Monthly Archives: June 2010

Creationist Running for Governor in Maine

OUR last post on this topic was Creationism in Maine Governor’s Race. We reported that Waterville Mayor Paul LePage, a creationist, was one of those in the Republican primary for the Governor’s race.

It escaped our notice until now, but LePage won the primary. On 09 June, the Associated Press reported, with bold added by us:

What was once a field bulging with about two dozen candidates was winnowed to five Tuesday as Waterville Mayor Paul LePage scored a stunning win in the seven-way Republican primary, and state Senate President Libby Mitchell beat three rivals to win the Democratic nomination. The major party candidates join three independents in the race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.

The rest of the AP article discusses the Democrats. But wait, there’s more.

In the Washington Examiner, we read Romney’s PAC funding Maine candidates. Here’s an excerpt, with bold added by us:

In an interesting and very under-reported development, Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney has tossed his PAC money into several Maine races. …Romney has backed the two Republican House candidates Levesque and Scontras, as well as giving the maximum donation to LePage for Governor.

That’s all the news we have on this situation. Maine has a creationist running for governor, and Mitt Romney is supporting him. Mitt, we hardly knew ye.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationism and Moonlight

WE don’t run around like a teenager, searching for and pointing out what may seem like incorrect passages in the bible. But when respected creationist authorities raise such issues as part of their efforts to promote creation science, we are obliged to pay attention. For example, see: The Scriptural Value Of Pi.

Today is such an occasion, and so your Curmudgeon once again brings you the view from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of youong-earth creationist wisdom. We found this new article at their website: Contradictions: By the Light of the Moon.

It’s sub-titled: Does Genesis 1:15 say that the moon emits its own light? We couldn’t resist looking into this one, so here are some excerpts, with bold added by us.

But first, let’s review the source data, Genesis 1, verses 13 to 15. We’ll use the King James version, which is written in God’s own language:

13. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

Thus grounded in the source of all science, we can proceed with the AIG article.

Over the years, a number of skeptics have pointed to this verse to claim that if the Bible were really the inerrant Word of God, it wouldn’t make such a basic mistake as saying the moon emits light. The moon has not and does not — as far as we know — emit any sort of light. Instead, our rocky satellite simply reflects light from the sun.

This is important. Let’s read on:

To uncover the answer, consider first how earth-centric our discussions are. We say that the sun rises and sets, even though we know that the earth actually revolves around the sun and rotates on its axis. We say that the stars “come out” at night, even though we know they’re always there—just hidden by the brighter sunlight. Our point of reference determines how we discuss what we see.

Where were these guys when Galileo was being tried by the Inquisition for heresy? Well, timing is everything, and Galileo just didn’t have it. We continue:

To us, the moon does give light upon the Earth. The fact that it does so by reflection rather than emission is not relevant to the biblical passage. The Hebrew word used for emit/give light in this verse (‘owr) can mean both “to be or become light” and “to be illuminated or become lighted up” (Strong’s 0215).

Our preference would have been for the bible to speak specifically of reflected light, so that we wouldn’t have to struggle with confusing passages; but the bible’s authors were inspired to use ambiguous language. It would be blasphemous to worry about such things. Here’s more:

Taking this verse out of context can make it seem inaccurate, but when we step back (cf. Genesis 1:14–18), we understand more about the purpose of this passage. Other than providing light, God created the sun and moon to mark the seasons, days, and years, which they do quite well.

Yes, great job. The 28-day lunar month fits perfectly into the solar year, which is why the lunar and solar calendar are always in sync. Moving along:

Notice that the Bible does not provide detailed schematics and charts on how this works, since God gave humans the ability to discover these through observational science.

Right, as it is with the theory of evolution. Another excerpt:

Ultimately, the Bible does not say that the moon emits light. Only that it is to give light upon the Earth — which it does by reflection.

Okay, the bible says it, but ultimately it doesn’t say it. That’s good enough for us. We do have another question, however. If we read on just a wee bit more in Genesis 1, we come to verses 16 through 19, which say:

16. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Our concern here is that the moon doesn’t always “rule the night,” because we often see it up there in the daytime. What’s that all about? We won’t spend too much time worrying about it. The moon probably slipped out of place as a result of The Fall.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Discovery Institute: El Estúpido, Se Quema

CAN you guess who’s going bi-lingual? No, it’s not your Curmudgeon. Today’s big news is that having triumphed throughout the English-speaking world, the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) are going multi-cultural.

The Discoveroid blog has this thrilling new post by Casey Luskin: Promoting Intelligent Design to the Spanish-Speaking World. Casey says, with his links omitted and the bold font added by us:

In the latest ID the Future Podcast, I interview Mario Lopez, founder of the Organización Internacional para el Avance Científico del Diseño Inteligente (OIACDI), a group dedicated to promoting awareness about intelligent design (ID) to the Spanish speaking community.

Did you get that? It’s Diseño Inteligente. Make a note, because you’ll be seeing a lot of it. Let’s read on:

The group’s website, OIACDI.org, contains a variety of online resources in Spanish, including articles, news updates, and an ID FAQ in Spanish. OIACDI also recently published a book, Diseño Inteligente: Hacia Un Nuevo Paradigma Científico,” which contains articles by leading ID thinkers like William Dembski, Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, and Stephen Meyer translated into Spanish.

Yes, the “leading ID thinkers.” Some day, perhaps if it’s encoded in the Designer’s plan, Casey’s name will be included in that illustrious list. One more excerpt:

As discussed in the podcast interview with Mr. Lopez, a large part of OIACDI’s goal is to network with Spanish-speaking scientists, assisting them in making contributions to ID research and thinking.

An admirable goal. The world could certainly use some ID research — especially considering how bare that cupboard is at the moment.

Okay now, can we detect any benefit in this latest Discoveroid maneuver? Once again we quote Edward I (Longshanks) in Braveheart: You see, as king, you must find the good in any situation. So here it comes:

Were it up to your Curmudgeon, we’d give those new Spanish-language ID materials to every illegal sneaking across the Mexican border. Then, if the feds ever get around to enforcing the immigration laws, the aliens can complain that their arrests were due to “viewpoint discrimination.” At that point, the judge will deport them because they’re insane.

At last, there would be a real-world use for intelligent design — or at least for Diseño Inteligente.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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The Rational Necessity of Viewpoint Discrimination

THIS little essay was inspired by something appearing today in WorldNetDaily (WND) — a worthless rag that vomits a putrid stream of conspiracy theories, creationism, and theocratic lunacy. Their article is titled Alito: Supremes endorse ‘viewpoint discrimination’.

It’s a rant against a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that upholds a “non-discrimination” policy for all student groups at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. We haven’t read the decision, but it seems to be about one of those goofy behavior rules that only an academic institution could conceive of imposing. According to WND, the school’s policy, which was upheld (with Justice Samuel Alito dissenting), provided that:

[R]eligious groups were not permitted to express a religious viewpoint by limiting membership to students who shared their religious viewpoints.

[...]

The court’s majority opinion, by Ginsburg, said, “Compliance with Hastings’ all-comers policy, we conclude, is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum.”

WND is infuriated. They agree with Alito’s dissent that a religious group should have the freedom to limit its membership to those who share their faith. Your Curmudgeon thinks so too, but that would be — gasp! — viewpoint discrimination, which is something that creationists always oppose, as does Hastings in San Francisco.

Shouldn’t WND, as a creationist newspaper, be agreeing with Hastings’ policy, and cheering this Supreme Court decision? It’s just what creationists have been praying for — a decision holding that an unpopular viewpoint can’t be Expelled.

In The Meaning of ICR’s Courtroom Defeat, we synthesized the creationists’ “viewpoint discrimination” argument from several ostensibly distinct cases:

[W]hen you get right down to it, every one of these cases involves the same thing — creationists claiming a constitutional right to force their way into places where, by definition, they don’t belong.

There may be a reasonable case to be made against some instances of “viewpoint discrimination” (hereafter VD). It could take a month of dedicated effort to plow through all the leading court cases on the subject of VD. We don’t have the time for that; therefore, we’re going to give this a very light treatment, based only on what we’ve learned from creationist cases.

One of the principal rhetorical tools of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) is screeching about VD whenever their version of creationism is rejected. They do this because they think it positions them in the sympathetic role of discriminated minorities seeking their civil rights. Their technique, however, amounts to abuse of the language of rights.

Creationists’ misuse of VD lies at the heart of the Coppedge case against Jet Propulsion Laboratory, alleging, in essence, that JPL has no right to “discriminate” against a creationist computer technician who demands the “freedom” to evangelize his co-workers with creationism.

It’s also at the heart of the Institute of Creation Research’s recent case — a failed attempt by ICR to force Texas to sanction their “science education” degrees. In an earlier post about that case we said:

But can there be “viewpoint discrimination” in the context of science education? How can someone teach science if his viewpoint is anti-science? Is it unfair discrimination to deem him unfit? That’s what this case is all about.

And in this post, discussing ICR’s attempted analogy to racial discrimination, we said:

[T]here are indeed genuine instances of irrational, unjust discrimination; and then there are situations where distinctions are very real, and recognizing them makes perfect sense. Knowing the difference requires what we call thinking.

Creationist complaints about VD appear in almost all their litigation. We wrote ACSI v. Stearns: Creationists Lose Again, about a case in which the Association of Christian Schools International sued the University of California system, claiming that UC’s refusal to recognize various high school level creationist courses “constitutes viewpoint discrimination, content discrimination, and content-based regulation, which conflict with the First Amendment.” Amusingly, Michael Behe was the creationists’ “expert” who testified about that “discrimination.” See: Behe in ACSI v. Roman Sterns.

But wait a minute! If the creationists are always so keen to complain about VD, what do we make of the WND article with which we began that post? Aren’t they being inconsistent? Yes, of course they are. But that’s only a problem for rational people, not creationists.

In this episode of our “Stupid Driven” series we gave a name to a useful intellectual technique of creationists — the great contradiction nullifier:

A creationist asserts that because everything needs a cause, logic requires us to believe that his magical Designer must have initially caused things to happen. But he then insists that his Designer needs no cause, and he brushes aside the glaring inconsistency by deploying his all-purpose contradiction nullifier: Ah, but that’s different!

The Nullifier is very useful to creationists, because contradictions abound in creationism. That’s certainly the situation with VD — they can do it; you can’t. For example, some religious sects, when small and insecure, are thrilled to enjoy the religious freedom that exists in the US. See: Jefferson’s 1802 Letter to the Danbury Baptists, which said:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

But sometimes those very same sects, if they become large and politically influential, mutate into theocracy cults with dreams of controlling the government, and suddenly — there was never any such thing as separation of church and state. If asked why they’re contradicting themselves, they’ll whip out the Nullifier and reply: Ah, but we’re different!

This has gone on long enough. We’ll wrap this up by offering a few Curmudgeonly conclusions:

1. The “viewpoint discrimination” complaint, when made by creationists or any other pseudo-science group, is nothing but an expression of their unhappiness at the just and proper application of reason.

2. If one has no capacity to select among various viewpoints, he has no mind.

3. If one has no freedom to exercise that capacity, he has no life.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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