New York Times: Teachers pressured to avoid evolution

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An important story on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times Science section documents the widespread phenomenon of teacher self-censorship – teachers avoid the “E-word” because of pressure from parents or administrators. The story is by Cornelia Dean. Here is the story: “Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes.” See discussion/commentary at NCSE News, Jason Rosenhouse’s EvolutionBlog, Pharyngula, and Chris Mooney’s blog.

But, the most entertaining comments were over at the Discovery Institute’s Media Complaints Division. See especially the bit about “the local amateur hour”:

After quoting a bit of the New York Times article, the DI’s Rob Crowther writes,

This is an implicit admission that the teaching of evolution doesn’t make the news when states such as Ohio, New Mexico and Minnesota adopt standards that teach all about the theory, including the scientific challenges to it, but only makes the news when the local amateur hour decides to downplay evolution or promote religion in science class. Why is the latter news, but the former is ignored or barely mentioned at best? Or, why doesn’t the teaching of evolution make the news when a parent is denied his civil rights by a Darwinist school board and then tries for some modicum of justice?the DI’s Rob Crowther, bold added for particularly entertaining bit

Let’s see, how many distortions can we count in these three sentences?

1. The atrocious Ohio “critical analysis of evolution” lesson plan, has got rather a lot of press. This is because it contains lies such as, “Scientists have learned that peppered moths do not actually rest on tree trunks. This has raised questions about whether color changes in the moth population were actually caused by differences in exposure to predatory birds.”

In truth:

  • Peppered moths sometimes do rest on trunks
  • Even if they never did, tree branches are equally subject to pollution and visual bird predation (the creationists seem to think moths go to an alternative dimension where birds can’t get them)
  • Kettlewell did his experiments on both trunks and branches anyway
  • No actual modern peppered moth expert doubts that Kettlewell’s bird predation hypothesis for change in color is essentially correct, and in fact they are all incredibly annoyed at creationist/ID lying about their work.
  • The entire creationist/intelligent case on the peppered moth is based on misquoting, sloppy research, and deliberate misrepresentation.

See this page and links therein for documentation of the above.

If the DI thinks they have won this one permanently, they have got another thing coming…

2. No link is given for New Mexico, because the ID movement made no progress there.

3. The link about Minnesota yields a page where the DI claims victory when in fact they had total defeat. The DI likes this language:

“The student will be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including…theory of evolution.”

…but doesn’t that ellipsis seem odd? Here is the full text:

Be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including but not limited to cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease and big bang theory.

That is perfectly good company for evolution to be in. Intelligent design proponents prefer policies where only evolution gets “challenge” or “critical analysis.”

Minnesotan PZ Myers pointed out the DI’s Newspeak on this on in his post, “Newspeak from the Ministry of Truth.”

4. Larry Caldwell’s lawsuit in Roseville, California, is laughable. He basically distracted everyone in the school district for a whole year, including bringing in creationist Cornelius Hunter to give a presentation. Hunter reportedly did preposterous things like claim to show a side-by-side comparison of a placental wolf and a marsupial “wolf” – skulls which are actually readily distinguishable to anyone who can count teeth – and claimed they were identical. It turned out that Hunter had used the same photo twice in his presentation. After a year of this kind of pseudoscience circus, the school board voted down Caldwell’s policy, and Caldwell sued because, well, he was mad the board didn’t agree with him. What’s really funny is that the Discovery Institute is supporting Caldwell, considering that the lawsuit will almost certainly be summarily dismissed as patently ridiculous.

5. This statement hardly needs comment: “… [it] only makes the news when the local amateur hour decides to downplay evolution or promote religion in science class.”

No one but us professionals over at the Discovery Institute, I guess. Did it ever occur to the folks at the DI that all of their rhetoric might contribute to this? The ID movement’s notable actions include incessant talk about ID being a revolutionary new scientific movement, their legal analyses promoting the constitutionality of teaching ID, their continual mixing of religious apologetics with their “science” in any slightly sectarian setting, the stated motivations of virtually all of their leading figures, and their continual hobnobbing with the stupendously discredited Young Earth Creationists.

Maybe, just maybe, these actions are what leads to “the local amateur hour” directly following the DI’s lead, just without quite the same level of sneakiness. The “local amateurs” know that this is all about getting a particular religious view into the public schools, and they say so until the lawyers get ahold of them, tell them to can it and to destroy the tapes (see “Dover tapes at issue”. York Dispatch, Febrary 1, 2005).

Phew – well, that’s what it takes to deconstruct a mere three sentences of ID spin.

28 Comments

I wonder when the DI is going to re-enable the comment function on their blog entries so people can respond directly…

Oh, wait! I think I figured it out!

Never.

Some indication of the Discovery Institute’s devotion to intellectual honesty and intellectual inquiry can be gleaned from the fact that they do not permit comments to their blog. It is clear they are very afraid of an honest assessment of their rhetoric.

Avida - the death of IDs core argument.

The central claim used to support ID (ie the odds against complexity) - just died.

Random mutation alone can not produce the complexity we see. Evolutionists and ID Creationists both agree on this point. Alone, you end up with odds like 1 in 1000 trillion trillion for the existence of ‘complex’ things.

The Avida experiment was about adding natural selection to the equation to see if doing so made the odds of complexity feasible. It demonstrated the effect of natural selection coupled with random mutation on the odds.

Natural selection is not a random process in that it is a ‘rules’ based system based on survival and reproduction, the passing of traits / genetics, etc. Random mutations are filtered if you will by this system with the end results being far from purely random. This has a huge effect, going from odds of 1 in 1000 trillion trillion to 23/50.

This does not eliminate the idea that God may influence the evolutinary process to his ends (some say its the tool he uses) that most Christian faiths profess, but it does put cement feet on the basic argument that it is impossible for complexity due to the odds. 23/50 are very good odds.

This experiment does not however deal with the initial origin of life, but that is a whole other (related) debate.

I spent most of 35 years as a science textbook editor/publisher and as a retailer of laboratory supplies (cats, rats, frogs, chemicals, glassware, etc.) to schools throughout North America. In those capacities I probably visited somewhere between 500 and 1000 different secondary schools in 49 states (I never made it to Alaska). Several things stood out with remarkable consistency:

1) A disproportionate number of schools had extremely low laboratory budgets, often no more than $50 per year per teacher (some even had zero!) with totally bare stock rooms, 2) Many “science” teachers were unprepared to teach science, having been drafted from history, phys ed, or some other unrelated fields, 3) Many biology teachers, even in states where evolution was on the syllabus, skipped it or only touched on it lightly, lest they incur the wrath of their administration or parents, 4) A surprisingly large number of biology teachers are creationists who flatly refuse to teach evolution (to which Gerry Skoog, an old acquaintance of mine from 30 years ago, alluded in Dean’s article).

One also needs to keep in mind that for an administrator the first commandment is don’t roil the waters. Controversy is the enemy of a long tenure and a cushy retirement. And for all too many teachers the priorities are similar. Public schools are bureaucracies and they behave like them. Until that is changed, nothing else will change.

Given those conditions is it any wonder that at least half the American adult population, and our political leadership, rejects evolution as an elitist fantasy?

Evolutionary biology and science may win the court cases and editorial support of the nation’s major news outlets (Fox excepted)—the high profile confrontations—but to be perfectly honest, the fundies win consistently at the grass roots level, where the attitude toward the courts and the New York Times, is “to hell with them—they’re the devil’s disciples.”

This country has been infected for nigh two centuries and well into the third century with a fervent anti-intellectualism that derives from our historic roots as European rejects. And that, sadly, is not likely to change in the near future without some kind of cultural, social or educational revolution. Who will join me at the barricades?

Sad to see that religious pseudo-science is propagating into the core science teaching of our children even faster than theocrats are filling the federal and state law with religious creedos against unbelievers and “the immoral.” I can’t wait until the Christian Taliban turns everything in society on its head in the name of religion. Sad. Sad. Sad.

Clearly time to get more “Leave no child behind, teach evolution: bumper stickers out there. http://spot.colorado.edu/~klym/bumper.htm

DR said:

Avida - the death of IDs core argument. The central claim used to support ID (ie the odds against complexity) - just died.

Actually I think that’s been around for a while. There was a Panda’s Thumb article by Richard B. Hoppe in March 2004, http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]/000062.html, dedicated to that very subject. Some of the critique from the ID folks was entirely predictable, of course.

Michael Behe:

“There’s … little … in … project …”

William Dembski:

“… describes … computer … biology …”

At least some are coming to their senses:

Church needs better evolution education, says bishops’ official

By Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) – Catholic educators need better teaching programs about evolution “to correct the anti-evolution biases that Catholics pick up” from the general society, according to a U.S. bishops’ official involved in dialogue with scientists for 20 years.

Without a church view of human creation that is consistent with currently accepted scientific knowledge, “Catholicism may begin to seem less and less ‘realistic’ to more and more thoughtful people,” said David Byers, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Science and Human Values from 1984 to 2003.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/st[…]/0500591.htm

I am shocked to find out that the DI is not opposing the indirect censoring of science in schools. “Teach the controversy” seems to have a hollow meaning indeed. But the whining about how the evil media is against us is not going to hide the simple fact that there is no scientific theory of ID.

Last night a creationist friend assured me that creationists have no problem with microevolution. I mentioned peppered moths. He seemed confused. It’s clear that ground state for most creationists is to attack evolution of any sort and think later (if at all).

Did it ever occur to the folks at the DI that all of their rhetoric might contribute to this? The ID movement’s notable actions include incessant talk about ID being a revolutionary new scientific movement, their legal analyses promoting the constitutionality of teaching ID, their continual mixing of religious apologetics with their “science” in any slightly sectarian setting, the stated motivations of virtually all of their leading figures, and their continual hobnobbing with the stupendously discredited Young Earth Creationists

A very good point. ID’s claims has run far ahead of any scientific foundation and is mostly based on poor arguments (Icons of Evolution comes to mind), selective data (Cambrian) while lacking any scientific foundation. ID’s scientific foundation is flawed. There is no scientific theory or hypothesis of ID. And yet parents are misled by this rethoric to try to introduce ID into school curricula or as with Ohio seems to be the case, to introduce flawed claims (Kettlewell). And while this may come with great cost to science, the theological cost may be even bigger when ID proponents start to realize that ID is, as some of my friends call it, deceptive and that ID by insisting on making religious faith falsifiable, has provided powerful weapons to those who oppose religion. For example the bacterial flagellum has since long been touted as evidence of design (and Designer) and yet over time, science is filling more and more of the gaps in which ID’s argument could hide. While ID proponents can be seen moving the goalposts and ask for more and more detail, it is clear that God is being squeezed out of a gap. Imagine the impact of such on religious faith, imagine the impact of providing powerful ammunition to those who oppose religion who can now argue that ID has been falsified? Of course ID can always move its God to another Gap but as a Christian, I do not want to force my God to be hiding in some gaps of our ignorance. God is ever present in the beauty of His Creation. How do I know? Because I have accepted this on faith. And that is the beauty of religion.

ID is scientifically vacuous and theologically risky. Not a very compelling combination imho.

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on February 2, 2005 05:13 AM Some indication of the Discovery Institute’s devotion to intellectual honesty and intellectual inquiry can be gleaned from the fact that they do not permit comments to their blog. It is clear they are very afraid of an honest assessment of their rhetoric.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. The DI folks actually did open their blog to comments a few weeks ago – but that policy lasted at most a few hours. When the critical comments started pouring in, they pulled the plug! Fortunately, an alert pro-science blogger saved the critical comments for posterity over at http://tinyurl.com/68xpe .

Keanus Wrote:

This country has been infected for nigh two centuries and well into the third century with a fervent anti-intellectualism that derives from our historic roots as European rejects. And that, sadly, is not likely to change in the near future without some kind of cultural, social or educational revolution. Who will join me at the barricades?

I share Keanus’ concern. PTers and other scientists have done a fantastic job of refuting the blatherings of creationsists. Unfortunately, scientists and other rationalists are not the only ones who may elect school boards and other legislators, engage in the political process to lobby for their views, influence legal proceedings, and pass constitutional amendments. Most people are influenced not by sound logic and evidence but by the propaganda they hear from the institutions they trust (such as literalist religious groups) that reinforce their pre-existing prejudices. Ultimately, given suitable motivation, the people will decide, and good science may have little influence on them.

Here are some examples that I think should give us pause:

1. The NIH Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine - Because of popular political will, we have a monument to pseudoscience enshrined within one of our leading bio-medical institutions

2. Teaching of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in many major medical schools - Just a couple of the many examples: Harvard and University of Arizona.

3. Gay marriage - The arguments offered in support of state constitutional amendments opposing gay marriage were mostly utterly absurd (IMHO), yet these amendments passed overwhelminingly.

4. Breast implant lawsuits - Recipients of breast implants who developed various auto-immune diseases received huge monetary awards as the reult of lawsuits in spite of the fact that there was no scientific evidence to support the claim (See “Science on Trial” by Marcia Angell, reviewd here).

I think we need to consider whether opposing the efforts of creationints too vigorously may result in a serious backlash, such as has happened with gay marriage. I am not saying that this will occur, only suggesting it may be a possibility. Given the nature of our political system (which I basically support), relying primarily on court victories may not be a good idea. Yes, court cases can have educational effects and I don’t oppose them. But I think public education should be the primary tool, and we have many excellent educational efforts underway such as TalkOrigins and NCSE. Of course, evolution is good science and only science should be taught in science class. But I would prefer that people accept evolution because they believe it to be true, not because they are forced to accept it by law. Supporters of good science education need to beware that their efforts do not result in a backlash that gives pseudoscience a legal mandate.

I would prefer that people accept evolution because they believe it to be true, not because they are forced to accept it by law.

No one is forced to accept evolution by law. You wrote a good post and then you finished off by reciting from the creationist script. Why?

Supporters of good science education need to beware that their efforts do not result in a backlash that gives pseudoscience a legal mandate.

You sound like you’ve been reading that nitwit Nathan Newman’s blog.

Get with the program. Why shouldn’t the fundamentalist be afraid of the backlash from the majority of Americans who don’t think that science is a giant joke??

Oh, yeah, it’s because there are so many weak spineless people like Nathan Newman who believe that you can’t criticize fundamentalists and their anti-science scams until they blow up a skyscraper.

Tim wrote:

Most people are influenced not by sound logic and evidence but by the propaganda they hear from the institutions they trust (such as literalist religious groups) that reinforce their pre-existing prejudices. Ultimately, given suitable motivation, the people will decide, and good science may have little influence on them.

When given the choice between something they agree with logically and something they identify with emotionally, people will choose the latter every time. Just ask John Kerry. People don’t identify with evolutionary biology.

Part of this is regrettably our own fault. A current thread compares (unfavorably)Rick Santorum to William Jennings Bryan. Remember that Bryan became a creationism spokesman because of his revulsion for Social Darwinism (which was a political rather than a scientific position). Similarly, how many anti-evolutionists are motivated by their revulsion at Dawkins’ militant atheism? He is well-entitled to his opinion, and he may be right, but the statement that atheism is justified by science plays into the hands of the anti-scientific right.

We need to reframe (sorry about the cliche’) the public discussion so it operates on the level of identity and not logic. I suggest one way to do so is to continually hit ID with the creationism, the sectarian and the non-science labels. Most people will tell you that they aren’t creationists, or far-right sectarians, and that they respect and are interested in science.

Re: Keanus and Tim Tesar’s posts

This is a frequent complaint of mine, as well: that the scientific community, as a whole, does not do a very good job teaching science to the larger public. Some of this is not the scientific community’s fault: reactionary religious beliefs, unwillingness to pay enough money for good education, complacent bureaucrats, and general apathy all contribute. But the fact is that the scientific community itself frequently doesn’t take teaching seriously. There are exceptions, of course, like the NCSE and the people at Panda’s Thumb, but in most PhD granting institutions teaching receives benign neglegt, if not hostility. And many undergraduate institutions are stuck in the old model of lecturing a class of 300 students in a survey course that they are required to take, which doesn’t give them a very good picture of what science is or how it operates. Students are supposed to come up with their own motivation to study science - the professor isn’t there to help provide it (i.e. the “sink-or-swim” model).

I agree with Tim’s comments about provoking a backlash. It is necessary to stand up for good science, whether against new-agey alternative medicine claims or fundamentalist creationists. But, as Panda’s Thumb frequently demonstrates, criticizing ID/Fundamentalist claims frequently extends to criticizing unrelated (to science) values held by many people who aren’t necessarily against evolution. The gay marriage issue is a good example: it has little to do with science, and large majorities of several states rejected it. Almost by definition this must have included a variety of reasons, since obviously 55% of Oregonians aren’t fundamentalist Christians. If you equate opposition to evolution and opposition to same-sex marriage, and call both opponents ignorant fundamentalists, all of a sudden you have 55% (or more) of the population (instead of maybe 20%) immediately on the defensive against what you have to say. Most of the 50% (or whatever number it is that shows up in surveys) of people who don’t believe in evolution aren’t fundamentalists, and they don’t really know anything about the arguments. As Tim says, all they know is that they’ve been told that evolution is anti-Biblical, or anti-God. We’ll never make any headway by lumping them all together as ignorant rednecks and mocking them.

ID is scientifically vacuous and theologically risky. Not a very compelling combination imho.

The problem is that their real target audience isn’t aware of this. The ID stuff is marketed directly to the general public via popular books and newspaper articles when it’s still half-baked, and the general public is probably quite unaware of the challenges brought by scientists, the backpeddling, the reworking, the excuses, and all the other stuff that for real science is done before, not after, it’s presented to the public.

We may well know that irreducible complexity has been redefined until it’s disappearing up its own trouser leg and that the ID use of the NFL theorems has been criticised by one of the originators of the latter; the only thing the general public knows is that ID is a brave new challenge to a theory in deep trouble and that irreducible complexity is alive and well on the shelves of all the major bookstores. And that’s really all that matters to the ID movement.

Here are two key quotes from top New Mexican education officials regarding ID and creationism. Perhaps these explain why the Discovery Institute’s Rob Crowther didn’t include a handy link to how New Mexico’s science standards supposedly “teach all about the theory, including the scientific challenges to it.”

The first is from State Board of Education member Flora Sanchez, made during the hearing on the adoption of the standards (August 28, 2003). As reported by Diana Heil of the Santa Fe New Mexican on August 29, 2003,

“Board member Flora Sanchez put a stop to mixed messages, though. She clarified this point: The state is not asking teachers to present all the alternatives to evolution and ‘put them on an equal footing.’…”

(No longer on the Santa Fe New Mexican site, this can still be found here and here, and even on the ARN site.)

The second is from Dr. Richard Reif, chief science consultant for New Mexico’s Public Education Department. Reif said this in a letter to a local scientist about the new standards:

In no way do the science standards support the teaching of notions of intelligent design or creation science or any of its variations.

This can be found on-line here and here.

The bottom line is that New Mexico’s standards are strong on evolution, and that’s what the kids are going to be tested on. There simply won’t be time for ID.

Nick Matzke Wrote:

Phew — well, that’s what it takes to deconstruct a mere three sentences of ID spin.

That is perhaps the #1 tactic of the ID strategy: get your opponent to make rebuttals that are necessarily lengthy. Even if IDers granted us “equal time” – and they have no interest in that, and know quite well that teaching evolution is not the same as responding to their misleading sound bites – “equal time” is not nearly enough to counter the misinformation that arises from sound bites coupled with prior misconceptions of nonscientists.

Recently I suggested that the main purpose of Stephen C. Meyer’s “peer-reviewed” article was to deprive us of a simple blanket statement that IDers never publish peer-reviewed research. Technically that statement is still true, but we “evolutionists” are slaves to the Commandment about “bearing false witness,” so we are obligated to disclose the full story, in detail that turns off most audiences.

Really, how does one compete with, “Yeah, but I still don’t come from no monkey!”?

Technically that statement is still true, but we “evolutionists” are slaves to the Commandment about “bearing false witness,” so we are obligated to disclose the full story, in detail that turns off most audiences.

Meyer’s article was not peer-reviewed research. It was a review and a crappy one at that.

Mike S.

If you equate opposition to evolution and opposition to same-sex marriage, and call both opponents ignorant fundamentalists

Can you show me one example where someone on this blog equated everyone who is opposed to same-sex marriage with ignorant fundamentalists?

As Tim says, all they know is that they’ve been told that evolution is anti-Biblical, or anti-God.

And who told them that, Mike? What sort of people go around publishing that utterly bogus message Mike? Could it be … ignorant HIV-denying anti-science lying religious fundamentalists by any chance?

If we educate the uninformed about how loathesome and dishonest the people who spread anti-science disinformation are, do you suppose that might help people assess the veracity of the charlatan’s claims? Or is it better to teach them about RNA transcription and send them to PubMed so they “really understand”?

The majority of Americans are not fundamentalist religious nuts who approve of Lying for Jesus and redefining science to include the study of gremlins and deities from Dungeons and Dragons handbooks. When that majority discovers how diseased and dishonest the Discovery Institute charlatans are, they’ll make the right decision.

But that will NEVER HAPPEN if folks like you insist on not telling the truth about Christian extremists and why they are just as threatening to the future of this country as any other religious fundamentalists, because you are afraid of some “backlash”.

I’ll repeat what’s been said before: the gay issue just shows how hypocritical and sick these idiots are. They accuse the gays of a false “hidden agenda,” trying to “redefine” marriage, and trying to corrupt kids and the fundies’ response is to AMEND the Constitution to exclude gay marriages.

At the same time, the fundies seek to redefine science (!) in public school classrooms (!) so that they can promote their own agenda and SUBVERT the Constitution and this is accomplished by spending a lot of money propogating obvious lies and crapping on scientists.

Can you imagine more hypocritical behavior? Why are you afraid of these toxic jerks?

Stop kissing the asses of these conservative Christian creationists. They will whine and cry about ANYTHING that is less than rubber stamp of approval of their religion and their allegedly inherent right not to be criticized. They need their spoiled butts whipped and they need their butts whipped publicly and repeatedly until the message is sent and received.

So wipe your tears, Mike, stand up and grab the whip. Or do I need to show you how it’s done?

Just imagine, if all thinking science teachers stand up to the e-word fear and really teach evolution, there might be a time when we can just laugh at the creationists. This is from a 30 year veteran science teacher who has never avoided the teaching of scientific evolution. Looking forward to Darwin Day!

I think Mike S. touches on some good points. I, too, have noticed the tendency (on the Net) of some to link science issues with non-science (read: political) issues, as if there is some sort of dogma or doctrine that rationalists are supposed to adhere too. The easiest (laziest?) thing in the world is to pigeonhole people. But doing so risks losing support among those who would otherwise be in “our corner.”

I, too, have noticed the tendency (on the Net) of some to link science issues with non-science (read: political) issues

You’ve noticed that on the Net??? Gee, I’ve noticed that tendency with school boards, especially when conservative christian creationists get involved.

Disclaimer: nothing in this post is intended as an expression of support for any political position taken with respect to gay people.

Really, how does one compete with, “Yeah, but I still don’t come from no monkey!”?

Say “No you didn’t.…you came from an ape”

:)

“the only thing the general public knows is that ID is a brave new challenge to a theory in deep trouble”

What’s incredible is that it is one of our *best* theories, not just powerful in explaining facts but simply stated and easy to grasp.

Ask *how* God created the “kinds” and you receive blank looks. Ask how natural selection did it…

“We’ll never make any headway by lumping them all together as ignorant rednecks and mocking them.”

No but so long as they don’t hear that easy-to-grasp theory in schools, ignorant is what they’ll remain. The ignorance feeds the “controversy”. That’s the plan, of course.

Wonder, I’m having a hard time parsing this:

Can you show me one example where someone on this blog equated everyone who is opposed to same-sex marriage with ignorant fundamentalists?

Followed a few lines later by:

I’ll repeat what’s been said before: the gay issue just shows how hypocritical and sick these idiots are.

OK, OK, you said they were hypocritical and sick, but not ignorant fundamentalists. I’m sure nobody would take offense at being called hypocritical and sick.

Why are you afraid of these toxic jerks?

I’m not afraid of them, I’m interested in the most effective way of dealing with their propaganda, and of educating the public. And conflating unrelated issues doesn’t help the situation. Actually, it appears that you are much more afraid of them than I am (perhaps that explains your overheated rhetoric and barely constrained rage). Presumably you’d argue that I should be more afraid of them than I am, since, according to you, they are “…just as threatening to the future of this country as any other religious fundamentalists…” Which, taken literally, means that I should be as afraid of Phil Johnson as I am of bin Laden and his followers (are any Christian fundamentalists trying to detonate a nuclear weapon in a US city? Just asking). And which is yet another example of how your rhetoric is more likely to push people to either defend Johnson or dismiss your views as extremist.

Say “No you didn’t . …you came from an ape”

:)

Or, “The monkey is pleased to hear that.”

Or, “At least, you didn’t come as far from the monkey as you had hoped.”

Or, “I understand the lesser primates all use double negatives to mean a positive – something about not being well wired for higher primate grammar.”

But ultimately, of course, that claim is the Wormwood error, the error that the little devil Wormwood made, in C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. Wormwood, you recall, assumed incorrectly that a human, conceived in a bed in an act of lust, would be incapable of noble action. The creationist/IDist assumes, incorrectly, that heritage from the other animals means we are not noble.

And for that error, Lewis has Wormwood spending eternity in the belly of the devil.

There’s a cautionary tale there for hubris of all stripes, especially Christian.

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