Monthly Archives: August 2010

Discovery Institute Attacked by ICR

THIS is a very interesting development. For quite some time we’ve observed creationists operating with a “big tent” strategy as they suppress their differences and work together (more or less) to defeat evolution and most of the rest of science. As long as they remained focused on their common enemy they could cooperate, or at least support the same legislation. But what was always a shaky coalition is showing signs of some serious fractures.

The latest evidence of splintering within the world of creationism comes from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom, who posted this new article at their website: Misreading Earth’s Groanings: Why Evolutionists and Intelligent Design Proponents Fail Ecology 101.

The article appears to be theological in nature, discussing the Fall and the Curse, and their observation that our planet is now groaning “due to the devastating consequences of sin” But beneath the veneer of Genesis-based theology, the article is a bitterly partisan attack on those who fail to agree. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

But the Bible’s explanation for how and, more importantly, why nature is “groaning” is aggressively rejected, or strategically ignored, by two major groups that disparage biblical creationism: evolutionists (either atheistic or theistic), and deists (often represented by Intelligent Design proponents).

See what we mean? ICR is lashing out not only at theistic evolutionists (because they’re evolutionists) but also at the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

Interestingly, this attack from ICR comes at the very time when the Discoveroids seem to be reaching out to the Southern Baptist Convention. You will recall that we wrote Mohler v. Giberson: Klinghoffer Butts In, in which we discussed what seemed to be a genuine Discoveroid initiative extended to Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. At the time it seemed incomprehensible, but now it’s starting to make sense — political sense, that is. If the Discoveroids are losing ICR’s support (or at least acquiescence), they’ll try to outflank them by forming an alliance with the SBC.

But like ICR, the Discoveroids are also hostile to theistic evolutionists. John West recently took aim at BioLogos for that reason, as we discussed here: Workin’ in the Quote Mine. So some elements of the old big tent still survive.

These creationist feuds are too Byzantine to follow, and any alliances that get formed could quickly be dissolved if a better deal comes along. So let’s not try to understand creationist politics too deeply. Instead, we’ll read some more from the ICR article. As we do, remember: When ICR attacks “both camps” they’re talking about: (1) evolutionists (either atheistic or theistic); and (2) what they call “deists” (but they mean Intelligent Design proponents).

Both camps misread our world, failing to comprehend the scientific importance of Adam’s fall and the global curse that it triggered. As a result, explanations from both groups are fundamentally flawed when it comes to understanding real-world ecology.

Pay attention, please! ICR is telling us (and the Discoveroids) that no one can understand the world unless he comprehends “the scientific importance of Adam’s fall and the global curse that it triggered.” We continue:

Similar to deists, proponents of Intelligent Design are, in essence, “secular creationists” who refuse to publicly acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Creator. This is, of course, a strategy that they hope will allow them access to the secular-controlled scientific community. However, by intentionally keeping their Bibles closed, they ignore the fact and consequences of the events that occurred in the garden of Eden.

Aha! That’s the Discoveroids’ fatal flaw. Here’s more:

This “closed Bible” approach to studying nature is routinely blended with evolution-based old-earth concepts, uniformitarian geoscience assumptions, and disdain for the historical occurrence of a global flood–betraying an accommodationist compromise with evolutionary mythology.

Those wicked Discoveroids are all bound for the Lake of Fire! Moving along:

Bypassing any big-picture understanding of real-world ecology, ID scientists downplay (or deny) how Adam’s sin in Eden triggered divine judgment on all the earth (Romans 5:12). Their failure to acknowledge the biblical basis for entropy (i.e., the fallenness of man and nature that was begun in Eden) is paralleled by their pattern of denying the catastrophic impact of the global Flood (as chronicled in Genesis 6-9).

We knew the Discoveroids’ allegedly scientific theory of ID wasn’t very impressive, but we didn’t realize that when viewed from the old-time perspective of creation science, the Discoveroids’ scientific pretensions are even more horrible. Another excerpt:

Deism [which to ICR includes ID] had a similar problem with understanding how to explain the “very good” supernatural design universally displayed all throughout nature, with the equally obvious evidence of nature’s fallenness.

[…]

Attempting to explain the empirical evidence apart from Genesis 3 (or, similarly, Genesis 6-9) leaves this awkward imbalance: How can such an incomprehensibly good creation — one that points to an infinitely good and personal Creator–have traits that are imperfect, even ugly and cruel, such as dying?

Yes, those two concepts don’t work very well together other than in ICR’s theology. One last excerpt:

The focus of Intelligent Design is on how Someone intelligently and purposefully designed what we see, and on how this Someone is immeasurably superior to the best that mankind could ever achieve. Without the biblical context, it menaces the mind to contemplate the origin of and explanation for the ugliness and disharmony we see in creation.

We finally found some common ground with the creation scientists at ICR — we both have a low opinion of the Discoveroids — albeit for different reasons.

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

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Discovery Institute: Workin’ in the Quote Mine

Buffoon Award

THERE is no denying it — things are truly tragic for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

We once again have to deal with a Discoveroid blog post by John West (whom we affectionately call “Westie”). The last time we wrote about one of Westie’s blog articles was here: Absolute Desperation. It’s in Westie’s honor that we have adorned this post with our jolly Buffoon logo. If you already know who he is, you can skip this indented paragraph:

West is a winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award. He’s a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (the DI), where he is Associate Director of their Center for Science and Culture — the creationist public relations and lobbying operation that consumes almost half of the Discoveroids’ $4 million budget (see Their 2007 Tax Return). That makes West one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy.

We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from: How Not to Defend Darwin on “Survival of the Fittest”. Westie says, with bold font added by us:

Evolutionary biologists make poor historians, especially when it comes to Charles Darwin. So intent on preserving the reputation of St. Charles, evolutionists typically do their best to paper-over Darwin’s less-than-savory views on issues like race or the application of natural selection to society.

What “less-than-savory views” is he talking about? Let’s read on:

British biochemist and theistic evolutionist Denis Alexander runs true to form in a newly posted interview at BioLogos.

The Discoveroids dislike BioLogos, because those people are theistic evolutionists. They don’t object to the “theistic” part, but the geniuses in Seattle can’t abide the theory of evolution. In particular, they never miss an opportunity to demonize Darwin, even if they have to — shall we say — stretch the truth.

The post at BioLogos by Alexander is a brief refutation of the old creationist lie that Darwin was a big-time racist. We’ve dealt with that fiction a few times before, for example here: Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin. Let’s continue with Westie’s blog article:

Darwin opposed slavery (to his credit), but he also was a thoroughgoing racist who thought natural selection provided a scientific rationale for why we should expect to see races with different intellectual capacities. In his book The Descent of Man, Darwin disparaged blacks and observed that the break in evolutionary history between apes and humans fell “between the negro or Australian and the gorilla,” indicating that he considered blacks the humans that were the most ape-like.

Then he pulls one more quote out of the same paragraph from Darwin:

Darwin also predicted that “[a]t some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

Westie gives this link to support both of his quotes: Darwin, Descent of Man (1871), vol. I, p. 201.

That’s classic creationist quote-mining. We’ve specifically dealt with this one before. See: WorldNetDaily — Worthless Creationist Rag!, where we quoted the entire passage from Darwin’s book so you can see it in context. WND had grabbed only one of the two portions “quoted” by Westie, but that’s not important. You can read the whole thing in our earlier post and see for yourself that Darwin wasn’t talking about racism or genocide — he was talking about gaps in the fossil record for human ancestry.

It’s true that Darwin suggested the negro looked more like an ape than the Caucasian does. A superficial glance at some facial features can give that impression; but it shouldn’t be overlooked that in the very same book, Darwin declared the exact opposite of what Westie claims he said — that “he considered blacks the humans that were the most ape-like.” He definitely did not — despite the superficialities that have misled so many others. We’ve posted this before, but it’s worth repeating:

In The Descent of Man, Chapter 21 – General Summary and Conclusion, Darwin says, with bold font added by us:

Through the means just specified, aided perhaps by others as yet undiscovered, man has been raised to his present state. But since he attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species. Some of these, such as the Negro and European, are so distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as good and true species. Nevertheless all the races agree in so many unimportant details of structure and in so many mental peculiarities that these can be accounted for only by inheritance from a common progenitor; and a progenitor thus characterised would probably deserve to rank as man.

Get that, Westie? All human races (or so-called sub-species) are one species — man. This was a radical position at the time.

There’s not much else to be said about Westie’s post. It’s typical creationist propaganda — just what we expect from their Seattle “think tank.” Nice going, guys!

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

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Massive Legal Problems Threaten Blogosphere

SOME of you may have heard of an outfit called Righthaven LLC, headed by Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson. Righthaven has filed at least 100 copyright infringement lawsuits regarding rights it has obtained to stories originally published in the Las Vegas-Review Journal. You can read about this blizzard of litigation in a story by the Review Journal‘s home-town competitor, the Las Vegas Sun, here: Websites, bloggers make moves to avoid Righthaven lawsuits, and also here: Righthaven reaches settlements in 2 cases.

Other articles and blogs have suggested that the lawyer behind all of this may be planning to do the same thing for the other newspapers owned by the holding company that owns the Las Vegas-Review Journal. That’s Stephens Media LLC (it apparently has no connection to Stephens Media Group, an Oklahoma radio broadcasting company) and according to Wikipedia, the newspapers it owns (in addition to its biggest, the Las Vegas-Review Journal) are these — many of which are published weekly or monthly:

Arkansas: Southwest Times Record, Pine Bluff Commercial, North Little Rock Times, Press Argus Courier, Jacksonville Patriot, Sherwood Voice, Maumelle Monitor, Cabot Star-Herald, Lonoke Democrat, Carlisle Independent, Hot Springs Village Voice, Van Buren County Democrat, Booneville Democrat, Charleston Express, Greenwood Democrat, Paris Express, White Hall Progress, Lincoln Leader, Farmington Post, and the Prairie Grove Enterprise.

Northwest Arkansas: They also have a joint venture with something called WEHCO Media Inc, and together they publish these papers in Northwest Arkansas: Springdale Morning News, Rogers Morning News, Northwest Arkansas Times, and Benton County Daily Record.

Hawaii: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, West Hawaii Today, Big Island Weekly, and North Hawaii News.

[Update of 30 Nov 2010: They’re adding 8 more papers in Iowa.]
Iowa: Stephens Media Iowa, whose parent company is Review-Journal publisher Stephens Media, has bought the Ames Tribune, the Boone News-Republican, the Dallas County News, the Nevada Journal, the Ames Advertiser, Ames About People & Advertiser, the Tri-County Times and the Algona Upper Des Moines.

Nevada: Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas CityLife, El Tiempo, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Business Press, Boulder City Review. Boulder City, Ely Times, Rebel Nation, Pahrump Valley Times, Eureka Sentinal, and the Tonopah Times-Bonanza.

North Carolina: Courier-Tribune.

Oaklahoma & Texas: The Herald Democrat, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Pawhuska Journal-Capital, Anna-Melissa Tribune, Grayson County Shopper, Prosper Press, Van Alstyne Leader, and Lake Texoma Life.

Tennessee: The Daily Herald, The Advertiser News, The Value Guide, Franklin Life, Brentwood Life, and Healthy Living.

Washington: The Daily World, The Vidette, The North Coast News, The South Beach Bulletin, and East County News.

We’ve checked our archives (which took a bit of time), and it seems that we’ve never even mentioned a story from any of those publications — nor shall we ever do so. But we’re now compelled to check that list every time we want to discuss a news story that may be of interest to our readers. It’s tedious, but necessary.

Meanwhile, we just found another news article in Wired: Second Newspaper Chain Joins Copyright Trolling Operation, which suggests that WEHCO, the outfit in that joint venture with Stephens Media, may be planning to engage in the same litigation activity. They say WEHCO owns 28 newspapers. WEHCO’s Wikipedia writeup informs us:

The company publishes 10 daily newspapers serving three states, as well as eight English-language nondaily newspapers and two Spanish-language publications. They include the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Texarkana Gazette, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Among the smaller papers in Arkansas are the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, the Camden News, the Magnolia Banner-News, and the Hope Star.

That’s not very informative. It says they publish 10 dailies and 8 other English-language newspapers. Okay, that’s 18, but we’re only given the names of 7 of them, and that story in Wired says they have 28. We need to know them all.

So we went to WEHCO’s own website. No, we won’t link to it — that’s too dangerous. And it’s a devilishly difficult site to navigate. As far as we can determine, they own these 16 newspapers, which still doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

Arkansas: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, NW Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, NW Arkansas Times, Rogers Morning News, Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, Benton County Daily Record, Magnolia Banner-News, Hope Star, Springdale Morning News, Camden News, and El Dorado News-Times.

Texas: Texarkana Gazette (of Texarkana, Texas).

Tennessee: Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Missouri: Jefferson City News Tribune, Fulton Sun, and California Democrat (of California, Missouri).

[Addendum 05 Dec 2010: See Righthaven now working with Media News, sues over Denver Post column. Media News is the nation’s second-largest media company, with major newspapers in Colorado, Northern and Southern California, Salt Lake City, El Paso, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit and elsewhere.

This brings in over 50 more newspapers (see Daily newspapers owned by MediaNews). We spent the day searching our archives. We shouldn’t have any problems, but one never knows.]

In addition, they control these weeklies:

Brooks Community Newspapers in Connecticut
Darien News-Review
Fairfield Citizen-News
Greenwich Citizen
New Canaan News-Review
Norwalk Citizen-News
Westport News

Gazette Newspapers, three weekly newspapers in Long Beach, California
The Grunion Gazette | The Downtown Gazette | The Uptown Gazette

The Greater New Milford Spectrum in New Milford, Connecticut

Lake Country Newspapers, several weeklies in Texas
* The Highlander
* Burnet Bulletin
* Llano County Journal
* Lake Country Life
* Realty Guide

Nashoba Publishing, several weekly newspapers in northern Massachusetts
Ayer
Groton
Harvard Hillside
Pepperell Free Press
Shirley Oracle
Townsend Times

Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, nine weeklies near San Jose, California
* Rose Garden Resident
* Almaden Resident
* West San Jose Resident
* Winchester Resident
* Branham Resident
* Cambrian Resident

* Home
* Willow Glen Resident
* Campbell Reporter
* Cupertino Courier
* Los Gatos Weekly Times
* Saratoga News
* Sunnyvale Sun

Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership, including newspapers named in the Wikipedia article.

Addendum of 31 Dec 2011: Stephens Media is acquiring these newspapers from the Regional Media Group: Thirteen dailies and one weekly newspaper primarily in the Southern United States, including titles in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The Gadsden Times of Gadsden, Alabama
The Tuscaloosa News of Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Petaluma Argus-Courier of Petaluma, California (weekly)
The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California
North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa, Calif
The Gainesville Sun of Gainesville, Florida
The Ledger of Lakeland, Florida
Sarasota Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, Florida
News Chief in Winter Haven, Fla
Star-Banner of Ocala, Florida
The Courier of Houma, Louisiana
The Daily Comet of Thibodaux, Louisiana
The Dispatch of Lexington, North Carolina
Times-News of Hendersonville, North Carolina
The Star-News of Wilmington, North Carolina
Spartanburg Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, South Carolina

So what should a prudent blogger do? First, we have no choice but to make certain we don’t quote from — or even link to — any of those newspapers. Then we need to figure out what we’ve done in the past.

We’re confident that we’re clean regarding the Stephens papers, but now we need to check for the WEHCO papers — at least those we know about. That’s more work we hadn’t planned on, but we’ll do it. Anything we might find in our archives that even remotely refers to them will be purged of all offending content, if possible, and if not then it’ll be taken offline.

But that’s just a short-range solution. Looking into the future, this behavior might spread to other chains of newspapers, which would imperil just about every blog out there — except for those that only post pictures of the blogger’s cat or his grandmother’s recipes. Any blog that discusses anything in any publication is a potential target for this kind of litigation. And the longer we’ve been around, the more likely it is that land mines are buried in our archives, waiting to be activated by the copyright lawyers.

If this behavior starts to spread to other media groups, we may have to play it safe and take almost everything offline except our own essays — those that don’t discuss the contents of any newspaper. That would drive Google crazy, and it would kill thousands links others have made to our posts. After that we could, time permitting, review our old news-oriented posts and severely edit them to remove all content quoted from newspapers. We could then re-publish a summary of the redacted posts.

Realistically — if we put in the time that would require — what we’d end up with would be one or two articles summarizing Florida’s struggle with creationism legislation back in 2008, the same for Louisiana, ditto for Texas, etc. We’d have that, plus our own essays. It would certainly thin out the archives. But then we’d be reasonably safe from the threat of litigation from outfits like Righthaven.

We know, we know … “fair use” is legal under the copyright laws. Yes, that’s right; and that’s all we do around here. But litigation is expensive and nobody wants to bother with it, so that’s the reality of the situation. The Righthaven people know this. That’s the essence of their business model. Whether you regard them as shameless opportunists or champions of private property is immaterial. They’re doing what they’re doing, and the whole blogosphere has to deal with it.

So your humble Curmudgeon is mulling it over.

See also: Righthaven Page.

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

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The Scientific Case Against Edison’s Electric Light

Edison's Infernal Invention

ONCE again, dear reader, we beg you to indulge your Curmudgeon as we engage in a bit of parody. Having observed the chicanery of creationists, we have learned that their style of argument can be applied to virtually anything. Behold, our refutation of Edison’s theory of artificial electric light:

Thomas Edison, not satisfied with the invention of phonograph, also invented the abomination of artificial electric light, which he patented in 1880. This blight is known as Edisonian Lightism.

1. Lightism is just a theory — an atheistic belief based on arbitrary presuppositions. No one has ever seen a so-called “electron,” and no one really knows what causes light bulbs to function as they do.

2. Artificial electric light isn’t mentioned in the Bible. According to Genesis 1, verses 16-18 (King James Version), God makes light, not man:

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

3. Artificial light is the product of philosophical materialism and a Godless, naturalistic worldview. According to this article in Wikipedia, Edison — obviously influenced by Darwin — said:

Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me — the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love — He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us — nature did it all — not the gods of the religions.

4. Fire is natural; artificial light isn’t. Before Edison, all great scientists relied on moonlight and candles to illuminate the night.

5. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, you can’t get something from nothing, and that means you can’t get light from darkness.

6. Some insects can generate light naturally. So can some sea-creatures; but that’s micro-light. Artificial light is macro-light, which is contrary to nature.

7. Artificial light is destructive of family values. It encourages nocturnal adventures and leads to sexual promiscuity, divorce, and other forms of amoral behavior.

8. Aristotle didn’t believe in Lightism. Nor did Galileo or Isaac Newton. Neither did our Founding Fathers — like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Even Benjamin Franklin, a pioneer in studying electricity, rejected Lightism.

9. Artificial light affects the climate and produces global warming. It may also cause cancer and abnormal childbirth; no one has ever proved otherwise.

10. There is no scientific evidence that Edisonian Lightism has improved society. To the contrary, the 20th Century was the bloodiest in history. Hitler used electric lights. Stalin used electric lights. Mao used electric lights.

11. Is it only a coincidence that Edison’s invention of artificial light coincides with the increasing power and influence of the suggestively-named Illuminati? Even a fool can see the relationship!

12. By daring to produce artificial light, man is invading the province of God. If man pretends to be God then he has no standard of morality and no way to distinguish good from evil. Lightism dooms our society. Remember the Tower of Babel!

13. It takes more faith to believe in Lightism than to believe in the tooth fairy.

14. Edisonian Lightism is a theory in crisis! Many respected scientists are questioning Lightism because they understand its evil. But but they don’t speak out publicly for fear of being Expelled.

Edisoninian Lightism or the Bible?
Teach the controversy!

[For previous posts in this series, see: The Scientific Case Against Craterism, and then The Scientific Case Against Powered Flight, and then The Scientific Case Against Atom Bombism, and then The Scientific Case Against Darwinian Emancipation, and we’ll toss in Two Plus Two Equals Three.]

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

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