Conservatism: Now an Irrational Movement?

YES, this is another political rant, but it’s very much related to The Controversy between evolution and creationism. We’re writing in reaction to two articles we found this morning in publications that have great appeal to and influence upon the American conservative movement.

The first article is in Human Events. It’s titled The Atheist-Dominated National Academy of Sciences . The author begins with a rant against the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) over the issue of global warming. Then his mind somehow makes the “connection” between that and Darwin’s theory of evolution. We’ll jump in at that point, and we’ve added the bold font:

In 2008, NAS published Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a book sent to every public school board member and science teacher in America. The book’s message: Darwinian evolution is the only acceptable explanation for human origins. The book treats the intelligent-design hypothesis as invalid without presenting a shred of empirical evidence to contradict it.

The pseudo-scientific method of the NAS begins, not with a valid hypothesis or empirical evidence, but rather with the arbitrary rejection of a Creator/Designer and atheist materialism deduced as a fact.

We’ve seen that kind of “thinking” before — in the most primitive ravings of the most ignorant creationist websites. Let’s read on a little more:

The beauty of the NAS’s atheist/materialist approach is that no empirical evidence is needed to “prove” that mankind evolved over hundreds of millions of years from slime and worms. Once our Creator is denied, all that is left to explain our existence is time and chance.

Okay, we’ve heard enough from him. If that were just another letter-to-the-editor written by a maniac in a shack, we probably wouldn’t bother with it. We’ve posted more than a hundred of those, and this one lacks sufficient originality to make our list — but it’s in Human Events.

The second article we noticed this morning comes from WorldNetDaily (WND), a worthless rag at the very center of the swirling vortex of conspiracy theories and theocratic lunacy, so that all the crud in the universe gets concentrated there before it’s flushed down into the abyss. Today’s article is by Joseph Farah, the “founder, editor and CEO of WND,” and it’s titled The conservative crackup. Here’s a bit of it, with our bold font:

What does it mean to be a “conservative”?

That is a question that is getting thornier and thornier. In recent years, some of the “conservative” movement’s heavyweight personalities have distanced themselves from the Republican Party leadership because of efforts to move left and to create a “big tent.”

Moving left? We haven’t noticed any of that, but let’s read on:

For instance, a group that supports same-sex marriage and openly homosexual activity in the U.S. military ranks was permitted to be a sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this year.

Why are these people so obsessed with what Barney Frank does in his free time? Our concern is what he’s doing as a member of Congress. The other meaning of “member” and what he does with that is his business, not ours. Here’s more:

Why are more “conservative” leaders accepting positions – even embracing them – that were once considered anathema? It all has to do with how and where we get our definitions of right and wrong.

Are the worldviews of conservatives based on nothing more than the principles espoused in Barry Goldwater’s 1960 book, “The Conscience of a Conservative”?

Barry Goldwater’s political thinking was pretty good in your Curmudgeon’s view of things — but he’s obviously not conservative enough for WND. Let’s see if we can figure out why:

Or, are there more transcendent values that “conservatives” are beholden to defend?

We’ve been offering our own answer to that question since we started this blog. Note our motto in the header: “Conserving the Enlightenment values of reason, liberty, the scientific method, and free enterprise.”

But that’s just your Curmudgeon’s thinking, so it doesn’t matter. Let’s read a bit more from the WND piece:

To me, “conservatism,” along with any other “ism,” is worthless unless it has a moral core based on God’s revelation to humanity in the Bible. My only interest is in defending and conserving God’s eternal values and principles, not Barry Goldwater’s.

[…]

For years the Republican Party has debated whether so-called “social issues” should be a part of its platform. “Big tent” Republicans said no. “Conservatives” said yes. Now this debate is being reignited within the “conservative” movement.

We’ve previously expressed ourselves on those “social issues.” See our Open Letter to the Republican Party. We think those issues belong where the sun don’t shine, and we suspect that Goldwater would agree. Anyway, here’s the end of the WND rant:

If it is not a biblical morality, if it’s not God’s morality, then it is man’s. And that is a very shaky foundation for any political movement.

That’s just crazy. The American Constitution is man’s work, and it’s the one essential foundation of a sane political movement. If some whacko political party wants to be guided by mullahs, swamis, creationists, and other assorted gurus, all babbling about their wonderful spiritual insights, that’s up to them — but to us it’s repulsive.

No, your Curmudgeon isn’t leaving the Republican party to join up with the Dems. We abominate the Dems’ Marxism even more than the GOP’s theocracy, if that’s possible. We’ve been staying with the GOP in the hope that they could be a counter-weight to the madness that currently dominates Washington city. If the two articles we found this morning are typical of the new Republican party, then it looks like we’re out of luck.

Barry Goldwater, where are you?

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Conservatism: Now an Irrational Movement?

  1. The GOP is indistinguishable from the Dems. Has been for decades. War on Drugs, ADA (“Lawyers’ Full Employment Act), Affirmative Discrimination, asset forfeiture, militarization of police departments, “Nation Building,” tax increases, regulation increases, deficit spending, federalization of public education…

    Why is this suddenly a surprise?

  2. The GOP is indistinguishable from the Dems.

    Well, the official platforms are different. But given the reelection rate in the House has been greater than 90% since 1976, you’re basically right. No one should be surprised if this Congress’ legislation looks a lot like the last Congress’ legislation. Its the same folks writing it.

  3. The author of the first article, Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., also wrote the self-published book Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles, which Don McLeroy of the Texas state board of education famously endorsed.

  4. From the article: “The book treats the intelligent-design hypothesis as invalid without presenting a shred of empirical evidence to contradict it.”

    That’s because there is no empirical evidence to contradict the ID “hypothesis.” It accommodates everything, including in Dembski’s own words, “all the results of Darwinism.”

    ID is a scam and needs to be exposed as one at every opportunity. Note the trap: If one gives evidence against a YEC or OEC claim and calls that “evidence against ID”, the IDer objects that ID is “not creationism,” and spins it (enough to impress most nonscientists) that the critic has a “naturalistic bias.” The IDer has succeeded in diverting attention from “what happened when” questions that he knows he can’t answer without alienating some evolution-deniers, to the “naturalism” question. Even if the critic is atute enough to expose the bait-and-switch between methodological and philosophical “naturalism” most of the audience is already lost to the ID scammer.

  5. Thanks, Glenn. It’s always good to have the dots connected. Your input is much appreciated.

  6. For the most part, I agree with you, although I always get a chuckle when anyone refers to the Democrats as Marxist. The best description of American politics I have ever heard goes like this: If you think of the entire political spectrum as a football field (real football, not that namby-pamby soccer), the entirety of American politics is played between the 40 yard lines.

  7. But the number of referees and the thickness of the rulebook increase monotonically.

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that people should be limited to one term in Congress. Nobody should be able to make a living by confiscating the money of others and spending it. Some of these guys, all they have ever done is hold office.

    Maybe it should be like jury duty, and people should just be selected randomly. It seems as though they could hardly do worse than what we have now. One of my Senators thinks Osama bin Ladin builds day care centers ( http://www.seattlepi.com/local/100835_murray20.shtml ).

    From what I remember of reading the Federalist Papers, they didn’t think term limits were necessary, but I think they were wrong. Incumbents have a huge advantage. They’re on TV without paying for advertisements, their state legislatures draw their districts around their voters (everywhere but Washington and Iowa, I think), and they can send mail for free.

  9. Gabriel Hanna says:

    From what I remember of reading the Federalist Papers, they didn’t think term limits were necessary, but I think they were wrong.

    It was better in the Articles of Confederation. They provided for annual elections of Congress (which was essentially just the Senate), and no one could serve more than three years in any six-year period. Three annual terms in a row was the limit of consecutive office-holding. Or it could be one year in Congress and then one year out, with that pattern continued for a lifetime, but I doubt that anyone ever tried for that.

  10. Annual elections? I suppose that would keep them from actually going to congress and doing any damage, since they would be campaigning continuously.

    The answer for the GOP is to separate from the theocrats…let them have their own party. Maybe then the GOP will pick up a huge number of independents, who a more liberal on social issues but more conservative on fiscal matters etc. They would run in the center of the political spectrum. Eventually the theocrats would be marginalized as basically a special interest group that just happens to have their own political party.

  11. carlsonjok

    Career politicians always worry me. Robert Byrd comes to mind as a poster child (heh!) for term limits.

    But, there is something to be said for having some level of institutional memory and pre-established hierarchy to keep Congress running with some reasonable facsimile of order. If you elected a whole fresh crop every cycle, it would be pandemonium and absolutely nothing would get done.

    *stops*

    *thinks*

    Umm, was I arguing for or against one term limits?

  12. Gabriel Hanna

    But, there is something to be said for having some level of institutional memory and pre-established hierarchy to keep Congress running with some reasonable facsimile of order. If you elected a whole fresh crop every cycle, it would be pandemonium and absolutely nothing would get done.

    This is why only one third of Senators are up for reelection at any given time. The entire House is reelected every two years. This was by design–the House was intended to be responsive to the people, and the Senate to be the elder statesmen.

    Now that gerrymandering has become the norm in 48 states, it’s the other way around. A House seat is a seat for life, because your state legislature will draw your district around your voters. But no one can gerrymander a state.

  13. If it is not a biblical morality, if it’s not God’s morality, then it is man’s. And that is a very shaky foundation for any political movement.

    “Surely, no one has to be convinced that, though many in our nation claim to support a theocracy, such a national pursuit would be unimaginably destructive given the diversity of religions and non-religious citizens in our land and the audacity and vigor of arrogant people among us who aspire to be Theo.”

    -Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

  14. Now that gerrymandering has become the norm in 48 states, it’s the other way around. A House seat is a seat for life, because your state legislature will draw your district around your voters.

    The thing about gerrymandering that really irritates me is that it depends on voter apathy to work…and it works. Districts are typically gerrymandered to provide only a few % advantage to the incumbent. With U.S. turnout at or below 50%, that could easily be swung. But it rarely or never happens.

    Well, I should say it depends on equal voter apathy by both parties. But you get my point: it wouldn’t work if we, the voters, didn’t let it.

  15. longshadow

    From what I remember of reading the Federalist Papers, they didn’t think term limits were necessary, but I think they were wrong.

    My longstanding observation re: term limits has been: “It’s a bad idea whose time is long overdue.”

  16. Well said, SC.

  17. About the whole voter turnout thing, we Aussies are pretty happy with our compulsory voting. I for one get pretty pissed off when I hear about people wanting to introduce non-compulsory voting citing civil rights etc. I’m sorry but sod off! What we do here is tell our citizens is that, once every 3 or so years, you have to be interested in the civil process and vote. The major advantage here is that this ensures that the centre more-or-less rules, and you can’t get extremes. Yes, we get high Green votes in the inner city, but they still can’t get a lower house seat (yet….)

    This means your extreme wacko’s nearly never get voted in. Yes, you get a few but not enough to upset the apple cart though.

    I’m not trying to bash our brothers in the US! I for one happen to be very fond of you guys and I know, it’s a bit late to try it over there…

  18. Gabriel Hanna

    @Richard:

    Part of being American is the right to be stupid, and the right to not participate.

    I, for one, am not sure that everyone who is 18 and not a felon should be eligible to vote. In 1789 they had property qualifications; I’m not sure that’s the way to go either.

  19. The author of the Human Events piece, Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr., is also the author of a bunch of books (The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble, Noah in Ancient Greek Art, etc) that claim that classical Greek mythology and art provides ‘evidence’ supporting the Book of Genesis.

    If you accept that Genesis is entirely historical, and that its events inspired classical Greek culture, accepting that the NAS is part of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy[TM] isn’t very hard.

  20. comradebillyboy

    A bit late to the party Curmy. The GOP completely abandoned the reality based universe more than 10 years ago. The Republican party leadership and the party base have completely rejected the scientific method. Those teabaggers, much like religious fanatics or communists, reject all facts that do not comport with their ideology. Quite similar to the Stalinst embrace of Lysenkoism IMHO.

  21. comradebillyboy says:

    Those teabaggers, much like religious fanatics or communists, reject all facts that do not comport with their ideology.

    I don’t care much for what I see of the Tea Party (through the media), but I have the growing impression that today’s GOP is even worse.

  22. comradebillyboy

    We have 2 major political parties. One is bad the other is worse. I’ll have to go with the one that abuses science less and does not overtly reject enlightenment values for the time being. But my own views on many issues are also out of the mainstream. I even like a lot of libertarian ideas, even though their over ideology is badly flawed.

  23. comradebillyboy says:

    I’ll have to go with the one that abuses science less …

    Okay, let’s see if we can figure that out. One party is run by creationists. We understand that. The other party, well, they’ve just gutted the space program, they won’t allow either oil drilling or the building of nuclear energy plants, and — frankly — they’re in thrall to some rather extreme environmentalists. So which is worse? I’d say they’re both nuts.

  24. It’s not a matter of “abusing science less. ” It’s a matter of *which* science gets abused. That thought occurred to me again today as I listened to a discussion on our NPR station where one panelist upbraided another for not using the “correct” terminology- it’s no longer “global warming,” it’s “climate change.”

  25. Gabriel Hanna

    I’d agree with SY–both parties abuse science when it suits their ideology to do so. Neither is fond of Enlightnement values–let’s not forget that free trade and free markets are Enlightenment values.

    If someone wants to prevent me from, say, reading Playboy in my home, he has nothing material to gain from doing so. If someone wants me to pay more in taxes, he certainly does have something material to gain. I fear Puritans less than I fear the envious. The Democratic party is not big on economic freedom. They think you can sleep with whoever you want, and worship whatever God you want or none, but they won’t let you cut down a tree in your own yard with your own axe and build a shed with the wood without getting a waiver from some bureacracy or other. And it’s all for your own good, you see.

  26. Boy, that SC&A/Researchok guy gets around. How’s the wife?