Theocrats In My Back Yard

“The ACLU has an ongoing nationwide campaign to take away the right of any citizen legislator to speak and pray according to his conscience and religious tradition,” [Indian River school] board member Reggie Helms said following that vote. “My freedom of speech is too important to compromise or risk its loss. Our court case, where we have been standing up to the ACLU, provides the opportunity for the federal court to permanently uphold my right not to be treated as a second-class citizen, or to have to move to the back of the bus.”

(Source: Post.)

This isn’t happening in Alabama or Kansas, but in Delaware, practically in my back yard.

Continue reading “Theocrats In My Back Yard”

Discovery Institute Shills Lie About Their Connection

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There’s a new site on the block:
Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity.
Not much new there. It’s just “30 Helens agree. Evolution doesn’t work” (sadly, their list of Helens doesn’t include a single Steve).

But finn2 over at LiveJournal did some investigative work and found some interesting stuff:

Here’s a meta header that appears on all of PSSI‘s web pages:

<meta name="keywords" content="intelligent design theory,Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity, PSSI, Physicians and surgeons that dissent from Darwinism, Charles Darwin, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Bruce Chapman, Center for Science & culture, charles darwin theory of evolution, creationism, eugenie scott, natural selection, survival of the fittest, Cambrian Explosion, Richard Sternberg, Phillip Johnson, dinosaurs, national center for science education">

and here’s one that appears on all of the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture:

<meta name="keywords" content="intelligent design theory, Discovery Institute, Charles Darwin, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Bruce Chapman, Center for Science & culture, charles darwin theory of evolution, creationism, eugenie scott, natural selection, survival of the fittest, Cambrian Explosion, Richard Sternberg, Phillip Johnson, dinosaurs, national center for science education">

I’ve highlighted the similarities and differences between the two. Perhaps the Isaac Newton of information, Bill Dembski, will be good enough to tell us the amount of specified complexity in those strings, and calculate the odds that they’re related. The rest of us can probably agree that there was copying involved.

So I went for the direct approach, and sent this message to PSSI’s contact address:

Hi! I just ran across PSSI today. Could you please tell me
what connection exists, if any, between PSSI and the Discovery

Here’s the answer I got:

There is no affiliation between Discovery Institute and PSSI. Discovery Institute is located in Seattle, Washington and we are located in Clearwater, Florida.

Does anyone buy that? Can we just add this to the list of creationist lies?

Update, May 18, 2006: Logan Gage of the Discovery Institute answered my email with:

There is no real connection to Discovery Institute. They are, however,
a friendly group. They just noticed that we do not really add MDs to
our list “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” And since polls show
that at least 60% of MDs don’t buy orthodox neo-Darwinism, they thought
that this is an important voice which should be added to the debate.

Update, Jul. 28, 2006:
Evolgen lists “Stanley B. Gathinston III” an immunologist on the list.

“snex” confesses that he signed the petition under that name, and points out that “Stanley B. Gathinston III” is an anagram for “creationist Drs believe anything”. He even listed his address as “123 Kafe Ave.” (anagram of “fake”) for good measure.

Dembski In Bed With Ann Coulter

Bill Dembski brags
about having been “in constant correspondence” with Ann Coulter, helping her with her latest stack of soiled paper, Godless: the Church of Liberalism. He even quotes a bit of what it’s all about:

Though liberalism rejects the idea of God and reviles people of faith, it bears all the attributes of a religion itself. In Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Ann Coulter throws open the doors of the Church of Liberalism, showing us:

  • Its sacraments (abortion)
  • Its holy writ (Roe v. Wade)
  • Its martyrs (from Soviet spy Alger Hiss to cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal)
  • Its clergy (public school teachers)
  • Its churches (government schools, where prayer is prohibited but condoms are free)
  • Its doctrine of infallibility (as manifest in the “absolute moral authority” of such spokesmen as Cindy Sheehan and Max Cleland)
  • And its cosmology (in which mankind is an inconsequential accident)

Then, of course, there’s the liberal creation myth: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The only comment I’ll offer on this bucket of turkey offal is that if public school teachers are clergy, they should get stickers to that effect, so that they can get better parking spaces and whatnot.

Dembski quotes all of this with approbation, and never hints that he cares about Coulter’s subpontibian nature, even after “constant correspondence”. One must therefore conclude that he agrees with her.

If Dembski were actively trying to discredit Intelligent Design and bury its corpse at a crossroads with a stake through its heart, he could scarcely do better with a fusion-powered grave-digging backhoe and a dozen Buffy Summers clones.

War on Everything

Remember the “War on Christmas” that John Gibson and Bill O’Reilly wag-the-dogged up out of nothing, using a mixture of three parts persecution complex, two parts paranoia, and one part batshit insanity?

And have you noticed the
War on Easter
that they’re now brewing up out of that same cauldron?
(In case you missed it, it was
started last year
by Sean Hannity.)

Clearly, this is a movement, in the “come in, sing a verse from Alice’s Restaurant, and walk out” sense of the term. So I hope you’ll all join me in declaring war on
Shrove Tuesday.
Write angry letters to politicians and media people! Boycott retailers! Death to the… um… shroves, I guess. Or something.

ID Hysterics

Over at Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski quotes an unnamed colleague as saying:

However, let us not lose sight of the fact that a scientific theory that requires a judge to enforce its teaching cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health.

Oh, dear. That blew out my industrial-capacity, lead-shielded, firewalled, unplugged irony-meter. Damn. Those things ain’t cheap, you know?

ID Creationists love to compare ID to the Big Bang and to plate tectonics. Now, which of the three made their way into the classroom after the scientific community concluded that they were good ideas, and which one is being pushed through school boards and the courts? Which one “cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health”?

By proclaiming it illegal to “disparage or denigrate” neo-Darwinism, Judge Jones adopted the principle of the Inquisition, and in so doing rendered both himself and that state-enforced theory ridiculous.

Ooh, the Inquisition! What a deft way to sidestep Godwin’s Law. But let’s reread what Judge Jones actually wrote in his decision:

we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants […] from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.

(emphasis mine) For the reading-comprehension-impaired, this means that Judge Jones didn’t forbid dissing evolution, but rather forbade requiring teachers to do so. Got that? Good.

Taking a longer view, I think Dover will come eventually to be be seen as a moral victory, in the same way that Galileo’s condemnation is now viewed as a moral victory.

Ah, yes. The “they laughed at Galileo” argument. Unfortunately, as Robert Park put it, “to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.”

Hey, ID guys, feel free to begin demonstrating that you’re right any time you like.

One Christmas, Under God, With Fries, Hold the Drama

For years now, whenever someone argued that the insertion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or “In God We Trust” on dollar bills was a violation of separation of church and state, there have always been people who’d jump in with comments like “What’s the big deal?”, “Get a life”, “Aren’t there more important things to worry about?”, “So just don’t say the `under God’ part”, and so on.

Now some retailers, in an effort to make as much money as possible during the various end-of-year holidays — and I hope you won’t think me overly cynical for thinking that a company like Lowe’s or Target is motivated more by profit than anything else — have been writing “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” on their bannners, flyers, and ads. And right-wingers like Bill O’Reilly and the American Family Association are getting their knickers in a twist.

I think this is the part where I get to tell them to get a life, and what’s the big deal, anyway?

Continue reading “One Christmas, Under God, With Fries, Hold the Drama”