Your Curmudgeon herewith submits our year-end briefing on the State of the Creosphere, assessing the impact of creationist activity during the year now ending, and presenting our projections for the year 2009. For this report we have largely ignored developments outside the US, which we classify into five zones:
Zone One, the Islamic world: This region is firmly in the grip of the Creosphere. It could hardly make any difference if creationism becomes even stronger in the Islamic world, as their hostility to Western Civilization is already at maximum. The threat is assessed in other memoranda.
Zone Two, the Western world other than the US: It is presently irrelevant if creationism increases its tenuous foothold in the nations of Zone Two. They have significant military capabilities, but being of the West, they pose no foreseeable threat.
Zone Three, non-Western developed nations, primarily Japan, China, and India: Like Zone Two, these nations have military capabilities, but are not presently hostile to the West. They are currently outside of the Creosphere.
Zone Four, Russia and the remnants of the old Soviet Empire: Besides Russia, some of these nations, e.g., North Korea, possess military capabilities, but this Zone is presently not within the Creosphere. Like Zone One, the threat to the West from these areas is assessed in other reports.
Zone Five, the rest of the world, including Africa, South America, etc.: We also ignore Zone Five. Regardless of creationism or other anti-Western attitudes, these nations have no capability of posing a threat for the foreseeable future.
We shall therefore confine our review to the current status of creationism in the US, because if that should fall under the domination of the Creosphere, the implications for Western Civilization are dire indeed.
As in previous years, creationist political agitation in the US seems primarily due to the activities of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). Our original analysis of their goals and intentions remains operative, as presented here: Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment.
Our last interim report on the Discoveroids’ progress is here: Discovery Institute: A Progress Report.
Much of the creationist damage done this year is due to various states’ attempts to enact the Discoveroids’ misleadingly named Academic Freedom Act.
From past experience, the Discoveroids have learned that they’re always going to be vigorously opposed, so it’s only worth their time to operate at the state level. Besides supporting “Academic Freedom” legislation, Discoveroids know that the elected or appointed functionaries in state-level school boards can have a big impact — not only on classroom curricula, but also on textbook purchases. The Discoveroids encourage and manipulate their fellow travelers on various state-level school boards in order to weaken the standards for teaching science.
There have also been some sporadic proposals to teach creationism made by a few local school board members, but all such episodes in 2008 were short-lived. We omit them from this report because they failed to develop to the stage of requiring litigation. Such efforts were all aborted because school board attorneys explain to their clients the meaning of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, and the incipient creationist policy is thereafter dropped.
Texas: This remains a viable and significant threat. For the most current and authoritative update, see this article at the National Center for Science Education: “Strengths and weaknesses” nixed in Texas.
Louisiana: This is the only state, so far, that has enacted an “Academic Freedom” bill. It hasn’t yet ripened into litigation. See: Louisiana Creationism Update (18 Oct). Here is a good update from Dr. Barbara Forrest: Merry Kitzmas! — But It’s a Bittersweet Anniversary in Louisiana.
Other states: Similar legislation was introduced, but not passed, in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina. And in Kansas, a rational majority has once again prevailed in state school board elections, isolating the arch-creationist, Kathy Martin.
Documentary: This creationist effort was, despite propaganda to the contrary, a dismal failure. See: Our Articles on “Expelled”.
The Discoveroids’ asset base remains intact. It consists of:
1. The tip of the iceberg is their visible “think tank” in Seattle, which enjoys significant sources of funding.
2. A large, faith-based network of sympathetic supporters whom they’ve backed in elections to local school boards and state legislatures around the country, including some members of Congress. They also have an undetermined number of other accomplices — card-carrying creationists, fellow travelers, and useful idiots, who eagerly do their bidding.
3. Despite claims to the contrary, they have only infinitesimal support among scientists, no research, no evidence, and no scientific accomplishments. This causes them no embarrassment whatsoever.
Legislation: We anticipate several “Academic Freedom” bills to be introduced in various state legislatures. We haven’t yet learned which states are targeted, but we assume Florida is high on the list, as it came close to passing such a measure in 2008.
Local activity: Local school boards will again exhibit occasional outbreaks of creationism, because such entities are often comprised of people such as real estate brokers, insurance salesmen, funeral directors, and dentists wives, who are utterly unqualified to make decisions about science curricula and texts, but who imagine themselves to be on a divinely ordained mission to teach creationism in government schools. We anticipate that the Dover decision will be sufficient to overcome such occurrences.
University Activism Cells: As we reported here, Discovery Institute: Planning Darwin Anniversary Disruptions?, the Discoveroids may be planning campus disruptions for Darwin Day celebrations, by means of their IDEA Clubs. We have reliable reports, however, that most of the cells thus far created are essentially moribund. It appears that creationism is not yet regarded as stylish on American college campuses.
Films: We don’t anticipate any explicitly creationist films this coming year, as their previous adventure in that arena, “Expelled,” was a box office fiasco.
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.
Due to their failed efforts to gain scientific respectability, creationists’ biggest hope is in the field of politics. They need a sympathetic majority on the US Supreme Court, in order to reverse a string of decisions which have prevented their ideology from being promoted in government schools. Their plans for that seem to be thwarted by recent political developments, so there should be little to concern us in that regard for the immediate future.
Science is doing splendidly, but creationists will never be persuaded by reason to abandon their anti-science crusade. There is no simple single approach to the creationism problem which can provide a permanent fix to the threat posed to Western Civilization.
We recommend a multi-pronged strategy of continuing exposure of the menace, uncompromising opposition to creationists’ legislative initiatives, and diligence in evaluating judicial appointments. When — as is inevitable — some school system becomes overrun with creationists and commences an anti-science indoctrination program, vigorous litigation should be pursued. It is obviously vital to maintain a rational judiciary that is firmly devoted to the Constitution.
The problem is more long term and complex than is generally appreciated, and no short term burst of activity will solve it. We must not lose sight of the potential for a civilizational catastrophe — likely leading to a new Dark Age, if the US should abandon its historical commitment to Enlightenment values.
Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.