #75276 posted by Renier on January 24, 2006 04:03 AM

Larry wrote
“Also, all this hoopla about ID and irreducible complexity is obscuring the fact that there are other scientific criticisms of evolution theory.”

Such as ??? If you do mention some sample (dont think you will), please remember you said “scientific criticisms”.

Criticisms concerning – (1) the mechanisms of the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually; (2) the mathematical probability of evolution; and (3) the co-evolution of two co-dependent organisms, e.g., the co-evolution of bees and flowering plants ( this co-dependence is called “mutualism” ).

Comment #75284

Posted by DrFrank on January 24, 2006 6:42 AM (e)

Ooh, the mathematical arguments against evolution are always fun :D Spotting the false assumptions is always an interesting pass time.

For example:

“Since DNA is made out of purely X-handed (can’t remember which) amino acids, and assuming that both are equiprobable, the probability of a piece of DNA being purely one-handed is 1/2^lots, where lots is the length of the chain! Evolution obviously can’t have happened?!!”

Or a tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747 etc. etc. etc.

Bleh.

Comment #75285

Posted by the pro from dover on January 24, 2006 6:43 AM (e)

The most important enemies of American Christian fundamentalists are not athiests or scientists but the mainstream believers of their own religions (usually Protestants). As we carry on here ministers such as Harvey Martz at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch Colorado (a very fundamentalist community in a very red state) regularly sermonize about the need for science education and the importance of evolution being taught in science classes with no interference from intelligent design. I think it is a big mistake to lump all believers into one group as ignorant sheep because the defenders of the scientific method need the support of these mainstream believers. Let them believe in theistic evolution. They know it isn’t science. Most of them know it isnt “rational” Most of them don’t want it taught in public school, but they don’t want to be called idiots either.

Comment #75286

Posted by k.e. on January 24, 2006 7:23 AM (e)

indeed pro
Lets hope all the religions that will ‘miss out’ when Tom Slay’s God V0.9a TM gets to say what God V0.9aTM wants to do with everyone elses children make sure that the politicians are brought to account.
Let’s see if they step up.

Comment #75288

Posted by k.e. on January 24, 2006 7:31 AM (e)

Hey Larry you make an even better scientist than a lawyer

Comment #75289

Posted by k.e. on January 24, 2006 7:39 AM (e)

And now Larry since you are now critiquing evolutionary flaws perhaps you could give us your considered opinion on this
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/01/luskin_humans_d.html#comment-75274

Comment #75293

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 8:11 AM (e)

The “only shoot the other side” rule does not apply to its biggest advocate, does it.

Wayne is not on our side. Indeed, by attempting to make a “win-win” situation, he is on the IDer’s side. He, like they, is attempting to argue that there is some legitimate “debate” and that we should “consider the IDer’s side in this debate” and “teach both sides”.

There isn’t any legitimate debate.

Sorry if Wayne doesn’t want to hear that. (shrug)

Comment #75295

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 8:13 AM (e)

Lenny, I had no idea you’d been at this so long. 20 years? Woo Hoo!

Since 1982. A couple of nutters on a local school board in Pennsyvlania tried to introduce an “equal time” bill. I helped organize a local coalition of business leaders, local politicos, clergy and educators to oppose it.

IIRC, Wesley has been at it for about that long, too.

Comment #75296

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 8:16 AM (e)

The most important enemies of American Christian fundamentalists are not athiests or scientists but the mainstream believers of their own religions (usually Protestants).

That’s absolutely correct. As I pointed out a little while ago, over two-thirds of the people who are opposed to ID are religious people who think the fundies are wackos.

This is simply not a fight between atheists and theists. It’s not evena fight between science and religion. It’s a fight between a small group of ayatollah-wanna-be’s, and everyone else.

Comment #75298

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 8:18 AM (e)

In the past 20 years, I’ve heard dozens of creationuts tell me the “mathematical odds against evolution”.

Strangely enough, though, NONE of them has ever given me the same number.

Which indicates to me that either (1) they can’t do fourth grade math, or (2) every one of them just pulled a number straight out of their ass.

Or both.

Comment #75304

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 24, 2006 8:42 AM (e)

Comment #75298 posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 08:18 AM

In the past 20 years, I’ve heard dozens of creationuts tell me the “mathematical odds against evolution”.

Strangely enough, though, NONE of them has ever given me the same number.

Biology is not an exact science. Differences in probabilities will reflect differences in the assumptions that were made.

DNA labs reporting test results will often state a probability – maybe one in several billion – that two DNA samples that appear to be from the same person actually came from two different people ( not counting identical siblings from multiple births ). But two different DNA labs testing the same samples will generally report different probabilities.

Comment #75305

Posted by Moses on January 24, 2006 8:46 AM (e)

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 24, 2006 06:33 AM (e)

Criticisms concerning — (1) the mechanisms of the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually;

Criticisms that rely on incredulity, ignorance and lying are not valid criticisms.

(2) the mathematical probability of evolution; and

The evidence says: The probability is “1.” Everything else is intellectual masturbation.

(3) the co-evolution of two co-dependent organisms, e.g., the co-evolution of bees and flowering plants ( this co-dependence is called “mutualism” ).

Once again, incredulity, ignorance and lying are not valid criticisms.

Here, read all of this, then get back to us when you can think of something original (and non-derivative): http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

Comment #75307

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

I strongly suspect that some of the alleged atheists who post needless insults here, such as AC in post #75144, are really Christians, posing as atheists, and posting hateful nonsense, both to reinforce their stereotype of atheists, and to fracture the natural alliance between sensible persons of all faiths and non-faiths that tends to form in the face of Christian-right assaults on basic rights and decency.

Go back and read the list of plaintiffs in the Dover case: many of them are Christian parents who objected to ID because it conflicted with their own interpretations of the Bible. The ID scammers know that they will be crushed by persons of faith, not solely by atheists, and the last thing they want is a united sensible middle.

This blog is not about “religions vs. science and rationality;” it’s about defending the integrity of science and science-education against ignorance and con-games. Many persons of faith are on our side, and there’s no point in labelling all of them pathetic backward weaklings – especially since some of them have shown more strength and intelligence than many of the atheists I’ve encountered.

Comment #75332

Posted by AC on January 24, 2006 10:19 AM (e)

Raging Bee, it’s funny you should call my post “hateful nonsense”, as I was just about to post the following response to pro’s comment #75285:

I think it is a big mistake to lump all believers into one group as ignorant sheep because the defenders of the scientific method need the support of these mainstream believers. Let them believe in theistic evolution. They know it isn’t science. Most of them know it isnt “rational” Most of them don’t want it taught in public school, but they don’t want to be called idiots either.

I agree, and since they “know it isn’t ‘rational’”, they shouldn’t have a problem hearing it. I don’t call people idiots for religious belief. I propose no penalty for it. The constitution protects their right to be religious just as it protects my right to not be, and I believe strongly in those rights. That is why I strongly oppose the agenda of those who go far beyond mere religious belief, seeking to destroy those rights. Fundies do propose penalties for not believing at all, not believing correctly, and generally not agreeing with everything they think. Fundies do call people idiots for believing differently (Rom 1:22 - “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”), with the penalty for such fools being, of course, hellfire.

So you’ll pardon me if I merely laugh off the idea that I’m hateful, or that I’m a Christian trying to make atheists look bad. I believe in the ideals of this country. As long as someone else does, his beliefs regarding religion are irrelevant to me. He may think I’m blind for not believing as he does, and I will surely think him irrational, but if either of us cannot withstand such mild criticism, then our maturity is severely lacking.

Comment #75345

Posted by Joe the Ordinary Guy on January 24, 2006 11:16 AM (e)

For your consideration: this story

http://tinyurl.com/dqpoj

demonstrates that fundamentalists will not stop with Science, but will also go after History. And it may give you, as it did me, a weird “parallel universe” kind of vibe.

Comment #75346

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 11:18 AM (e)

AC: this is what you said:

But hope of what? Not practical things, but absurd fantasy…These are infantile hopes, and it is a troubling statement about humanity that most people seem to never outgrow them.

This is indeed “hateful nonsense,” needlessly demeaning of a HUGE range of people of widely varying circumstances and beliefs (beliefs whose particulars you show no sign of understanding yourself); made without distinction between allies and enemies; and no less bigoted than a Christian calling all Pagans “devil-worshippers.”

Just because “Fundies do call people idiots for believing differently,” is no excuse to sink to their level or imitate their worst behavior – especially after you’ve admitted you know it’s wrong.

I believe in the ideals of this country. As long as someone else does, his beliefs regarding religion are irrelevant to me.

What if “his beliefs regarding religion” lead him to support your ideals? Would they be “irrelevant to you” then? You seem determined to respect only those religious beliefs you can brush off as “irrelevant.”

“Believing in the ideals of this country” is no excuse for insulting people of whom you know nothing, and who have done you no wrong. How does such infantile behavior uphold the ideals of this country?

Comment #75357

Posted by Richard Simons on January 24, 2006 11:41 AM (e)

Larry,

When asked to provide scientific criticisms of evolution theory you came up with

“Criticisms concerning — (1) the mechanisms of the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually; (2) the mathematical probability of evolution; and (3) the co-evolution of two co-dependent organisms, e.g., the co-evolution of bees and flowering plants.”

If you want to stand a chance of being taken seriously, you MUST come up with peer-reviewed published papers to justify these vague claims. Although to be honest, you have established such a reputation for kookiness for yourself that your situation is probably not salvagable.

Comment #75360

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 11:48 AM (e)

Darn lost a bunch of my last post. Don’t remember what I said either but I know it was my most brilliant post yet.

I got uptight about it in 1987. Recently out of grad school and got a job with dept. of F&W. We had this church group doing a beach clean-up thing right by some research we were doing and they trashed it because we were scientists. It was my first real research project I created and directed as a *professional*. We were measuring the flow of a stream that carried some pretty nasty stuff into a small stretch of beach that people use. (We discovered that salmon still use the stream:).I’ve never really gotten over it. That plus I give lots of presentations at local schools about our marine economy and the christian (and 1 muslim) kids say things that make me mad at their parents.

It is in fact a war. They declared it and I am responding. I used to tell christians I was an athiest (not technically true) until I found out that telling them I am Unitarian makes them far more uncomfortable so now I’m a Unitarian. Someday, I will go to church. In the meantime, I can find no more suitable tactic than ridicule so I will ridicule whenever I get the chance. I am writing a book about god and the internet and that is how I found this site. I’ve posted here ever since merely so that I might be able to contribute to the off-chance that one fundy will be embarrassed into silence.

I am happy to debate evolution too. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert really but I can hold my own. I have discovered that my quite specific knowledge of biology seems less important than my general understanding of geology, oceanography, physics and astronomy. For the young earthers, you don’t need much more than the concept of the light year.

Believing in magic –religion– opens ourselves up to manipulation by unscrupulous people who prey on our weakness, ignorance and fear. Those people run the Disco Inst. as well as lots of other ignorant institutions. If we could all have sophisticated religion that separates the spiritual from the physical, I would be hunky-dory but we don’t. And hey, My job gives me some free time to do this kind of thing.

So please, If you are a fundy, feel free to challenge my assumptions. If I can’t back them up I will change them. And give me the chance to change your mind too.

Comment #75368

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 24, 2006 12:06 PM (e)

Larry Farfarman wrote:

So why aren’t there more opinion polls of scientists about this subject ? The only such poll I could find on the Internet was an outdated 2002 poll of Ohio scientists.

It’s from 2002, and it’s outdated? Do you really think scientists’ opinions will have changed much in that time, and that such change will have been in favor of ID? I don’t think so.

If you want an idea of what the scientific community thinks, polls are not the only measure. Nearly ever scientific organization has voiced its opinion in favor of evolution and/or against ID.

Comment #75370

Posted by gwangung on January 24, 2006 12:13 PM (e)

If you want an idea of what the scientific community thinks, polls are not the only measure.

There is, for example, actually READING the scientific literature.

Given that takes work, I’m afraid that’s not a favorite behavior for many people.

Comment #75374

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 24, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

Tell us about the meteorites, Larry. It’ll be a good way to establish your scientific bona fides.

Comment #75375

Posted by SteveF on January 24, 2006 12:28 PM (e)

Alexey, please don’t; there is only so much drooling nonsense that I can take.

Comment #75378

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 12:42 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

I used to tell christians I was an athiest (not technically true) until I found out that telling them I am Unitarian makes them far more uncomfortable so now I’m a Unitarian. Someday, I will go to church.

So, you misrepresented your religion one way, and now you misrepresent your religion another way, just to “make them uncomfortable,” and now you expect Christians to respect you as an honest scientist?

…In the meantime, I can find no more suitable tactic than ridicule so I will ridicule whenever I get the chance.

Have you ever tried appealing to the better aspects of their beliefs? Ever try quoting the Bible or various church doctrinal statements to prove that one can accept science and still be a good Christian? (The Catholics and Lutherans have been rather helpful here.)

One of the fundies’ major talking-points is that scientists are all arrogant atheists, distorting science to belittle good Christian folk, and thinking they’re just plain better than God-fearing Christians. It seems to have got some traction these last few decades. You think there might be a connection between your “tactic” and this result?

Persuasion through ridicule has been a miserable failure, and we’re still trying to recover from the consequences. Thanks for nothing, pal.

Comment #75382

Posted by Moses on January 24, 2006 1:01 PM (e)

Alexey, your meteorite comment got me interested in “Larry the subject.”

And I think I get it. Larry isn’t so much a “creationist troll” as he’s a retired engineer and is bored and is drawn to the “unpopular-side” of litmus-test issues because it keeps him busy responding and somehow the constant conflict and interaction must add meaning to his life. Even as he’s going off on evolution, or coming up with whacked theories of meteorites, or supporting the Confederate battle flag; he’s also writing letters to the editor regarding the stupidity and uselessness of the new Florida “stand your ground” law.

::::::::::::::

Larry,

You’ve got a lot of energy. Ride your bike more. Make another civic group like CAUSTIC and change the world for the better, if only in a small way. Find something productive that betters your reputation instead of dragging further and further into legendary status in “Internet crankdom.”

Good places to volunteer include your local schools. You could to cool engineering stunts, like Rube Goldberg devices and volcanoes, and travel around the greater metropolitan LA area showing them to elementary school kids who aren’t so jaded to be “too cool” to appreciate them.

Become a museum docent. Volunteer at the library. The world is your oyster.

Comment #75383

Posted by Bob O'H on January 24, 2006 1:02 PM (e)

I’ve gotten a mite crusty.

How did it feel about that?

Bob

Comment #75393

Posted by AC on January 24, 2006 1:23 PM (e)

Raging Bee, my statement was made specifically in response to BWE’s friend thinking that it is “better for simple people to have simple religion because some is better than none…even if it isn’t true.” Not all religions involve childish fantasy, but some do (one specifically). I take it that “simple religion” refers to that particular one. If I am wrong (perhaps BWE can correct me), then I apologize.

In any event, things remain what they are.

What if “his beliefs regarding religion” lead him to support your ideals? Would they be “irrelevant to you” then?

Yes. His support is what is relevant. I would not priase his religion simply because it leads him to agree with me.

Comment #75400

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 1:38 PM (e)

AC: BWE’s friend made a point you seem to have missed: for many people, having a “simple religion” encourages them to live better, more honest lives, despite being based on what you call “childish fantasy.” As one character in a Tom Robbins novel said, “The words of Jesus Christ are excellent words to live by, even if all the accompanying folklore is a pack of lies.” You can carp all you want about what lame “fantasy” Christianity is, but you can’t escape the fact that MILLIONS of people have improved their real lives because of it.

I would not priase his religion simply because it leads him to agree with me.

So…you already attacked (blindly) the religions of those who disagree with you, but you won’t give credit to the religions of those who agree with you? Isn’t that a bit of a double standard?

This sounds dangerously close to another atheist con-game: blaming religion for all of the world’s evils, but giving it no credit for any of the good.

Comment #75407

Posted by k.e. on January 24, 2006 1:50 PM (e)

Raging Bee
“The words of Jesus Christ are excellent words to live by, ….

Check the Fundies on this one and you will find a distinct lack of reference to the ‘excellent words’ particularly his most famous words …The sermon on the mount.

Read the whole thing again very carefully and ask yourself if ‘do not cast pearls to swine’ means keeping people in the dark.

Comment #75409

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 1:56 PM (e)

Who is advocating “keeping people in the dark?”

Comment #75410

Posted by k.e. on January 24, 2006 2:00 PM (e)

I was not suggesting you were, however religious obscurantism is the primary movtivation of too many who call themselves religious

Comment #75411

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 2:07 PM (e)

…religious obscurantism is the primary movtivation of too many who call themselves religious.

What, exactly, do you mean by that? And how does one prove or disprove that?

Irreligious or anti-religious obscurantism is no better than the religious kind.

Comment #75428

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 4:01 PM (e)

Woo Hoo! I have so much to respond to!

Have you ever tried appealing to the better aspects of their beliefs? Ever try quoting the Bible or various church doctrinal statements to prove that one can accept science and still be a good Christian? (The Catholics and Lutherans have been rather helpful here.)

Yes, I have. To people who actually look out with wonder in their lives and respect the rights of others and search for compromise and etc. I can have very nuanced and intelligent conversations about god and spirit and so forth. I certainly have the god gene. However, nuanced conversations about religion will invariably lead away from literal interpretations of the bible. Once you have gone over that line then you have crossed the all-or-nothing divide. The bible and all other religious texts were written by people not god. They may have had truly inspired insights into the nature of humanity but they didn’t have any divine insight into the nature of god. Not saying there is no god. just saying that the word is its own definition so whatever you say can only be speculation.

When you interpret the bible literally you are allowing ignorance to fuel dogma because it’s a crock. At least the history is. Sorry, either god involves himself, in which case we have a provincial god maybe more appropriately called a djinn or he doesn’t in which case we are back to square one.

You can carp all you want about what lame “fantasy” Christianity is, but you can’t escape the fact that MILLIONS of people have improved their real lives because of it.

Fen Fen and LSD fit this bill too. Many countless more have been murdered and persecuted due to others’ beliefs though. Theocracy scares me because I have so many ideas that constantly need to express themselves and I don’t want a world where I need to toe someone else’s moral line in order to simply be allowed to live.

In soviet Russia there was a saying:
Don’t think.
If you do think, don’t write.
If you do write, don’t publish.
If you do publish, don’t be surprised.

I have recorded 6 albums of songs I have written, written over a dozen childrens stories and one novel, kept sketchbooks all my life and painted every saturday morning (a few exceptions) for over 25 years, and worst of all- worked as a marine biologist for nearly 21 years. I would definitely be one of the first to go to jail. But in terms of damaging our moral fiber, I have a very different opinion from every single fundementalist I have come across, I think it’s wrong to kill other people. I don’t think sex is inherently bad. I don’t think children should be protected from science’s evil corruption of our souls. I would rather live a life of goodness, kindness and community than go to heaven where those aren’t requirements.

I take it that “simple religion” refers to that particular one. If I am wrong (perhaps BWE can correct me), then I apologize.

Simple religion I took to meant as religions where there is absolute right and wrong. And, as to my above point, I play poker with my friend who has a freakin divinity degree. We can have rational conversations because he is rational. His understanding is complex.

PS.

I used to tell christians I was an athiest (not technically true) until I found out that telling them I am Unitarian makes them far more uncomfortable so now I’m a Unitarian. Someday, I will go to church.

So, you misrepresented your religion one way, and now you misrepresent your religion another way, just to “make them uncomfortable,” and now you expect Christians to respect you as an honest scientist?

It is absolutely true to say that I am a unitarian. Simply not having been to church doesn’t negate that. In fact, the only service I ever went to in my life was a fundy one where the first words out of the preacher’s mouth was that Gandhi is in hell. Those were the guys that trashed my equipment. That doesn’t make me a fundy and my otherwise lack of church attendance doesn’t make me an athiest either.

I think it is very possible that people call me an honest scientist. My peers review my work, keeps me honest. What they think of me in my off time is a far different matter. I can only imagine. In fact it gives me great pleasure to imagine. And for those of you who might see that as hubris, know this, I don’t care :)

Comment #75430

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 4:21 PM (e)

I said: You can carp all you want about what lame “fantasy” Christianity is, but you can’t escape the fact that MILLIONS of people have improved their real lives because of it.

And you replied: Fen Fen and LSD fit this bill too.

Indeed they do, though not nearly as well. And your point…?

Many countless more have been murdered and persecuted due to others’ beliefs though.

Many have also been saved by persons of faith whose belief (their “fantasy” of a better world, if you will) moved them to fight the injustices of their times.

Theocracy scares me…

Me too. Who here is advocating theocracy?

Comment #75434

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 4:35 PM (e)

a) My point is that there is an equal downside. But on more reflection I would have to say that the downside is far worse for religion. I would be willing to put an uneducated wager on more people being harmed by religion than helped by it. And, if you gotta lie to someone to help them, i would say it’s a slippery slope.

b) see a.

c) http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

And finally, I am fully aware that I am a cranky old man with nothing better to do than insult defenseless ignorant saps who choose to believe in magic. But lenny is right, these guys declared war. Do you remember the moral majority? What about the christian coalition, focus on the family, pat robertson, the promisekeepers, islamic jihad, et al.

So go ahead, start the debate, just make damn sure that you win it. As for me, I’m content to hurl truthful insults from the pews until I get evicted or arrested. The thing is, what I am saying is right, so however uncomfortable it may be…

Comment #75445

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 5:07 PM (e)

And finally, I am fully aware that I am a cranky old man with nothing better to do than insult defenseless ignorant saps who choose to believe in magic.

Thanks for sharing. Now get out of the way so competent folks can get on with an important political struggle.

But lenny is right, these guys declared war.

And “war” requires sensible, disciplined, effective response. It also requires strong allies who can do the same. Insulting potential allies, without knowing in advance whose side they might be on, doesn’t help.

Do you remember the moral majority? What about the christian coalition, focus on the family, pat robertson, the promisekeepers, islamic jihad, et al.

These people were defeated/will be defeated only by making common cause with sensible persons of all faiths, and showing respect for their faiths. Not slavish agreement, just respect.

Comment #75446

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 5:12 PM (e)

And, if you gotta lie to someone to help them, i would say it’s a slippery slope.

This is a total non-sequitur. Since when does all religious faith constitute or entail “lying?”

Atheists pride themselves on the claim of superior “rationality.” Irrational behavior such as yours undermines that claim, and leaves you, as an atheist, with nothing to offer at all.

Comment #75452

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 5:35 PM (e)

My point is that there is an equal downside. But on more reflection I would have to say that the downside is far worse for religion. I would be willing to put an uneducated wager on more people being harmed by religion than helped by it.

I’ve heard that before. The next step is to blame religion for all the atrocities, and credit individual good sense for the good deeds, even when they’re done by the collective action of large numbers of believers. You’re not the only atheist who has already played that head-game here.

Comment #75459

Posted by Raging Bee on January 24, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

…As for me, I’m content to hurl truthful insults from the pews until I get evicted or arrested. The thing is, what I am saying is right, so however uncomfortable it may be.

The very least I can say for the creationists is that thay know they’re wrong, and thus make an effort to SOUND right. Like most of the atheists I know, on the other hand, you take it for granted that you’re already right, and your rightness is obvious to the world, and you therefore make no effort to make yourself convincing to people not like yourself. Thus, even when your statements are true, they sound ridiculous and insulting to others, who, quite understandably, write you off as a fool.

And on top of all that, a good bit of what you’ve said here is simply NOT true.

Comment #75466

Posted by Caledonian on January 24, 2006 6:23 PM (e)

Thus, even when your statements are true, they sound ridiculous and insulting to others, who, quite understandably, write you off as a fool.

And why, exactly, should be concerned about the opinions of such shallow and superficial reasoners?

People who complain about others’ arrogance are often just upset because they don’t like being judged - especially when they have a nagging suspicion that the judgement is accurate.

Comment #75469

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 6:34 PM (e)

Ok. First of all, I am not an athiest, I am a unitarian. That is not a joke. I have read the bibles and I do think many of jesus’ words were poignant and even possibly beautiful (I’d have to ask Carol about that). But a nuanced view of religion, while someone with such a view might find my particular blaspheme odorous, allows that the bible has glaring inaccuracies when it comes to the understanding of the natural world, and as for the old testament, well, it’s just plain i> /i. So, be religious all you want but the beginning of the slope that leads to the muck at the bottom, full of fundies who call for assasinations and occasionally commit them, is the idea that god wants something from you. As soon as you allow that that is possible, you allow yourself to be exposed to those who would exploit that idea and tell you what god wants and that, said john, is that. God wants you to kill me. Jesus fed 5000 people on a loaf of bread. Moses parted the red sea, the earth is 6000 years old, no one should be in congress who is not a *good* christian, dancing is immoral, liquor is a sin, god is likely to strike you down if you disobey his words which are burned into the papyrus of the dead sea scrolls or somewhere. Maybe god told it all to mohammed and jesus has a john lennon complex? Who knows? (I’ll tell you) No one, that’s who.

I do believe in the spiritual nature of my existence because I can observe it.

But here’s the next part, I don’t blame religion for any atrocities. I blame ignorant people. Just like you can’t actually wage war against drugs or poverty or terror, you can’t blame religion. You can however blame people and if they are using lies to perpetuate violence then pointing out those lies seems appropriate. Religions are surrounded in the political comentary of those who would use it for political gain. And, um, well, that’s nearly all of the commentary. But god isn’t big brother. God isn’t the tribal leader and god is not george bush. If your god is nuanced as mine is, then cool, you’re not likely to break my things or kill me. If not, well, I am suspicious. What do you ahve against ID? It’s the same thing I have against “simple” religion. It swells my head a little to be the victim of such vitriolic attacks. But, if you want to explain your religious ideas I am always willing to listen and I hope my mind is open enough to hear you and change my opinions where they are in need of a little change.

And finally, you are way off base if you are thinking that I am presenting myself as rational. I also don’t think I am right. Just more right then some. Where is it that you got that idea? I am looney as a jaybird. I am surprised and delighted that I have made it this far alive. Of course, I do put a lot of faith in modern medicine and a healthy dose of meditation along with a lot of physical activity. Mostly, I am amusing myself and hopefully entertaining some of you. If my comic relief has worn thin and turned into sarcastic, vicious ranting then I appologize and should retreat to lurker status until I can get my emotions in check. I’ll let you be the judge.

Comment #75470

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 6:36 PM (e)

oops, what did I say that isn’t true?

Comment #75472

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 6:41 PM (e)

And why, exactly, should be concerned about the opinions of such shallow and superficial reasoners?

People who complain about others’ arrogance are often just upset because they don’t like being judged - especially when they have a nagging suspicion that the judgement is accurate.

You shouldn’t. Why should you be concerned with anyone’s opinion? I don’t have a nagging suspicion that my expressed opinions are shallow and superficial, I have concrete evidence. Show me an opinion that matters.

Comment #75479

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 24, 2006 6:58 PM (e)

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 06:41 PM (e)

Why should you be concerned with anyone’s opinion? I don’t have a nagging suspicion that my expressed opinions are shallow and superficial, I have concrete evidence. Show me an opinion that matters.

Judge Jones’ opinion mattered ;

Comment #75480

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 7:02 PM (e)

Ha! see, I told you I am uttering mindless nonsense. Stephen elliot just demonstrated to all my friends (and the rest of you) that I speak foolishly. So, I guess it would be more appropriate to say, An opinion if mine.

Comment #75482

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 24, 2006 7:06 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott, perceptively:

Judge Jones’ opinion mattered ;

Not to Larry and those like him. Because, for them, it was “just” an opinion.

And he won’t answer me when I ask him what it would take, for him, to make–someone else’s!–opinion more that “just an opinion.”

For most of us, it’s evidence. But Larry lives in an evidence-free (or, perhaps more accurately, evidence-indifferent) universe.

Fortunately, I think, for the rest of us, that universe is not ours.

Comment #75484

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 7:08 PM (e)

This blog is not about “religions vs. science and rationality;” it’s about defending the integrity of science and science-education against ignorance and con-games. Many persons of faith are on our side, and there’s no point in labelling all of them pathetic backward weaklings — especially since some of them have shown more strength and intelligence than many of the atheists I’ve encountered.

I quite agree.

Alas, you then go on to undermine your own point with:

The next step is to blame religion for all the atrocities, and credit individual good sense for the good deeds, even when they’re done by the collective action of large numbers of believers. You’re not the only atheist who has already played that head-game here.

The ID fight isn’t about “atheism vs theism”. It’s not even about “science vs religion”.

So don’t turn it into one, and don’t help others turn it into one.

Shooting at people who are on OUR side is, well, kinda stupid. Save the ammo for the IDers. They DESERVE it.

Comment #75486

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

But lenny is right, these guys declared war. Do you remember the moral majority? What about the christian coalition, focus on the family, pat robertson, the promisekeepers, islamic jihad, et al.

Let me just interject that these things come from “fundamentalism”, not necessarily from “religion”. There is a big difference.

Most “religion” people think the fundies are just as nuts as everyone else does, and hate theocracy just as much as you and I do. Those people are on the same side as us.

Comment #75487

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 24, 2006 7:17 PM (e)

Is ther a known reason why the USA is such a fertile land for breeding fundies?
Any ideas? Maybe a thread on AtBC?

Comment #75491

Posted by AC on January 24, 2006 7:21 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

AC: BWE’s friend made a point you seem to have missed: for many people, having a “simple religion” encourages them to live better, more honest lives, despite being based on what you call “childish fantasy.”

I didn’t miss that; it’s the whole point his friend was making. I just disagree with it if the “simple religion” he’s talking about involves childish fantasy. Religion has, by and large, co-opted basic moral ideas like the “golden rule” as a way to project authority which, by and large, undermines that morality. In the absence of religion, man would still have morals. On the other hand, how many people would, in the absence of religion, believe that they are immortal and have an invincible supernatural ally who loves them no matter what?

I guess I just think people are naturally more likely to be moral than insane.

Comment #75494

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 7:29 PM (e)

Right. Fundies. And most “religious” people are not ignorant because we have public education in america which attempts to educate our people. Like I said, I am a unitarian. But fundies are using the words of the bible to promote a society where the leadership comes from their ranks. And, I’m sorry about this part, religion is a continuum not a series of divided islands so those edging toward the fundies camp are in my sights because I am using the gatling gun of ridicule which often sprays the gray areas at the edges of the fundy part of the spectrum. I wholeheartedly agree with a huge swath of religious thought, but I vehemently disagree with another entire segment and it has to do with what they are trying to ram down my throat. ID is not science. I am not any kind of a scholar but I do dabble in the craft and I take serious offense when people tell me about what they know not while I am trying to get my damn equipment to work.

I will never get over my experience in church. It was horrible, frightening, and stomach-turning for exactly the reason that we are sitting here talking about the DI and ID and YEC and etc. Because they are dangerous. THey produce dangerous social dynamics and their punishments for transgression are out of line. Also they are ignorant and wrong about science. Did I mention that?

Comment #75495

Posted by AC on January 24, 2006 7:31 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

Simple religion I took to meant as religions where there is absolute right and wrong. And, as to my above point, I play poker with my friend who has a freakin divinity degree. We can have rational conversations because he is rational. His understanding is complex.

If that’s what he meant, then my assumption was a mistake. I don’t like absolute morality imprinted on people by religion either, but that’s a separate issue from criticism of fundamentalist Christianity. Apologies to you and Raging Bee.

Comment #75519

Posted by BWE on January 24, 2006 10:16 PM (e)

sorry, the conversation was about fundementalism in general. We were talking about similarities between muslim and christian fundementalism. He’s pretty up on those things and I was shocked when he said it’s better for them to have their simple religion than no religion. He and I were discussing the tao at the time so I am sure there were more overtones but I don’t remember them all. We mostly talk about the tao since we both practice zen buddism. I am not of the opinion that bad religion is better than no religion. I am of the opinion that admitting that no one knows jack about an afterlife is not heretical. He has thought about these things alot more than I have so perhaps I am exhibiting knee jerk reactions. Now that would be a first.

Comment #75527

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 24, 2006 10:49 PM (e)

since we both practice zen buddism.

How exactly does one do that?

(big fat evil grin)

Comment #75553

Posted by BWE on January 25, 2006 1:23 AM (e)

Mu.

Comment #75554

Posted by Chiefley on January 25, 2006 1:31 AM (e)

The most important enemies of American Christian fundamentalists are not athiests or scientists but the mainstream believers of their own religions (usually Protestants

This is absolutely true. Most of the mainstream Protestant denominations as well as Catholicism all have official positions that support the teaching of science in a manner that is unbiased by religion. In fact, there is something fundamental (sorry for that world) in the Judeo-Christian theology of creation that insists that God created the universe as a separate elegant system capable of sustaining itself. And that it is an almost holy pursuit to study the consistent patterns and laws of the universe as if they were immutable. Implicit in all this is the notion that God’s action on the world is mediated through the natural laws of the universe. God as primary cause, natural processes as secondary cause.

It was for this reason that science as a formal and scholastic pursuit was born in the Judeo-Christian “west”, and not in areas of the world dominated by other religions. Although mathematics, astronomy, and certain aspects of technology came from other societies, science as a formal pursuit did not.

Anyway, my point is that the mainstream denominations support science not just as an accomodation to the world, but from a basic religious cosmology that holds that the universe is consistent and comprehensible (i.e. that it doesn’t operate arbitrarily at the whim of a God or Gods.).

Its too bad that these major denominations are not more vocal about it, because by remaining silent (or remaining low key) about it, they have left a vacuum in the popular consciousness that is being filled with the nasty hate-filled theology of fundamentalism.

Yeah, sorry for the rant.

Chiefley

Comment #75558

Posted by Chiefley on January 25, 2006 1:42 AM (e)

So why aren’t there more opinion polls of scientists about this subject ? The only such poll I could find on the Internet was an outdated 2002 poll of Ohio scientists.

There certainly is a poll among scientists about this subject. Its called “peer reviewed scientific journals.” Just do a literature search and count the articles on any subject you want. Weigh the number of articles on evolution vs the number of articles on ID. Careful in calculating the ratio, though, because dividing by zero is not defined.

Comment #75596

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 25, 2006 8:18 AM (e)

How exactly does one do that?

(big fat evil grin)

Comment #75553

Posted by BWE on January 25, 2006 01:23 AM (e)

Mu.

(bows, laughing)

Comment #75637

Posted by Raging Bee on January 25, 2006 10:01 AM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

And why, exactly, should [we] be concerned about the opinions of such shallow and superficial reasoners?

Because they’re people with a right to be treated with dignity. Because they vote. And because not all of the people who are needlessly offended by stupid atheist rhetoric are shallow or superficial. Besides, needlessly insulting people to prop up one’s own self-image, then blaming them for being offended, is itself shallow and superficial.

People who complain about others’ arrogance are often just upset because they don’t like being judged - especially when they have a nagging suspicion that the judgement is accurate.

Ah yes, the logic of the verbal bully: “I can say any supid thing I want, and if it offends you, that can only be because I’m right, so it’s all your fault for being offended, therefore you don’t deserve the respect I demand for myself.”

And all this enhances the greater good…how, exactly?

Comment #75640

Posted by Raging Bee on January 25, 2006 10:08 AM (e)

Chiefley: Click on my handle to read my latest blog post about mainstream churches’ position on science. Check out the links to Catholic and Lutheran commentaries on ID, science, and belief.

Some of the mainstream churches may be starting to wake up.

Comment #75664

Posted by Chiefley on January 25, 2006 11:36 AM (e)

Raging Bee,
Thanks for the invitation. Your blog is serving a valuable purpose. For all of our sakes, keep it up. I recommend the book mentioned on the lutheran.org site that you mention in your blog. It is written by a Catholic scientist and a Lutheran theologan. If anyone is interested in how mainstrean Christian doctrine not only accomodates, but promotes the activities of science this is a good book for you.

Evolution from Creation to New Creation

Another great book:

The Cosmos In The Light Of The Cross

Don’t let the religious buzzwords scare you off. These men have PHDs in physics as well as theology, and their writing is full of steel trap logic. These kinds of books systematically lay out the reasons why Creationism and Intelligent Design are theologically bankrupt. They explain why they are not only bad science, they are also bad theology.

Also, these are not rogue clerics with their own wierd opinions. This represents the state of the art of mainstream Christian theology in this subject.

Comment #75665

Posted by BWE on January 25, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

Raging bee, -very nice post. Goes to show you that reasonable people are reasonable and that fundies aren’t.

Are you still mad at me?

Comment #75683

Posted by Raging Bee on January 25, 2006 12:48 PM (e)

Chiefley: thanx for the compliment, and the reading recommendation. I may not have time to read the books myself, but I might pass the recommendation on to my eager audience. :-)

BWE: not if you can start using a little tact and try to identify which specific sects or ideas you’re attacking. When you attack “religion” or its “fantasies” generally, you’re attacking me (I’m an ADF Druid), and that does piss me off. Also, be careful how you use the word “fantasy:” it can, if one desires, include not only a supernatural Creator, but “certain inalienable rights” with which said Creator is said to have endowed us.

Comment #75705

Posted by Tim Hague on January 25, 2006 2:03 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Is ther a known reason why the USA is such a fertile land for breeding fundies?
Any ideas? Maybe a thread on AtBC?

My theory - which is mine ;) - is that the main reason is that the USA has a seperation of the church and the state. Because of this, religion doesn’t get taught in school.

If the US had mandatory comparative religion classes in school a lot of the troubles would educate themselves away.

Just my 2 cents worth ;)

Comment #75711

Posted by BWE on January 25, 2006 2:13 PM (e)

Hmmm. do european schools teach comparative religion as a required course? Interesting idea. There may be much to it.

Comment #75724

Posted by Raging Bee on January 25, 2006 2:46 PM (e)

Tim: my theory – which is mine, not yours – is that in America’s wide-open spaces, more of our people grow up having relatively little contact with people of differing faiths, and are thus not encouraged to moderate their beliefs to accomodate others. Europeans are far more exposed to each other’s, and foreign, beliefs, due to proximity, greater population density, exposure through conquest, etc. Also, Europeans have a long history of bitter, bloody religious wars, which kinda gives rigid zealotry a bad name. The American colonies were founded by religious pilgrims who came here specifically to get away from all that cosmopolitan mixing and compromise/pollution/corruption, and create new, more “godly” societies in the New World.

As for religious education in schools, we have plenty of that here, even, in some cases, in public schools where it’s illegal. Whatever the law says, there’s lots of pressure to conform, especially in the boondocks where the church is your only social network.

Comment #75729

Posted by AC on January 25, 2006 3:04 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

my theory — which is mine, not yours — is that in America’s wide-open spaces, more of our people grow up having relatively little contact with people of differing faiths, and are thus not encouraged to moderate their beliefs to accomodate others. Europeans are far more exposed to each other’s, and foreign, beliefs, due to proximity, greater population density, exposure through conquest, etc. Also, Europeans have a long history of bitter, bloody religious wars, which kinda gives rigid zealotry a bad name. The American colonies were founded by religious pilgrims who came here specifically to get away from all that cosmopolitan mixing and compromise/pollution/corruption, and create new, more “godly” societies in the New World.

That seems very plausible. I think we (Americans) get away with a lot by having (nearly) a whole continent to ourselves and being relatively homogenous. If the federal government did try to mandate comparative religion class in public schools, they would have to enforce it at gunpoint in many places. I often wonder just how much real learning goes on in the public schools of those isolated, conformist areas, where teachers can preach in biology and no one complains. I shudder to think that the stereotype of “all prayer circles and pep rallies” is accurate.

Comment #75778

Posted by Engineer-Poet, FCD, ΔΠΓ on January 25, 2006 5:45 PM (e)

(OT, but would Steve Reuland or someone else please change the “https:” prefix on the image in the post to “http:”?  I don’t want to approve the certificate from myhsphere.biz, there’s no justification for protecting a public image in transit and the repeated popup about it is very annoying.)

Comment #75810

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 25, 2006 7:49 PM (e)

My theory - which is mine ;) - is that the main reason is that the USA has a seperation of the church and the state.

That was, though, a reaction to recent European history, including the French Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, and the English Civil War — and the desire on the part of the colonial leadership to avoid repeating the whole process here.

Comment #75812

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 25, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

If the US had mandatory comparative religion classes in school a lot of the troubles would educate themselves away.

It is, of course, the fundies themselves who fight every “comparitive religions” class tooth and nail. They don’t want their impressionable little kiddies learning about other religious opinions. Instead, they want everyone ELSE’S impressionable little kiddies to learn about THEIR religious opinions, and no other.

Comment #75817

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 25, 2006 8:17 PM (e)

Here’s a weird thing. During my life at school in the UK religion was taught. We had prayers at morning assembly and religious education as a mandatory subject. Christianity was taught as fact in RE lessons.

At about age 13 RE became an elective course. It was still Christianity taught as fact. However it was never fundamentalist or biblical literalistic.

The vast majority of my school were still atheist.

Relatively recently (just over 3 years ago) at a school reunion. Nobody I met was a fundamentalist and most (nearly everyone) atheist.

Don’t get me wrong, religion was never taught in a science class. In fact it was never taught in any subject except RE.

Comment #75864

Posted by Tim Hague on January 26, 2006 2:49 AM (e)

Tim: my theory — which is mine, not yours — is that in America’s wide-open spaces, more of our people grow up having relatively little contact with people of differing faiths, and are thus not encouraged to moderate their beliefs to accomodate others.

‘Relatively little contact’ in country where everyone has at the very least one TV in the house? I don’t think that theory stands up very well… you can keep it ;)

It is, of course, the fundies themselves who fight every “comparitive religions” class tooth and nail. They don’t want their impressionable little kiddies learning about other religious opinions. Instead, they want everyone ELSE’S impressionable little kiddies to learn about THEIR religious opinions, and no other.

Of course. I just can’t help wondering if the less fundie part of US society wouldn’t be better off fighting for comparative religion classes as well as fighting against the attempted introduction of dogma into science classes.

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Christianity was taught as fact in RE lessons… Don’t get me wrong, religion was never taught in a science class. In fact it was never taught in any subject except RE.

That an interesting idea. Maybe the US should allow the teaching of cristianity in schools in ‘Religious Education’ classses (it doesn’t even have to be comparative religion). Then at least the fundies wouldn’t be trying to stuff cristianity into science class. Or maybe they would carry on doing it regardless…?

Comment #75868

Posted by Renier on January 26, 2006 5:47 AM (e)

Lenny wrote: It is, of course, the fundies themselves who fight every “comparitive religions” class tooth and nail. They don’t want their impressionable little kiddies learning about other religious opinions. Instead, they want everyone ELSE’S impressionable little kiddies to learn about THEIR religious opinions, and no other.

Spot on. Is is the one thing in life that really makes me angry. My kids are in a public school, but it is 100% xtian. They get taught that everyone who does not believe in Jesus are the “bad guys” and are going to hell (I’m not kidding you). People can have whatever religion they want, just leave the rest of the population alone.

A person I know is going over to China for some good ‘ol missionary work. She loves the Chinese culture, so I asked her why she wants to change it. She didn’t get it. I asked her if the Chinese invited her, or asked to be converted. She still did not get it. Sad thing is, she won’t get it, just like all the other DI, AiG, CCC etc people. They all have one thing in common, to try and MAKE the rest of the world believe what they do. It won’t change, ever.

Comment #75869

Posted by allygally on January 26, 2006 6:37 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote

“Here’s a weird thing. During my life at school in the UK religion was taught. We had prayers at morning assembly and religious education as a mandatory subject. Christianity was taught as fact in RE lessons.

At about age 13 RE became an elective course. It was still Christianity taught as fact. However it was never fundamentalist or biblical literalistic.

The vast majority of my school were still atheist.

Relatively recently (just over 3 years ago) at a school reunion. Nobody I met was a fundamentalist and most (nearly everyone) atheist.

Don’t get me wrong, religion was never taught in a science class. In fact it was never taught in any subject except RE.”

Hold hard there Steve! Today’s Guardian newspaper (UK) reports that 41% of UK citizens want so-called “Intelligent Design” taugh alongside evolution. Check it out here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1695056,00.html

Note the “horizon” programme on The Intelligent Design Hoax on BBC2 tonight 9pm (UK time). Horizon is a generally respectable science strand. Anyone who has access should watch (or copy) the show.

Comment #75983

Posted by Chiefley on January 26, 2006 10:03 PM (e)

Interesting topic. One of the reason for the diversity of Christian sects in America is because most of them have abandoned Christianity in favor of something more like an American folk religion. Here is a wonderful article by Bill McKibben in Harpers.

As a casual, but very articulate observer, he manages to capture the problem extremely well.

Comment #75998

Posted by Tim Hague on January 27, 2006 3:14 AM (e)

Chiefly - that’s a really good piece, thanks for the link. Very thought provoking stuff.

It makes me wonder - has Christianity in the US become just another ‘service’? There are so many competing churches to choose from, and the churches have chosen marketing techniques to increase their congregations rather than the central messages of Christianity.

Really telling quote:

Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.”

I guess Norman Doering was right - ‘Love thy neighbour as yourself’ is “trite and ambiguous” - only not just for him as an atheist, but for most American ‘Christians’ too.

Going back to Stephen Elliot’s original question:

Is there a known reason why the USA is such a fertile land for breeding fundies?
Any ideas? Maybe a thread on AtBC?

Maybe because most American ‘Christians’ are not real Christians at all…

Comment #76052

Posted by AC on January 27, 2006 2:32 PM (e)

That article is excellent, Chiefley. This passage, in particular, stands out:

Bill McKibben wrote:

But one day it occurred to me that the parts of the world where people actually had cut dramatically back on their carbon emissions, actually did live voluntarily in smaller homes and take public transit, were the same countries where people were giving aid to the poor and making sure everyone had health care—countries like Norway and Sweden, where religion was relatively unimportant. How could that be? For Christians there should be something at least a little scary in the notion that, absent the magical answers of religion, people might just get around to solving their problems and strengthening their communities in more straightforward ways.

By their fruits….

Comment #76105

Posted by Chiefley on January 27, 2006 11:25 PM (e)

Bill McKibben does a great job in articulating what has happened to much of Christianity in America. But he is not able to see that the mainstream heart of Christian compassion that still exists. This is the heart that gave us the civil rights movement and the war on poverty. The problem is that social justice, worldwide poverty, hunger, and disease does not play very well on our sensationalized news media these days. Now that news organizations are profit centers, you won’t find too many guests invited on to remind us of the misery and suffering in the world and our responsibility towards it. Its far more interesting to watch a fundamentalist rant about God’s vengeance, etc.

This is what real Christian politics looks like. You could call this the “Silent Compassionate Majority” or something. Look at this site carefully until you come to understand what they mean by “values”.

As AC says, “By their fruits…”

Comment #76121

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 28, 2006 9:30 AM (e)

This is the heart that gave us the civil rights movement and the war on poverty.

Both of which were bitterly opposed by the fundies.

The problem is that social justice, worldwide poverty, hunger, and disease does not play very well on our sensationalized news media these days.

Nor does it play very well with the fundies. After all, one of the primary reasons why fundamentalism was formed as a separate religious movement, in the 1910’s, was specifically to oppose the “Social Gospel” advocates who were supporting social justice movements such as women’s suffrage, labor unions, and racial equality. The fundamentalists used the religious justification that Jesus is coming back soon, therefore we don’t need to worry about making any social changes since Jesus will soon be ending the world anyway.

Several Reagan-ites used the very same argument back in the 1980’s.

Several Bush-ites use it today.