At trial, Dover’s sacrificial lamb’ Buckingham reflects on becoming defense target

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Lauri Lebo >At trial, Dover’s sacrificial lamb’ Buckingham reflects on becoming defense targetYork Daily Record Mar 26, 2006. pg. 1/07

Salient quote:

While the Discovery Institute’s opposition to Dover’s curriculum policy has been widely reported, Buckingham said at first Cooper was enthusiastic and supportive. Cooper offered to send him materials about intelligent design.

“He’d call me to see if we were going to go forward,” Buckingham said.

But gradually, as the publicity continued, the attorney began to suggest that the board should not move forward on the curriculum change because it could lead to a lawsuit.

“He was afraid we were going to lose the case,” Buckingham said. “And he thought, if we did lose the case, it was going to set intelligent design back for years.

“He just didn’t think we were the proper people to be pushing this at this time,” Buckingham said.

The day after the school board voted in October 2004 to include intelligent design in its biology curriculum, Discovery Institute posted a news release saying it didn’t support the school board.

“I think they thought we jumped their gun, so to speak,” Buckingham said.

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Two things stand out in this article. One deserves a place in the 'ID is not creationism' files. Soon after he was elected in 2002, former board member Alan Bonsell began to raise the issue privately about teaching creationism in science class at ... Read More

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Buckingham:

“Now I had Clarence Thomas on my side and the president of the United States. I think that’s pretty good company.

What a team they make!

You three can have a party, Bill. The recovering alcoholic can bring the Coke and the recovering pornophile will make sure there are no pubic hairs in it.

You know, I’m actually honestly not sure whether this guy is engaged in barefaced deceit over the whole “not mentioning creationism” thing or whether he genuinely doesn’t remember. Either way, having actual documented evidence should have convinced him by now, so no pity is needed.

Just a bit of advice for Mr. Buckingham: “watch out for those rear-duals!”

(Being thrown under the bus is a bitch).

Corkscrew Wrote:

You know, I’m actually honestly not sure whether this guy is engaged in barefaced deceit over the whole “not mentioning creationism” thing or whether he genuinely doesn’t remember.

Maybe my recent comment on Talk.Origins will help you decide:

Let’s see. Addicted to OxyContin. Doesn’t remember saying “creationism.” Listens to Hovind. Admits belief in a 6-day creation. Welcomes DI folk who admit an old earth and common descent. And after the trial, and the abandonment (no doubt due to the “someone died on the cross” quote), still maintains that he only wanted good science taught.

He isn’t addicted to OxyContin, he’s addicted to pseudoscience.

And he thought, if we did lose the case, it was going to set intelligent design back for years.

Really? How would losing a 1st Amendment case in Pennsylvania set back the Dishonesty Institute’s scientific research program? Surely they’d still publish their scientific results in scientific journals just like they did with breathtaking pace before the case was decided. No?

“the Dishonesty Institute’s”

LOL! Where they study Incomprehensible Design, Irreducible Confusion and Confused Spectacular Intrigue?

Not to mention Specious Complexity.

Let’s not totally badmouth poor Mr. Buckingham whose contibution to medical science perhaps someday will win The Pro (registered trademark) the Nobel prize in medicine as he was patient zero for the exciting new field of oxycontinental drift. In this intelligently designed scenario, in those predisposed to the syndrome, under the effects of oxycontin the 2 hemispheres of the cerebral cortex drift apart until the patient is no longer capable of remembering anything he says and is in fact babbling in tongues except that the “tongue” here is English.

The April 2006 Harper’s has two letters published in response to Matthew Chapman’s February “God or Gorilla” article. One Ronald Osborn of Silver Spring MD complained that the article had negative physical descriptions of many of the ID supporters and positive physical descriptions of their opponents. It concluded rather deceitfully that the issues involved ought to be discussed more carefully, as if Chapman didn’t bother to do anything but snipe. Googling his name and city reveals that Osborn is a member of the Seventh-Day Adventists, an officially literalist church.

More interesting is the letter from Robert J Muise, of the TMLC, and specifically one of the lawyers for the defense in Dover. He starts off by claiming moral superiority. Chapman admits that he is unable to hate people once he gets to know them, whereas he, Muise, being Christian, is filled with “love” unconditionally, and the concept of unconditional love is apparently alien to Chapman. Muise, of course, is lying. Like the Randroids, he just redefines basic English to suit his position, conveniently putting himself on a moral high ground. Muise is, I assume, actually filled with hate for other people. His hatred for Chapman is quite obvious in his letter–he wouldn’t lie so much otherwise. In Muise’s fantasy world, the Chapman article was simply antireligious hatred.

Also of interest is an article by Robert Sapolksy, reprinting his Jan/Feb article in Foreign Affairs, on the natural history of peace. He starts by citing Dobzhansky, and then summarizes current understanding of primate aggression and conflict resolution. Sapolksy also has an article in the current Virginia Review Quarterly on human/chimp differences, part of their special section on the greatness of evolution and the worthlessness of ID. He points out that the famed 2% genetic disagreement is half human pseudogenes for odor receptors we no longer have, and muses on what this really means.

William E Emba Concludes his post with: He points out that the famed 2% genetic disagreement is half human pseudogenes for odor receptors we no longer have, and muses on what this really means.

Is that a result of humans co-opting dogs? Anyone who has owned dogs knows that they love nothing better than to roll in any bit of sh*t they find and consider it a badge of superiority to their behind sniffing friends. They’re good at chasing things and when well trained can be useful, beyond that they need to be kept on a leash or they can be a nuisance.……hmmmmm.

k.e. Wrote:
William E Emba Wrote:

[Sapolsky] points out that the famed 2% genetic disagreement is half human pseudogenes for odor receptors we no longer have, and muses on what this really means.

Is that a result of humans co-opting dogs?

Not according to Sapolsky. He makes no mention of dogs or wolves being involved. In his view, the weakening of sensory connections with our emotions (only smell is deeply hard-wired) allowed us to become more rational. And presumably smart enough to domesticate dogs.

William That’s interesting; the weakening of sensory connections with our emotions (only smell is deeply hard-wired) allowed us to become more rational

Though not smart enough for some to be able to talk lie and think at the same time :)

Dear Mr. William E. Emba,

I am not a regular reader or contributor to this website, but I just stumbled across your comment on a letter I wrote to Harpers, which you describe as somehow deceitful. Your remarks betray, however, precisely the same problem I detected in Mr. Chapman’s article. Rather than responding to the substantive point I was making–namely, that there are serious philosophical and moral problems associated with the theory of natural selection and that stating these problems should not simply be dismissed as the “willful ignorance” (Chapman’s words) of village idiots–you engage in yet another attack ad hominem. According to your exhaustive Google research, I am a Seventh-day Adventist and therefore, you imply, a biblical literalist by definition. Nothing more, evidently, need be said.

In the event that you are truly interested in my personal background and thinking, though, I would offer the following for you consideration: My letter was not based upon the assumptions of a biblical literalist. I was raised an Adventist, it is true, and I continue to actively participate in an Adventist community while also exploring other denominations and other faiths. But a literalist reading of Genesis is not a condition for fellowship or baptism into the Adventist church, and there are in fact divergent views among Adventists on the topic.

Evolutionary theory, you might be surprised to know, is taught in a number of Adventist colleges as a matter of scientific fact. I currently attend a Sabbath school class at my home church in Takoma Park that counts among its members an anthropologist from the Smithsonian who recently served as the Director of the National Museum of Natural History, and a medical doctor specializing in tropical diseases who is the current Director of the Center for Disaster and Refugee Responses at Johns Hopkins. I can assure you that these scientists are hardly the wooden literalists you seem to assume all Adventists to be. In the future, I hope you will therefore resist the temptation to leap to conclusions about what individuals believe and think from a few biographical details hastily and superficially gleaned from cyberspace.

For the record: I read Darwin’s Origin of Species in its entirety with pleasure and admiration for a Master’s level course I took in evolutionary biology at a secular university (as an elective course, I might add, because I wanted to better understand Darwin and wrestle with his ideas with an open mind). Although I concluded (along with philosopher Hans Jonas) that there is a very strong critique to be made of Darwinian thinking as an explanation for the origins of life, of animal sentience, of human reason and of morality (see www.ronaldosborn.net/articles/Natural%20Dissent.pdf), I do not doubt that Darwinian mechanisms can powerfully explain many of the physical structures of organisms, or that the earth is many millions of years old. The believer, GK Chesterton pointed out, can cheerfully admit a great deal of natural development according to physical laws into her worldview; it is the puritanical materialist who cannot allow the slightest speck of the supernatural into his spotless machine.

Sincerely, Ronald Osborn

PS Harpers didn’t actually print all of the letter I sent them. They deleted a final paragraph in which I suggested that they solicit an essay on the topic of religion and science from Kentucky farmer-philosopher Wendell Berry, who has written for Harpers in the past and has written a terrific book you might enjoy against what he calls the “modern superstition” of fundamentalist science. The title of the book is: Life is a Miracle. I would also heartily recommend Mary Midgley’s book, Evolution as Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears.

there are serious philosophical and moral problems associated with the theory of natural selection

Are there serious philosophical and moral problems associated with the theory of gravity, too? How about quantum mechanics? Relativity?

Mr. Flank, no there are not moral issues associated with the theory of gravity, which unlike the theory of natural selection does not make any claims about how morality and reason itself originated. If you are actually interested in exploring the topic I suggest that you read Darwin’s Descent of Man. Daniel Dennett also makes a vigorous case in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea for the idea that natural selection is in fact a “universal acid” that radically corrodes and ultimately destroys every traditional philosophical concept and belief in its path, whether in the realm of ethics, cosmology, psychology, politics or religion.

Mr. Osborn

You might want to spend a little more time looking around here. Suggesting to a PT regular that they need to familiarize themselves with Darwin’s work and creationist claims is about the stupidest thing you could do.

We know all about Dennet. We know all about Darwin. We know what science is and what it is not. A philosophical or moral complaint has absolutely zero relevance to how the biosphere works. It’s that simple. Instead of telling others to go learn, you might spend some time here learning for yourself.

BTW - Lenny’s point was that gravity theory, quantum theory, atomic theory, VSEPR theory, germ theory, relativity theory, evolutionary theory are all science. They are all interlinked. If your personal morality depends upon the understanding of one, it depends upon the understanding of all of them. Either you accept rational science or you don’t!

Mr. Vandalhooch,

1. “Suggesting to a PT regular that they need to familiarize themselves with Darwin’s work and creationist claims is about the stupidest thing you could do.”

Reply: I did not suggest that PT readers familiarize themselves with creationist claims. I pointed out, in reply to what I assumed was an honest question, that Darwin, Dennett and many other evolutionary theorists have themselves declared that there are important epistemological and ethical implications of natural selection. It is therefore disingenuous to suggest, as some popularizers of evolutionary theory do, that there aren’t any problems in these areas.

2. “A philosophical or moral complaint has absolutely zero relevance to how the biosphere works.”

Reply: that is true. We might not like the philosophical implications of natural selection but we must still account for factual data in ways that are intellectually honest, and embrace difficult truths if this is where the evidence leads.

3. “Instead of telling others to go learn, you might spend some time here learning for yourself.”

Reply: I’m afraid the quality of the writing and reasoning on this website is not of such a level that I will be spending more time trying to learn here. But I will continue to read serious evolutionary theorists elsewhere for pleasure and profit, even if I disagree with some of their basic assumptions.

4. “Either you accept rational science or you don’t!”

I assume by “rational science” you mean the inductive method we have inherited from Bacon and Descarte (whom I am sure you have spent time reading as well). But Kenan Malik has pointed out that the inductive method, embraced without qualification, is reductive to the point of absurdity. The subject, engaged in the act of “objective” reasoning, ends up without any foundation for reason itself. There is an unresolved tension, Malik shows, between materialist and humanist worldviews that is recognized among philosophers of science and is not based upon religious thinking of any kind. Han Jonas (forgive me for citing writers you have already studied) makes a similar point in The Phenomenon of Life. Darwinian natural selection, he suggests, logically leads to the death of reason:

“[A]s a merely formal skill—the extension of animal cunning—it does not set but serves aims, is not itself standard but measured by standards outside of its jurisdiction. If there is a ‘life of reason’ for man (as distinct from the mere use of reason), it can be chosen only nonrationally, as all ends must be chosen nonrationally (if they can be chosen at all). Thus reason has no jurisdiction even over the choice of itself as more than a means. But use of reason, as a means, is compatible with any end, no matter how irrational. This is the nihilistic implication in man’s losing a ‘being’ transcending the flux of becoming.”

This will be my final posting on this site since I prefer to contribute comments in an atmosphere of greater congeniality that PT seems to afford. All the best in your search for truth.

Ronald Osborn

Ronald Osborn What have you been smoking? As History has shown us on more than one occasion religion (not science) ‘logically leads’ to the death of reason. And since you claim to be literate you will not need to be told which events those were.

Best of luck with Bacon and Descarte(sic) as a guide to your ‘truth’ but I hate to tell you, they were just part of the inspiration for the enlightenment and would not have needed to write half of what they did were it not for religious obscurantism.

Mr. K.E., Alas, it seems I must make one final contribution to this site on the topic of history, religion and reason. It is not clear from your comments what precise historical events you are alluding to. I trust, however, that you would not make the logical mistake of ascribing properties to religion itself on the basis of everything that has been done in religion’s name throughout history. By the same reasoning we would be compelled to reject the materialist worldview because of the 60 million people killed in Soviet Gulags in the name of “scientific materialism”, the millions sterilized and killed under the Nazi party’s program of “scientific” race eugenics, the worst excesses of Mao’s cultural revolution, in which religious persons of all faiths were relentlessly persecuted and executed in the name of “reason”, the crimes committed by the avowedly atheist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, etc. No, I’m afraid history doesn’t offer a very comforting view of dogmatism–of either the religious OR the atheistic varieties. It is surely more intellectually honest, then, to look for the best arguments and most representative voices on both sides of the question. That means giving full credit and weight to the lives and thinking of the most lucid, humane and decent atheists as well as the most rational, rigorous and articulate persons of religious faith. If you cannot do this, I regret that your defense of “reason” will continue to betray that depressing and all too common brand of ideological fervor elsewhere known as fundamentalism.

Oh I see Ronald an anti-reason dogmatist , well it takes all sorts.

Yes of course Ronald I agree with you, creationists blame Darwin for all sorts of things, history like science does not treat them kindly Creationists, Hitler and Evolution

and who said “I am a Christian when I believe that the meaning of my life is the heavy responsibility to love my neighbor as myself.” GWB or Joseph Goebbels

By the History of religion and science I was talking about Religious Obscurantism (look it up)

Ronald Osborn Wrote:

Mr. Flank, no there are not moral issues associated with the theory of gravity, which unlike the theory of natural selection does not make any claims about how morality and reason itself originated.

What about psychology and neurology? Are there moral issues associated with the fact that you can alter someone’s personality and moral impulses by physically or chemically altering their brain? And do these issues invalidate the disciplines?

Daniel Dennett also makes a vigorous case in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea for the idea that natural selection is in fact a “universal acid” that radically corrodes and ultimately destroys every traditional philosophical concept and belief in its path, whether in the realm of ethics, cosmology, psychology, politics or religion.

That’s not really what Dennett says.

“Little did I realize that in a few years I would encounter an idea – Darwin’s idea – bearing an unmistakable likeness to universal acid: it eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways.”

He’s not saying that evolutionary theory leads to nihilism–he’s saying it makes you look at the world very differently. And nowhere does he say that it “corrodes and ultimately destroys” the entirety of traditional ethics. If someone told you that he did, it would be a good idea to read his work for yourself. Dennett is very concerned with ethics.

Independently of that, Dennett is not any more entitled to pronounce upon the philosophical (or any other) consequences of evolutionary theory than is anyone else. Many scientists and philosophers agree with him; many disagree. Since around half of biologists are theists, by the surveys I’ve seen, obviously Dennett’s religious beliefs are not taken as gospel by the scientific establishment. If you wish to make an argument that evolutionary theory has specific religious or ethical implications, saying “Dennett said so” is insufficient even if true.

I pointed out, in reply to what I assumed was an honest question, that Darwin, Dennett and many other evolutionary theorists have themselves declared that there are important epistemological and ethical implications of natural selection. It is therefore disingenuous to suggest, as some popularizers of evolutionary theory do, that there aren’t any problems in these areas.

Dennett is not an evolutionary theorist; he’s a philosopher. And Darwin wrote that

“Finally, it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination it is far more satisfactory to look at such instincts as the young cuckoo ejecting its foster-brothers, ants making slaves, the larvae of ichneumonidae feeding within the live bodies of caterpillars, not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings–namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”

Which seems to make it clear that he sees evolution as resolving an ethical problem; namely, the existence of natural evil in a God-governed universe. He certainly didn’t believe that an understanding of evolution would somehow damage ethics.

Incidentally, Darwin also wrote, “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” And was generally a nice and charitable guy.

By the same reasoning we would be compelled to reject the materialist worldview because of the 60 million people killed in Soviet Gulags in the name of “scientific materialism”, the millions sterilized and killed under the Nazi party’s program of “scientific” race eugenics,

The Nazis weren’t materialists, Ronald. The vast majority of them, Hitler included, were Christians.

There’s only one book I know of wherein the Jews get the Son of God killed and declare “His blood be on ourselves and on our children.” It’s not the Origin.

It’s certainly true, though, that one can do horrible things whether or not one is a philosophical materialist.

Anton Mates, Although I had no intention of posting any more comments, and said as much above, I appreciate your response (which actually made coherent arguments as opposed to sheer name-calling) and so I thought I would briefly reply. Your points about Dennett are well taken. My sense is that he says contradictory things, and I take his enthusiasm for Nietzsche to point toward a more radical reevaluation of traditional ethics than you sense, but perhaps I have read too much into his chosen metaphor (“universal acid”). I understand that Dennett is a philosopher of evolutionary science rather than a biologist. If that means we cannot call him an evolutionary “theorist”, very well. The title is less important to me than the prominent role he has played as a popularizer of Darwinian ideas–or perhaps more accurately, of philosophical materialism as an assumption that is adequate to explain all aspects of reality, including the origins of the human mind, human rationality, language, etc. As it turns out, I have actually benefited a great deal from reading writers like Dennett, Dawkins and Gould, and my own thinking has changed a great deal over the years as a result of wrestling with the arguments they make. I wrote an article for a journal which you are welcome read on my website that captured my views a couple of years ago (and many of my views today), but I think there are things I would change if I were to write the article again. In summary, my views today are as follows: 1) I do not support the teaching of ID in public school classrooms, as much for religious reasons as scientific ones–I don’t believe that God has designed a universe that coercively compels belief by its very nature, which would override the necessity of free choice and faith. 2) I believe that students in public schools SHOULD be aware that evolutionary biology, both theoretically and empirically, is unable to provide more than “just so” stories for: a) the origin of life, b) the origin animal sentience, and c) the origin of human rationality (as well, obviously, of the universe itself, which is a matter for the physicists). The work of philosophers of science such as Mary Midgley, Kenan Malik and Hans Jonas are helpful guides in these areas. 3) Students should be aware that throughout history religion and science have not generally been enemies, and that religious commitments have motivated many scientists in their work in vital ways (Newton is the most conspicuous example). 4) Students should understand why young-earth creationism is bad science, but attitudes of reflexive intellectual arrogance against religious people–the view that “science” has shown that believers are “deceitful”, “stupid”, “obscurantists” (a few of the epitaphs I garnered, implicitly or explicitly on this site in very short order from people who know practically nothing about me)–need to also be exposed for what they are: arrogant bigotry. 5) Students should have an accurate knowledge about the history of world religions and religious belief systems (they should know for example, that Hitler’s alleged “Christianity” masked his very vigorous assault on Christianity, and that the strongest Resistance to Hitler among the German people occurred among believers. One of my former professors, Beate Rhum von Oppen, a nonbeliever who actually fled Nazi Germany as a teenager, wrote a very interesting monograph on the topic as a visiting scholar at Princeton, which I would be happy to share with you if you are interested.) 6) Believers should most certainly be confronted with the terrible history of religious fanaticism, anti-semitism, the Crusades, etc. Confession, as they say in my tradition, is good for the soul.

OK, that really does end it for me here on PT once and for all. I am happy to respond to emails at my regular email address: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]. But I really need to devote my time and energy to other matters for the time being.

Ron

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