Discovery Institute — A Religious Ministry

Buffoon Award

Everyone knows that the Discovery Institute began as an attempt to get around court decisions that prevented creationism from being taught in public schools. Their scheme was to jazz up creationism, present it in “scientific” terms, and to carefully avoid references to scripture. This strategy, they hoped, would fool the entire world, and they could slide into academia as the promoters of a scientific theory — see Intelligent Design, the Great Incongruity.

They never fooled anyone — except those who were already fools. The first (and only) time the scientific status of their “theory” was tested in court was ten years ago, and it failed spectacularly — see Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Despite the Discoveroids’ carefully scripted scientific charade, they’ve all but admitted that their magic designer is Yahweh — see Casey Admits the Designer Is the First Cause. Before that they had already emerged out of their closet, pranced around wearing ecclesiastical garb, and confessed that their “scientific” designer — blessed be he! — is transcendent. That means their designer exists beyond time and space, in that inaccessible and incomprehensible realm known only to the gods. Jeepers — who could it be?

Now — as if we needed any more evidence — the Discoveroids have once again demonstrated their fixation on the supernatural in a post written by John West, whom we affectionately call “Westie.” He was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo above this post. Westie is now President (or maybe vice President) of the Discovery Institute, which makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy.

Westie’s post at the Discoveroids’ website is Are Young People Losing Their Faith Because of Science? It doesn’t have a byline, but a press release from something called Religion News Service, which is also titled Are young people losing their faith because of science?, attributes it to Westie. His Discoveroid article says, with bold font added by us:

Earlier this year, Harvard evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson declared that “for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths.” According to noted biologist Richard Dawkins, Darwinian evolution makes it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

Why would a “scientific” outfit like the Discoveroids care? They shouldn’t, of course, because religion is outside the scope of science. But Westie cares. He says:

Many people, especially young people, think science contradicts their faith. This view can have a devastating impact on their belief in God. In reality, the genuine discoveries of science have been friendly to faith, not hostile to it.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, science has an unbroken record of verifying everything in the bible. Let’s read on:

Download this free report from Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture for information and resources to equip yourself, your family, and your congregation on issues of faith and science.

Westie sounds almost like Hambo, doesn’t he? We continue:

Here are some of the important questions the free report will address:

Pay attention, dear reader — these are important scientific questions:

• What percentage of young people now enter college believing that “the universe arose by chance”?
• What percentage of college faculty identify themselves as atheists or agnostics?
• How many young adults with a Christian background think “Christianity is anti-science”?
• What five big truths can help you counter the myth that belief in God is anti-science?
• What resources are available to help you engage young people and others who think faith is anti-science?

Here’s the rest of it — and again, Westie seems to be channeling ol’ Hambo:

Fortunately, there are a growing number of practical resources available to enable churches, Christian schools, and parents to address the relationship between science and faith in a constructive manner. Fill out this form to download the free report “Are Young People Losing Their Faith Because of Science?”

Impressive, huh? It’s just what you’d expect from a science outfit. And here’s something extra — an excerpt from that press release we mentioned:

West’s report presents research on faith among young adults raised in Christian homes, college students, and university faculty. He recommends ways that churches can engage young people on these issues and outlines video and curriculum resources available for parents, youth leaders, and pastors.

So there you are. Now there can be no doubt about the nature of the Discoveroids’ work. There never was any, really, but now it seems that they’ve given up even pretending to be anything but a creationist ministry.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

The Folly of Economic Creationism

We found the perfect thing to stimulate you for the weekend, dear reader. It’s in the New York Post — the seventh-most-widely circulated newspaper in the United States, founded by Alexander Hamilton: Good ideas evolve, so how come liberals believe in ‘creationist’ government? The newspaper doesn’t have a comments feature — at least not for that article.

We love their headline! Your humble Curmudgeon has previously written a time or two about this subject, and whenever we do it seems to infuriate our readers. See Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection, where we said:

It has often been remarked that the theory of evolution, according to which life on earth evolves without the guidance of a designer, is remarkably similar to the way a free-enterprise economy develops, with each enterprise doing its best to prosper, yet without the “benefit” of a centralized planner.

And in one of our favorite posts, Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama, we said:

We suggest that Silicon Valley emerged in the complete absence of any stimulus package. Indeed, it probably emerged because there was no such package. Silicon Valley’s nurturing environment was a mix of entrepreneurial activity, venture capital financing, and an unregulated market. What we now know as Silicon Valley emerged without centralized planning — there was no “intelligent designer.”

Darwin’s undirected mechanism of natural selection is strikingly analogous to the free enterprise economy described by Adam Smith, who wrote:

[E]very individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. … [H]e intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

But you already know what your Curmudgeon thinks. Let’s see what the New York Post says about this subject. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

We know where humanity came from: It evolved incrementally, from the bottom up, amid much trial and error, not via the top-down efforts of an all-wise creator who anticipated every contingency and meticulously planned out every last detail. So why do we assume government, business and the economy operate this way?

We are in the throes of Curmudgeonly ecstasy — finally, someone in the press (Kyle Smith is the New York Post‘s film critic) is asking the right question! He quotes a lot from a book by Matt Ridley, who is “a longtime editor for The Economist.” Ridley’s book is The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (Amazon listing). Smith tells us:

Far from searching for gods to explain every development, we should instead turn our attention to the smallest factors, many of them invisible. “When we find human culture being well adapted to solve human problems,” Ridley writes, “we tend to assume that this is because some clever person designed it with that end in mind. So we tend to give too much credit to whichever clever person is standing nearby at the right moment.”

Then there’s a long discussion of George Washington’s victory at Yorktown, and how it was really an outbreak of malaria among the British troops that forced Cornwallis to surrender to Washington. We never heard of that, and it’s not important for our purposes here. Let’s read on:

The Internet is a similar story; Al Gore and Barack Obama brag that the government created it. The truth is that it wasn’t until government got out of the way that what was once the Arpanet, a Pentagon creation, evolved into the Internet. “If you really want to see the Arpanet as the origin of the Internet,” Ridley asks, “please explain why the government sat on it for 30 years and did almost nothing with it until it was effectively privatized in the 1990s, with explosive results.”

Until 1989, the government actually prohibited Arpanet from being used for private or commercial ends. Ridley quotes a handbook distributed to MIT users of the Arpanet that read, in the 1980s, “sending electronic messages over the Arpanet for commercial profit or political purposes is both antisocial and illegal.”

That’s accurate history. Then he gives an example we like even better:

Consider the divergence of South Korea and Ghana, two countries that had about the same per capita income as recently as 1950. One chose trade, the other picked aid. Aid creates lots of fun jobs for central planners who use people like chess pieces and figure out how to distribute the wealth from the top, whereas trade simply allows for wealth to rise up from the bottom. Aid, it turns out, is simply an unsustainable solution to poverty, and today South Korea has about 10 times the per-capita income of Ghana. South Korea has become one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world since it embraced free trade in the 1950s.

Nicely said. We’ve written about even more persuasive examples in a post which drove all of you crazy: Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber? After discussing Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, where he sailed down the Ohio River and described the differences between Ohio and Kentucky which were due solely to slavery, we said:

There are “Petri dish” examples which can be profitably studied regarding side-by-side societies in which the sole difference is socialism. The one which today is most striking is North and South Korea. What would Tocqueville make of a journey between them along the 38th Parallel? Several other examples have existed and are still worth studying: East and West Germany being a good one. Do today’s “social scientists” ever undertake such studies?

That’s enough of the Curmudgeon’s writing. Let’s continue with the New York Post article. This is where it gets good:

Fans of state intervention in the economy — call them government creationists — insist on giving as much power as possible to an all-wise, all-powerful daddy figure whom they elect to, for instance, “fix” climate change or health care with a top-down agenda restricting innovation and imposing ever-more regulations. Their enemy is experimentation, incremental change — evolution.

“Government creationists” — what a great phrase! Here’s the end of the article:

Their intelligent designs turn out to be incredibly stupid in practice, and for their failures the central planners expect to be rewarded with more and more power. As British politician Douglas Carswell says in “The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy,” planners “consistently underrate the importance of spontaneous, organic arrangements and fail to recognize that the best plan is often not to have one.”

So there you are. That may have ruined your weekend, but it was great for us. Now, if it’ll make you feel better, go ahead and argue for government creationism. Your Curmudgeon is amazingly tolerant.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Creationist Wisdom #639: Total Confusion

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Register-Herald of Beckley, West Virginia — proudly known as “The Gateway to Southern West Virginia.” It’s titled Religion indicted; it’s not a practical joke. The newspaper has a comments feature.

Because today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Lonnie. The gender of that name is ambiguous, but we’ll assume Lonnie is male. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

The idea that the extraordinary letter which has been called just “inflammatory rhetoric,” leaving the author nameless (how sweet) and thus neutered in his wild bid for fame, is thought by some to be an elaborate practical joke (since it was prior to a season of jokes). Cursed by a perverted and sinister sense of humor and angst, this epistle has no doubt been consigned to the flames of Hell, or at least to File 13.

What “extraordinary letter” is Lonnie talking about? He describes it a bit more:

This assertion, that dear Religion merits a “bullet to the back of the head,” is both shocking and even monstrous. After all, what terrible things has it done? Only an unspecified murder of millions, the spreading of ignorance and fibs to billions of children, and the setting back of science at least 2,500 years. Yes, war criminals have been charged with much less! But we’re Religion!

We used that “bullet to the back of the head” phrase to locate the earlier letter — Several ideas ought to bite the dust. Much to our surprise, the author isn’t nameless. Lonnie was the author of that one too, so he appears to be defending what he wrote earlier. Both letters are bizarre, chaotic, and sometimes contradictory, which causes us to believe that Lonnie is strangely troubled. But you can make your own judgment, dear reader. Let’s read on in today’s letter:

How can so few overrule the majority?

Lonnie doesn’t specify who the “few” are who overrule “the majority.” We must continue reading in order to find out what he’s talking about:

We control most of the radio stations, TV programs, magazines and books, and the social media 24/7. Yet they win some court rulings, their secular humanism has taken over Europe — and is invading America. Stephen Hawking and many other world-class minds say there is no God or gods. Oh, why can’t these evil people leave us alone? Why don’t they migrate to Mars or some asteroid? Then we can practice our beliefs with peace and love and in Jesus’ light.

Okay, it’s becoming clear. The “few” are the infernal atheists. But Lonnie’s earlier letter said that religion merits a “bullet to the back of the head.” Was he being sarcastic, or is he confused? Here’s more:

How can a grain of sand acquire eyes and ears, and understanding? How can something come out of nothing? Why should we trouble our heads over these relatively few doubting Thomases? They will all be whisked away on a whirlwind on Judgment Day!

Yes, those godless fools will get what’s coming to them! Moving along:

The greatest practical joke, the height of horror, is not to see the thing before our eyes. These walking, talking, breathing monsters are not werewolves, vampires or spirits of the dead. But daylight zombies, soulless and sucking life from us believers; evil creatures that only resemble outwardly true humans. They prey on our children!

A wee bit extreme, but not a unique attitude. And now we come to the end:

They are a separate species co-evolving, co-breathing the same sweet air we are. They are real live Frankenstein monsters, or an invasion of Pod People! Or are they simply children with questions? Tell them a lie. Happy Halloween! Pat them on the head; send them to bed.

Lonnie is either tweaking the creationists, or he’s one of them, or he oscillates wildly back and forth between both viewpoints. Can you figure it out, dear reader?

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Free Enterprise in Space?

We’ve written a few times before about what we consider to be misguided treaties and bureaucratic actions designed to prevent entrepreneurial activity in space — for example, How Not To Enter the Space Age, where we grumbled about lunacy (sort of a pun) like the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. According to Wikipedia:

The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind.

It was signed by the United States. We said:

Isn’t that sweet? [It] means that no one owns anything. It means no private company will ever develop the resources that are out there. Government clerks might talk about it, but no one in his right mind thinks they could ever accomplish anything.


This is all nonsense. If the wealth that is probably out there is going to be discovered, mined, and brought to Earth where it’s needed and will benefit everyone, all of those “experts” need to get out of the way.

Today we have some very surprising news. Congress has just passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. To our astonishment, it’s reported that Obama has signed it. We can’t find anything about this at the White House website or the major newspapers, but we did spot this: Mining Bill Signed by President Barack Obama, which says:

The U.S. commercial space industry is celebrating today. President Obama just signed new legislation that allows resources on Mars, the Moon, asteroids and bodies in space to be extracted, used as well as sold for commercial utilization and exploration. Some space experts believe this marks the dawn of new age in space, but that remains to be seen.

The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act for 2015 or HR 2262, the Act permits companies that specialize in asteroid mining to keep all resources collected.


The new legislation permits U.S. citizens to own minerals extracted on the Moon and asteroids, but not own the land where they can be found. The implication with regard to property rights in space as stirred a great deal of attentions amongst lawmakers and entrepreneurs.

This new law may, however, be in conflict with earlier treaties, and that has to be clarified before anyone risks the enormous funds required to do any exploration and mining. Until then, nothing of economic importance will happen.

When news of this filters out, there will almost certainly be vigorous debate about the wisdom of this new law. The dreamy “space is for everyone!” gang will be wildly opposed to the new law. We think the new law is great, and as we said, we’re amazed that Obama signed it. We’ll be watching for future developments.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article