New Mexico Update: Disco Plays the Usual Cards

| 21 Comments

The Discovery Institute has certainly been busy since I last posted on a series of Intelligent Design Creationism measures introduced into the New Mexico Legislature.

They have been busy making their usual Opening Moves: claiming The New Mexico bill is not about intelligent design, and It is censorship!

After Casey Luskin’s latest tirade against “Darwinists in New Mexico,” I was inspired to make the following Cartoon Interpretation.

The punchline appears below the fold.

That’s right - the Disco Dudes say the bills are not a big deal, and don’t even mention “Intelligent Design” or creationism - but anyone who opposes them, or even reporters who call Panda’s Thumb a “Science Blog” - is immediately labeled a Darwinist.

(An aside - If we left it up to Discovery, then surely Panda’s Thumb would be a “Darwinist” blog. But if we asked scientists, such as the ones at Scientific American, they would describe PT as a Science Blog - indeed one of the award-winning Science blogs. But Disco would just say they are Darwinists too!)

It’s the same old Creation Science Conundrum - it’s supposedly ONLY about the Science, and not about God - so why is anyone who questions any of these teachings immediately labeled an atheist?

You know, fellas, you really can’t have it both ways, all the time. Science is not a Burger King!

There have been some interesting comments re New Mexico out there in the Blogosphere. Here are a few:

A group that is Fighting for the free exchange of ideas on campus sees right through the Discovery Spin Machine, saying on January 30th that

From New Mexico comes news of proposed “academic freedom” legislation regarding the teaching of evolution. Introduced by State Senator Steve Komadina, Senate Bill 371 and the accompanying resolution, Senate Joint Memorial 9, aims to sneak Intelligent Design and other forms of Creationism into the science classroom.

Whoever comes up with the language for these pieces of legislation is getting quite crafty, as it took a few seconds longer than usual to discover the Trojan horse language. … students could “reach their own conclusions” and write “because the Bible says so” as an answer on a New Mexico biology test, and they could not be “penalized in any way.”

Let’s hope the New Mexico state legislature stops Senate Bill 371 and saves science education in the process.

And a teacher’s union site devoted to discussions of “No Child Left Behind” had this to say in a Feb. 2nd blog

Legislative Language on Creationism is…Evolving. Our friends at Free Exchange on Campus have found another state legislature considering an intelligent design bill. This time, like last time, lawmakers may not know what they’re voting on.

Regarding New Mexico’s Senate Bill 371, jhm writes that the bill is written in such a way that “students could ‘reach their own conclusions’ and write ‘because the Bible says so’ as an answer on a New Mexico biology test, and they could not be ‘penalized in any way.’”

Religious values should be respected, and religion can be discussed in public schools. (How can you learn about history without considering the impact of religious beliefs and institutions?) But intelligent design, a discredited notion that lacks scientific merit, deserves no respect and has no place in our schools.

Nightlight at LitCandle had this to say about the Journal Reporter:

Casey Luskin at the DI blog recently hit the ID/Creationism debate with some blockbuster news. Sit down and hold onto your hats people.

Luskin has uncovered some troubling collusion between the Albuquerque Journal and, well, there’s just no other way to say it, the AJ is printing stories in support of…contemporary science! … I mean, next thing you know, they’ll jump into bed with those crazy heliocentrists!

And Larry Moran, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, also saw right through the Luskin Charade, posting on Feb. 2nd

Everyone with a brain knows what this is all about. It’s not about academic freedom: it’s about intelligent design creationism.

If it were really about academic freedom then why does it specify “biological origins”? Why not every aspect of education; like capitalism, pre-marital sex, the rights of gays, global warming, and the periodic table of the elements?

Casey Luskin doesn’t get it. His knickers are all in a knot because Darwinists Begin Their Attacks on New Mexico Academic Freedom Bill. Luskin wonders why “Darwinists” are so upset because of a bill that singles out “biological origins” and not other science topics; or history subjects; or music theory; or whatever. According to Casey Luskin, this is only about academic freedom—it has nothing to do with intelligent design creationism or attacks by the religious right on evolutionary biology. It even says so right there in Section B(2).

Yeah, right. And I suppose it’s just a coincidence that Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute are so excited about this bill. I suppose they’re really strong supporters of alternative views in the classroom. I suppose they favor teaching safe sex for teenagers, for example. After all, that’s a good way to encourage students to think critically and reach their own conclusions.

What a bunch of hypocrites. This bill promotes the exact opposite of academic freedom. By singling out one particular topic that’s up the nose of religious fundamentalists, it will have the effect of stifling academic freedom in the biology class. Teachers will feel pressured to go out of their way to pay lip service to superstition whenever they talk about evolution. Students can refuse to learn about evolution knowing that this bill will protect their ignorance.

Yes, the Discovery Institute continues to spin its deceitful web. But teachers, academicians, reporters, scientists, and even New Mexico’s legislators are starting to get it. And the shills at Discovery Institute might even be starting to realize that their shrill screams aren’t getting the desired response.

Oh yeah - about that Censorship thing -

21 Comments

While the media are wising up to this subterfuge and blowing the whistle earlier and louder all the time, one still wonders what there is about creationism that causes college professors to conspire to wreck their employer’s reputation by gaming the system, and causes elected representatives to knowingly violate the very constitution they pledged (on bibles, no less!) to uphold, and scientists to abandon all scientific principles in perceived conflict with their superstitions, and engineers to abandon logic and evidence, and so on down the line.

It’s not that they themselves fear for their eternal salvation, for sure. Maybe it’s a sense of altruism - that having been saved themselves, the consider it their duty to lay waste to their secular values (not to mention their personal integrity) to save the souls of the gullible? Maybe a True Believer can help me out here, and explain why Lying For Jesus is a good idea. The value of doing so must be so intuitively obvious to creationists that it’s an autonomic behavior.

Yes, it’s nice to see that the DI’s schtick fools fewer people all the time, and hopefully soon the ID canard will run its course and be abandoned for the next disinformation campaign. But creationism’s appeal will forever mystify me.

Intelligent Design is NOT about religion … and anyone who says otherwise is going to BURN IN HELL. So there.

That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

Even if Intelligent Design has no prospect of winning any political battles in the near futures, its supporters can still extract money from their target market. That’s the normal cycle of right-wing political movements: when they lose ground, they revert to mail fraud as a hospitable refugia until their prospects brighten again. I guess that’s an improvement on the Russian Marxists, who went in for bank robbery in between their attempts to bring off the revolution.

For a long time, I couldn’t decide if Casey Luskin was an idiot or a lunatic.

Well, after this last bit of nonsense from him, I’ve had to conclude that he’s both.

Jim Harrison has it right, except for one minor point– I don’t believe the creationists really want to win their political battles. If they can’t depict themselves as the downtrodden underdogs, how are they going to rake in the tithes of the faithful? Geez, the money might get wasted saving kids’ lives in Africa, or something, if they can’t keep the faithful shoveling it into creationist coffers. Mail fraud isn’t the activity of choice when things are going badly, it’s the whole reason for these con artists. Their followers may not be too bright, but the leaders who are raking in the cash are plenty intelligent. They’re not idiots, and they’re not lunatics. They’re crooks.

I don’t believe the creationists really want to win their political battles. If they can’t depict themselves as the downtrodden underdogs, how are they going to rake in the tithes of the faithful?

This statement shows the power of logic over observation, a trap people here are predisposed to fall into. Christians, according to self-identification, comprise 85% of the American population, and STILL see themselves as persecuted. So long as any individual does not wish to convert, and wishes equal treatment under the law for *his* beliefs, Christians can claim persecution.

And this is just in the nature of a pushy, aggressive belief system. They never give up trying to get everything their own way, and any resistence is ipso facto persecution. So long as there’s a convert yet to be made, so long as freedom of religion is honored, the money to halt this “persecution” will continue to flow.

I’m glad to see that others have recognized the money angle of the creationist/ID movement. Since the mid 1970s it has always struck me as interesting how well paid these con artists are. Every debate, every interview, every trial, every “institute” they set up, they rake in exorbitant amounts of money, even as their opponents work pro bono. The debaters in this creationist crowd win or lose, use the debates to make money and pad their resumes. That’s why they are always smiling even after losing a debate.

You see the same thing with the television preachers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and all the others. “Folks, we got trouble! With a capital T, and that rhymes with D, and that stands for Darwinism! Souls are being corrupted and lost! Hurry and send money!” They always know where the rubes are.

I’m glad to see that others have recognized the money angle of the creationist/ID movement.

Well, to be honest about this, we should point out that all churches are funded by voluntary contributions. Ride through the South where I live, and the church is by far the largest and classiest structure in the town. These aren’t creationists, nor are they con artists. These are mainstream churches. They are also the center of the town social life, from dances to meetings to bingo.

Yes, I suppose it’s true that one of the side-effects of the religious way to knowledge (i.e. just SAYING something is true) presents a temptation for con artists, who only need to SAY they want money to do God’s work, and the money rolls in. But this is problematic. Is Jerry Falwell or Robert Tilton a con artist? Billy Graham? Does being a con artist depend on the doctrine being preached, or on the use of the money, or what? Maybe we’re saying contributions in response to a message that’s anti-science is the “con artist” message, whereas any religious blathering that does NOT seek to undermine science is benign?

And this is just in the nature of a pushy, aggressive belief system.

I suppose all the belief systems that weren’t pushy and aggressive have died out. Evolution in action!

Flint:

I take you point, and I didn’t mean mainstream churches and other charitable organizations that are copied by these imitators. I also belong to a mainstream church.

Even science has its con artists. They lurk in the bowels of DARPA classified projects in the Pentagon where they avoid peer review. I have seen them in major corporations, and as we all know, even at some universities (e.g., cold fusion).

My point is that the creationist/ID movement uses the same scare tactics used by many fundamentalist movements to, in effect, extort money. Their resorting to agonizing medieval scholasticism while trying to resurrect historical arguments that have been thoroughly analyzed and rejected doesn’t hide the fact that they depend on money for their existence. Too often we think we are arguing effectively with them when all we have done was to help ensure they rake in more money. More of our strategy needs to recognize that fact.

My comment about creationist con artists that Flint and Mike Elzinga picked up on wasn’t intended as a blanket condemnation of voluntary contributions. The Rotary Club relies on voluntary contributions in their campaign to stamp out polio, too. But there are a couple of differences; 1) polio is a real disease. 2)a lot of the Rotary contributions are used for polio vaccine and the staff to distribute it. In contrast, the creationists have invented a completely bogus “disease”– “Godless Darwinist materialism.” And they make no effort whatsoever to stamp it out by supplying counterarguments in peer-reviewed journals. They just keep demanding more money from the faithful, promising to stamp it out in the next court case. Or the next, or the next. Or maybe the next… In the mean time, suckers, keep those donations rolling in.…

This really hits close to home for me, physically and figuratively. As an Albuquerque native as well as a Christian, I think it is important to encourage free will in education - even if someone has a different belief than I. When discussing evolution, there is a tactful way to do it - giving just as much credit to the God theory as the completely scientific theory. The key is to teach both equally, and encourage students to believe whichever they prefer. This is done by test questions such as “If you believed that evolution occurred from the ongoing growth and change of atoms and other molecules, then…” and “If you believed that evolution occurred with the assistance of a higher power, then…” It is a very complex and controversial topic which I believe can be resolved in a relatively simple fashion if we would all agree to compromise by meeting in the middle.

Albuquerque NM Real Estate Wrote:

When discussing evolution, there is a tactful way to do it - giving just as much credit to the God theory as the completely scientific theory.

Has there been something that I missed recently? Is there an actual theory for ID? I’d really love to see the math behind it, as I would love to see the goddidit variable defined.

Albuquerque NM Real Estate Wrote:

The key is to teach both equally, and encourage students to believe whichever they prefer. This is done by test questions such as “If you believed that evolution occurred from the ongoing growth and change of atoms and other molecules, then…” and “If you believed that evolution occurred with the assistance of a higher power, then…”

So…

If a student decides that studying is for dweebs and fools, he can just put “goddidit”, and that would be an acceptable answer? I am all for equal time for scientific theories in the science classroom, but if you are testing in a science classroom, then you need to restrict it to science!

Albuquerque NM Real Estate Wrote:

It is a very complex and controversial topic which I believe can be resolved in a relatively simple fashion if we would all agree to compromise by meeting in the middle.

It is indeed a very complex topic, but there is no middle when there are people trying to pass off religion as science. If there is an honest-to-goodness scientific theory that explains how a designer created the universe, then by all means bring it into the science classroom. But anything that depends solely on faith does not belong in science class. ID is NOT science, and these Trojan Horse bills are doing nothing good to enhance the already lagging science education in America.

Albuquerque NM Real Estate — Please read what poster stevaroni has to say on the “Harun … French” thread. Also, please read the “Evolution Sunday” thread. Finally, as a good Christian, read what Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine have to say about science and religion. Thanks.

When discussing evolution, there is a tactful way to do it - giving just as much credit to the God theory as the completely scientific theory. The key is to teach both equally, and encourage students to believe whichever they prefer.

The point of an education is to teach children the best knowledge we have, and in biology that is evolution. A broader point of an education is to teach children that reality is what it is, and it does not conform to one’s preferences. Teaching kids that they should believe whatever they prefer is exactly the wrong message to send.

This really hits close to home for me, physically and figuratively. As an Albuquerque native as well as a Christian, I think it is important to encourage free will in education - even if someone has a different belief than I. When discussing evolution, there is a tactful way to do it - giving just as much credit to the God theory as the completely scientific theory. The key is to teach both equally, and encourage students to believe whichever they prefer. This is done by test questions such as “If you believed that evolution occurred from the ongoing growth and change of atoms and other molecules, then…” and “If you believed that evolution occurred with the assistance of a higher power, then…” It is a very complex and controversial topic which I believe can be resolved in a relatively simple fashion if we would all agree to compromise by meeting in the middle.

Actually, it’s more simple than that. The teacher need only tell the students that the science will be taught, and that science cuts across, and is accepted by, various religions (if, unfortunately, not all religions). Then the teacher may point out that science does not rule God in or out (leaving out the matter of whether or not science leaves less scope for God–that’s for more advanced classes, especially in philosophy).

The teacher cannot weave a “theory” as to how evolution would have occurred by some mysterious intervention of a higher power, both because it has nothing to do with science and because the answers would vary with the religions of the students. Science is what all types of humans can (in principal) agree upon (though obviously many individual humans never get it), while religions differ in their claims. Even in a test where to some questions “no right answer may exist”, how is a teacher to grade the students’ answers about how “God did it”?

Even if the students don’t believe the scientific explanation, the science class teaches just that, because it is within the scope of science education. Creationists, theistic evolutionists, and anybody else, properly learns what science teaches, puts that down on the test (with whatever caveats they may feel are necessary), and believes whatever they might after learning the science.

Nobody is asking the students to declare their belief in a particular science, they’re simply asking the students to learn the answers that science can give us.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Well, the bills seem ‘Intelligently Designed’ to me. :-)

Re “Well, the bills seem ‘Intelligently Designed’ to me. :-) “

But are you sure it didn’t just devolve that way? ;)

Henry

“Their followers may not be too bright, but the leaders who are raking in the cash are plenty intelligent. They’re not idiots, and they’re not lunatics. They’re crooks.”

thank you, i agree ..i had always thought this whole creationism/ID thingy was a late 20th century spin on the whole “lying storefront preacher” game

“It is a very complex and controversial topic which I believe can be resolved in a relatively simple fashion if we would all agree to compromise by meeting in the middle.”

I wonder if our correspondent from Albuquerque would think this a simple solution to the religion v atheism controversy, with everyone agreeing to meet in the middle by becoming agnostics. As a religious person myself, I wouldn’t, but perhaps Albuquerque NM Real Estate is more flexible than I. Afterall, I’d reject Albuquerque NM Real Estate’s compromise in the science classroom where I think science should be what is taught. And just to be clear, evolution is good science (as well as being beautiful and awe-inspiring) and creationism and ID have as much place in a science curriculum as geocentrism, the flat-earth theory or the phlogiston theory of combustion.

As an Albuquerque native as well as a Christian, I think it is important to encourage free will in education…

You mean, freedom to choose what to learn?

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on February 2, 2007 8:11 PM.

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