Paul LePage, Creationism, & Madness in Maine

We can’t figure this one out. It reads as if it were the usual, flamingly-ignorant letter-to-the-editor written by a maniac in a shack. On the other hand, it has a byline: LES DAWSON.

We looked up the name. All the hits seem to be about an English comedian who died in 1993. But in Maine’s Portland Press-Herald, where today’s gem appears, we find other efforts by the same name, all beginning with the the phrase “Maine Voices,” so he must be some kind of regular contributor. Ah, this information appears in a small biographical box:

Les Dawson is a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a resident of Kennebunkport.

This local pundit is illuminating the people of Maine with his thoughts on creationism and that state’s governor’s race, about which we last wrote Paul LePage’s Creationist Train Wreck in Maine.

We herewith offer some excerpts from Maine Voices: Debate over LePage, creationism calls for keeping an open mind, which appears in the Portland Press-Herald. We will let you decide, dear reader, if the author is a sage or simpleton.

The article has a sub-title. We’ll put it in red: “Scientists shouldn’t have the last word on what is being taught in the nation’s public schools.” That got your attention, didn’t it? Okay, here we go. The bold font was added by us:

The bumper sticker “Creationism is for Sunday school; science is for public school” is supposed to be a jab at Paul LePage. However, does the sentiment stand up to scrutiny?

Great bumper sticker! What does the savant of Kennebunkport have to say about it? First he plays a worthless little word-game about what it actually means to teach creationism, as opposed to mentioning it in various contexts. That’s low-grade ore. But then it gets good:

A recent Nature survey of the religious beliefs of U.S. scientists found that “among the top natural scientists disbelief is greater than ever — almost total.” But statistics of the general U.S. population show just the opposite — 90 to 95 percent believers.

We have doubts about such surveys, but that doesn’t matter. Let’s read on:

That means the scientific community is a subculture out of sync with the rest of the country when it comes to rejecting God and religion. That is their prerogative, but it should make us wary about the influence they have in our schools.

Oooooooh! Science is “a subculture out of sync” with everyone else. Gotta watch out for people like that! Hey, the next paragraph is a winner:

Science is often belligerent in its face-off with religion. While religion would never suggest that science has no place in schools

Aaaargh!! [*cough, cough* Scopes Trial *cough*] Sorry, but your Curmudgeon just couldn’t restrain himself. We’re okay now. This is the remainder of that sentence:

science reciprocates by demanding that religion be banned from classrooms and textbooks.

Aaaargh!! Again, we apologize for that anguished interjection. Permit your Curmudgeon to directly address the author of today’s column:

Hey, genius! Read the Maine Constitution. It’s right there in Article I, Declaration of Rights, Section 3. Religious freedom. The state has an “establishment clause” of its very own:

… no subordination nor preference of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law …

Okay, where were we? Oh, we’re not yet done with that paragraph. It then says this:

Fanatical atheist-scientists of the ilk of Richard Hawkins crusade against God in books and in the media, and routinely portray believers as illiterate fools and foils.

Aaaargh!! Yes, the infamous Richard Hawkins. That’s the same guy who disproved Albert Eisenhower’s theory of … no, we’re thinking of Dwight Heisenberg’s principle of … uh, well, you know what we mean.

Can we continue with today’s column? Sure, at least for a while longer:

This might be all well and good if scientists took it upon themselves to explain all of nature and the universe. But instead, like the professors in “Planet of the Apes,” they draw the line of the forbidden zone — where the questions are too hard to answer. Unfortunately, these are the very questions which matter most to 90 percent of the people

What? What? Here’s more:

Take the big-bang theory. Scientists believe the universe began with a big bang. The evidence is convincing. They even know when it happened, 13.7 billion years ago.

But here are the questions they sidestep: Who or what caused it? What existed before it? (If “nothing,” can they explain clearly what that is?)

Hey, this is getting good. We can’t stop now!

How about telling us where we are going in the universe? If the universe is constantly expanding, what is it expanding into?

Wow! Deep thoughts. Deep! Moving along:

Science has no explanation of the origin of life. A process outside the logic of evolution appears to be needed to explain the origin of life and the beginning of evolution. Science has never come close to being able to replicate life in the laboratory — even life of the lowest order. Sorry, Dr. Frankenstein.

All right, we can’t take any more either. Here’s the end:

I propose a new bumper sticker: “Science, intelligent design and open minds are for home and school.”

And so, dear reader, now we leave you with the question that began today’s little adventure. Is the author of the foregoing article a sage or a simpleton? We report, you decide.

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

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11 responses to “Paul LePage, Creationism, & Madness in Maine

  1. Thanks for the chuckles, especially the reference to Fox News at the end. Apparently young-earth creationism is not only detrimental to Christian evangelism, but also to several of this year’s political candidates who might otherise have something to contribute to society but who have unfortunately and unnecessarily succumbed to the notion that there is only one way to read Genesis 1-11.

  2. Science has never come close to being able to replicate life in the laboratory — even life of the lowest order. Sorry, Dr. Frankenstein.

    Which is why “it might be aliens” ID is science, you know. Not that they don’t whine if such tripe is taken seriously, because, you know, God is so much more capable (says so in the religious texts), so why would anyone prefer aliens?

    But it could have been Dr. Frankenstein aliens, so it’s pure science.

  3. As far as the “life in the lab” argument, I am always amused by the argument that life is unlike anything that is intelligently designed, so it must be intelligently designed.

  4. Glen – I agree that ID advocates will occasionally postulate aliens, to avoid having to say a supernatural creator is required by ID, but if they do so, they have to explain how the aliens came to be. Did they evolve, or were they designed. Since evolution isn’t a possibility, eventually it has to come back to a supernatural cause.

    Perhaps Dawson needs a new bumper sticker: Warning! This Vehicle Operated by Intelligently Designed Driver. Keep Safe Distance.

  5. Leslie M. Dawson was a professor of marketing in the College of Management at UMass Lowell. According to one citation I found, he was also a “former sales executive.” Yeah, he’s high on the list of people to pay attention to when talking about science and education.

  6. Science bans religion? Richard Hawkins?

    I think this is yet another case where a newspaper intentionally publishes the stupidest/craziest letter they receive just to see what sort of response they get. IMO we need a term for it like Poe or Godwin.

  7. While religion would never suggest that science has no place in schools ….

    Right, because public schools are religious institutions. *headdesk*

    “Mr. Jefferson, build up that wall!”

  8. May I propose a new local bumper sticker for the area

    LES DAWSON – RETARD OR WHAT?

  9. Maine Operative

    Ah, dear me. This has been such a strange election cycle, and Mr. LePage is certainly one of the stranger aspects of it. Despite LePage’s multiple drawbacks (e.g., Creationst babble, threatening reporters, storming out of press conferences, and some tax irregularities (well, that was his wife’s issue, and she’s been cleared), voters are so knee-jerk reactionary right now that they are just voting for someone else, regardless of that candidate’s stance.

    I see three potential scenarios playing out Tuesday (note that I ignore independent Shawn Moody since he will have a neglible impact at this point): 1) LePage wins (with four candidates runing, he gets the plurality), 2) Libbey Mitchell (D) wins because independent candidate Eliot Cutler’s followers decide they really cannot stomach four years of LePage and vote for what they see as the lesser of two evils, 3)Eliot Cutler pulls an upset victory because voters in general don’t want Lepage or Mitchell in Augusta. However, if they have visions of Cutler being another Angus King (independent governor about a decade ago), they will be sorely disappointed.

    I’m not excessively concerned that LePage will do too much damage except by underfunding education in general–he pledges to abolish the Maine Department of Education–so just getting anything funded to be taught may be problematic. Also, the Maine state legislature is likely to remain solidly and comfortably Democratic, so he will face an intransigent and potentially hostile legislature that will block most anything he attempts for four years.

    In the end, my comment is that voters who don’t use their common sense in this election (and it currently appears that they won’t), they’ll get what they pay for: lots of mouths, but very few brains (and plenty of pro-Creationist wingnuts, to boot),

  10. A good report, Maine Operative. Is it still true that “As Maine goes, so goes the nation”?

  11. Maine Operative

    Once upon a time, I might have readily said “yes,” but in these political waters, I won’t bet on anything as a certainty.