KY: Governor Knows Best

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Last month Kentucky’s creationist governor, Ernie Fletcher (BS Engineering, MD), responded to a resolution by the Kentucky Academy of Science opposing the teaching of “intelligent design” creationism. A reader has supplied me with the text of the letter.

I won’t spoil the surprise with an analysis. Feel free to do your own. Heck, try to find as many indexed claims as you can.

Look below the fold to find out what a winner they got in Kentucky.

PRESS RELEASE FROM KENTUCKY ACADEMY OF SCIENCE

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE From: Kentucky Academy of Science Contact: Kentucky Academy of Science (859) 227-2837 Date: December 22, 2005

KENTUCKY ACADEMY OF SCIENCE CALLS FOR REJECTION OF ATTEMPTS TO TEACH “INTELLIGENT DESIGN” AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY

During the recent Kentucky Academy of Science (KAS) Annual Meeting, members voted unanimously to oppose any attempt by legislative bodies to mandate specific content of science courses. The KAS objects to attempts to equate “scientific creationism” or “intelligent design” with evolution as a scientific explanation of events. KAS members believe the content of science courses taught in public schools in Kentucky should be determined by the standards of the scientific community. Science involves a continuing systematic inquiry into the manifold aspects of the biological and physical world. It is based upon testable theories, which may change with new data; it cannot include interpretations based on faith. Teaching faith-based models implies that these views are equivalent alternatives among scientists. These models mislead students as to what is considered the scientific method.

There is a widespread consensus among theologians that biblical accounts of creation are misunderstood if they are treated as literal scientific explanations. The KAS fully respects the religious views of all persons but objects to attempts to require any religious teachings as science in public schools.

There is overwhelming acceptance by scientists of all disciplines that evolution is consistent with the weight of a vast amount of evidence. The understanding of the processes underlying evolution has provided the foundation upon which many of the tremendous advances in agriculture and medicine and theoretical biology have been built.

The KAS joins fifty-three organizations including: the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education, the National Congress of Science Education, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, and the academies of science in many other states in calling for the rejection of attempts to require the teaching of either “scientific creationism” or “intelligent design” as a scientific theory.

The Kentucky Academy of Science, founded in 1914, is an organization that encompasses all the accepted scientific fields. The 700 member strong organization encourages scientific research, promotes the diffusion of scientific knowledge, and unifies the scientific interests of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The KAS has passed resolutions in favor of evolution in 1981, 1983, 1999, and 2005. For more information visit the Kentucky Academy of Science website at kas.wku.edu/kas .

And now the response.

Ernie Fletcher, Governor Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Governor 700 Capitol Avenue Suite 100 Frankfort KY 40601

February 13, 2006

Ms. Jeanne Harris Kentucky Academy of Science 101 UKMC, Annex 5 Lexington, KY 40536

Dear Ms. Harris:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the teaching of “intelligent design.” My educational background provided me with thorough understanding of science and the theory of evolution. Our nation, however, was founded on self-evident truths. Among these truths are inalienable rights “endowed by their Creator.” From my perspective, it is not a matter of faith, or religion, or theory. It is similar to basic self-evident objective truths that are the basis of knowledge. For example, 2 + 2 = 4. It disappoints and astounds me that the so-called intellectual elite are so concerned about accepting self-evident truths that nearly 90% of the population understands. In fact, this acknowledgement led to the intellectual curiosity Einstein spoke of that, in turn, led to the exploration of new knowledge.

To deny this understanding of our nation’s beginning, and prevent it from being taught to American students, is to undermine the foundation of our nation. Schools should be able to approach this subject from a historical prospective, not a religious one, without offending anybody. I have not suggested any new legislation, and none is needed. Since 1970, state law specifically allows public schools to teach “creationism” in conjunction with the theory of evolution. In 1990, under the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act, control of curriculum now rests with local districts. I urged school districts to utilize this freedom and empower students with all possible considerations regarding the origin of matter and species. It will be up to the teachers and local school officials, however, to make this decision.

Our nation’s founders gave credit for our inalienable rights to a Creator. Among our rights are your liberty to disagree with government officials and my liberty of free speech. Those who laid the foundation for our country knew this would be the greatness of America. Although you my question the intelligence of raising this issue, the computer, which is state-of the-art, and less sophisticated in function than this writer, was built by an intelligent designer.

Sincerely,

[Signed]

Ernie Fletcher

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Henry Neufeld at Threads of Henry has an interesting post that challenges a long held belief of mine (and his) in a very interesting way. The belief is that some kind of naive intuition lies near the base of much... Read More

136 Comments

Sigh…

The founders had religious beliefs. Therefore, my religious beliefs should be taught in every class and in every every subject. To do otherwise is to deny history.

btw, I have no idea what he was talking about with the Einstein reference.

I am shocked, shocked! that an engineer in Kentucky could be a creationist.

Our nation’s founders gave credit for our inalienable rights to a Creator.

And we believe this creator is the FSM. I trust that alternative theory will be given equal time with intelligent design and evolution in your new classroom atmosphere.

Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?

Although you my question the intelligence of raising this issue, the computer, which is state-of the-art, and less sophisticated in function than this writer, was built by an intelligent designer.

As someone with an associates in IT (along with a bachelors and masters in mathematics, which leans heavily on computers now), I can most assuredly state that the designers of the computer were not nearly as intelligent as we’d have liked.

Although you my question the intelligence of raising this issue…

Was this error on the part of Gov. Fletcher, or Panda’s Thumb?

Seriously, most of my relatives are from Kentucky. At family gatherings, they reminisce about working on George Wallace’s campaign. A relative’s prank involving deer urine sparked a terrorism scare. (http://www.bluegrassreport.org/blue[…]ently_t.html) Ernie Fletcher is Truman Capote compared to many of his constituents.

Was this error on the part of Gov. Fletcher, or Panda’s Thumb?

The text above was sent to me by a reader who mentioned that he has a scan of the original letter sent to KAS. More than likely it was an error in converting the scan to an email.

Just curious, thanks :)

I’m ashamed to be considered an engineer after reading that drivel. … Then I remember that my state is proposing legislation that would ban drivel like ID from science class (Wisconsin). Speaking of which, I rather lost track of that - have there been any developments?

AD Wrote:

Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?

It’s His Noodly Appendage, heathen!

I bet you weren’t even wearing your pirate regalia when you typed that.

It is a serious offense to mock FSM.

The good governor is working hard to ensure that Kentucky’s two leading exports will continue to be coal and college graduates…

Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?

why do i feel like i need to wash my hands now?

Ernie Fletcher is Truman Capote compared to many of his constituents.

lol.

It might be worth exploring the analogy further…

Poor political move on the governors part. Since teaching creationism is already legal in Ky a condescending letter directed at “so-called intellectual elite(s)” is overkill. When the inevitable lawsuit ends up on the front page of the Louisville Courier Journal, the governor will fortunately have Ken Ham and Bill Dembski for support.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Ya gotta love the classic rebuttals. Fletcher’s letter boils down to “Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

Doonesbury weighs in on situational science.

You have to wonder if “self-evident” means the same thing to him that it did to the Dec of Ind author(s):

TJ, et al Wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Now, if we substitute “their Creator” for “Nature”, have we changed the meaning, intent, anything? What was self-evident was the equality of men, and the rights they are afforded when in society, not the existence of the putative Creator.

I guess we “intellectual elites” just can’t seem to make “man + incredulity = God”. I’m glad it’s so self-evident to him, but I would prefer a formal argument.

It’s really rather ironic that he brings up Einstein - the guy’s entire life’s work was devoted to challenging what most people think of as self-evident truths. We used to think that it was self-evident that space was flat. We used to think that particles were points. If we insisted on accepting our “self-evident truths” in the face of actual evidence, we’d have to say goodbye to quantum mechanics and general relativity.

And, since quantum mechanics is necessary for transistor creation, we can happily point out that the design of his computer relied heavily on the challenging of self-evident truths.

I wonder. At any point, did Fletcher yell “THER TAKN ERR JUBBBBBSSSSSSSSS!!!!!”

From my perspective, it is not a matter of faith, or religion, or theory. It is similar to basic self-evident objective truths that are the basis of knowledge. For example, 2 + 2 = 4. It disappoints and astounds me that the so-called intellectual elite are so concerned about accepting self-evident truths that nearly 90% of the population understands.

??? 10% of the population doesn’t know that 2 + 2 = 4?

Ow. Ow. Owwwwwwwwwwww! Make it stop MAKE IT STOP!!! PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE, AAAAAAAGHH!!!!!

Oooo, my head.

“Historical prospective”?! “HISTORICAL PROSPECTIVE”?!

If I were a ninth-grade English teacher and a kid turned in this essay, I’d give him a C if he were lucky. And this is a state governor.

The second-to-last sentence in the first paragraph is clear as mud. The one right after, about Einstein, is both a baffling non-sequitur and internally incoherent. The openings of the second and third paragraphs are mutually redundant.

How did this man read his campaign speeches well enough to get elected?

And that isn’t even mentioning the core subject of the letter. A quick and dirty count gives me seven basic creationist nonsense claims/tactics packed into those three paragraphs, including one of my personal favorites, the endlessly adaptable “You intellectual elites with your degrees and your big words - you’re so smart you’re dumb.”

It’s self evident to me that he’s an ignorant dumbass.

Since 1970, state law specifically allows public schools to teach “creationism” in conjunction with the theory of evolution.

Didn’t Edwards v. Aguillard have something to say about that? IANAL, but my understanding is that Supreme Court precedent outweighs state law.

Jeez, and to think there’s a big press story over here because Tony Blair said he asked God for advice…

Believe me, when I watched his State of the Commonwealth address I about smacked my fist directly through my forehead.

To understand why he got elected you have to know what the guy before him did. The sad thing is he was elected on a “no corruption” campaign. He is now under investigation by the Attorney General (along with most of his administration) for illegal hiring practices.

And besides, if he’s so intelligently designed why did his gall bladder go whacky on him and stick him in the hospital for 18 days? I want to meet this designer and smack him around…

The KAS joins fifty-three organizations including: the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education, the National Congress of Science Education, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, and the academies of science in many other states in calling for the rejection of attempts to require the teaching of either “scientific creationism” or “intelligent design” as a scientific theory.

Does someone have a web resource listing these organizations, particularly the ones that include IDC in their language? I looked around the NCSE web site but didn’t find anything like that.

The ACLU has a list of scientific organizations which support evolution and condemn ID but links go to the organizations, not the policy statements, so I can’t easily check the language.

What exactly does this letter have to do with evolution? I looked hard but couldn’t see it.

I guess, at least, it provides a neat example of where most creationists are coming from when they approach evolution.

As an aside…

For example, 2 + 2 = 4.

Not so fast. 2 + 2 = 1, if you’re working in mod 3. I think the problem here is that Fletcher simply forgot to mention his context.

Allow me to interject it…

Our nation, however, was founded on self-evident truths. Among these truths are inalienable rights “endowed by their Creator.” Also, the truth that if you are not a biblical literalist christian, we will oppress you, indoctrinate your children, ruin our education system, and abolish those pesky things known as facts. After all, freedom to practice our religion on YOU is precisely why we came to this country, right?

The rest of the statement reads pretty coherently once you realize that context.

Isn’t one of those inalienable rights, the right not to believe what the governor orders w/r/t a creator?

Jurassic Park, the movie, _proved_ that T-Rex’s aren’t fire breathers, anyway.

It also _proved_ that stampeding herds (flocks?) of Struthiomimus all run in lock-step.

Re “you’d think there’d be research involved in staying at the top of his field.”

Oh. You’re talking about those pathetic details, then? ;)

Re “Henery J asserts: Jurassic Park, the movie, _proved_ that T-Rex’s aren’t fire breathers, anyway.”

Actually is was JS Narins that asserted that, not a version of me with an extra vowel added. ;)

Henry J, justifiable in his rebuke states: Actually is was JS Narins that asserted that, not a version of me with an extra vowel added. ;)

Sorry, proofff reading errror

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

I wonder what the Right Reverend Pat Robertson has to say about this:

Ky. Gov. Has Life-Threatening Blood Clot

Maybe God wanted to remind Gov. Fletcher to give the mind of man ala science more credit than the Gov seems willing to.

In the most dramatic incident since the Sept. 11 attacks, thousands of people fled the Capitol, packed with members of Congress and other dignitaries, when a plane flew into the restricted air space just before the funeral procession for President Ronald Reagan last June.

A communications breakdown led federal officials to believe the plane might be targeting the Capitol, but it turned out to be carrying Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who had been cleared to fly into the area. (AP)

Pat Robertson probably just has Mr Fletcher fill out an Online Prayer Request.

Dear Ernie,

It is awareness of scientific history to acknowledge that at one time it was “commonly understood by 90% of all people” that all things were composed of four elements - air, earth, fire and water. Should we exercise our fundamental and inalienable rights, and subject all of modern physics, chemistry and engineering to re-examination and trial against the dogma of the air, earth, fire and water “theory”?

Our nation was conceived one hundred years before the advances of science led to the theory of evolution - and in the one hundred plus years since Darwin, advances in SCIENCE have led to uncovering OVERWHELMING SCIENTIFIC evidence that evolution is an accurate interpretation of how life came to be, and how it becomes ever more complex and intelligent.

The arguments for “creation” and “intelligent design” are, conversely, thoroughly UNDERWHELMING - and are only continuously advanced by ignorant and/or lying religious fundamentalists such as yourself, as well as opportunistic charlatans who prey upon the ignorance of those more “trained” in religion than in SCIENCE.

Good luck in the next life…if you manage to find it.

Your friend, Dick

Dear Ernie,

It is awareness of scientific history to acknowledge that at one time it was “commonly understood by 90% of all people” that all things were composed of four elements - air, earth, fire and water. Should we exercise our fundamental and inalienable rights, and subject all of modern physics, chemistry and engineering to re-examination and trial against the dogma of the air, earth, fire and water “theory”?

Our nation was conceived one hundred years before the advances of science led to the theory of evolution - and in the one hundred plus years since Darwin, advances in SCIENCE have led to uncovering OVERWHELMING SCIENTIFIC evidence that evolution is an accurate interpretation of how life came to be, and how it becomes ever more complex and intelligent.

The arguments for “creation” and “intelligent design” are, conversely, thoroughly UNDERWHELMING - and are only continuously advanced by ignorant and/or lying religious fundamentalists such as yourself, as well as opportunistic charlatans who prey upon the ignorance of those more “trained” in religion than in SCIENCE.

Good luck in the next life…if you manage to find it.

Your friend, Isaac

I know this is a little late, but this is a reply to Marc S. #84546. As a physician who champions science education at all opportunities I can say that with the exception of specialists in infectious diseases and/or doctors who are athiests and agnostics (approximately the same % as in the general population (12-15%) most physicians either dont care about this issue or are 100% behind ID being taught. Many physicians had only first year biology in college. It really isn’t a prerequisite any more. Most med schools don’t care what your major was and really want you to have more facility in chemistry and physics than biology. When I was in med school (1965-9) the subject of evolution never came up. Med school teaches biology very specifically related to anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, biochemistry and histology pertaining to human beings. Some time is spent on human genetics, (the only potential interface with evolution), but not really with populations. Some specialties may have more involvement with evolution such as infectious diseases, genetic diseases and public health, but the rest really do not. Most med schools want you to get the basic science down quicky to move students into their clinical rotations as soon as is feasable.

Dover,

Thanks for the insight to MDs. I frequently wondered why many MDs do not address the issue, or oppose it.

Everyone else,

Another thing (that has been mentioned on here before); what is it with engineers and ID/creationism? It’s like they don’t get their biological/geological training either. I have many friends that are engineers, they are very smart in a way, but the ID thing isn’t an issue for them, or they are on the ID side. I don’t understand it… I guess they just don’t get the academic training that geologists and biologists do. It really really aggravates me that educated people don’t ask/question the biggest questions in life. The 19Th century existentialist philosophers would be perplexed if they knew we hadn’t progressed any since then. :( I read an article the other day that indicated many more people, not surprisingly, are getting college educations, and the numbers are exponentially growing. Hopefully these people will take a few semesters of science classes, otherwise it won’t matter.

I don’t think people should be able to have a PhD or MD if you believe in ID… lol… It should be a prerequisite.

With the vast expansion of enrollments, American colleges and universities have become high-level tech schools. This development was probably inevitable since there is no way that so many people could belong to an elite. Hence the apparent decline in both traditional liberal arts values and critical thinking–luxury goods inappropriate for the general public.

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. … It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [forming the U.S. government] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. …Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery… are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind”

A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787—88__John Adams

“The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.”

-George Washington

“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”

Albert Einstein, Famous physicist and Nobel Prize winner.

You can’t be 28640 serious?!?

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on March 6, 2006 10:54 PM.

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