Not a German Piltdown

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It has recently been reported (Telegraph, Guardian) that German scientist Reiner Protsch had committed a number of scientific frauds. Protsch apparently could not even operate his own carbon-dating equipment, and routinely made up dates for bones that had been sent to him for dating, often giving recent specimens dates that were much too old. Many webpages have repeated the following quote about the significance of these frauds:

Chris Stringer, a Stone Age specialist and head of human origins at London's Natural History Museum, said: "What was considered a major piece of evidence showing that the Neanderthals once lived in northern Europe has fallen by the wayside. We are having to rewrite prehistory."

Stringer, however, says that he never said that:

This is a made-up quote as I never placed great weight on the significance of the Hahnofersand find in the first place. It was never called a Neanderthal as far as I know, but certain people saw "mixed" features in its morphology. Its removal is certainly not rewriting anything I have ever said about the Neanderthals, let alone rewriting prehistory! (Chris Stringer, personal communication)

That sounds right to me. I have never even heard of any of the fossils that Protsch misdated - they are all obscure and of no importance to the big picture of human evolution. Judging from news reports, it seems as though all of the fossils involved are modern humans, even though many websites refer to Neandertals in their article titles. The earliest article I can find using this quote comes from the Telegraph. Stringer had this to say about that article:

I never saw this published piece so was unaware of the source of the false quote. I remember talking to the reporter concerned, and from what I remember the words in question were what he said to me, with him asking whether I agreed with the statement. I told him that the "fossil" was never regarded as a Neanderthal and was briefly important in the 1980s to people like Gunter Brauer who were arguing for gene flow between Neanderthals and modern humans. However, as anyone who is familiar with the palaeoanthropological literature over the last 20 years would know, the find has been of negligible significance to recent debate. It has to be said that this is also a reflection of Dr Protsch's low reputation in the field, as anyone familiar with the recent literature would also know. (Chris Stringer, personal communication)

So, it's all a storm in a teacup. The media exaggerated the significance of these frauds, with phrases like "History of modern man unravels" and "key discoveries" occurring in headlines. The frauds are doubtless a blow for the researchers unlucky enough to have sent samples to Protsch for dating, but do nothing to weaken the evidence for human evolution (despite the occasional creationist claiming otherwise).

See also Pharyngula's commentary: Anthropological fraud in Germany

113 Comments

Jim Foley Wrote:

The media exaggerated the significance of these frauds, with phrases like “History of modern man unravels” and “key discoveries” occurring in headlines.

Time to repeat: With “friends” like these, who needs creationists? Lately I am getting more irritated with the sensationalist media than I am with anti-evolutionists. When writing about science, they get so much wrong, and it always happens to play into common public misconceptions. My “favorite” headline of 1-2 years ago went something like “Study: Neandertals Not Genetically Related to Humans.” Of course the study concluded nothing of the sort.

Thanks Jim, I would have to include myself among the lay public who knew nothing about this aside from the headlines. Should have known…

I was somewhat suspicious of the Stringer quote since he is a major proponet of the “Out of Africa” theory - it didn’t make sense that he would have to revise a view he didn’t agree with in the first place (i.e. gene flow between anatomically modern humans and neanderthals). Considering how minor the finds actually were (I could only find two brief mentions of one of them)the amount of press this has received is suprising. Unfortunately, most people in the mainstream media seem to know very little about anthropology.

Off topic.. I was e-mailed a copy of : Science’s new heresy trial A Smithsonian-backed editor is defrocked by the priesthood of science for publishing an article on Intelligent Design by Gene Edward Veith, World, Feb. 19, 2005

The article was S. Meyer’s famous ID paper that got in the back door and made so much noise a while back. I’ve found plenty of great critiques of the Meyer paper, but I haven’t found any responses to Veith’s little job. Anybody know where I might find one? Site searches here, at Pharyngula, and at Mooney’s blog have all drawn a blank on Veith’s name. People I work with are interested in hearing what professional scientists have to say about both the Meyer paper and Veith’s diatribe about it. It is six pages, so I won’t reproduce it, but I found a copy of it at the DI: here

Jason Rosenhouse had some comments on Veith’s article here:

http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2[…]s-world.html

Thanks… my co-workers have gotten an earful this a.m. I e-mailed them the Meyer Roundup that Wesley Elsberry posted, and the full text of the Gishlick, Matzke, Elsberry critique. Now they have the full text of Jason’s response to Veith. They should have plenty to keep them occupied for a while. If anyone runs across or knows of any other responses to Veith, I don’t mind piling it on them…thanks for your help.

The frauds are doubtless a blow for the researchers unlucky enough to have sent samples to Protsch for dating, but do nothing to weaken the evidence for human evolution

I have to agree. One more little fraud is just one more drop in the bucket of fraud that was already there.

Maybe evolutionists can get the ACLU to sue somebody over it. Ya think? After all, the federal courts are mutation/selection’s main line of defense. Without the court ordered defense of the indoctrination of children in Darwinian dogmatism to the exclusion of all else, mutation/selection as an all-powerful mechanism capable of transforming clay into clams would have been laughed out of existence a long time ago.

Church of Darwin clerics are in a desperate hysteria to censor criticism of the Darwinian Scriptures. The desperation is understandable. I’d be desperate too if my most cherished faith were hanging by the thread of judicial fiat in an increasingly conservative nation.

You don’t even try not to look ridiculous anymore, do you Dave?

Isn’t it interesting how when scientists are found to have committed fraud, they’re shuned by the scientific community, but when creationists/IDers are found to have committed fraud, they’re lauded (or at the very least, their fraud is ignored)?

Quote Mine Project Creationist Whoppers Honesty in “Darwin on Trial”

If anybody is in a desperate hysteria, it obviously is Dave Scott and his creo buddies - his shrill comment (18488) is a good example. Regarding fraud, perhaps he should look at what they are teaching in his church, whatever it is. LOL.

DaveScot wrote;

:I’d be desperate too if my most cherished faith were hanging by the thread of judicial fiat in an increasingly conservative nation.

As Pilate asked, “what is truth?” Truth cannot be legislated against and no matter what the courts may decide it won’t change the truth of the matter.

As for the conservative nation - you can bet your bottom dollar that the administration will walk away from their fundie backers as fast as you can say “Jeff Gannon.” Do you really imagine the big pharmos will dump evolution research? As Marburger stated, evolution is the basis of much of the work that NIH funds. In a nutshell, it’s a cash cow for the pharamceutical companies and the politicians who look out for their interests.

Dave, it’s you who should be desperate - gays in the Whitehouse press core, evolutionists advising the President. What next? You see, Jesus had no part of the world and when the fundies try to get in with the powers the be they get screwed. Remember - God’s Kingdom is no part of the world. That’s why his followers shouldn’t be either.

Fundies are just there to be stroked for their vote at election time. Stroke and Vote Xians!

It’s not surprising that it is you who sounds so desperate.

Thanks, Jim, for making the effort to clear up some of the media, and creationist confussion regarding Reiner Protsch.

It is too bad it took so long for something to be done about Protsch, but there are intellectual failures with tenure, just look at M. Behe.

It would be nice to keep the trolls from dominating this thread. Please don’t feed the trolls.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend within mainstream media to “sensationalize” stories having to do with science. Even Newsweek’s recent ID story seemed to be written in a way that might leave casual readers thinking there really IS some sort of scientific “controversy” over the place of ID in science (or school curricula).

As has been pointed out before, Chris Mooney has a great article on why the media has such difficulty reporting on science: Blinded By Science. The bottom line: it’s easier, and often makes for a better story, when journalists assume all parties involved have the same standards of evidence, ethics, logic, assessment, etc even when they most certainly do not.

Comment #18511

Posted by Buridan on February 28, 2005 01:23 PM

It would be nice to keep the trolls from dominating this thread. Please don’t feed the trolls.

Due to troll feeding, I daresay there are more trolls commenting more comments on PT today, than at any point in the past.

It has been well said that few things will give you a worse view of the press than reading an article about a subject in which you are expert.

In fact, the place has become markedly less appealing lately due to the Ignorant Deluge.

PT has many purposes. It’s a place where the contributors write fantastic posts about biology, evolution, and the creationist cretins. Love that. It’s a place where science oriented people who are not delusional talk about evolution, which is a fascinating and awesome collection of phenomena. Love that. It’s also a place where bright people argue endlessly with creationists, who are committed to fantasy, and will endlessly object to the truth, even when on some level they know better (such as making probability arguments you’d laugh at a freshman for making in a non-religious context). This is a depressing waste of time. On balance, i like PT quite a bit. Keep up the excellent posts, contributor-people.

Comment #18527

Posted by Dave on February 28, 2005 02:37 PM

It has been well said that few things will give you a worse view of the press than reading an article about a subject in which you are expert.

There’s some truth to this. I never read science things from the AP, or the other syndicators. However, I have found that the NYT has the best science coverage. I read that regularly. In general, newspapers are not places to go for valuable information, and neither are the news channels, and newsmagazines like Time and Newsweek. Because the criteria for what makes a good story are not the same as what makes valuable information. That’s why there are so many stories about flaming trainwrecks, etc. If you don’t believe me, start watching news while asking questions like, is this relevant to me, is this important, is it edifying, etc. It’s not very infomative stuff. For good information, I recommed magazines which specialise in a topic, or have really broad and smart coverage, like The Economist.

steve Wrote:

However, I have found that the NYT has the best science coverage.

They have Carl Zimmer writing for them, you know they’re doing something right.

Dave said:

One more little fraud is just one more drop in the bucket of fraud that was already there.

One “more?” Let’s see, there was the practical-joke-gone-awry at Piltdown, which never really carried a lot of weight in science, and then there’s this minor flap about one guy in Germany who, it appears, never dated anything of any great importance.

That’s two.

That means that for every fraud in evolution, there are only two or three thousand frauds in creationism. Science has a solid method to smoke out and correct the frauds. Creationism doesn’t.

If your bucket includes the creationism stuff, yeah, it’s just one drop in the bucket. if your bucket is for science fraud only, the bucket is dry.

The media (local and national) recently covered an NIH project that I’m a part off and in almost every case they either misquoted or misattributed some aspect of the project. In several cases they misidentified the PI and the University where the study is taking place. Even the NY Times made a mistake. It was quite remarkable how consistent they were in getting the facts wrong – no controversies, no juggling of differing points of view, all they had to do was simply report.

Ron Zeno Wrote:

why the media has such difficulty reporting on science

As I usually do when I see this subject mentioned, I’ll point out that the media’s difficulties with reporting science aren’t helped by the way that scientists themselves, along with university PR departments, often publicize their work. Too often (you see this regularly) they do things like suggest their work overturns much of the field, will cause a massive reevaluation of the field, etc. This isn’t necessarily the only way they cause problems, but it’s probably the most common.

Another example of people causing their own later problems was the coining and promoting of the term “Eve” by Allan Wilson – a catchy term he knew would get publicity. He was right, of course, but later – once it backfired on him and he found his work being used as “evidence” by creationists – he claimed to be completely perplexed and considerably annoyed at how on earth the term had come to be used in describing his research.

One has to remember that the print nor broadcast (including cable) media rarely employ science reporters. Those who cover science stories are almost always just beat reporters whose only background is journalism or a related field. There may be other general news organizations who do, but to my knowledge only the NY Times puts reporters on the science beat who report only science; I was spoiled in that I grew up with Walter Sullivan at the Times. They’re expected to inform themselves of the discipline and keep on top of it. That’s why one can usually count on coverage by the Times being reasonably accurate, free of loaded words and language, and devoid of sky high promises of magic elixirs. Of course, there are always the free lancers like Christ Mooney and Karl Zimmer plus the news staff at Science and similar journals who do a fabulous job, but sadly we won’t ever see them in the popular press, whose stock in trade is gossip (political and Hollywood), fires, violence and weird people. Science for the most part is beyond the comprehension of the average reporter and completely over the head of John and Jane Public.

Fred

You must be smoking crack. It makes absolutely no practical difference in the world whether mutation/selection, the hand of God, or something else was the primary cause for evolution.

I swear, besides making mutation/selection all powerful now the peanut gallery makes the mere faith in it the very thread which holds civilization together.

You really have no idea how ridiculous that is, do you?

Gourant

I’m an agnostic which is the only position an enlightened, objective, honest genius can possibly take.

So sorry. No church for me. Not a Christinian one and not a Darwinian one. You should try it. Free your mind. Take the red pill.

FredMcX

It’s not surprising that it is you who sounds so desperate.

ROFLMAO! Hardly. This is entertainment for me. I’m laughing my a$$ off at both the atheists and the bible thumpers. Don’t confuse a good rant that I enjoy writing for affect with any vested interest in it. The outcome of this brouhaha will make no difference whatsoever in the real world. It’s two camps of anal retentive egocentric dipwads both convinced they are the holders of the absolute truth battling over a friggin’ sticker that students couldn’t possibly care less about.

The only thing I really care about is the political aspect. It ticks me off when the establishment clause of the constitution is tortured the way that homozygous imbecile Judge Clarence Cooper did and it ticks me off when activist judges like that inbred Clinton-appointed lifetime moron Judge Clarence Cooper defy the legitimate legislative actions of duly elected representatives of the people. I didn’t serve four years of my young adulthood in the United States Marine Corps defending the constitution to see liberal retards like Judge Clarence Cooper make a mockery of it while whiney little academic pissants who speak from the safety provided by men like me cheer him on.

DaveScot Wrote:

You must be smoking crack. It makes absolutely no practical difference in the world whether mutation/selection, the hand of God, or something else was the primary cause for evolution.

Of course it makes a difference. One approach is honest and productive, leading to further investigation and future developments. The other pays Kent Hovind’s speaking fees, and liberates the Behes and Dembskis of the world from the strenuous demands of real science.

Waving your hands in the air and demanding that scienctists stop thinking critically because you don’t like their answers imposes a real cost on the rest of us. I think that is only ridiculous to an outside observer; for those of us who would like the next generation to be better educated than the Hovinds of the world and more honest than the Dembskis, it is genuinely disturbing.

Hmm evolution fraud is rare?

So those HS teachers saying its a fact that has been proven aren’t working for you?

Those PHDs saying it CANNOT be disproven aren’t working for you? Note the difference between CANNOT and HAS NOT.

Evolution has a fraud for every fraud in creationism, you just lie about it.

Karl Sagan and life on venus strike a bell?

Either evolution is full and I mean FULL of people who fundementally don’t understand the difference between science and philosophy or they are fradulent in how they represent evolution.

So pretty much every evolutionists that gets excited about the creationist/evolutionist argument is fradulent. All real scientists know when the evidence is truely there it will be uncontestable or wrong and there is no need to get excited.

thegaryson so easily refuted. You see creationist constantly say “HA! proof of a 6000 year old earth!” and when they are shown to be false they still say “HA! proof of 6000 year old earth and no one has refuted this evidence it must be so!” despite the fact they where once agian proven wrong.

“Polonium Haloes” Refuted

Gentry’s scientific article was retracted by the journal that published it, wasn’t it, thegaryson?

What counts as “disproof” to you, if not disproof?

“In fact, the place has become markedly less appealing lately due to the Ignorant Deluge.

PT has many purposes. It’s a place where the contributors write fantastic posts about biology, evolution, and the creationist cretins. Love that. It’s a place where science oriented people who are not delusional talk about evolution, which is a fascinating and awesome collection of phenomena. Love that. It’s also a place where bright people argue endlessly with creationists, who are committed to fantasy, and will endlessly object to the truth.”

You are forgetting that evolutionists say that they are not looking for the “truth.” No, they are only looking for naturalistic explanations. Although they fail to look for the naturalistic explanation for their own text, written here. I have one though, their text is like an emergent property of their own bodies. It’s rather like a piece of excrement in that respect.

That’s why their arguments look a little like this, “We’re not looking for the truth. We only look for naturalistic explanations. I mean, just look at how useful it is! So that’s how we know that naturalistic explanation is true, because it is useful.”

This overlooks the fact that technology relies on creativity, ingenuity, intelligence and design. But a lot will be overlooked by those who maintain myopic beliefs that emerge from them rather like a piece of excrement does, naturally enough. Maybe Mother Nature selects what emerges from these passive fellows, as it seems that evolutionists have quite an urge to merge.

“So far as anyone has determined, the rules of chemistry work in all environments, “harsh” or not.”

So far as anyone has determined, there is a sharp break between the inaminate and the animate, organic and inorganic. It is an element of the typology of Nature that those with the urge to merge seem to try to blindly deny. Note that Dean Kenyon began to study the issue and then came to a conclusion that did not match the proto-Nazi urge to merge, and then he was censored. This is the typical pattern for Darwinists. Yes, typical, a type, a type that probably cannot be blurred, merged or done away with. Yikes! Run for your lives, there are some fellows that will say that admitting to any sort of typology must be like the Taliban, fundamentalists or somethin’.

Kenyon, http://right2leftists.blogspot.com/[…]d-censorship (add .html)

It is also important to note that most of these evolutionist and Leftist blogs also rely on censorship, including the PTs. All of the most vociferous attacks seem to be censored and the like, perhaps they are too defined, to creative or contain too much intelligent design for some fellows who have an urge to merge.

Evolutionists should not be complaining about the Old Press, not at all. If there was ever a staunch ally it has been the Old Press and its socialist tendencies, from eugenics to modern forms of Darwinism.

Lest they forget other frauds and their play in the Old Press, “LONDON. Dec.19. Extraordinary interest has been aroused among anthropologists by Dr. A. S. Woodward’s paper on the Piltdown skull read at a meeting of the Geological Society yesterday. No other event in the annals of the society has created such a profound sensation among the members.

In some quarters it is even believed that the skull, from certain apelike characteristics may prove the existence of the “missing link” or the most important of several missing links in the chain of the evolution man.” (The New York Times; Dec 20, 1912, pg. 6)

Note the mythological narratives of naturalism that can be written based these HUMAN fossils. So it is little wonder that the same can be written for things are now extinct, unverifiable claims, untestable, so another mythological narrative of naturalism in anthropology is safe.

But note, “.…one of the highest authorities on the human brain.…finds that while it bears a similarity to the brain-cases of Gibraltar and La Quina, both paleolithic and supposedly feminine, the Piltdown brain-case is smaller and more primitive in form than these. The most striking feature is the “pronounced gorilla-like drooping of the temporal region, due to the extreme narrowing of its posterior part, which causes a deep excavation of its under surface.” This feeble development of that portion of the brain which is known to control the power of articulate speech is most significant. To Professor Smith the association of a simian jaw with a cranium more distinctly human is not surprising. The evolution of the human brain from the simian type involves a tripling of the superficial area of the cerebral cortex; and “this expansion was not like the mere growth of a muscle with exercise, but the gradual building-up of the most complex mechanism in existence. The growth of the brain preceded the refinement of the features and the somatic characters in general.” (Ancestor Hunting: The Significance of the Piltdown Skull By George Grant MacCurdy American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 15, No. 2. (Apr. - Jun., 1913), pp. 248-256) http://mynym.blogspot.com/2005/01/n[…]c-20-1912-pg (add .html for link)

Note on the front page of PTs, on the brain of Homo floresiensis, one cannot help but wonder if some people may be writing mythological narratives of naturalism for bone fragments and the like again. Unfortunately, there is no way to really test so many of the claims made and narratives written. Perhaps what is needed is people placing false fossils around, like Piltdown, to have some actual tests on the interpretive abilities of the writers of the narratives of naturalism. It would also be interesting to see what rippled out from this instance of fraud, as far as what narratives were written.

Darwinists rely on censorship, they censor the opposition that actually knows something about their ignorant and stupid ideas and then proclaim that their censorship makes their case. They do the same on their blogs. And one suspects they would continue this pattern in so far as they could get away with it. The internet is making things difficult.

“When Oak Ridge National Laboratories terminated Gentry’s connection with them as a visiting professor (shortly after it became nationally known he is a creationist) the number of his articles slowed down, but he continues to publish.” http://www.trueorigin.org/creatpub.asp

I don’t know about Gentry’s conclusions and so on. I do know that evolutionists have a consistent pattern of relying on censorship, both now and historically. These great defenders of the purity of science, supposedly that is their excuse. Yet there are things published in peer reviewed journals of various types that are clearly fallacious and wrong. If the issue was really one of scientific purity then how does this situation come to be? It is the same with the textbooks that evolutionists want to keep pure from the “unholy” sticky stickers. There are various known frauds and distortions in those textbooks that are supposedly to be kept pure by evolutionist censors.

The dread sticker.…it seems to illustrate how far evolutionists have come towards a proto-Nazi state.

FredMcX wrote:

Fundies are just there to be stroked for their vote at election time. Stroke and Vote Xians!

It’s true. Republicans treat Christians like useful idiots. The same way Democrats treat minorities.

If I were a minority I would be a Democrat. I wouldn’t have enough self-loathing to be a Republican. Ann Coulter says women are stupid, Alan Keyes says affirmative action is bad, Michele Malkin says interning people like her was fine and dandy. Fine with me if Republicans treat conservative christians like useful idiots. Better than doing what they want. Like Bush privately said, “They want me to kick the gays, and I won’t do it.”

I really cannot take anything that talkorigins says. Gentry was censored not because he was a quack, but because what he said puts a lucy-rench into the theory of evolution and the age of the Earth. Talkorigins is a website, but is it accredited by the scientific community? Has their refutation of Polonium halos been approved y a peer review? Or is it just some xplanation they came up with that hasn’t beeen proven? I don’t know, but I don’t trust talk.origins. I have a hard time trusting nayone who beleives that they evolved from a puddle of chemcials that was struck by lightening 4 billion years ago.

You evolutionists can write a billion pages of bio-babble but it will never make evoltuion true. YOu can explain your theory in six-syllable words but it still doesn’t make a lie become truth.

It’s all one big joke.

Hey Everybody! I came from an atom the size of a sperm 15 billion years ago!

How can any believe such bullsht!

I feel sorry for you!

I get it now, he doesn’t like big words.

Careful thegaryson, your ignorance is showing.

FredMcX Wrote:

What is a stable environment?

As a minimum, one that doesn’t turn into molten rock and vaporized oceans at frequent intervals from large asteroid strikes.

I read some research the other day that correlated the average interval between catastrophic asterioid impacts and various milestones in evolution. I’m not sure where it was or I’d give you a link. As you may know the frequency of large strikes has decreased with time. You may also know something of the havoc that larger ones can create. It was interesting and made sense, especially the very long interval between the appearance of single celled and multi-cellular life.

Ed Darrell Wrote:

“So far as anyone has determined, the rules of chemistry work in all environments, “harsh” or not.

Correct. And some of those rules are that protein chemistry cannot tolerate a wide range of pH and temperature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein

Proteins can be picky about the environment in which they are found. They may only exist in their active, or native state, in a small range of pH values and under solution conditions with a minimum quantity of electrolytes, as many proteins will not remain in solution in distilled water.

RNA chemistry is even more picky as cytosine is easily hydrolized.

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/96/8/4396

To favor cytosine formation, reactant concentrations are required that are implausible in a natural setting. Furthermore, cytosine is consumed by deamination (the half-life for deamination at 25°C is 340 yr) and other reactions. No reactions have been described thus far that would produce cytosine, even in a specialized local setting, at a rate sufficient to compensate for its decomposition. On the basis of this evidence, it appears quite unlikely that cytosine played a role in the origin of life.

thegaryson

A million different bits of data from virtually every area of scientific inquiry puts the earth’s age far beyond 6,000 years. Even tree rings go back farther than that. Ice cores in the antarctic go back over half a million years. Sedimentation, radioisotope decay, glaciation, plate tectonics, star evolution, you name it and the data all lines up in favor of a very old earth.

Some really interesting stuff in astronomy I just read about. At the galactic scale there are jets of matter spewing out, falling back, small galaxies and gas clouds colliding with the Milky Way, and the trails of these things can be seen and the speed at which they’re proceeding can be measured. The trails are far longer than 6,000 years of travel to say the least. On the scale of hundreds of millions of years as I recall.

The polonium halos mystery is interesting but the vast preponderance of evidence makes it almost a certainty that the halo interpretation is somehow incorrect.

thegaryson

The big bang didn’t start from a central point. That’s a common misconception. This month’s Scientific American outlined 8 different common misconceptions about the big bang. Here’s one of them - the “explosion”

http://tinyurl.com/4uzz5

The rest of the article is here

http://sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID[…]&catID=2

Ed Darrell

Let’s stick to what 1st amendment actually says, not the tortured interpretation made by late 20th century courts.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The 14th amendment extends this to state legislatures.

First leap: how do you turn “congress” into a “school board”?

Second leap: what law (provide federal or state statute number please) requires the sticker in the biology text?

Third leap: which religious establishment is respected by a sticker that doesn’t even mention religion?

Fourth leap: where does it say that no part of gov’t may mention any religion in any way?

Fifth leap: how do you turn “make no law” into “make no mention”

The doctrine of an impenetrable wall of separation between church and states is an absurd, tortured interpretation of the establishment clause. As far as I’m concerned Cooper’s decision, since it carries the force of law (which is where the phrase “legislating from the bench” comes from), violates both the establishment and freedom clauses. It violates the establishment clause because it respects the religion of secular humanism and it violates the freedom clause because the people have been denied their right to determine what their public schools may or may not have in the curriculum.

Further undermining the notion of the impenetrable wall of separation extending from law to mere speech is

1) the preamble of every state constitution contains a reference to a supernatural deity of some sort

2) for 200 years all oaths of public office were sworn before God

3) congress opens with a blessing

4) federal court opens with a blessing

5) chaplain is military occupation funded by taxpayers to cater to religious beliefs of service members

So there.

DaveScot Wrote:

The doctrine of an impenetrable wall of separation between church and states is an absurd, tortured interpretation of the establishment clause.

So, the fact that the phrase comes from Thomas Jefferson, one of the framers of the Constitution and the establishment clause means nothing?

First leap: how do you turn “congress” into a “school board”?

Second leap: what law (provide federal or state statute number please) requires the sticker in the biology text?

Third leap: which religious establishment is respected by a sticker that doesn’t even mention religion?

Fourth leap: where does it say that no part of gov’t may mention any religion in any way?

Fifth leap: how do you turn “make no law” into “make no mention”

1. The school board is not congress, but it does act as a representative of the government. If Congress can not establish religion in the public sphere, why would a school board have that ability? Really though, Congress is the entity that makes law for the federal gov. It has since been determined in case law that one may not be allowed to make an end run around this by having local government and school boards legislate in Congress’ stead.

2. Not sure where you are going with this one.

3. The intent of the sticker proponents was rightly judged to be that the sticker’s intent was to emphasize the Xtian religion. It was Xtian fundamentalists that brought forth the sticker with the intent of strengthening their religious views in school, hence the stickers have religious intent.

4. In order to not establish religion or cause undue entaglement, government should be completely religion neutral and not mention religion at all. That, of course, is my opinion. In the real world, this question is being asked and redefined all the time. The most recent case is the case that just went before the Supreme Court involving the ten commandments monuments in KY and TX.

5. Again, this is something that is being asked and investigated as we speak. In my opinion, the EC and the FE clauses work in conjunction here. It’s really all about allowing the individual to make his/her own choices, and that must necessarily include the right to choose not to be religious or else it is not real freedom. It’s not enough for the government to say you can be any religion you want, so long as you believe in some god. So, for the government to have non-demoninational displays, sermons, etc. does not respect the rights of all citizens.

Further undermining the notion of the impenetrable wall of separation extending from law to mere speech is

1) the preamble of every state constitution contains a reference to a supernatural deity of some sort

2) for 200 years all oaths of public office were sworn before God

3) congress opens with a blessing

4) federal court opens with a blessing

5) chaplain is military occupation funded by taxpayers to cater to religious beliefs of service members

1. Yes, that may be true, but at the time of the framing of these documents, it was commonplace. I would hope that society has progressed in a direction of tolerance since then. Additionally, the US Constitution has only one mention to “our Lord” which is in the date that it was ratified, which was commonplace at the time, and still is (anno domini).

2. This, in my opinion, is wrong.

3. Definitely wrong.

4. Also definitely wrong.

5. The fact that the military allows for individual soldiers to have religious comforts simply means that they are allowing people to not have to give up their religions simply because they join the military. Soldiers are not (and should not) be required to pray with the chaplain or seek religious guidance.

What’s really tortured is the fact that the Constitution was written over 200 years ago and was meant to be a living document, else they would not have allowed for amendments. Besides, how do we know that your interpretation is the correct one? Why couldn’t the hundreds of years of case law precedent and interpretation be more correct than your opinion?

GCT, when he mentions court opening ‘with a blessing,’ I think he’s referring to the Supreme Court. Advocates of mixing church and state like to point out that the Court traditionally opens with a formulaic recitation that ends, “God save this honorable court,” or something to that effect. I’m not sure who says it, but I’m reasonably sure it’s a court functionary.

As far as I know, it’s the only federal court that opens with any mention of God.

Colin Wrote:

GCT, when he mentions court opening ‘with a blessing,’ I think he’s referring to the Supreme Court. Advocates of mixing church and state like to point out that the Court traditionally opens with a formulaic recitation that ends, “God save this honorable court,” or something to that effect. I’m not sure who says it, but I’m reasonably sure it’s a court functionary.

As far as I know, it’s the only federal court that opens with any mention of God.

He did say “federal court” but that doesn’t make it right, in my opinion. I guess when I said “definitely wrong” I should have specified that I was still speaking of my own opinion as in I feel it violates the First Amendment.

Now, it is not true factually, as far as I know, that “for 200 years all oaths of public office were sworn before God.” Can someone (DaveScot) verify this? We hear things all the time about how we’ve done certain things for years and years and years, and it’s many times not true. Take the pledge of allegiance for one. The original did not have the “under god” phrase, which was only added in the 1950s, but supporters say that it’s always been there or that it’s never been any other way, etc. I have trouble believing that Thomas Jefferson was sworn in before god, considering that he didn’t believe in the Xtian god if he believed in one at all.

He did say “federal court” but that doesn’t make it right, in my opinion. I guess when I said “definitely wrong” I should have specified that I was still speaking of my own opinion as in I feel it violates the First Amendment.

I agree completely, on both counts. It’s worth mentioning that in the recent 10 Commandments argument, at least one Justice indicated that the opening recitation is not a prayer. Scalia disagreed, obviously. I’m increasingly surprised by both the irresponsibility and the frankness of his position on church and state.

As for the oaths question, it may be that DaveScot is pegging his timeline on the cases that prohibited states from mandating religious oaths from public officers. If that is what he is referring to, it would be more accurate to say that for X number of years, states were allowed to extract religious oaths from public officials. How many did so, and how much importance was placed on the oaths, would be a question for a better historian than me.

Colin, perhaps this should go to the Bathroom Wall? I’m posting there on this topic from now on, since I think we have gone afoul of the original topic.

I agree – I’ve taken my response to DaveScot’s First Amendment questions to the Bathroom Wall.

Comment # 19184

DaveScot Wrote:

Comment #19184 Proteins can be picky about the environment in which they are found. They may only exist in their active, or native state, in a small range of pH values and under solution conditions with a minimum quantity of electrolytes, as many proteins will not remain in solution in distilled water.

One thing to note is that statements like this are a bit misleading. Note the words “They may”. Life is not restricted to small ranges of pH values. We see life exsisting in wide ranges of environments from highly acidic (pH 0) to highly alkalin (pH 12.8), which has been related to “liquid draino”. From extremely cold, -15C to extremely hot 125C. Very high levels of radiation 5 MRad, 5000 times the the radiation that would kill humans. From low pressures 0 psi to 15,000psi, we live in ~15psi. NASA have identified a bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, that survived 6 years in space.

I realise the DaveScot is trying to talk about the abiogenesis event(s) but I can’t see how we know nearly enough to say how it was back then. The best we can do is come up with possible situations that life could arrise and test them.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jim Foley published on February 28, 2005 5:18 AM.

Tangled Bank #22½: The Quest for the Lost Articles was the previous entry in this blog.

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