Oklahoma’s Josh Brecheen: Creationist Cretin

Several of our clandestine operatives have been urging us to write abut Josh Brecheen, an apparently crazed individual who was somehow elected to the Oklahoma state legislature. This is his campaign website: Josh Brecheen, State Senate. It says, with our bold:

Josh Brecheen, age 31, a fourth generation rancher of Coal County wants to be your State Senator. He is a product and advocate of traditional conservative values. Growing up breaking horses, bailing/hauling hay and working in a family owned John Deere Dealership … Josh is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, where he earned a dual degree in agricultural communications and animal science. … Josh also worked for the world’s third largest Christian summer camp, Kanakuk, for three consecutive summers as a counselor and “Dock Daddy” (1999-2001) …

Josh was also part of the Oklahoma State University NCAA mascot crew that worked with the horse “Bullet” in 2000 and 2001. … In 2000, Josh was employed by Swinford Trailers in Morrison, Oklahoma as a agricultural sales/trade show representative, whereas [sic] Josh sold industrial and agricultural implements (tractors, livestock trailers, utility trailers, etc.) for almost two years.

Here is the tractor salesman’s page at the Legislature’s website: Senator Josh Brecheen. It doesn’t contain any information — like his brain — but we assume that some staffer will solve the website problem. The brain problem is probably incurable.

Despite the urging of our operatives, we’ve resisted writing about this guy because up to now he hasn’t done anything — other than make a fool of himself by babbling creationist idiocy. Oklahoma’s legislative session runs from February through May, and we thought we could wait a bit before turning our attention to Josh.

But we sense that The Force is strong in this one, so we shall wait no longer. In the Durant Daily Democrat of Durant, Oklahoma we read Brecheen discusses evolution and Darwinian Theory, by State Senator Josh Brecheen. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us, and bear in mind that this is in Josh’s own words:

One of the bills I will file this year may be dismissed as inferior by “intellectuals” so I wanted to devote particular time in discussing it’s merits. … It is an attempt to bring parity to subject matter taught in our public schools, paid for by the taxpayers and driven by a religious ideology. I’m talking about the religion of evolution. Yes, it is a religion. The religion of evolution requires as much faith as the belief in a loving God, when all the facts are considered (mainly the statistical impossibility of key factors).

As you can see, Josh is like all the other imbeciles who write those letters-to-the-editor that we always ridicule, except that this guy somehow managed to get himself elected as a state Senator. It’s painful to read through his article, because we’ve dealt with this stuff so often before. What we’ll do is select a few sentences from various paragraphs and string them together. Here’s a sample of what awaits you when you click over there to read it all:

Ideologues teaching evolution as undisputed fact are not teaching truth. Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. … The whole basis for evolution is gradual differences and changes to be confirmed by modified fossils (phyla cross-over).

Wait! We must interrupt to deal with that last howler. What kind of fossil would confirm “phyla cross-over”? Something like a centaur? No, that’s a mythical half-man and half-horse, but man and horse are both mammals. How about a Pegasus? No, as crazy as such a hybrid would be, that (like a dragon or a mermaid) is just a mythical combination of vertebrates — they’re all of the phylum Cordata and not even close to being examples of cross-phylum creatures. What does Josh have in mind?

Perhaps he’s thinking of a fossil that’s half-rat and half-spider, or maybe half alligator and half oyster. He’s correct of course; no such fossils exist. If they did they’d demolish — not confirm — everything we know about evolution. But let’s give the man credit: Josh’s “phyla cross-over” concept may be his unique contribution to the literature of creationism.

Evolution does, of course, mean that the various phyla have common ancestry, but once established as separate branches on the tree of life, which can require millions of generations, the species in one phylum can’t cross-breed with those of another. By the time they’re mutated enough to be recognizable as separate phyla, they’re too far apart genetically for that. Over time, each phylum develops its own branches, and those can’t cross-breed either, much less double-back to cross-breed with their now extremely distant kin in other phyla.

We don’t know what happened when Josh was growing up with horses in rural Oklahoma, and we don’t want to know. Nor do we want to know what went on between Josh and that horse “Bullet.” But it’s clear that somehow, Josh became obsessed with “phyla cross-over.” There may be children reading this, so let’s ignore that creationist fantasy and read some more from Josh’s article:

The rapid appearance of today’s known phylum-level differences, at about 540 million years ago, debunks the tree of life (common ancestor) scenario. This biological big bang of fully developed animal phyla is called the Cambrian explosion…. absolutely ZERO phyla evidence supporting Darwin’s hypothesis has been discovered after millions of fossil discoveries. … I will be introducing legislation this session to ensure our school children have all the facts.

What can we say? Ours is a rich language, and there are many adjectives we could employ to describe someone like Josh. But what’s the point? His brain case is obviously being used by the gods as a chamber-pot. He’s happy, and now that he’s in the Oklahoma state Senate, the people of that state will have to live with it.

Hey, who knows — Josh may be one of the brightest bulbs in the Oklahoma legislature. We’ll be watching.

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

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19 responses to “Oklahoma’s Josh Brecheen: Creationist Cretin

  1. And in other news, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer gets caught by Santa drinking all the Rum.

    Tea party anyone?

  2. GreatGungHolio

    “What kind of fossil would confirm “phyla cross-over”? ” – I think he is referring to Ray Comfort and his idiotic ‘Crocoduck'(literally a ducks body with a crocodile head).
    Ironically such a fossil has been found – Anatosuchus (although it is a crocodile body with a duck shaped bill). No doubt this will be seen a a Darwinist conspiracy to warp the minds of school kids.

  3. Please check for yourself in case I am mistaken, but Brecheen apparently plagiarized an anti-evolution screed right down to the misspelling of an anti-evolutinist’s name.

    Isn’t amazing how those who preach that students learn “both sides” invariably refuse to do it themselves? Or if they do it, deliberately censor everything that demolishes their arguments.

  4. Frank J says:

    Please check for yourself in case I am mistaken, but Brecheen apparently plagiarized an anti-evolution screed right down to the misspelling of an anti-evolutinist’s name.

    You mean “Fred Figworth”? That’s what PZ says: here.

  5. Josh is a very weird form of creationist.

    He believes in an old earth, based on his comment that we have microfossils of bacteria going back 3 billion years. He doesn’t question the age of the fossil record.

    Based on his argument that no “phyla cross-over” fossils have been found (by which he means common ancestors to two or more phyla), and his discussion of adaptation, he appears to believe that all creatures arising within the same Phylum – the level of classification immediately below Kingdom – are examples of evolutionary adaptation. That would mean he agrees with common ancestry of everything within the phylum Chordata, for example. I think that’s well off the “micro-evolutionary” chart acceptable to most creationists.

    He’s an old-earth, macro-evolution, creationist.

  6. “Rapid” for the Cambrian means over much more time than it took for humans to evolve from australopithecines, or some other upright ape. Plus, there’s every reason to suppose that the phyla could have diverged much earlier than the Cambrian period, but as quite small, soft-bodied organisms that have not (for the most part, that is) been discovered as fossils–and the Cambrian was merely the time when oxygen levels rose enough so that they could become large (and, being large with large predators around, evolved armor to keep their flesh to themselves).

    I wonder, do these IDiots allow that the phyla that appeared after the Cambrian perioid did indeed evolve? Was the Cambrian some weird unexplained (they certainly have no explanation at all–we have tentative explanations in our scenario) intervention by God, yet phyla did later evolve, and we managed to evolve from Cambrian chordates (not vertebrates) that should be called little more than “worm-like”? Was Darwin right, except God intervened at one time of extreme environmental change, which, “coincidentally” is when great evolutionary changes would be expected?

    If I had to accept a creationary view of the “Cambrian explosion” (and they haven’t come close to even debunking evolution then, let alone making a case for creation), I most certainly would see no reason to suspect that anything other than evolution has occurred since then.

  7. Vic H and OESE will have their job cut out for them for the next few years. Alas, I believe that the Republicans now have both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office (though Fallin may be slightly saner than Randy Brogdon, who I believe you have profiled.)

    Funny (and almost barely related) story. A few years back, we had a horse break a splint bone, which is just a vestigial toe. The vet was trying to explain the evolution of the equine leg and hoof without actually saying the word “evolution.” It was an awkward conversation, until I told him he could call it what it was without offending me. Went a lot faster after that.

  8. Glen Davidson says:

    “Rapid” for the Cambrian means over much more time than it took for humans to evolve from australopithecines, or some other upright ape.

    For evolution, the number of generations is more important than the number of years. For the small, relatively uncomplicated organisms living back then, which reproduce rapidly, a few million years is perhaps the equivalent of several hundred million years for a species like ours.

  9. Ed: “Josh is a very weird form of creationist.”

    Actually he’s probably very common among modern creationists in tems of what he believes. – old life, common descent, etc., if not what he promotes.

    Most people who have invested that much effort to seek out sound bites against evolution, even if they honestly think they have a case against “RM + NS,” must know that they have as much case against common descent and billion-years old life as they have for a flat Earth. What makes him unusual is that he has not yet learned the art of playing “don’t ask, don’t tell” on those issues in order to keep peace in the big tent. Something tells me he will learn that art soon.

  10. Frank J says: “Something tells me he will learn that art soon.”

    If he Googles for his name, as newly-elected politicians probably do, he’s already learning a thing or two.

  11. Frank and Ed:

    The construction of a coherent alternative is not a signature trait of creationism. Whereas you or I, if we decided to campaign against evolution, would make decisions like: Am I going to be a Young-Earther or an Old-Earther? Where do I draw the line between micro- and macro-evolution? It is surely comfortably within the world of creationism not to be bothered by such pointy-headed nit-picking distinctions, and just to accept anything that strikes one’s fancy as long as it isn’t evolution.

  12. Josh can be entirely explained by the one word he put in quotes at the start of his 5th grade level homework assignment: “intellectuals”

    Josh suffers from Short Man’s Disease, short on brains. Kicked once too many times by the horses he “broke” and I won’t go any farther there.

    Yes, Josh just don’t cotton to no book-learning folks. Them’s not like us, doncha know. Think they know everything with their fancy book-learning.

    Josh doesn’t understand the world and book-learning is, like, real hard to do. So he relies on a comic book version of the world based on spooks, hobgoblins, rumor and opinion . That’s why Josh’s homework assignment is such a muddled mess. He doesn’t have any position because his empty, non-functioning brain has been filled with cluelessness. Unfortunately these Dog Patch Hallow, willfully undereducated, anti-intellectual rubes are getting elected (my hunch is by a dis-interested electorate) rather than being laughed out of town.

    Josh will provide us with hours of fun. Hey, Josh, we’re laughing AT you not with you!

  13. Slightly off-topic, but CNN’s headline story on it’s website today http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/12/23/siberia.human.ancestor.discovery/index.html?hpt=C1 should create some responses amongst our creationist friends.

  14. Ed, I saw some of that, and I don’t know how reliable it is yet. Anyway, it won’t be any fun until we get the creationists’ response.

  15. It’s like seeing a big box, all wrapped up, waiting under the tree…..what will it be?

  16. carsonjok is correct. After 11 years of stopping creationist crap in the Lege, OESE with the help of many State and national organizations and many individuals, the next few years will be very difficult with the supermajority of Republicans (many far right religious zealots) in both houses at the Capitol and with all elected state officers much the same. We may well lose, but we will continue to fight in the hopes that major efforts will at least educate some citizens to the futility of creationist legislation.

    There was an immediate response to Brecheen’s newspaper article and a lot has happened to oppose the loony Senator. I do not want to repeat much what I posted on Pharyngula (Post #66, elucifuga). Those interested can read the details here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/when_did_oklahoma_start_electi.php#comments

    Other responses are taking place almost hourly. Some must remain confidential, but these actions include the drafting of pro-evolution statements in the two colleges in Brecheen’s district, many responses to the newspaper articles, and messages to appropriate legislators. One example is that the comments on Brecheen’s article in the Durant Daily Democrat are largely against his statements and mostly intelligent and well-written. Readers here might help by posting also; the address is in my Pharyngula comment.

    I have been told by a knowledgeable lobbyist that even some Republicans are embarrased by Josh – and that says a lot here in this reddest of states!

  17. I’m happy to mock any creationist, especially those who cut and paste their arguments, but I’m really not comfortable with criticism based in hay-hauling and raising horses. That’s just snobbery. I’ve done plenty of manual labor and scutwork in my time; I had opportunities to get away from that, which many of my relatives did not have, but who are quite bright nonetheless.

    http://www.robertburns.org/works/496.shtml

  18. Gabriel Hanna says:

    … I’m really not comfortable with criticism based in hay-hauling and raising horses.

    Taking things a wee bit out of context, aren’t we? I do, of course, mock creationist dentists, creationist insurance salesmen, etc. for presuming to criticize a science they have never studied. Creationist physicians too. That’s not criticism of the work they do, but of their lack of qualifications for what they’re trying to do. Some of that is applicable to Josh; and in that context I referred to him as a tractor salesman. Aside from that, I mentioned his history of working with horses — darn it, Gabe, you shouldn’t need this explanation! — in connection with his attraction to arguments based on trans-species relationships. Come on now, don’t go grumpy on me.

  19. @Curmudgeon.

    I think that you, Gabriel and I agree that hay-haulers deserve just as much respect as PhD biologists. Unless they pretend that they can do the others’ jobs better, which is what anti-evolution activists do.

    I can even forgive the evolution-denier on the street for thinking that they know better than those who have done 99.9% of the work, and have the most to gain by replacing evolution with a better theory. Let those of us who never thought that way in our youth cast the first stone – at the clueless rank and file. The scam artists, and the politicians that are at least partly in on the scam, are fair game for verbal “stoning.” Unfortuately “stones” bounce back and hit us when we call the stupid or ignorant, or bad-mouth their religion. Or take their bait and keep the “debate” on the “weaknesses” of evolution instead of the fatal weaknesses of ID/creati0nism.