Freshwater: Hearing documents up at NCSE

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UPDATE It turns out that the documents were not officially released. I have therefore asked NCSE to take them down and they’ve done so. I was misled by a posting on Accountability in the Media which said Hamilton’s brief “was released Thursday” (Sep 17). I inferred that it had been released by R. Lee Shepherd, the referee and that all the documents were publishable. It now turns out that’s not the case; Shepherd has not yet released the documents.

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The five final documents submitted to the referee of the administrative hearing on John Freshwater’s termination are up on NCSE’s site. They are the Board of Education’s summary brief, Freshwater’s summary brief, the Board’s reply to Freshwater’s summary, Freshwater’s reply to the Board’s summary, and an amicus brief submitted by the Dennises.

Happy reading!

120 Comments

Thanks as always Richard, I think this will take a while!

I couldn’t read the Freshwater reply to BOE carefully because it made my head hurt. It was nothing more than a diatribe, a lengthy rambling and repetitive diatribe. It had the same tone of the more crazy rambling religious screeds you see on the Internet where they equate Obama with the Antichrist or explain how the book of revelation clearly shows the apocalypse is near. It’s more like street corner preaching and not the kind of writing expected in a hearing like this.

The opening paragraph of the Board’s reply

Mr. Freshwater’s one hundred and sixty six page brief is long on scurrilous personal attacks and short on supporting facts and law. Much of his brief contains arguments and statements that are irrelevant to the issues before this Referee. Therefore, this reply will attempt to address only those misrepresentations, mischaracterizations and misapplications that are germane to the termination of his teaching contract.

Exactly my point! As I read through, painfully, Freshwater’s ramblings I was struck by how much of it just didn’t pertain to the matter at hand. Way more fluff than substance! Glad the Board focused on the relevant stuff only.

I greatly enjoyed reading the Board’s response to Freshwater/Hamilton’s crap Summary Brief.

Cowabunga! the “Freshwater Reply to BOE” is freaking 5.56 meg’s.

That will wait until tomorrow.

This is too rich. It’s been a double feature for me tonight. First, I watched Chris Hitchens wipe the debate floor with the limp rag David Berlinski who at one point was incapable of replying. And now this!

I recall, maybe incorrectly, and this goes back a couple of years, that Freshwater replied in writing to his principal that he would comply with all requests EXCEPT removing his Bible from his desk. If memory serves, Freshwater threw down the gauntlet and wrote that if that made him insubordinate then so be it. Of course, it was a deliberate act of defiance and, therefore, insubordinate.

The board replies:

The Board’s Brief sets forth that Mr. Freshwater understood exactly what was to be removed and need not be repeated here. No amount of tap dancing will permit Mr. Freshwater to escape the natural consequences of his decision. No attempt to shirk his responsibilities under the Establishment Clause will permit him to blame the administration for his own conduct. Plain and simple, Mr. Freshwater engaged in insubordination when he repeatedly failed to adhere to the directives of his supervisors. As such, Mr. Freshwater may be lawfully terminated based upon “good and just cause.”

This is what the case boils down to in my opinion: personal responsibility.

If Freshwater had taken, or to this day would take, personal responsibility for his personal actions then all of this would go away. Perhaps not favorably to Freshwater, but there you have it. Freshwater’s excuses have been that somebody else is at fault, the administration, the Dennis family, the HR investigators, the Board, the students, the Tesla coil; anybody but John Freshwater.

And, I don’t think it’s a lesson he’s going to learn any time soon.

Just reading through the freshwater closing brief and this is the foot note on page 5

[quote]17 Employee Exhibit 148, pgs. 45-46, the words “make a point” were never used by John Freshwater nor the inquisitioners from HR on Call, Inc.[/quote]

inquisitioners? HR on Call, Inc has specialized training in interrogation and torture?

another bible reference.

Without question, the seeming ability and resources of a BOE in comparison to that of a singular teacher in this context creates a resource gap between the teacher and BOE that is as vast as that of David versus Goliath

Why do I get the feeling I’m going to read many more biblical references. I won’t be surprised if Freshwater is likened to Jesus.

Without question, the seeming ability and resources of a BOE in comparison to that of a singular teacher in this context creates a resource gap between the teacher and BOE that is as vast as that of David versus Goliath

This would carry more weight if Freshwater hadn’t both refused to join the teacher’s union and declined to read the employment contract that spells out what resources are available to him.

So we wait for the referee decision and report, then what happens?

Can you give us an idea as to what will happen if the decision goes either direction?

Thanks for the excellent reporting.

Somehow I think the outcome is going to be slightly less favorable for poor little David this time around. After all, he ran up and kicked the giant in the shins, then spit on him. When he was asked politely to stop, he started screaming and crying, then hired someone to scream and cry with him. Then he realized that all he had was a tesla coil and not a stone to be found anywhere. Needless to say, the giant was not amused. I’m sure he still thinks that god is on his side and will come along to save him at the last minute. But if that is true, why does he keep delaying the last minute?

DS said:

Somehow I think the outcome is going to be slightly less favorable for poor little David this time around. After all, he ran up and kicked the giant in the shins, then spit on him. When he was asked politely to stop, he started screaming and crying, then hired someone to scream and cry with him. Then he realized that all he had was a tesla coil and not a stone to be found anywhere. Needless to say, the giant was not amused. I’m sure he still thinks that god is on his side and will come along to save him at the last minute. But if that is true, why does he keep delaying the last minute?

It would appear that the Board had the right idea in appointing Mr David Millstone as their lawyer.

Incidentally, does anyone else find the shoe spam a refreshing change from the Freshwater submissions? It is, at least, brief and to the point. :)

from the BOE response to Freshwater’s statement

VII. CONCLUSION “A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops.” The Education of Henry Adams, Chapter XX, Henry Adams, 1905 (The Project Guttenberg, Jan. 2005). As our educators have a broad and enduring effect, it is imperative the rights of the students left in their charge are guarded with vigor and diligence. John Freshwater taught in Mount Vernon Middle School for twenty-one years. He accepted an enormous responsibility to educate, protect and guide thousands of students. Mr. Freshwater failed to live up to his responsibility: • Mr. Freshwater engaged in religious advocacy and promoted his Christian faith until he was removed from the classroom after the 2007-20008 school year; • Mr. Freshwater improperly used a Tesla Coil to burn 500-600 students and put them in harm’s way; • Mr. Freshwater exceeded his role as a monitor of the FCA by participating in its activities rather than serving as a non-participant; and • Mr. Freshwater intentionally and publicly refused to follow legitimate directives of his supervisors, engaging in gross insubordination. Each one of these actions constitutes good and just cause for the termination of Mr. Freshwater’s employment with the Mount Vernon City School District.

the 1st, 2nd and 4th points Freshwater ADMITTED to (or admitted to facts that support the conclusions of the 1st 2nd and 4th points) in his own testimony - obviously he’s clueless that doing these things (and admitting it) WILL cost him his job. Was it Lennie Flank who said -“ just let a creationist keep talking, he’ll eventually hang himself” or something like that?

I can’t wait for the civil cases :)

OK!

I am so glad I waited to read the Freshwater response to the BOE Summary Brief until this morning. There is much humor. For example, the opening statment that:

Representatives For The Board Of Education Have Lost Their Way

“The weak gravamen of the allegations against John Freshwater becomes patently obvious when reading the Post-Hearing Brief for Mount Vernon City School District. But the blatant disregard for the most basic elements of justice, fairness, the law and ethics, demonstrates representatives for the board of education (BOE) have completely lost their way in the misguided approach to presenting its arguments in the work product submitted on behalf of the employer.

The writer(s) of the BOE’s post-hearing brief shows they are foolhardy, or possess an impression that John Freshwater and the undersigned would not recognize a gross violation of established law regarding ex post facto application of succeeding law, violations of R.C. 3319.16 requiring specification of any violation by the legislative body of the BOE and improper injection of materials into their BOE’s post-hearing brief.”

is followed by Hamilton’s warning to the referee not to be taken in by:

Fallacy of question-begging epithet: When emotional, inflammatory language is used in lieu of actually proving something, the author is hoping that the reader will respond in a hysterical impulsive manner without actually evaluating the merits.”

It makes Baby Jesus cry.

I have not been able to find a copy of the BoE termination letter to Freshwater sent in July, 2008.

Does anyone have a link ot the PDF?

I hope that there are some outcomes/ messages sent as a result of this:

Teachers - YOU CAN LOSE YOUR CAREER/PENSION if you proselytize in class - don’t do it

administrators- Your district can lose millions of $$ in administrative /court costs + other liabilities if you let your teachers proselytize in class - don’t let them!

Unfortunately, the lesson school administrators are likely to learn is, if you have a proselytizing teacher and you try to fire him, it will cost your district millions. Don’t try it. And the lesson to the bible-pounding teachers is, the administration can’t afford to pay for the legal troubles you can cause if they take any action against you, so OK class, bow your heads while we all pray to Jesus.

The Board summary ends with this well-known quote:

“It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose… “

Mr. Freshwater obviously lied a few hundred times during the proceedings, as evidenced by his own conflicting stories. He went as far has forging “notes”. His lawyer is just as worse.

When I read Hamilton’s writing, I am struck at how similar it is to creationist writing in general- tortured logic, shifting meaning of words, unsupported assertions, and impugning the motivation and morality of others.

And, I wonder if they really are that crazy.

Flint said: Unfortunately, the lesson school administrators are likely to learn is, if you have a proselytizing teacher and you try to fire him, it will cost your district millions.

It will depend on the results of the termination hearing and civil trial. It (should) send the message that if you proselytize, you will lose your job, and the family farm.

The absolute crazy is in “D. Response to Insubordination” where Hamilton claims that it was the Administration’s responsibility to physically remove the objectionable religious displays from Freshwater’s classroom.

“Instead of making corrective efforts, the Administrators, Principal White and Superintendent Steve Short, suborned insubordination in gross dereliction of duty and abuse of power.” Page 69, JOHN FRESHWATER’S REPLY BRIEF TO THE EMPLOYER’S POST-HEARING BRIEF

See? They made Freshwater be insubordinate! It wasn’t his fault at all! Those evil Administration devils did it. It’s their fault!1!1!one! They suborned him, and that is dirty.

It will depend on the results of the termination hearing and civil trial.

OK, I wasn’t aware that IF Freshwater loses the termination hearing, nobody has to pay for it. But I remain dubious. I’m still under the impression that somebody has to pay for all that, and Freshwater clearly doesn’t have a million dollars. Hamilton probably doesn’t either. Would the money come from the insurance company rather than the taxpayers? Which means, ultimately, from those who pay insurance premiums?

Flint said:

It will depend on the results of the termination hearing and civil trial.

OK, I wasn’t aware that IF Freshwater loses the termination hearing, nobody has to pay for it. But I remain dubious. I’m still under the impression that somebody has to pay for all that, and Freshwater clearly doesn’t have a million dollars. Hamilton probably doesn’t either. Would the money come from the insurance company rather than the taxpayers? Which means, ultimately, from those who pay insurance premiums?

Someone will pay for it - without a doubt. There are hundreds of students (a few of which are my children) paying for it right now as summer school was greatly scaled back, full-day K can’t be afforded, etc.

I think the point that was being made was that the termination hearing is the first step. Losing his job doesn’t change a thing for him other than his insurance is no longer covered by the board. The real hurt will be in federal court if and when the civil cases are also found against him. Yes, the school system lost a lot of money, but nothing in comparison to what Mr Freshwater may well lose through the civil cases.

Flint said: Unfortunately, the lesson school administrators are likely to learn is, if you have a proselytizing teacher and you try to fire him, it will cost your district millions. Don’t try it.

If I were an administrator, the lesson I’d take away from this is: make sure your Principals are enforcing the rules clearly, consistently, and continuously. Because the moment you want to fire someone for being completely and totally out of line, he’s going to complain about all those minor bendings of the rules you might have allowed.

And the lesson to the bible-pounding teachers is, the administration can’t afford to pay for the legal troubles you can cause if they take any action against you, so OK class, bow your heads while we all pray to Jesus.

Huh? The school hasn’t dropped the case because of the money. Given the school’s response I think a fundie teacher is likely to take away exactly the opposite of your lesson: no matter how much you (the fundie teacher) try and cost them, how long you drag it out, and how many civil lawsuits you start, they will continue to pursue your termination.

Flint, you might complain about a lot of the school’s behavior. But one thing they did right was show the determination to see the case through.

JRE said:

Flint said:

It will depend on the results of the termination hearing and civil trial.

OK, I wasn’t aware that IF Freshwater loses the termination hearing, nobody has to pay for it. But I remain dubious. I’m still under the impression that somebody has to pay for all that, and Freshwater clearly doesn’t have a million dollars. Hamilton probably doesn’t either. Would the money come from the insurance company rather than the taxpayers? Which means, ultimately, from those who pay insurance premiums?

Someone will pay for it - without a doubt. There are hundreds of students (a few of which are my children) paying for it right now as summer school was greatly scaled back, full-day K can’t be afforded, etc.

I think the point that was being made was that the termination hearing is the first step. Losing his job doesn’t change a thing for him other than his insurance is no longer covered by the board. The real hurt will be in federal court if and when the civil cases are also found against him. Yes, the school system lost a lot of money, but nothing in comparison to what Mr Freshwater may well lose through the civil cases.

I thisk/speculate Freshwater believed that once he did his town crier act (declaring in a public forum - “NO, I will NOT remove my Bible”)- the admisnistration would back down or at worst push him into early retirement - he would then be able to start his 2nd career (as a hero) at some religious institution - AND he’d have his teacher’s pension. Now - (I hope) he loses his pension (a big deal) his job, and he’ll have a very hard time getting another job in a public school. (What administrator would want to take the liability risk?). I do not yet know how much the district will be on the hook for once the civil case is resolved - but most likely it would be thier insurance that would pay. (premiums may go up - but ‘out of pocket’ should be much less than the total liability) The summer school/ full day kindergarten/ program etc. cut backs are pandemic among public schools (funding comes from propery taxes - and real estate values/taxes are in the toilet)

How can we count the number of proselytizing teachers there are in public schools across the country. Would anyone hazard even a ballpark estimate? Might it be in the thousands? Tens of thousands? Here where I am in the bible belt, it’s (perhaps much like Mount Vernon) common, accepted, even encouraged. People here would be horrified if anyone suggested that Jesus doesn’t belong in science class. Jesus belongs everywhere, at all times!

But we can count the number of legal cases arising from such proselytizing. Let’s see, there was one in Dover, and how here’s another one. Yes, the fundamentalists lost in Dover and will probably lose here. And how many such cases are NOT being brought? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Why not? Is it possible that the sheer monetary COST of bringing such a case discourages any administrations?

And I may be cynical, but I don’t think this case would have come to a head except that Freshwater was physically injuring his students. If he was only preaching at them, this wouldn’t have even started. Hey, he’s even been burning studends (and proselytizing like mad) for 20 years or more. Finally one individual chose to make a public complaint so conspicuous that they couldn’t sweep it under the rug.

I suggest it’s possible that thousands of administrations have looked at Dover, and are watching this case, and counting the money, and deciding not to take any action that might lead to litigation or other expensive procedures.

As for these astronomical sums Freshwater will lose, where might they come from? I write a check to my wife for a million dollars every year on her birthday. Do you suppose she’s rich, or I’m suffering terrible losses?

As for enforcing the rules with strict consistency, not allowing the fundamentalists to get away with anything (knowing they will PUSH to get away with a little more, and then a little more), this reminds me of Aesop’s fable about the mice agreeing to put a bell on the cat - but not being able to agree about who should do it. Why is weeding fundamentalists out of school administations going to be so much easier than weeding them out of the ranks of teachers?

Among creationists, there is tacit agreement that their JOB, according to the Will of an Angry God, is to preach to children. As we saw in the Leonard case, the creationists were willing to jeapordize their jobs, the reputation of their employer, the educational system of their entire state, whatever it took (and it took weaseling, deceit, rule-breaking, etc.) Jesus DEMANDS this of them.

I’m of the firm opinion that the only reason Freshwater and the other fundy teachers and the administration haven’t been even more flagrant over the years isn’t so much fear of legal costs, as fear that the courts would shut their efforts down altogether. They seem to see themselves as the Jesus Underground doing everything possible to subvert the Godless Liberals who are trying to yank Jesus out of their lives by the roots. There really is a culture war going on here.

Yeah, Freshwater is a martyr now, to the degree that fundy funding can buy him into that role. But in much of the US, he’s pretty normal.

Flint said: But we can count the number of legal cases arising from such proselytizing. Let’s see, there was one in Dover, and how here’s another one. Yes, the fundamentalists lost in Dover and will probably lose here. And how many such cases are NOT being brought? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Why not? Is it possible that the sheer monetary COST of bringing such a case discourages any administrations?

Huh? This makes no sense. Both the Freshwater and Dover case arose from parental complaints.

Sure, I would agree with you that a school administration probably isn’t going to start a long legal battle if no one is complaining about a teacher’s behavior. Or if the teacher’s actions can be corrected (which seems to have happened in the ‘Dear Mr. Taylor’ case on an earlier thread).

But a lack of court cases is really really weak evidence of your claim of administrative cowardice. Because a much simpler explanation is: a lack of unresolved parental complaints.

I suggest it’s possible that thousands of administrations have looked at Dover, and are watching this case, and counting the money, and deciding not to take any action that might lead to litigation or other expensive procedures.

If they correct the teachers behavior wihout a lawsuit, more power to them. I know there are probably some people who would want proselytizing teachers gone, no warning, no exceptions, but personally if they correct their behavior after a warning I’m fine with that.

As for enforcing the rules with strict consistency, not allowing the fundamentalists to get away with anything (knowing they will PUSH to get away with a little more, and then a little more), this reminds me of Aesop’s fable about the mice agreeing to put a bell on the cat - but not being able to agree about who should do it.

Senior administrators are responsible for making sure Principals know and follow the rules, Principals are likewise responsible for making sure teachers know and follow the rules. Cat belled.

Is it a perfect solution? No - no solution is perfect. But from a process/managerial perspective, all the pieces are there. They just need to be used.

See the update in the OP.

eric said:

Senior administrators are responsible for making sure Principals know and follow the rules, Principals are likewise responsible for making sure teachers know and follow the rules. Cat belled.

I tend to agree with Flint. I know directly of an a case that was “resolved” with the administration backing off from getting rid of a teacher who was not only grotesquely incompetent in the subject matter he was supposed to be teaching, but he also aggressively proselytized and demeaned other religions in his class. The students routinely tape him doing it; and when confronted with the hard evidence, he denied it.

The problem was exacerbated by an administrator who got his administrative experience in Texas and was terrified of the cost and the politics involved in getting rid of him. Instead, he granted this teacher tenure.

This is a community in the North. There is a rather large concentration of Calvinistic, reformed type denominations in the area. Duane Gish once harassed biology teachers here. And many biology teachers today are still timid about covering evolution in their courses.

There is still a lot of work to do to get biology courses that integrate evolution into the backbone of the course. For every pocket of excellence there are vast expanses of fear and administrative dithering.

And parents aren’t always going to be actively engaged in going up against it. They figure their kid will be out of there in a couple of years; so why get involved in a messy hassle? Some parents also look at it as an experience for educating their kid about the stupidity of sectarian religion.

RBH said:

See the update in the OP.

Oops! I hope that’s not going to turn out to be a problem.

However, no matter how conservative the school if one (very brave) parent reports a teacher teaching creationism then the school will have to take notice or they will eventually be in court and eventually they will lose big.

So far, it looks like everyone but the lawyers loses big, and maybe even some of them. When everyone loses big, then the examples such instances set are very ambiguous. It’s a question of who is willing to pay what, to buy others paying what. And then there’s the DI, who spends part of their resources bating Dover traps for others to fall into and pay the costs while the DI leverages the publicity - after running it through their spin machine.

I see the the creationists in these cases being willing to do suicide bombing, willing to take one for their side. We always need to bear in mind that when a creationist does a cost/benefit analysis, he always factors in an enormous weight allocated to his opinion of his god’s opinion of him and potential eternal treatment. Sincerely deluded creationists consider it a bargain to lose their job and all their money if they saved a single soul from eternal damnation in the process. Hell, that’s why they became schoolteachers - to reach those souls before it was too late.

Also, the costs of the cases is not the cost of fighting creationism and winning. It is the cost of defending of defending creationism and losing.

Until then I submit to you that expensive wins in court strategically favor us, not the losers.

Again, it’s a matter of who is willing to lose how much, just in order that his opponent loses even more. If I lose my job but it costs YOU a million dollars, who is the real loser? I’d be hard pressed to say who would celebrate my “loss” more enthusiastically. I regard the situation as ominous; you regard it as promising. I guess time will tell. Right now, I think evolution education has been resoundingly defeated because in most of the nation, it’s the third rail of biology - nobody dares touch it.

Flint said: Now, if only we could take the 55% of the US public who believes people were poofed into existence within recorded history, and sterilize every last one of them, then in a generation the problem would be solved.

I think that you had better back off and take a time-out to think.

Even the most rabid eugenics advocate didn’t claim that ideology was inherited. The Nazis did.

Why not go away for a while, and cool down?

These cases always bring to my mind Gahan Wilson’s cartoon of the last surviving soldier, standing amidst the ruins with mushroom clouds in the background, looking around at the devastation and saying “Hey, I think I won!”

Where are all of these Christian’s who are willing to sacrifice themselves? In every court case they lie and lie and lie. Is there any public school in the US where the principal stands up and says that we teach creationism here so come and get us? As I said before, it would only take one complainant that wont back down to shut it down in each school.

I think that you had better back off and take a time-out to think.

I think maybe I need a tongue-in-cheek icon. Creationism is (once again) something inculcated very eary in life, much like foot-binding or neck-stretching. It’s only possible to get people to believe what is obviously, stonkingly preposterous, and not be able to shuck it off, if the indoctrination is started right at birth. Even then, it’s so extreme it doesn’t always “set up”.

Creationists are as well aware of this as we are (or should be) - there are no “Jesus camps” for the mature. Nobody is saying ideology is inherited, anymore than any parasite is inherited. This shouldn’t prevent us from understanding its life cycle, and seeing that the place to break it is in the home (good parenting) and in grade school (teaching children with skill and sanity).

But maybe you do not wish to discuss, you only wish to demean and dismiss? If so, why? Why don’t YOU go away for a while, until you’re ready to have a mature discussion without the condescending ignorance?

Flint said:

I think that you had better back off and take a time-out to think.

I think maybe I need a tongue-in-cheek icon. Creationism is (once again) something inculcated very eary in life, much like foot-binding or neck-stretching. It’s only possible to get people to believe what is obviously, stonkingly preposterous, and not be able to shuck it off, if the indoctrination is started right at birth. Even then, it’s so extreme it doesn’t always “set up”.

Creationists are as well aware of this as we are (or should be) - there are no “Jesus camps” for the mature. Nobody is saying ideology is inherited, anymore than any parasite is inherited. This shouldn’t prevent us from understanding its life cycle, and seeing that the place to break it is in the home (good parenting) and in grade school (teaching children with skill and sanity).

But maybe you do not wish to discuss, you only wish to demean and dismiss? If so, why? Why don’t YOU go away for a while, until you’re ready to have a mature discussion without the condescending ignorance?

You’re asking for a mature discussion after suggesting that people you disagree with be sterilized? Tongue-in-cheek or not, that was wildly inappropriate.

You’re asking for a mature discussion after suggesting that people you disagree with be sterilized? Tongue-in-cheek or not, that was wildly inappropriate.

If that were a suggestion, you might have a point. But in context (and presumably, context is meaningful to those who oppose creationists), the point was that creationism is a mental model that MUST be started very early in life, because it is so contrary to reality that anyone even close to the age of reason couldn’t swallow it. Accordingly, the way to battle it is through good parenting. This requires good parents.

I do suggest that this is is a long, slow, difficult cultural sea-change we’re looking for - against a tide moving in the opposite direction right now. Individual cases like Freshwater and Dover strike me as fingers in the dike as the tidal wave builds. Although developing a quality, religion-neutral public education system and being vigilent in keeping it that way is a necessary step in the right direction.

So my point is that these cases are not silver bullets. That quick solutions are not remotely feasible, to the point where even mentioning one (with tongue in cheek) elicits righteous harrumphs from those with squeamish affectations. I agree that there IS no appropriate quick fix. I tried to emphasize this. Apparently it’s not something anyone wishes to face. Not that such approaches haven’t been tried in the past, in places where absolute power has been abused absolutely.

Flint said:

Amazing! They actually think that promoting fraud as science will keep people out of hell! Do they think their God is a lunatic too?

I really don’t understand this comment. They know, with Absolute Certainty (something science will never discover) that the claims of the evolutionists are wrong, because their god SAID they were wrong. To them, there is Absolutely NO Doubt that it’s science that’s the fraud, and not their god.

Here is where I must invoke Dawkins, who wrote that “there is no sensible limit to what the human mind is capable of believing, against any amount of contrary evidence.” Dawkins understands, as apparently many here do not, that such beliefs are SINCERE. They may be preposterous, or insane, or prima facie refuted by the obvious. But they are still sincerely believed, and proof against any outside influence.

The first really serious attempt to promulgate a pseudo-science along this line was Henry Morris’s pitting the “myth” of evolution against the “science” of thermodynamics. He deliberately concocted two new pseudo-sciences that were in direct conflict; and neither one of them had anything to do with reality.

But Morris was not a charlatan. He was unfortunate enough to start with an Absolute Truth impervious to reality, but was nonetheless strongly motivated to find some way it could be “real” in practical terms, without varying from Absolute Truth. While the spread of this crap is distressing, I still feel somewhat sorry for those like Morris, who MUST sense that their efforts are profoundly dishonest, but the alternative to dishonesty is unthinkable. I mean, LITERALLY unthinkable. They can’t think it. The neural pathways in the brain necessary to think it simply cannot form anymore.

Just because someone may sincerely believe that something is true doesn’t make it true. Trying to promote a false belief is still fraud and should always be called such.

God never said he created the universe, Earth, life and mankind in six days. Men writing in God’s name made that unfounded and rediculous claim. Taking the words of men and calling them the Word of God is by nature absurdity no matter how you spin it. THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE TRUTH IN RELIGION! If there were, there would be only one religion. Instead, there are thousands.

So we have got to deal with these Creationists putting words in the mouth of God. They are blasphemers, hypocrites, idolaters, frauds, idiots, liars and bigots, but don’t call them sincere. Unless you can read their mind and not such their propaganda, no one knows if they are sincere.

Dale Husband said:

Just because someone may sincerely believe that something is true doesn’t make it true. Trying to promote a false belief is still fraud and should always be called such.

I think that’s kind of strong. I do my best, as most people do, to act according to my beliefs and best understandings. But who among us can say that all of our beliefs and understandings are correct? Are we all frauds then? How many things do you believe are true, that in fact are not? How could you even begin to estimate?

God never said he created the universe, Earth, life and mankind in six days.

Which god? And if there are any gods at all, how can you tell? Are you not making a profound assumption in the absence of supporting evidence? Would this be, possibly, a fraudulent belief?

Men writing in God’s name made that unfounded and rediculous claim.

But does the evidence for any gods EVER extend beyond people writing or speaking in what they claim is the name of their god(s)? Wouldn’t it be more likely that the underlying claim that any gods exist be ridiculous irrespective of what claims are associated with that one?

Taking the words of men and calling them the Word of God is by nature absurdity no matter how you spin it. THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE TRUTH IN RELIGION! If there were, there would be only one religion. Instead, there are thousands.

And from what I can tell, there are as many different gods as there are people who claim they exist. But that doesn’t mean that religion has no truth, only that some claims religion makes are at best metaphorical. I suggest that religion would not exist if it didn’t have profoundly important things to say, whatever superficially superstitious terms they are couched in.

So we have got to deal with these Creationists putting words in the mouth of God. They are blasphemers, hypocrites, idolaters, frauds, idiots, liars and bigots, but don’t call them sincere.

Is YOUR faith sincere? You seem to be assuming that your god exists, yet denying creationists the validity of their assumptions. From where I sit, ANY belief in god is clear evidence of organic mental dysfunction. And mental defectives hurling all this invective at one another is kind of amusing. MY GOD is right and true. YOUR god is a fraud, making YOU a blasphemer, etc. Uh huh, kewl.

Unless you can read their mind and not such their propaganda, no one knows if they are sincere.

Their sincerity, by all indications, extends beyond their propaganda (though the distinction can be hazy). By all indications, I mean their behavior, their writing, their conversation, the way they spend their time, the consistent similarity of their thought processes.

Look, I’m not saying that those who believe in gods are sane, that’s not the same as sincere. Although sanity might govern the rationality of what is believed, it doesn’t affect the sincerity.

Flint, you confuse the hell out of me. Which side are you on, really?

I’m an agnostic evolutionist who thinks we should pull no punches in debunking both Creationism and religious fundamentalism. While I may doubt the existence of God, I believe that if he exists and created the universe, then studying that would reveal more about God than any man-made book. That is why I deny that the Bible is the Word of God, because it makes God look like a liar and an idiot. Of course, some atheists may get a thrill out of such an idea, but I don’t.

Just to bring a few of you up to date on biology texts. Most of the modern texts and certainly the most popular (Miller & Levine)and all the others I have seen or used in the last 10 years (teaching in both public and private schools) treat evolution as a major or founding principle of biology. A teacher has to really work to avoid it these days. Instead of being at the end of the book it is often introduced in the first couple of chapters and then expanded soon after M/L starts it at chapter 15 and spends 4 chapters on it. BSCS starts in chapter 1. Human evolution is often relegated to the end of the book but evolution itself isn’t. Lousy teachers are having a tougher time trying to avoid the subject.

Mary H said:

Human evolution is often relegated to the end of the book but evolution itself isn’t. Lousy teachers are having a tougher time trying to avoid the subject.

Here are the course descriptions from one of the top high school programs in our area.

This is a very competitive and highly selective program for students throughout the entire intermediate school district, and well over 90% of these students have for many years gone on to the top universities around the country and abroad. And most of these are now professionals with PhDs and MDs in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. Some have studied under, and are now colleagues with, some of the top scientists in the country. Many of these students have had several publications in major scientific journals even before they left high school. Some are now running international companies of their own.

Notice how the “E-word” is avoided or well-hidden in the description of the course. There are historical precedents in this community for being timid about announcing that evolution is a part of the course. And a few of the students in this program come from some of the more conservative religious backgrounds in the community.

Here is the lower level biology course description for freshmen/sophomores.

Honors Biology is a rigorous college-preparatory survey course. Conceptual themes are integrated with meaningful field and laboratory experiences to develop the student’s ability to recognize and solve scientific problems. Major areas of study include: ecology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, embryology and diversity of organisms.

And here is the upper level AP Biology course description.

Advanced Placement Biology is a full year course covering the topics in the required Advanced Placement Curriculum but at a deeper level and with a more intense experimental approach. The major goals of AP Biology are to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and to help students gain an appreciation of science as a process. The ongoing information explosion in biology makes these goals even more challenging. Primary emphasis in this course will be on developing an understanding of concepts rather than on memorizing terms and technical details. Essential to this conceptual understanding are the following: a grasp of science as a process rather than as an accumulation of facts; personal experience in scientific inquiry; recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topics of biology; application of biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns. Course activities include individual research projects, and laboratory investigations in the following areas: Diffusion and Osmosis, Colony Transformation, Enzyme Catalysis, Genetics of Drosophila, Mitosis and Meiosis, Population Genetics and Evolution, Plant Pigments, Transpiration, Cell Respiration, Physiology of the Circulation System, Behavior: Habitat Selection, Dissolved Oxygen and Primary, Productivity.

Evolution is covered, but not highlighted. The emphasis is on students bound for the medical professions; usually about 1/3 of a typical graduating class.

I don’t know at the moment what current textbooks are being used.

Dale Husband said:

Flint, you confuse the hell out of me. Which side are you on, really?

He’s on “our” side, obviously.

I don’t contribute often, preferring to learn from the rest of you. Flint has been one of those from whom I’ve learned. He is very good at parsing the thought processes of creationists, ably describing the hurdles to getting creationists to acknowledge reality. My own experiences jibe with his descriptions of the endemic nature of creationist thinking in midwestern, rural, communities. Therefore, I understood his pessimism and frustration which engendered the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that sterilization may be the only way to eliminate creationism from the nation’s schools. I’m not sure why so many others took that statement seriously or misconstrue his attempts to understand the thinking of the “True Believers” like Freshwater.

Vaughn

“Well the thing you have to consider is the cost of not fighting the creationists. If they are allowed to take over the schools and subvert public education, there will be severe consequences for the United States of America. We have already let our educational system slip to the point where we are no longer the technological leader in many fields. If we ship all of our manufacturing overseas and lose our technological edge, exactly how long do you think the country will be able to survive?”

This paragraph pisses me off royally. I apologize in advance if I stray a bit from emotionless logical arguments, or if I ramble a bit.

The way I see it, this paragraph is hoplessly small in scope. Who cares if the USA is #1 in anything? Not I.

The real concern is the USA becomming the Theocratic SA. And then comes things like the inqusition and Crusades 2.0! Now with NUKES. Small minds like Anne Coulter who talked about rolling over and crushing Canada without so much as a thought or a clue of what she is actually suggesting with their fingers on the Nuke Trigger. Made worse because they have FAITH™ that their sky daddy will protect them and guide them to the right choices.

I think we should be in it for the species, not the nationalities. I don’t care if the US is #1 or (Since I am Canadian) if Canada is #1 in anything.

Back to the topic of freshwater, I have finally struggled thru most of the brief. It appears that his defence is: i’m an idiot but you’re a bigger idiot? do I have that right?

I went back through some old newspaper clippings in my files that I have kept from my days of giving talks about the creationist blitz throughout the 1970s and 80s. There are quite a few from the 1980s era when the blitz was near its maximum and the US Supreme Court decision on Edwards v. Aguillard had not come down yet.

This was after the time Gish harassed biology teachers in this area.

Many of the biology teachers from public, Catholic, and the Christian schools were interviewed about what they taught and why. Most teachers treaded very lightly around the subject, some admitting that they didn’t teach evolution directly. The scars and the pain of confrontations by Gish and religious parents were there, and they remain with teachers and administrators in this area today.

And this is a community in the North. So I am not surprised to hear Flint’s concerns about communities in the South. The creationists were quite brutal in their attacks; and nobody here has forgotten.

Flint said:

If that were a suggestion, you might have a point. But in context (and presumably, context is meaningful to those who oppose creationists), the point was that creationism is a mental model that MUST be started very early in life, because it is so contrary to reality that anyone even close to the age of reason couldn’t swallow it. Accordingly, the way to battle it is through good parenting. This requires good parents.

This may be the way most creationists aquire their delusions, but it is not a MUST. As exhibit A I present my office mate who didn’t find Jesus until adulthood, and now the earth is ~7000 years old and H.Erectus who are really human, are going to hell because they were not “born again”. Also, I know of several people (mostly women) who read their horoscope every day, and take stock in it. Some of these even claim to be Christian. I doubt that most of these people (if any) were taught anything at all about astrology by their parents. Some people just seem to be born with a predisposition to need some invisible magic power that guides them through life. That way they don’t need to take responsibilty for their actions or how life turns out. They were doing God’s work. Others need an explaination for the good and bad (especially the bad) things in life that happen to them. Instead of “shit happens” it is “God’s will”.

I’m not saying that early indoctrination isn’t important It will generally define what kind of mythology one believes in. I think there is also a biological (probably genetic) reason for people to make these explainations for their existance up. We’ve had millenia of significant selection events removing the non-believers from the gene pool.

Flint makes many good points, for example -

I mean, LITERALLY unthinkable. They can’t think it. The neural pathways in the brain necessary to think it simply cannot form anymore.

This is a pessimistic conclusion I have been arriving at over about the last ten years. A vast proportion of Americans are so blinded by rigid emotional biases that they cannot even perceive reality, let alone engage in rational discussion.

However, Flint, there is something that is confusing me.

As an American citizen I have legal rights (actually, as do non-citizens on US soil). Patriot Act, Guantanomo, warrantless wiretapping, prohibitions on harmless pastimes while literal destruction of the very earth we live in is not only permitted but fetishized notwithstanding, I still have some rights.

Now, as it happens, remarkably, I haven’t had to stand up for my rights very much. I’ve only once had to sue an insurance company (they settled, eventually), and only had to report two crimes, in my entire life (one was when some jackass pickpocketed my virtually empty wallet many, many years ago - had to file a report for the DMV - and the other was to report specific and convincing internet death threats against someone else).

However, I do and will stand up for my legal rights, and I only know of two basic ways to do that - call law enforcement if someone commits an outright felony against me, and call a lawyer (or ombudsman-like organization that will provide legal advice such as the ACLU and NCSE) and sue if it’s a civil matter - and of course, those aren’t mutually exclusive.

Now, I agree that there are a lot of whacked out creationism-bots on their personal missions from god out there, but those are the two ways I have to defend my rights. If you know of a third way, please let me know what it is. Because I’m confused about what else I can do.

Now, I agree that there are a lot of whacked out creationism-bots on their personal missions from god out there, but those are the two ways I have to defend my rights. If you know of a third way, please let me know what it is. Because I’m confused about what else I can do.

Well, you can be a good parent.

I think we’re talking about somewhat different things here. If there’s a high crime rate (for example), yes, the legal system provides way for you to rectify (to some degree) a crime where you are the victim. At best, the criminal is sent to our overcrowded jails for a while. The legal system is always hard at work reacting to crimes.

But what can an entire society do to reduce the crime rate? What can we do to reduce the appeal of committing a crime, when the recidivison rate runs 90%? Clearly, threat of legal punishment and even actual legal punishment doesn’t reduce the overall crime rate. It’s been observed that real justice requires that punishment be both swift (and often it takes a long time and a lot of expense - just look at the Freshwater case) and certain (and punishment, even eventually, is the exception more than the rule).

And even that misses the bigger picture. It’s necessary for a society to look at the pattern of crimes, the underlying reasons they’re committed, and find ways to neutralize these reasons.

In the US, the underlying reasons for the astoundingly high rate of incarceration are probably (1) systemic lack of economic opportunities for crime-prone demographics; and (2) drugs. These are interrelated - those unable to find satisfaction through work tend to turn to drugs. BUT we tend to be focused on reaction - we declare a war on drugs mostly as an indication of our societal disapproval, and we do jail a lot of druggies but at the cost of making drug dealing enormously profitable, and alienating the crime-prone demographic. Without reducing drug consumption whatsoever. As with your legal action, we are fighting the symptoms retail while the cause remains unaffected. And myopically enough, we regard all efforts to make drug dealing less profitable as efforts to condone or encourage drug use.

So my question is, instead, what is it that provides the motivation for creationism? What is it about the US that is eroding our educational system and making blind superstitution so satisfying, different from other first world nations? What is causing the strong trend away from more neutral faiths and toward fundamentalism and ignorance? Why is this trend so regional?

I understand, in a game-theory sort of intellectual way, that those who accept (if not always understand) science tend to be more tolerant, and such a population will be less effective at spreading that view than a population actively and relentlessly zealous in spreading theirs. I understand in an intellectual way that people find confort in Absolute Truth, even if it’s inane. That for many people a wrong answer that never changes provides the sort of emotional anchor that a probably right but tentative and incomplete answer can never provide.

I personally suspect that people are reacting against a rate of social and technologal change they find baffling and threatening. Traditional, stable, shared values are comforting; pluralistic and dynamic values are confusing and unsettling. The path of least resistance is to tune them out, deny them, and fight for what you were raised to believe is Absolutely Right. Doesn’t matter whether it’s right or not, so long as it holds still.

I agree with most people here that good education, and vigilant efforts to keep teachers from preaching in class, are essential. But we are fighting a system that elects school boards that select textbooks and hire teachers, and we are often electing creationists. I don’t believe we can our should establish tests for sanity that candidates must pass. So I don’t know how to engineer broad changes in social values, beyond trying to establish rational values wherever we can (and as young as possible). Creationists understand this very well - that’s what they’re doing.

Dave Luckett said:

eric asks

who benefits more when we pro-science folks win a highly (taxpayer-paid) expensive court case - them or us?

Well, what facts have we to work with, to answer that question?

Dover. Who won? Who lost?

I disagree. ID lost BIG in Dover. Pre-Dover it seemed that there was a lot of interest in ID amongst non-scientists who otherwise accepted science. Sure Dembski and Behe got paid but I wonder what their book sales are like now compared to pre-Dover. Dembski just publishes christian books and getting into trouble because he is not a YEC.aaaa

Michael J said:

Dave Luckett said:

eric asks

who benefits more when we pro-science folks win a highly (taxpayer-paid) expensive court case - them or us?

Well, what facts have we to work with, to answer that question?

Dover. Who won? Who lost?

I disagree. ID lost BIG in Dover. Pre-Dover it seemed that there was a lot of interest in ID amongst non-scientists who otherwise accepted science. Sure Dembski and Behe got paid but I wonder what their book sales are like now compared to pre-Dover. Dembski just publishes christian books and getting into trouble because he is not a YEC.aaaa

Pressed submit too soon. I think that the DI is in the same boat. Nobody who isn’t a creationist takes any of these guys seriously anymore. Why else does the DI attack mouse keep living the Dover decision. As for Boswell, he was made a laughing stock. I’m sure that a lot of the true believers would not appreciate somebody being caught lying.

Flint said: I understand in an intellectual way that people find confort in Absolute Truth, even if it’s inane. That for many people a wrong answer that never changes provides the sort of emotional anchor that a probably right but tentative and incomplete answer can never provide.

Since there are no absolute truths in religion, those fanatics are wasting their time. Even in religion, the “answers” change and diversify. 1500 years ago, Christianity was very different from today. 5000 years ago, there was no Judaism either.

We’d be far more likely to find absolute truth in science, because science measures itself against something objective. Over time, science becomes more and more detailed and accurate, as well as constantly updating itself. So I’d rather seek truth than be content with comfort. I can find comfort in a real bed, thanks very much. I don’t need myths to put me to sleep.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.….….

So I’d rather seek truth than be content with comfort.

Good for you. Now, how do you convince the majority to feel the same way? After all, ultimately that’s our goal here. We know we can use neither logic nor evidence, because True Believers have no use for either one. But we must use logic and evidence, because reality rests on them.

Most converts from creationism testify that logic and evidence were useless against their faith; they “knew” better. What shook them was the suspicion that their spiritual leadership was violating the spiritual rules - NOT the rules of logic and evidence. They were being immoral or dishonest.

I think the most devastating thing about the Dover decision wasn’t that the creationists lost, but that they lied and when caught, they lied again. If Buckingham had stood up and said “you bet I collected the money to buy these books. God demands nothing less. The separation of church and state is an abomination, and I will never stop fighting to correct it!” he’d probably have swayed his target audience (which is the greater community, not the judge). By saying “gee, I have no idea where that money came from” he undermined his faith.

So maybe what we need to do is publicize that what the creationists are doing is dishonest, devious, and immoral. Forget illegal, that’s a side-effect.

Flint said:

So I’d rather seek truth than be content with comfort.

Good for you. Now, how do you convince the majority to feel the same way? After all, ultimately that’s our goal here. We know we can use neither logic nor evidence, because True Believers have no use for either one. But we must use logic and evidence, because reality rests on them.

Most converts from creationism testify that logic and evidence were useless against their faith; they “knew” better. What shook them was the suspicion that their spiritual leadership was violating the spiritual rules - NOT the rules of logic and evidence. They were being immoral or dishonest.

I think the most devastating thing about the Dover decision wasn’t that the creationists lost, but that they lied and when caught, they lied again. If Buckingham had stood up and said “you bet I collected the money to buy these books. God demands nothing less. The separation of church and state is an abomination, and I will never stop fighting to correct it!” he’d probably have swayed his target audience (which is the greater community, not the judge). By saying “gee, I have no idea where that money came from” he undermined his faith.

So maybe what we need to do is publicize that what the creationists are doing is dishonest, devious, and immoral. Forget illegal, that’s a side-effect.

It wasn’t Buckingham’s lies that were the most devastating. This could be like Rahab lying when hiding the Israelite spies. It was Behe’s lies that was more troubling because it was to fellow believers. The creationists kept crowing about how much progress they made over and against the Darwinists who were supposedly scared and on the run. When discussing this with believers note that Behe was forced under oath that there really wasn’t any there there with respect to the science. Specifically, don’t just note that the creationist leader lie but rather they lie to their fellow believers. This makes them look unnecessarily foolish and destroys their credibility. If the people you talk to are people who care about “spreading the Gospel” note that the lying of the professional creationists makes the Gospel less accepted.

Rich, you may be right. My personal view is that Buckingham’s lies were of the sort that anyone can grasp immediately. Like Judas, he directly denied knowledge of what he himself had done. This is a simple lie, the lie of a child to a parent. Everyone understands it.

Behe’s lies were much more subtle. I’ve talked with people who continue to believe that Behe showed that ID was REAL SCIENCE, right there in the courtroom. He used fancy language and big words, he has the PhD and the tenured professorship, he bearded the lion in his own den!

And we should note that Behe himself is on record, on numerous subsequent occasions, crowing that this is exactly what he did, and how proud he is of having had the opportunity to demonstrate, under oath, that ID is real science after all. He dismisses all criticism of his testimony as ideological bickering by those who don’t understand the science. He was able to testify, under oath, that his concern was a scientific concern, with the actual physical mechanisms of design in empirical practice. After all, this is what he said on the stand. It’s what he said in his book. It’s what he believes. And someday, despite the ridicule, he promises to FIND such a mechanism. Scientifically, you know?

So while we understand that when he couldn’t actually lie he was reduced to bafflegab and doubletalk, the average creationist in the street doesn’t accept that. They NEED to believe ID is scientific. But they can understand Buckingham’s lies.

Flint said:

…Most converts from creationism testify that logic and evidence were useless against their faith; they “knew” better. What shook them was the suspicion that their spiritual leadership was violating the spiritual rules - NOT the rules of logic and evidence. They were being immoral or dishonest.(…)

I was never a creationist, but I can say that it was this very thing that first drove me away from the organised Christian church. I am the son of a Presbyterian minister, brought up strictly in that denomination, and I still have a residual respect for some aspects of its tradition - its music, its dignity and its respect for scholarship, for instance.

But in my adolescence I became increasingly aware of the disparity between what church leaders said and what they did, especially what they did in private. That came from my father’s gossip about the doings in the Ministers’ fraternal, and the politics in the Session and the Assembly of his own Church, which seemed to be founded mainly on personal animosity.

It wasn’t that I expected the clergy to be any better than me. It wasn’t even that they were often a good deal worse, by the formal standards of the Faith they professed. It was that the Church itself seemed not merely useless as a moral authority, but indifferent to the issue.

I personally knew no Catholic priest who abused children, but one of the local Anglicans had to be spirited away in the dead of night by his Church when some unsavoury details became public about his dealings with Boys’ Brigade members - in both senses, if you take my meaning. The Anglican Bishop quietly invited the outraged parents to consult him privately, and it was all smoothed away without the regrettable involvement of the police.

The staunchly RC family that lived across the road from us had one of their daughters become pregnant at sixteen from her one and only sexual encounter (she was largely ignorant of the matter). She went to her (Catholic) school chaplain for help, and found herself summarily expelled; but quietly, quietly, lest there be a scandal that might embarrass the school or the Church. To his credit, the local priest did a lot better, but he could not reverse the institutionalised callousness of the school.

The Baptist pastor’s children (all six of them) were thoroughly terrified of their father, who was ragingly violent. I can’t speak for his wife, since I only knew the kids. I doubt, however, that he spared the rod in her case, either.

Then there was my own father. After twenty-five years in the ministry, he ran off with the wife of one of his Elders. It became clear to me only afterwards that this affair was unusual for him only in that this particular woman wasn’t prepared to go away quietly, as all the others had.

As it was, newly remarried, he quietly applied to rejoin the ministry, and was quietly accepted, no questions asked. Some years later, he was divorced again, in similar circumstances. He was then privately advised that it seemed that parish work was not his calling, and he would be perhaps best suited as a reserve Navy chaplain and school visitor. Horses for courses, you understand.

Alas, shortly after that he stopped believing in God, and was unwise enough to say so, at which point he was firmly shown the door. Marriage-go-round was one thing, but apostasy was quite another.

All of which was quite enough to make me want to have nothing to do with this institution. But that, after all, is nothing more than personal distaste from limited sampling. I wanted something more solid than anecdote, and in the doctrines of election and eternal damnation, and the problem of idiocity, I found it. I could not believe in that. The whole edifice of Protestantism, then Christianity, then theism crumbled before my eyes.

But would that have happened without those personal experiences? I doubt it. So, in a very roundabout way, I second Flint. If there’s a way into a creationist’s mind, it isn’t initially through acceptance of evidence. It must come from rejection of authority, first.

Flint said:

Rich, you may be right. My personal view is that Buckingham’s lies were of the sort that anyone can grasp immediately. Like Judas, he directly denied knowledge of what he himself had done. This is a simple lie, the lie of a child to a parent. Everyone understands it.

Behe’s lies were much more subtle. I’ve talked with people who continue to believe that Behe showed that ID was REAL SCIENCE, right there in the courtroom. He used fancy language and big words, he has the PhD and the tenured professorship, he bearded the lion in his own den!

And we should note that Behe himself is on record, on numerous subsequent occasions, crowing that this is exactly what he did, and how proud he is of having had the opportunity to demonstrate, under oath, that ID is real science after all. He dismisses all criticism of his testimony as ideological bickering by those who don’t understand the science. He was able to testify, under oath, that his concern was a scientific concern, with the actual physical mechanisms of design in empirical practice. After all, this is what he said on the stand. It’s what he said in his book. It’s what he believes. And someday, despite the ridicule, he promises to FIND such a mechanism. Scientifically, you know?

So while we understand that when he couldn’t actually lie he was reduced to bafflegab and doubletalk, the average creationist in the street doesn’t accept that. They NEED to believe ID is scientific. But they can understand Buckingham’s lies.

As an evangelical trying to convince other evangelicals I’ve noticed a trend in terms of the degree of willingness evangelicals accept the scientific (or any other kind of) evidence. The more out of power evangelicals feel the less willingness there is to accept the evidence. Three to four years ago I felt pretty optimistic. Evangelicals were accepting global warming in greater numbers and our church also had the evidence for evolution presented at our adult Sunday school. (Even during this period only the adults could see this, the teens always got the propaganda.) During this period Jim Wallis wrote the Great Awakening having a similar positive outlook concerning the evangelical community.

I was positive until the after the 2008 election and everything changed radically. All support for the reality for global warming was gone and likewise books such as Francis Collins’ Language of God fell completely out of favor. Note the YouTube video I posted recently concerning Glen Beck and social justice. Note how Jim Wallis’ tone and optimism are different. Compare and contrast other videos of Wallis from just a few years ago.

So, somehow the paranoia needs to be alleviated until evangelicals will even look at the evidence. I’ve tried just presenting the evidence even on what should be an easy case such as the President’s birth certificate. But, unfortunately even this doesn’t work either. It seems the only way to get there is for the irrational right to be in power. But, that’s too much of a price to pay. In the end, we just need to wait for the more sensible young people either to reform or leave the church – with the latter the more likely outcome.

Flint said:

So my question is, instead, what is it that provides the motivation for creationism? What is it about the US that is eroding our educational system and making blind superstitution so satisfying, different from other first world nations? What is causing the strong trend away from more neutral faiths and toward fundamentalism and ignorance? Why is this trend so regional?

I suggest you pick up Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in America Life. Even though it was written the 60s much of what it says still applies. He noted the confluence of religious fervor and the influence of corporate America to only have “practical” things taught in the schools both caused an anti-intellectual effect.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 20, 2010 6:24 PM.

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