Chris Comer Sues Texas Agency: ‘Neutrality’ is Endorsement of Religion

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Last fall, Texas science educator Christina Comer was fired for simply advising colleagues of an upcoming talk on Intelligent Design Creationism by professor Barbara Forrest. (See Expelled: Texas Education Agency Fires Staffer for Announcing Talk by Barbara Forrest for some of the details.)

Now, Comer is fighting back. USA Today reports on July 3rd that

A former science curriculum director for the Texas Education Agency has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was illegally fired for forwarding an e-mail about a speaker who was critical of teaching a controversial alternative to evolution.

Christina Comer, who lost her job at the TEA last year, said in the suit filed Wednesday against the TEA and Education Commissioner Robert Scott that she was terminated for defying an unconstitutional policy that required employees to be neutral on the subject of creationism — the biblical interpretation of the origin of human life.

The e-mail, which was intercepted by a state education leader, was about a speaker coming to Austin who had critical views of creationism and the teaching of intelligent design.

The federal courts have ruled that teaching creationism as science in public schools is illegal under the U.S. Constitution’s provision preventing government establishment or endorsement of religious beliefs. “The agency’s ‘neutrality’ policy has the purpose or effect of endorsing religion, and thus violates the Establishment Clause,” the lawsuit said. … The lawsuit seeks a court order overturning the TEA’s neutrality policy on teaching of creationism and declaring that her dismissal was unconstitutional and her reinstatement to her old job.

Discuss. And, have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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225 Comments

xpost from pharyngula

Religious discrimination!!!

I said many times at the beginning that Chris Comer was a victim of religious discrimination. Her constitutional rights were being violated by Death Cult fanatics. And that she should go to court on this basis.

Creationism and its camoflagued version ID, aren’t even xian dogmas. They are narrow sectarian inventions of fundie cults mostly from the south central USA.

Worldwide, most xian denominations don’t have a problem with evolution, mainline protestants, Catholics, Mormons. What is rarely said, some evangelical, fundie, and pentocostal sects don’t either. Creationism is as much a loser position to defend as geocentrism and eventually all but the most hardcore cults move on. Pope Pius said it decades ago, “One Galileo in 2,000 years is enough.”

I was wondering how long it would take for the other shoe to drop. Hopefully this will turn into another Dover for the ID-creationists.

The real victims of religious descrimination are the children who are forced to listen to creationist propaganda masquarading as science. This is likely to happen if the current religious zealots on the Texas state school board continue their jihad.

Well now, this clearly appears to be a case of religious discrimination. Wouldn’t we expect the Dishonesty Institute to step in and defend Comer? Where is her right to freedom of speech they keep talking about and flouting?

Oh, yeah, good for her!

Based on our current understanding of chemistry and biology any mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist who knows what it takes to get from proteins to an ecosystem will admit that it’s so statistically improbable as to be impossible. The kinetics of reaction simply don’t allow it even given 14 billion years on a planet with all the right stuff.

With that in mind it’s pure hypocrisy to reject the idea that the design of life existed before the world was. Especially since this rejection is always done as a matter of principle and not as a matter of logic. There is absolutely not logical reasoning nor proof to support the notion that the design of life did not exist before the world was created. Neither is there logic or proof that intelligence did not exist beforehand, or that it is any less probably than the spontaneous unimaginably unlikely conditions that would create an entire living ecosystems out of a pool of random proteins.

The challenge is with regard to probability (not entropy, which so many creationists think), and the scientific method demands that the most probable phenomena be given most weight, yet there is nothing to suggest that a unintelligent evolution is more likely than an intelligent design.

As such, the prejudice against intelligent design is head-on against everything the scientific method intrinsically specifies. I don’t know how someone can call themselves a scientist while refusing to consider an the only proposed solution that satisfies the otherwise mathematically impossible phenomena called life.

It’s almost as if they think that considering intelligent design as a remote possibility is the same as giving up on the challenge to solve the mathematics by some other way, which is not only ludicrous, but reveals a huge sense of insecurity on their behalf.

davea0511 said: Based on our current understanding of chemistry and biology any mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist who knows what it takes to get from proteins to an ecosystem will admit that it’s so statistically improbable as to be impossible.

Thank you for your clear demonstration of the logical fallacy known as the argument from personal incredulity: You personally find it unlikely or unbelievable that we got here by ourselves, therefore God did it. Or to state it another way, based on our current ignorance of chemistry and biology, God did it.

Pray tell exactly which “mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist” published this peer-reviewed admission to which you refer, and in which journal? Or is this “finding” from the Institute for Creation Research or Answers In Genesis or the Dishonesty Institute? Citations please - or is this just your unsupported personal opinion?

davea0511,

So then, religious discrimination is OK with you, as long as you feel that your religion is right. Got it.

As far as insecurity goes, who fired who? So, tell me again, who is acting insecure here?

davea0511 said:

Based on our current understanding of chemistry and biology any mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist who knows what it takes to get from proteins to an ecosystem will admit that it’s so statistically improbable as to be impossible.

Funny…I thought something that has already happened had a probability of 100%. The probability of it happening again may be small, but saying that something is improbable when it has already happened is like saying that even though it is improbable than an O-ring in a space shuttle booster rocket may fail that it has never failed even though one has.

davea0511 said:

I don’t know how someone can call themselves a scientist while refusing to consider an the only proposed solution that satisfies the otherwise mathematically impossible phenomena called life.

Let’s consider the mathematical probabilities of the origin of life as a supernatural event. Hmmm … what can we use as a basic assumption for the calculation?

I guess the only thing I can think of is to calculate this on the basis of the known rate of occurrence of provable supernatural events. And this is (check my CRC) .… ahhhh … zero.

I guess that makes the probability calculation easy. Now if anyone can see fundamental flaws in my assumptions or calculations, could you please point it out to me? I INSIST on scientific rigor in my calculations.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

The kinetics of reaction simply don’t allow it even given 14 billion years on a planet with all the right stuff.

Prove it.

fnxtr said:

The kinetics of reaction simply don’t allow it even given 14 billion years on a planet with all the right stuff.

Prove it.

Right. How would you know? WERE YOU THERE?

Sigh, deja moo all over again … OK, I bet this goes up to eight pages before it fades out.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Side bet on the appearance of SLOT?

fnxtr said:

Side bet on the appearance of SLOT?

Not on your life, you think I’m a sucker? I got my “law of gravity rules out flying machines” argument out of the closet and put it on standby alert.

Derbyshire pointed out once that it would be more fun to put up with Darwin-bashers if they ever came up with a new argument, but concluded: “I have yet to hear an argument that isn’t older than I am. (I am not young.)”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net

davea0511 said:

Based on our current understanding of chemistry and biology any mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist who knows what it takes to get from proteins to an ecosystem will admit that it’s so statistically improbable as to be impossible. The kinetics of reaction simply don’t allow it even given 14 billion years on a planet with all the right stuff.

Who is “our”, kemosabi?

And please show all maths.

Stuart Weinstein said:

And please show all maths.

Oh, did you HAVE to say that? We’ll get a jillion citations, including a fair number of pubjacks.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

dave Making Stuff Up:

davea0511 said:

Based on our current understanding of chemistry and biology any mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist who knows what it takes to get from proteins to an ecosystem will admit that it’s so statistically improbable as to be impossible.

That isn’t true. It is a flat out lie. Acceptance of evolutionary fact and theory runs around 99% in the USA, higher in Europe. Only a few scientists who also freely and proudly claim to being religious kooks say that.

The kinetics of reaction simply don’t allow it even given 14 billion years on a planet with all the right stuff.

You know that how? Voices in your head, a burning bush in your backyard, stone tablets from god?

You just made up some bafflegab without knowing what it meant. That will work in your church basement but scientists have different criteria. To start with, which reaction kinetics. IIRC, they are usually expressed as moles/second or some such. And as you didn’t know, can vary wildly with temperature.

Yeah, it’s unfortunately the case that the creo-net (the thousands of “Christian” sites that exist by copying one another’s lies) is heavily populated with calculations based on false assumptions, incomplete data, and foregone conclusions.

fnxtr said:

Side bet on the appearance of SLOT?

Oh please; no! I’m already nauseas and green from Googling “genetic entropy”.

Mike Elzinga said:

Oh please; no! I’m already nauseas and green from Googling “genetic entropy”.

Huh? What? Googling Googling Googling … oh DAMN YOUR EYES! (“Too late!”)

I was laughing at the cover of that book. I had to do a blowup on it – yep, it’s got the “ICR Tract Stylistic Seal Of Approval” stamped all over it. Sort of this odd combination of cheese and whizzyness that makes a 1937 cover of AMAZING STORIES look classy in comparison.

Actually some of the old Virgil Finlay “space babes in metal brassieres” covers had some class – some of Finlay’s B&W drawings are downright beautiful – but this is getting really OT.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Being stupid I love this shit. I’ve read PT for a while now; followed Dover through the archives and shit; followed the yammerings of Dembski and Co (and his unbelievable nerve at not turning up at Dover). Not being American, not being in the States, but having great respect for the Constitution etc, I must ask a question:When-, heh heh heh he, sorry, I’ll try again. When, hah hah ha ha he, shit sorry! When will Dembski (and mates) front?

Hey, folks - Don’t Feed The Troll!

(Especially one who issued one fart about 5 hours ago and retreated into his noisome pit, giggling about the ease of derailing “Darwinists” from their chosen topic. The ones who stick around to brawl are more fun, anyway.)

Meanwhile, back at the thread: Is there anybody back there in Louisiana in a position to bait Gov. Jindal into make public comments about the Chris Comer case?

Not that I think Bobby J has anything useful to contribute, but it would be nice to have him hitch his caboose to the impending Texas trainwreck…

Pierce R. Butler said:

The ones who stick around to brawl are more fun, anyway.

People seem to take them so seriously though. Good Bob, it takes a surgical operation to get an irony into the head of a lunatic fringer.

Not that I think Bobby J has anything useful to contribute, but it would be nice to have him hitch his caboose to the impending Texas trainwreck…

I’m not so sure about this one. Don’t know Comer from nowhere and for all I know she might be just trying to ride the Exclusion Clause train. Then again, maybe not. If her dismissal was on the basis of clear and documented just cause, the case could go nowhere fast, but if not it could get to be a real three-ring circus.

It’s always fun when the circus comes to town.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

State records show that supervisors told Comer that she would be fired if she refused to resign because, by using her agency account to forward the e-mail, she implied that the agency agreed with Forrest’s criticism.

http://www.statesman.com/news/conte[…]04comer.html

Seems there’ll be a bit of splainin’ to do pretty soon, under oath of course.

Meanwhile, you have yourself a happy 4th of July, Ms. Comer!

FL :)

FL said:

State records show that supervisors told Comer that she would be fired if she refused to resign because, by using her agency account to forward the e-mail, she implied that the agency agreed with Forrest’s criticism.

http://www.statesman.com/news/conte[…]04comer.html

Seems there’ll be a bit of splainin’ to do pretty soon, under oath of course.

Meanwhile, you have yourself a happy 4th of July, Ms. Comer!

FL :)

Yes - as a resident and taxpayer in the State of Texas, I for one demand to know why the State Science Director had the audacity to send an e-mail about a lecture on an issue related to science education from her state e-mail account.

LeeH said:

FL said:

State records show that supervisors told Comer that she would be fired if she refused to resign because, by using her agency account to forward the e-mail, she implied that the agency agreed with Forrest’s criticism.

http://www.statesman.com/news/conte[…]04comer.html

Seems there’ll be a bit of splainin’ to do pretty soon, under oath of course.

Meanwhile, you have yourself a happy 4th of July, Ms. Comer!

FL :)

Yes - as a resident and taxpayer in the State of Texas, I for one demand to know why the State Science Director had the audacity to send an e-mail about a lecture on an issue related to science education from her state e-mail account.

In short, FL, Comer was doing her job.…and got canned for it. Only in Texas, or another state run by idiots, could that happen.

I’m a Texan, and totally embarrassed about this nonsense of Comer’s resignation last year even being an issue now. I hope she embarrasses Governor Rick Perry too!

P.S. Probability is simply not an issue in reference to the origin of life. Improbability does not imply impossibility, life only had to originate once, and afterwards natural selection would proceed to alter and diversify the original stock of primitive life forms, thus making all assumptions about the impossibility of complex organisms arising by “chance” pointless.

davea0511 said:

Based on our current understanding of chemistry and biology any mathematically-astute evolutionary biologist who knows what it takes to get from proteins to an ecosystem will admit that it’s so statistically improbable as to be impossible. The kinetics of reaction simply don’t allow it even given 14 billion years on a planet with all the right stuff.

Only it wasn’t 14 billion years on A planet;

It was 14 billion years on 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets. Probably more than that.

…Times the number of molecules on those planets.

It turns out that the actual number of opportunities is more staggeringly huge than you can imagine. When the number of opportunities is large enough, the “impossible” (which you erroneously derived from “improbable”) becomes “inevitable.”

FL said:

Seems there’ll be a bit of splainin’ to do pretty soon, under oath of course.

Yeah … under oath we’ll find out if we’re getting a skewed version of the story through the press or … they really were that dumb.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Beats me about all the legal wrangling, but something is rotten in the state of Denmark or Texas as the case may be. You just have to look up McLeroy to know that for a fact. That is apparent even if Comer isn’t the best test case.

Neutrality is one of those concepts that sounds good, but this is the real world that we have to deal with. In this case, neutrality is stupid. McLeroy has to lie about what he is trying to get done. Being neutral gives the lies an advantage that they should not have.

It would be one thing if McLeroy and his followers had a legitimate case, but if they had one, why lie about it? Why can’t they just present their case in the open air and see where it leads? Why don’t they accept the findings of others that have had to confront the same issues? Why is it legitimate to obfuscate the issue and let dishonesty lead the way that you do things? I am sure that, at least, some of McLeroy’s supporters have scratched their heads at some time and wondered just why they have to be so underhanded and deceptive in their approach to this problem.

If they have a legitimate case, why hasn’t it been presented somewhere? Why are they heading towards teaching an obfuscation scam instead of teaching their alternative?

Surely, there have to be enough honest and competent people, that wonder why they have to try to sneak the junk in slithering under the door instead of letting it walk upright through the door, that can step forward and try to do the right thing. This is their religion that they have to lie about. That has to bring some of them up short.

It seems to me that there are two questions here:

1) Is the Texas Education Agency’s “neutrality” policy constitutional?

2) Did Christina Comer violate that policy?

Only the first question is being pursued in this lawsuit, but the second question is interesting as well.

“Neutral” does not mean “mute”. If Ms. Comer forwarded the announcement of a talk by Barbara Forrest, and if she would also forward the announcement of a talk by, say, Michael Behe, then she’s being neutral. In neither case is she making an endorsement of the speaker or the speaker’s position.

(I often recommend that my students attend talks that I suspect will be poorly reasoned, so that they’ll learn to recognize poor reasoning. “Know the enemy.”)

I find Ms. Comer’s situation highly ironic, because she was attempting to “teach the controversy”, and was fired for it.

hamstrung said:

I thought it was the cheapest of cheap shots to denigrate your grief for your wife.

But this is an entertainment emporium. It is so funny when finally you have them trapped logically and they start screaming ‘ troll, ignorant, a**hole, s***head ‘ I just visualize them with their viens popping out of their foreheads and mouths foaming. Just follow the threads: as soon as they have been logically trapped the go postal. Too funny!

Have you not read any of keith’s vitriolic, profanity and insult laced tirades when someone contradicts him? Really? You missed those? That’s odd since you described them perfectly.

Hamstrung does describe Keith most favorite approach of name calling quite accurately.

Well done.

hamstrung said:

PvM said:

Seems that in spite of your assurances you are still recovering from some traumatic experience. The alternative explanation is that you enjoy making Christianity look foolish through scientific ignorance on your part.

Either way, my condoleances.

keith said:

I am not in grief as my loss was noine years ago. I have no anger except toward people who are determined to change western culture into a technocracy, remove by all means necessary religious faith, destroy all adherents to N.T. Christianity, attack anyone who disagrees with their scientific understanding without any merit, logic, or demonstration of fact.

The UTUBE video was a clown act having zero to do with anything remotely resembling life as commonly understood.

This moron starts off diffentiating evolution from abiogenesis and ends with using evolution several times, natural selection, etc. in the imaginary model of pseudo-life he constructs. This guy must stay on meth about 90% of the time.

I laugh at your analysis of my retirement.

Typical Day:

3-hrs with three grandkids this morning babysitting. 2-hr workout at my club.

Working on M.S. Degree survey class notes from the fourth book in required reading “How we bcame post-human” essentially a history of cybernetics and the implications for both biological sciences and non-biological sciences, philosophy, ethics, etc.

Spending the required 1/2 hour to refute all the butthead anal arguments of the evoturd crowd.

The latter is a source of entertainment and it boosts my ego.

I thought it was the cheapest of cheap shots to denigrate your grief for your wife.

But this is an entertainment emporium. It is so funny when finally you have them trapped logically and they start screaming ‘ troll, ignorant, a**hole, s***head ‘ I just visualize them with their viens popping out of their foreheads and mouths foaming. Just follow the threads: as soon as they have been logically trapped the go postal. Too funny!

hamstrung said:

It is so funny when finally you have them trapped logically …

How cute, keith made a friend. Another ignoramus, of course, but it seems a match made in, where else, … heaven.

keith said:

Was Christ resurrected?

The title of this thread is “Chris Comer Sues Texas Agency: ‘Neutrality’ is Endorsement of Religion.”

I really don’t see the relevance.

keith said:

Was Christ resurrected?

Well Keith, you don’t know because you weren’t there.

Hey, when are you going to make good on your promise to bring dembski back to Norman, make sure it is in the same church as last time, when we humiliated him. Don’t act like you don’t know. A full page ad was taken out in The Daily Oklahoman, regarding his talk. And he thought that church would be a safe venue.

JJ, You couldn’t humiliate a braindead collie dog, let alone Dembski.

Of course, only evobutts like you could mistake the theatre in the Student Union for a church you moranic little twobit nobody.

The people who were quite pleased to introduce Dembski were from my circle of friends a PhD. Chemical Engineer and Organic chemist who is tenured faculty and in the audience also a PhD Physics prof of worldwide reputation and a signator to the DI document, I believe.

The only turdheads I saw at the presentation were your obnoxious, rude, arrogant, undisciplined peers including Phillip Kleppka and his aboriginal loud mouth wife.

Dembski has no reason to fear combat with intellectual midgets like you and yours, so prominent then and now.

Keith, I am profoundly sorry about the loss of your wife, and I sympathise with the anger and fear you have of science since it was unable to save her.

But your ignorance of that science leads you to nothing more than making Christianity look a waste of brain cells.

On the one hand, we have PvM: courteous, educated, Christian - a TRUE Christian in the sense that Jesus spoke of.

On the other hand, we have you - angry, bitter, ignorant, stupid, and showing all the foolish limits of Christianity that make it a laughingstock. You are the single greatest reason I have seen recently why not to be a Christian, since apparently the way you practise it requires one to have one’s brain and critical reasoning faculties surgically removed.

Why continue to be so angry just because of your grief? Why continue to look so stupid since such a condition is so easily remedied?

Come back to the light. Come back to God. Come back to reason and logic. We can help you.

keith said:

PvM,

You have a “form” of Christianity that Paul refers to explicitly, but certainly not one the N.T. has any relationship with.

Was Christ resurrected?

How about the widow of Nane’s son?

Maybe Lazarus?

What about the demons removed?

The blind , the lame , the withered?

See.. if all of these are factual then they represent the greatest “scientific” exercise since creation…if not Christianity is a sham.

Let’s hear your position on this “science”.

I commend to you the late Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith and his book “The Creation of Life” and his several online RP videos at Firefighter’s for Christ and particularly those dealing with abiogenesis, also THFT.

You may want to correspond by email on this as I realize you don’t want all the “kindred spirits” here attacking you and calling you every thing under the sun.

Isn’t it funny how one picks their heroes..me WilderSmith and you Dawkins, PZ Myers and such trash.

Since A.E.W. was a prominent scientist by any measure, three PhD’s as I recall, many publications, head of research for a Swiss company, and taught all over the world in various grad schools, maybe he has your respect. At any rate he has passed, so the evo hordes can’t really accomplish much by attacking him personally.

Or just read Lee Spetner’s “Not by Chance” …you might actually learn something.

And keith? We don’t pick on PvM because PvM is both courteous and understands science.

You are a rude asshat and don’t know the first thing about science. Hold your discussion here; I can contribute since I know a damn sight more about Christianity and true Christian behavior than you do.

Deltoid was a great site, till the trolls took over, now 90% of comments are from trolls, I stopped visiting Deltoid, too much trouble scrolling past the trolls

don’t let that happen here, ban keith the troll, he brings nothing here except take up space. he will never read comments made to enlighten him. Bathroom wall time, Please!

Oh, and keith? Lee Spetner is a liar and a fraud. Try again.

keith said:

JJ, You couldn’t humiliate a braindead collie dog, let alone Dembski.

Of course, only evobutts like you could mistake the theatre in the Student Union for a church you moranic little twobit nobody.

The people who were quite pleased to introduce Dembski were from my circle of friends a PhD. Chemical Engineer and Organic chemist who is tenured faculty and in the audience also a PhD Physics prof of worldwide reputation and a signator to the DI document, I believe.

The only turdheads I saw at the presentation were your obnoxious, rude, arrogant, undisciplined peers including Phillip Kleppka and his aboriginal loud mouth wife.

Dembski has no reason to fear combat with intellectual midgets like you and yours, so prominent then and now.

What Dembski has to fear, keith, is ridicule. He is a nothing - irrelevant in mathematics, irrelevant in theology, irrelevant in biology. He published pop-pseudo-science crap because it makes him money - not because he has anything to contribute to science. I’ve read all his stuff; it’s terrible. Here’s the man who ‘invented’ CSI and the explanatory filter, and yet he has NEVER once calculated the CSI of anything. He just babbles, like you.

Dan said:

The title of this thread is “Chris Comer Sues Texas Agency: ‘Neutrality’ is Endorsement of Religion.”

I really don’t see the relevance.

90% of the comments are irrelevant to the subject of the thread, courtesy of keith and his entourage. DNFTT!!!

keith said:

Or just read Lee Spetner’s “Not by Chance” …you might actually learn something.

Yeah, and then go read Josh McDowell, no doubt another great intellect per the upside-down Kieth scale. Just when I think this guy can’t sink any lower…

keith said:

Dembski has no reason to fear combat with intellectual midgets like you and yours, so prominent then and now.

And yet he ran… Dover, another waterloo

THIS THREAD IS CLOSED.

Please continue the discussion - about Chris Comer’s lawsuit against the TEA, and NOT about arcane topics like the Resurrection and OOL, at the new post, Comer Update - Suit Published.

Dave

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on July 4, 2008 2:10 PM.

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