Looking Ahead: The Controversy In 2013

It has become a tradition around here that as each year comes to a close, we discuss what the new year will be like in The Controversy between evolution and creationism. To keep everything in perspective, remember that this is a tiny but prominent part of a greater struggle. Creationism by itself is goofy and insignificant, but it’s the vehicle chosen by the Enlightenment’s enemies — Western Civilization’s counter-revolutionaries (see The Infinite Evil of Creationism).

Some of this is copied from our year-end posts of earlier years, especially Looking Ahead: The Controversy In 2011, because certain things just don’t change. We have to quote ourselves, just a little bit:

Creationism is being used as the front for a coordinated, multi-pronged assault on every worthy human accomplishment. It provides a handy base of exploitable ignorance, which is manipulated to wage a deliberate and relentless campaign against reason itself — and reason is the fountainhead of everything that makes human life worth living.

Creationists often say that logic and morality are possible only with their worldview, but we know that’s ridiculous. In a universe where Oogity Boogity is the explanation for everything, logic has no place. Reason is the only antidote for the creationists’ madness and the tyranny with which they hope to enforce it, and that’s why they hate reason. When Oogity Boogity is the officially authorized answer to all questions, thinking becomes a crime against the state. In their longed-for theocratic paradise, reason is treason.

Sure, we laugh a lot. Creationists are unintentionally funny, and we don’t want to be grim and grumpy all the time. But with all the laughter to be had by watching the ravings of creationists, and the entertainment we enjoy with our sarcasm and ridicule of their insanity, it’s necessary to remind ourselves that although society may seem stable, it’s always on the brink of falling into the darkness, so that’s really what this is all about. And don’t forget for a moment that the oh-so-holy and moralistic creationists would cheer wildly if you were tied to the stake and torched for heresy. That’s the big picture, and that’s why we’re here.

Now then, what can we expect in the coming year? To begin with, unless there’s an unexpected cutoff in the funding of the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — they’ll continue to be the lobbying and public relations engine that drives creationist legislation. We explained all that when we began this blog (see: Enemies of the Enlightenment). The Discoveroids have a large, faith-based network of sympathetic supporters in local school boards and state legislatures around the country, including some members of Congress. They also have an undetermined number of other accomplices in various advocacy groups and in the media. Much of their support network consists of “public interest” groups with the word “Family” in their organization’s name. They’re all fellow travelers and useful idiots who eagerly do the Discoveroids’ bidding.

There will be more creationist legislation to track, as idiotic legislators keep trying to force creationism into the public schools. We already know about bills that are being prepared for the legislatures in Indiana, and Montana, and Texas. We can certainly expect more.

If you need to know the dates of this year’s state legislative sessions, you can refer to this: 2013 Legislative Session Calendar.

One area of activity that does change from year to year is litigation. At the moment, the court case we’re watching is David Coppedge’s suit against his former employer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (part of Caltech), and that’s pretty much over — except for the almost inevitable appeal. There’s also the pending appeal in the Freshwater case; and we don’t know what’s happening with the suit filed by John Oller against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which has generated no news at all — it may have been settled for all we know. As long as these cases keep providing income for the lawyers without generating definitive precedents, we can expect to see more.

One thing we know for sure — there will be no scientific breakthroughs that support creationism. As we’ve said before:

Despite all the noise they make, creationists have had no impact on science, industry, agriculture, medicine, academia, or any other rational endeavor. We often fail to notice what doesn’t exist, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that creationists have failed to accomplish anything of any substance whatsoever. Nor are any such accomplishments likely in the future.

A breakthrough in creation science is about as likely as a breakthrough that supports astrology. It’s just not going to happen. All the action will be legal and political, because despite the endless propaganda, the so-called controversy has nothing to do with science.

As the new year unfolds, remember that what’s at stake here isn’t the theory of evolution. All the babbling about that is merely the confused ravings of misguided simpletons and crazed charlatans. What’s really going on is a conflict of infinitely greater importance. We’re engaged in a war for the preservation of the Enlightenment, which is the ultimate accomplishment of Western Civilization. Even if you’re not personally involved, you’re going to be affected, so you’ve got to be aware of what’s going on.

And don’t imagine that the political battle-line is Republican vs. Democrat. Both political parties are crazed, although in different ways, and neither is a friend of the Enlightenment. If you doubt that, try to imagine Ben Franklin comfortably fitting into either of today’s parties. But that’s beyond the scope of today’s essay.

As The Controversy continues, it will be played out not in science labs, but in courtrooms and legislative chambers — and of course the media. People come and go, code words are revised, and tactics evolve, but the game never really changes. Neither do we.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Looking Ahead: The Controversy In 2013

  1. Are there any organizations we can join/support in order to turn back the tide.

  2. Christine Janis

    NCSE (National Center for Science Education)

  3. Christine Janis says: NCSE

    I was about to suggest that, with the added comment that I’m not aware of any outfit that really covers the whole spectrum. I get the feeling that I’m pretty much alone.

  4. In addition to NCSE (https://secure.commonground.convio.com/NCSE/join/), there is also Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which helps protect science education from the First Amendment’s establishment clause angle (https://www.au.org/new-member-13).

  5. If Barbara recommends it, then it’s okay.

  6. Curmudgeon: “A breakthrough in creation science is about as likely as a breakthrough that supports astrology. It’s just not going to happen.”

    It’s even worse than that. It’s an absurd stretch of the imagination, but conceivably some force could be found emanating from stars that just happens to affect H, sapiens at birth (why not conception is another story). But what if some evidence was found for “creationism”? Which one would it support? Geocentric YEC? Heliocentric OEC, but with independent origin of “kinds”? The ~4 billion years of common descent driven by something other than “RM + NS”, a la Behe? Whatever happens would be devastating news for some subset of creationism-peddlers.

    But you and I know, even if ~99.99% of the public is still unaware, that most creationism-peddlers were well aware no later than the early 1980s that, even a “miracle” that would make one subset ecstatic would be worse for the movement as a whole than the status quo. They realized that the status quo would be the best they could ever hope for, and that becoming increasingly vague about their own “theory” was the only way to go. Hence the ever-increasing paranoid whining about “Darwinism,” particularly how acceptance is supposedly the root of all evil.

  7. In addition to NCSE and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (both great organizations that have helped us for several years in Oklahoma), there are state organizations dedicated to opposing creationist atempts and generally supporting science teaching. Some of those listed in the link below are not very active, other are, including the one in LA where Barbara Forrest is a leader. Some of these organizations wax and wane as legislatures attempt anti-evolution, anti-science bills. If you are in a state with such a group, I urge you to join up and help. Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (http://www.oklascience.org/ ) has served as an umbrella group for the past decade that has been successful (along with many other helpful national and state organizations) in defeating creationist bills – more creationist bills during the decade than any other state.

    http://www.oklascience.org/other_states.html

  8. vhutchison says: “In addition to NCSE and Americans United for Separation of Church and State …”

    I endorse Victor‘s recommendations.

  9. Not to boast but, hey, it’s me! I support the NCSE two ways. First, I send them a generous check every year. Second, they always have stuff they need and they reserve it on Amazon. Just go out there and buy them a camera or a bag or whatever.

    Third, I support the Texas Freedom Network the same way.

    Both the NCSE and TFN spend a lot of time lobbying politicians, traveling around and supporting science education. You can do more than comment on a stupid website or blog (no offense intended, Curmie, slacker that you are!) but you can be actively involved by supporting the people who are actively involved.

    I have also supported the Kansas Citizens for Science and the organization in Minnesota which sent me a cool coffee cup!

    You can’t just gripe, you’ve got to give!

  10. In looking ahead I see more of the same. The DI will gripe about science and distort findings. Science will find more and more things for the DI to gripe at. Luskin will still be a Gerbil and not get a promotion or pay increase. The big guns at the DI will continue to skim off big salaries for themselves and provide inflated reports of “success” to their sponsors.

    Numbskulls in various flyover states will propose useless legislation designed to increase their stature among their steadily shrinking base of bitter old white people.

    I predict Louisiana will undergo a reversal of sorts to be perceived as less stupid as opportunist Jindal positions himself for the national stage, which will be high entertainment once the old white base realizes that Bobby Boy is neither old nor white.

    It will not be an interesting year as usual.

  11. Our Curmudgeon notes:

    And don’t imagine that the political battle-line is Republican vs. Democrat. Both political parties are crazed, although in different ways, and neither is a friend of the Enlightenment

    Well said, I am in full agreement on this — and would add, the politcal battle is not exclusively being fought in the United States (but credit where it is due: among advanced industrialised nations, the USA certainly appears to lead the pack of Anti-Enlightenment cadres…)

  12. Dock Bill: “In looking ahead I see more of the same. The DI will gripe about science and distort findings. Science will find more and more things for the DI to gripe at….”

    Meanwhile, many fellow “Darwinists” will continue to be “drawn offsides” by the scam artists, and whine about how “creationists” “Lie for Jesus” or “don’t understand evolution,” etc.Thus keeping the public reacting mostly with “what’s the harm, let them believe.”

    Can we please let 2013 be the year that we take time to differentiate between the scam artists (<1% of the public), their committed followers (~25% of the public, mostly not YECs), and the majority that has been scammed into saying things like “I hear the jury’s still out about evolution”?

  13. In Louisiana and Tennessee, all it would take is some rabid
    creationist teacher/ proselytizer to get sued. I’m looking forward
    to that here in Tennessee. One student, with good documentation of
    his teacher defying the SCOTUS rulings, could do more toward prevention of proselytizing than just about anything else.
    I predict it will happen.

  14. @Charley Horse.

    Another big court battle is inevitable, probably within a decade. National or local, it will get much more press than Dover (I’m amazed how few people have heard of it) because it will be about academic “freedom” not ID or Biblical literalism. I won’t speculat on the outcome, but I trust the people on our side – NCSE, mainstream science, and even key theologians like John Haught – to do their best. What I do wish is that we “on the sidelines” let them do their job – to control the “supply” of propaganda that misrepresent evolution to impressionable students – while we concentrate on minimizing the “demand.” Which means targeting our message to the “swing vote” – by some measures half of the public – and not obsessing over committed Biblical literalists and the occasional postmodern crackpot. Unless they’re the ones peddling their nonsense instead of just quietly believing it. In which case they’re the ones we talk about, not “to.”