Thomas Jefferson Joins The Discovery Institute!

YES, dear reader, the headline is true. It is equally true that George Washington has joined our staff here at the Curmudgeon’s blog. It’s all part of a hot new trend.

Haven’t you heard? The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) are claiming Jefferson as one of their own.

There’s some background to this, so let’s slow down and take a look at the activities of Discoveroid Stephen C. Meyer. As we noted here, he somehow wangled a speaking gig at the once-prestigious Heritage Foundation. Before that, as we reported here, Meyer was one of three creationist “experts” who were on the 6-member panel selected by Don McLeroy to testify before the Texas Board of Education regarding standards for science education. And before that, Meyer was a central figure in the notoriously shabby peer review controversy.

As we previously reported, Meyer has a hot new creationist book to sell. The title of his ground-breaking tome is: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (that’s a link to the Amazon listing). We haven’t read it but from what we’ve heard, Meyer’s key argument is based on his claim that DNA requires a DNA assembler — therefore Oogity Boogity! Verily, this breakthrough is the biggest intellectual accomplishment since the invention of the loin cloth!

As you can imagine, because this startling new evidence is the strongest argument against evolution the Discoveroids have come up with since Abbie Smith flipped a bird at Casey Luskin, they’ve been trumpeting it everywhere — at the Discoveroid blog: The Book That Changes Everything, and even beyond. Meyer somehow managed to slip a piece into the Boston Globe, here: Jefferson’s support for intelligent design. Meyer not only plugged the brilliant theme of his own book:

DNA functions like a software program. We know that software comes from programmers. Information — whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book, or encoded in a radio signal — always arises from an intelligent source. So the discovery of digital code in DNA provides a strong scientific reason for concluding that the information in DNA also had an intelligent source.

But also, in that same Boston Globe piece, Meyer managed to get in a plug for the ongoing Discoveroid campaign to hijack the reputation of the Founders by claiming that they were all supporters of intelligent design creationism. They figuratively exhume the corpse of poor old Thomas Jefferson each year and declare him an honorary Discoveroid. See: Another July 4th Hijacking.

Meyers’ own contribution to the “Jefferson is one of us” campaign, which he slipped into the Boston Globe article, included this:

Design is an inference from biological data, not a deduction from religious authority. Jefferson said just that, and based his political thinking on it. The evidence for what he presciently called “Nature’s God’’ is stronger than ever. Our nation’s existence, with its guarantee to protect each person’s “inalienable rights,’’ may be counted among the fruits of Jefferson’s belief in intelligent design.

Perfectly convincing stuff! Likewise, George Washington was giving his endorsement to your Curmudgeon when he said.

I shall make it the most agreeable part of my duty to study merit, and reward the brave and deserving.

Anyway, Meyers’ appearance in the Boston Globe was a major public relations triumph for the Discoveroids. That (and not a scientific discovery) was the hot news they announced at their blog. See: Stephen Meyer in the Boston Globe: Thomas Jefferson’s support for intelligent design.

But with all the Discoveroid public relations activity, it seems that the Boston Globe has readers who aren’t impressed. Here are some brief excerpts from two letters sent to and published in the Boston Globe about the Meyers article. The bold font was added by us.

First we read Creationism piece no way to honor Darwin’s birthday, written by Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard:

SHAME ON you for publishing two creationist op-eds in two years from the Discovery Institute, a well-funded propaganda factory that aims to sow confusion about evolution.

[…]

The advantage that traditional newspapers have over the Internet competition is quality control. If the Globe repeatedly gives its imprimatur to the latest nonsense from an anti-science lobbying organization, what’s the point of going to it for reliable, intelligent commentary?

Then there is Invoking Jefferson on intelligent design doesn’t cut it, by Owen Sholes, associate professor of biology at Assumption College:

IT’S TIME for the intelligent-design folks to pack up their revival tent and leave town. But here is Stephen C. Meyer using every kind of phony rhetoric to pretend ID has validity …

First, he invokes the support of Thomas Jefferson. This is using a celebrity to sell a product. Why didn’t he ask Pamela Anderson or Bono?

[…]

Intelligent design is nothing more than a Trojan horse for replacing science with religion. But it isn’t science, it’s fraud.

How’s that Jefferson campaign working for the Discoveroids? Have they gathered up any new converts or contributors as a result? It’s possible. After all, George Washington is doing a great job for us at the Curmudgeon’s headquarters.

So here’s our advice to you, dear reader: Get out there and grab yourself a Founder while there are still a few …well, lying around. As you can see, it’s the latest trend.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Thomas Jefferson Joins The Discovery Institute!

  1. The Curmudgeon lauds Meyer’s ‘breakthrough’ :

    Verily, this breakthrough is the biggest intellectual accomplishment since the invention of the loin cloth!

    Except, of course, that the loin cloth actually fulfills the function of covering nudity, whereas the DI remains tricked out in the Emperor’s new clothes.

    But this is a welcome move by the Discoveroids, as we can now lob copious passages from the insightful Mr. Jefferson in their direction, to wit (from his letter to José Francisco Correia da Serra of 11 April 1820):

    Priests…dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.

    Or how about (from a letter to John Adams of 15 August 1820):

    To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is.

    Will the DI, brandishing Jefferson’s Bible, start calling for High Schools to teach “Strengths and Weaknesses” of Scripture?

  2. The Curmudgeon enjoins us to

    Get out there and grab yourself a Founder

    OK, dibs on Benjamin Franklin (friend of fellow scientist Erasmus Darwin, who was Chuck’s granddaddy) and Thomas Paine.

  3. Ooogity Boogity! I get George Washington!

  4. Great Claw says: “But this is a welcome move by the Discoveroids, as we can now lob copious passages from the insightful Mr. Jefferson in their direction …”

    An excellent collection of quotes! Of course, Jefferson recanted all that on his deathbed …

  5. Colloquy says: “Ooogity Boogity! I get George Washington!”

    He’s working for me, but he gets weekends off. Go for it.

  6. Wow, I’ll bet the Disco’tute will be full of red faces when they realize that Jefferson was a Deist…

    oh wait, they don’t actually read primary sources, do they?

  7. LRA asks

    oh wait, they don’t actually read primary sources, do they?

    Well, they could be said to ‘read’ primary sources in the way that termites ‘read’ trees or coalminers ‘read’ mountains: they burrow through looking for nuggets for use out of context for bias-confirmation.

    But man, making Jefferson a proponent of the DI’s IDiocy takes quote-mining to new depths.

  8. BTW, anyone interested in the full text of Jefferson’s letter to John Adams — from which Meyers mined his quote — will find it readily at StephenJayGould.org at http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/jefferson_adams.html

    Meyers left this bit out from the same source:

    The Atheist here plumes himself on the uselessness of such a God, and the simpler hypothesis of a self-existent universe. The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.

  9. Re: replies by Pinker and Sholes

    Oh, snap!

  10. I’m still stuck at “…at the once-prestigous [sic] Heritage Foundation.”

    As for founders, I’ll take Louis Riel, who as the founder of Canuckville’s Manitoba, was in later life a schizophrenic who regularly spoke to god.

    Anyone with a direct line to the big guy must have lots to say on just about every subject.

  11. Great Claw says: “Meyers left this bit out from the same source …”

    As LRA says, they don’t read the original sources. And their followers certainly don’t.

  12. Thanks, Tundra Boy. Yet another typo is now fixed.

  13. primary sources for the win!

  14. If the Discoveroids want to back up their pretense that ID is not religious they really need Thomas Paine. Surely Paine wrote enough for them to quote mine and pretend that he was a Discoveroid. And like Jefferson, Paine is conveniently no longer here to tell the DI that they are full of it.

  15. Frank J says: “If the Discoveroids want to back up their pretense that ID is not religious they really need Thomas Paine.”

    They may as well grab Darwin himself. Wait … they already have. “How could an eye evolve?”

  16. Curmudgeon write: “They may as well grab Darwin himself.”

    At the rate they’re going, in ~20 years they will have portrayed everyone who has not raved about them – both as a fellow “dissenter” and one who is conspiring to protect a “theory in crisis.” And they will claim every self-proclaimed creationist as supporting them, while maintaining that they are not creationists.

  17. The irony is that, prior to his voyage on HMS Beagle and his years of research on the data garnered thereon, Charles Darwin arguably was a Creationist. But he kept asking questions — and the rest is history…

  18. Great Claw says: “… Charles Darwin arguably was a Creationist. But he kept asking questions …”

    That was his undoing, and it shall be yours too!

  19. Darwin was a “creationist” in the same sense as I was. Heck, I even recall being a flat-earther in 1958 (age 4). It’s one thing to innocently believe, based on a lack of evidence and/or understanding, that all sorts of “kinds” popped up independently, and quite another to deliberately ignore or misrepresent any fact, concept, definition that refutes what one wants to believe, or wants others to believe. In the latter sense – the only meaningful one if ID scammers are to be included – Darwin and I were definitely not “creationists.”