Disco Institute Damage Control? Barton Book Dumped

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barton_et_tu.jpg

Well, this is interesting! Pseudo-historian David Barton, whom we last heard from here on the Thumb declaring that America’s Founding Fathers had considered evolution, and rejected it for creationism, has had his newest book examined and rejected by a group of conservative authors headed by the Discovery Institute’s Jay W. Richards.

From the New York Times Artsbeat blog for August 14, 2012:

Last month the History News Network voted David Barton’s book “The Jefferson Lies” the “least credible history book in print.” Now the book’s publisher, Thomas Nelson, has decided to stop publishing and distributing it.

The book, which argues that Thomas Jefferson was an enthusiastic orthodox Christian who saw no need for a wall of separation between church and state, has attracted plenty of criticism since it appeared in April, with an introduction by Glenn Beck. But the death knell came after Jay W. Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and the author, with James Robison, of “Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family and Freedom Before It’s Too Late,” began to have doubts and started an investigation.

The Times blog refers to a detailed August 7th, 2012 article by Thomas Kidd at World Magazine, which notes

Richards says in recent months he has grown increasingly troubled about Barton’s writings, so he asked 10 conservative Christian professors to assess Barton’s work.

Their response was negative. Some examples: Glenn Moots of Northwood University wrote that Barton in The Jefferson Lies is so eager to portray Jefferson as sympathetic to Christianity that he misses or omits obvious signs that Jefferson stood outside “orthodox, creedal, confessional Christianity.”

More on the story in an August 10th report by Tim Murphy of Mother Jones, “The Right’s Favorite Historian Comes Apart at the Seams” :

Barton has turned the study of America’s Christian roots into a lucrative business, hawking books and video sermons, speaking at churches and political confabs, and scoring a fawning New York Times profile and interviews on the Daily Show. He’s got friends in high places: “I almost wish that there would be like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced–at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message,” Mike Huckabee told an Evangelical audience in March of 2011. “I never listen to David Barton without learning a whole lot of new things,” Newt Gingrich told conservatives in Iowa that same month.

That’s probably because much of what David Barton writes seems to have originated in David Barton’s head.

On Thursday, Barton’s publisher announced that it was recalling Barton’s newest book, The Jefferson Lies, from stores and suspending publication because it had “lost confidence” in the book’s accuracy. That came one day after NPR published a scathing fact-check of Barton’s work, specifically his claim that passages of the Constitution were lifted verbatim from the Bible.

Wow. We know how much the Discovery Institute needs to feed on disinformation and polemics. That one of their leaders had to reject Barton’s book is a strong indication that the book must be really, really, really bad!

Discuss.

148 Comments

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, an NPR religion reporter, ran a segment on Barton a week ago. She and Elise Hu ran a follow-up here. In the follow-up, they checked some of Barton’s claims (I will not dignify Barton by calling it fact-checking) and concluded that those claims were not factual.

Hmm, I think we can honestly say the same thing about all the nonsense that the Dishonesty Institute itself publishes in the name of ID.

How many people are going to come out and describe him as the liar he is? There’s absolutely no need to be overly polite, the term is simply accurate. Are we going to hear anything from Bachmann, Huckabee, or Gingrich, all of whom championed his invented history? Barton has played no small part in the increased polarization and normalizing of right-wing extremism of American politics in recent years. Now that his contribution is undeniably revealed as built upon things he just made up off the top of his head, instead of any real history, the problem should be acknowledged and the influence excised. Allowing it to sit and fester away unaddressed in the public sphere just perpetuates the diseased state of political discourse. The people who go out of their way to invoke the history and traditions of America in order to gain the trust of the public to govern it have a responsibility to fess up and disown this fraud and his fantasies in front of that same public.

Now it appears that the historians will have their work cut out for them. I hope they can learn from the experiences of the science community’s battles with ID/creationism over the last 50 years.

How did this guy manage to be taken seriously? Have serious historians spoken out against him?

Recently, Alabama Public Television refused to air a David Barton-created program. This proved to be the final straw in the tension between APT and the (very conservative) commission overseeing them. So the commissioin fired all the top people, and all those under them quite en masse. The commission (all appointed by Republican governors) claims there’s nothing the least bit ideological about this, it was simply time to clean house and allow in some fresh air - despite those who were fired or quit being relatively recent.

I predict the David Barton video will be aired soon by the “new and improved” APT. Anyone want to bet against me?

Barton has largely flown under the radar by not publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Until 2003, he was self-published, and much of it has always been in the form of tapes or videos, sold through right-wing and conservative Christian outlets. He has no credentials in history or law. I find one article by him in an actual professional journal: in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, (Volume XVII Issue No. 2, 2003, p. 399), and it’s a review of Jefferon’s writings. It seems to have landed with hardly a thud. I had to go to wikipedia for that. Anyone whose google-fu is greater than mine had better check it.

Dr Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College is his chief critic, from what appears on the web, it seems. But Dr Throckmorton is not a historian either.

I strongly suspect that it’s somewhat parallel to the situation in which life scientists, paleontologists and geologists find themselves with creationists. The creationists don’t pass peer-review and don’t try, but they want scientists to “debate” them because it gives them free publicity. Same here.

Apart from a record of publishing respectably peer-reviewed material, the only real test of a historian’s work is the extent to which it is used by other historians. It would appear that despite the remarkable number of conservative Christian colleges, only one institution actually includes Barton’s works on a course reading list, and that one is Liberty University. Uh-huh.

Matt G said:

How did this guy manage to be taken seriously? Have serious historians spoken out against him?

Yes, even Christian historians:

http://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-sep[…]stian-nation

Matt G said:

How did this guy manage to be taken seriously?

Because his message supported what many people wanted to hear, or what they wanted other people to hear. That’s all the “taken seriously” he needs, not professional respect or appraisal in the historical research community, or anything of that sort.

Dave Luckett said:

Apart from a record of publishing respectably peer-reviewed material, the only real test of a historian’s work is the extent to which it is used by other historians. It would appear that despite the remarkable number of conservative Christian colleges, only one institution actually includes Barton’s works on a course reading list, and that one is Liberty University. Uh-huh.

There’s a shocker.

Its not really really bad but shows a sincere determination to stand by accuracy in scholarship on subjects. Its a identity of DI and if they failed in this THEN you could question their status.

I never read this guys stuff and understand he’s created a audience. if he is wrong on some things it doesn’t define all his stuff.

actually it all again falls into the error of seeing the relevance on one man’s opinion on religion and state. it doesn’t matter what Jefferson thought.

James Madison clearly said the spirit and intent of the government and constitution came from the delegates, representing the people, and not a few top dogs who were directing things. Its the people who gave meaning and credibility to american government and not a elite.

Everyone misses this point these days. Southern Virginian’s aristocracy leading thinkers did not create america’s ideas on these matters. Church and state issues were settled hundreds of years ago and only a post WW11 liberal aggression against American Christian civilization, and reaction, has brought up the whole matter.

It was very well done back in the day and only needs good historians, not modern agitators, to put things straight.

Flint said:

Recently, Alabama Public Television refused to air a David Barton-created program. This proved to be the final straw in the tension between APT and the (very conservative) commission overseeing them. So the commissioin fired all the top people, and all those under them quite en masse. The commission (all appointed by Republican governors) claims there’s nothing the least bit ideological about this, it was simply time to clean house and allow in some fresh air - despite those who were fired or quit being relatively recent.

I predict the David Barton video will be aired soon by the “new and improved” APT. Anyone want to bet against me?

Fraud is fraud, even if Conservatives bigots endorse it. When are we going to consistently enforce the laws against fraud and start throwing people like David Barton (and Ann Coulter) in prison? Maybe we can even send them to Gitmo and waterboard them!

That last bit was sarcasm.

When is Chris Rodda (author of “Liars for Jesus”) going to get a medal? She has tirelessly, tirelessly compiled huge lists of Barton’s outright lies and recited them in YouTube videos. A hero.

I also admire that she called Barton a liar, over and over, after proving it. She didn’t pussyfoot around with the language. She didn’t say, “That is not entirely true,” and that pussyfoot language, she just called him a liar.

Heroes: Rodda and Throckmorton.

A good blog on American history is “The Way of Improvement Leads Home”, written by an honest evangelical Christian.

No wonder the evolutionary historian Gilman Ostrander, in his history of the rise of evolutionism in this country, started out by saying:

The American nation had been founded by intellectuals who had accepted a worldview that was based upon Biblical authority as well as Newtonian science. They had assumed that God created the earth and all life upon it at the time of creation and had continued without change thereafter. Adam and Eve were God’s final creations and all of mankind had descended from them.8

http://www.icr.org/article/6889/

@Henry,

Barton himself could not produce any quotes showing that the Founding Fathers were creationist or believed in intelligent design. He produced a list of quotes, claiming that they proved that, but in some cases indicated on the contrary, just how heterodox the Founding Fathers were. The only real support for the design argument he could find was from a quote from deist Thomas Paine, generally considered not a founding father, and strongly anti-Christian.

Moreover, Thomas Jefferson dismissed a global flood of Noah in his discussion of geology in “Notes on the State of Virginia.”

What would ICR say about dismissing the global flood?

I should also point out that Henry said “evolutionary historian.” We have a visitor from bizarro world.

Was he also a “gravitationary historian” too? Perhaps a “heliocentrical historian” as well?

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissu[…]sp?id=118208

David Barton’s answer to his critics.

http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissu[…].asp?id=7846

Barton’s article on the Founding Fathers and Creation/Evolution.

Henry, thank you for the links, we’ve read that. But I meant my question quite seriously:

Was he also a “gravitationary historian” too? Perhaps a “heliocentrical historian” as well?

Matt G said:

How did this guy manage to be taken seriously?

All IMO, but…

In the long view, he wasn’t. He had about one year of fame. Given academic response and publication times, that is not being ‘taken seriously.’ If we’re going to be frank about it, I think we have to admit that revealing and disposing of fraud in journalism and academia usually takes longer than it took Barton to rise and fall.

The generation starting school now will likely never even hear about him. He’s probably not even going to make the history books as an interesting or successful example of a fraud, let alone as an historian.

I’ve read a lot of Thomas Jefferson’s writing. One of his most famous statements is his tombstone inscription: Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom Father of the University of Virginia

Note that the statute on religious freedom ranked above being president of the United States, which he left off. This statute clearly is mainly aimed at preventing religious interference in individuals and in government.

I always get a laugh out of folks who claim that Jefferson was a fundamentalist Christian. Jefferson rejected the Virgin Birth, the miracle stories in the scriptures, the divinity of Yeshua of Nazareth, the Resurrection, and the Trinity. Not much a a fundamentalist Christian there.

I also get a laugh out of folks who claim that Madison was a fundamentalist Christian. Madison was a vigorous critic of organized religion in general and organized Christianity in particular.

Throckmorton is a psychologist and not as was noted an historian. He is a professor at the evangelical Grove City College. How he became interested in Barton is through his discovery that so-called reparative therapy doesn’t work. See Barbara Bradley Hagarty story on Exodus International dropping support of pray away the gay and note her quoting Warren Throckmorton.

http://www.npr.org/2012/07/06/15636[…]to-cure-gays

The link to Barton is the Disco Tute. By convincing political and religious conservatives that academia was evil they destroyed all evangelical scholarship regardless of discipline and not just biology. This includes climatology and economics. One of the founders of the Disco Tute, George Gilder, is also part of the Manhattan Institute and pushed the supply side snake oil. Stephen Meyer works with Del Tackett in Focus on the Family’s so-called Truth Project for the science part. The history is all Bartonesque. The economics is a mix of Gordon Gecko and John Galt just like the current Republican presidential ticket. The Family Research Council pushes the pray away the gay agenda and the Chick-fil-A hysteria.

There is a small but spirited push back from evangelical college professors like Throckmorton and Steve Matheson who posts here. As you will note the common thread is not religion but politics and is why the evangelical Warren Throckmorton and the atheist Chris Rodda are on the same side.There’s a reason Chris Mooney titled his book the Republican Brain. By Jay Richards and Thomas Nelson publishing just focusing on the bad historical scholarship they miss the bigger picture and the bigger problem.

Well certainly Richards “missed” the problem because he’s part of it, being a fellow at the Discovery Institute. And Thomas Nelson is also part of that murky mindset with their focus on writers like Barton. But at least their right-wing cred helps put political weight on the issue of Barton’s fake scholarship. A bit hypocritical and genre-blind of them? Absolutely. Still, it’s useful. When even your own backers and fans are calling you out as a fabricator, there’s not much ammo left to fight with. Henry’s links show us that all Barton has to offer by way of rebuttal is the incredible “They’re just jealous! And scared! Because I’m eating their lunch!” tack. How long will that preserve him in the good graces of the aforementioned politicians?

SLC said:

I always get a laugh out of folks who claim that Jefferson was a fundamentalist Christian. Jefferson rejected the Virgin Birth, the miracle stories in the scriptures, the divinity of Yeshua of Nazareth, the Resurrection, and the Trinity. Not much a a fundamentalist Christian there.

I also get a laugh out of folks who claim that Madison was a fundamentalist Christian. Madison was a vigorous critic of organized religion in general and organized Christianity in particular.

In college I was told by the then state head of the California chapter of the Campus Crusade for Christ that I would prefer reading Jefferson’s extensively edited version of the Bible since Jefferson expunged all references to the supernatural. I think liars like Barton need to do more credible work on their “scholarship” as it pertains to Jefferson who would be viewed today as either a Deist or Agnostic, not a diehard Xian.

ksplawn said:

Well certainly Richards “missed” the problem because he’s part of it, being a fellow at the Discovery Institute. And Thomas Nelson is also part of that murky mindset with their focus on writers like Barton. But at least their right-wing cred helps put political weight on the issue of Barton’s fake scholarship. A bit hypocritical and genre-blind of them? Absolutely. Still, it’s useful. When even your own backers and fans are calling you out as a fabricator, there’s not much ammo left to fight with. Henry’s links show us that all Barton has to offer by way of rebuttal is the incredible “They’re just jealous! And scared! Because I’m eating their lunch!” tack. How long will that preserve him in the good graces of the aforementioned politicians?

Barton is doing us an incredible favor. I was in a similar position where I was trying to correct the science of fellow evangelicals on global warming. They threw all sorts of wild and baseless accusations against me and imputed terrible motivations. It made me pause and go if they do that to me maybe it is just as false when they accuse others. That second look was all it took for me. So if you are interacting with Jay do the same thing. David Barton is falsely accusing you in the same way you are falsely accusing us. Look at Nehemiah chapter 6 where the original wall builder, Nehemiah, was falsely accused because his enemies assumed motivations that they could not possibly know.

Jefferson bordered on being what is referred to as a Christian atheist.

I am in some ways that myself. I don’t call myself “Christian” because I don’t believe in the supernatural, and therefore don’t believe in all of the supernatural claims that the character Jesus makes in the Bible.

However, the ethical teachings of the Jesus character of the four gospels had a major personal and cultural impact on me.

Even the ethical teachings of the Pentateuch argue against lying about history or science, of course.

Actually, I like Ed Brayton’s characterization of Jefferson: a non-Christian theistic rationalist.

harold said:

Jefferson bordered on being what is referred to as a Christian atheist.

I am in some ways that myself. I don’t call myself “Christian” because I don’t believe in the supernatural, and therefore don’t believe in all of the supernatural claims that the character Jesus makes in the Bible.

However, the ethical teachings of the Jesus character of the four gospels had a major personal and cultural impact on me.

Even the ethical teachings of the Pentateuch argue against lying about history or science, of course.

diogeneslamp0 said:

@Henry,

Barton himself could not produce any quotes showing that the Founding Fathers were creationist or believed in intelligent design. He produced a list of quotes, claiming that they proved that, but in some cases indicated on the contrary, just how heterodox the Founding Fathers were. The only real support for the design argument he could find was from a quote from deist Thomas Paine, generally considered not a founding father, and strongly anti-Christian.

Moreover, Thomas Jefferson dismissed a global flood of Noah in his discussion of geology in “Notes on the State of Virginia.”

What would ICR say about dismissing the global flood?

Jefferson wrote his own version of the Bible, to get rid of “fables”.

Creationism is psuedo science for Xtain fundies and Barton has provided psuedo history.

bigdakine said:

diogeneslamp0 said:

@Henry,

Barton himself could not produce any quotes showing that the Founding Fathers were creationist or believed in intelligent design. He produced a list of quotes, claiming that they proved that, but in some cases indicated on the contrary, just how heterodox the Founding Fathers were. The only real support for the design argument he could find was from a quote from deist Thomas Paine, generally considered not a founding father, and strongly anti-Christian.

Moreover, Thomas Jefferson dismissed a global flood of Noah in his discussion of geology in “Notes on the State of Virginia.”

What would ICR say about dismissing the global flood?

Jefferson wrote his own version of the Bible, to get rid of “fables”.

Creationism is psuedo science for Xtain fundies and Barton has provided psuedo history.

Jefferson didn’t “write” his own version; he edited it, removing all of what he considered to be either supernatural nonsense, or irrelevant Bronze Age-era superstitions and bigotries. He wound up with a small pamphlet.

apokryltaros: Jefferson didn’t “write” his own version; he edited it, removing all of what he considered to be either supernatural nonsense, or irrelevant Bronze Age-era superstitions and bigotries. He wound up with a small pamphlet.

That’s one way to save paper!

The Oxford English Dictionary notes three different uses of the noun “creationist”, the first a nonce-use, the second about the origins of the soul, and the third the anti-evolutionary sense. The second we can ignore. The first we could also ignore, except that it is interesting:

1820 Edinb. Mag. 7 545/1 The writer..has launched the full force of his derision against that formidable corps of sages.., the creationists, who seem to believe that they possess, in their laboratories, the anima mundi, corked up and sealed, like Asmodeus in the magician’s bottle, and who, if you take them at their own word, must have been of counsel during the whole of the six days’ work.

The third meaning has as its first citation Charles Darwin, in a letter of 1856.

…perforce creationist ?

Naahhh, obligate creationist

From WIKI: Obligate anaerobes are microorganisms that live and grow in the absence of molecular oxygen; some of these are killed by oxygen.

How about (for people pre-Darwin) “naïve creationist”, as they had not been presented with any alternative? Ordinary creationists these days have had a choice of views.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that for most Americans, calling the founding fathers “naive” would be an insult worse than calling them “creationist”.

Many were of course very sophisticated people for their time. But they have been elevated into demigods who were always right about everything. So when Barton invokes them in support of creationism he wins that exchange, unless it can be shown that they believed that evolution happened.

The idea that they were fallible people who were working within the limitations of their time is not acceptable to lots of people in our society. In fact the Founding Fathers even disagreed with each other about a lot of things (shock! horror!). I scarcely dare say that …

IMNSHO, If they were unaware that there was a question to be decided, then no label is needed.

Dave Luckett said:

Barton says that the founders of the United States were evangelical, Bible-believing Christians who intended that the nation be founded on the Christian religion. That’s the lie, Henry. Some were Christian, but many were not, and they erected a wall of separation between Church and State of deliberate purpose, so as to set up an avowedly secular state. They wanted no part of Barton’s preferred theocracy.

Morris’s implication that they were creationists out of conviction is another lie. They were creationists because that was all there was, then. If they’d been presented with “The Origin of the Species”, a book not published until upwards of eighty years after independence, they’d have accepted evolution, because they were rational, and led by evidence and reason.

http://www.heritage.org/research/re[…]nd-discourse

Dave Luckett said:

Barton says that the founders of the United States were evangelical, Bible-believing Christians who intended that the nation be founded on the Christian religion. That’s the lie, Henry. Some were Christian, but many were not, and they erected a wall of separation between Church and State of deliberate purpose, so as to set up an avowedly secular state. They wanted no part of Barton’s preferred theocracy.

Morris’s implication that they were creationists out of conviction is another lie. They were creationists because that was all there was, then. If they’d been presented with “The Origin of the Species”, a book not published until upwards of eighty years after independence, they’d have accepted evolution, because they were rational, and led by evidence and reason.

http://www.heritage.org/research/re[…]nd-discourse

Courtesy of a former student of his who is a friend, I was alerted to this interview in which Richard Dawkins does weigh in on the Founding Fathers:

http://www.playboy.com/playground/v[…]wkins?page=1

Here’s Dawkins getting it right on the founding of the USA as a democratic republic:

DAWKINS: They were deists. They didn’t believe in a personal god, or one who interferes in human affairs. And they were adamant that they did not want to found the United States as a Christian nation.

(MEMO TO FELLOW REPUBLICANS AND CONSERVATIVES: The USA was never founded as a “Christian” nation. Even a famous Briton like Dawkins knows this.)

John said:

Courtesy of a former student of his who is a friend, I was alerted to this interview in which Richard Dawkins does weigh in on the Founding Fathers:

http://www.playboy.com/playground/v[…]wkins?page=1

Here’s Dawkins getting it right on the founding of the USA as a democratic republic:

DAWKINS: They were deists. They didn’t believe in a personal god, or one who interferes in human affairs. And they were adamant that they did not want to found the United States as a Christian nation.

(MEMO TO FELLOW REPUBLICANS AND CONSERVATIVES: The USA was never founded as a “Christian” nation. Even a famous Briton like Dawkins knows this.)

I’d note that “deist” in the 18th century did not necessarily mean the same thing that it does today. While today it means belief in a god who started the whole thing and lets it run on its own - in brief, denial of divine providence - in the 18th century it often covered denial of knowledge from divine revelation. You will find references to providence among the 18th century deists, or to the divine basis of human morality.

Have you actually read this piece you linked, Henry, or do you just think it looks nice, with the big words and all?

Because if you’d read it, you’d have found that in the first place, it’s entirely about Thomas Jefferson and the use of the phrase “wall of separation”, and in the second that the writer says:

Jefferson firmly believed that the First Amendment, with its metaphoric “wall of separation,” prohibited religious establishments by the federal government only.

That is, the writer concedes that not only is there such a wall of separation, but that it was built into the Constitution by the founders, although it was Jefferson’s personal belief that it applied only to the federal government. In Jefferson’s opinion, the States could breach it.

Perhaps the various States can. I’d like to see that tested, but maybe they can. But that’s not the point. Whatever the States might do, the federal government is bound by the third article of the first amendment, as clarified and understood by the courts. That’s what the founders did, and that’s what they intended to do. They had no intention of privileging your religion, Henry, or anyone’s. Get over it.

“They had no intention of privileging your religion, Henry, or anyone’s.”

Indeed, they went out of their way to DE-privilege all organized religions. That was one of the main points of having a new constitution: to completely divorce the new country from the British system of a priveleged, government sanctioned and supported religion.

The genius of the founding fathers was that they weren’t petty: they could have disestablished the Anglican church and replaced it with something else (as Henry VIII had done). But they had a grander view. The problem with a state-sponsored religion is not the nature of that particular religion–it’s the power of the state behind ANY religion, to the detriment of other faiths or lack of faith.

What could be more UNAMERICAN than seeking to again privilege one type of religion over all others? (And it’s always fundamentalist/evangelical Protestantism that seeks that goal.)

Henry said:

Dave Luckett said:

Barton says that the founders of the United States were evangelical, Bible-believing Christians who intended that the nation be founded on the Christian religion. That’s the lie, Henry. Some were Christian, but many were not, and they erected a wall of separation between Church and State of deliberate purpose, so as to set up an avowedly secular state. They wanted no part of Barton’s preferred theocracy.

Morris’s implication that they were creationists out of conviction is another lie. They were creationists because that was all there was, then. If they’d been presented with “The Origin of the Species”, a book not published until upwards of eighty years after independence, they’d have accepted evolution, because they were rational, and led by evidence and reason.

http://www.heritage.org/research/re[…]nd-discourse

Even though I am a Conservative Republican, I am more inclined to agree with noted skepic Susan Jacoby’s view as well as my college professors, Gordon Wood, widely viewed as the foremost historian on the American Revolution, the drafting of the United States Constitution and of the early history of the United States until the early 1820s. In plain English, I don’t concur with the Heritage Foundation’s point of view.

Dave Luckett said:

Well, I’ve done a bit of research on Gilman Ostrander and “The Evolutionary Outlook 1875-1900” (Marston Press, Clio, MI, 1971).

It’s a slight pamphlet, 81 pages. Dr Gilman M Ostrander (1923-1986) was professor of history at Waterloo University, Ontario. He was not an “evolutionary historian” - that’s just Henry Morris putting his own little spin on it, and it is, of course, mendacious. Dr Ostrander’s main professional interest was the historical development of American intellectual political life. His major works include “Republic of Letters: The American Intellectual Community, 1776-1865” (Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1999) (Yes, that’s correct, thirteen years posthumously), “A Profile History of the United States” (McGraw Hill, 1972) and “American civilization in the first machine age: 1890-1940” (Harper and Rowe, NY, 1970)

To say that Marston Press is obscure is to say the least of it. It apparently no longer exists. There is a British outfit of the same name, but it is plain that they are not related.

The “evolutionary outlook” referred to in this work was slow change in American intellectual politics and its approach to governance. The main thesis seems to have been that American political life was always more strongly influenced by a small number of committed intellectuals, rather than being a mass movement. One wonders what Dr Ostrander would have made of the Tea Party.

Although Dr Ostrander was certainly a respectable academic historian, he has now suffered the indignity of being mostly cited by creationists following the despicable Morris, always with those words. Academic citation of his works is, alas, far less frequent.

But of course Ostrander’s words, as quoted by Morris, are perfectly true. The founders of the United States accepted special creation, which was hardly to be wondered at, there being no intellectually convincing alternative at the time. What is despicable is the implication Morris gives this, that they had considered and rejected evolution. This is another example of a creationist dishohestly attempting to co-opt the words of an actual scholar and academic for the purpose of misrepresenting them.

For your enjoyment, I have two more quotes from Ostrander by Morris.

“…after a generation of argument, educated Americans in general came to accept the fact of evolution and went on to make whatever intellectual adjustments they thought necessary.12”

“ The American nation had been founded by intellectuals who had accepted a world view that was based upon Biblical authority as well as Newtonian science. They had assumed that God created the earth and all life upon it at the time of creation and had continued without change thereafter. Adam and Eve were God’s final creations, and all of mankind was descended from them. When Jefferson, in his old age, was confronted with the newly developing science of geology, he rejected the evolutionary concept of the creation of the earth on the grounds that no all-wise and all-powerful Creator would have gone about the job in such a slow and inefficient way.16”

http://www.icr.org/article/religion[…]lic-schools/

Yes, Henry, thank you for again confirming that Henry Morris quoted respectable historians in ways that misrepresented them.

Ostrander was not implying that educated Americans were wrong to change their thinking as the facts of evolution became plainly apparent; nor was he implying that the aged Jefferson’s view of geology was correct. That’s just Henry Morris trying to put a spin on it, in his usual dishonest fashion. So what else is new?

Dave Luckett said:

Yes, Henry, thank you for again confirming that Henry Morris quoted respectable historians in ways that misrepresented them.

Ostrander was not implying that educated Americans were wrong to change their thinking as the facts of evolution became plainly apparent; nor was he implying that the aged Jefferson’s view of geology was correct. That’s just Henry Morris trying to put a spin on it, in his usual dishonest fashion. So what else is new?

The founding fathers didn’t know about future scientific developments in biology or geology for the same reason they didn’t know about the internet or space travel, and for the same reason that, assuming the human race doesn’t destroy itself in our lifetimes, we don’t know about scientific and technological progress that will be made after we’re dead.

Henry is using the internet, so if he seriously believed that he should not accept any science that was not known to the founding fathers, he would not be posting here.

The founding fathers created a constitutional democracy. It was very imperfect in the beginning. Arguably, nations that adopted such a system later avoided some of the mistakes in our system. Nevertheless, it was far better than what went before and a major positive incident in world history.

Henry wishes he could impose himself as an unpopular theological dictator.

However, it is precisely the system that the founding fathers created which prevents him from doing so.

What confuses Henry is that he is not prevented from expressing his demands, yet no-one pays attention to him.

He cannot understand that. In his mind, heretics should be persecuted, and anyone who makes religious claims and is not persecuted is not a heretic, and therefore should be obeyed.

He is stumped by a system which neither grants him special status, nor brutally oppresses him. He can only conceive of one or the other. Since he is not obeyed, he nonsensically insists that he is persecuted, and rightfully should be obeyed.

This sounds pretty insulting, but I don’t intend that. It’s true that I’m not going to convince Henry, so I’m being a little blunt, but most of the world, both today and throughout history, runs in the way that Henry prefers. He just happens to be stuck in the place where it doesn’t.

But the founding fathers were, as a group, exceptionally gifted and insightful. They created something different from what had gone before.

Henry, what the fuck is wrong with you? Are you some kind of psychotic or something? We have already shown that all your trusted creationist authorities are pathological liars. Why does this not trouble you?

It isn’t just that Henry is a liar and weasel– his true stupidity, his golden stupidity, is that he thinks his shitty hyperlinks dismay or disturb us, or weaken our confidence, maybe? No, asshole. Every single person on this thread knows how to demolish a quote mine.

Why do you not respond to the evidence that your creationist authorities are pathological liars– particularly Henry Morris and David Barton? Why does this not bother you?

Henry, you want Henry Morris, Barton and the others to lie– don’t you? Isn’t it true, Henry, that you cite them as your authorities BECAUSE they are pathological liars– not despite that fact? They are your heroes, your idols, your gods. They are infallible to you, beyond criticism, because they make shit up and lie through their teeth. To you, that proves they love Jesus.

Henry Morris was a pathological liar responsible for promoting many frauds, like Paluxy, the Freiberg skull, Calaveras skeleton, etc., not to mention all his dishonest quote mines.

But Henry Morris is your hero and idol BECAUSE he is a pathological liar.

Barton promoted a dozen fake quotes from the Founders that were just made up, and his recent book was demolished as constructed of lies by Throckmorton and Rodda.

But David Barton is your hero and idol BECAUSE he is a pathological liar, too.

Why don’t you just admit it, Henry– you get away with lying, and citing your creationist heroes, when you present this shit to creationist audiences. And since you get away with it in front of creationist audiences, that’s your moral justification for being a pathological liar.

I guess you think lying makes you superior because it proves you love Jesus enough to lie. But do you really think it’s difficult for us to demolish your idiot quote mines?

We read “Notes on the State of Virginia” and we know Jefferson believed there was no Global Flood, ever, and we know he looked dismally upon Christianity.

So as for your quotes from Ostrander, so what? We know Ostrander was wrong on this point at least. We know because we can read what the Founding Fathers actually wrote.

Henry Morris probably looked through hundreds of history books until he found one that contained obvious errors. Henry Morris and the ICR never did scientific research– all they did was search for quote mines. Look through enough history books, you’ll find an error on any topic.

If Ostrander had had any evidence that Jefferson opposed the geological discoveries of his time, where is the quote or citation to Jefferson himself?

If that evidence had existed, Henry would have presented it. But Henry didn’t present it, because it doesn’t exist.

Henry cites Henry Morris and David Barton BECAUSE they are pathological liars– to Henry, it’s proof that they love Jesus very much.

Creationist assholes like Henry are incapable of shame, so we cannot shame them when they are caught lying through their teeth. But I have to wonder: why does Henry keep coming here and shitting on this thread? Dump some more shitty quote mines here, we know how to demolish them all.

But I will ask one more time: when you quote Ostrander saying the Founding Fathers believed in the authority of the Bible, is your best evidence:

1. Jefferson denying the Global Flood in “Notes on the State of Virginia”, or

2. Jefferson cutting up the Bible with scissors.

Answer the question or fuck off, you lying POS.

Henry,

We can read the Founding Fathers for ourselves, thanks, so please fuck off, you and your lying authorities: David Barton and Henry Morris, Dreisbach, and your other hyperlinked pathological liars can all fuck off. We can read ourselves, and we do not respect anything that you write anywhere on the internet.

John Adams wrote:

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

– John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88), from Adrienne Koch, ed, The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society (1965) p. 258

The passage from Jefferson below obviously resembles David Hume’s “probability of lying” argument in On Miracles.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “If it [inquiry] ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in this exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you.”

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, it must surely more approve of the homage to reason than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, [etc.] But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, [and] that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth’s motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities?”

[Letter from Jefferson to his nephew Peter Carr (1787)]

Does anyone else here notice how Henry conveniently neglected to explain how the Founding Fathers were able to magically know of and reject, yet do nothing to legislatively stop the theory of Evolution decades before the birth of its founder?

We know more about how Adolf Hitler felt about Jesus than we know about how George Washington or Abe Lincoln felt about Jesus. The first often mentioned Jesus as hero and Jew-fighter; the second two gentlemen almost never mentioned Jesus except very indirectly.

@Henry,

thanks for the hyperlinks to your lying POS authorities, but we can read the Founders for ourselves, so please fuck off, you pathological liar.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity [of belief] attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

[Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1787.]

@Henry, thanks again for hyperlinks to the psychotic POS liars that you admire and revere BECAUSE they lie without shame or remorse. But we can read the Founders for ourselves.

Here are two passages Jefferson wrote to the chemist Joseph Priestley, who was physically attacked by Christians because of his disbelief of their theology.

Thomas Jefferson wrote to Joseph Priestley:

“…those who live by mystery & charlatanerie, fearing you would render them useless by simplifying the Christian philosophy, the most sublime & benevolent, but most perverted system that ever shone on man, endeavored to crush your well earnt, & well deserved fame.”

[Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, Washington, 21 March 1801]

“… In consequence of some conversation with Dr. Rush, in the year 1798-99, I had promised some day to write him a letter giving him my view of the Christian system. I have reflected often on it since, and even sketched the outlines in my own mind. I should first take a general view of the moral doctrines of the most remarkable of the ancient philosophers, of whose ethics we have sufficient information to make an estimate, say Pythagoras, Epicurus, Epictetus, Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, Antoninus. I should do justice to the branches of morality they have treated well; but point out the importance of those in which they are deficient. I should then take a view of the deism and ethics of the Jews, and show in what a degraded state they were, and the necessity they presented of a reformation. I should proceed to a view of the life, character, and doctrines of Jesus, who sensible of incorrectness of their ideas of the Deity, and of morality, endeavored to bring them to the principles of a pure deism, and juster notions of the attributes of God, to reform their moral doctrines to the standard of reason, justice and philanthropy, and to inculcate the belief of a future state. This view would purposely omit the question of his divinity, and even his inspiration. To do him justice, it would be necessary to remark the disadvantages his doctrines had to encounter, not having been committed to writing by himself, but by the most unlettered of men, by memory, long after they had heard them from him; when much was forgotten, much misunderstood, and presented in every paradoxical shape. Yet such are the fragments remaining as to show a master workman, and that his system of morality was the most benevolent and sublime probably that has been ever taught, and consequently more perfect than those of any of the ancient philosophers. His character and doctrines have received still greater injury from those who pretend to be his special disciples, and who have disfigured and sophisticated his actions and precepts, from views of personal interest, so as to induce the unthinking part of mankind to throw off the whole system in disgust, and to pass sentence as an impostor on the most innocent, the most benevolent, the most eloquent and sublime character that ever has been exhibited to man…”

[Thomas Jefferson (1803), H.A. Washington (1861), ed., “April 9, 1803 letter to Dr. Joseph Priestley”, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York: H.W. Derby)]

“[Jesus’] character and doctrines have received still greater injury from those who pretend to be his special disciples, and who have disfigured and sophisticated his actions and precepts, from views of personal interest, so as to induce the unthinking part of mankind to throw off the whole system in disgust…”

Now, why does that ring a bell?

Someone would have to be a real turd to do that kind of thing.

Just Bob said:

“[Jesus’] character and doctrines have received still greater injury from those who pretend to be his special disciples, and who have disfigured and sophisticated his actions and precepts, from views of personal interest, so as to induce the unthinking part of mankind to throw off the whole system in disgust…”

Now, why does that ring a bell?

Plus ca change.

John said:

Henry said:

Dave Luckett said:

Barton says that the founders of the United States were evangelical, Bible-believing Christians who intended that the nation be founded on the Christian religion. That’s the lie, Henry. Some were Christian, but many were not, and they erected a wall of separation between Church and State of deliberate purpose, so as to set up an avowedly secular state. They wanted no part of Barton’s preferred theocracy.

Morris’s implication that they were creationists out of conviction is another lie. They were creationists because that was all there was, then. If they’d been presented with “The Origin of the Species”, a book not published until upwards of eighty years after independence, they’d have accepted evolution, because they were rational, and led by evidence and reason.

http://www.heritage.org/research/re[…]nd-discourse

Even though I am a Conservative Republican, I am more inclined to agree with noted skepic Susan Jacoby’s view as well as my college professors, Gordon Wood, widely viewed as the foremost historian on the American Revolution, the drafting of the United States Constitution and of the early history of the United States until the early 1820s. In plain English, I don’t concur with the Heritage Foundation’s point of view.

Did you enjoy Romney’s acceptance speech last night?

Henry said:

John said:

Henry said:

Dave Luckett said:

Barton says that the founders of the United States were evangelical, Bible-believing Christians who intended that the nation be founded on the Christian religion. That’s the lie, Henry. Some were Christian, but many were not, and they erected a wall of separation between Church and State of deliberate purpose, so as to set up an avowedly secular state. They wanted no part of Barton’s preferred theocracy.

Morris’s implication that they were creationists out of conviction is another lie. They were creationists because that was all there was, then. If they’d been presented with “The Origin of the Species”, a book not published until upwards of eighty years after independence, they’d have accepted evolution, because they were rational, and led by evidence and reason.

http://www.heritage.org/research/re[…]nd-discourse

Even though I am a Conservative Republican, I am more inclined to agree with noted skepic Susan Jacoby’s view as well as my college professors, Gordon Wood, widely viewed as the foremost historian on the American Revolution, the drafting of the United States Constitution and of the early history of the United States until the early 1820s. In plain English, I don’t concur with the Heritage Foundation’s point of view.

Did you enjoy Romney’s acceptance speech last night?

I liked the part where Romney said, “I am especially thankful for the support of tools like John Kwok, who will vote for me because of the R next to my name on the ballot, even though I would gladly sell good science down the river and promote idiotic Creationism in public schools, if it got me a few more votes.” That was classic.

Thread drifting off topic, I see… time to close, eh? Get your last comments in, Pronto!

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on August 15, 2012 1:48 PM.

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