Evolution Deniers and Holocaust Deniers in a locked step.

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The recent posting about the advisability of directly debating creationists by my colleague Matt Young has produced a very large number of secondary comments. He concluded that it is wiser to follow the example of Deborah Lipstadt in her refusal to share the public stage with Holocaust deniers. He then mildly criticized Michael Ruse for his frequent collaborations with evolution deniers.

The timeliness of this comparison of evolution deniers and Holocaust deniers was made even more clear in a small item from the Reuters News Service carried the 3 Dec. ‘04 morning edition of the Los Angles Times. The headline was “Auschwitz Unknown to Many Britons, Poll Says” and reported the results of a national poll that found that 45% of Britons had not heard of Auschwitz. Creationists’ goal to eliminate scientific and academic freedom is immediate and real. The stakes should be clear from the beginning. We are never more than a single generation away from total savagery.

When I read Prof. Young’s piece, I was immediately taken with the social and intellectual parallels between Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers. I recalled reading “Lying About Hitler” by Richard J. Evans (2001) which relates the court battle that followed when Holocaust denier and pseudohistorian David Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt over her accurate portrayal of Irving in her book “Denying the Holocaust” (1994, Plume Books). Both Lipstadt and Evans give details of how the Holocaust deniers operate that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has invested much time studying evolution deniers such as the Intelligent Design Creationists (IDC) of the Discovery Institute, or Young Earth Creationists (YEC) such as Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind, or the Institute for Creation Research (which was recently characterized in the San Francisco Chronicle as “the world leader in creation science”). Lipstadt has written that Holocaust deniers, “… misstate, misquote, falsify statistics, and falsely attribute conclusions to reliable sources. They rely on books that directly contradict their arguments, quoting in a manner that completly distorts the authors’ objectives.” It would be hard to write a more apt description of creationist “scholarship” as attested in the Talk.Origins Archive article “Quotations and Misquotations” by Mike Hopkins, or in “The Quote Mine Project” edited by John Pieret.

But there are more points of close comparison. The most significant organization of Holocaust deniers in the United States was (and as far as I know- still is) the Institute for Historical Review which operated not far to the west from my hometown. At their founding convention there was passed a resolution that asserted that historical accounts of Nazi gas chambers were based on facts “demonstrably false”, the Holocaust was merely a “theory” created by a “political Zionist” conspiracy, and demanding that Congress intervene and investigate the “alleged extermination of 6 million Jews…” (Evans 2001:140).

One need only examine the various “Statements of Faith” demanded of the several creationist organizations to find parallels. For the first example, what to do with inconvenient facts? Deny them as we are instructed by the Answers in Genesis Ministry from their “Articles of Faith, D.6”

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

Compare this with language taken from the Institute for Historical Review resolution which stated that,

” .. the facts surrounding the allegations that gas chambers existed in occupied Europe during World War II are demonstrably false.” (Evans 2001:140)

Next, the recent attempt to replace or reduce the teaching of biology in Georgia and elsewhere hinges on the differences in the popular and technical meanings of the word “theory.” In perfect parallel with the evolution deniers, Nazi extermination camps are merely theories to the neoNazi deniers - just as evolution is “merely a theory” to the antiscience promotors of creationism. From the Institute for Historical Review resolution,

”… the whole theory of ‘the Holocaust’ has been created by and promulgated by political Zionism …

And any reader of Ken Ham, Phillip Johnson, or Jonathan Wells, to name a few prominent evolution deniers, will “learn” that scientists are in an active conspiracy to delude the public and each other in the unholy support of “Darwinism.”

And on the congressional front, the Discovery Institute’s greatest success to date has to be the so-called Santorum Amendment, “Santorum Language on Evolution Revised Amendment, Congressional Statements By: Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Thomas Petri /107th Congress” that the DI has (falsely) promoted as the federal mandate to teach their version of creationism in public schools. On the political and legal fronts the creationists are well ahead of the Holocaust deniers. The reader wishing to become better informed of the Discovery Institute’s political program should consult [u]Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design[/u] by Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross 2004, Oxford University Press.

And what should we make of all these “Institutes,” and “Centers for Study,” et cetera? Evans notes that,

“The Institute for Historical Review purported from the outset to be a respectable academic body. In 1980, it began publishing a quarterly magazine, The Journal of Historical Review. Leafing through its pages in the Wiener Library, I noticed its classic academic format: plain covers, no color pictures, and lengthy articles with an elaborate apparatus of footnotes and bibliographies.” and, “Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s the Institute organized regular conferences and actively propagated its academic image, …”(2001:140-142)

This is the perfect model of the Intelligent Design Creationist focal point, the Discovery Institute, even down to their founding financial backing by ultra-far-right millionaires.

And last, the sort of language used by creationists to describe their endeavor and colleagues is nearly identical to the puffery common to Holocaust deniers. For example, David Irving is quoted as praising the members of The Institute for Historical Review as “staunch and unflinching soldiers in what our brave comrade Robert Faurisson has called ‘this great adventure’.” (Evans 2001:142-143). Here we see the notion of the select few with “TRUTH” oppressed by the evil establishment. Compare this with William Dembski’s account of how he views his fight against the agents of “Darwinian materialism,”

“We now face a Darwinian thought police that, save for employing physical violence, is as insidious as any secret police at ensuring conformity and rooting out dissent. To question Darwinism is dangerous for all professional scholars but especially biologists. As Michael Behe pointed out in an interview with the Harvard Political Review (www.hpronline.org/news/251835.html ), “There’s good reason to be afraid. Even if you’re not fired from your job, you will easily be passed over for promotions. I would strongly advise graduate students who are skeptical of Darwinian theory not to make their views known.” (Dembski, THE MYTHS OF DARWINISM

I find that my years as a medical researcher and professor in psychiatry come forward at this point. Paranoid patients are notoriously difficult to treat, in fact many of my clinical colleagues considered it impossible. The professional creationists’ denial of data from every science and ability to distort what facts they are forced to admit far outshine any paranoiac I have encountered. It is futile looking to professional creationists for either the intellectual honesty or mental health necessary to change their opinion.

Where might Michael Ruse fit into this scheme? We are told by Evans in his first chapter of how Holocaust denier David Irving built a considerable reputation as a historian both by being prolific, and by the generous tolerance of academic reviewers who lacked personal research experience in the relevant field. Thus, Sir Martin Gilbert, the distinguished expert on Jewish history, could say of Irving’s “Hitler’s War” (1977), “… a scholarly book based on decades of wide researches,” which I satirically translate as “There are lots of footnotes that I didn’t look up and some were to my books too!” And more telling, Gordon Craig would write of Irving in a New York Review of Books review of Irving’s “Goebbels,”

“It is always difficult for the non-historian to remember that there is nothing absolute about historical truth. What we consider as such is only an estimation, based on what the best available evidence tells us. It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma or shibboleth. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indispensable part in the historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views.” (Emphasis added, all quotes from Evans 2001:9)

Ruse clearly shares the same academic bubble with Craig- a pretend world without consequences. But Ruse goes well beyond Craig by actively seeking, creating, and promoting venues where creationists publicize their denial of science and reality.

But even worse to my mind than the fact that Ruse is simply impotent in modifying the arguments of creationists, such as his “good friend” Johnson, is that he seems to be oblivious that his collaborations are not only futile but enhance the position of his stated opponents. William Dembski, one of the self acknowledged geniuses of intelligent design creationism, clearly understood Johnson better than Ruse when he wrote,

“All sides now realize that Johnson was, from the start, deadly earnest, not content merely to tweak Darwin’s nose but intent, rather, on knocking him down for the ten-count. Johnson is, after all, a lawyer, and lawyers think contests are not simply to be enjoyed but also to be won.” And Dembski goes on to explain in the clearest language why collaborators such as Ruse are so helpful, “In line with our there-might-be-something-to-it-after-all policy, it’s usually enough to indicate that there’s more to the story than the other side lets on. John Angus Campbell puts it this way: A draw is a win! The other side wants to obliterate intelligent design. Yet to persuade the undecided middle, we just have to show that intelligent design has something going for it.” (William A. Dembski 2004 “DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN” version 1.1, April 14, )

It seems by being willfully ignorant of the political nature of this conflict, Ruse has earned the accolades he receives from the creationist press, such as “Ruse Gives Away the Store”.

Ham, Ken 2001 The Lie: Evolution. Green Forest: Master Books

Johnson, Phillip E. 1993 Darwin on Trial, 2nd Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

Wells, Jonathan 2000 Icons of Evolution. Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

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As a humanist working in the early modern period, I have often been struck by the parallels between evolution deniers, holocaust deniers, and Shakespeare deniers. The movement espousing the theory that Shakespeare’s plays were really written by the earl of Oxford has the same traits of paranoia, assertions of an academic conspiracy, overemphasis on debates, and heavy overrepresentation of lawyers as opposed to qualified scholars. Fortunately, they’re not trying to take over the educational system!

I think that Ruse’s position is that creationism/intelligent design have got so many flaws that they will wither in the light of academic debate with well-informed philosophers/scientists. Which is an eminently reasonable position. And ID certainly does not fare well in the Cambridge volume “Debating Design.”

MHO is that there are two basic audiences that are potentially influenced by something like a Cambridge University Press volume. First, there is the very large portion of the public that isn’t paying close attention. The Discovery Institute folks may well get some tiny bit of “bump” out of being able to name-drop “Hey, we wrote essays for this Cambridge University Press” volume. Basically, the opinion of these folks isn’t going to change over the short-term unless something truly drastic happens (on the level of the Civil Rights movement).

But there is a second audience, people who are paying fairly close attention. This group is much smaller, but I think much more fluid and critical-thinking. It is basically people who are interested in the controversy for some reason – e.g., a school board battle, a court case, a journalist covering one of the former, or someone with academic interest in science/religion. These groups will, I think, by-and-large see right through the DI ploy claiming that an anthology of opposing views represents academic acceptance of ID. And furthermore if they read the book they will learn the problems with ID (since there are some very capable scientific and philosophical critiques of ID in Debating Design, such as “The Flagellum Unspun” by Ken Miller; this is much less true of the “Rhetoric and Public Affairs” anthology Darwin, Design, and Public Education edited completely by DI folks). I think that it’s at least arguable that the cumulative negative impact on ID within this secondary group (which then goes and writes its own essays, articles, school board decisions, etc., which the public at large will read) outweighs the superficial PR tricks the DI plays at. It’s not accidental that ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA. Once the media, the science teachers, the local religious and scientific community, etc. take a good close look at ID, they figure out what’s up pretty quick. To borrow a sports analogy, the fundamentals are much more important in the long run than the superficial stuff.

To sum up, on this question I don’t think we should Ruse to conclusions. ;-)

And, I’d like to express my gratitude to Reed or whoever installed the much-needed spamblocker for PT. It did mean that I had to change the word “t e e n s y” to “tiny,” because apparently PT now doesn’t like the word “t e e n s”, but this is a t e e n s y price to pay for destroying the dastardly demons of spam.

Nick

Your point is well-taken (and well presented). Unfortunately, my optimism about how the minds of most Americans work was destroyed sometime between January and November of 2000 and nothing since then has happened to restore it.

I don’t know what will happen in the “long run” but I do know that there are a bunch of things that I would rather not live to see.

I am surprised the the number of British subjects knowing about Auschwitz is as high as 45%. The teaching of History in the UK is very poor. For the past 30 years we have subjected children to touchy-feely new age methods with the result the employers have to run remedial classes for significant numbers of employees. Even fewer people in th UK will be aware of the millions and millions of Soviet citizens who were done to death in the name of Marxist theories of equality. Probably twice as many as the victims of Nazi policies.

The killing of millions of Chinese by their own Government in the name of Communism is conveniently ignored by apologists. Pol Pot ordered the killing of 33% of the population of Cambodia. Remind me!! Wasn’t he a Communist?

July 2004: Rwanda holds ceremonies to honour the 800,000 people butchered in 1994, amid criticism of the West’s stance. The number of British who even know where to find Rwanda on an atlas? You tell me—5% perhaps?

Pericles

Living in a community of Christian evolution deniers, and having been good friends with Muslims as well, I feel that the influence of anti-evolutionism runs deeper than other historical conspiracy theories, at least in Christian and Muslim circiles. I know many thoughtful, perfectly sane, and well-meaning Christians who got caught because it has been touted to them that evolution is wrong from childhood, from the people they most respected, their pastors, parents, and in some private schools, their teachers. (And now apparently, in public schools as well!)

There is a difference when a child grows up with anti-evolution, as opposed to a mentally disturbed person (or group of persons) deciding to take up a historical event and distort it for whatever reason.

Christians tend to band together and trust each other. They believe in following a leader. So they won’t investigate that closely what DI says, on principle.

As for the leading people for ID, they are the paranoid, twisted people who take advantage of good folks who trust them. (Yes Pericles and Greg, I am determined to stick with a positive view of Christians. Or would you rather scare them all away from this informative site?)

In my view, the best way to deal with them is to expose their lack of integrity on a popular TV news show, which their followers will be likely to watch. TV is the way to reach them, and once they start having doubts about Dembski, Johnson, Wells, etc., the ball will be rolling and they’ll be willing to listen a little closer, i.e., read a book.

The PBS series did OK, but I think they were too kind, politically. A popular investigative journalist would be better.

I think Nick’s point is a fair one to Ruse: Intelligent Design is making no headway at all among people who know biology, and Ruse is ably playing to the informed scientific audience. However, this is something else that is making the creationists happy: it is widening the divide between the scientific ‘elite’ and the average guy on the street. There’s nothing like being able to point to those smug eggheads in their ivory tower and tell the lay people, “They’re laughing at you, Joe. They think they’re better than you.”

What we really need is more outreach and education. Knowledge is the enemy of ignorance, after all. We need a new Sagan or Bronowski, someone who enlightens Joe by telling him about the great stuff in science.

Some of you actually sound like you’re serious about trying to establish a parallel between macro/prebiotic evolution critics and Holocaust deniers.

No wonder some of you are scared to do public debates. You ~need~ to be scared, imo, if you’re going to insist on bizarro comparisons like this.

But hey, please don’t take my word for it. The next one of you gets signed up to a PBS, NPR, or University matchup with Dembski, Behe, Meyer, or one of the other top names, just introduce this new line of argument during the debate. Maybe read a few paragraphs of GH’s post out loud just to see what happens next. Then report back on the (doubtless interesting) results.…

FL

My original essay merely pointed out the danger of debating or collaborating with evolution deniers. I did not mean to draw an explicit parallel between evolution and Holocaust deniers. But I daresay that Dr. GH is correct and that they are like peas in a pod - cranks who deny known fact for one irrational reason or another.

I am leery, however, of calling those who disagree with me nuts. Here I side with Ms. Aram. While I have no religious belief, I am active in a religious organization and have mild sympathy for people who hypothesize a God because they cannot accept that they are here reasonlessly. Their religious belief is nonrational, but that does not necessarily mean irrational.

Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter. The key word is knowledgeable. The people Ms. Aram describes are not at fault. They have, however, been taken in by people who know better or ought to know better.

Actually, FL, I’ve gotten a lot of milage by directing ID apologists to Johnson’s HIV denial theories, and noting how, in an entirely different forum, he makes exactly the same conspiracy therorist arguments in HIV denial as he does in denying evolution. I then ask ID apologists if they want to be part of that.

Their typical response is a slow silence folowed by a disclaimer of Johnson’s HIV views, and arguing that his HIV vieew doesn’t impact whether or not ID is correct. That is true but there is a silent recognition that his method of argument is deeply flawed and does in fact bear a lot of resemblance to holocaust denial and other kook theories. Once they see the flawed methods used by Johnson, they become a little more critical of the flawed methods of Dembski and the others as well. DI press releases are no longer cited as evidence, for example.

I’d personally be delighted to discuss this on any PBS special linking the *method* of attack against evolution with the *method* employed in HIV denial, holocaust denial, ESP and alien abduction, because, in fact, they are all the same.

Actually the “fear” that FL is describing seems to me to be a pragmatic rule-of-thumb for scientists. Perhaps FL would like to explain why he thinks evolution-deniers are any more meritorious than Holocaust-deniers to monopolize the attention of scientists. After all, it is people like FL who have given scientists billions of dollars in government funds. I would be surprised to learn that the citizens of this country expects that money to be spent so that scientists can take time to entertain cranks at their every whim?

My main focus of this little piece was not Ruse, however he was a good example of the creationist parallel of well meaning and eminent academics who facilitated and even promoted the views of Holocaust deniers. Nick’s comments are well taken, and of course “Ruse’s position is that creationism/intelligent design have got so many flaws that they will wither in the light of academic debate with well-informed philosophers/scientists.” Indeed, Ruse sees himself as quite heroic as he revealed in his response to Matt Young,

“If I am to criticize anyone it would be the eminent evolutionists who were asked to contribute but who were too damn busy doing their research while Rome burns around them – when their kids or grandkids are taught Creationism in the classroom (and with Bush stacking the Supreme Court, don’t think it won’t happen) don’t blame me – although come to me for help, because these issues are bigger than my frustration or their selfishness.” M. Ruse

However, it is not “…an eminently reasonable position,” it is a false perception. It fails because the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional. I gave just one example of how Ruse’s collaboration is used by creationists to bolster their position. Just one out of many available.

I actually think that Ruse’s goal is closely revealed in his closing comment to his review of S. J. Gould’s book Rocks of Ages where he wrote,

“I am sure that this new work will inform and stimulate many people. Even when they disagree, as I sometimes I do, the book will help to further the cause of future progress and reconciliation.”

Contrast this with William Dembski’s insightful assessment of Phillip Johnson’s ambition that I cited above,

“All sides now realize that Johnson was, from the start, deadly earnest, not content merely to tweak Darwin’s nose but intent, rather, on knocking him down for the ten-count. Johnson is, after all, a lawyer, and lawyers think contests are not simply to be enjoyed but also to be won.” And Dembski goes on to explain in the clearest language why collaborators such as Ruse are so helpful, “In line with our there-might-be-something-to-it-after-all policy, it’s usually enough to indicate that there’s more to the story than the other side lets on. John Angus Campbell puts it this way: A draw is a win! The other side wants to obliterate intelligent design. Yet to persuade the undecided middle, we just have to show that intelligent design has something going for it.” (William A. Dembski 2004 “DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN” version 1.1, April 14, )

Ruse hopes for “future progress and reconciliation” while his friend Johnson is in “deadly earnest” and knows “contests are not simply to be enjoyed but also to be won.” Ruse is a one legged man at an a*s kicking.

There is only one argument I can see that could justify participating with creationists in a public debate. And that is the notion that they already “own” the entire audience. In that case, the one-in-a-hundred, or even one-in-a-thousand who can overcome their religious zeal enough to appreciate the scientific position is all to the plus. A weaker form of the argument would be that merely creating a slight doubt in the creationist audience’s certainty of their position will moderate their political actions. However, this makes a shaky assumption that “you” are such a polished public speaker that your ability to sway the audience is assured. Having watched the likes of Gish, and Hovind demolish academics, I would not ever get on that particular horse.

Well, Joe, I strongly suspect that if you substitute the phrase “Holocaust denial” instead of the phrase “HIV denial” and then did some more field-testing, you’d find yourself getting far less mileage. Perhaps even winding up with a stalled engine or something. At least that much seems clear right off the bat.

But ss far as this HIV denial topic goes, I dunno, that is a different animal (although I submit to you that your ID friends are absolutely correct to begin their response by noting that this topic in fact does not impact the question of whether ID is correct, nor even whether Johnson’s critiques of evolutionist logic/semantics, such as seen in Darwin On Trial are correct or not.

That’s not a small point. On one thread, I was recently asked about what I thought of the group called the Unification Church (Rev. Sun Young Moon) and its claims, seeing as Jonathan Wells belongs to that group. The fact is, however, that his church preference, though I personally strongly disagree with it, did not impact his book Icons of Evolution in the slightest.

Whenever I re-read Darwin On Trial or any of Johnson’s other books, I get that exact same impression of complete separation. Johnson is free to believe other beliefs and I am free to accept or reject those same claims. But he did stick to the business at hand–critical and logical analysis of evo-logic and evo-semantics (and occasional evo-actions), in his books. That’s the important thing. And I don’t think they are “deeply flawed” at all–he certainly scored a number of direct hits or evolutionists wouldn’t have fought him so hard afterwards.

You said,

I’d personally be delighted to discuss this on any PBS special linking the *method* of attack against evolution with the *method* employed in HIV denial, holocaust denial, ESP and alien abduction, because, in fact, they are all the same.

Well, that calls for a comparison of what Johnson has said regarding HIV denial with what he said in Darwin on Trial and subsequent books. I’ve read those books, re-read them and re-read them in fact, and I never saw any “conspiracy theory” talk nor any Johnson statements even remotely reminiscent or parallel of “holocaust denial”, “ESP”, “Alien Abduction”, (c’mon, please, let us keep it real okay?), but I’d be happy to compare/contrast Johnson’s remarks on both issues…either at home or on PBS as well.

********************

Speaking of this HIV thing, one site says that “Although the scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, the disease process is not yet completely understood” That does leave the door open for dissension, even thought the majority view has good arguments and time (esp. the 90’s) hav only sharpened them.

But two of the main HIV dissenters, Duesberg and Rasnick, have written a book called “The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy and malnutrition” (2003), with Claus Koehnlein. I haven’t read the book yet, nor Duesberg’s journal-published stuff.

So I will say this: It’s easy to just go with “the mainstream” and not even bother to check out scientific dissent on an issue. Way too easy.

Not saying that D and R (or even Phillip Johnson) are correct on this issue. To me, HIV still causes AIDS. But that was and is the official line, and I never bothered reading or listening to alternative scientific voices. My mistake.

But now, I would think there’s room for a reasonable layperson to at least read what the scientific dissenters are saying, what the majority view has responded and is responding, and again what the minority has recently rejoindered. Clearly there is a scientific dissenting view there to at least consider, even if it never pans out.

What’s also clear is that there are quite a few PhD’s in biochem, cell biology, and also M.D’s who are at mninimum calling for reappraisal. Johnson is with some serious scientific company there. They are calling for:

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

http://www.stophiv.com/facts_myths/[…]sntaids.html

TalkOrigins, btw, casually (way too much) dismisses them all with the usual stale label “pseudoscientists” but it don’t look like their credentials and current posts are anything to sneeze at. Further, their requests there are not self-evidently unreasonable, since in fact we still do not scientifically understand the disease process.

So what am I saying? I think this HIV denial debate, which Johnson has sided with the dissenters, is a genuine scientific debate, one which the NIH and other “establishment” groups are in little danger of losing. However, the work of D and R obviously isn’t going away and there is still room for scientific dissent on this HIV issue.

FL

I’m not sure that a lack of British knowledge of the specific atrocities of Auschwitz is necessarily symptomatic of an overall ignorance of the general atrocities of the Holocaust. I’ve always understood that, in the British mind, the camp most synonymous with the Holocaust was Bergen-Belsen, which was liberated by the British Army on April 15, 1945. Auschwitz, by contrast, was liberated by the Red Army nearly two weeks after Bergen-Belsen.

FL still hasn’t reached the bottom of his manure pile! He has an endless supply!

The fact is, however, that [Wells’] church preference, though I personally strongly disagree with it, did not impact his book Icons of Evolution in the slightest.

Horse hockey. Wells church wallows in bogus bigotry-fueled rhetoric like a pig in a sty. Where are all the anti-science books written by Episcopalians, FL?

It’s easy to understand why you, FL, would fail to see how Wells’ sick religious beliefs inform his equally warped views about science. I’ll leave it at that.

I would think there’s room for a reasonable layperson to at least read what the scientific dissenters are saying, what the majority view has responded and is responding, and again what the minority has recently rejoindered. Clearly there is a scientific dissenting view there to at least consider, even if it never pans out.

You’re about ten years behind the times. Do “reasonable laypeople” include lying fakes like you who would believe just about anything if an evangelical put enough fake scientific sugar on top? I hope not.

I never saw any “conspiracy theory” talk nor any Johnson statements even remotely reminiscent or parallel of “holocaust denial”, “ESP”, “Alien Abduction”,

Is it easy to write and drink kool-aid at the same time?

Although the scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, the disease process is not yet completely understood” That does leave the door open for dissension

Dissension as to what exactly? Here’s a question for you, FL: Has the means of death of every Jew killed in the holocaust been proven beyond a reasonable doubt? Doesn’t that leave room for dissension, FL?

C’mon my prepubescent friend. It’s time for you to become an adult. Put down your script and step away from your computer for a few years. Come back when you’re an adult, FL, when you know the difference between telling the truth and lying.

Well, Joe, I strongly suspect that if you substitute the phrase “Holocaust denial” instead of the phrase “HIV denial” and then did some more field-testing, you’d find yourself getting far less mileage.

No mileage is necessary, FL, which you’d understand if you weren’t so utterly deluded. There is no genuine “controversy” as to the scientific bankruptcy of “intelligent design theory,” just as there is no genuine “controversy” as to the fact that millions of jews were systematically killed by Nazis during the holocaust.

Your answer to my question about the holocaust above, FL, will show that you are a dissembling rube. And whether creationists apologists are a pack of dissembling evangelical Christian rubes trying to do an end-around the First Amendment is all that remains to be “proven” to “reasonable laypeople” in this country. All the other garbage about “science” is just a smokescreen that is easily blown away once the fan is plugged in. Remember what your mommy told you, FL: don’t get your finger caught in the blades.

I’m reminded of one of my earliest meetings with a creationist–I thought they, like water witches, had long passed from the scene (wrong on both counts). Back in 1974, a fellow worker in the automobile factory started talking to me after learning that I studied geology. Not only was he a creationist, but he was also the leader of the local branch of the John Birch Society. It seemed like his wacky ideas in one area were quite harmonious with his wacky ideas in the other area. Underlying both was a religious fundamentalism that prevented any philosophical or cognitive evolution on his part.

For the issue of Holcaust denial, one needs to know and remember the story of Mel Mermelstein.

Here’s the sequence of events regarding Mermelstein, a Los Angeles businessman and survivor of Auschwitz, and Willis Carto’s wacky “Institute for Historical Revision,” which wishes to deny the Holocaust (from the Shamash website): Here is a short history of the court proceedings … :

1) Mr. Mermelstein wrote a letter to the Jerusalem Post; 2) the IHR wrote him a letter offering him $50,000 for proof “that Jews were gassed in gas-chambers at Auschwitz”; 3) he provided proof; 4) the IHR refused to pay; 5) he sued them; 6) the court said that he had provided proof; 7) the IHR et al paid him $90,000 and apologized.

Actually, IHR had offered the prize to anyone who could prove the Holocaust. Typically someone would show up with documents, photos, or whatever constitutes solid evidence, and the IHR folks would feign laughter and claim it wasn’t good enough evidence. Then they’d claim yet another hoaxer was debunked.

Mermelstein recognized that what the IHR had offered was a sweepstakes; and he understood that such an offer is enforceable in contract, if it is bona fide. So he provided his evidence, IHR laughed, and Mermelstein sued.

The California courts determined that the evidence for the Holocaust was so powerful that the judge could take “judicial notice” that the holocaust occurred. That means that the holocaust is a fact that doesn’t need to be proven any longer, because it’s so well proven already. “The cognizance of certain facts which judges and jurors may properly take and act upon without proof, because they already know them,” as the Federal Rules of Civil Evidence used to say.

It’s important that you know that, legally, there is no doubt of the Holocaust. Legally, the Holocaust deniers have no leg to stand on.

Someone could sue Kent Hovind to make him pay, similarly, were his offer not so nutty that any sane person would immediately see it’s not bona fide.

Phillip Johnson probably read the Mermelstein case and saw the writing on the wall. He hopes to create doubt in evolution while keeping the issue out of court. In a fair tribunal, evolution is the sort of evidence that courts take on judicial notice.

FL,

You said, “On one thread, I was recently asked about what I thought of the group called the Unification Church (Rev. Sun Young Moon) and its claims, seeing as Jonathan Wells belongs to that group.”

A clarification - I believe you’re referring to me, and whatI asked you for was your assesment of Wells’ motivation, and I subsequently pointed out that Wells had gotten his PhD at the direction of “Father” Moon, for the express purpose of destroying Darwinism.

As to HIV and Aids, I have been told that 1 in 100 white Europeans have a mutation that renders them immune to HIV/AIDS.

FL, you’re missing the point about Johnson. The reason why I get so much mileage is because intellectually honest people see the problem with Johnson, once it’s demonstrated.

Here’s Johnson’s basic “argument”—his M.O.:

1. The scientific/medical establishment has made a fundamental error about (insert issue here). 2. The vast majority of scientists have all independently made this same error and “confirmed” each other’s research so that a prevailing dogma is the paradigm. 3. It is necessary to continue the prevailing dogma at the expense of truth, usually for financial or political reasons. 4. There is a small band of truthseekers (Johnson is one of them) seeking to tell the American public the truth about (insert issue here). 5. The evidence in support of the prevailing dogma is incomplete, inaccurate or forged. Sine it’s dogma, no contrary evidence will be received. 6. The establishment controls the means of communicating the truth to the American public including peer reviewed journals, the mass media and education system and will publish nothing that contradicts the prevailing dogma. 7. The battle against this conspiracy continues as the truthseekers fight the good fight against overwhelming odds.

Of course it could be that just possibly thousands of scientists, engineers, healthcare professionals and educators all with their own interests, might not be able to keep a secret and someone would eventually spill the beans. It also seems more than likely that not that the prevailing dogma is actually the truth. But neither of these occurs to Johnson. He makes the same argument about evolution that he makes about HIV—essentially a grand conspiracy is concealing the truth. That’s the conspiracy theory.

It is exactly the same conspiracy theory used by alien abduction apologists, ESP advocates, holocaust deniers, and obviously both ID advocates and HIV conspiracy theorists. People of good will run from conspiracy theorists. People who sincerely believe that ID has potential begin to re-evaluate the evidence when they realize Johnson’s M.O.

Now I don’t know whether you misunderstood what I meant by this, but you cannot possibly make a statement like “I’ve read those books, re-read them and re-read them in fact, and I never saw any “conspiracy theory” talk” with a straight face. Most poeple here have actaully read Johnson. Your statement is means only one of three things: (1) you didn’t know what I meant by conspiracy theory; (2) you can’t read; or (3) you are a liar.

I randomly opened my paperback version of Defeating Darwinism to page 35 (as it turns out) and found two references to “ dogmatic Darwinian” and the “official story” on that page alone. I could repeat the test some more but there’s no need. Now, Dembski would infer that it was not chance that there are two conspiracy theory references on one random page. It’s there by design. And he would be right, for once. So take this opportunity to retract that statement. It’s wrong.

It appears you agree in any event that Johnson is using this M.O. but even if he is, he might be right, not once, but twice (Darwinism and HIV). You might as well tell us how you distinguish his logic from that of the holocaust deniers and alien abductees because I for one would like to know.

One of my concerns is the failure of evolution deniers to rightly understand evolution and evolutionists. I would not call the misconceptions glaring nor, of course, am I making a blanket criticism of all evolution deniers. But the misconceptions can be important. There is no doubt it has weakened their criticism of evolution.

What was surprising to me was the extent to which evolutionists return the favor. In fact, what is surprising is the gross magnitude of misconceptions evolutionists have of creationists. They are far greater than their counterparts in the creationist camp.

And they don’t merely weaken your criticism of creationists – they render it absurd. This thread is a prime example. The sentiment expressed here reads more like a caricature. If I showed this to a creationist (one not intimate with the evolution – creation debate, and forums like this) I think they would wonder if I was joking.

I am by no means suggesting evolution deniers are without fault. There certainly are problems to which one can point. But, frankly, I could not have written a better parody of the evolution position vis a vis creationism. Unfortunately, the sentiment here was written in all seriousness.

Below is a sampling of quotes from this thread.

———————- Creationists’ goal to eliminate scientific and academic freedom is immediate and real. The stakes should be clear from the beginning. We are never more than a single generation away from total savagery.

When I read Prof. Young’s piece, I was immediately taken with the social and intellectual parallels between Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers.

The professional creationists’ denial of data from every science and ability to distort what facts they are forced to admit far outshine any paranoiac I have encountered. It is futile looking to professional creationists for either the intellectual honesty or mental health necessary to change their opinion.

I have often been struck by the parallels between evolution deniers, holocaust deniers, and Shakespeare deniers.

the DI ploy

ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA.

the influence of anti-evolutionism runs deeper than other historical conspiracy theories, at least in Christian and Muslim circiles.

There is a difference when a child grows up with anti-evolution, as opposed to a mentally disturbed person (or group of persons) deciding to take up a historical event and distort it for whatever reason.

As for the leading people for ID, they are the paranoid, twisted people who take advantage of good folks who trust them.

Dr. GH is correct and that they are like peas in a pod - cranks who deny known fact for one irrational reason or another.

Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter.

the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional.

Not only was he a creationist, but he was also the leader of the local branch of the John Birch Society. ———————-

MI,

Well done. Point taken.

Nice try, MI.

I disagree entirely with Katarina. You post is not “well done”. Rather, it’s half-baked.

A lot of those quotes are reasonable personal opinions based on widely available facts. Hyperbole? Maybe some. In any event, they are all taken out of context. I don’t have the time to defend each of them, but I could do so soberly if I was so inclined.

Please acknowledge, MI, that the “teach creationism” movement is a political movement funded and driven, for the msot part, by conservative evangelical religio-political think tanks and related evangelical organizations. To the extent some poor saps (like William Buckingham) are merely inspired by what the claptrap produced by the Discovery Institute and its peons, there may be some “independent” thought. But for the most part it’s the same script.

If you can’t acknowledge this fact, MI, then show us the evidence to the contrary. Go ahead and rebut Joe McFaul’s post.

I agree that the world isn’t going to end if creationism is taught in public schools, MI, and it is a mistake to argue that it will. I haven’t seen anyone seriously make that argument, have you?

On the other hand, the world won’t end if we teach kids that there is as much scientific proof for God as there is for the Easter Bunny. But try proposing teaching that fact to your local school board. After you read your hate mail, you’ll know why you’re dead wrong when you claim that we “sound just like the creationists” in this thread.

Great White writes.: Please acknowledge, MI, that the “teach creationism” movement is a political movement funded and driven, for the msot part, by conservative evangelical religio-political think tanks and related evangelical organizations. To the extent some poor saps (like William Buckingham) are merely inspired by what the claptrap produced by the Discovery Institute and its peons, there may be some “independent” thought. But for the most part it’s the same script. If you can’t acknowledge this fact, MI, then show us the evidence to the contrary.

Me: You are continuing to make my case. The “teach creationism” movement is not a unified, monolithic, well funded, political movement that you make it out to be. Many of these recent stories we hear about are grass roots movements (I don’t know the details of all of them, so I won’t make a sweepting statement, but all the cases that I have knowledge of are grass roots movements). Drop your conspiracy theory, they are not feeding off some secret “evangelical” funding source. In fact, the ones I am most familiar with were not interested in teaching creationism or design in our public schools. What they wanted is biology taught not from an evolution-is-true perspective, but from a neutral perspective.

You are continuing to make my case.

Not really. You’re continuing to deny reality and I find it interesting that you offer no facts to support your position.

The “teach creationism” movement is not a unified, monolithic, well funded, political movement that you make it out to be.

Let’s see. What did I say exactly to inspire the creation of your strawman? Oh yes, there it is. You quoted what I wrote, in English. Why don’t you read the text you quoted before arguing with a strawman, MI? Arguing with a strawman makes you look silly.

Many of these recent stories we hear about are grass roots movements (I don’t know the details of all of them, so I won’t make a sweepting statement, but all the cases that I have knowledge of are grass roots movements).

Hard to respond to something as vague as this. Could you describe some trivial detail relating to say, TWO of these “many” “recent stories” about a creationism controversy in a public school? Like the name of a town in which a disclaimer was proposed or the teaching of ID was mandated? Thanks in advance, MI!

Drop your conspiracy theory, they are not feeding off some secret “evangelical” funding source.”

Another strawman. No one is alleging a secret funding source. For the most part, the funding is right out in the open, as are the conservative pro-evangelical legal groups that offer their services.

In fact, the ones I am most familiar with were not interested in teaching creationism or design in our public schools. What they wanted is biology taught not from an evolution-is-true perspective, but from a neutral perspective.

Oh, is that all? They just want all of the most useful and universally accepted scientific theories to be taught from a “neutral” perspective. Do I have that right? And I assume, then, that these evangelicals also have no problem with the Bible being taught from a “neutral” perspective in public school, right?

Let me know if I misunderstand you, MI.

Btw, you are driving on bald tires. Are you one of those folks that can admit being wrong or do you just keep dissembling when people take time out of their day to discuss your errors with you?

Yes MI, you do score some points with some of those quotes from this thread. GWW in particular seems to have a tendency to get, um, riled up. Comparisons to clinical paranoiacs and such are over the top.

On the other hand, it’s hard to see anything overwrought in some of those statements, e.g.:

ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA.

Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter.

the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional.

In general I think that the HIV deniers are a much better comparison to ID than the Holocaust Deniers. First, Holocaust denial is associated with a repugnant form of antisemitism that is unfair and insulting to associate with IDists. No such allusion was made in the openning post and I’m sure it was not intended, but I suspect that most IDist readers would take it that way. Second, at least two of the most prominent IDists (Phillip Johnson and, IIRC, Jonathan Wells) are HIV-AIDS deniers.

The parallels continue. Both ID and HIV-AIDS deniers rely heavily on lists of people signing on to a vaguely worded, somewhat misleading statement that almost anyone could agree with, and using that to support a very radical agenda that is quite a bit beyond what the signatories signed up for. This was clearly part of the situation with the DI 100.

FL even did us a favor by posting the HIV deniers statement:

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

And the Discovery Institute 100 statement:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

It’s almost like Phil Johnson wrote both statements.

PS: A collection of Phillip Johnson links on HIV/AIDS denial is here, and the the “Rethinking AIDS-Phillip Johnson page is here.”

PPS: One really bizarre feature of the HIV-AIDS deniers is that they seem to fall into two groups: first, some of their writings (like Phil Johnson) have a strong social conservative vibe. But the second group is basically a radical wing of gay activists from San Francisco – and they’ve taken over the group ACT-UP, which as you will recall was the most vocal supporter of AIDS research in the 1980’s. This strange situation was reviewed in the press a few years ago, here is one good article, an editorial in a Biomedical Journal, and Law Weekly.

PPPS: I don’t know anything about Shakespeare denial. My vague impression was that we don’t know that much about Shakespeare’s life, and that while most plays are confidently by him, a few might not be. Care to post some links someone?

Nick -

This is a reasonably rundown on the Shakespeare authorship “controversy”. There’s no real compelling evidence to suggest that anyone other than William Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.

Though the theory that Francis Bacon not only wrote all of Shakesepeare’s works but supervised the construction of an enormously elaborate hiding place for the manuscripts is at least kind of funny.

First, Holocaust denial is associated with a repugnant form of antisemitism that is unfair and insulting to associate with IDists.

Hmm. The conservative evangelical creationist types love to bring up the Nazis (or their partners in crime, the commies) and do so at every opportunity. ID peddlers throw out references to the Nazis because, we are told, Nazism is based partly on Darwin’s theories. In fact, conservative evangelicals often compare anyone or any country that doesn’t share their fundamentlists views re morality to Nazis or communists.

The “implications” of the ID peddlers position with respect to the ethics of scientists are obvious. Indeed, they are explicit. It’s standard procedure to bring up the Nazis. Does anyone believe that William Buckingham didn’t bring up the Nazis at one of his school board meetings?

I think by showing the similarities between Holocaust deniers with IDists, we show that IDers are inclined to engage in the most self-serving forms of selective ignorance. That is, they are not afraid to debase themselves in their pursuit of the “truth” as they would like to see it believed by sheep everywhere.

No one believes that the majority of creationist-pushers are antisemetic. Anti-atheists probably, but then so are a whole lot of other people in this sad uninformed country.

The creationist-pushers rile me up for essentially the same reason that Holocaust deniers rile me up. I can honestly say that I’m equally revolted by both groups. And I don’t think it is outrageous to admit it (although it could seem that way to a creationist, but they’re outraged that they can’t broadcast prayers over the school PA system).

If creationist peddlers don’t want to be compared to Holocaust deniers, they should be prepared to explain why they believe that a tiny minority of big mouths is correct and all of the world’s scientists are wrong but somehow fail to be as skeptical when it comes to another “controversial” claim.

Then they can admit that the difference is that their holy book doesn’t say anything about the number of jews killed in world war II. And then they can admit that their position is not based on science, but is purely religious. And then we can all go home and focus on things like ending starvation, disease and war.

Is the purpose of this thread to help us to better understand our opponent by comparison to another group?

MI brought up a very important point: anti-evolutionists are as diverse a group of people as we are. It is not fair to charactarize them as such and such, only for the purpose of venting our anger. If the purpose is not that, but to gain tools for defeating their propaganda, then the thread makes sense.

Let’s get to the point: will this comparison help indirectly, but helping us understand our opponent, or directly, by bringing up the point on a talk show? And if indirectly, then what are we to learn from it?

(PS. Great White: Commies fought Nazis, and very bravely at that)

Katarina

anti-evolutionists are as diverse a group of people as we are.

This is absolutely not true of the people on the creationist peddling front line. They are not nearly as diverse as the group consisting of rational people who understand science and/or respect the historical record which plainly shows over a century of rigorous research confirming the essential aspects of Darwin’s theory.

As to the “everday” evolution “skeptic” – they are a more diverse group than the limelight lovers. But they are still mostly conservative Christian creationists. That fact alone should strike any objective observer as odd but of course this is the United States we’re talking about.

Moreover, it’s not the “everday” man-on-the-street evolution skeptic who resorts to the Holocaust-denial type arguments.

It is not fair to charactarize them as such and such, only for the purpose of venting our anger.

Again, depends on who “them” is. I think Dr. GH’s post was clear about who “them” is and I think most of the commenter’s posts were also clear about who “them” is.

There is nothing “unfair” about comparing the minds of people Johnson or Hovind or Wells to the minds of Holocaust deniers. I don’t know what the position of these individuals is with respect to the Holocaust but, frankly, I would be more surprised if they weren’t sympathetic to the claims of Holocaust skeptic than if they were.

Great White.

Intelligent Design is strong politically, not scientifically. That much is obvious. Political strength means the support of the average joe, in addition to some wealthy people with agendas. If the average joe withdrew his political support, ID would have little left.

I am not sure if this means we need to target the average joe in public debates, but I don’t think it would hurt. I am not saying to leave out the science, but as things stand at the moment, It doesn’t seem we are getting through to the average joe.

I don’t pretend to know the solution. But it may be more constructive to refrain from discussions that tend to alienate the other side.

As bizarre as it may seem, I find myself in agreement with FL. At least to the extent that Jason Malloy’s comment is unsupported, and indeed insupportable. I urge that he retract it.

By positing the existence of a deity which by supernatural powers is able to commit miracles, the believer has placed the examination of their belief outside the realm of science. Which is fine with me with the only reservation that this belief can not be thought of as a ‘science.’ This removes religion from the identification made by Jason Malloy. Twenty-five years ago I argued at an AAAS annual meeting that we can not deny the validity of supernatural belief as such, but as scientists and educators we were obligated to oppose efforts to insert supernatural accounts into science. (The resolution was amended from the floor reflecting this concern).

This is totally different, however, from those who deny that they are making a special appeal to the supernatural, and that they employ the methodology of science to recover the supernatural. This is parallel to those who have claimed to use objective means of historic and scientific examination of evidence to deny the Nazi Holocaust.

The founding principle of religious freedom in America also demands that publicly (tax) supported institutions can not use the coercive power of the government to dictate (or even favor) one religious faction over another. This is what excluded the teaching of ‘creation science’ for public schools. Intelligent Design Creationism is the current attempt to avoid the Constitution by claiming that Judeo Christian creationism can be reworked to allow it to be considered a valid “alternative” scientific hypothesis and neither religious nor favoring a particular deity/designer.

This leads directly to the purpose of Panda’s Thumb, and the TalkDesign Archive, which is to challenge that Intelligent Design Creationism can meet the claim that it is a valid hypothesis when judged on its scientific merits, and to expose the religious and political nature of IDC as opposed to its so-called science. This latter goal is a partial motivation for my original post.

The comments have come back toward the opening topic, and I would like to leave this open for at least another day.

I may be too late to spark an interesting discussion, but if so, that’s what I get for lurking for so long.

As an attorney, this discussion calls to mind a more apt comparison that happens to resonate in legal circles: ID advocates are very similar to “tax protesters,” or individuals who maintain that the federal government does not have the power to levy income taxes.

Both groups operate in the face of overwhelming evidence against their positions. They are each comprised of somewhat diverse elements - from simply confused or ignorant cheerleaders to outrageously dishonest ringleaders - bound together by obvious ulterior motives.

The tactics employed by the groups are also similar. Each places enormous reliance on quote-mining, out of context citations, muddying the definition of key words and concepts (cf. IDists’ take on “theory” or even “evolution” with tax protesters’ myopic take on “includes,” “income,” and “person”). Both groups rely on ignorance and both active and passive dishonesty to propagate their messages.

Well, I could go on. I’m struck by how analogous the two movements are. If you’re interested, I recommend a FAQ I found recently that, like some of the resources I’ve found through this site, exhaustively summarizes and refutes the arguments of tax protesters:

http://evans-legal.com/dan/tpfaq.html

Finally, there are some obvious flaws in the analogy. The most interesting is the profound difference between scientific evidence and legal authority. I think a good argument could be made that they are similar enough in this context that the analogy stands.

I think, in the end, that this is a much better analogy than comparing creationists to Holocaust deniers. That analogy will often turn off people who don’t feel strongly about promoting honest science, and casts creationists as the victims of extreme rhetoric (whether or not that rhetoric is accurate). For the purposes of arguing against creationist tactics, especially in a legal context, this is a better comparison.

Colin

Good point. Your analogy also has the advantage of superior evidence – as I recall, one particularly big-mouthed creationist is in fact a tax protester.

http://www.blessedquietness.com/jou[…]u/hovind.htm

I don’t know if he is a Holocaust denier as well. But it wouldn’t surprise me.

johnsmith wrote:

“ … oh my … not sure you understand the full scope of the debate, or the “motives” of those who might be in favor of ID. As a scientist, I see no reason to disregard such a theory, despite the best intentions of the “reputable” scientists who run this site.”

I would like very much if you could enhance my understanding of this debate. Since you see no reason to disregard ID, how would you evaluate it?

Following on the comment by Colin, I get the feeling that there is a more general observation to be made about psycho fringe social movements. The Tax Protesters, the Shakespear deniers, the Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, and AIDS deniers all have overlaping MOs and even personel. For example, the Islamic Young Earth Creationist Harun Yahya, in a book called “Holocaust Revisionism”, gives a direct link between evolution denial and Holocaust denial (see also Harun Yahya and Holocaust Revisionism. Kent “Dr.Dino” Hovind, YEC evolution denier and Tax Protester, Phil Johnson & Jonathan Wells, IDC evolution denial and AIDS denial round out the set.

Don’t forget Marshall Hall at fixedearth.com -> evolution denial + rotating/orbiting earth denial.

apparently he’s got a time machine too, because at the very bottom it says “©1997-2005 Marshall Hall”

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So Jason your view is to be a good scientist you must be an Athiest?

There maybe many things that we will never be able to explain with science. Does this mean that we can not hold personal ideas and beliefs at all?

Even as an Athiest/Agnostic I find this position very offensive. You are unexcepting of others beliefs that don’t even need to conflict with science. You are creating a conflict where their doesn’t need to be one just like the creationist do.

Supernatural and Natural don’t have to intersect. Unless you can prove scientifically that there is no supernatural then why force others to release their belief in the supernatural. While we are finding out more and more about the universe it doesn’t answer the question why? where from? There will always be questions science can’t ask. That is the realm of religion.

My earlier reply to Jason Malloy seems to have been ignored beyond the first sentences.

Theists of any type who posit that all things are miraculous are quite plainly free from the criticism that they are distorting science, or history: they are excluding science and history. I have had good friends who worshipped gods few people reading this have ever heard of, and I found them quite honest, sincere, and sane. Their particular religious tradition had in the past included human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism. This didn’t make them any particular threat, but one hopes that there is no revivalist movement on the horizon. My personal sense that evolution deniers are in fact a danger is their insistent effort to inject supernaturalism into science at a time when greater clarity than ever before is needed. Questions about the environment and new agricultural and medical technologies can not be competently answered by muddled pseudoscience.

The objections that Jason Malloy is upset by concern vices he seems to attach to particular theologies. Not only are they historically unsound (for example there has been non-religious genocide: Rwanda is a current example), but are irrelevant to the comparison we have been discussing.

The “club of science” gibes are merely childish, I have been “in the club” for 30 years, but they accidentally touched on our actual topic. That is the social and intellectual devices used by “deniers” to generate support for their endeavors.

Further comments that are relevant are welcome, but this is neither the time nor place for further atheist rants which I will simply delete.

We can add yet another small yet bigmouthed group of obnoxious morons to the list of such groups which are “curiously similar” to (and often overlap with) creationists: the Southern slave apologists.

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/st[…]258411c.html

Students at one of the area’s largest Christian schools are reading a controversial booklet that critics say whitewashes Southern slavery with its view that slaves lived “a life of plenty, of simple pleasures.” Leaders at Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using “Southern Slavery, As It Was,” a booklet that attempts to provide a biblical justification for slavery and asserts that slaves weren’t treated as badly as people think.

Principal Larry Stephenson said the school is only exposing students to different ideas, such as how the South justified slavery. He said the booklet is used because it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery.

“You can have two different sides, a Northern perspective and a Southern perspective,” he said.

‘SOUTHERN SLAVERY, AS IT WAS’ Here are some excerpts from the booklet:

* “To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South.” (page 22)

* “As we have already mentioned, the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery was not perfect or sinless, but the reality was a far cry from the horrific descriptions given to us in modern histories.” (page 22)

* “Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.” (page 24)

* “There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.” (page 24)

* “Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.” (page 25)

* “But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends.” (page 27)

* “Nearly every slave in the South enjoyed a higher standard of living than the poor whites of the South – and had a much easier existence.” (page 30)

From the same article, there’s this eerily familiar chestnut:

Angela Kennedy, whose daughters have attended Cary Christian since 1996, said all the booklet does is help students learn about both sides so that they have a basis to form their own opinions. She pointed out that the students also read Abraham Lincoln’s speeches.

“They really do get both sides of the story,” Kennedy said. “In public schools, all they get is one side of the story. That’s not education. That’s indoctrination.”

Sorry, Ms. Kennedy, you pitiful white bigot. Showing children why the enslaving of other humans is wrong is not “indoctrination”. “Indoctrination” is teaching children that a book written thousands of years ago is “divinely inspired” and anyone who doubts its truth is going to suffer unbearable torment for eternity.

People who can’t maintain a distinction between these concepts shouldn’t be trusted to raise children. But according to some, everyone has an inalienable Constitutional right to fxck with the minds of children as long as they give birth to them or adopt them.

I’ll give the Cary Christian School some credit. Whoever sits on their school board is light years ahead of the Dover boobs.

http://carychristianschool.org/News[…]/default.cfm

Dec. 9, 2004

As you may be aware, today the News and Observer published a rather negative article about Cary Christian School and our use of a small booklet supplement entitled, “Southern Slavery, As It Was”. Within the article it stated, “the booklet has received criticism from a number of historians and that it has been pulled from publication because of faulty footnotes and citation errors.”

We were unaware of these findings and as a result have already pulled this booklet from our curriculum. Let us reiterate that it is always our goal in the secondary grades to present two sides of an argument. At no time has slavery ever been condoned in our curriculum. As Mr. Stephenson stated within the article, “Slavery is wrong, that’s not debatable. The South was wrong about the slave trade.”

We apologize for this oversight and covet your prayers for our school.

How about if I just wish real hard that Cary Christian learns to appreciate that the anti-gay bigotry which they undoubtedly espouse is no better than racism?

Seriously, though, the difference between the response of Cary Christian to the “revelation” that their pamphlet had been debunked and the actions of the Dover School Board nitwits is striking. Of course, the reason for the different responses is obvious …

I knew I gave money to SPLC for some reason.

From the School defends slavery booklet

The booklet’s other author, Steve Wilkins, is a member of the board of directors of the Alabama-based League of the South. That is classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights group.

“Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins have essentially constructed the ruling theology of the neo-Confederate movement,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report.

Potok said people who argue that the South should secede again have latched onto the writings of Wilson and Wilkins, which portray the Confederacy as the last true Christian civilization.

Thanks for this one. Now, if the neoConfederacy could only have annual conferences, or a journal like “Slave Digest.”

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The Cary Christian thing, which is happening in my backyard, has gotten a lot of coverage in the News and Observer. Best I can tell, their intent seems to have been to show the kids what the southern whites were thinking at the time. And they appear to have quickly understood that they picked the wrong material to show that. True, some of the parents are unreconstructed assfaces who want to believe that slaves were happy assistants to benevolent plantation owners. No argument there. But the school seems to have had reasonable motives, just flubbed the execution.

Jason Malloy:

I’m not sure I understand this exchange:

There will always be questions science can’t ask. That is the realm of religion.

Wow, what a marvelous role making absurd nonsense up and pimping it off as fact plays in the human condition. Can we please stop pretending religious lies are a noble thing. Lies are bad, Wayne.

I agree with Wayne that there are questions science can’t ask, but I don’t agree with him as to what those questions are. I certainly don’t regard this statement as nonsensical, nor do I regard religious answers to such questions as lies. Maybe we need some examples.

My usual example is that science can determine whether one person killed another, but science cannot even ask whether doing so was right or wrong. The moral decision relies on social conventions informed by religious ethical systems. Science can’t tell us whether a particular law is a good law or a bad one, whether a government policy or program is worth starting/maintaining/eliminating, etc. But religion surely informs any answer to all these questions, directly or indirectly.

I dunno, Jason.

never should we offend those obviously blameless decent Americans and “scientists” who just want to believe in Santa Claus and teach him as fact to their children and to the poor people in their community … that would be extremist or something.

I don’t think that’s what Gary is saying. Certainly I don’t make an effort not to offend such people (frankly, it’s impossible not to). As long as you don’t use more than five scatological references in a single post, you’re generally okay. That’s my experience.

Declaring the existence of something without evidence for it is not science.

This is where you started sounding like a ranting twit, Jason. When did Gary “declare the existence of something without evidence”?

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Sal, may I point out that you began the argumentative phase of the discussion with a number of rude, sexist remarks? You probably don’t remember them, because you edit your posts.

But my points still stand: you have not demonstrated that this simplistic rewording of the Kalaam Cosmological Argument is valid.

If you actually wish to discuss this, we could go have a mediated debate at IIDB. Or are you chicken? (Sorry, blog owners, couldn’t resist).

But this board and this topic does not appear to be the place for unsupported statements about cosmology and God.

Salvador, if you would, in fact, like to discuss this “demonstration” (it appears inappropriate on this particular thread), I invite you to IIDB.

You have expressed considerable interest in the past in one on one debates untroubled by detractors; IIDB appears to offer an ideal mechanism for this, with strong moderation and no ‘trolls.’

You probably don’t remember them, because you edit your posts.

Perhaps that’s why Salvador isn’t seen here nearly so often: the opportunity to redact his posts is denied him.

But the pattern is nonetheless clear. Salvador makes a stupid claim. The stupidity is pounded into the ground by multiple biologists. Salvador edits his post to eliminate or rewrite his stupid claim. Then he protests that he is being misrepresented. The ARN moderators say nothing. Others learn not to respond to Salvador’s (current) posts, because with the ARN moderators’ blessing they’ll be made to look like fools later..

On this forum Salvador simply vanishes, after making one or more unsupportble statements and a few gratuituous insults.

Science can’t tell us whether a particular law is a good law or a bad one, whether a government policy or program is worth starting/maintaining/eliminating, etc. But religion surely informs any answer to all these questions, directly or indirectly

Do an Internet search for Jared Diamond’s review of David Sloan Wilson in the NYRB - religion before agricultural consolidation in fact had nothing to do with morality, which was solely determined by kinship. Religion increased its role as a source of tribal mythology into a regulatory force once populations grew to the point where the traditional moral controls of tribal society were no longer feasible. Real morality needs to come from rational considerations (cost/benefit analysis) filtered through personal predispositions, and not tied into arbitrary superstitions or revealed commandments: which actually hurt ethics, because they replace reason with rules.

OK. It seems time to wrap this up. I waited for Salvador Cordova to make some last comment, and he did.

In the interim, there were some interesting and relevant comments from GWW regarding slavery apologists.

Thanks to all who contributed.

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This page contains a single entry by Gary Hurd published on December 3, 2004 7:22 PM.

Cobb and Dover was the previous entry in this blog.

Science Teachers Balk at Dover Decision is the next entry in this blog.

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