Yet another version of the origins of ID

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Box at the top of a May 1989 Bible-Science NewsletterCheck out this post by Karl Mogel at The Inoculated Mind. It reviews an April 28 talk at UC Davis given by Discovery Institute fellow Nancy Pearcey. Although Pearcey is now an official ID advocate, she was originally a young-earth creationist. In fact, she was one of the editors of the young-earth creationist Bible-Science Newsletter from 1977-1991, and for much of that period wrote monthly articles. As I showed in this PT post last year, several of her Bible-Science Newsletter articles became part of the text of the first “intelligent design” book, Of Pandas and People. The draft of the Overview chapter of Pandas, which was the chapter that Pearcey wrote, shows the same changes from creation/creationist to intelligent design/design proponent that the six “excursion” chapters of Pandas show. This was first made public when the draft Overview chapter was introduced into evidence in a July 14, 2005 pretrial hearing in the Kitzmiller case.

Now, given the actual history of Pandas and the actual origin of the modern “intelligent design” terminology in this relabeling event (the relevant PT posts are linked in the “Evolution of Creationism” section of PT), it is extremely interesting that nary a word about this was said about it by ID advocates in the entire 15 year period following the publication of Pandas. It is also quite interesting that it is not mentioned in any of the various pre-Kitzmiller written and oral “histories” of the ID movement, except in extremely oblique form. Now, some of the modern IDists might have not known about the word switcheroo, or at least have plausible deniability (although I suspect that everyone on the long list of reviewers at the front of the 1989 Pandas, which includes many modern IDists, must have seen and commented on pre-ID drafts of Pandas, even if they don’t remember it). But certainly the actual authors of Pandas have a little explaining to do. Jon Buell seems to be the guy taking most of the heat (see here and here for his attempts so far to explain the slightly embarassing situation) so far, but the other (known) authors of the 1989 Pandas are Charles Thaxton, Dean Kenyon, Percival Davis, and…Nancy Pearcey.

Back to Karl Mogel’s post. I don’t remember exactly, but I think Mogel, who lives in Davis, emailed me the week before Pearcey’s talk at UC Davis. We were discussing questions that one might ask Pearcey after her talk, and I highlighted some of the above facts and suggested that they might be interesting to explore. It turns out he did, and he has posted Pearcey’s answer in his blogpost. I copy it here for posterity, and offer a few comments.

[starting at 10:30 on Mogel’s 2nd mp3 of the event]

[based on Mogel’s transcription, with some corrections and adding the original question and beginning of Pearcey’s response]

Karl Mogel: Um, Mrs. Pearcey, you mentioned evolution a couple of times tonight, as one of the things you point to – I noticed you’re from the Discovery Institute. And I believe you’ve maintained that intelligent design is something distinct from creationism or scientific creationism, or creation science, all the various terms for it. But yet I read that you wrote the Overview chapter for Of Pandas and People back when it said creationism in it, and then you said nothing about that fact for 15 years until it was revealed in the Dover case. And so I think this is an excellent followup to what that person there just asked, about integrity. Isn’t it true that you’ve been hiding the creationist origins of ID for 15 years, until it was exposed in Kitzmiller v. Dover?

Moderator guy: OK, the question is, Isn’t it true that you’ve been hiding the creationist background to intelligent design until it was exposed in the Dover case?

Nancy Pearcey: Um, w, what – I was interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter, who said something very similar. Um, when I first started writing on this issue, there weren’t any ID people around. If you were interested in this issue, the only game in town was creationism. And so even though I didn’t agree with everything in straight-line creationist thinking, um, I hung out with them, and I wrote on this issue, and I think they have a lot of good – a lot of creationist arguments against evolution of course have been taken up by ID as well.

Um, ID is, the history is real, ID is developed. And so when ID came along, I immediately said oh yeah that’s much more congenial to the way I think, so in terms of my personal, you know, history, as soon as ID came along I said its much more the way I think.

Now what is the difference between ID and creationism, a lot of people wonder. I think it’s the logic, more than anything. In other words, creationism was founded by people who were Bible-believing Christians and they said, since we believe the Bible, since we know the Bible’s true, what does that mean for science? I think that’s a valid question, just like a Christian would say, if I’m Christian, what does that mean for government, my understanding of government, if I’m Christian, what does that mean for education? If I’m Christian, what does that mean for the arts, the economy, or the law or whatever, that’s part of what building a Christian worldview can mean, that kind of question.

But that’s not the way you talk to people who don’t share your beliefs. If you were to talk to someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, you would find common ground with them, you would try to find some area where you can both discuss it together, I mean we all do that. And so intelligent design says is “OK let’s not start with ‘we believe the Bible,’ let’s start with ‘what does the data show?’” Now can you make an argument just from the data itself, can you show that, you know to me the strongest argument is from the DNA. Can you say, well, that at the heart of life is a code, information, language, where does information come from? Well, in our experience, information require mental agents, that’s our experience of it. And so you see it’s that the logic is different.

So even though there’s some overlap in some of the arguments, the – I think the logic is quite different. And is it – it’s not a matter of, you know, ‘hiding,’ it’s just a matter of you know, that was 20 years ago and as soon as ID came along, I found it much more congenial with what I already believed.

Let’s see, now let’s do it with comments interspersed:

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

Moderator guy: OK, the question is, Isn’t it true that you’ve been hiding the creationist background to intelligent design until it was exposed in the Dover case?

Nancy Pearcey: Um, w, what – I was interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter, who said something very similar. Um, when I first started writing on this issue, there weren’t any ID people around. If you were interested in this issue, the only game in town was creationism.

So, Pearcey still follows the old talking points that “ID is a new movement began in the 1980’s” , not the newer “ID stretches back to the origin of Western thought” talking point. Good to know.

And so even though I didn’t agree with everything in straight-line creationist thinking, um, I hung out with them,

I hate to be a bother, but Pearcey worked for the Bible-Science Newsletter for 13 years. At the top of every single issue of the newsletter (until it changed into the Bible-Science News in the early 1990s), next to the title, is a disclaimer. This one is from 1986:

BIBLE-SCIENCE NEWSLETTER DEDICATED TO: Special Creation Literal Bible Interpretation Divine Design and Purpose in Nature A Young Earth A Univeral Noachian Flood Christ as God and Man – Our Saviour Christ-Centered Scientific Research

In 1989, it had changed slightly:

BIBLE-SCIENCE NEWSLETTER Dedicated to: Special Creation Literal (natural) Bible Interpretation Divine Design and Purpose in Nature A Young Earth A Univeral Noachian Flood Christ as God and Man – Our Saviour Christ-Centered Scientific Research The Inerrancy of Scripture

This looks a wee bit like “straight-line creationist thinking” to me. Here’s a screenshot of a scanned front page of the May 1989 Bible-Science Newsletter, where Pearcey’s first Pandas-text essay appeared:

Scan of the front page of the May 1989 Bible-Science Newsletter

You may have noticed that Pearcey’s essay is entitled “Of Fins and Fingers.” Some weird alliteration thing was being played around with at certain points in the development of Pandas; the only remaining vestige of this appears to be the title, Of Pandas and People.

Back to Pearcey’s comments:

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

and I wrote on this issue, and I think they have a lot of good – a lot of creationist arguments against evolution of course have been taken up by ID as well.

Exactly our point.

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

Um, ID is, the history is real, ID is developed. And so when ID came along, I immediately said oh yeah that’s much more congenial to the way I think, so in terms of my personal, you know, history, as soon as ID came along I said it’s much more the way I think.

So, Pearcey is saying that she is not a creationist in ID clothing, she was actually a cryptic IDist in creationist clothing. In 1989, when ID came along, she realized that her true calling was ID!

That’s funny, because in a January 1993 issue of Bible-Science News, Pearcey wrote this for the front page:

Bible-Science News Volume 31:1

Mission: Bible-Science Association, Inc., exists to inform, educate, and persuade people of the reliability of Scripture by disseminating the foundational truth of the literal account of creation in order to effect evangelization and discipleship from a Christian world view.

Teaching Creationism by Nancy Pearcey

I grew up in a Lutheran home where I was taught orthodox Christian doctrine from an early age. I went to a Lutheran grade school. I knew the word “evolution” and I knew in some vague fashion that “they” were wrong and “we” were right. But the how’s and why’s, specific scientific theories and evidence, I was never taught.

Halfway through high school, I realized I did not believe the Christianity I had been taught for so many years. I was hanging onto it out of respect for my parents. But I personally had no reasons for believing it to be true. I had no criterion for holding to creation instead of any other world view. I decided the only honest thing to do was reject the faith. I embarked on a tumultuous and painful search for years through agnostic philosophies and eastern religions.

What I had was a borrowed faith. I was a “second-generation Christian.” I believed because my parents and teachers told me to. My borrowed faith lasted only until I found out other young people believed opposite things because their parents and teachers told them to. Without being able to put it into words at the time, I realized that this was not an adequate reason to belive.

I did eventually become convinced of the truth of the Bible and accept Jesus as my Lord.

[p. 2]

It is a major concern of mine to help children make creationism their own. That happens only when the child, on whatever level he is able, thinks the issue through for himself. I hope not only to teach the subject of creationism, but to teach children how to think.

To help our young people find their way through the creation-evolution debate, we need to teach them how to handle basic scientific concepts. What is the difference between a fact and a theory? Between data and interpretation? How can the same data be explained by different conceptual schemes? What constitutes evidence? What does it mean to say a piece of datum is evidence for or against a theory? How can we misuse evidence, or mislead with statistics?

It is not enough to teach children to memorize individual proofs for creationism. It is good to know, for example, about the implications of the contemporaneity of man and dinosaurs. However, it is all too easy to be satisfied when our pupils have merely learned to repeat such proofs, to give the “right answers.” It is more important that they understand the reasoning used than that they remember all the specifics. For if you understand the reasoning, then you can approach new data and be able to evaluate them and assess their implications for creationism. But if you have merely memorized proofs, you are at a complete loss when faced with anything new.

[Pearcey, Nancy (1993). “Teaching Creationism.” Bible-Science News (continues Bible-Science Newsletter), 31(1), pp. 1-2. Last bold added, other formatting original.]

I’ll give everyone a moment to pick up their jaws off the floor and reset their irony meters. Seeing a creationist write words in the same paragraph recommending the ability to “approach new data and be able to evaluate them” and endorsing “the contemporaneity of man and dinosaurs” can be quite a shock to the ol’ irony meter. Sorry I didn’t give you a warning.

OK, back to Pearcey’s statements at Davis. Her claim that “as soon as ID came along I said it’s much more the way I think” is totally ludicrous in the light of her 1993 article in Bible-Science News, which is all about “Teaching Creationism”, getting the kids to buy it early, and teaching them “critical thinking” and “reasoning” – but using a solid foundation of long-discredited, completely hopeless creationist “proofs” like the notion that humans and dinosaurs lived together. Does anyone see any ID here?

Moving on to Pearcey’s next statements at Davis:

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

Now what is the difference between ID and creationism, a lot of people wonder. I think it’s the logic, more than anything. In other words, creationism was founded by people who were Bible-believing Christians and they said, since we believe the Bible, since we know the Bible’s true, what does that mean for science? I think that’s a valid question, just like a Christian would say, if I’m Christian, what does that mean for government, my understanding of government, if I’m Christian, what does that mean for education? If I’m Christian, what does that mean for the arts, the economy, or the law or whatever, that’s part of what building a Christian worldview can mean, that kind of question.

But that’s not the way you talk to people who don’t share your beliefs.

So, ID is an arm of conservative Christian apologetics? There’s a shocker.

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

If you were to talk to someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, you would find common ground with them, you would try to find some area where you can both discuss it together, I mean we all do that. And so intelligent design says is “OK let’s not start with ‘we believe the bible,’ let’s start with ‘what does the data show?’” Now can you make an argument just from the data itself,

For some reason, I’m not just not seeing the big distinction between creationism and ID here. “Creation scientists” also swore up-and-down that their views were based on empirical evidence, not the Bible. Dean Kenyon swore it under oath in the lead expert affidavit the creationists used as their key argument for the constitutionality of creation-science in the Supreme Court’s Edwards v. Aguillard case.

In fact, Pearcey makes exactly the same “data-first” claim for creationism in that 1993 BSN article, that she is making for ID in her 2006 talk. According to Pearcey, the empirical data show that humans and dinosaurs lived together. Therefore the earth is young. This just happens to match the literalist interpretation of Genesis. Data first, not the Bible!

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

…can you show that, you know to me the strongest argument is from the DNA. Can you say, well, that at the heart of life is a code, information, language, where does information come from? Well, in our experience, information require mental agents, that’s our experience of it. And so you see it’s that the logic is different.

Earth to IDists/creationists: do everyone a favor and READ ABOUT THE NATURAL ORIGIN OF NEW GENETIC INFORMATION!! Your personal shocking ignorance about where new genes come from cannot be extrapolated to represent human experience about “where does information come from?” Judge Jones figured out where the evidence for the evolution of new genetic information was and put it in the Kitzmiller opinion. Why can’t you guys get a clue?

Nancy Pearcey, UC Davis, 4/28/06 Wrote:

So even though there’s some overlap in some of the arguments, the – I think the logic is quite different. And is it – it’s not a matter of, you know, ‘hiding,’ it’s just a matter of you know, that was 20 years ago and as soon as ID came along, I found it much more congenial with what I already believed.

So, Pearcey is telling us that the logic of ID is different from creationism, even though the actual sentences shared between creationist and ID versions of a book are exactly the same, except for an imperfect terminology switch. Doesn’t sound very logical to me.

[Minor corrections made, 5/24/06. Thanks to Karl Mogel]

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I almost feel sorry for Nancy Pearcey. Almost. Nick Matzke shreds the poor woman, and I felt a faint twinge of sympathy…but such ignorance and mendacity deserves the treatment she gets.... Read More

113 Comments

All the creation science people who now label themselves ID have legally contaminated the ID movement, and now that judge jones has started shovelling dirt on the ID corpse, the ID people will go on to contaminate the next movement.

It’s stunning how brain-blastingly, awesomely stupid and lacking in self-awareness these people can be. “Arg…must…defend…ancient superstitions…from…modern…knowledge…”

They’re just different faces of the same movement.

Awesome, hilariously embarrising post, by the way, Nick.

Do overstuffed big tents eventually explode? What are the probabilities of that?

Excellent work once again Nick

In other words, creationism was founded by people who were bible-believing christians and they said, since we believe the bible, since we know the bible’s true, what does that mean for science?

Pointing out the bleeding obvious, that attitude means that they’re not interested in actual science. Science would ask if the Bible is true, and if some part were scientifically sustainable, it would still ask which parts were and which parts were not scientifically sound (I don’t think any part really is, though some parts are essentially correct according to Biblical ideology).

I think that’s a valid question, just like a christian would say, if I’m christian, what does that mean for government, my understanding of government, if I’m christian, what does that mean for education. If I’m christian, what does that mean for the arts, the economy, or the law or whatever, that’s part of what building a christian worldview can mean, that kind of question.

Yes, at least most of those are legitimate questions for Xians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. What none of these religions has the right to do, however, is to determine which facts are going to be used, and which ones must be smothered for the sake of their religion. It’s like saying that one may use Xianity to ask what sort of justice is valid, in their point of view.

But that’s not the way you talk to people who don’t share your beliefs. If you were to talk to someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, you would find common ground with them, you would try to find some area where you can both discuss it together, I mean we all do that.

You mean if you’re a certain kind of Xian, you just lie. Now I’m not denying that diplomacy is reasonable, however it is one thing to find as much legitimate common cause as possible, and quite another to claim to utilize science when you’re only defending religion.

But at least when called on it, she does admit the whole game plan. It’s more than I can say for Dembski, Behe.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Hehhehhhehh

Anyone who has read Pearcey’s [bleepety-bleep] “Total Truth” will have lost over 20 IQ points unless protected by much prophylactic beer. With most creationist crap I try to use some moderate level of detachment, and a large number of ‘post-it’ tags and red marker underlinings indicating the gross stupidities, lies and errors. She surpassed all my defenses and I am now a mere drunken shell of my former self.

I propose as the official term for closet IDists who were only “hanging out with” Creationsits until ID came along be the term “cdesign proponentists.”

Nancy P tried to give us a bit of insight into her cognitive dissonance:

What I had was a borrowed faith. I was a “second-generation Christian.” I believed because my parents and teachers told me to. My borrowed faith lasted only until I found out other young people believed opposite things because their parents and teachers told them to. Without being able to put it into words at the time, I realized that this was not an adequate reason to belive.

I did eventually become convinced of the truth of the Bible and accept Jesus as my Lord.

anybody else notice the rather LARGE gap between these two paragraphs?

going from “no reason to believe” to “convinced of the truth”???

hmm. One does wonder where the missing gospels in the history of Nancy went.

How many times will we see dysfunction played out as “born again” i wonder?

How long until the dissonance created by parents indoctrinating their kids with poor theology while failing to explain the difference between projection and reality is recognized, and this [bleep] stops?

It really is like kids growing up in a household where the parents are alcoholics, and it’s never explained to them that the parents are suffering from a disease.

Is it any wonder that as soon as the kids in these scenarios hit adolescence, they start to have serious dissonance issues??

It really is sad, and obviously a common form of child abuse in this country, that ends up affecting all of us.

I feel sorry for Nancy. It’s obvious the reason she wants to indoctrinate everybody around her is so she is protected from having to re-examing why she became “conviced of the truth of the bible”.

The very gap i point out here screams out loud the fact that she REALLY doesn’t want to explore how she came to that conclusion.

I really do think the we should consider this type of indoctrination a form of mental abuse, and should further consider whether we should treat it like any other form of abuse.

I am now a mere drunken shell of my former self.

You and me both, buddy.

[Doesn’t sound very logical to me.]

Has anything in the ID/Creationist tent ever sounded logical?

Revising history to fit needs is par for the course with this lot. One can take the liberty when the target audience is unlikely to either know or check the history.

Pearcey

If you were to talk to someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, you would find common ground with them, you would try to find some area where you can both discuss it together, I mean we all do that.

Sure, Nancy.

The problem arises, Nancy, when your “beliefs” include the “belief” that pants-on-fire lying and willful ignorance is okay when discussing certain topics such as, uh, the evolutionary relationship between chimpanzees and humans.

You see, Nancy, there is no way for someone like you to discuss “it” with someone like me. You and Dembski and Behe and Luskin and Wells and Witt are professional liars and, well, I’m not.

To put it plainly: your brain is ugly.

Feel free to pray for me and my friends, though. I’d rather have you waste precious time doing that than screwing up the brains of kids with your fundie garbage.

anybody else notice the rather LARGE gap between these two paragraphs?

To be fair, I’m sure Pearcey has written up her reconversion (born again?) experience in detail somewhere else. She is a professional christian apologist and prodigious writer. Those two facts guarantee it she has written it up somewhere. I have only read a fraction of her stuff, however.

PS: I am bleeping a few of the cruder comments.

To be fair, I’m sure Pearcey has written up her reconversion (born again?) experience in detail somewhere else. She is a professional christian apologist and prodigious writer. Those two facts guarantee it she has written it up somewhere. I have only read a fraction of her stuff, however.

well, far be it from me to ask you to submit yourself, or anyone, to a thorough exploration of her writings to see if she has somewhere.

Besides, Whether she has or not isn’t as relevant to the point I made about child abuse as the type of indoctrination she profers, and the obvious issues she had with her own indoctrination as an adolescent.

Just as a small interpretive point, I think what Ms. Pearcey means by ‘logic’ here is really something more like rhetorical strategy. She is (falsely, I think) claiming that the rhetorical strategy of creationism put belief first and the ‘evidence’ for creation second, while the rhetorical strategy of ID improves on this (for the purpose of dealing with unbelievers) by puting ‘evidence’ first and keeping belief out of sight. This has the virtue of admitting (implicitly) that there is no real doctinal difference between the two. Of course, a more credible reading of the history would say that creation ‘science’ made an effort to put talk of ‘evidence’ first and keep belief somewhat out of sight, while ID tries ineffectually to keep belief more thorougly out of sight on official occasions. A pretty fine distinction on which to base a constitutional claim to be a non-religious point of view. Oh, and there is this other, sort-of new thing, that is, the fancy new lies about information (added to the same old lies about entropy, dinosaurs and humans and all the rest…). On the larger scale, it’s same old, same old– kind of nice to see that conceded!

Calling dumb views “child abuse” is also overwrought IMO.

Calling dumb views “child abuse” is also overwrought IMO.

Actually, I’m glad you’re interested, as I’ve been thinking a bit about this lately, and IMO it would be worth hashing out a bit.

Now just to be specific, I’m not talking religion in general here, but working back from extreme examples of cultism, and eventually locating exactly where the kind of indoctrination profered by Nancy fits on that scale.

so let’s start with the most extreme example i can think of that actually DOES happen:

If your neighbors had kids and submitted them to a brainwashing cult, would you consider that child abuse or not?

Maybe not in a legal sense, but sure.

… and yes, i do kinda realize that a discussion like that wouldn’t exactly be “PC” for this particular forum

I have no objections if you wish to remove all comments to the BW, but would like to explore this a bit more if you’re interested.

Pearcey

What I had was a borrowed faith.

What a strange phrase. I wonder: who was the preacher who coined it?

The Christian fundies in this country come up with quite a few head-scratchers. This idea of a “borrowed faith” that is somehow less worthy than the “not borrowed faith” which Nancy is prone to brag about reminds me of something that I heard in Joe Carter’s peanut gallery once upon a time: “Faith equals overwhelming evidence.”

It’s hard to imagine a more blatantly un-Christian sentiment. Do the fundies worship Jesus or Doubting Thomas?

Regardless, the idea that creationists are enamored of “evidence” is a joke and Nancy’s claim to have found objective (i.e., “non-borrowed”) “proof” that her deity is the One True Deity is 100% poppycock.

Nick, in his excellent post, writes:

Judge Jones figured out where the evidence for the evolution of new genetic information was and put it in the Kitzmiller opinion. Why can’t you guys get a clue?

Oh, they know perfectly well what the problem is and we all know that they know. Nancy and her D.I. friends are simply flooding the stage with their garbage in hopes that the inconvenient facts will either be washed away or sufficiently obscured by misleading tripe so that the rubes, in their perpetual confusion, will clutch their holy blankets and toss a coin in the collection cup.

I’ll wait to continue until it’s clear whether you think it appropriate to continue a discussion of this nature in your thread.

If you don’t, as I said, feel free to wipe related comments away and I’ll start a thread over on ATBC.

last thing i want is Dave Spingerbot over on UD claiming we call all Xians “child abusers” or something like that, simply because I personally wanted to explore this aspect of things.

http://www.da-tulareco.org/child_abuse.htm

There are four forms of child maltreatment: emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Emotional Abuse: (also known as: verbal abuse, mental abuse, and psychological maltreatment) Includes acts or the failures to act by parents or caretakers that have caused or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. This can include parents/caretakers using extreme and/or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement in a closet or dark room or being tied to a chair for long periods of time or threatening or terrorizing a child. Less severe acts, but no less damaging are belittling or rejecting treatment, using derogatory terms to describe the child, habitual scapegoating or blaming.

i.e., “That’s God’s punishment for what you did;” “When you do that, you make Jesus sad” “Do you want to go to hell?” etc., when spoken to 3-6 year olds.

Whether that sort of stuff can constitute child abuse hasn’t been addressed directly, as far as I know. The big bad atheism-promoting ACLU hasn’t gone there, to my knowledge.

Many people – even self-identifying “libertarians” – believe that parental autonomy is a fundamental right. It’s an interesting and (IMHO) an important political issue but one that this country is far far away from ever seriously addressing.

I’ll wait until tommorrow to jump back in again. It is a sensitive issue to address, which is why, as RU rightly points out:

this country is far far away from ever seriously addressing.

normally i wouldn’t be this cautious, but i see repercussions from discussing it here that simply might not be worth it.

again, I’ll wait for a clear “green light” from Nick before proceeding further myself.

Yeah, it probably makes sense to split off the child abuse issue over to ATBC. I’ll leave these comments for context, feel free to link to the new thread.

I guess I was right, Nick, you are a god! J/K.

I don’t often drop my jaw, but when I read the passage about the dinosaurs it literally dropped, funny that you told us to pick up our jaws off the floor! Dude! I wish you sent that to me before the lecture! (Or that I asked to see the scanned documents you mentioned before the lecture!)

I was disappointed to find that my Tangled Bank submission on Pearcey’s lecture bounced back (problem with email address apparently), and now delighted that it was picked up so quickly by Nick and the Thumb.

I shall not disappoint - I’m working on the second edition based on the followup questions. :)

I knew she was (is?) a YEC, but I didn’t know it, you know? The contemporaneity of man and dinosaurs? Nooo! release my brain cells from this nonsense!

Also, both my partner and I noticed that for once in a long while there was a woman giving the creationist lecture. But as she remarked after applauding that fact, ‘different body, same bullshit.’

Well of course the whole problem these people face is that to actually justify their belief they MUST convert others. Why believe in a pile of stinking elephant dung when people are going to ridicule you? Elephant dung is …well smelly and useless.

Converting others to their magical reality or simply stopping the leakage of believers from it, is far easier when you develop a rhinoceros like hide that is impervious to mere facts. Once that Rubicon is crossed there is no going back for them, its only kinky the first time.

The addiction is self supporting and like a crazed gambler the more they lose the more they bet(intellectual capital) to try and ‘win back the house’.

Whole tribes or countries can be easily subverted with this form of madness (literally actually…a loss of sense..to lose ones senses) with a few fanatical people in positions of power who have control of the media channels (education is one) that the polity form their reality with, a social reality is created… provided they can remove dissent from those channels. Reality for the subjects IS whatever the leaders want it to be. No test for truth survives in those camps simply because truth for them is untestable, any fantasy no matter how ‘unreal’ IS reality. In fact the more fantastic the image projected on the 4th wall (or preached from the pulpit)the better because to defend it the followers MUST become martyrs. Goebbels perfected this in the 1930’s …now get this…he got the whole idea FROM religion. He couldn’t believe his own luck and was quite open about using the techniques, people automatically worked harder to support the fantasy and the bigger the lie the harder they worked. What is the motivation for that martyr-hood? Simple; create and vilify an (imaginary) enemy.

The Jim Jones Cult to North Korea’s social realism spring to mind however as Pilger points out,our own reality is not immune from the subtle influence of pervasive propaganda, remember WMD’s and the huge volume of ‘here are the reasons and justification for the Iraqi invasion’ in all the media channels and god help you if you disagreed.

The confluence of conservative religion and conservative politics in positions of influence and power together with a subservient and uncritical press ensures that the man in the street will be wary of stepping outside of what is acceptable commentary lest they be sent to political retraining camps in the case North Korea or just ‘left out of the loop ‘ in everyday and public life in western society. To counter liberal criticism and dissent in western societies the Fundamentalist conservatives have created a parallel universe of public institutions (Bible colleges,PNAC,privatized church based welfare delivery,a privatized corporate paramilitary adjunct for ‘national security’ …invading countries etc) with the aim of completely neutering that dissent, democracy and facts/evidence for them are just a minor inconvenience. Creationists are living proof but the overall problem of an unbending powerful authoritarian theocracy is much bigger, thankfully a few brave souls are not going to let that happen too easily. Keep pointing out the emperor has no clothes.

k.e. Wrote:

Why believe in a pile of stinking elephant dung when people are going to ridicule you? Elephant dung is …well smelly and useless.

While it is indeed smelly, elephant dung is one of the most useful things there are. For one thing, it is fertilizer. For another, it supports entire ecosystems of insects, nematodes, and what have you. It is far more useful than creationism and neo-creationism which, judging by con-men (con-persons?) such as Pearcey and Dembski which, as far as I can tell, produce nothing of value and thus are more akin to parasites.

It never comes as a surprise to me that creationist and ID thinking are so similar. It’s more worth noting how similar the kind of outright lies and half-lies Pearcey attempts to foist off in this interview resembles criminal thinking, particularly when she’s asked questions about her own history. I can’t say whether this is homologous or analogous, but it should be abundantly clear to even the dullest of wits amongst the believers that what Pearcey is doing here is misleading them for her own personal gain.

Elephant dung may stink, but at least its honest about its origins.

I can’t say that I agree with the thrust of this post - an excoriation of ID supporters for being like creationists. Of COURSE these people hold these opinions because of their religious convictions - there’s no other reasonable explanation for tenaciously sticking to such unwieldy chains of logic. However, their essential claim is that, all personal beliefs aside, ID is supported by the data, and I think these claims (which, after all, are not hard to refute) should be taken at face value. Whatever their emotional motivation, these people at least have the integrity to publicly state that evidence is more important than faith for the purposes of this debate, and the fact that they are forced to make this claim after decades of argument is itself a victory for science and truth. Of course, much of “creation science” has been making the same facts-first claim for decades, but this is not the way in which being like creationism is bad. The worst way to be like creationism is to publicly claim that bible trumps fact (e.g. as anybody working for ICR must attest). Certainly they believe this in their hearts, but when they don’t incorporate it into their argument they shouldn’t be attacked for it. Where they are like creationism for making the same facts-first claim, they shouldn’t be attacked for being like creationism because this is not a bad thing; and where they are like creationism for using all the same old cretinous arguments, they shouldn’t be attacked for being like creationism, but rather attacked for using crap arguments. Showing they are “derived from” creationism doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. If they want to claim they are reformed and arguing from evidence, this can be fought purely by attacking their ability to argue from the evidence. As a secondary issue only, where their arguments are ludicrously bad AND conveniently consistent with a religious rather than a scientific view, I think we are entitled to infer that their motivation is religious. But there is no need to invoke their religious motivations as a primary attack on the quality of their arguments.

I never in my wildest dreams believed that the Dover trial would so successfully destroy ID. Between Forrest’s testimony and Jones’s judgement, the main proponents of ID, especially the DI fellows, have been shown up so clearly as frauds, liars and uninterested in science that they now have to spend their whole time defending clearly ridiculous positions, usually by asserting some dark conspiracy. Until Dover and the aftermath, the IDers got a lot of sympathy for their faith - reporters would take the view that even if they might be ignorant or wrong about evolution, but their quest for Truth was sincere. Now that their lies about ID’s heritage, the wedge strategy and the blatant perjury of the school it’s impossible for them to get away with that pretence. This isn’t to say that ID doesn’t now have a lot of grass roots support from creationists that it didn’t have, say two years ago, but we’ve won the legal battle and more importantly the media battle.

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oh they certainly never admit they’re wrong

Oh, the irony.

Nick wrote

“Age of the Earth (very rough history from memory)

early 1800s — the antiquity of the earth demonstrated & the death of scriptural geology as a serious scientific view

mid-1800s — most Christian denominations move to the old-earth view

late-1800s — Ellen White, the founder of the the Seventh-Day Adventists, has a vision indicating that the strict literal reading of Genesis is accurate

late-1800s — Lord Kelvin determines that the early can’t be older than 20 (?) million years due to the amount of time it would take the Earth to cool

early 1900s — Adventist George MacReady Price develops and promotes “Flood Geology”

early 1900s — radioactive decay discovered, which disproves Kelvin and indicates that the earth could be billions of years old

mid-1900s — a series of radiometric dating estimates show the earth is several billion years old. Meteorites and moon rocks are eventually dated to 4.5 billion years (in the 1960’s I think), a conclusion that has remained stable ever since.

1960s — Henry Morris popularizes the Adventist young-earth creationist view, spreading it to the general population of Christian evangelicals. Creation science explodes in the 1970’s.

1980s — creation science begins to fade after adverse court decisions

Conclusion: Scientific advancements, or even well-established scientific conclusions, have no impact on the views advocated by creationists.”

From my study of the history I cannot agree with this. As I argue in a chapter in a forthcoming Special Publication of the Geol Soc of London (Myth and Geology) I show that YEC has never been the view of most Christians ( ie those who actually wrote something). Before 1770 most allowed a bit more time than Ussher’s 4004BC and as the age of the earth became apparent after 1770 most denominations had no problem and only a few individuals spoke against old age. Scriptural geology only became an issue after 1817 and was then shredded by most Christians eg Sedgwick Buckland, Hitchcock etc.

It is more correct to say that denominations moved to an old earth view well before 1800 but that was no big deal or controversy. The supposed Genesis vs Geology conflict is a myth of the first order and cannot be justified by any historical research (except by Young Earth Creations from AIG eg Mortenson)

Ellen White and Price had no impact until about 1917 and then were a minority view among evangelicals until the 70s. So much so that most contributors to the Fundamentals of 1910 were old earthers.

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Here was one example I am thinking of:

Theistic evolutionists often pretend that their ideas are not new. Go read the church fathers for yourself. Read Augustine and Basil. Read John Chrysostom and the Eastern Fathers. See what each had to say about the Flood and about Creation. Ask yourself if theistic evolution fits the great tradition of the Christian faith. It does not. It would be a shame to abandon that tradition without even knowing it or without great cause.

(p. 74 of: Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds. “Young-Earth Creationism.” Three Views on Creation and Evolution, pp. 41-75.)

Nick, don’t confuse the young earth with anti-evolutionism. Certainly the church fathers were not evolutionists to any considerable degree (they might have allowed for some changes–Augustine’s conception of evil seems to allow that variety is due to Satan and evil), but they weren’t wedded to 6000 years, either.

It is relatively well-known that “the churches” did accept the ancient earth as findings came in. However, there was opposition in the earlier days. Champollion was pressured not to publish any evidence from Egypt that showed Egyptian civilization existing before the “Flood”, and he didn’t.

And I have to wonder if the “evangelicals” really did accept the old earth concept, once we look outside of seminaries and their output. Ellen White and Price made little or no impact among evangelical thinkers, but they were more intent on their impact on the masses of Xians who might be persuaded that their preachers were speaking heretically. While they didn’t really convert many to Adventism, they did seem to realize that there was a large potential pool of people to be “evangelized” into a “strict adherance” to the Bible.

All it took was Dr. Henry Morris to pick up Price’s “work”, a bit of jiggering with the data to bring it “up-to-date”, and a whole lot of American Xians were quickly “convinced” that the earth was very young. This suggests that somewhat discontented Xians were not well-convinced by their leaders that the world was indeed old (it is unlikely that the preachers pressed the point, let alone supported it with evidence, in their sermons), and were only too happy to swallow some of the worst pseudoscientific nonsense to assuage their unease with claims of an old earth.

I would actually guess that many rank and file Xians were YECs without thinking of themselves in that way, prior to Morris’s apologetics. They read their Bibles (and the Bible hardly suggests great age, at least not for life itself), while poorly-educated, or essentially uneducated, preachers told their congregations that the earth was rather young. At the same time, somewhat better-educated theologians and preachers gave assent to science as far as they could (but did not urge their scientific assent upon their members), which meant that they agreed that the earth was old, but denied meaning to the sequences within the ages of the earth.

I don’t have evidence to back up my suspicions about the rank and file being significantly predisposed to YECism, other than the fact that “young-earth creationism” found fertile ground among American Xians, once it was divorced from Adventist spokespersons. But the correlation is rather suggestive, I think.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Trying to decipher this thread and figure out what the debate is about …

snaxalotl Wrote:

…but they also differ from this group in that type II have an emphasis on scientifically proving the facts of the bible, while IDists emphasise proving one fact of the bible, viz. that evolution didn’t occur. Thus they are defending a small enough subset of bible facts that, if they mind their p’s and q’s (difficult, but I thought Pearcey made a backpedal which could get her a spot on a cycling team), they can for the sake of argument pretend their subject matter is not religion-directed.

All agree that the last clause in the quote applies to most creationists. IDists require that the public not know the Wedge. But that quote was for context; now I want to pull out just one part of it:

… while IDists emphasise proving one fact of the bible, viz. that evolution didn’t occur.

Skipping over whether that is a “fact of the bible”, a better account of the supposed relation of ID to the Bible is that ID = the Logos of the gospel of John. Dembski for one is quite serious about this. Note the the Word aka Logos was “in the beginning” meaning Genesis. God spoke things into existence. Literally, according to Dembski. This involves Information, and in particular complex (meaning small probability) specified information. Everything comes from God, by way of speaking aka information. Everything including the cosmos and the flagellum. Insofar as the Bible is the word of God, it might all be considered logos = CSI (but not Logos - Dembski reserves the capitalized version for the most important cases including Genesis. In a roundabout way, ID = Genesis and even the whole bible, not just a small part of it.

I don’t think snaxalotl deserves much of a response, Dunkelberg. He egregiously juxtaposed two of my statements, here:

Merely bad science is not outlawed, while religiously-motivated bad science is…Why are we supposed to pretend that we can’t figure it out as well?

The latter sentence had nothing to do with the rather earlier one, yet he “responds” to what I wrote as if it did. Then he attacks the same strawman as before, not paying the slightest attention to what I actually did write. It would appear that both his strawman argument and his loathsome tactics come from IDists/creationists–or simply from bad thinking and ignorance.

There comes a time to simply point out the bad tactics and motivations of both IDists and poorly thinking “evolutionists”. Thus we rightly point to the intellectual dishonesty of IDists as the cause of their bad arguments, and shake our heads at how badly “one of ours” writes and argues.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Mortenson’s history is as accurate as AIG’s science. In a sense he has reversed the roles of goodies and baddies in the conflict thesis of science and religion of Andrew White et al which was slaughtered by Numbers and Lindbergs book of 1985.

It came as a surprise in my research how few Christian writers - theologians, poets, “scientists” were literalist from 1600 to 1800.

I have two articles on it so far - one in the GSL Special Publication and the other in Evangelical Quarterly of 2002

YE writers are simply unwilling to consider the variety of opinion of Christian writers from 33AD onwards. But fortunately the Epistle of Barnabas did not make it into the New Testament!!

From my study of the history I cannot agree with this. As I argue in a chapter in a forthcoming Special Publication of the Geol Soc of London (Myth and Geology) I show that YEC has never been the view of most Christians ( ie those who actually wrote something).

hmm. But how many xians before 1800 actually DID write something?

only those with a pretty good education, I’d wager.

I myself wouldn’t assume that to represent a majority, but I do understand that there is little else objective to go on.

OT(totally and completely):

Nick;

I could use your input on the thread I started on child abuse over at ATBC.

specifically, I’m looking for ways of tracking down sources for legal definitions of child abuse used in court cases and statutes.

Could you possibly post some ideas for sources in that thread?

thanks

From my study of the history I cannot agree with this. As I argue in a chapter in a forthcoming Special Publication of the Geol Soc of London (Myth and Geology) I show that YEC has never been the view of most Christians ( ie those who actually wrote something).

hmm. But how many xians before 1800 actually DID write something?

only those with a pretty good education, I’d wager.

I myself wouldn’t assume that to represent a majority, but I do understand that there is little else objective to go on.

Now good Sir (presumably knight by Tony Blair for supporting the teaching of YEC in state schools!!!!!) The numbers of pre 1800 writings I looked at is hundreds and there are many more. Clearly they were those with a reasonable education and ultimately we can only say this is what educated Christians believe. But then that is the same in the 19th and 20th centuries as well.

In fact it is only today and since the yEC movement started that more who write actually believe in YEC nonsense.

I love to point out that among Church of England celery in about 1830 only 20% or less believed in a 6 day creation, I cant find any in the 1860s and now it is 10%.

Now good Sir (presumably knight by Tony Blair for supporting the teaching of YEC in state schools!!!!!) The numbers of pre 1800 writings I looked at is hundreds and there are many more. Clearly they were those with a reasonable education and ultimately we can only say this is what educated Christians believe. But then that is the same in the 19th and 20th centuries as well.

In fact it is only today and since the yEC movement started that more who write actually believe in YEC nonsense.

I can’t fathom what you meant in the first sentence, but I think you missed my point based on the rest.

1. hundreds of writings from pre-1800 do not necessarily reflect the thinking of the majority of xiams at the time, as there were of course, millions of them. This is still an assumption.

2.

But then that is the same in the 19th and 20th centuries as well.

Is incorrect. the proportion of educated christians (well, at least ones that can read and write ;) ), is several orders of magnitude larger in the 20th century than it was pre-1800; even when speaking in proportions rather than absolute numbers.

3.

In fact it is only today and since the yEC movement started that more who write actually believe in YEC nonsense.

I’m having trouble parsing this sentence, but I still think your conclusion is based on an assumption that isn’t supported.

You could sway me far more easily if you had some sort of independent sources from the time period in question suggesting that the writings you perused WERE in fact a good sub-sample of the thinking of most xians at the time.

today, we use poll data for that, but I wouldn’t doubt there was at least SOMETHING to work with for comparison pre-1800 as well.

as a side question…

Does Tony Blair have the ability to knight folks?

news to me.

wait… did you think I was a YEC?? Is that what you meant with your first sentence?

LOL.

I gotta keep that one for my scrapbook.

er, just to clarify…

no.

the reason i objected was it seemed you had no independent verification to support your dataset as a representative sample. This means you are working on an assumption.

simple as that.

Does Tony Blair have the ability to knight folks?

Only to benight them, apparently.

Now Sir Toejam, first I was being witty and failing, making a reference to Sir Peter Vardy who is a multi-millionaire car salesman who funds High Schools which teach YEC - yes in the UK. Tony Blair gave him a knighthood and denies that YEC is taught in his schools so has changed his name to Bliar.BTW I think you are as pro-YEC as I am!

How do you do the history of thought in the past? We have no record of what most thought as they never wrote a thing so are restricted to those who wrote- hence the educated. I read a very wide range of material from 1550 to 1850 in particular . Most was English, but a fair amount of French as well. I surveyed many scientific writings and also theological works as well as poetry and literature (Byron is interesting on early geology in verse)My christian writers were a mixture of Prot, Anglican evangelical and Roman Catholic and Unitarian.

You are right to question how valid my conclusions are, but all I can say is that I look at anything from the whole period which has anything to say on a theological or even deistic understanding of the age of the earth. From the numbers I have looked at ( and continue to do so) I reckon I have a fairly accurate picture of what both clergy and educated Christians of the periods thought about Genesis and geology.

Also since the 70s a higher proportion of Christians than ever before have adopted some kind of YEC.

Finally I find all sorts of gems . Try this one - it is John Wesley on how to avoid contracting consumption or TB. He gave 19 ways and the 19th was - Fuck a good woman - it worked for my father.

Now Sir Toejam, first I was being witty and failing, making a reference to Sir Peter Vardy who is a multi-millionaire car salesman who funds High Schools which teach YEC - yes in the UK. Tony Blair gave him a knighthood and denies that YEC is taught in his schools so has changed his name to Bliar.BTW I think you are as pro-YEC as I am!

hmm, so Blair CAN officially knight folks?

I thought only royalty could do that?

not that I’m up on UK political history, but when did the PM gain the ability to officially knight somebody? Or am i missing it completely ant the PM always did have the ability to knight someone?

as a side note, we once tried to officially nail down Blair’s personal views on the YEC issue, without much success.

Have you run across specfic examples where he states on the record his views on the validity of YEC, or even ID?

all I can say is that I look at anything from the whole period which has anything to say on a theological or even deistic understanding of the age of the earth. From the numbers I have looked at ( and continue to do so) I reckon I have a fairly accurate picture of what both clergy and educated Christians of the periods thought about Genesis and geology.

fair enough. I still think it would bolster your argument to find independent verification of representation of your samples though.

as i said, these days this is quite easy to do using an analysis of poll data. Haven’t a clue how you would go about doing so for the much older writings though.

Fuck a good woman - it worked for my father.

excellent advice. I think I’ll do some research into that this wknd.

cheers

With regards to the Knighting of people, that is done by the sovereign, but the prime minister long ago usurped all useful and important royal prerogatives, and what actually happens is that Royal input is minimal. The PM and his cronies essentially make the list up, and the Queen does the dubbing. Sure, she might object to honouring one or two of the more egregious characters, but Queen Elisabeth is very traditional with regards to the role of a constintuional monarch, and as such she would be unlikely to demurr.

As for Blairs belief in YEC- I have no idea. He is on record in HAnsard of saying that diversity is a good thing in school. So we suspect that either he is A) too thick to know what the topic was, B) couldnt care less but had to avoid any kerfuffle, C) thinks it right to mix religion and science but wanted to avoid a straight answer, or D) actually a YEC.

I’d love to get a straight answer out of him. (Oh, and by the way, my granfather was knighted after being chief constable of Edinburgh and Lothians for 15 years or so.)

Although to be halfway fair to Blair, there should be option E) Had no idea what was being talked about, therefore gave a broad and contextless answer.

With regards to the Knighting of people, that is done by the sovereign, but the prime minister long ago usurped all useful and important royal prerogatives, and what actually happens is that Royal input is minimal. The PM and his cronies essentially make the list up, and the Queen does the dubbing

man, you think they could have at least left that one little thing as a Royal “perq”.

thanks for the info.

I forgot to add that I am not a constitutional expert or anything, thats just how it looks from out here with all us chickens. The Queen already has a number of perks, such as 3 or 4 homes, an art collection amongst the best in the world, lots of flunkies to do what needs to be done, etc etc. On the other hand she actually works for a living, although the exact amount of responsibility she has is hard to say.

Nancy Pearcy said:

It is more important that they understand the reasoning used than that they remember all the specifics.

What, exactly, is the reasoning of cdesign proponentsists????

Why are they so opposed to science that actually works? It boggles the mind.

Re “What, exactly, is the reasoning of cdesign proponentsists????”

Near as I can tell, they judge the validity of an argument (either theirs or ours) by whether they like or dislike the conclusion.

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 23, 2006 8:17 PM.

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