Reason And Common Ground

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My article “Reason And Common Ground: A Response to the Creationists’ ‘Neutrality’ Argument” will appear in the next issue of the Chapman Law Review, which subscribers should receive in the mail in a week or so. You can download it on SSRN. The article is a reply to a creationist article that the Chapman Law Review published last year, entitled “Evolution, Science, And Ideology: Why The Establishment Clause Requires Neutrality in Science Classes,” by Stephen W. Trask.

Read an excerpt from the opening of my article at Freespace

57 Comments

Small typo in the article. No big deal…

“Realist philosophers do hold that all valid knowledge must be in some way reducible to sense experience, but they do not hold that all knowledge must directly accessible to the senses.”

Missing a “be” before “directly accessible to the senses.”

Probably can’t catch it before publication but I thought I’d mention it to you before any snotty IDers do…

And while I’m here. Nice work.

-mike

Just in case anyone might think that you’ve misrepresented the creationist urge to inject religion into science, just today James Emery White, professor of Theology and Culture Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Senior Pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, is over at Crosswalk.com arguing that:

… those with religious conviction should pursue science with a religious worldview on equal footing as those who engage it with a naturalistic perspective.

www.crosswalk.com/blogs/JWhite/11566356/

Excellent response. On his blogsite Trask claims that the responses to his article have been so far unsophisticated…

And yet Trask is also on the record as arguing that a Christian worldview provides for a better foundation for environmental policy. And yet some of the most vocal opponents to environmental policy have been evangelical Christians. Somehow it does not seem to matter to the postmodernist that his claims are at odds with reality. Whose reality…

So either Trask can argue that these are not really Christians but that would undermine his own argument. Why should we not take seriously their claims that they are Christians? By what standards, especially those proposed by Trask, can we reject their claims?

In a sermon shortly before his death in May, Falwell criticized “naive Christian leaders” for being “duped” by environmentalism, which he told his congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., was “Satan’s attempt to redirect the church’s primary focus” from evangelism.

In spite of Falwell and many others, Christians are increasingly starting to realize that they do have a duty towards the future of this world.

Bill Moyers explains it nicely

A new holy war is growing within the conservative evangelical community, with implications for both the global environment and American politics. For years liberal Christians and others have made protection of the environment a moral commitment. Now a number of conservative evangelicals are joining the fight, arguing that man’s stewardship of the planet is a biblical imperative and calling for action to stop global warming.

Pvm:

Excellent response. On his blogsite Trask claims that the responses to his article have been so far unsophisticated…

And yet Trask is also on the record as arguing that a Christian worldview provides for a better foundation for environmental policy. And yet some of the most vocal opponents to environmental policy have been evangelical Christians.

Many evangelical Christians oppose environmentalism on the grounds that the Next Life is of far, far greater importance than this current life, and that trying to improve this dying world is, at best, a waste of time, what with the Second Coming and Armageddon around the corner and all.

Many evangelical Christians oppose environmentalism on the grounds that the Next Life is of far, far greater importance than this current life, and that trying to improve this dying world is, at best, a waste of time, what with the Second Coming and Armageddon around the corner and all.

The book chapter I am working on (and alluded to in an earlier post) actually tackles this issue as well as the standard creationist/evolution debate. ‘Rapture’ theology is a recent innovation and can easily be shown to be false, despite its mass appeal in the USA. It is good to see that evangelicals are starting to get the message (especially if I think of the situation 15 years ago). Here’s hoping the trend continues.

Once the chapter sees the light of print I’ll let you know.

As someone with a couple degrees in the humanities, I kind of want to grab these creationist whackos and scream “Postmodernism: You’re doing it wrong!” at them. Considering how often Creationists outright lie and/or engage in wanton acts of semantic pollution, this isn’t exactly news, however.

At least where I went to school, Postmodernism was treated as an analytical framework, much in the same way as Marxist, Keynesian, and classical liberal frameworks are used for analysis in economics. One of the things Postmodernist analysis does seem to be really good at is interrogating bias and distortion in social and semantic systems. Which of course is exactly why Creationists use it backwards, since they’re trying to create bias and distortion in the current social and semantic system.

Not only that, but they seem to be deliberately mis-reading some of the key concepts, and applying it to areas where it’s generally not intended to go. In a sense, you could say the Creationists are quote-mining literary theory, which is offensive on so many levels I hardly know where to start.

gabriel: ‘Rapture’ theology is a recent innovation and can easily be shown to be false, despite its mass appeal in the USA. It is good to see that evangelicals are starting to get the message (especially if I think of the situation 15 years ago). Here’s hoping the trend continues.

It will be great if the trend is real and if it gains momentum. I felt so despondent after reading Kevin Phillips’ The American Theocracy.

Very good article.

I was on law review in law school and served as lead articles editor. I was responsible for evaluating and finally accepting for publication, aricles written by professors and practicing attorneys. Part of my duties included verifying the footnoted sources to ensure accuracy and the referenced source actually suported the proposition. I also verified that the author addressed countervailing authority.

Timothy Sanderfur’s article begins with a blunt accusation that Chapman Law Review failed in this process. The opening line bears repeating:

In my opinion, a recent article in the Chapman Law Review, address-ing the controversy over teaching evolution and/or creationism in public school classrooms, fell beneath the acceptable standard of scholarly discourse.

It is nearly unheard of in legal circles to so directly challenge the publication of an article.

Sadly, it needed to be done. Almost every other pro-creationist law review article suffers from the same defects. Footnoted sources don’t support the statements made in the body. Footnotes misrepresent the science and singificant countervailing authority os ignored or overlooked.

Timothy Sandefur’s article is a great takedown of the ID postmoderdist attack on science. It also raises serious questions for the staff of law reviews.

The beginning suggests a very good article. It looks good both substantively and rhetorically.

The substantive strength is probably obvious, so I won’t blather on about it.

Rhetorically it looks strong because you not only point out that the person is deliberately saying false things, but you point out his use of post-modernism, which is so anathema to conservatives and religious folk.

Keep up the good work.

Tim, Really good article. But, on p 145, did you mean to write “geocentrism” rather than “heliocentrism?”

Just a hypothetical question. Let us say the investment broker or financial adviser of Mr Stephen Trask, embezzles from Trask’s account and offers, “There is no absolute truth. It is all semantics and points of view” as his defense, would Trask accept it philosophically?

Would law review publish an article from defense lawyers demanding a right to offer supernatural explanations as part of defense? There is no establishment clause issues while defending a client in the courts, unlike a tax payer funded school class room. So it should be easier to get supernatural theories as defense tactic in courts. Why don’t they try that first?

I’m sorry to say, law reviews will publish just about anything.

Just a hypothetical question. Let us say the investment broker or financial adviser…

But of course, Trask does not intend, nor would any creationist argue, that the Postmodern argument is intended to apply generally. Trask (et. al.) only intend that it apply very very specifically, so as to prohibit the exposure of children to material uncongenial to specific non-negotiable delusions of their faith. This is why they have no problem with any other field of science, and why they conduct all practical daily aspects of their life from eating to estate planning according to empirically justifiable methods.

This article goes through the rather elaborate pretense of responding to an equally elaborate pretense, both of which are almost entirely irrelevant. The only relevance is that whatsoever conflicts with one particularly idiotic interpretation of biblical creation, should be quashed and censored using the agencies of civil authority. The stated reason for such censorship is, typically for creationists, invariably a misrepresentation and dishonest.

I wonder whether creationists drool with envy when they regard Islamic police forces ensuring that children improperly dressed to escape a fire, must burn to death because it’s the will of Allah. But lacking the civil authority to enforce their notion of the will of their god, creationists must resort to finesse (until they win). And we have to pretend they mean what they say (NEVER true of creationists). Producing articles like this to beat dead horses forever.

Flint said I wonder whether creationists drool with envy…

Or would it be nostalgia? After all they pretty much ruled for some 1500 years the way Taliban ruled Afghanistan.

Damn you. Now I’m going to have to read Trask’s article just to assure myself that it could possibly be as bad as you portray it. Not that I doubt you, but when there’s a train wreck nearby you just have to see it for yourself.

You only have to read a few sentences of Trask’s paper to realize that he doesn’t even have the most basic understanding of the TOE, since he consistently refers to it as a theory of how life began. I fail to see how any rational person could accept his arguements, but unfortunately we seem to have an abundance of irrational religionists in the US these days. If Trask and his ilk ever gain political dominance in this country (which is, of course, their goal), our nation and perhaps modern civilization are doomed. I still have hope that such a thing can’t happen–but I certainly will never vote for any politician that is also a religious fundamentalist.

There are many people who doubt Darwinism not because it conflicts with their religious beliefs but because they find it to be unpersuasive as science.

From a legal standpoint, the whole controversy over evolution may be moot because the courts could rule that the controversy is “nonjusticiable.” In Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004), the Supreme Court said,

Among the tests for determining the existence of a “nonjusticiable” or “political” question is a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the question. – from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/ht[…]1580.ZS.html

In the global warming case of Massachusetts v. EPA, the courts appeared to hold that the global warming controversy is nonjusticiable.

There are many people who doubt Darwinism not because it conflicts with their religious beliefs but because they find it to be unpersuasive as science.

Every day, reason and my senses persuade me that the Earth is the super-massive center of the Universe. I am persuaded that the sun, moon, stars and planets all circle the Earth. My telescope (yes, I own one) shows me that the planets are quite small and that the stars are mere points of light, probably pinpricks in a large outer canopy.

From what my reason and senses tell me, the theory of universal gravitation is just that – a theory. No one has ever proved to the satisfaction of my naive mind that gravity works on the stars. Nobody has been to every last star to measure the force of gravity on each point of each of them. Sure, there are many pretty pictures purporting to show nebulae, galaxies and the like, but there could be any number of competing theories to explain these phenomena.

If I am so unpersuaded, maybe I should insist that my local high schools teach the myriad gaps in all those astronomical theories.

There are many people who doubt Darwinism not because it conflicts with their religious beliefs but because they find it to be unpersuasive as science.

And, by an amazing coincidence, every one of them just happens to be a Christian Fundamentalist and biblical literalist. But their religious beliefs have nothing to do with rejecting carefully selected bits of science that just happen to conflict with their doctrines. Oh no. Irrespective of their religious faith, they find those bits and ONLY those bits “unpersuasive as science.”

I presume here that “Darwinism” is a code-word intended to include only those parts of biology, astronomy, geology, and a dozen other scientific disciplines that by pure coincidence conflict with biblical literalism, but all the rest of all those disciplines are not “Darwinism”. And this even though all those unpersuasive “Darwinism parts” of all these disciplines are necessarily entirely consistent with, and often implied by, the persuasive, non-Darwinistic parts.

What a maroon.

ABC/Larry:

There are many people who doubt Darwinism not because it conflicts with their religious beliefs but because they find it to be unpersuasive as science.

Then please explain why there is no other logical explanation than “Descent with modification” with which to describe the trends of current and past diversities of life on Earth?

Are you sure that those “many people who doubt Darwinism” doubt Evolutionary Theory not because they find it unpersuasive, but, because they do not allow themselves to understand it as a science? Among other things, that you refer to Evolutionary Theory as “Darwinism” screams the fact that you don’t understand it. I mean, if Evolutionary Theory is as shaky as you claim it is, then why is it that Creationism and Intelligent Design have nothing to do, let alone contribute to industries like Agriculture, or Medicine, two industries that rely everything on Evolutionary Theory? Why hasn’t National Geographic never published any article that highlights studies done by Creationists or Intelligent Design proponents? Alleged conspiracy?

Flint:

There are many people who doubt Darwinism not because it conflicts with their religious beliefs but because they find it to be unpersuasive as science.

And, by an amazing coincidence, every one of them just happens to be a Christian Fundamentalist and biblical literalist. But their religious beliefs have nothing to do with rejecting carefully selected bits of science that just happen to conflict with their doctrines. Oh no. Irrespective of their religious faith, they find those bits and ONLY those bits “unpersuasive as science.”

*cough*

Adnan Oktar, aka “Harun Yahya,” is not a Christian Fundamentalist…

Stanton:

Adnan Oktar, aka “Harun Yahya,” is not a Christian Fundamentalist…

Ah, in that case he must doubt “Darwinism” on purely scientific grounds, is that correct? I suppose I could expand my claim to encompass fundamentalists of closely related faiths, if that would help.

Flint:

Stanton:

Adnan Oktar, aka “Harun Yahya,” is not a Christian Fundamentalist…

Ah, in that case he must doubt “Darwinism” on purely scientific grounds, is that correct? I suppose I could expand my claim to encompass fundamentalists of closely related faiths, if that would help.

I suppose so.

But, on the other hand, virtually all of Harun Yahyoo’s arguments have been plagiarized from various Christian fundamentalists, so, nevermind.

I figured Larry was trying to imply that there were some other even remotely plausible grounds (other than religious) to doubt “Darwinism” (itself a purely religious label for something not understood). Even though of course Larry didn’t state what those grounds might be even when asked directly.

Larry’s general approach, then, bears as close a resemblance to Lying for Jesus as any other instance of it.

Marilyn:

You only have to read a few sentences of Trask’s paper to realize that he doesn’t even have the most basic understanding of the TOE, since he consistently refers to it as a theory of how life began.

This is probably the single most common creationist blind spot. They believe so firmly that all kinds were created in a single POOF and have not varied significantly since, that to them there simply is not, and cannot be any difference between origin of species and origin of life. The two were the same event!

Even to recognize in passing, or by implication, that these could be different events with different causes, is to DENY GOD! I think you could argue that the recognition that evolution is NOT a theory of how life began is in and of itself corrosive to the One True Faith. The term “evolution”, all by itself, is an implicit assertion of the essence of what creationism denies.

I think that we need a special exercise for each posting on Panda’s Thumb devoted just to Larry and Keith. For each and every post, we need to submit a comment “in the style of” each. Perhaps the moderator could judge the best. For example, we already know here that Larry will immediately demonstrate conclusively that “Darwinism” must be wrong by citing some irrelevancy on the web that he doesn’t understand (a misquote from a speech, or some inane list), and call us all idiots when we repeatedly point out that his “proof” has nothing to do with anything. Meanwhile, Keith Eaton will rave and foam at the mouth about what a bunch of mental midgets we are because we fail to see that by mocking us as unintelligent and citing a creationist website, he has demonstrated that all evolutionary biologists are morons and therefore he has somehow “pwnz0rs” us with his superior intellect. By so doing, we could save a lot of time and space by simply deleting all the repetitive, redundant posts by these two fine scholars, and focus on more substantial discussions. Hell, maybe we could even lure in another troll with a whole new style to freshen up the place.

I am shocked – SHOCKED – to discover that Trask is a promoter of Christianity.

To get back to the argument, Flint, the people who doubt Evolution because they claim that they do not find it a credible science, as opposed to claiming that it conflicts with their beliefs, demonstrate three things:

1) They demonstrate that they do not have a basic understanding of Biology (many demonstrate that they lack even a fundamental understanding of elementary school science).

2) They take, or should the word be steal all of their talking points from actual Creationists, and refuse to notice all of the inherent logic flaws of these talking points.

3) They arrogantly assume that they know more about Biology (and science) than actual biologists, and as such, the vast majority refuse to demonstrate even the most remote desire to actually learn about Evolutionary Theory and or Biology.

Then there are those extremely rare Creationists (they are pearls among sewage, to steal a phrase from Neil Gaimon) who actually understand how Evolution works and defines Biology, but, one and all, they explicitly state that they reject Evolutionary Theory because it clashes with their beliefs.

Stanton:

1) I disagree with this point. Like anyone else, I cannot be an in-depth expert on every field of science or any other endeavor. To a large degree (like 99% of everything), I must rely on those whom I trust. Now, if I were a good Christian, I might reject evolution on the grounds that those church leaders I find most admirable reject it for what must be good reasons if these are trustworthy people. And having given them my trust, of course I would consider them so.

However, I am NOT rejecting evolution on scientific grounds in this case. If I choose to believe the climatologists who say people are largely responsible for global warming, I’m not doing that on the basis of the evidence either. I’m not qualified to examine or understand the evidence. In short, it’s not credible for me to say I find anything “unpersuasive” when I am unqualified to assess the evidence in the required depth. If you lack a basic understanding, your CLAIM that you find what you don’t understand “unpersuasive” MUST be based on some other factor(s).

2) This point really has nothing to do with science. They are rejecting evolution on religious grounds, as we know. If something is chock full of obvious flaws, and justified with obvious lies, and you can’t see either one, you aren’t finding the science unpersuasive, you are finding it uncomfortable. But that’s something quite different.

3) I disagree. What’s happening there is, their religious faith TELLS them that evolution is wrong a priori. It MUST be wrong, because God (their interpretation of scripture) SAID so. And armed with the Word Of God Itself, of course they must consider that those who disagree must necessarily be more ignorant. It’s not that they know more about biology than biologists, it’s that they know the biologists are wrong. No really need to know why or how they’re wrong, sufficient to know beyond any possible doubt that they ARE wrong, God said so.

As for the pearls among sewage, they illustrate what I’ve been trying to say quite well. No possible amount of evidence or knowledge can penetrate a creationist conviction. Doesn’t matter whether they have a PhD or are stone ignorant - faith trumps knowledge. Studies consistently show that creationists entering college biology programs, graduate as creationist biologists. And they don’t do this because they find the science unpersuasive, but because creationism had been indelibly hardwired into their neurological paths by that age, and nothing short of death of physical removal of part of the brain can cure it.

Larry asserted:

There are many people who doubt Darwinism not because it conflicts with their religious beliefs but because they find it to be unpersuasive as science.

Prove it. See how many evolution-deniers you can get to sign the following statement:

“We, the undersigned, believe that religious texts, including but not limited to, the Bible, the Koran, and The Book of Mormon (just for Romney), are highly erroneous and should be given no consideration in scientific or historic investigations.”

Then let me know in what phone booth you plan on having your worldwide meeting.

From the Answers in Genesis “Statement of Faith” that they have all of their “scientists” sign…

“No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith

I think this pretty much validates Flint’s point, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Flint:

Stanton:

1) I disagree with this point. Like anyone else, I cannot be an in-depth expert on every field of science or any other endeavor. To a large degree (like 99% of everything), I must rely on those whom I trust. Now, if I were a good Christian, I might reject evolution on the grounds that those church leaders I find most admirable reject it for what must be good reasons if these are trustworthy people. And having given them my trust, of course I would consider them so.

However, I am NOT rejecting evolution on scientific grounds in this case. If I choose to believe the climatologists who say people are largely responsible for global warming, I’m not doing that on the basis of the evidence either. I’m not qualified to examine or understand the evidence. In short, it’s not credible for me to say I find anything “unpersuasive” when I am unqualified to assess the evidence in the required depth. If you lack a basic understanding, your CLAIM that you find what you don’t understand “unpersuasive” MUST be based on some other factor(s).

I only mention these points, well, the first point at least, in that I’ve had the gross misfortune to argue with evolution-deniers who also vehemently deny that they are/were creationists/Christians, and or vehemently deny that they deny evolution for religious reasons.

Then again, you are right in that they deny evolution because it clashes with their own belief systems (some of which apparently revolves around conflating “Wah, I’m an angsty gothy goth who hates God” with “atheism), rather than for alleged “unpersuasiveness.”

Timothy:

That is an excellent response to Trask’s fantasy.

I was at first surprised when Philip Johnson actually started adopting many of the Postmodernist arguments against science, but after a little more thought, not so surprised. The pretentious “sophistication” of those arguments is just the kind of thing that would appeal to sects that have a long history of using logical argumentation and biblical “evidence” to justify their sectarian beliefs. Evidently Trask, Johnson and the others have discovered a gold mine in these kinds of arguments.

I have come to the conclusion over the years that these sects have become the glorious hunting grounds for some of the worst scam artists out there, and that these scam artists are effectively protected by the Constitution’s guarantee of “free exercise” of religion.

Reading crap like Trask’s paper convinces me that Trask, Johnson and all of their cohorts do not really believe what they are writing. It is hard to imagine someone who is articulate enough to write stuff like that, sitting before a computer and living in a modern world where they are so dependent on the results of science, yet thinking that they are saying something profound. I think their crap is carefully crafted for rubes and children, and these scam artists are making good money at it.

How far are they willing go in denying objective reality? What would they do if everything in their lives that had any connection with science whatsoever were denied them (including medicine, heart surgery, safe food, electricity, transportation, computers, cell phones)? Suppose they were then accused of a heinous murder, convicted and sentenced to death on the basis of testimony from witnesses who got their “evidence” through supernatural channels that were claimed to be “reliable” in their holy books?

Articles like Trask’s say as much about the audience for whom they are written as they do about the predatory instincts of the exploiters who write them.

If Trask thinks that responses to his article are “unsophisticated” (as PvM notes), then I would suggest that he is secretly smirking at our stupid lack of appreciation of his scamming abilities. He therefore has the market all to himself. How dumb can we be?

Mike Elzinga:

If Trask thinks that responses to his article are “unsophisticated” (as PvM notes), then I would suggest that he is secretly smirking at our stupid lack of appreciation of his scamming abilities. He therefore has the market all to himself. How dumb can we be?

We can only do what Liberace did, and cry ourselves all the way to the bank.

He therefore has the market all to himself. How dumb can we be?

As a side note, that is what irks me with psychopaths as well. It works, since most of us are giving in to biological tendencies crafted in small groups and are too nice too long.

But for the same reason (the common morality) the answer isn’t to start competing scams.

Um, the humor sites that mock creationists and their exploiting scam artists by ironic twisting of their garbage for reasoning, and doing it for free, are both competitors and venting outlets. Win-win?

But the best longterm policy would be to make the scam market smaller and less profitable. Oh noez, now I have to mention the related large religious exploitation market. Not fit for Panda’s Thumb.

Mike:

How far are they willing go in denying objective reality?

Only as far as necessary to protect specific religious doctrines from examination or doubt. They approach science like they approach texts (including their own scripture) - by carefully mining them for what they decide are the relevant or supportive bits, and not being concerned by the rest. In the case of evolution, they’re even perfectly willing to accommodate it when it comes to medicine (for example). THAT part does not explicitly deny doctrine, only implicitly. Which is permissible.

Reading crap like Trask’s paper convinces me that Trask, Johnson and all of their cohorts do not really believe what they are writing.

I disagree. Sure, looking through your eyes, you see that you cannot possibly believe A and deny B when A implies B. But a creationist isn’t looking through your eyes. To him, the words are the important things. Synonyms are different words; one can be acceptable and not the other. They can be incorrect so long as they’re not wrong. The creationist can cheerfully convict A of bribing B, and acquit B of accepting a bribe from A, and see no contradiction.

It’s all in how you compartmentalize. These guys, by virtue of being still alive, have had little choice but to find some means of conceding the primacy of reality, evidence, and problem solving. EXCEPT for religious doctrines, which are walled off. The vehemence and persistence of their defense of creationism implies to me that they recognize how fragile and arbitrary those walls are. If you don’t get ‘em young enough, they’ll see how absurd creationism really is, and you’ll never cram that genie back into the bottle. Conversely, if you DO get to ‘em young enough, then as Dawkins wrote, there’s no limit to what people can believe against any amount of conflicting evidence.

Marilyn:

You only have to read a few sentences of Trask’s paper to realize that he doesn’t even have the most basic understanding of the TOE, since he consistently refers to it as a theory of how life began.

He’s not the only one. Justices Scalia and Rehnquist made exactly this error in their dissent in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987).

See the analysis by Stephen Jay Gould in his essay “Justice Scalia’s Misunderstanding”:

Gould:

Justice Scalia has defined evolution as the search for life’s origin–and nothing more. He keeps speaking about ‘the current state of scientific evidence about the origin of life’ when he means to designate evolution.

Flint Wrote:

The vehemence and persistence of their defense of creationism implies to me that they recognize how fragile and arbitrary those walls are. If you don’t get ‘em young enough, they’ll see how absurd creationism really is, and you’ll never cram that genie back into the bottle. Conversely, if you DO get to ‘em young enough, then as Dawkins wrote, there’s no limit to what people can believe against any amount of conflicting evidence.

Flint:

I don’t think we have a substantial disagreement about the state of mind that keeps creationists in their mental prison. It is basically fear and guilt.

What I am suggesting is that people like Trask and Johnson (and the rest of the herd at DI) know instinctively how to exploit the groundwork that is already prepared for them by the fundamentalist mindset. From their writings and their exposure to higher education, they seem too articulate to be unaware of what it is that they are doing, especially since they receive responses from the scientific community that attempt to correct their crap and yet they simply repeat their arguments. It has all the earmarks of conscious orchestration.

I think they know full-well that they are scamming, and that it’s an open, protected market for them. They are perceived to be the intellectual leaders from which local churches draw their arguments against secular society. Many of the preachers in local fundamentalist congregations are themselves rubes and are only too happy to have “sophisticated” language to reinforce the fear and guilt that are already part of their sectarian dogma.

Trask’s paper is just too transparently sleazy to be genuine belief on his part. I think we should start treating these “intellectual leaders” as premeditating scam artists. After all, what can they do about it? We have “other ways of knowing” which they are not free to deny according to their “Postmodernist” shtick.

If we pick on the local members of congregations, we loose. If we point out the sleaze of their intellectual leaders, we may at least get some independent thinking going.

Mike:

I don’t think we have a substantial disagreement about the state of mind that keeps creationists in their mental prison. It is basically fear and guilt.

I strongly disagree, though. It’s not fear and guilt, it’s toilet training. They can no more voluntarily give up their delusions than they can voluntarily wet the bed in their sleep. Now, I can agree that fear and guilt are key tools for inculcating these delusions in infancy. But by now, it’s autonomic, irreversible.

From their writings and their exposure to higher education, they seem too articulate to be unaware of what it is that they are doing, especially since they receive responses from the scientific community that attempt to correct their crap and yet they simply repeat their arguments. It has all the earmarks of conscious orchestration

Amazing. We see the same symptoms, but do not diagnose the same disease. You are diagnosing what YOU would have, if YOU exhibited these symptoms. But this is a projection, I think. Education does not cure creationism. Jonathan Wells sincerely believes what he writes, and not even a PhD in corrective evidence could even make a dent. The responses from the scientific community can only illustrate how wrong scientists are, and how much harder creationists must work to correct this. Repetition is how things are committed to memory. Any teacher knows that a lesson not understood must be repeated. Yes, using different words, different examples, different approaches might get the repetition to “take” a little better, and creationists do all these things. Read what mainstream biologists say, and they repeat the same things endlessly, fully orchestrated. Wrong (to the creationists), but the pedagogical techniques are the same.

I think they know full-well that they are scamming, and that it’s an open, protected market for them.

And I simply do not agree. They think they are promulgating the TRUTH. Sure, it’s good to be paid to do this - aren’t standard textbook authors, research scientists, biology teachers paid also? And yes, I’m aware that a predisposition to WANT to believe, on the part of the target audience, is a big help. Nothing is more reasonable than a shared prejudice.

Trask’s paper is just too transparently sleazy to be genuine belief on his part.

Not my reading. Trask “knows” the absolute “truth”. His job, as he sees it, is to try to break down barriers the heathen have erected to preaching that truth as widely as he would prefer. Worse yet, civil authorities are committed to teaching SIN AND ERROR, at taxpayer expense. I can understand Trask’s urgency. I can also understand that Trask regards his paper as strictly tactical. The problem as he sees it is atheistic or deluded laws and judges, who must be provided with sophistical rationalizations because they simply weren’t raised to know the Truth deeply and indelibly in their hearts.

If we pick on the local members of congregations, we loose. If we point out the sleaze of their intellectual leaders, we may at least get some independent thinking going.

What tends to emerge from all these discussions is, those whose creationist upbringings were not fully taken to heart, who preserved some ability to think, DO NOT escape creationism because it’s sleazy, illogical, or factually false, by and large. Most of the escapees do so because they come to see that people like Trask are not just inconsistent, but inconsistent in dishonest ways, saying one thing to one audience and something different to another, preaching conflicting messages not out of confusion but out of tactical expedience. In short, because their leaders are perceived as lying to them, violating a key tenet of their faith.

I think we do agree at least this much – the way to undermine folks like Trask isn’t really to show that they’re factually incorrect, or legally incorrect. Rather, it’s to show that they are deliberately incorrect. And so perhaps we need to SAY that Trask knows better, even if he sincerely does not, and even if we should learn that he sincerely does not, as a tactic to discredit him. ACCUSE him of lying, and try to make it stick. Only when borderline creationists view such people as untrustworthy, do they start to look at evidence at all. If they’re not borderline, of course, they’re hopeless no matter what.

I think you way overestimate these guys. I really doubt they are aware of the true merits of what they’re arguing and are just lying. I think they’re genuinely blinded by their preconceived theories–and then they cast about for some justification for those theories. In that sense, they genuinely believe their theories. They “make their reason serve God,” as St. Paul says. They really think they’re doing good, I think–and the end justifies the means. Plus, they feel so sophisticated and clever when they use Pomobabble.

This last point is worth emphasizing, actually. As Bronowski says in Magic, Science And Civilization, magical thinking is the notion that words can control nature somehow–and religion is really very much centered on a feeling that language can somehow have metaphysical effects. That plays into an fascination with big words and clever phrases among religious leaders and theologians. I think that accounts for a lot of what Trask and similar do with their time. They think they’re doing something important because they’re using these big words like important people do.

Mike Elzinga wrote (in response to Flint):

“What I am suggesting is that people like Trask and Johnson (and the rest of the herd at DI) know instinctively how to exploit the groundwork that is already prepared for them by the fundamentalist mindset. From their writings and their exposure to higher education, they seem too articulate to be unaware of what it is that they are doing, especially since they receive responses from the scientific community that attempt to correct their crap and yet they simply repeat their arguments. It has all the earmarks of conscious orchestration.”

I’m with you, Mike. I think Trask’s piece reads as being a coldly calculated attempt to try yet another possible path to get into public school science classrooms in order to inject fundamentalist anti-science mindrot into as many vulnerable young minds as possible. For the leaders, it’s a matter of taking power, I suppose to try to turn the US into a fundamentalist theocracy. I guess it comes down to this: do theocratic leaders actually believe the “theology” they espouse, or do they merely use it to control their fearful, credulous and ignorant followers, so that those followers can then be used to achieve the true goals of the leaders? Unfortunately, what I have just written is much to close to being a conspiracy theory for most normal thinking people to pay attention to. But, “steath” strategies succeed by remaining in the shadows until it is too late to quash them. I really have no idea how worried to be about the various fundie groups that aspire to political power in this country. I will be less worried once their pawn Bush is out of the White House.

Marilyn,

I think Trask’s piece reads as being a coldly calculated attempt to try yet another possible path to get into public school science classrooms in order to inject fundamentalist anti-science mindrot into as many vulnerable young minds as possible.

Except for some of your connotations, I agree with this as well. They are Lying For Jesus. The underlying question seems to be, do they regard this as lying the same way we do, or do they regard any path that leads to righteousness as blessed?

I think Timothy has an excellent insight here. When you start with your conclusions, which cannot possibly be wrong, the task is to figure out how we might be misinterpreting reality to support error. And the presumption is that scientists who do not find Jesus and biblical literalism in the evidence, must necessarily be starting with Godless conclusions, and forcing reality to fit them instead. How ELSE, than assuming your conclusions, would you ever know if your evidence and analysis were correct?

I’m personally convinced that theocratic leaders sincerely believe their theology, as much as democratic leaders believe in democracy. Theocracies tend to fail (or produce backward and repressive nations) for two reasons - because belief in Absolute Truth makes people ruthless, and because the fact situations reality presents to us consistently place different Absolute Truths in conflict, making adjudication capricious. Which means it tends to rest on immediately perceived political expediency of whoever has the upper hand at the moment.

because belief in Absolute Truth makes people ruthless,

Another problem with “Absolute Truth” is deciding which people get the job of deciding what that absolute truth is. If different people makes the choices of “Absolute Truth” for the different religions, the result is a bunch of religions that aren’t compatible with each other.

Henry

Yes, there is the problem of two different people speaking for God. It’s like the man with two wristwatches. And this is probably why you rarely see delegated or distributed power in theocratic systems. Especially because God invariably ratifies the personal opinions, preferences, fears, and goals of whoever is interpreting His wishes. Where possible, conflicts of this sort are resolved with purges. Where not possible, we see schisms. Compromise isn’t really possible.

(And this also plays into why creationist-controlled forums invariably use relentless censorship to ensure the purity of what’s visible. They don’t have different viewpoints, they have Right And Wrong, and Wrong is not tolerated.)

Timothy,

Thank you for the thorough, erudite, scholarly and clinical dissection of Trask’s “argument” (?).

I only hope that the choir he preaches to are able to appreciate your criticism enough to loosen their grip on the fundamentalist “sky-hook”.

Marilyn Wrote:

I guess it comes down to this: do theocratic leaders actually believe the “theology” they espouse, or do they merely use it to control their fearful, credulous and ignorant followers, so that those followers can then be used to achieve the true goals of the leaders? Unfortunately, what I have just written is much to close to being a conspiracy theory for most normal thinking people to pay attention to. But, “steath” strategies succeed by remaining in the shadows until it is too late to quash them. I really have no idea how worried to be about the various fundie groups that aspire to political power in this country. I will be less worried once their pawn Bush is out of the White House.

My $.02: I think the problem with the idea that the leaders are only using the belief system is that in a democracy, the situation can’t last more than a generation or two. After that, (a descendant of) one of the dupes gets elected, and they are “true believers.” Only in a hereditary monarchy could a successor be groomed to espouse the “divine truth” without personally accepting it.

Timothy Sandefur Wrote:

That plays into an fascination with big words and clever phrases among religious leaders and theologians. I think that accounts for a lot of what Trask and similar do with their time. They think they’re doing something important because they’re using these big words like important people do.

Much of the problem may be the ability of such people to live in a parasitic relationship with a society that actually shields them from reality.

But surely they aren’t so shielded that they haven’t come in contact with pain. A simple experiment would put their theory about objective reality to the test. Perhaps if Trask or others of his kind would just place their wrist on a tree stump and have someone take a hard whack at it with a dull axe. If reality is simply a matter of cultural or gender or sectarian perspective, then there should be no problem, given the proper mindset.

On the other hand, if objective reality begins to intrude on his mind after the whack, perhaps he may want to consider some other objective realities such as anatomy and physiology and their implications for a tourniquet. A few days later he may want to consider the implications of infections such as tetanus. This leads to choosing between witch doctors and doctors who know something about the germ “theory” of disease. Which reality does one choose; faith healers or physicians whose training has something to do with a long history of science (this is not an idle question, by the way)?

How much of a jump is it to go from direct experience of physical pain and infection to acknowledging that being able to type a screed on a computer is connected in some way with a long history of an objective reality called science? How much further does one have to jump in order to figure out that this objective reality called science exists in some form in nearly every culture on this planet, regardless of gender or sectarian dogma? Electricity, for example, doesn’t work differently in each society or for each gender or each religion. How much farther does one need to go in order to recognize that there are physical phenomena that follow, very precisely, mathematical equations that are independent of culture, gender, or political or sectarian dogma (even when different notation is used to write the equations as notation evolves; the equations still say the same thing)? And if these things exist for most people, what about the thinking that lead to the discovery of these things in the first place?

I can agree with Flint that there are people who are so out of touch with reality that they can’t tell the difference between faith healers and real physicians. That, it seems to me, is both a result of ignorance and indoctrination; and it borders on mental illness in many cases. In fact, many people have commented on the correlation between fundamentalist religion and mental illness, especially among the rank and file.

But the intellectual leaders who are able to write apparently articulate articles in a law journal? I remain skeptical that they don’t know what they are doing. There are lots of ignorant, sick, and mal-educated people on this planet. But wherever they are, there are charlatans who are willing to exploit them. I would put the intellectual leaders of the ID/Creationist movement in that category. The followers are a more mixed bag.

Reading crap like Trask’s paper convinces me that Trask, Johnson and all of their cohorts do not really believe what they are writing.

I can’t directly read the minds of the likes of Trask.

I suspect that denial, cognitive dissonance, and personal self-definition through membership in an ideological group play a role.

I notice that virtually all creationists I am aware of are associated with authoritarian religious and political positions.

All of us have noticed that, in essence, they can never be “convinced”, and that they will resort to subject-changing, non-sequitors, formerly disproven arguments, claims of persecution, and so on. In this way they are not 100% unique.

Mike:

A simple experiment would put their theory about objective reality to the test. Perhaps if Trask or others of his kind would just place their wrist on a tree stump…

I’ll try again. I find it hard to believe it’s this hard to communicate. Trask and his ilk are not denying objective reality on general principles. They are denying only those narrowly specific aspects of reality that refute narrowly specific religious doctrines. Now, I can see that they are attempting to do so by raising and arguing general principles. They do this because they can sense that cherry-picking bits and pieces of reality to deny, for no reason other than their bible seems to tell them so, is going to smack of special pleading and look self-serving.

And in fact, they do not dispute objective reality in practice, at all. They are only trying as hard as they can to find some reason, ANY reason, to deny those specific bits of scientific discovery that refutes their religious delusions. Anything that is not seen as directly denying the reading of Genesis as natural history, is perfectly acceptable. Think of them as like a mother, with Genesis as their child. There’s ALWAYS a compelling reason why their Johnny’s case is different and special, even when Johnny looks and acts just like everyone else.

Does pain from trauma deny POOF creation? No? Then it’s all right. Do electricity and electrical phenomena deny POOF creation? No? Then it’s all right. Does the law deny POOF creation? Well, for the most part it does not, so that part’s all right. However, the law DOES permit teachers to preach evolution in classrooms without permitting them equal time. So that’s not OK, it’s bad. And with equal time, they can hopefully indoctrinate a whole generation into creationism, which will elect politicians who will appoint judges who will prohibit the preaching of evolution, and we’ll all go to heaven.

You persist in thinking of the intellectual leaders of creationism as just as rational and free of religious woohooism as you are, but who have surveyed the marketplace of opportunities, identified a class of ignorant god-infested suckers, and systematically set out to fleece them. I think this image is completely wrong. Trask really believes in POOF creation, and really believes that there MUST be some explanation for why the Unconverted continue to deny it.

Creationists who become lawyers (Trask, Johnson) find legal rationalizations to defend POOF creation. Creationists who become biologists (Wells, Behe) find biological rationalizations. Creationist theologians find theological rationalizations. Your error is in expecting them to think logically, as you do, and to draw conclusions based on evidence and logic. Instead, they start with TRUTH, and attack only those things that appear to subvert it. This need not be rational, consistent, or even coherent. It need only be true (their version).

Flint:

Creationists who become lawyers (Trask, Johnson) find legal rationalizations to defend POOF creation. Creationists who become biologists (Wells, Behe) find biological rationalizations. Creationist theologians find theological rationalizations.

Wells is a biologist?

You’re a very silly, a very funny person, Flint. You should take your material to the nightclubs in Las Vegas, the casinos will snap you up quicker than a smoldering Barbara Streisand at a fire sale.

All of the statements (and books) that Wells has produced over the last several decades clearly demonstrate that he not only surreptitiously hired people to do his coursework for him, but, he wouldn’t be able to do or even explain actual Biology if he contracted a fatal case of neon tetra.

Flint:

I’ll try again. I find it hard to believe it’s this hard to communicate.

No need to apologize or take offense. I am enjoying your good points. :-)

Trask and his ilk are not denying objective reality on general principles. They are denying only those narrowly specific aspects of reality that refute narrowly specific religious doctrines. Now, I can see that they are attempting to do so by raising and arguing general principles. They do this because they can sense that cherry-picking bits and pieces of reality to deny, for no reason other than their bible seems to tell them so, is going to smack of special pleading and look self-serving.

Well, I was simply trying to point out the absurdity of denying objective reality by starting at an obvious end of a well-connected continuum. Of course they don’t deny reality in general, but only when it suits them. That is a conscious and strategic decision on their part. They know the realities of politics and opinion manipulation at the very least.

When they reuse refuted arguments in new venues, even after acknowledging they were wrong in using a particular argument, they must at some point recognize that the argument was worth reusing. I have personally seen this happen, and others who have wrangled with the ID/Creationists report similar experiences. This suggests a strategic awareness on their part. It’s not the scientists they are trying to convince.

They know they have been continually stopped in the courts. But political activities like their campaigns to replace judges on the federal courts and on the Supreme Court (presumably to get verdicts favorable to themselves) again demonstrates strategic and political awareness. They are aware of the Constitutional issues and try to distort them. Bullying tactics and taking gratuitous offence with secular institutions in order to gain concessions where none are deserved are conscious political tactics. The Wedge Document is a strategic plan. The law schools at Pat Roberson’s and Jerry Falwell’s “universities” are primarily aimed at producing lawyers who will remake the law along the lines of their own sectarian imaginations. They say this openly.

Your error is in expecting them to think logically, as you do, and to draw conclusions based on evidence and logic. Instead, they start with TRUTH, and attack only those things that appear to subvert it. This need not be rational, consistent, or even coherent. It need only be true (their version).

But, in fact, they do work hard at logic and developing debating skills. Many of them understand syllogisms quite well. Choreographed debates are a favorite venue for them. Strategic avoidance of research and hard data are evidence that they are aware of what really counts as opposed to what counts with their audience. Waiting for a Supreme Court decision in 1987 to make changes in the wording in a Creationist text book in order to get around the ruling was a premeditated, strategic decision.

I understand the common syllogism they use with their audiences (evolution implies no original sin implies no forgiveness implies … etc., therefore their sectarian dogma is wrong).

So I still think the ID/Creationist leaders are making conscious, strategic decisions that play to their audience and public opinion. By strategically avoiding anything having to do with research, scientific evidence and peer review, seems to me to demonstrate a rather clear awareness that they know where the real action is.

I think we do agree at least this much – the way to undermine folks like Trask isn’t really to show that they’re factually incorrect, or legally incorrect. Rather, it’s to show that they are deliberately incorrect.

I couldn’t agree more; even if we differ on what it is they know they are doing. If they want to portray themselves as intelligent citizens and leaders, then they have an obligation to really understand the issues rather than to systematically distort them. We can at least “take them to trask” on that.

Mike,

When they reuse refuted arguments in new venues, even after acknowledging they were wrong in using a particular argument, they must at some point recognize that the argument was worth reusing.

Before I figured it out, I used to get really exasperated by this. They re-used known-false arguments, I thought, simply because they knew that the particular audience at hand did NOT understand the refutation, probably couldn’t, and wanted to hear God’s Truth. Now, I think that they packaged, insulated, and stored away the recognition of error, “disappearing” it just as creationist forums do disagreement. Creationism is nothing if not resiliant - you can sin, but you can repent.

I certainly agree that they understand very well the power of good PR, how to use publicity for partisan ends, how to press the buttons of politics. After all, creationism is more than just an incurable belief in idiotic claims - it’s also a way to spread and perpetuate idiocy. Like any parasite, it must do more than just suck on the host; it must replicate and infect new hosts.

But to say that the ability to manipulate public opinion, game legal and political systems, and otherwise weasel and cheat implies intellectual deceit is still projecting. The golfer who uses an iron to putt or a driver out of a trap is not cheating, he’s creative. He’s making maximum use of the tools available. I think Timothy is right that their ends justify any means. If it tricks one poor yokel into accepting Christ, then it was righteous.

Strategic avoidance of research and hard data are evidence that they are aware of what really counts as opposed to what counts with their audience.

Not sure I understand what you mean here. Research and hard data are irrelevant to their purposes. Their purposes, as well as I can understand them, are (1) to exercise power to get their own way; and (2) to save souls. In that order. PR is a source of power. If you find yourself opposed by a legal tradition that violates your belief, backed by overwhelming military power, you don’t grab a gun and start shooting postal workers. You need to alter the legal tradition, one decision at a time.

Really now, creationism has nothing to do with science. “Scientific” creationism doesn’t either. What’s happening here is, science WORKS. Over the course of time, the public may be as ignorant of science as they are of Swahili, but they know that whatever science is, it produces nifty technology, good medicine, longer healthier lives, cheaper foods, etc. Science is regarded as good, powerful juju.

What a stunning, magnificant coup it would be, if their religious delusions could piggyback on this powerful cachet, being presented as equally valid, and blessed with the Official Description of “scientific”! There’s absolutely no need, in the process, to know what science IS, how it works, why the essential idea of science is toxic to creationist doctrine, or anything else. All they need to know is that (1) call something scientific, and the public will automatically respect and believe it; and (2) the public wouldn’t know science if it bit them. Get government to enforce this definition, and you’ve hit a home run.

If they want to portray themselves as intelligent citizens and leaders, then they have an obligation to really understand the issues rather than to systematically distort them.

I think they DO understand the issues, very clearly. This is a battle for hearts and not minds. But they do not frame the issue as you do. You see it as a battle between scientific understanding against the denial of clear evidence. They see it as a battle to determine social organization, values, and goals. In more political terms, you are libertarian and they are authoritarian. You want people to decide based on the evidence. They want people to OBEY, based on obligation to God (their version, with them as middleman).

The key, I think, is that Lying For Jesus is perfectly OK, and not in any way dishonest, because the INTENT is correct. I think you are giving these people credit for judgment they can no longer ever again exercise, and then being angry because they exercise bad judgment. But they are NOT exercising judgment in that sense, they don’t have it anymore. If God is telling them to say things they know aren’t true, then those things must be true, so they become true.

So what I had to come to understand is, these people are fundamentally not sane.

Flint wrote

The key, I think, is that Lying For Jesus is perfectly OK, and not in any way dishonest, because the INTENT is correct. I think you are giving these people credit for judgment they can no longer ever again exercise, and then being angry because they exercise bad judgment. But they are NOT exercising judgment in that sense, they don’t have it anymore. If God is telling them to say things they know aren’t true, then those things must be true, so they become true.

So what I had to come to understand is, these people are fundamentally not sane.

That’s probably the scariest thing I’ve read in years.

Flint,

What a stunning, magnificant coup it would be, if their religious delusions could piggyback on this powerful cachet, being presented as equally valid, and blessed with the Official Description of “scientific”!

That is indeed evident in Trask’s paper and in much of the ID/Creationist literature. It’s a kind of love/hate relationship with science (and the law, according to Trask). They want the cachet, as you say, but in order to do that, they have to change the definition of science to include the supernatural and also allow them to avoid doing any real research that would produce results that conflict with their preconceived dogma. To accomplish that goal in the minds of their followers, they have to twist words and meanings.

I think they DO understand the issues, very clearly. This is a battle for hearts and not minds. But they do not frame the issue as you do. You see it as a battle between scientific understanding against the denial of clear evidence. They see it as a battle to determine social organization, values, and goals. In more political terms, you are libertarian and they are authoritarian. You want people to decide based on the evidence. They want people to OBEY, based on obligation to God (their version, with them as middleman).

I understand why I might give that impression (I do have a passion for science; otherwise I wouldn’t have devoted so much of my life to it), and, indeed, it is true for the most part. But I really do understand the social (cosmological?) battle for hearts and minds. There are enough of these fundamentalists in my community and on TV to remind me (not to mention the Left Behind series of books).

I would add that another reason I think the leaders know enough about science to muddle concepts and definitions for their followers is that I strongly suspect the ones who attempt to wave their scientific credentials (especially those at the DI and ICR) have briefly encountered a moment of realization that I can only describe as an “Oh shit!” moment. It’s the sudden realization that one’s original “brilliant” and confidently touted idea has no chance of flying because one becomes aware of fundamental misconceptions in one’s thinking and has no idea where to go from there, and there is no help on the way.

What I have seen of ID/Creationist “research” reminds me of grotesque incompetence and immaturity let loose without supervision. They can’t make anything work, and they are at least vaguely aware of this fact when they take the time to compare themselves with experienced, hard-core researchers. Their response has been to cover it up and bluff, and then resort to babbling “philosophy” among their followers. When one spends many years in research in the lab or in the field, this kind of buffoonery is fairly easy to spot. Research is full of pesky little details that one learns to master as one matures. These ID/Creationist novices don’t understand it, but their uneasiness around real researchers shows. So they are at least minimally aware that they haven’t made the cut and are sitting in a pile of crap. A few pointed questions will shut them down pretty quickly. In this respect, they are not much different from a lot of the other phony “researchers” and “inventors” trying to make a buck off an unsuspecting bunch of rubes. They may have deluded themselves for a while, but eventually the “Oh shit!” moment hits when they try to do anything (that’s the nice thing about objective reality). After that, it’s all bluster.

I think you are giving these people credit for judgment they can no longer ever again exercise, and then being angry because they exercise bad judgment.

Well, I wouldn’t put it quite like that. They may no longer be able to exercise any judgment they may (or may not) have had, but it is because they have painted themselves into a corner and can no longer lead honest lives. I’m certainly not angry. In fact, I see it as reality’s pay-back; quite humorous actually. It’s ironic that what ancient humans attributed to the wrath of deities turns out to be primitive conceptions of the physical consequences of behavior in a universe governed by physical rules we now understand much more clearly.

Mike,

I’m pretty much in agreement, except perhaps for emphasis. I think the problem with creationist researchers is, what they keep finding is simply not consistent with what their god TOLD them they would find. Since their god can’t be wrong, THEY must be wrong in their interpretations, they must be looking at the evidence wrong, they must have found the wrong evidence, they were told they’d find an elephant and they found only a rope, but the elephant must be there, the rope must be part of it somehow, because their god TOLD them so.

And so I think they regard the greater scientific community as being widely off track, that their god’s creation is so far beyond mere human understanding that uninformed (that is, starting without True conclusions) investigation is guaranteed to produce misunderstanding and false impressions. You MUST know the Truth before you start, because their god’s creation is beyond human comprehension otherwise.

Where their god’s specs seem clearest to them (and which affects them personally), this fallible human inability to grasp their god’s wisdom in its full glory is most pernicious. No, they don’t know the details either; their god didn’t bother to spill them. But their god DID spill enough for them to know that anything that violates Creation (their concept) has GOT to be wrong. It really doesn’t matter how voluminous, consistent, or predictive the evidence is. In this respect, anyway, their god’s Word is unambiguous. Evolution did not happen.

So I can appreciate their frustration. THEY don’t have any clue how to get observed reality to line up with God’s Truth. Those who have fallen into what scripture makes clear is obvious error, are making a stronger case with every passing discovery, and they don’t know HOW it’s wrong, but there’s no question THAT it’s wrong.

But they do know one thing for sure (and so do we): If only scientific researchers had the Right Faith necessary to know their god’s Word and interpret all their findings within this One True Context, none of those researchers would make such egregious errors as saying evolution happens. They would all know better. If only ALL scientists would enthusiastically and sincerely sign the ICR’s no-compromise statement of belief, our immortal souls wouldn’t be imperiled by errors such as evolution.

Flint Wrote:

But they do know one thing for sure (and so do we): If only scientific researchers had the Right Faith necessary to know their god’s Word and interpret all their findings within this One True Context, none of those researchers would make such egregious errors as saying evolution happens. They would all know better. If only ALL scientists would enthusiastically and sincerely sign the ICR’s no-compromise statement of belief, our immortal souls wouldn’t be imperiled by errors such as evolution.

Yup. Unfortunately for them, several hundred years of experience and evidence has finally freed many humans from the prison of their minds. Once one gets a taste of scientific knowledge and understands, there is no going back. There is no way the ID/Creationists can explain away the results of our current understanding of science. They are immersed in it even as they use it to disseminate their propaganda. That incongruity is enough to finish them as a legitimate intellectual movement.

We now have to guard the courts and the democratic forms of government that keep them from imposing their doctrines by force. That’s why it’s nice to have people like Judge Jones and Timothy Sandefur clarifying the laws for us.

My personal response, after reading Trask’s article: Evolution, Science, and Ideology: Why the Establishment Clause Requires Neutrality in Science Classes, was one of utter dismay, amazement, shock and awe.

The one question that came to mind was: HOW CAN ONE ARGUE WITH LOGIC LIKE THAT? It’s would seem impossible, and probably a waste of time because whoever wrote this purposely labyrinthine dribble would probably not be able to understand a logical rebuttal. I would not care to count the faulty premises, misrepresentations, and examples of faulty logic that seem to require the moniker “The Greatest Story Ever Fabricated”. An evil insane genius couldn’t have done better.

I know this was touched on by J. McFaul, but my next question was: WHO / WHAT IS THE CHAPMAN LAW REVIEW? Don’t they have any standards for getting articles published? Do they have Pier Review? Are they another mighty arm of the Discovery Institute and the Republican Party?

Ya, Ya, that’s more than one question, but my mind was still spinning.

The rebuttal by Timothy Sandefur was something of a miracle. Hats off to his well-informed, intellectual, and restrained response in Reason and Common Ground: A Response to the Creationists’ “Neutrality” Argument. Actually, with my recently acquired negative impression of the Chapman Law Review, I was surprise to see it there.

Using Trask’s Introduction, lets condemn literally Everything around us. How about our Legal system… we might submit that metaphysical arguments are discriminated against by our Secular Legal system. (Note: Keep an eye out for unnecessary, misleading, and inflammatory statements.)

Public education is often considered to be one of the most benign aspects of state power. Many people question how such a benevolent institution could be labeled as coercive when it rarely even engages in corporal punishment. It is the dominance of this assumption in society that allows compulsory public education to conceal its considerable coercive power. The source of this power is the inherent capacity of public education to shape how students view the world. Both the public education system and the elites who influence it use this power to serve their own ideological ends. One of the best examples of this ideological coercion is the choice of public schools to teach Secular Law as the exclusive Bible for the American Legal System. Both public schools and federal courts justify the failure to teach alternatives with the claim that Secular Law is the only explanation for the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock . In reality, alternatives to Secular Law are only Illegal to the extent that one relies on a secular definition of Law. Relying on a slanted definition of Secular Law will inevitably produce a rigged game when one determines whether a Law is Legal.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on January 30, 2008 7:24 PM.

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