Discoveroids Can’t Connect the Dots

Two new articles at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog are rather hilarious when considered together. The first is Save John Harvard. It’s by
Bruce Chapman, whom we affectionately call “Chappy.” He’s not only the founder and president of the Discovery Institute, he’s also the Lord High Keeper of the Discoveroids’ wedge strategy, so we always pay attention to what he says.

There’s not much to Chappy’s post, really. He points out that Harvard was founded and endowed by John Harvard, an English clergyman. And then he complains about the ungodly stuff that’s going on there now — he’s especially upset by evolutionary psychologist and Harvard professor Steven Pinker. Then he says:

This surely is one of history’s classic cases of violating “donor intent.”

To explain that, he says:

John Harvard meant his legacy to sponsor the teaching of Puritan clergy.

It’s certainly true that Harvard has grown beyond being a colonial bible college. But although Chappy doesn’t disclose it, Harvard still has a Divinity School which traces its history back to John Harvard.

Despite Chappy’s disgust that Harvard has somehow betrayed its founder’s vision, it’s a fact that institutions grow and evolve, sometimes radically so. One of the best examples is when Henry Ford II quit the Ford Foundation which his family had created, because of the direction that institution had taken — see Letter of Resignation by Henry Ford II.

And for what relevance it may have, consider what Thomas Jefferson said in 1789 in a letter to James Madison:

[N]o society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation.

Anyway, now we turn to the second item at the Discoveroids’ blog: No Need to Save Nicholas Brown. This one is by Klinghoffer. He refers to Chappy’s article and he says:

Bruce Chapman observes that despite his alma mater’s having been named after a minister and preacher, John Harvard, recent sentiment among the faculty goes against Harvard’s religious heritage: [quote from Chppy’s article].

We would expect Klinghoffer to agree with his boss, and maybe he thinks he does. But he actually contradicts him when he tells us:

I thought as I read Bruce’s reflections, however, that my own college’s name and namesake seem more secure. For whatever that’s worth. The Brown family of Providence, RI [benefactors of what has become Brown University], made their fortune in the 18th-century slave trade.

Huh? Is Brown University dedicated to the slave trade, in the tradition of its benefactor? Probably not, in which case it’s yet another example of an institution that (like Harvard) has grown beyond its origins. In Brown’s case, this is unquestionably a good development. Then Klinghoffer briefly jumps the tracks and takes a swipe at Darwin:

While Darwin was emotionally committed to abolitionism, there’s no question that one unambiguous thrust of his theory confirmed a view that justified the business of slavery: that the human races are unequal as the predictable outcome of natural selection.

Darwin’s theory “justified the business of slavery”? It was all but over by the time Darwin published his theory in 1859. Well, not entirely in the US; but the Confederacy was soon to die. We’re not aware that anyone (except the Discoveroids — see Discovery Institute: Civil War Was Darwin’s Fault) blames the Civil War on Darwin. Klinghoffer is babbling pure Discoveroid trash — see Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin.

So what was Klinghoffer’s point? Does he agree with Chappy that an institution should remain true to the views of its founders? What was Chappy’s point — that Harvard should still be a bible college? We can’t figure it out. Can you?

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Discoveroids Can’t Connect the Dots

  1. Oh for crying out loud. How many times do we have to repeat that creationists were always more racist than evolutionists? Why IS that?

    Consider one of Darwin’s contemporary creationist betes noire: Charles Hodge, president of Princeton Seminary and influential theologian, racist and defender of slavery. Hodge defended slavery as endorsed by the Bible during and after the Civil War, and for decades kept evolutionism (or any theological liberalism) out of Princeton Seminary. In 1874 he wrote What is Darwinism? (his answer was atheism) in which he used the phrase “Intelligent Design” as a necessary component of Christianity. Darwinism was atheistic because it undermined Intelligent Design.

    Here’s the old racist codger in his own words. He begins by refuting evolutionary arguments using racist creationist arguments:

    Dr. Charles Hodge, slavery proponent: “Another argument is founded on the assumption that the difference between the Caucasian, Mongolian, and negro races, which is known to have been as distinctly marked two or three thousand years before Christ as it is now, must have required countless ages to develop and establish. To this it is obvious to answer, First, that differences equally great have occurred in domestic animals within the historic period. Secondly, that marked varieties are not unfrequently produced suddenly, and… accidentally. Thirdly, that these varieties of race are not the effect of the blind operation of physical causes, but by those causes as intelligently guided by God for the accomplishment of some wise purpose. …So God fashions the different races of men in their peculiarities to suit them to the regions which they inhabit… [He uses negroes as examples]

    The idea that it must have taken countless ages for men to rise from the lowest barbarism to the state of civilization indicated by the monuments of Egypt, rests on no better assumption. The earliest state of man instead of being his lowest, was in many respects his highest state. ” [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol.2, Ch. 3 “Antiquity of Man”, p.39-40]

    His assertions about how Caucasians, negroes etc. were all “as distinctly marked two or three thousand years before Christ” was a common racist creationist argument, deriving from The Types of Mankind, an 1854 racist magnum opus written by Josiah Nott, Samuel Morton, and Stephen Meyer’s racist hero Louis Agassiz. That book used the “Egyptian monument” argument, showing pictures of blacks and “Caucasians” from Egyptian art and then saying everybody looks just the same today, and “Caucasians” are still the masters and blacks are still the slaves.

  2. Christine Janis

    Hey, Diogenes — how is your book coming along? These gems of yours need to be collected together in one place and available for us to use!

  3. Thomas Jefferson’s letter in 1879? Hardly…since he had died some 50 years beforehand.

  4. RIO1945 says: “Thomas Jefferson’s letter in 1879?”

    Oops! It was 1789. Good catch. It’s fixed.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    Whatever his point, isn’t easy just to say that the bible also very distinctly made for a justification of differences of races. Why do they even bring this up? Do they like to shoot themselves in their foot?

  6. Last time I checked there was only one human race.

  7. The whole truth

    I’m going to have to disagree with you, anevilmeme. There is just one species of humans, and It isn’t just humans that are labeled as different races. It even applies to birds. I often feel that there are way too many labels for lots of things in nature but I don’t see anything wrong with ‘race’ being used as a label for organisms of the same species, including humans, that have particular differences. It certainly matters when it comes to some health care for humans, just as gender and age matters. The problem, to me, is when people use ‘race’ as an excuse to treat other people unfairly, and that goes for ANY race.

  8. Ceteris Paribus

    Without ascribing preternatural evil intent to what Chappy was muttering about with his statement that “John Harvard meant his legacy to sponsor the teaching of Puritan clergy”, but when used in the context of disparaging the Harvard professor Steven Pinker, I can’t help but take notice of the fact that in rebuttal Klinghoffer, put out on the table the name of his own Alma Mater, Brown University , which is is located in Providence, RI.

    When John Harvard was busy establishing his Puritan bible school in the early 1600’s, the Colony of Massachusetts was a theocracy with no religious tolerance for any beliefs beyond their specific flavor of Puritanism. And at about the same time another Puritan arrived from England; Roger Williams.

    Williams’ ideas on religion conflicted with the Massachusetts’ style, to the point that Williams soon found it necessary to leave Massachusetts for refuge in what would become the colony of Rhode Island. Less than a decade following the founding of Chappy’s Puritan Harvard, Williams had obtained from England a charter which contained a provision, unique to all the colonies, that there would be no established religion in the colony of Rhode Island. Freedom of conscience became the law. [It also happened that Rhode Island would later be the first colony to declare independence from England,, but I don’t know if there was a connection].

    Massachusetts on the other hand continued to protect its Puritan heritage, for example by hanging, among others, the Quaker Mary Dyer on the Boston Common in 1660. Her crime was preaching that men and women were equals in religion.

    Now where this is going with Chappy’s strange little piece, is that if John Harvard’s much loved Puritan legacy had prevailed, obviously the Jewish Harvard professor Steven Pinker would not be bothering Chappy today.

    Whether Klinghoffer was aware of this bit of US history when he published his rebuttal, I do not know. But when Creationists are involved, there should be a lot more to the discussion than whether Darwin was a racist.

  9. Really, who cares what the Dicoveroid president thinks?
    Sunday school teachers, maybe. . .but living, thinking people not
    So much.

  10. Let us recall that very many of the supporters of creationism and ID insist that they accept the reality of “micro”evolution, that is evolution within a “kind”. *If* there were any support for slavery (or other social/political movements) to be found in evolution, that support would be found in micro-evolution, evolution within “mankind”. The 19th century hymn about creation, “All Creatures Great and Small”, has this verse:
    The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.

  11. Ceteris Paribus


    “According to the survey, 34 percent of Americans would favor making Christianity their official state religion while less than half (47 percent) oppose the concept. Thirty-two percent of those polled indicated that they would also favor a constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States with just over half (52 percent) opposing the notion.”

    Rick Ungar, in “Forbes”, 04/07/2013

    The poll didn’t have any data on how many were Sunday school teachers.

  12. And lo! Discoveroid Stephen A. Batzer (a “forensic engineer with licensure in Michigan and Arkansas”) is hip shootin’ away in open defense of Creationism at DI blog: Now Creationism Is a “Mental Illness”?

    Didn’t anyone send him any of Luskin’s prolific “Intelligent Design is NOT Creationism” lies memos?

  13. Is this Stephen Batzer yet another lawyer working for the Ministry of Magic?

    You’re right– Batzer’s claims necessitate that ID is at best a subset if creationism.

  14. If Chappy were in the least authentic, he would denounce his Harvard degree. It’s must more bozo rhetoric.

  15. @Ceteris Paribus: So the survey says 32% want an amendment making Christianity our official religion, eh? Should be fun watching that 32% trying to come up with the wording for that amendment!

  16. @retiredscienceguy: No, it would be terrifying. Watching 103 million fundies arguing the semantics of how to begin the new theocracy would be nothing short of terrifying.

  17. Unless, of course, we start and end every prayer with the sign of the cross.
    What’s that? Catholics aren’t Christians? Curse you, Jack Chick!

  18. @Christine – I’m still working on my book. I’m aiming for maximum hilarity. Thanks for asking. When I’m done the paleontology chapters I’ll run them past you. One chapter will be all about how creationists say, “An intermediate between X and Y is just impossible! Any such thing would drop dead!” and then a year later paleontologists find an intermediate between X and Y.

  19. Christine Janis

    Looking forwards to seeing the chapters —- am guffawing already!

  20. Mark Germano, you’re right. It would be terrifying. In fact, it would be American Civil War II. Just like Iraq — only instead of just two main factions (Shiites & Sunnis), we’d have several dozen. Of course, you’d have the Catholics, but they’d be divided — Roman, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox; then the Lutherans — Missouri Synod, others; Baptists — Southern Baptist Convention, others; Mormon; United Methodist; Unhinged Methodist; etc., etc., etc…

  21. Pope retiredsciguy shudders at the prospect of an Apocalyptic confrontation between the dozens of fundie sects:

    It would be terrifying. In fact, it would be American Civil War II. Just like Iraq — only instead of just two main factions (Shiites & Sunnis), we’d have several dozen.

    Agreed, a chilling prospect indeed, one that would make the current Middle East seem an oasis of tranquillity: Southern Baptist Jihad vs. Westboro Christian Warriors vs. Hambollah vs. Casey’s Panzer Alfreakia Korps vs. Comfort’s Banana Battalion vs. Texas SBOE SOB’s vs. Klingdiddlehopper’s Berserkers vs. Teen Maniac Ministries vs…you get the picture.

  22. Megs, that’s good!