Category Archives: Evolution

John Oller Litigation Update — 02 Sep 2014

Of all the creationist litigation cases we follow, this one has been the least visible. Our last update was almost a year ago, on 18 Nov 2013. Here’s some background information, which most of you can skip:

In late December of 2011, John Oller filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he was (and apparently still is) a professor. The complaint alleged that faculty members of the university’s Communicative Disorders Department discriminated against him and marginalized his position because of his beliefs on creationism and also because he taught about an alleged connection between autism, mercury and vaccinations.

Oller’s lawyer is John B. Wells, who is affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) — the same outfit that was involved in the David Coppedge case. They have a press release (from January 2012) about Wells’ representation of Oller: ADF files suit in federal court to defend professor’s academic freedom.

After some initial press coverage, and a favorable mention by Ken Ham — see Ken Ham Supports John Oller’s Lawsuit — everything’s gone dark, and we seem to be the only blog following the case. Here’s a link to the docket of court pleadings in Oller v. Roussel et al. Most of the pleadings require a subscription, but you read a few of them. At the time of our last update, a jury trial was scheduled to start on 21 Jan 2014.

Then Oller filed an Amended Complaint (a 35-page pdf file) in the last week of October, and the defendants filed their Answer to the Amended Complaint. It’s an 8-page pdf file. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), who have access to the pleadings that we can’t see, informed us that among a couple of dozen items filed on 01 November 2013 is an order that mentioned a final trial date of 19 May 2014.

After that, all we could see was Oller’s Motion for Summary Judgment, which includes his response to an earlier motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendants, and then the Defendants filed their Answer to Oller’s Amended Complaint. That was followed by someone’s Motion for Continuance, late in November of 2013. That’s it. And it’s worth mentioning that the Discoveroids have never posted to indicate their solidarity with Oller in his quest for “academic freedom.”

Since then we occasionally look at the docket. It shows that the last batch of documents was filed late in June of 2014, but we can’t read any of them. It’s difficult to believe that nothing has happened since. So what’s going on?

We may have had a break in the long silence. One of our clandestine operatives, whom we believe to be well informed, tells us:

As of August 22, Judge Haik has dismissed all plaintiff’s causes in summary judgments. To be seen if plaintiff will appeal.

Wow — that means the case is over. Unless there’s a successful appeal by Oller, there won’t be any trial. But why hasn’t there been any news about this?

We don’t post about things we can’t verify, and we may regret breaking our rule here, but we’ll take the risk because this is too good to ignore. Besides, it’s been far too long since we’ve had anything to say about this case. We’re hoping that the court docket will soon reflect what our operative says (it doesn’t now), or maybe our friends at NCSE will chime in with their own information. If we’re wrong, we’ll admit it. Until then, we’ll have to wait. Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #465: Form and Power

This is more than a coincidence, dear reader. When one considers the odds against finding two letters-to-the-editor for our collection in the same newspaper, two days in a row, the conclusion is inescapable. Yet that is exactly the situation with which we are confronted. Make of it what you will.

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Register-Herald of Beckley, West Virginia — proudly known as “The Gateway to Southern West Virginia.” The letter is titled Scientists believe in things they can’t see.

We don’t embarrass letter-writers by using their full names, unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures. Today’s letter-writer is a mystery man, so we’ll use only his first name, which is Albert. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

At this time, scientists are starting to test out the theory that this 3-dimensional world of ours is an illusion and that the world is actually a 2-dimensional hologram.

We recall seeing some mention of that at PhysOrg about a week ago. Ah yes, here’s the article: Do we live in a 2-D hologram? New Fermilab experiment will test the nature of the universe. The title is wildly misleading. The research is an attempt to discover whether spacetime has any detectable structure. Albert doesn’t say anything about that research. Instead he leaps to something else:

Scientists are also saying they “believe” the universe is made up of 96 percent dark energy and matter. They cannot see or feel this dark energy or matter but they say they can see its effect on the expansion of the universe.

What’s Albert’s point? We can’t “see or feel” lots of things, but we know about them because of the predictable consequences of their existence. Oh wait — we should have seen it coming. He says:

We need not then despair that God cannot be felt or seen in a more concrete way then His effect on the world around us.

Aaaargh!! Come on, Albert. Supernatural interventions aren’t detectable, and the consequences of such things aren’t predictable — certainly not in the way science can detect and predict the effect of unseen natural forces. Surely, even you realize that.

No, Albert doesn’t realize that. He thinks he has data, and he presents it for our consideration:

We can see Him not only in His creation but also in the government of America, which is a product of Christian growth over 2,000 years. [Aaaargh!!] We see in America and Western governments the influence of Christian values of loving neighbor and enemy. [Aaaargh!!] These are values that have been Divinely revealed and not a product of natural evolution where an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth would be the norm. [Aaaargh!!]

But that’s not all there is to Albert’s evidence. Like a good scientist, Albert shows what happens when his unseen force is removed:

As Christianity is forced out of the public arena, we are now seeing a rise in a pre-Christian culture of brutality not seen in centuries.

Having made his case — as surely as one can demonstrate the Big Bang — Albert then provides us with some thoughtful advice:

As a government founded on Christian values, America must not have the form of religion, love and tolerance, but deny the power thereof: God!

Yes, oh yes! Government doesn’t need only the form of religion. It must have the power! You know that that means, don’t you? Sure you do. Now we come to the end of Albert’s letter:

Jesus said that only by prayer and fasting can some demons be driven out, and it may be through this that the conversion of those who are now bringing war and misery to the world can be brought about.

We can start with prayer and fasting. But if that isn’t enough to drive the demons out of you, dear reader, there are other ways to do the job. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

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Creationist Wisdom #464: Scientists and Atheists

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Register-Herald of Beckley, West Virginia — proudly known as “The Gateway to Southern West Virginia.” The letter is titled Atheists are looking in the wrong place.

We don’t embarrass letter-writers by using their full names, unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures. We can’t figure out who this guy is, so we’ll use only his first name, which is Jerry. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I am not highly educated or even half-smart. To all those that believe in evolution I would like to ask, why did the process stop with our state of being as it is now? For example, why not eyes in the back of our head to see behind us, or even the ability to do without food or water? Why do we not keep evolving?

Jerry may not be educated, but he certainly knows how to ask probing questions. And not only about biology. He’s upset about cosmology too:

Those that believe in the Big Bang Theory. I have a rock in my driveway; can you give me universe out of it? (Probably not.)

Well, there goes the Big Bang theory! Let’s read on:

So many people will put so much faith in theories or beliefs of other men but find it so hard to believe in God’s word. Those who have faith in evolution or the Big Bang keep searching for the truth. They will not find it until they find God.

Note that Jerry regards “atheists” and “scientists” as if they were same thing. That’s the source of his profound insights. He continues:

I John 4:3 speaks of these people as being the spirits of the Antichrist.

Those infernal scientists! Here’s more:

Our prisons are full of those who turn their back on God’s word.

Really? We looked at the US Justice Department’s statistics on the characteristics of prisoners, both state and federal. They have data on prisoners’ race and gender, but we can’t find anything on the religious affiliation of the prison population. And there’s no clue as to the number of biologists, cosmologists, or other scientists in prison. Anyway, moving along:

Our country’s leaders are turning their back on God. I bet our forefathers would be very ashamed. When they devised the Constitution, they added the words, “One Nation Under God.” Why do we not govern with this in mind anymore?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Jerry has never read the Constitution. Nor has he seen our post on this subject: Is America a “Christian Nation”? But he’s got a lot of momentum going. Here’s the letter’s thundering climax:

In God We Trust is printed on our currency. But still our government officials rule to the contrary. In forgetting these beliefs, I think it is leading to the decay of this blessed country. There is no fear of the United States anymore. Could it be because there is a decline in the fear of the Lord?

Jerry has it all figured out, which is why his letter is such a fine addition to our collection.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Discoveroids’ Calvary Church Revival Meeting

A few days ago the Discovery Institute announced another creationist revival meeting. The title of the thing was Faith, Science and Culture: Does God Still Matter?, and it was heralded as: “An Evening with Dennis Prager, John Stonestreet, Dr. Stephen Meyer, and Hugh Hewitt.” As with so many of their allegedly scientific discussions, this one was held at a religious venue — Calvary Church of Santa Ana.

Well, what happened? How did it go? There’s no need to wonder, dear reader. The Discoveroids have just posted a breathlessly gushing report of what a splendid event it was. You can read about it at their creationist blog: Stephen Meyer and Panel Attract a Large Southern California Audience.

Wowie — a large audience! What does that mean? In Southern California, one could easily attract a far larger audience for a “scientific” presentation of the case for Bigfoot or The Time Cube.

The Discoveroids’ account of the event is filled with the usual blather, such as:

A rough count of 1,500 people — sizeable for a workweek evening — came to a large church auditorium in Santa Ana this past Thursday … . The lively discussion covered many topics and none of the panelists was ever at a loss for words. In the broad mix of subjects, ranging from terrorism to classical music, from pornography to the Cambrian explosion, everyone had something interesting to say.

Isn’t that wonderful? But then it gets good. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Even though belief in God was a prevalent subtext, Meyer was able to explain the scientific evidence underlying the intelligent design position cogently and effectively.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! In spite of the fact that everyone was thinking and talking about God — not surprising at a Discoveroid revival meeting — Meyer explained the “scientific evidence underlying the intelligent design position.” How did he do that, considering that there is no such evidence? Let’s read on:

Meyer was asked if he thought there was evidence for a transcendent designer. He recounted the indisputable evidence for design from astrophysics and the fine-tuning of the constants of physics, then used that evidence to support the view that the designer must be beyond the universe. The sudden origin of the universe also argues for a pre-existent designer.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s it. That’s their entire case. As we’ve pointed out so often before, aside from their bizarre claim that Darwin inspired maniacs like Hitler (which we decisively debunked here), all they have is a god of the gaps argument and William Paley’s watchmaker analogy — which was popular in the days before Darwin, but which David Hume rebutted long before Darwin published his theory of evolution.

Do the Discoveroids say anything else worth repeating here? Let’s see … ah yes, how about this:

He [Meyer] stressed, however, that the intelligent design argument does not concern the identity of the designer, but only whether intelligent causes can be inferred from the effects, using the well-known uniformitarian principle that causes we see producing effects today can be used to infer the causes at work in the past.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s another Discoveroid favorite — see Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore …. It’s amazing that despite the brilliant reasoning that supports intelligent design “theory,” the scientific community continues to regard the Discoveroids as a fringe, religiously motivated, pseudo-science movement. Here’s more about Meyer’s presentation:

Critics of ID, he pointed out, are quick to accuse advocates of religious motivations, but never refute the design argument scientifically. They belittle the messenger instead of responding to the message.

It’s so unfair! Especially in the case of someone like Meyer, whose scientific reputation is impeccable. He’s not only the Vice President of the Discovery Institute, and one of their and Senior Fellows, he was a central figure in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy, and 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.

Here’s a final excerpt, which illustrates the power of the Discoveroids’ message:

The importance of ID to college students and young people was not lost on any of the panelists. Prager and Stonestreet described the boredom and purposelessness of many young people today, who (unlike previous generations) perceive themselves as consumers rather than producers. They gave examples of young people, taught all their lives that they are nothing but animals evolved from lower life forms, who turned to suicide or terrorism in response to the nihilism of our culture. When asked what was responsible for this cultural decline, Meyer did not hesitate to claim it was Darwinism. The other panelists nodded in agreement.

What a great event it must have been — with lots of that ol’ fashioned, down-home, foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’, psalm-singin’, floor-rollin’, rafter-shakin’, old-time creationism. What a pity that you missed it! Not only that, but the Deluge of Drool must have had a beneficial effect on that region’s drought.

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