The Metastory: A Different View

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A report from Joshua Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas:

I see things a little differently from Pat Hayes’s metastory.

Red State Rabble explains The Kansas Science Hearings Metastory, concluding that:

The barnstorming brotherhood of bible college biologists came, they saw, they did not conquer.

That remains to be seen. I’ve seen letters to the editor today complaining about the boycott and others criticizing Kathy Martin in harsh terms. I think the metastory (the story about the story) is still congealing.

I’m optimistic. But we will almost certainly have bad standards, and if the public isn’t outraged enough, anything Governor Sebelius does to delay their implementation could make her re-election campaign more complicated.

The other problem is that the coverage was almost uniformly over the ID vs. evolution perspective. That’s only half the story, at best.

The consistent theme of Saturday’s hearings were not so much a criticism of evolution as an attack on science. Any sort of naturalism was decried as an attack on theistic belief. Teaching science as scientists practice it was attacked as disenfranchisement of religious people. Again and again, practical naturalism (or methodological naturalism) was attacked.

That would open up the door not just to ID, but to creationism, flood geology, and Raelianism. Definitions of science may be in flux, but there’s a pretty sound consensus that flood geology is apologetics, not science. Astrology isn’t science, but it seems to fall within a supernaturalistic form of science. We can all agree that that doesn’t make sense.

And that explains the attacks on “historical sciences.” If evolution, astronomy and geology can be cut off from the other sciences, it makes this radical, fringe agenda seem less insane.

That’s the battle. It isn’t just evolution, it’s “materialism” or “naturalism.” It’s the culture war. I don’t know whether we’re winning that battle.

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Teaching science as scientists practice it was attacked as disenfranchisement of religious people.

… which is absolutely absurd, no matter how many people are drinking this ridiculous kool-aid. Only the most faithless and fundamental evangelicals subscribe to this sort of pseudo-intellectual garbage. It is certainly de rigeur over at far right evangelical Christian sites such as the Evangelical Outpost, for example, where any curious atheist will inevitably discover that not only her life but her values and opinions on any non-scientific subject are “meaningless.”

The classic expression of this extremist “Christian” sentiment is the hilarious rejoinder: “You should be glad I’m not an atheist or I’d rip your head off.”

And yes, this struggling and disturbed cult is over-represented in Kansas and, yes, the hissing sound their balloon makes as all the air escapes is loud and annoying.

If we all put our boots on the balloon’s skin simultaneously the process can surely be sped up.

But it goes a bit deeper than that. Creationists are specifically afraid that if people lose their belief in a particular type of God - God the Supreme Authority Figure - then they’ll lose any reason to behave morally.

And they are smart to do so! I’m an atheist, and I routinely go around torturing, raping, and killing people. I never return library books. I like to set pet shelters on fire. Every single day I drive around shooting up cars with an Uzi, long into the wee hours of the morning. This morning on the NCSU bus I stabbed everyone to death, and then drove the bus to a playground and ran over some kids. All because I didn’t believe in god. What a shame. Good thing there aren’t many atheists, we’re really hell on wheels, man.

steve:

Of course, this is a matter of doctrine alone. Doctrine says that Fear Of The Lord is the source of all moral behavior. When George Barna discovers that atheists are underrepresented among prisoners, divorcees, even among those getting abortions, how do creationists respond? Hint: these findings are evidence. Not doctrine.

steve

I’m an atheist, and I routinely go around torturing, raping, and killing people. I never return library books. I like to set pet shelters on fire. Every single day I drive around shooting up cars with an Uzi, long into the wee hours of the morning. This morning on the NCSU bus I stabbed everyone to death, and then drove the bus to a playground and ran over some kids.

I hope you didn’t forget to smoke crack somewhere along the way!

The typical fundamentalist response goes like this:

“Sure, steve, you didn’t do all those terrible things. But as an atheist, you lack a logically consistent worldview to explain why you didn’t do those things. Unless of course your position that “might makes right” so if tomorrow the vast majority of people in this country decide that setting pet shelters on fire is okay, then voila! it’s okay??”

Now, steve, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a shower.

I read an interesting article about neocons supposedly believing that the underpinnings of society are based on a religious framework:

http://reason.com/9707/fe.bailey.shtml

however, I see very stable societies in the UK and Europe that have pretty much rejected the need for religion underpinning morality, and did not “self destruct”.

No, the more i think about it, political support for the religious right in this country simply equates to an easily controllable grass-roots political power base. I doubt someone like Frist really bothers to consider Kristol or Srauss’ philosophy on religion as the opiate of the masses when they make statements like: “the democrats are anti-faith”.

you can take GW and his wife as a perfect case in point. GW has stated his belief in evolution, and his wife’s comments the other day put her on the extremist shitlist. why? because GW himself no longer needs the support of the religious right; in fact, most of his current legislative agenda has a better chance of passing if he washes his hands of the evangelicals.

bottom line, extreme religious groups are used for political expediency, because they are the easiest to fool.

they are filled with folks like Salvador C., who often states his blind sycophantic devotion to Dembski.

what more could you ask for?

the republicans realized the value of the religious right as a political power base long ago, and simply honed it to perfection during the last half of the Clinton presidency.

The typical fundamentalist response goes like this:

“Sure, steve, you didn’t do all those terrible things. But as an atheist, you lack a logically consistent worldview to explain why you didn’t do those things. Unless of course your position that “might makes right” so if tomorrow the vast majority of people in this country decide that setting pet shelters on fire is okay, then voila! it’s okay??”

Once I got a response like “growing up, you learned norms and values from the christian society you were immersed in.” I said, “Well, it’s a good thing you guys were down the street, or I’d be an amoral, nihilistic animal,…according to…you guys.”

I used to read Ronald Bailey, until I discovered he’s a global warming denier. Now I just have no respect for him at all.

EmmaPeel Wrote:

But it goes a bit deeper than that. Creationists are specifically afraid that if people lose their belief in a particular type of God - God the Supreme Authority Figure - then they’ll lose any reason to behave morally.

I think that in many cases, the Fundamentalist [of any religion] is battling with his own internal demons. He can only maintain a moral code of behaviour because of his personal fear of God’s Wrath.

He suffers from the mistaken assumption that we all battle similar demons and need the threat of God’s Wrath to keep us in check. That is why, IMHO, that they are so vocal and genuinely fearful that society will completely dissolve without God’s Guidance.

They know that if they themselves were to personally lose faith.…they would no longer have a moral compass to guide them, and they fear that they would fall into the morasse of immorality.

Unfortunately.…they see us all as being as weak as they are, and they have no faith in humanity.

you can take GW and his wife as a perfect case in point. GW has stated his belief in evolution, and his wife’s comments the other day put her on the extremist shitlist.

What comment was that?

bottom line, extreme religious groups are used for political expediency, because they are the easiest to fool.

You never know with politicians. It is interesting that no national politician has adopted creationism, or even “teaching the controversy”, as a cause to spend any political capital on. (Except for Rick Santorum to some extent. He seems to be a true believer.)

“What comment was that?”

the comments Laura made during a roast on April 30, as i recall. Her comedic performance certainly had the right wing extremeists up in arms.

so much so, i saw some sites that showed video clips of GW flippin the bird, to indicate what a heathen he and his wife are now considered.

i can’t seem to locate a site that has a complete transcript, but you can get the gist of it here:

http://swiftreport.blogs.com/news/2[…]servati.html

as to whether any national politician has adopted creationism… just because they don’t openly use the word, doesn’t mean they don’t support the arguments. I give you the immortal words (April 12) of the leader of the Senate, Tom Delay:

“Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of ‘Where did I come from?’ ‘Why am I here?’ ‘Where am I going?’ ‘Does life have any meaningful purpose?’ “ DeLay said. “Only Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border. Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world – only Christianity.”

that statement sounds pretty damn clear to me.

BTW, Delay currently has put himself in the position of being basically in control of all funding for NASA.

When do we get to start throwing the Christians to the lions?

oop, correction, Delay is House Majority Whip, but is slated to move to the top house spot next year.

just as a further clarification, as if any was needed, on the same day he said the above to a group of Christians in Texas, “DeLay said that God is using him to promote “a biblical worldview” in American politics, and that he pursued Bill Clinton’s impeachment in part because the Democratic president held “the wrong worldview.”

However, let’s take a look at the Senate and Frist. Frist is the poster boy for what i was talking about wrt the republicans taking advantage of evangelicals:

“As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as “against people of faith” for blocking President Bush’s nominees.”

However, Frist is on record saying:

“Sound science must be a basis to governing our trade relations around the globe. “ and has expressed support for evolution.

so why placate the evangelicals on the one hand, and sound reasonable on the other?

“From a political point of view, if he’s forced to change the Senate rules to end the filibusters, that will only help him in the Republican primary for president,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former presidential candidate. “It’s a top issue among most Republican primary voters.”

there ya go.

If only the fundies would wake up and see how they are being used… no wait, if they could wake up, there wouldn’t be an issue to begin with.

I agree that “god inspired morality” is crucial to the way fundamentalists see their lives and their relationship to others, but still I think that is a secondary issue here.

I think the primary issue is that given their pre-existing beliefs, i.e. given that they know these things are definitely true, fundamentalists are merely seeking to reassure themselves that these beliefs are justified.

Their position on naturalism is simpler than the tangled philosophical discussion that emerges would suggest. They are guided by a simple image: a wizard appears and publicly turns a pumpkin into a carriage before disappearing, and witnesses resent the later explanation that this is impossible because it is impossible in principle (i.e. in terms of natural laws).

This position relies on two misapprehensions. The first is the utter conviction that there is abundant evidence of goddy intervention, which seems to be mostly based on christian assertions that this evidence exists being integral to fundamentalist culture (including uncritical assertions that authors like McDowell and Strobel are irrefutable).

The second misaprehension is one which doesn’t seem to be mentioned nearly enough in this debate. That misaprehension is that god is supernatural for the purposes of this argument. IF god can be inferred from the physical evidence we see then, like atoms, he is part of the natural world of things which exist. It’s artificial and unhelpful to distinguish between “stuff god made (= nature)” and “other (=supernatural)”. Whether god is something we can visit in a spaceship is not as important as whether he is within our system of evidence. The supernatural which scientists deny as explanation is not “things on a different level of physicality” (e.g. a programmer relative to his computer simulation) but rather “things outside our system of evidence”, and this is not the god which most fundamentalists are talking about. But they think scientists are denying their evidence-based god in the fight over methodological naturalism.

as to whether any national politician has adopted creationism … just because they don’t openly use the word, doesn’t mean they don’t support the arguments. I give you the immortal words (April 12) of the leader of the Senate, Tom Delay:

“Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of ‘Where did I come from?’ ‘Why am I here?’ ‘Where am I going?’ ‘Does life have any meaningful purpose?’ “ DeLay said. “Only Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border. Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world — only Christianity.”

that statement sounds pretty damn clear to me.

Scripture says, “Tom DeLay, you’re going to jail!”? Got chapter and verse on that?

I remember reading in Newsweek that Thune (the guy who defeated Daschle in South Dakota) was a New Earth Creationist and fairly vocal about it. I wondered why it wasn’t made a bigger issue during the campaing, but maybee I don’t know much about South Dakota…

Ken Shackleton Wrote:

I think that in many cases, the Fundamentalist [of any religion] is battling with his own internal demons. He can only maintain a moral code of behaviour because of his personal fear of God’s Wrath.

He suffers from the mistaken assumption that we all battle similar demons and need the threat of God’s Wrath to keep us in check. That is why, IMHO, that they are so vocal and genuinely fearful that society will completely dissolve without God’s Guidance.

They know that if they themselves were to personally lose faith . …they would no longer have a moral compass to guide them, and they fear that they would fall into the morasse of immorality.

Sometimes, in quieter moments, I seriously wonder how many dangerous sociopaths are holding themselves back only because they believe that God has them under constant surveillance.

“They are guided by a simple image: a wizard appears and publicly turns a pumpkin into a carriage before disappearing, and witnesses resent the later explanation that this is impossible because it is impossible in principle (i.e. in terms of natural laws).”

you are stating two things here:

1. the simple image (wizard transmogrifies pumpkin)

2. that that simple image is denied as impossible by “later explanation” (scientists)

however, even that is essentially incorrect.

it’s not so much that science denies the wizard might have turned a pumpkin into a carriage, it’s that science recognizes the idea of the wizard’s magic as being irrelevant to answering any practical questions arising from measurable observation of the world.

in other words, science doesn’t deny wizards, it simply rejects explanations using wizards as being not useful.

From my own perspective, if i saw a wizard turn a pumpkin into a coach with my own two eyes, it wouldn’t change my mind one bit about the value of the scientific method. the reason being is that I have seen the usefulness of it time and time again when applied to observations of the world around us.

If somehow everyone had magical powers, and they directly influenced our lives in an obvious and measurable way every day, then a theory of “magical powers” might be a bit more utilitarian. I’m sure any scientist would glady jump on board if that was the case.

as has been pointed out repeatedly; the utilization of the scientific method has resulted in a littany of both increases in knowledge and applications.

Applying religion as a filter to explain the world around us has produced… ?

“Scripture says, “Tom DeLay, you’re going to jail!”? Got chapter and verse on that?”

lol. any update on that? i got the impression he was going to basically “beat the rap”.

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

“What comment was that?”

the comments Laura made during a roast on April 30, as i recall. Her comedic performance certainly had the right wing extremeists up in arms.

Oh, that? I thought that was hilarious!

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

so much so, i saw some sites that showed video clips of GW flippin the bird, to indicate what a heathen he and his wife are now considered.

LOL, I remember seeing that from the election! Someone took a long clip of John Edwards carefully primping before a TV interview, and contrasted it with a clip from many years ago of W pushing his hair around for a second or two before giving the camera the finger. We on the right loved it.

The DeLay quote is distressing. But again, what actual pro-creationist legislation has he tried to push through? I don’t see anybody expending any actual capital on the federal level for this stuff.

But maybe they are just waiting for a couple new Supreme Court justices who can overturn or “clarify” Edwards v. Aguillard. I guess that could happen. But that’s another reason why we need to hit creationists on their moral subjectivism: A friendly judiciary isn’t much help if enough of them realize it’s not an issue worth fighting for in the first place.

I don’t know he’ll go to jail or the Speakership, but the single most fun (and locally informed) place to get the dirt on DeLoony is The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon.

RBH

I don’t know he’ll go to jail or the Speakership, but the single most fun (and locally informed) place to get the dirt on DeLoony is The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon. Think Molly Ivins with fewer inhibitions. :)

RBH

“Oh, that? I thought that was hilarious! “

which part, laura’s commentary, or the evangelical right’s response to it? Or was it the backpeddaling later from the larger evangelical representatives?

“what actual pro-creationist legislation has he tried to push through?”

hmmm. one might consider the prayer in schools legislation, and the push for school vouchers to be precursory.

look, just cause you don’t see it right now, doesn’t mean it won’t happen if they feel it politically expedient to do so.

It’s obvious to me that the right has moved SO far right, they no longer care about the messes they make, or the repercussions of them.

I couldn’t give a shit about political ideology. However, i do care when politicians have simply given up on any semblance of support for the constitution in favor of maintaining the support from their power base, on either side of the political fence.

If you, individually, do not encourange your representatives (republican, i gather in your case) to distance themselves from using the evangelical right as a political power base, you are as guilty as they for the messes they create.

“Oh, that? I thought that was hilarious! “

which part, laura’s commentary, or the evangelical right’s response to it? Or was it the backpeddaling later from the larger evangelical representatives?

Hmmm… after perusing some of the threads at FreeRepublic on her performance, I guess there was a loud minority who were offended by “Bush milking the horse”, and a few who were offended by the “Desperate Housewives” bit. Eh, whatchagonnado.

“what actual pro-creationist legislation has he tried to push through?”

hmmm. one might consider the prayer in schools legislation, and the push for school vouchers to be precursory.

I dunno about any prayer in schools legislation, but various ways of breaking up the government monopoly on schools have been championed by the secular libertarian wing as well as some on the christian right for a looooong time. (But many other christians have long opposed vouchers out of fear that vouchers will end up giving the gov’t control over religious schools. He who pays the piper calls the tune & all.) A couple more examples: If Frist has any backbone he’ll change the rules and allow the judicial nominees to come to a vote in the Senate. Personally I think the judgeship issue just happens to be where Pelosi & Reid decided to draw their line in the sand. And many of us think that Michael Shiavo gave up his right to act as Terri’s guardian sometime after he moved in with his new girlfriend & ended up fathering & raising 2 sons with her. We wish there had been a chance for the courts to review the facts of the case for a second time.

IOW, the GOP’s actions of late aren’t all part of a christian conspiracy. There are more issues & crosscurrents at work here.

look, just cause you don’t see it right now, doesn’t mean it won’t happen if they feel it politically expedient to do so.

OK, fair enough. Let me just observe that Bush won reelection, and we (the GOP) still control both the House & Senate. If you’re counting on Democrats to stop creationism by taking back the reins of power before new judges are able to get nominated or new legislation passed, that’s a losing strategy IMO.

“If you’re counting on Democrats to stop creationism by taking back the reins of power before new judges are able to get nominated or new legislation passed, that’s a losing strategy IMO.”

I’m not counting on that at all. In fact, i am counting on folks just like yourself to see that creationism does not serve your party well, and to get your party to back away from the evangelicals before the damage done is too great.

“If Frist has any backbone he’ll change the rules and allow the judicial nominees to come to a vote in the Senate. Personally I think the judgeship issue just happens to be where Pelosi & Reid decided to draw their line in the sand”

do you really believe this? after the dems approved over 200 of bushes judicial nominees, and only left out the 10 most extreme (now 7)?

please compare that to what happened during the Clinton administration for me, if you would be so kind. or did you just not pay attention during those years?

If you think removing the filibuster is such a good idea, why is it that so many republicans are against it in the senate? It’s because they seem to have a better memory than you do.

Metastory, indeed!

Emma Peel said:

I dunno about any prayer in schools legislation, but various ways of breaking up the government monopoly on schools have been championed by the secular libertarian wing as well as some on the christian right for a looooong time. (But many other christians have long opposed vouchers out of fear that vouchers will end up giving the gov’t control over religious schools. He who pays the piper calls the tune & all.)

Tyrants love an uneducated peasantry. It’s not gonna happen – there are enough states with constitutional guarantees of education, and too few private schools, and a history of great achievement in the public schools, so that when push comes to shove, the public schools will survive.

At least three states did away with the “public schools” monopoly, in a futile effort to continue racism after Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. Which states? Mississippi, Arkansas, Virginia. None of them has recovered from that stupid move. Do you really think many other states will want to follow Mississippi’s example in educational governance?

A couple more examples: If Frist has any backbone he’ll change the rules and allow the judicial nominees to come to a vote in the Senate. Personally I think the judgeship issue just happens to be where Pelosi & Reid decided to draw their line in the sand.

Backbone? No, that would require a lobotomy. One of the things Bush is banking on is deadlock in the Senate. If all of those wackoes become judges, one of them will almost surely embarrass him, badly.

And then there is this: It is conservative Republican judges who rule against creationism now. They like freedom of religion, they like the First Amendment, and they understand the philosophy of rule of law.

And many of us think that Michael Shiavo gave up his right to act as Terri’s guardian sometime after he moved in with his new girlfriend & ended up fathering & raising 2 sons with her. We wish there had been a chance for the courts to review the facts of the case for a second time.

Oh, get over it. 20 different judges reviewed the case. No fewer than two different guardian ad litems studied the issues and offered their assessments. The ad litems did not like the “Boxing Helena” scenario that Ms. Schiavo’s parents sketched out, amputating her limbs to keep her torso alive. It was macabre. Those were conservative judges, mostly – and again, they stuck by the rule of law. The facts were reviewed by no fewer than 20 different courts, including the Supreme Court twice, the 11th Circuit four times. In the U.S., the government doesn’t get to keep people alive, against their wishes, by extraordinary means, over the wishes of the victim and the victim’s next of kin.

OK, fair enough. Let me just observe that Bush won reelection, and we (the GOP) still control both the House & Senate. If you’re counting on Democrats to stop creationism by taking back the reins of power before new judges are able to get nominated or new legislation passed, that’s a losing strategy IMO.

No, we’re counting on the law. The Supreme Court isn’t much different now from when it ruled on Aguillard. Scalia may pay attention to the Pope on the issue this time. Don’t bank on activist judges coming along to rule for the creationists.

oh, and btw, it only took me 2 minutes to find evidence that creationist legislation is being introduced at the federal level, and supported by republicans:

from NCSE (http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/ar[…]3_4_2003.asp):

Federal Legislation

“Congressmen from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and other states have recently been approached about introducing a federal creationist bill in Washington. The bill is another model piece of legislation, this time being pushed by Citizens Against Federal Establishment of Evolutionary Dogma…”

I’m sure i could find lots more if i spent 30 minutes looking instead of 2.

you might want to take a closer look at your party sometime in the near future.

Thank you for that heads up regarding impending federal creationist legislation! Oh, and for the lurkers, here’s a warning from that article that you forgot to quote:

… In response to their repeated failures, the creationists adopted a new tactic: “springing” bills. They began to keep quiet about proposed legislation until the last few days of the legislative session and then tried to rush it through before anyone heard about it. This tactic worked in Arkansas and Louisiana. We expect to see it in use again in 1982.

We may be in for some big fights over this, what with that darn Reagan in the White House & all. Hopefully Jim Wright & Tip O’Neill will stop him!

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

I’m not counting on that at all. In fact, i am counting on folks just like yourself to see that creationism does not serve your party well, and to get your party to back away from the evangelicals before the damage done is too great.

We are trying.

“impending”

ah yes, very witty. got me there, i didn’t bother to look at the date; that’s what i get for spending only 2 minutes on it. but then again, the neocons that flavored Reagan’s party are even more extreme now than then, and rely even more on the religious right as a power base. Did you actually even bother to look for introduced legislation? or do you just make assumptions about the nature and ties of your party?

I only intended to use it as an example of the republicans supporting creationist legislation at the federal level. You think the right is listening less now to creationists, or more? You tell me. Frist is the one using the religious right to put pressure on republicans to knuckle under and remove the filibuster. do you think this is a legitimate political tactic, with no repercussions?

oh wait, I should ask, do you even care? perhaps you couldn’t care less what happens to the education of our kids, or how tied up our politics gets with religion?

If so, i highly suggest you move to South Africa, where you can see the end result of the unification of religious evangelicals and the educational system. or perhaps I could suggest the mideast? Perhaps you missed the muslim invite to the Kansas BOE hearings?

bringing my argument a bit more up to date *ahem*, you yourself mentioned Santorum. his attempted ammendments to the leave no child behind act have already been used as legal arguments in some state cases (Ohio in 2002 comes to mind).

If the republicans keep tying themselves to the evangelical right, it will keep coming back to bite them in the ass, and we will all suffer as a result.

You don’t appear to think teaching creationism in science class is a good thing, nor do you apparently approve of the “true believers”. so why aren’t you trying to convince your party to divorce themselves from these things?

before you wittily try and avoid any substance by saying this is all old news:

“We expect to see it in use again in 1982.”

you might try thinking about whether they still ARE using it; check the threads on this very site that detail the same attempts in alabama just recently (may 3rd). fortunately, the legislature chose not to act on them. this time.

the same people are still around.

“We are trying.”

fair enough, your post arrived before mine did.

I apologize and withdraw the implication in my post that you weren’t.

Your earlier post implied to me that you thought it was no longer an issue.

toejam said:

you are stating two things here:

1. the simple image (wizard transmogrifies pumpkin)

2. that that simple image is denied as impossible by “later explanation” (scientists)

however, even that is essentially incorrect.

I think you are misrepresenting how science would deal with the hypothetical wizard. If we KNEW a wizard did it, we would launch an investigation into the functioning of wizards as the most likely avenue for uncovering the underlying natural explanation of how the transmogrification occurred. The scientific method is still king. Creationists would not bother investigating the wizard, of course, but both sides would agree that at one level of explanation there would be a wizard (like a chemical explanation which doesn’t involve quarks).

I think creationists imagine we are in the wizard situation, and their complaint is: “if this THING WHICH HAPPENED can’t be incorporated into the scientific explanation then science is wrong”. this very simple image seems to motivate all the bleating about evil methodological naturalism.

my point is that these people have a mistaken belief in the evidence for god and his actions. This belief motivates them to decry any approach which denies god can be used as an explanation, but this belief also should (but they haven’t noticed) remove their opposition to methodological naturalism since having evidence puts god within the realm of natural knowledge.

These people don’t really believe there is no evidence for god, and they don’t really believe invisible pixies are an allowable explanation for automobile function.

I do think many IDers have a second simple motivating intuition against MN, but it is a much more trivial one: a misunderstanding of the concept of “good explanation”, which says that magic is a good explanation of anything because there isn’t any aspect which isn’t answered by “oh, that was done by magic”. This view frequently demands refutations in its many incarnations, but I don’t think it is the one getting the more talented complainers hot under the collar.

Sir Toejam said (comment 29215) however, I see very stable societies in the UK and Europe that have pretty much rejected the need for religion underpinning morality, and did not “self destruct”. Having tried to explain the ID “controversy” to a French acquaintance at a party, I saw his reaction develop from disbelief to amusement. He contrasted their approach to separation of Church and State and the recent brief furore over wearing of headscarves in state schools (Overt religious symbols of any faith are not permitted to be openly displayed in state schools in France.) It does tend to make USA a laughing stock when the subject comes up, which is not often, as most people here would nod politely and edge away from anyone promoting ID. It seems you can have the natural world and as much additional supernatural as you wish. Stuff from the natural can impinge on the supernatural, no problem. When you claim the supernatural can impinge on the natural world, then surely you have a testable hypothesis, there must be evidence.

oh, and btw, it only took me 2 minutes to find evidence that creationist legislation is being introduced at the federal level, and supported by republicans:

Once again, this is a constant thing, and it’s just grandstanding. The Repub’s need to give a polite nod once in a while to the fundie kooks, in order to keep the checks and votes coming.

The telling point, though, is that the Repub’s have controlled the White House, the Senate and the House for the past several years — they can pass anything they want to, and they *have not passed a single pro-creationism bill*, or indeed ANY part of the fundie social agenda. None. Not a one. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Why not?

Because *they do not want to*. They don’t want theocracy any more than anyone else does.

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It’s the culture war. I don’t know whether we’re winning that battle.

I don’t think that we’re winning the war, but I know that Michael Ruse decisively won a televised battle last night!

You know it went badly when IDists are reduced to making bad puns and commenting on Ruse’s reduced jocularity. From telic thoughts:

You should now be able to download the Ruse-Dembski debate from last night’s Nightline with that cool guy from Sesame Street (Snuffaluffagus, is that it?)

Ruse always seems like a jolly fellow, but less so last night. Commercials to be removed later.

“And they are smart to do so! I’m an atheist, and I routinely go around torturing, raping, and killing people. I never return library books. I like to set pet shelters on fire. Every single day I drive around shooting up cars with an Uzi, long into the wee hours of the morning. This morning on the NCSU bus I stabbed everyone to death, and then drove the bus to a playground and ran over some kids. All because I didn’t believe in god. What a shame. Good thing there aren’t many atheists, we’re really hell on wheels, man.”

Fancy a date? I’m free Friday.

The telling point, though, is that the Repub’s have controlled the White House, the Senate and the House for the past several years —- they can pass anything they want to, and they *have not passed a single pro-creationism bill*, or indeed ANY part of the fundie social agenda. None. Not a one. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Why not?

Because *they do not want to*. They don’t want theocracy any more than anyone else does.

I’m no republican, but I admit this–their actions w/r/t the more fundie stuff, like creationism and gays, consist of little more than lip service. Occasionally something happens, like the grand canyon nonsense, or a nut like Rick Santorum says things, but for the most part, the fundie stuff mysteriously doesn’t get far, even with the GOP in power. That’s a good sign.

I’m no republican, but I admit this—their actions w/r/t the more fundie stuff, like creationism and gays, consist of little more than lip service. Occasionally something happens, like the grand canyon nonsense, or a nut like Rick Santorum says things, but for the most part, the fundie stuff mysteriously doesn’t get far, even with the GOP in power. That’s a good sign.

Stem cell research.

I’m no republican, but I admit this—their actions w/r/t the more fundie stuff, like creationism and gays, consist of little more than lip service. Occasionally something happens, like the grand canyon nonsense, or a nut like Rick Santorum says things, but for the most part, the fundie stuff mysteriously doesn’t get far, even with the GOP in power. That’s a good sign.

Wrong. It builds on small victory on small victory. It’s hard to notice unless you really pay attention to it.

We’re debating the Monkey Trial all over again. Something that was, to knowledge of most people, an issue well settled until the late 1990s.

We’ve got Judge Roy Moore in Alabama. We’ve got the illegal funding of an unaccredited Bible College through the Office of Faith or whatever they call themselves in Washington. We’ve got Church-State seperation breaking down and being assulted in every state. We’ve got constant attacks on abortion. Personal rights, like Schiavo. Decreased science funding in certain areas, or virtually locked out (stem-cells).

It’s a big agenda. With a lot of money behind it. Don’t look at the one thing that catches your notice, or the multiple defeats.

Creationists have been working this particular issue for 80+ years. They’re not going to give tomorrow.

On the whole, I tend to mostly agree with Lenny Flank and Steve.

The modern GOP is basically an alliance between theocrats and corporate lobbyists. For the past 25 years, the basic working terms of the alliance has been that the theocrats dutifully turn out for elections and campaign work, while the corporate wing passes any of its own legislation it can manage and promises to attend to the theocrat’s agenda Real Soon Now.

If you look at what has actually happened during that time, the theocrats have made marginal gains on some issues (e.g. abortion), made more noise without actually changing things on other issues (e.g. creationism), and suffered serious reverses on still others (e.g. attitudes towards gays). Not much progress for being the junior partner in a successful political alliance.

This doesn’t mean that the theocrats aren’t a threat. Even as junior partners they have the potential to do a lot of damage, if we let them. They should not be underestimated. But they shouldn’t be overestimated either.

The fact is that much is made of the Republican ties to the fundies, and with Bush’s re-election the fundies are thinking that it is time to reap the reward.

But alas for them, Bush has already told them to go screw themselves.

What are the fundies gonna do about it? Bolt the Party and join the Democrats?

The fundies are in the same position vis-a-vis the Republicrats that the American labor movement (such as it is) is vis-a-vis the Democans. In both cases, the party makes lots of speeches for them and tosses them some irrelevant bones every once in a while (that never make it out of committee) to keep those votes and money coming, but in both cases, the party doesn’t deliver jack. And in both cases, the fundies/labor movement can only rage impotently, since they can’t impose their will onto the party, and the opposition party won’t give them the time of day.

The glory days of the fundie movement are over. Back in the early 80’s, they COULD pass laws that they wanted, they COULD dictate policy to the White House. Today, they can do none of those things. The Repubs are simply using them like a staircase – stepping on them to get to the top.

The modern GOP is basically an alliance between theocrats and corporate lobbyists.

Indeed. And theocracy is bad for business. If the fundies start getting *too* uppity, the corporados themselves will smack them back into place.

In a fight between God and Mammon, I put my money on Mammon, every time.

I’m an atheist, and I routinely go around torturing, raping, and killing people.

No, Emma, you dont. It is not about you. But they fear is that people less educated would. You dont need the fear of God to behave yourself. But many others may need it. Religion, with its infantile promises of hell and heaven, is for them.

” But many others may need it”

I don’t buy this. Please cite some references in support of your statement.

I can only cite comparative cultures, like those of most of europe and the UK, where religion plays little role in sociology. The crime rates in these countries are at best no worse, and in some cases far better, than they are here.

Need is a subjective thing. If they feel they need it, then they also feel that everyone needs it. It makes no difference whether the need is real, as long as they believe it is. Just as belief in God doesn’t make Her real.

“feel” they need it is a different thing from actually needing it.

in that case, you could argue that religion is no more than a security blanky carried by a child.

I think we as a society have come far enough that we can drop the security blanky, unless someone can show a true need for it.

It turns out that Phil Skell has written an open letter suporting the inclusion of I.D. in the Kansas science standards. This is news because Phil Skell is an Emeritus proffesor of biochemistry, and a member of the NAS. As such he is a scientist of the first rank. However, since retirement, he has been moonlighting as a creationist, and as a creationist, his arguments have been sub par (even among creationists). PZ Myers summed up his one argument well on Pharyngula:

He’s one of these guys who frequents various web-based fora, and whose only routine is to dogmatically declare that biologists don’t use evolution. Over and over. He’s a kind of pedantic creationist screed machine, who generates these tedious declarations and never, ever responds to any criticism.

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/[…]_phil_skell/ See also: http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/[…]skell_again/

Amongst the nonsense in his open letter, Skell asserts:

But scientific journals now document many scientific problems and criticisms of evolutionary theory and students need to know about these as well.

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vi[…]iscoMainPage

This is unexceptional if by problems Skell meant the basic problem solving of Kuhn’s “normal science”; but he means instead problems as understood by creationists; problems the failure to resolve which would prove evolution false. In three years on the yahoogroup CED (in which Skell is a sometime participant), he has failed to identify any such scientific criticism. Whilst fond of declaring that there is no evidence for evolution; and that evolution is promoted solely for reasons of religious commitment, he will not debate the issues because (as is shown by the few occassions when he is drawn into a longer exchange) he has no basis for his assertion beyond his own prejudice.

Skell’s letter in this instance represents an argument from authority (and will be so used by creationists). His actuall debating practise shows that authority to be fraudulent.

Tom Curtis

*sigh*

skell’s letter brings up a point tho.

it is often claimed that evolutionary biologists proceed in “lock step”, and that we never claim any dissension “among the ranks”.

I think it would be great if we spent more time talking about EXACTLY what are some of the current debates going on in evolutionary biology.

like the different mechanims proposed for the evolution of flagella, for example.

show very clearly that the debates amongst evolutionary biologists have NOTHING to do with any psuedo-science claptrap.

show that the debates only serve to further hone our understanding of how natural selection and evolution work; that substantial debate over whether evolution actually OCCURS was buried long ago under the mountains of evidence.

I am so tired of so many people having the idea that scientists act like the IDers do, constantly covering for one another in some kind of monastic brotherhood.

I would like to show all of these folks how a real scientific meeting progresses, or have them see a PhD thesis defense.

then they might get a clearer picture of how scientists actually work.

hmm. “skell” as in:

“The word is usually spelled skell, and it’s defined in my books as referring to a homeless person, vagrant or derelict, though others have mentioned that there is some idea of small-scale villainy attached to it. “

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ske1.htm

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on May 9, 2005 2:24 PM.

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