Divine Design in Utah

| 36 Comments

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, backers of “divine design” want equal time in Utah public schools.

Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, plans to lead the fight for instruction of divine design in Utah public schools. He wants to defuse some of the expected controversy by avoiding the term “creationism” altogether.

Instead, he favors “divine design,” sometimes called “intelligent design,” which “doesn’t preach religion,” he said. “The only people who will be upset about this are atheists.”

Supporters of intelligent design say nature is so complex that it could not have occurred without the guidance of some higher power, maybe God, maybe something else.

They say this differs from traditional creationists who believe that God created the Earth, and argue the distinction means its inclusion in public school curriculum would not violate church-state separation.

”The divine design is a counter to the kids’ belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn’t,” said the conservative Republican and retired director of a private school for troubled boys. “It shocks me that our schools are teaching evolution as fact.”

Buttars doesn’t disregard evolution completely, rather he believes God is the creator, but His creations have evolved within their own species.

“We get different types of dogs and different types of cats, but you have never seen a ‘dat,’ ” he said.

36 Comments

This is so incredibly painful I can barely type. I suppose I should be used to my state making a fool of itself, though.

I’m sure the DI is simply ecstatic about Buttars’ push for “divine design”. With friends like these…

Don’t worry about it, Harq al-Ada, the only state in the Union that doesn’t make a fool of itself on a regualr basis is…uh…yeah.

Some people in officialdom in Utah have gotten more careful since I moved out: Buttars’ biography at the Utah State Senate does not indicate whether he is a member of the Latter-day Saints.

When I worked with the legislature in Utah, there were perhaps a dozen non-Mormon members (at least one of whom was still there last time I checked). I will assume Buttars is Mormon.

It’s close to “false doctrine” in the Mormon church to teach creationism against evolution. Buttars ought to go check with Duane Jeffrey, a distinguished zoologist at Brigham Young University and a director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Buttars may have missed it in college, since he majored in marketing, but especially his alma mater, Utah State University, could set him straight.

Beyond that, he should ask himself these questions about his proposal:

Is it the TRUTH? “Divine design” is not taught in the biology department of any Utah institution of higher learning. There is no research program in it at any research institution. It does not meet standards required for good curriculum design. I’ll wager Mr. Buttars made no attempt to confirm his beliefs with any person familiar with the issues, either in

Is it the TRUTH? “Divine design” is not taught in the biology department of any Utah institution of higher learning. There is no research program in it at any research institution. It does not meet standards required for good curriculum design.

I’d wager he doesn’t care.

Having been a resident of Utah and moved away, it really is amusing to hear a Buttars-ism. This guy is a non-stop barrel of monkeys. I double dare you to Google him, he has a litany of greatest hits. He will be disavowed by the DI. He has way too big of a mouth for them. He never shuts up. He is definitely LDS, but they tend to not get involved with evolution so much. By definition the Mormon Church favors God as creator, but are much more supportive of most if not all of evolution, as other commenters have posted.

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“The divine design is a counter to the kids’ belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn’t,”

Well he got one thing right. Too bad he doesn’t realize why he got it right.

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> “We get different types of dogs and different types of cats, but you have never seen a ‘dat,’ “ he said.

I’ve seen a hyaena, which is wonky enough. Not that they’re closely related to dogs, but they used to confuse the hell out of me when I was little. Thought their designer was Dr. Frankenstein with a pair of scissors.

Can any Mormons in the audience help me out with this? I’ve heard it claimed (by someone critical of Mormonism and admiring of a man who’s made it one of his devotions to anti-evangelize Mormonism) that Mormons (once) held to a belief that non-caucasian people were descended from monkeys (but I suppose not caucasians). Is this claim about the Mormon belief accurate?

Hmmm. My last post was truncated a lot. I wonder if the rest will show up in the fullness of time.

Try posting it again. The software must have eaten the end.

“We get different types of dogs and different types of cats, but you have never seen a ‘dat,’ “ he said.

I and my friends have seen hundreds of them, but they were (and remain) unidentified: “Who dat?”

We have also seen many cogs.

Hey we should be grateful for guys like Buttars..

If it weren’t for people like ‘dat’ we wouldn’t know what an ultra maroon is..

Re ““The divine design is a counter to the kids’ belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn’t,” Well he got one thing right. Too bad he doesn’t realize why he got it right.”

Question - would the common ancestor of apes and monkeys be something we’d call an ape, or a monkey?

Henry

Buttars is not only wrong, but he can’t spell. I bet you taut you taw a puddy tat.

I’ve heard it claimed…that Mormons (once) held to a belief that non-caucasian people were descended from monkeys (but I suppose not caucasians). Is this claim about the Mormon belief accurate?

I’ve never heard that one before. If anybody believed it, it was not mainstream.

No, Mormons didn’t hold to a belief that non-caucasians came from monkeys.

This guy’s clearly never been to New Orleans. We see dis and dat all da time.

That black vs caucasian vs monkey thing sounded vaguely familiar (from someone going on about a bizarre form of racism on one of these forums the other year) but not in connection with Mormons. It’s taken me a while to collect enough scraps of memory (without any names to go on) for google, but try this as a start: http://answering-islam.org.uk/NoI/noi2.html and then perhaps look up some of the names of people involved for their own version, eg I now recognise that name Fard as having been mentioned before.

PS If you must have a link between monkey and mormon try Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” ;-) eg http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext00/dscmn10.txt (it may take a while to load before you can text search for “mormon”)

Did THE DESIGNER design stupidity? Damn good job, eh?

Meanwhile, in another dusty southwestern state:

http://www.tulsabeacon.com/1.htm

‘UnAmerican idols’ at the Tulsa Zoo?

Tulsa’s Park and Recreation Board is debating on whether Christian influence should be given equal consideration to pantheism, Hinduism and other pagan religions prominently displayed at the Tulsa Zoo. At a May 3 meeting, board members tabled a proposal to display an exhibit that alludes to the Bible’s account of Creation. The matter will be on the agenda at 8:30 a.m. June 7 when the board meets at Lacy Park. Mayor Bill LaFortune and mayoral aide Clay Bird have pledged their support for Christian display but Dan Hicks, who has pushed for the display, said he can’t count on their support. LaFortune has a history of making unfulfilled promises when it comes to Christian groups. Early in his term, LaFortune pledged his support for a Community Block Grant for Cornerstone Assistance Network but then abandoned the Christian organization when it was opposed by Councilor Susan Neal. Hicks said his display, a series of photographs by Oregon photographer Rick Ergenbright from his book, The Art of God, should be presented because of the numerous displays of pagan religions throughout the zoo. Either put them all up or take them all down, Hicks said. An assistant city attorney told Hicks the Christian display could only be approved if it had a disclaimer that reads, “Acts of creation are contained in the literature of many cultures. This display is an example of one view of our origin.” In the zoo’s Beginnings of Life exhibit, a plaque reads, “Scientists believe that life began in the oceans. Electrical storms were the key to forming organic compounds called amino acids from the four most common gasses in the earth’s primitive atmosphere: ammonia, methane, hydrogen and water vapor. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of all living things, and were deposited by rain in the oceans.” A poster about birds reads, “Birds are essentially reptiles with feathers and a constant body temperature.” “It teaches evolution as fact,” Hicks said. “That is one view. Why is my view excluded?” Hicks said a recent poll showed 60 percent of Oklahomans believe God created man and another 33 percent believe God created man using evolution. The number who think God had no part of the process was 3 percent. “The Genesis account is shared by the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths,” Hicks said. “It should be an important part of the origins’ exhibit.” In front of the elephant compound is a Hindu statue with the following information: “The Ganesha is a beautiful example of artistic expression, reflecting a cultural belief that is strongly influenced by the presence and power of elephants. This statue was hand carved from granite in Madras, India. As a symbol of wisdom and goodwill, the Ganesha is said to bring luck to students preparing for exams.” “Ganesha is the son of Shiva,” Hicks said. “He is the first god a Hindu chants to. This violates the first and second commandments (of the 10 Commandments) and it is very offensive.” The board has five members and three votes are needed to add the Christian display. Hicks said he hoped the Mayor and board member Walt Helmerich would vote for the display. If the board turns down the request and continues to display the pagan images, Hicks said he anticipated a lawsuit would follow that would force the city to accommodate the city’s Christian population.

It’s close to “false doctrine” in the Mormon church to teach creationism against evolution. Buttars ought to go check with Duane Jeffrey, a distinguished zoologist at Brigham Young University and a director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Buttars may have missed it in college, since he majored in marketing, but especially his alma mater, Utah State University, could set him straight.

I’m not sure that’s true. I was a Mormon until age 17, and most of my experience indicates that, while the official church position on evolution is hazy, many of the rank-and-file members are staunch young earth creationists. This describes my immediate family members and probably much of my extended family.

While in seminary (release time for religious instruction) in middle and high school, one instructor denounced evolution and claimed human fossils had been found at the same levels as dinosaurs (this guy also did voice acting in some church animations of the Book of Mormon). A later instructor fielded questions and spent a whole class on evolution when I asked about it. He also railed against it, postulating that archeologists thousands of years from now might only unearth basketball player skeletons and erroneously conclude that all 20th century humans were 7 ft tall.

Earlier, as a kid, I was certainly taught that the Noah’s Ark story was literal. Later, as an adult, I saw a copy of the Ensign (a church mag) at my parent’s place that also talked of Noah’s Ark as factual.

I’m certain that many educated Mormons, such as the BYU zoologist, have no problem with evolution (I met an engineer in grad school who was fine with it). Just as many educated Mormons know about the serious archeological problems with the Book of Mormon (and Pearl of Great Price). But these may be the exception, not the rule. To my knowledge, while the church has no official position on evolution, it seems to tolerate and unofficially encourage young earth creationism.

This article in the Salt Lake Tribune says the church has basically made its peace with evolution since 1931:

On April 7, 1931, the church’s governing First Presidency, headed by Heber J. Grant, addressed the general authorities: “Leave geology, biology, archaeology and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.”

In practice, this has meant that the physical sciences curriculum at BYU has not been turned over to the religion department. Students troubled by the course work receive a packet containing all of the Church’s official statements concerning evolution, as well as the chapter on evolution found in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

In short, beyond reaffirming that Adam was “the primal parent of our race,” the official statements say that God hasn’t made his mind known about evolution.

Despite the Smith-Roberts dust-up, the church has spent comparatively little time or trouble on evolution. It has never been a Mormon issue. The church has been quite happy to move on to the real business of religion while saying about evolution, “We don’t know.”

In fairness, creationism is also taught at BYU. You just have to go to the religion department to hear it.

I know that there is one church that comes around where I live and tries to give out anti-evolution propaganda of various sorts. They only ever came around to my flat once.

Wonder why? ;)

Buttars’ puppetmaster in all this is Utah’s chief busybody, Gayle Ruzicka, a rabid right-wing rabble-rouser if there ever was.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out among the Mormon faithful, who do not HAVE to believe in YECism to be “worthy” in the eyes of the church.

Even Brigham Young University doesn’t pooh-pooh evolution, though I understand that the the first lecture in their paleontology course is a sort of apology for Darwin’s theory.

I looked over past editions of the church-owned Deseret News back to when this story was carried in the Salt Lake Tribune, and surprisingly, if it was covered at all it must have been buried very deeply on the back pages. They did, however, feature a front-page story on BYU’s growing prominence in molecular biology:

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,12[…]8191,00.html

Maybe we’re all jumping the gun and this is what they want to teach in Utah: Divine Design

Some possibly relevant links:

(1) Michael Whiting’s May 24, 2005, Brigham Young University Devotional address: “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life: Some Assembly Required”: transcript and video.

(2) The official BYU Evolution Packet

Some possibly relevant links:

(1) Michael Whiting’s May 24, 2005, Brigham Young University Devotional address: “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life: Some Assembly Required”: transcript and video.

(2) The official BYU Evolution Packet

Been a lurker for a while but just had to comment on this part of the piece

Instead, he favors “divine design,” sometimes called “intelligent design,” which “doesn’t preach religion,” he said. “The only people who will be upset about this are atheists.”

Is an IDer manaing to refute themselves in less than 15 sequential words some sort of record?

Creationism Teacher Is Told to Stop

ROANOKE, Va. - For 15 years, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, Larry Booher taught creationism in his high school biology class. He even compiled a textbook of sorts and passed out copies in three-ring binders. ADVERTISEMENT

The school superintendent didn’t know what was going on. Neither did the school board president. Then, they got an anonymous tip.

Booher has agreed to revise his lesson plan, though he maintained that he handed out the book, titled “Creation Battles Evolution,” to his Biology 2 students only as a voluntary, extra-credit option.

“He told the students, ‘You may read this. You don’t have to. It has some Bible references in it,’” said Alan Lee, superintendent of Washington County schools. “This teacher felt like he wasn’t doing anything wrong.” …

He didn’t feel like he was doing anything wrong, so he hid his activities from his superiors. Uh huh.

Instead, he favors “divine design,” sometimes called “intelligent design,” which “doesn’t preach religion,” he said. “The only people who will be upset about this are atheists.”

One of those rare cases, where just quoting the guy equates to insulting him.

He didn’t feel like he was doing anything wrong, so he hid his activities from his superiors. Uh huh.

This happens all the time on Law and Order. The defendant’s been doing pretty well, it’s about 10:50 pm, and suddenly it comes out that the defendant did something to conceal his act. Jack McCoy says, “But Mister Richards…why did you run behind the mailbox? Why did you try to hide from the real estate agent? Is it because you didn’t want to get caught? In fact, you knew what you did was wrong, didn’t you? You tried to hide because you knew the real estate agent would call the cops, didn’t you?” and the music suddenly gets all somber, and the defendant just gulps, and slowly looks off to the side.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on June 4, 2005 10:41 AM.

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