Creationist Wisdom #155: The Preacher-man

We present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled What are we teaching at taxpayers’ expense?, which appears in the Newark Advocate of Newark, Ohio (the 2nd biggest Newark in the US). We’ll copy most of today’s letter, but we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. We’ll also add some bold for emphasis, plus our usual Curmudgeonly commentary between paragraphs. Here we go:

Evolution is the dumbest and most dangerous religion in the world.

A powerful first sentence. We should point out that the author of today’s letter is a preacher. He then says:

In the interest of full disclosure, I believe in the literal six-day creation of the universe as recorded in the first two chapters of Genesis. I freely admit that my acceptance of the Genesis account is purely by faith. I don’t have to prove my beliefs nor do I have to defend them because I am not asking the taxpayer to fund the research of or the teaching of my beliefs in the public schools.

Thanks for disclosing your belief, Mr. Preacher-man, because we never would have been able to guess otherwise. Let’s read on:

Evolution also is of faith. Sir Julian Huxley said, “I suppose the reason why we leapt at “The Origin of Species” was that the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” … George Wald, a Nobel Prize-winning evolutionist, said, “I will not accept creation philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible.”

We see that Huxley “quote” all the time, and we discussed it once before — it may be a Henry Morris fabrication. But even if it’s accurate, all it tells us is the motivation of Thomas Huxley’s grandson, which means nothing.

The Wald quote is new to us, but we found it where the letter-writer likely also saw it. The thing appears in Conservapedia, and it’s also in this article from WorldNetDaily — which also has the Huxley “quote” so it’s likely to be the preacher’s source. We prefer rational sources, so we also checked in TalkOrigins’ excellent Quote Mine Project. They have a long article on it, and conclude that “The quote is a complete fabrication.”

We continue:

Creationism is a religion of life while evolution is a religion of death. Evolution necessarily requires the death of the less evolved species. This is known as “survival of the fittest.”

Hey, Mr. Preacher-man, if evolution “necessarily requires the death of the less evolved species,” then tell us: Why are there still monkeys? Gotcha there, don’t we? Here’s more:

Joseph Stalin went to a Christian school until he read Darwin’s book and became an atheist. He went on to kill between 60 and 100 million of his own people.

There seems to be no particle of stupid that this preacher leaves out of his letter. Hey, Mr. Preacher-man, Darwin was a Victorian-era capitalist. We know it’s difficult for you to read your Curmudgeon’s blog, what with your head so inconveniently … ah, encolonized, but in Marx, Stalin, and Darwin we said:

Was Stalin a follower of Darwin’s work? No, he actually opposed it. This man, not Darwin, was Stalin’s biologist: Trofim Denisovich Lysenko. Stalin’s biologist was definitely an anti-Darwinian. And a crack-pot.

Moving along in the preacher’s letter:

While I have only begun to indict the theory of evolution, which has made no positive contribution to science, I hope you will begin to question what we are teaching our children. Do we even need to teach theories of the origin of the universe in public schools? Can we not just teach science and let each parent and each child decide what to believe?

We could have a lot of fun with that paragraph, but why spoil it for you? Let’s skip that and go right to the letter’s end:

In closing, I would like to ask those who believe in evolution this simple question, “If evolution is true, how do we determine right from wrong?”

[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]

The preacher’s closing question is a real clincher. It explains one of the greatest problems in society: Why do so many biology majors end up as serial killers?

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

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13 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #155: The Preacher-man

  1. Are we supposed to tell our kids that they were purposefully designed to be like monkeys? Or is the similarity just a matter of physical laws of inheritance with no moral implication? If I find out that my great-grandfather was a horse thief, I don’t feel any urge to become one myself. But if I find out that God designed me to be a horse thief, what might I do?

  2. Shirley Knott

    No dependence on the taxpayer? Yeah, right. When churches and church property are not taxed. When it is possible [or was at one time, I don’t know the current status…] for clergy to bypass social security. How is this not dependence on the taxpayer who funds those services the church relies on? All the things about which we are preached at whenever tax and spending cuts are proposed — fire, police, water, etc.
    The man’s a living parasite on the public.

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  3. “If evolution is true, how do we determine right from wrong?”
    What? What??
    As a Theist, I am constantly amazed at creationists, who have so little faith in their own Creator so as to mistrust so deeply, the inherent qualities (that come from God, in my belief system) that prevent us, for the most part, from killing each other (and committing other heinous acts) indiscriminately, unless we believe in a literal interpretation of the first two chapters of Genesis, always, of course, allowing for the explanation of the “experts” to show us what the differences in the two Creation stories really mean. Ick. Run on sentence. Sorry. Anyway, I’m stunned by the ignorance and poor faith of the writer.

    Few creationists have ever heard of Lysenko or Lamarck and refuse to believe the truth when it’s presented. I know; don’t argue with creationists.

  4. On the issue of knowing right from wrong, I think it’s instructive to look at human society today versus society of, say, 2,000 years ago, on almost any criteria. We are, in general, much more ethical today. In biblical times, the value of individual life was almost nil – slavery was widespread, women and children were routinely slaughtered by the sword when cities were conquered (even by Jewish armies, supposedly doing God’s bidding), women had few if any rights and were generally property of their husbands, people were killed or severely punished for the most minor of offenses, etc. In contrast, I would assert that in most western, secular democracies of today, the level of ethical behavior is probably at an all-time high, certainly with respect to individual rights.

    I don’t think religion is to be thanked for this change. Religious values have generally lagged behind societal improvements in ethics. In some cases, religion has been used to justify arguments against elimination of slavery, equal rights for women, interracial marriage, legal rights for people who happen to be gay, and other issues on which more secular society has evolved (or is evolving) more modern ethical consensus. In societies governed by their dominant religious beliefs, on the other hand, one finds a medieval ethical environment which has no respect for individual human life. I lived in Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s for several years – every week, it seemed, there was a beheading on the public square in Riyadh for some trivial offense, women could not drive and had few personal rights, slavery was outlawed only in the 1950’s and was rumored still to exist (certainly Saudi’s had no opposition to it on ethical grounds), fairness in business transactions was a foreign concept, honesty was a fluid concept, etc. etc. Not that individual Saudi’s were bad people – many were smart, decent human beings – but the religious based culture did not promote ethical behavior by any standard that we would recognize in the west. Today the Taliban are a prime example of religion run amok, and are ridiculed by Christians, but the ethical values the Taliban espouses are not that different as those in the bible.

    Religion is a poor guide for the development of ethics and a sense of right and wrong.

  5. In closing, I would like to ask those who believe in evolution this simple question, “If evolution is true, how do we determine right from wrong?”

    This is actually a question that would not be bad to ask, if one were aiming for an honest discussion. Of course this is a creationist who wishes us to run immediately to the ten commandments with its instructions involving one’s slaves.

    And a more important question for creationists is why their religion is a means of trampling upon truth and honesty, as well as a means of learning stark nihilism. The truth of the matter is that they have to deny normal judicial and scientific means of discovering how things have occurred, in order to cling to their fantasies.

    So it isn’t even just that they’re dishonest, they wish to dethrone not only our preference for honest research, but even the inferences that we can make from probabilities and patterns. While they don’t wish to do so in every instance of life, it is completely senseless to give up the probabilities and pattern recognition that informs us and even them that their shifting “microevolution” has occurred when the exact same probabilities and pattern recognition inform us that “macroevolution” happened.

    Creationism aims at destroying good science. What it hits is any preference for honesty, consistency, and our ability to make proper inferences. Mixed in with that are uninformed and false attacks upon honest researchers, preferentially attacking the secular scientists, but often defaming their fellow believers as well.

    Effectively, they undermine the principles that they claim at every turn. Then they blame evolution for declines in societal mores.

  6. retiredsciguy

    If a creationist were to be true to his principles, he would reject the use of any medicine, operation, or medical practice that was developed through a reliance on our understanding of evolution.

    Guess they’d all be Christian Science adherents.

  7. Going to the comments on the letter, I see that at this time there are about 40 pro-evolution and about 5 creotard comments. There’s a Gish Gallop, a conservation -of-angular-momentum(that the writer is obviously totally clueless about), a no-transitional-forms, and other old arguments. All of them are competently dismantled by other writers.

  8. Gary Hurd in particular eviscerates the pastor’s quote mining in the comments. It’s a joy to read.

  9. RBH says:

    Gary Hurd in particular eviscerates the pastor’s quote mining in the comments.

    Yes. Excellent work. But for you I wouldn’t have gone back to the preacher’s letter to see his comments. I wonder why he bothers to put that kind of effort into a forum like that?

  10. Gary’s main occupation now that he’s retired is responding to letters like that around the country.

    And see this one by Calilasseia on RationalSkepticism. It’s a line by line fisking of the same article, massively referenced.

    Calilasseia was a prolific commenter (and moderator, I think) on the old RDF forum before it was modified some time ago.

  11. RBH says:

    Calilasseia was a prolific commenter (and moderator, I think) on the old RDF forum before it was modified some time ago.

    I remember Calilasseia’s excellent posts from the Dawkins forum. I used to be active there. but I quit when some mod messed with one of my comments. That was months before the whole place blew up.

  12. Gabriel Hanna

    How did that place blow up?

  13. Gabriel Hanna asks:

    How did that place [the Dawkins chat forum] blow up?

    I don’t know the details. I think it was about a change in the rules that required permission to start a new topic. Everyone seemed to go nuts. It was briefly a hot topic in some blogs. Dawkins has another site now, and I don’t know what goes on there. Whenever I have a problem at someone else’s site I just drop out.