When anti-reason inspires terrorism

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Literary agent Andy Ross was the owner of a bookstore in Berkeley that was bombed in 1989, apparently for carrying Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses after the fatwa was issued condemning Rushdie to death. Here and here are his memories of that day and its aftermath. They are well worth reading and deserve wider circulation. They remind us that those who would have us abandon reason on religious grounds do not always stop at words, and it is always worth opposing them.

Hat tip to The Friendly Atheist.

218 Comments

I’ve been pondering a possibly-related point. There was an article in the UK Sunday Times Magazine by one Dennis Sewell, rehearsing some of the arguments in his book The Political Gene: How Darwin’s Ideas Changed Politics.

I don’t think Sewell has anything new to say. He was actively promoting the Creationist/ID position, under a pretence of impartial commentary. He was basically rehashing the Darwin-caused-Hitler spiel, with a very large helping of the Columbine massacre.

It struck me that, since the whole concept of “we should help Evolution along” is part of the anti-Darwin litany, we ought really to be blaming the antis for putting ideas into the nutjobs’ heads in the first place.

“They remind us that those who would have us abandon reason on religious grounds do not always stop at words, and it is always worth opposing them.”

Those who would have us abandon reason are always worth opposing.

Dan Brosier said:

Those who would have us abandon reason are always worth opposing.

No disagreement from me.

The creationists have long since gone beyond words. Below is an old post detailing some of their direct action activities.

The real story is the persecution of scientists by Fundie Xian Death cultists, who have fired, harassed, beaten up, and killed evolutionary biologists and their supporters whenever they can.

This is, of course, exactly the behavior of zealots who long ago forgot what the Christ in Christian stood for. These days, fundie is synonymous with liar, ignorant, stupid, and sometimes killer.

http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=626 [link goes to Blake Stacey’s blog which has a must read essay with documentation of the cases below.] As usual the truth is the exact opposite. The creos have been firing, beating up, attempting to fire, and killing scientists and science supporters for a while now. They are way ahead on body counts.

Posting the list of who is really being beaten up, threatened, fired, attempted to be fired, and killed. Not surprisingly, it is scientists and science supporters by Death Cultists.

I’ve discovered that this list really bothers fundies. Truth to them is like a cross to a vampire.

There is a serious reign of terror by Xian fundie terrorists directed against the reality based academic community, specifically acceptors of evolution. I’m keeping a running informal tally, listed below. They include death threats, firings, attempted firings, assaults, and general persecution directed against at least 12 people. The Expelled Liars have totally ignored the ugly truth of just who is persecuting who.

If anyone has more info add it. Also feel free to borrow or steal the list.

I thought I’d post all the firings of professors and state officials for teaching or accepting evolution.

2 professors fired, Bitterman (SW CC Iowa) and Bolyanatz (Wheaton)

1 persecuted unmercifully Richard Colling (Olivet)

1 persecuted unmercifully for 4 years Van Till (Calvin)

1 attempted firing Murphy (Fuller Theological by Phillip Johnson IDist)

1 successful death threats, assaults harrasment Gwen Pearson (UT Permian)

1 state official fired Chris Comer (Texas)

1 assault, fired from dept. Chair Paul Mirecki (U. of Kansas)

1 killed, Rudi Boa, Biomedical Student (Scotland)

Death Threats Eric Pianka UT Austin and the Texas Academy of Science engineered by a hostile, bizarre IDist named Bill Dembski

Death Threats Michael Korn, fugitive from justice, towards the UC Boulder biology department and miscellaneous evolutionary biologists.

Death Threats Judge Jones Dover trial. He was under federal marshall protection for a while

Up to 12 with little effort. Probably there are more. I turned up a new one with a simple internet search. Haven’t even gotten to the secondary science school teachers.

And the Liars of Expelled have the nerve to scream persecution. On body counts the creos are way ahead.

My list is already out of date. So far only two science supporters have been beaten up and only one killed.

The Oklahoma State legislature tried to do something to Richard Dawkins and O. University because Dawkins gave an invited talk there. Probably they are trying to find Oxford on a map and wondering why Dawkins lives in Mississippi.

A group of fundie Death Cultists of the Adventists are trying to fire the La Sierra biology department and then purge the other 15 Adventist colleges. The biologists are on the chopping block right now but the cultists have denied any culinary interests, pointing out that the Adventist church encourages vegetarianism.

The number of secondary school science teachers harassed, outright fired, or threatened into quiting is unknown but probably quite large.

And we all get death threats on a routine basis. I’ve long since lost the ability to pay any attention. The record holder is most likely PZ Myers who, IIRC, has gotten as many as 100/day. One kook was crazy enough that the police in two countries were notified. Not even going to count all the stolen Darwin fish.

Hate and violence are never too far below the surface of religious fanaticism. And sometimes right on the surface.

Slightly off topic. If you replace “special theory of relativity” with “origin of species”. This cartoon describes so many of the IDiots.

raven said:

Not even going to count all the stolen Darwin fish.

I once visited this roadside geology marker

http://www.ohiochannel.org/your_sta[…]arker_id=546

and found that all dates older than 4000 BC had been chiseled away!

This is not about origins but if I may. First this Rushdie guy deliberately said the most hateful thing possible in public about Islam. Yes to free speech and yes to physical security for speech. Yet in real life malicious provoking is just immoral and dumb.

If he had written a book about Jews, Blacks, Gays, Women with like malice he would be destroyed as a author. North America shakes today the intent of establishment control over speech and ideas. To say the religious people, of any species, are the ones censoring and punishing and prowling about looking for, offensive or perceived offensive or whatever speech is to misunderstand the times.

I am constantly attacked about my opinions and words though I say what I say with conviction and justice and kindness. Doesn’t matter to the liberal dominance of the day.

Words and ideas matter. Hateful expressions matter but in the end if a nation’s people’s do not have the freedom of speech/expression then they are not just not free but opposition to bad ideas and actions will be stopped by the bad guys who tend always to gain power.

A good way to stand for freedom of speech is by overturning the censorship of creationism in public institutions. Otherwise there is no credibility to pointing fingers at others.

Robert Byers said:

First this Rushdie guy deliberately said the most hateful thing possible in public about Islam. Yes to free speech and yes to physical security for speech. Yet in real life malicious provoking is just immoral and dumb.

And that somehow justifies a world-wide fatwa to kill him? Only in your twisted imagination.

I am constantly attacked about my opinions and words though I say what I say with conviction and justice and kindness. Doesn’t matter to the liberal dominance of the day.

Your problem is not kindness, conviction, or justice. It’s accuracy. You make outrageously inaccurate claims and wonder why people disregard and disrespect them.

Now, this thread is not going to turn into a Byers-fest. I got the one response ex officio; more will go to the bathroom wall. Thanks, folks.

[quote] [Rushdie] deliberately said the most hateful thing possible in public about Islam. [/quote] No he didn’t. It wasn’t hateful, it wasn’t even that offensive.

Basically all he did was have a Satan-like character claim that he had written part of the Koran. It is not even clear to me that within the fictional dream sequence narrative we are suppose to accept this claim as true. After all, Satan does traditionally lie on a frequent basis.

Before you go making pronouncements that something is so offensive that it is reasonable to expect people to be killed over it, why don’t you actually, you know, learn something about what you are saying instead of making stuff up.

I am so tired of people making stuff up.

RBH said:

Now, this thread is not going to turn into a Byers-fest. I got the one response ex officio; more will go to the bathroom wall. Thanks, folks.

Would it be too much to ask for if the creationist troll who’s evangelizing in the 7th Day Adventist thread share Robert’s fate, too?

Robert Byers said:

A good way to stand for freedom of speech is by overturning the censorship of creationism in public institutions.

There is no censorship of creationism in public institutions, just as there is no censorship of geocentric cosmology in public institutions.

Both of these ideas a mentioned as a matter of course in describing the history of science.

The former idea (creationism) was given support by the ultimate public institution, namely the White House, during the administration of George W. Bush.

The movie “Expelled” lasted for an hour and 35 minutes, and even so it could only find six individuals that it claimed suffered for their creationist/ID speech. All six cases were overblown in the movie:

http://www.expelledexposed.com/inde[…]hp/the-truth

I’m afraid Mr. Byers is simply suffering from persecution complex.

wikipedia Satanic Verses:

[edit] Basic narrative See the complete text of Tabarī’s account below There are numerous accounts reporting the incident, which differ in the construction and detail of the narrative, but they may be broadly collated to produce a basic account.[1] In its essential form, the story reports that Muhammad longed to convert his kinsmen and neighbors of Mecca to Islam. As he was reciting Sūra an-Najm[2], considered a revelation by the angel Gabriel, Satan tempted him to utter the following lines after verses 19 and 20

(“Have you considered Allāt and al-‘Uzzā / and Manāt, the other third?” These are the exalted gharāniq, whose intercession is hoped for.)

Allāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt were three goddesses worshipped by the Meccans

The Satanic Verses story is a common tradition in Islam. It was a current and common story for the first two centuries of Islam and survives today as a legend.

Modern Moslem scholars deny it ever really happened. On theological grounds.

Which is useless. Religions evolve and are constantly rewriting their inerrant and infallible scriptures. The fundie bible, the NIV, has significant changes to make it more internally consistent. They are trying to merge the two Genesis stories into one so smart ass critics can’t ask them which one is the real one.

Rushdie simply used an ancient and well known Moslem legend as a literary device. And almost got killed.

Robert Byers said:

This is not about origins but if I may. First this Rushdie guy deliberately said the most hateful thing possible in public about Islam.

Have you read it? I tried and just found it boring, gave up halfways. Nothing to get worked up over. God is capable of defending himself; I don’t know about Allah. They can’t be the same, they don’t even have the same name.

And the Liars of Expelled have the nerve to scream persecution. On body counts the creos are way ahead.

Not ToE per se but not far off: Melinda Morton.

Not ToE per se but not far off: Melinda Morton.

Not familiar with that one. Explain if you want. One scientist was threatened with excommunication from his sect, of which he was a lay official.

He managed to dodge that bullet by simultaneously claiming to believe the earth is 6,000 years old and 4.5 billion years old, not being able to explain or reconcile how this works, and leaving it at that. This is apparently a legal defense in some denominations.

He also somehow managed to subsequently switch churches.

Making things like believing mythology is real a litmus test works both ways. And creationism is really peripheral to xianity. The central idea is salvation by believing jesus is god and the carrot and stick are heaven and hell. The age of the earth and whether it matters is irrelevant.

Raven -

As far as I can tell, Michael Korn is still at large and it is very difficult to get a picture of him. Google doesn’t seem to produce much except a couple of 2007 articles saying that he is “being sought”. The name is quite common, which adds to confusion. I didn’t search very hard and don’t have immediate access to LexusNexus or anything of that sort.

The double standard in this case is amazing. A student who sent his professors and colleagues skull and crossbones images in the post Va Tech environment, in almost any other circumstances, would quickly have been arrested, put into court mandated therapy, charged with a crime, and touted as a terrorist in the media. And that’s assuming that the student was non-Muslim; if a Muslim student did something similar, it would be the leading story in the national news for days.

However, if it’s a “Christian” of sorts attacking evolution, a mealy-mouthed blurb from the university (endorsing “debate”, LOL) and a wink from everyone else seems to be what happens.

In fact, Michael Korn’s latest activity in his Amazon account is a review of a religious book (which he condemns for not being literalist) a few days ago http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member[…]17D3DX4853VL

Obviously, profiles can be updated or not, at will, but his claims that he is in Denver.

Robert Byers said: I am constantly attacked about my opinions and words though I say what I say with conviction and justice and kindness.

NO…you are taken to task to provide actual evidence for claims you make.

Speaking of which, in a prior thread you claimed that using “BCE” is illegal. When asked for the citation of an actual law to that effect..you waffled. Therefore, I’m asking again: Please cite an actual law (or legal ruling) making the use of BCE illegal or withdraw your claim.

but his claims that he is in Denver.

???? Well, at least he has stopped making threats.

At one time he was on the run with a warrant out for him. He was believed on good information to be hiding in NC, where xian terrorist safe houses are known to be located.

He has also claimed to have left the country.

To be fair, my impression was that he was a rather unhappy individual but probably not untreatably crazy and might be able to reenter society.

There is another threatner whose name I won’t mention (if you speak of this devil, he will come for real) who is clearly an unmedicated severe schizophrenic.

These can have short lives and unhappy endings.

W. H. Heydt said: …in a prior thread (Byers) claimed that using “BCE” is illegal. When asked for the citation of an actual law to that effect..you waffled. Therefore, I’m asking again: Please cite an actual law (or legal ruling) making the use of BCE illegal or withdraw your claim.

When referencing dates based on the approximate birth of Jesus, give appropriate credit for the basis of the date (B.C. or A.D.). “BCE” and “CE” are unacceptable substitutes because they deny the historical basis.” - CONSERVAPEDIA (EDITING) COMMANDMENTS #4, http://www.conservapedia.com/Conser[…]Commandments

Paul Burnett said:

W. H. Heydt said: …in a prior thread (Byers) claimed that using “BCE” is illegal. When asked for the citation of an actual law to that effect..you waffled. Therefore, I’m asking again: Please cite an actual law (or legal ruling) making the use of BCE illegal or withdraw your claim.

When referencing dates based on the approximate birth of Jesus, give appropriate credit for the basis of the date (B.C. or A.D.). “BCE” and “CE” are unacceptable substitutes because they deny the historical basis.” - CONSERVAPEDIA (EDITING) COMMANDMENTS #4, http://www.conservapedia.com/Conser[…]Commandments

I’ll grant you that both Burnett and Byers both begin with “B”, but if you’re answering for him, it’s still a clean miss. Nothing there that makes the usage illegal, and if it comes to that, nothing there that makes it immoral either (his other claim).

W. H. Heydt said: I’ll grant you that both Burnett and Byers both begin with “B”, but if you’re answering for him, it’s still a clean miss.

That was a joke, son. (Conservapedia’s a joke around here.)

Paul Burnett said:

W. H. Heydt said: I’ll grant you that both Burnett and Byers both begin with “B”, but if you’re answering for him, it’s still a clean miss.

That was a joke, son. (Conservapedia’s a joke around here.)

:-)

Well, I got it; and it was funny.

Paul Burnett said:

W. H. Heydt said: I’ll grant you that both Burnett and Byers both begin with “B”, but if you’re answering for him, it’s still a clean miss.

That was a joke, son. (Conservapedia’s a joke around here.)

Conservapdeia’s a joke no matter where it is.

I’ll give you that what I’m working on getting from Byers to do is a very minor point, and that he will actually learn anything from the exercise (he’ll probably think that every challenge to his ideas is a separately created test…), but I figured I’d give it a shot to see if I can get him understand–on this very simple point–the concept of supplying evidence to support ones assertions.

W. H. Heydt said:

Speaking of which, in a prior thread you claimed that using “BCE” is illegal. When asked for the citation of an actual law to that effect..you waffled. Therefore, I’m asking again: Please cite an actual law (or legal ruling) making the use of BCE illegal or withdraw your claim.

The reason Robert Byers gave for the use of “BCE” being illegal is because he finds it immoral and offensive, and, in his little nutshell skull, is the same as being illegal.

But, this sort of broken pretzel logic is to be expected with someone who thinks that the 1st Ammendment means that Creationism and not science should be taught in science classrooms because “Genesis is correct” and evolution conflicts with his own personal religious beliefs.

I suggest that in any future responses to Byers we use the BCE designation and give the date. I”m sure he will turn us all in to Homeland Security.

By the way. it is both illegal and immoral to teach creationism in U.S. public school science classes. Byers loses either way.

DS said:

I suggest that in any future responses to Byers we use the BCE designation and give the date. I”m sure he will turn us all in to Homeland Security.

So should we list the current year as

negative 2009 BCE

??

Dan said:

DS said:

I suggest that in any future responses to Byers we use the BCE designation and give the date. I”m sure he will turn us all in to Homeland Security.

So should we list the current year as

negative 2009 BCE

??

Absolutely. DS -2009 BCE

Psalm 82, NIV

I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’

7 But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”

8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.

Bible polytheism. In Psalm 82, Yahweh yells at his brother gods and threatens to fire them. There is no record that he actually did fire them. Yahweh always had a short temper. He eventually disappeared his wife, Asherah. The Most High is most likely, El or Elyon, the Father of the gods.

Most of the polytheism has long since been written out. It is a wonder any of it survived. There is also no word on what happened to the other gods. Some claim that when you stop believing in gods they die.

This is also an example of the NIV rewriting the bible. You can bet that “gods” in the first sentence wasn’t originally in quotes or scare quotes. They didn’t have them in ancient Hebrew.

Dave Luckett said: You appear to agree that Genesis need not be taken literally, and that even the P source might not have meant it to be, completely. I quite agree, and further, find it difficult to summon up your certainty that the word “days” was meant literally, even by P. I would echo your “who knows?” I doubt that there is sufficient evidence of P’s state of mind to that for sure. After all, nobody has the least idea of who P was, and even the most subtle and learned of scholars has only the words of the text.

What I find difficult to understand is why you wish to square one particular aspect of Genesis 1 with your understanding of the origin of life.

Let’s assume (only for the sake of argument) that you can convince anyone that a Genesis ‘day’ is really 1,000,000 years. All you have is creation ex nihilo taking 6,000,000 years rather than six days. So what?

Genesis 1 is fascinating (both in its original context and its subsequent [ab]uses) but, as you freely admit, not written by anyone with contemporary knowledge of the origin of life. What good would it do to reduce the dissonance between the Good Book and Darwin?

It’s a bloody creation myth. In a creation myth God can do what He likes. Quite frankly, six days is a long time for someone omnipotent. If I were God, I’d just sort it out in one (big) bang and rest for six days.

I think the confusion stems from muddling (a) what a reader is meant to understand by a ‘day’ in Genesis 1 and (b) whether or not a reasonable reader would believe that this is how the world was created.

I am convinced that a ‘day’ in Genesis 1 is 24 hours. This is how the story works.

I am completely unconvinced that the world was created in 4004BC in six days.

It is not unreasonable to hold these two things in my mind at the same time. Nor should it be for you. Trying to pretend that the writer of Genesis 1 knew that it took God millions of years is ludicrous. He (she/they) didn’t know this, and probably didn’t give a toss how long it really took.

Genesis 1 taken literally is not compatible with modern scientific thinking. Period. Stop trying to make it so.

Dave Luckett said: But the point is this: unless you are, like henry and FL, an uncompromising literalist, you have no quarrel with me, nor I with you, and I would very much regret the appearance of one.

I have no quarrel with anyone I’ve never met. I simply like integrity in an argument. You (like me) don’t believe that Genesis 1 is literally true. So why convince others that it is by twisting the meaning of self-evident words?

eddie, I am not trying to persuade you, or me, of anything, and certainly not of the literality of Genesis. For that matter, I am not really trying to persuade FL or henry. What I’m trying to do is to expose them for everyone to see.

It’s one thing for them to claim that Genesis is the Word of God. It’s quite another for them to claim that it cannot be taken as metaphorical, and that its language must be remorselessly literal. The Bible’s language is often metaphorical, and they can’t deny that. To claim that they can be certain of what is metaphorical and what is not, is to claim that they are infallibly right. It is therefore not only scripture for which they claim infallibility - it is for themselves. If they make this claim, their spiritual arrogance, hubris, and overwheening pride must be plain to anyone.

On the other hand, if the unlikely happens, and they can bear to admit the possibility that they might be mistaken, then they admit the possibility that the creation stories in Genesis are non-literal accounts. This means that other accounts (eg, an ancient earth with commonly descended life) are admissable.

Of course, I know perfectly well that they won’t do that, for that would require a certain degree of humility. But I am sure that you, being rational, would not fall into the trap of insisting that you must be infallibly right in your interpretation of the words of an unknown writer, 2500 years on.

eddie wrote:

“It’s a bloody creation myth. In a creation myth God can do what He likes.”

Exactly. So there is no reason to reject science. Why would a myth prevent us from studying and understanding the natural world? Why on earth would anyone reject all of the findings of science for something that was never meant to be a scientific explanation in the first place? Why would someone rob such a beautiful story of all meaning and significance in order to force everyone else to agree with their interpretation of the story? Why would anyone want to force anyone else to choose between their myth and reality? Most religious people who value the bible have already figured this out, the few who haven’t can only drive rational people away from their irrational religion.

Dave Luckett said: …stuff I mostly agree with…

Last post on this subject, since there seems little point in continuing this ‘argument’ when we would probably sort this out in five minutes in a bar and then move on to something more interesting, like why my football team is good and yours is rubbish. (Disclaimer: my football team is seriously rubbish, but I love them anyway, http://www.perthglory.com.au.)

So, as my departing shot before you buy me that beer and we can agree on most things face-to-face, I disagree with your use of the term ‘metaphorical’. What would Genesis 1 be a metaphor for? Creation myths are not metaphors, they have a very different function. Romulus and Remus are not metaphors. Galipolli (for Australians) is not a metaphor. 1776 is not a metaphor. Genesis is not a metaphor.

None of these stories (even the true two above) are to be completely taken at face value. They serve a very significant, and sometimes useful purpose, but that does not make them metaphorical.

Anyway, assuming you are based somewhere in the U S of A, keep that beer cool until later.

metaphor - the aplication of a word or phrase to an object or cocnept it does not literally denote, in order to suggest comparison with another object or concept, as in “ A mighty fortress is our God”.

allegory - 1. a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another. 2. a sympolic narrative. 3. emblem.

The RandomHouse College Dictionary, 1984.

eddie, I live in Perth too. Tuart Hill. We are having an argument over the back fence, which is in this case situated somewhere in mid-west USA.

What would Genesis be a metaphor for? You proposed one yourself: that the Universe is not the product of divine warfare, but of positive will, exercised in peace. Genesis is also a metaphor for the following ideas: that humanity is not an accident or a byproduct, but that we are as much a part of the Universe as the rest of creation; that sexuality and gender are not only a means to reproduction, but to companionship; that knowledge entails responsibility; that actions have consequences; that control over nature entails stewardship as well as exploitation; that independence entails individual responsibility. And others.

I believe that these metaphorical meanings are the real point of the stories, and that those who insist on literality cripple their true meaning. I’m pretty sure that P would have agreed with me, but if he wouldn’t, stuff him. He doesn’t own the meaning of the stories. I do!

All of the examples you gave can be - and have been, and are - taken as being metaphors, even if they were real events. Romulus and Remus metaphorically mean that Romans were commonly descended, and were given to fraticidal conflict. (The latter, at least, was only too true.) Gallipoli is a metaphor for Australians, just as 1776 is to Americans - with not quite the same meaning, but not far off. They have metaphorical meaning. A thing with a metaphorical meaning is ipso facto a metaphor.

And the beer is on the ice.

raven said:

Calling fundie xian Death Cults hate groups is overly redundant.

One minor example is Tom Willis, a creationist leader in the Kansas area. He is a moderate whose proposal involves rounding up scientists and killing them in slave labor extermination camps. Not very biblical, more like mid-20th century.

Rushdoony, father of xian Dominionism wanted to kill 297 million US citizens and start over. The Rapturists want everyone to die along with the earth but they are too lazy and incompetent (so far) to do it themselves. Instead they keep calling for a Deity mediated genocide.

It’s a good thing we haven’t discovered UFO aliens. They would undoubtedly be added to the To Kill lists.

via Pigeonchess.com:

“Should Evolutionists Be Allowed to Roam Free in the Land?” August 23, 2008

Creationist nut-job Tom Willis (Creation Science Association for Mid-America), apparently without a sense of irony, accuses evolutionists of being Nazis/communists (or at least fellow travelers of the Nazis and communists) and concludes from this that it might be a good idea to (amongst other possibilities) round up evolutionists and put them in forced labor camps.

Other options include torturing recantations out of evolutionists, forcing them to wear identifying signs or plaques, or perhaps forced relocations to Antarctica (or Mars).

Rushdoony was a very prolific writer.

Do you know where he made such a statement?

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on December 14, 2009 1:51 PM.

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