Dover Trap in the Pelican State

| 314 Comments

by Ken Miller, http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/

Two years ago, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) into law, as noted on The Panda’s Thumb.

When the law was being considered in the Legislature, its proponents were adamant that it wasn’t about “creationism” or “intelligent design.” Folks from the Louisiana Family Forum and the Discovery Institute backed the LSEA, of course, but all they were interested in was good critical thinking, right?

Well, not so much. Now the Livingston Parish School Board is openly using the LSEA as legal justification to implement the teaching of creationism in their public schools. Barbara Forrest, one of the expert witnesses in Kitzmiller v. Dover exposes the maneuverings and alliances of anti-evolution forces in here state in a post at the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

Predictably, the Discovery Institute is now doing the same thing it did back in 2005 to the Dover School Board. They’re turning on their own supporters, and asking how anyone could possibly confuse their ideas with creationism. In this American Spectator article, Bruce Chapman, President of the Discovery Institute, now states that the very people who supported his efforts to get the LSEA passed are “ignorant” of the content of intelligent design theory. Darn. I wonder how those poor folks managed to think that ID equals creationism?

Somehow, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Could it be that the next Kitzmiller Reunion will be in Louisiana?

314 Comments

In Kitzmiller the good guys at least had to do some minimal work to connect the schoolboard’s policy to creationism. With this Louisiana development, the policymakers are blatantly saying they want creationism. Well, they may get it…and a nice legal bill when they lose *again*.

My only concern is that the composition of the Supreme Court has changed a great deal since Edwards v Aguilard in 1987 (a 7-2 ruling if I recall correctly). Would the current Court uphold Edwards?

Welcome Dr. Miller, scratch that!

Hi Ken!! I am pleased to see you back in the fray. I missed the trial at Dover, hope to make it to Livingston Parish.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

rimpal said:

Laissez les bons temps rouler

I understand the sentiment, but this isn’t really good news. In the end nobody will have benefited.

Alas, if people force the fight, there’s a fight, like it or not.

I’m sure that Prof. Miller is aware that Governor Jindal is a graduate of Brown with a major in biology. However, I am informed by John Kwok that Prof. Miller never had the dubious pleasure of having the governor in one of his classes. Thank whoever for small favors.

Maybe people are ignorant of the contents of intelligent design theory because there is no intelligent design theory, or even any content that could imaginably be included in an intelligent design theory.

The DI is afraid that Louisianans might confuse ID with religion:

http://spectator.org/archives/2010/[…]n-policy-blu

“Every one of us (board members) sitting up here believes in creationism*. We just sit up here and let them teach evolution and not take a stand about creationism. To me, how come we don’t look into this as people who are strong Christians and see what we can do to teach creationism in schools?”

School board member David Tate

* by which, in another quote, he appears to mean Genesis rather than ID or OEC

A number of Christian churches representing a large percentage of the world’s Christians have stated that evolution is not inconsistent with their faith. So “strong Christians” would appear to be a code word for “only people who agree with my interpretation of the scripture”.

Les Lane said:

The DI is afraid that Louisianans might confuse ID with religion …

I read through that article and go: “Huh? Wot?” Then I saw the author: Bruce Chapman. “Ah, all now is clear.”

I read Chapman’s letter this morning and thought it was amusing. He pretends that the ID creationism that lost in Kitzmiller v Dover was not the Real True™ Intelligent Design Creationism that he and his Discotute pals preach.

That is all they have left.

Gary Hurd said:

That is all they have left.

“Who the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

Could it be that the next Kitzmiller Reunion will be in Louisiana?

Not for nothing, but being a few miles up the road from New Orleans has got to be better than a few miles up the road from from Harrisburg.

Man, these troglodytes can’t even get the caps off their med bottles, yet they can manipulate the levers of politics.

Political levers need to be changed from looking like clubs.

Hmm. It does seem very strange, the way they keep picking fights they’re bound to lose. Perhaps there’s something about creationists that makes it difficult to think rationally about certain subjects. Perhaps they believe in some strange, supernatural force that will help them win these fights. A very mysterious force, surely, since it hasn’t helped them in other such fights. Any idea what might make them think this way, Dr. Miller?

IMO the entire stealth strategy they’ve been peddling for the last few years is doomed to failure. The DI is attempting to construct a coded religous message that H.S. kids (and their parents) will all “get” and yet bystanders, nonbelievers, opposing lawyers and judges won’t. That’s going to be impossible.

The LA law was a tactical success in getting access to the classroom. But at some point they have to teach some content. They have to show their hand if they want to collect the chips. And its at that point where they’re always going to fail. Where the judge looks at the cards and says “that’s not a legal hand.”

Until, as fasteddie points out, they get a court amenable to their curriculum. But in which case a stealth strategy is unnecessary - so there is never any use in it. Without court support the stealth strategy always fails, with court support its unnecessary.

John Pieret said:

Could it be that the next Kitzmiller Reunion will be in Louisiana?

Not for nothing, but being a few miles up the road from New Orleans has got to be better than a few miles up the road from from Harrisburg.

Excellent point! I might need to visit this one.

If these folks were Real Conservatives they’d stop wasting tax payer money on such bogus proceedings. The God of minimal government is not pleased with their heresy.

Tualha said:

Perhaps there’s something about creationists that makes it difficult to think rationally about certain subjects.

Or possibly, I may modestly offer, a difficulty in thinking rationally that makes them creationists.

Mike Elzinga said:

Man, these troglodytes can’t even get the caps off their med bottles, yet they can manipulate the levers of politics.

Incidentally Mike, some of the comments to the article are a hoot. You’ll get a snort out of the one from 9:10am. It, um, captures the intellectual rigor of the movement nicely.

One part of Bruce Chapman’s article intrigues me:

Where public school districts have been willing to stick to scientific evidence for and against Darwinian theory, and ignore religious implications in the classroom, Darwinian opponents have not sued, let alone sued successfully.

Where are these school districts?

rossum

eric said:

You’ll get a snort out of the one from 9:10am. It, um, captures the intellectual rigor of the movement nicely.

“drackman”? I call Loki troll on that one, easy.

One creationist on the AmSpec thread calls Chapman an atheist! LOL!

Bruce Chapman - You are wrong again. Please re-read the first amendment. It is very Constitutional to teach Creationism. And Creationism is as scientific as evolution or are you blind like so many other athetist to the scientific evidence on the side of creation.

RBH said:

One creationist on the AmSpec thread calls Chapman an atheist!

Initial reaction: “Ray Martinez! Is that YOU?!”

Yeah, it isn’t like Paul Nelson is giving lectures at young-earth creation conferences or anything like that.

Evil™ Evolutionist

P.S. The year on the website is wrong. They forgot to update it from 2010 to 2011. It’s scheduled for this fall.

John_S | August 4, 2010 1:49 PM | Reply | Edit

“Every one of us (board members) sitting up here believes in creationism*. We just sit up here and let them teach evolution and not take a stand about creationism. To me, how come we don’t look into this as people who are strong Christians and see what we can do to teach creationism in schools?”

School board member David Tate

* by which, in another quote, he appears to mean Genesis rather than ID or OEC

A number of Christian churches representing a large percentage of the world’s Christians have stated that evolution is not inconsistent with their faith. So “strong Christians” would appear to be a code word for “only people who agree with my interpretation of the scripture”.

It’s not code, it’s explicit. Christians who embrace creationism tend to regard those “mainstream” denominations of Christianity as not being Christian at all. What’s hilarious is how quick those mainstream, slightly less crazy Christians are to leap to the defense of creationists.

Congratulations to David Tate for being completely honest about his intentions. Contrast this with William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell in Dover. Their under-handed attempts to introduce creationism into their public school curriculum cost taxpayers dearly.

The State of Louisiana shouldn’t have so big an expense here.

Is this a new strategy, switching from subvert to overt, obfuscation to direct confrontation?

The same thing happened in Dover, Pennsylvania, in 2005 when school board members decided to grab onto the phrase (not the reality) of “intelligent design” to promote religious doctrine. The board members, as in Livingston, Louisiana, were as ignorant of the limits of the scientific case against strict Darwinism as they were of the content of intelligent design theory. The scientists and political scientists at Discovery Institute – colleagues of mine – who actually know something about intelligent design, tried to dissuade them, but to no avail. The Dover board members did not believe that a court could stop them. But a central Pennsylvania federal judge, John E. Jones, did stop them.

It makes you wonder what the Dover school board did that was so ignorant of the actual content of Intelligent Design. Well, they had a statement read in biology class that said in part:

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.

So, they used Pandas, a book that was a creationist book prior to 1987 and an ID book after. Maybe DI dissuaded their deluded creationist friends from having Pandas in the school library because it was creationist rather than ID being a religious rather than scientific text. John West said this, though:

An early pro-intelligent design textbook, Pandas was at the heart of the lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the hapless school district in Dover, Pennsylvania. The Dover school board wanted teachers to tell students that if they desired information about intelligent design they could go to the school library and read Of Pandas and People. What an outlandish idea: A school district actually wanted to encourage students to consult a book for more information!

So, the Dover School Board did not understand the content of Intelligent Design when they recommended a book that DI fellow John West said provided information on Intelligent Design. Um, err, uh, you know, he’s right!

RBH said:

One creationist on the AmSpec thread calls Chapman an atheist! LOL!

Bruce Chapman - You are wrong again. Please re-read the first amendment. It is very Constitutional to teach Creationism. And Creationism is as scientific as evolution or are you blind like so many other athetist to the scientific evidence on the side of creation.

What a bunch of idiots commenting there. If this is typical of the American Spectator’s readers, then I wonder how most of them graduated from high school. Maybe they didn’t!

On the plus side, Chapman did use the word “repudiation” correctly.

Lauri said:

On the plus side, Chapman did use the word “repudiation” correctly.

There’s always a bright side. :)

eric said:

Mike Elzinga said:

Man, these troglodytes can’t even get the caps off their med bottles, yet they can manipulate the levers of politics.

Incidentally Mike, some of the comments to the article are a hoot. You’ll get a snort out of the one from 9:10am. It, um, captures the intellectual rigor of the movement nicely.

:-)

I’m with MrG on that one. Take a look at Drackman’s blog.

But reading those comments to Chapman’s “Special Report” is like lurking over at UD.

Yeah; “special” all right.

Tulse said: You seem to misunderstand science, since one can never show empirically that something is “impossible”. Science never shows that something can’t be, can’t exist, just that its existence is extremely improbable based on what we know. For example, it is extremely improbable that there could be a wombat in my fridge at this moment. Indeed, it is so extremely improbable that I am comfortable saying that there is no wombat in my fridge without even opening the door. I make these kind of statements all the time in real life (e.g., “my office is at X address”, even though I haven’t confirmed it is still there since Friday). You are demanding that we talk about some entities, gods, using a different epistemic standard than we talk about other stuff. That’s inconsistent.

Is there a wombat in your fridge right now? Can you answer that without looking? Would you honestly not answer that as “no”?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! This is a perfect example of burning down the house in order to save it. If the scientific method, used to discover and confirm physical and chemical laws, cannot be used to determine if something is impossible according to those laws, WHAT GOOD IS IT? As for the wombat, I can say it doesn’t exist in my refrigerator because I never saw it there before and have no reason to see it there now, because its sudden appearance there would violate the scientific laws we use to make sense of the universe we live in. God, on the other hand, need not be subject to any scientific laws. If he created the universe, why assume he is subject to the same limitations as objects in the universe, including leprechans, wombats, or anything we can directly see or detect? You just argued that the existence of God cannot be emprically ruled out completely too. Thanks!

H.H. said:

We only have to rule out gods are impossible if we want to claim they do not exist with certainty. Fortunately, atheism doesn’t require or imply certainty. It’s a tentative conclusion based on current evidence. I’m going to keep hammering this simple point until it sinks it.

I’m not a nail, nor am I an atheist because I do not define atheism as you do and there is no fuking law that says I have to! If there is no requirement of certainty with atheism, then one can also say there is no requirement of certainty with theism and most other religious concepts, yet we see certainty from many religious people, don’t we? That still did not justify P Z Myers’ dogmatic statement, from a strictly empirical standpoint. Statements regarding the orbital period of planets are also tentative, because they are subject to change. They can change because the planetary orbits can be measured via observation and can change. Can God be observed? Not as understood by modern theologians. Since he is outside the possiblity of scientific investigation, ANY statement about him, even whether he exists or not, is DOGMA.

So, if you hate the word “dogma” as applied to atheism, why can’t I hate the word “atheism” as applied to my lack of belief in God? I call myself an agnostic and a NON-theist instead.

They could if you put as much effort into making up stuff about them as you do daydreaming about gods.

exactly.

Dale Husband said:

… I do not define atheism as you do and there is no fuking law that says I have to!

So you just make up definitions to suit your purpose. Well, that certainly makes it easy for you to “prove” your point, whatever that is. Why not try a dictionary for definitions instead of whatever your imagination can devise? Just about every dictionary will tell you that atheism is the belief that there are no gods, or, a lack of belief in gods. Yet you insist that atheism says that there is no god. So what if PZ Myers says that there is no god? Who is he, anyway, does he get to define atheism and rewrite the dictionary? Most atheists have never heard of PZ Myers. I don’t know if you are just being obstinate or you really are that obtuse, but atheism is very simply defined. No belief in gods.

MrG said: God is supposed to be a transcedent entity and so is not constrained by any material rules.

So in other words, we fix things by definition?

And why couldn’t the origin of the universe also involve transcendent properties, just ones that don’t require an intelligence?

I am an apatheist. An atheist says: “There is no God.” An apatheist says: “I don’t care if there’s a God or not.”

That’s nice for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do care, and they are busy passing laws about how to order society according to their beliefs. So you can be apathetic about the issue if you want, but it impacts you all the same.

Dale Husband said: If the scientific method, used to discover and confirm physical and chemical laws, cannot be used to determine if something is impossible according to those laws, WHAT GOOD IS IT?

You have to ask? Seriously?

Science is never about ruling things “impossible”, merely “impossible according to our current understanding”. Action-at-a-distance was once thought “impossible”, and so the notion of the ether was required. But we now realize that understanding was wrong. Science continually corrects itself, continually refines its understanding of the world. It never has a “final” answer. If you don’t understand that, you really don’t understand science.

As for the wombat, I can say it doesn’t exist in my refrigerator because I never saw it there before and have no reason to see it there now, because its sudden appearance there would violate the scientific laws we use to make sense of the universe we live in.

But it might be a magic wombat. It might be that you are currently dreaming, and tricky people are putting a wombat into your fridge right now. It might be that while you were out of your house, a wombat broke in and snuck inside. How can you say it is impossible that the wombat is in your fridge?!?!

God, on the other hand, need not be subject to any scientific laws. If he created the universe, why assume he is subject to the same limitations as objects in the universe, including leprechans, wombats, or anything we can directly see or detect? You just argued that the existence of God cannot be emprically ruled out completely too.

Um, yes, and no atheist worth his philosophical salt has ever said otherwise, including Dawkins. The existence of some kind of god can’t be ruled out empirically – but what can be ruled out is certain kinds of gods, or gods with certain qualities (like interacting with the world). A deist entity is certainly on the table – other gods, not so much.

“ Does the Bible assume a flat Earth in the center of the solar system, if not the whole universe?

Heddle: “No, it does not.

Gingerbaker:

“…as breathlessly astonishing as his claim that the Bible doesn’t talk about unicorns!

Heddle: “You are easily astonished. It doesn’t…”

This thread is about creationists in Louisiana falling into a Dover Trap. In Dover, we were treated to the spectacle of creationists (as RationalWiki puts it) “…willing to bend the truth to see their own agenda furthered at all costs. “

And in this thread, we see Heddle doing the same thing, for Heddle is, in his own way, as much as a Biblical inerrantist as any of the townspeople of Dover. The difference is that they simply believe all of the Bible as written, while you, Heddle simply sanitize the bits embarrassing to 21st century readers, relying on boilerplate Christian apologetic ‘Midrash’ delivered with sonorous authority, as if your positions were actually something more than self-serving assertions.

Arguing that the Bible does not promote geocentricism, when that was official Church dogma for centuries! Arguing that the Bible does not speak of unicorns, when every Bible for two thousand years used the specific word! Pathetic. And all this so that you, a scientist, can accept that an actual real miracle took place two thousand years ago and Jesus was really resurrected.

And all this coming from a man who bristles at the very idea that his philosophy requires compartmentalization of his religious beleifs from his rational side. What seems clear is that even the intellect of a highly-trained scientist will succumb to the requisite self-deceptions demanded by Christianity, and find refuge in his own elaborate rabbit warren of apologetic artifice.

Tulse said:

And why couldn’t the origin of the universe also involve transcendent properties, just ones that don’t require an intelligence?

Absolutely! The only point I have to make is that if we are making arbitrary claims not based on any experience or provability, one is as good or bad as the other.

That’s nice for you.

Having seen the alternatives, indeed it is.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do care, and they are busy passing laws about how to order society according to their beliefs. So you can be apathetic about the issue if you want, but it impacts you all the same.

Oh, there’s a lot of things that impact me, in fact the list is quite long, indeed longer than I have the resources to address. And so I prioritize the issues according to the ones which I judge more important, and decide which ones fall off the list. In this prioritization process, the opinions of strangers who I know and care nothing about counts for nothing at all.

My past history with religions gives me no reason to defend them, quite the opposite, but I have more important things to worry about. Besides, from what I’ve seen they can hold their own readily and do not need my help.

However, I have no confidence in the OA crowd. How could I, Tulse? You are contesting with a person who is not opposed to you, no obstacle to you – who simply has no personal use for your position.

You have no sensible reason to take issue with it, and in doing so you are diverting your energies from the people who you DO feel are opposed to you. The conclusion is that you simply like to argue and what you intend to accomplish by doing so is not a matter of concern to you.

Sorrt Gingerbaker, am going to disagree vehemently, but respectfully, with what you have written. Whatever you might think of heddle, he is not someone who should be lumped with the likes of the Dishonesty Institute, Ray Comfort and Ken Ham. If you doubt my word, ask one of the co-founders of Panda’s Thumb, Wesley Elsberry. Elsewhere here, others as well as myself, noted that “unicorn” is a bad translation of the original Hebrew, and, moreover, I consulted with a noted scholar of Greek mythology, Adrienne Mayor, who told me that the one-horned animal that’s been mentioned (In Hebrew, I believe the word is “re’em”.) was probably most likely the rhinoceros. Not being a scholar of Greek mythology myself, I have to take Adrienne at her word, especially since she has written about that and of early Classical and Native American “responses” to the discovery of fossilized animal remains in several well-received, critically acclaimed books:

Gingerbaker said:

“ Does the Bible assume a flat Earth in the center of the solar system, if not the whole universe?

Heddle: “No, it does not.

Gingerbaker:

“…as breathlessly astonishing as his claim that the Bible doesn’t talk about unicorns!

Heddle: “You are easily astonished. It doesn’t…”

This thread is about creationists in Louisiana falling into a Dover Trap. In Dover, we were treated to the spectacle of creationists (as RationalWiki puts it) “…willing to bend the truth to see their own agenda furthered at all costs. “

And in this thread, we see Heddle doing the same thing, for Heddle is, in his own way, as much as a Biblical inerrantist as any of the townspeople of Dover. The difference is that they simply believe all of the Bible as written, while you, Heddle simply sanitize the bits embarrassing to 21st century readers, relying on boilerplate Christian apologetic ‘Midrash’ delivered with sonorous authority, as if your positions were actually something more than self-serving assertions.

Arguing that the Bible does not promote geocentricism, when that was official Church dogma for centuries! Arguing that the Bible does not speak of unicorns, when every Bible for two thousand years used the specific word! Pathetic. And all this so that you, a scientist, can accept that an actual real miracle took place two thousand years ago and Jesus was really resurrected.

And all this coming from a man who bristles at the very idea that his philosophy requires compartmentalization of his religious beleifs from his rational side. What seems clear is that even the intellect of a highly-trained scientist will succumb to the requisite self-deceptions demanded by Christianity, and find refuge in his own elaborate rabbit warren of apologetic artifice.

Well, at least one thing seems obvious; there are thousands of religions in the world; and many of them are openly suspicious of and hostile to each other.

That appears to reduce the probability that any one of them is right, and it further suggests that perhaps none of them are right.

Usually when a method for finding out things leads to so many conflicting and inconclusive results along with so much argumentation and open warfare, the method is questioned and/or abandoned. Not so with religion.

MrG said: The only point I have to make is that if we are making arbitrary claims not based on any experience or provability, one is as good or bad as the other.

And the point I was making is that Occam’s Razor is a reasonable guide when there is no other information, and a transcendent timeless omnipotent intelligent entity capable of creating a universe is well out on the far end of the complexity scale, compared to a universe that spontaneously came into existence. In other words, I think we can make reasonable statements about the likely truth value of these claims, even if we cannot directly “prove” them.

My past history with religions gives me no reason to defend them, quite the opposite, but I have more important things to worry about. Besides, from what I’ve seen they can hold their own readily and do not need my help.

And that’s fine – no one demands that you have the same interests and priorities as others.

However, I have no confidence in the OA crowd. How could I, Tulse? You are contesting with a person who is not opposed to you, no obstacle to you – who simply has no personal use for your position.

Um, you decided to respond to what was said here, so I’m not sure that I was the one who started the “contesting”. I’m honestly confused as to why you would bother to post here if you are so apathetic about the issues addressed.

And in any case, I thought we were having an interesting intellectual discussion about these issues, not fighting about them. If these issues aren’t of interest to you, by all means go do something else.

Well, I think it’s clear by now that the only militant, strident dogmatist here is Dale Husband, who insists that all theological positions are equivalent even when they are not. We’ll also have him to thank when this thread ends up closed Monday morning.

MrG said:

Tulse said:

And why couldn’t the origin of the universe also involve transcendent properties, just ones that don’t require an intelligence?

Absolutely! The only point I have to make is that if we are making arbitrary claims not based on any experience or provability, one is as good or bad as the other.

No, they aren’t as good as one another. Did you miss Tulse’s post on parsimony?

300+ Comments is enough. Continue it on the Wall.

Actually tomh, your fellow “Affirmative Atheists” have a tendency of defining atheism as it suits their purposes. Do you concur with h. h.’s observation: “Fortunately, atheism doesn’t require or imply certainty. It’s a tentative conclusion based on current evidence. I’m going to keep hammering this simple point until it sinks it.” Or do you, like many atheists I have met here online, insist - as though it was religious dogma - that atheism isn’t a “tentative conclusion”, but instead a certainty based on overwhelming scientific evidence that there is no GOD(s). While I regard myself operationally as an atheist (even though I do accept a Deity, hence I am therefore a Deist), I don’t think that anyone can or should use Science to make such a grand, definitive statement about religion. I concur with physicist Lisa Randall - who wrote about this in response to a question posed by evolutionary geneticist Jerry Coyne back in January 2009 that’s been posted elsewhere online - that science and religion are two different ways of knowing. It is absurd to contend that one could treat both science and religion in a similar fashion when they deal with two rather divergent aspects of human existence:

tomh said:

Dale Husband said:

… I do not define atheism as you do and there is no fuking law that says I have to!

So you just make up definitions to suit your purpose. Well, that certainly makes it easy for you to “prove” your point, whatever that is. Why not try a dictionary for definitions instead of whatever your imagination can devise? Just about every dictionary will tell you that atheism is the belief that there are no gods, or, a lack of belief in gods. Yet you insist that atheism says that there is no god. So what if PZ Myers says that there is no god? Who is he, anyway, does he get to define atheism and rewrite the dictionary? Most atheists have never heard of PZ Myers. I don’t know if you are just being obstinate or you really are that obtuse, but atheism is very simply defined. No belief in gods.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Guest Contributor published on August 4, 2010 12:47 PM.

Developmental buffering, or how to live with your bad genes was the previous entry in this blog.

So long, Carrie! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter