THE THIRD WINNER of the Curmudgeon’s coveted Buffoon Award is Indiana congressman Mark Souder. As we reported here: Congressman Mark Souder: “Souder Delenda Est”, Souder had a bit part in Ben Stein’s shabby documentary, Expelled, and he regards it as the highlight of his year, because — in his own words, spoken in late December of 2008 — “I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design.” Souder’s country is at war, the economy is in difficulty, but he thinks ID is our most important issue.
We generally hold congressmen in low esteem, but even in that undistinguished company, Souder’s unworthiness is clearly discernible. Although there are many contenders in both parties for the title of “biggest fool in congress,” Souder may fairly be said to have earned that distinction. His uncompromising support of intelligent design creationism makes him the unofficial representative of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).
As we were exploring Souder’s official congressional website, we found something that — when added to what we already knew — clinched his Buffoon Award: On Allowing Public Schools to ‘Teach the Controversy’ Surrounding Evolution and Intelligent Design .
That article is dated July 29, 2005, 6 months before the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which clearly exposed intelligent design as a sloppy repackaging of scriptural creationism — a religious doctrine the US Supreme Court had already ruled can’t be promoted in government schools. But as our earlier post about Souder indicates, he hasn’t changed his opinions. Like all creationists, he’s impervious to reason, so he keeps this article on his website. Truly a buffoon!
Here are a few excerpts from Souder’s article, with bold font added by us:
Charles Darwin’s theory — and its modern variants — assert that everything we see in the living world is the result of an unplanned, unguided process of random variation and natural selection. It has, from the very beginning, been something more than just a scientific theory. Darwinism quickly became a near-religious conviction for modern agnostics, and since its early days it has been used against people of faith. That history, of course, does not disqualify it as science, but it does help explain why many well-educated Americans have not made, and perhaps never will make, their peace with Darwinian theory.
We assume that Souder includes himself among those “well-educated Americans.” Creationists always imagine that they know what they’re talking about. Let’s read on:
Still, public doubt alone might not be enough to affect public school treatment of an overwhelmingly established theory. But the Darwinian mechanism as an explanation for macro-evolution has long been the subject of cogent and powerful scientific criticisms.
Contrary to Souder’s dutifully transcribed Discoveroid talking-points, there are no “cogent and powerful” scientific criticisms to the theory of evolution — certainly there are none to be found in the nonsense endlessly recycled on creationist websites. Here’s more:
And those criticisms have become more compelling in recent years as new evidence piles up: recently uncovered fossil beds deepen the mystery of the Cambrian explosion, and molecular biology reveals the nanotechnology and digital information inside each lowly cell.
Souder is babbling about matters of which he has no comprehension. There is no evidence that challenges the theory of evolution. Something is indeed “piling up,” but it’s not evidence evidence against evolution. We continue:
Moreover, any historical theory should be taught with proper modesty and candor. Repeatable experiments involving microevolution in the lab are one thing; but the vast extrapolation of “molecules to man” macroevolution is quite another, and students should understand the huge difference in certainty between one and the other.
Ah yes, the old micro-macro dichotomy. What creationists are compelled to admit is the evidence of evolution which is clearly observable within human lifetimes, which they call “micro” evolution. This observable evidence includes the mechanisms of mutation and natural selection. Although they can’t argue against evolution’s occurrence to the extent that it’s visible, they convince themselves that this undeniably manifest process somehow didn’t occur with cumulative effect over vast spans of time, causing the chronological transitions that are observable in the fossil record. They fanatically cling to the untestable (and thus unscientific) belief that a magical mystery designer intervened during those long time periods, and this unevidenced agency intentionally and miraculously did that which we know “micro” evolution is already capable of doing quite naturally.
But the theory should not be taught as an absolute. Instead, it should be taught as a synthesis—the current dominant scientific theory explaining the origin of species — but also as a theory subject to significant limitations, failed predictions, and important scientific criticisms.
Hey, Souder — evolution isn’t “taught as an absolute.” But it is taught as the only scientific theory that is supported by all of the available evidence. Despite what your masters at the Discovery Institute tell you, there are no “significant limitations,” no “failed predictions,” and no “important scientific criticisms.” If there were any, they would certainly be taught — without your help.
And now we come to the end of Souder’s essay:
Efforts to exclude from public schools the scientific debate on this sensitive topic serve only to thwart the true purpose of education — and science itself.
Hey Souder, there isn’t any scientific debate. Further, many churches have no problem with evolution; but others reject it. That means it’s a religious controversy, and it doesn’t belong in the public schools — certainly not in science class.
In closing, we once again paraphrase Cato the Elder’s famous postscript, which he added to all his speeches in the Roman senate before the Third Punic War: Souder delenda est. Souder must be defeated.
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