Evolution-Creationism Controversy: Mid-Year ’09

IT’S time, dear reader, for a mid-year status report on the evolution-creationism controversy. Our last big-picture report was here: Events to Watch For (29 Apr ‘09).

Litigation

We’re waiting for something to happen in Louisiana, now that they’ve got the nation’s only “academic freedom” bill on the books. There are ample precedents that a competent judge can follow to nullify the law, but there won’t be any litigation unless some parents oppose the teaching of creationism in their kids’ school. From what we’ve seen of public opinion in Louisiana, there may never be any opposition.

In Texas, there’s ICR v. Paredes, in which the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has sued the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. ICR wants the Board to be ordered to give ICR’s graduate school a Certificate of Authority to grant Master of Science degrees in Science Education. We’re waiting for developments, but news has been non-existent.

The John Freshwater hearing in Ohio drags on interminably. It’s being covered over at Panda’s Thumb, but it’s going slowly, and at this point everyone is starting to lose interest. We’ll report the conclusion, if there ever is one.

The unfortunate case involving California teacher James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett seems to have run its course, unless there’s an appeal of which we’re unaware.

And then there’s ACSI v. Stearns, an appeal by some creationist homeschoolers and private schools after they lost their suit against the University of California system. They want recognition of their high school level creationist courses when UC evaluates applicants for admission.

Elections

The coming GOP nomination contest for next year’s Florida Senate race should be interesting. It’s between Charlie Crist, the current governor, and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who has a history of supporting creationism. See Crist, Rubio & Creationism. Crist may also be a creationist, although our evidence is minimal (he said he wouldn’t oppose religious license plates). If Crist and Rubio are both creationists then there won’t be any fireworks — until, perhaps, the general election.

In Texas, that vast land of creationism, two of the most outrageously creationist members of the state’s Board of Education, Cynthia Dunbar and Don McLeroy, have drawn opponents, but those elections will be next year. The Board of Education is currently engaged in ideological madness, but it’s mostly beyond the scope of our concerns.

We’re watching for other creationists who may surface. So far we’ve noticed only one, in a governor’s race: John Kasich of Ohio: Creationist.

And although it’s way too early, we’ve been wondering Which 2012 Presidential Challengers Are Creationists?

State Legislation

Louisiana has a peculiar bill pending in the state legislature. It proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that might have creationist consequences; but nothing seems to be happening with it at the moment. See: First Creationism, Now Theocracy. [Update: One of our clandestine operatives advises us that this bill has failed to pass, but we expect still more mischief in the coming legislative session.]

There’s still a Creationist Bill Filed in South Carolina, but it’s not likely to be considered until the second year of that state’s legislative session, which begins in 2010.

Congress

It’s impossible to know what’s really happening in the US Congress, because they keep passing 1,000-page bills and no one knows what’s in them. We’re not aware of anything at the moment that affects the Controversy, but we keep an eye on especially goofy legislators. For example: Mark Souder Opposes National Science Standards.

School Boards

We’re expecting some old-fashioned creationist nonsense in Spencer, Iowa; but it’s only a local matter and it has yet to reach the point where people are throwing chairs at each other. See Spencer Iowa School Board Update (18 Jul ‘09).

Discoveroids

The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids), have had a bad year so far, as we reported earlier. All the Discoveroid-sponsored “academic freedom” bills have failed to pass this year, except for the one mentioned above which is still pending in South Carolina.

They did achieve a few media breakthroughs, placing creationist propaganda in Forbes, getting a creationist speaking engagement at the Heritage Foundation, and arranging an appearance on Fox for Casey Luskin.

Lately the Discoveroids have been embarrassing themselves (more than usual) by quote-mining Thomas Jefferson, claiming that he would have rejected Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (published decades after Jefferson’s death), and that Jefferson would have preferred Intelligent Design creationism, as expounded by the Discoveroids. Even your Curmudgeon has limits as to how much we can write about such things. See: Another July 4th Hijacking.

The Curmudgeon

From our secret underground control room, we’ve been occupying our time with philosophical speculations, such as The Theory of Abominable Befuddlement and the Fallacy of Retrospective Astonishment. We’ve also initiated the Dear Mentor series, but it may not continue. Otherwise, we’ve been cruising the websites of ICR and AIG, seeking material for our Creationist Wisdom series.

That’s always amusing, but we prefer news. It’s coming. The Controversy will never end.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Evolution-Creationism Controversy: Mid-Year ’09

  1. Curmudgeon wrote: “Otherwise, we’ve been cruising the websites of ICR and AIG, seeking material for our Creationist Wisdom series.”

    I recommend also cruising the websites of the DI, “Reasons to Believe” etc., to find statements that, while equally nonsensical as ICRs and AIGs, can rub it in to YECs that there are creationists who want no part of their particular origins myth.

  2. Sure, there’s a lot of really bitter division among the various types of creationists, but they’ll always smooth things over in public while they’re on a crusade against Darwin. For pure amusement, the YEC’s are best. The OECs (which is what the Discoveroids are) sometimes require some effort to untangle their errors (and lies), so although they’re daft, they’re arguments often aren’t fun to rebut.

  3. IMO DI arguments are “designed” to require long, technical rebuttals that simply can’t compete with their catchy, but misleading sound bites. Which is why it’s so important to keep the discussion about their “theory” not evolution. Asking them specific questions about the age of life and common descent either gets them to admit things that YECs (at least those with some hope of recovery) won’t like, or forces them to exhibit evasion that will turn off all but the most hopelessly creationist or “new agey” audiences.

  4. Frank J says:

    IMO DI arguments are “designed” to require long, technical rebuttals …

    Right, and that requires some strategic planning. Everyone has his own techniques. They can be — and often are — demolished on their “science” arguments, but the public doesn’t pay much attention to that. I think it’s essential to rebut their “science,” but it’s not where the public relations game should be played.

    I’ve always said that they’re really not about science anyway. They want social revolution. For me, although I’ll take on some of their sillier arguments, it’s better to point out that when you cut through all their mumbo-jumbo — they’re creationists. That lumps them intellectually (and legally) with the YECs, and they hate it. That’s all it takes to get them to fly into denial mode. They can’t avoid it, because they know it’s their biggest public relations weakness.

  5. Aaaahh … National science standards would be nice. Wouldn’t it??

    *dreaming*

  6. Colloquy says: “National science standards would be nice. Wouldn’t it??”

    It wouldn’t be constitutional if they’re forced on the states, but it seems that no one cares about the Constitution these days. But there’s nothing wrong with private groups of scientists preparing such standards, to be used for the states in preparing their own standards.

  7. I’d like to add this to the mid-year report, regarding the publication output of people affiliated with the DI and Biologic Institute.

    Papers of any kind published in scientific journals: zero. Very bad, considering they managed to get that puzzling Chinese character-based protein fold analysis program published in PLoS ONE around this time last year.

    Independently published works: one and change. Stephen Meyer published a new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, and William Dembski and Robert Marks released a pdf of what is apparently going to be a chapter in an upcoming book.

    Data in support of ID? Don’t hold your breath….

  8. James, something in your comment triggered the moderation filter, but I don’t know what it could have been.

  9. I have a question… is the Curmudgeon more than one person, or does he/she/it/they just like using the royal “we”?

  10. LRA asks: “… is the Curmudgeon more than one person …”

    Just one.

  11. Aha! So, royal we it is! 😛

  12. LRA says: “Aha! So, royal we it is!”

    But I drop down to the singular here in the comments section.