In our annual Kitzmas post (Intellectual Free-Fire Zone for Kitzmas 2013) we said:
To increase our merriment, every year around this time the Discoveroids post an exceedingly bitter diatribe blasting the Kitzmiller decision, Judge Jones, and the witnesses on the winning side. Such posts are usually written by either Casey or Westie.
As predicted, Casey has come through to make the holiday complete. His anti-Kitzmas rant is Celebrate
Kitzmas Christmas with Discovering Intelligent Design.
Typical of creationists, Casey sees things only from his side, ignoring all the evidence presented by his opposition. It’s a good example of that peculiar psychological mechanism known as Morton’s demon, described by its discoverer like this:
Morton’s demon was a demon who sat at the gate of my sensory input apparatus and if and when he saw supportive evidence coming in, he opened the gate. But if he saw contradictory data coming in, he closed the gate. In this way, the demon allowed me to believe that I was right and to avoid any nasty contradictory data.
For the typical, walking-around creationist, flat-Earther, UFO probe enthusiast, or other goofball cultist, Morton’s demon may allow him to pursue something that appears to be a normal life. The person affected, despite his delusions, may never know that he has failed to live a truly human existence. But there are aspects of life where Morton’s demon must be inevitably lead to disastrous consequences, and one of them is undoubtedly litigation. Try to imagine the career of a trial lawyer who always goes to court oblivious to his opponent’s side of the case.
That’s how we imagine it would be for Casey. Even now, eight years after the Kitzmiller case ended, Casey still sees only the creationist arguments, and he appears to be genuinely astounded that the judge ruled as he did. He’s like one of those Japanese soldiers that were sometimes found in the jungles of remote Pacific islands, decades after the war ended, unwilling to admit defeat. There’s a Wikipedia article on the phenomenon: Japanese holdout. That’s how we think of Casey, but it’s not military zeal or fanatical patriotism that motivates him — it’s an advanced case of Morton’s demon.
Because we find this phenomenon to be so bizarre, your Curmudgeon is pleased to guide you through Casey’s latest essay on the subject. Our excerpts will be enhanced by some bold font which we added for emphasis. His post starts with an “Author’s note,” in which he says:
This ruling is a model of why we don’t want judges ruling on complicated scientific and social questions — they often get things badly wrong, and succumb to the temptation to attempt to settle age-old debates within science and religion, something the government isn’t supposed to do.
Casey has conveniently obscured the central issue in the case, an issue which definitely is a judge’s function under the US Constitution — resolving disputes about the appropriate role of government in religion. For that purpose it was absolutely essential for Judge Jones to determine the nature of intelligent design. Was it science, as its proponents always claim, or was it merely religion in disguise? Casey then declares:
Federal district court Judge John E. Jones III decided to use the lawsuit as an occasion to rule on the scientific status of ID, concluding that “ID is an interesting theological argument, but… not science.” He felt it was his place to define science, declaring that it must be “based upon natural explanations.”
Got that? In Casey’s universe, Jones woke up one morning and decided, for no reason at all, that he would run amok and make a ruling on that topic. Perhaps Casey should read the decision without wearing blinders. If he misplaced his copy, the full text is here.
Page 9 mentions that the parties agreed — are you listening, Casey? — it was agreed that the Lemon case was to be used in deciding whether teaching ID is unconstitutional. That required Judge Jones to make the analysis which appears in his opinion.
The Lemon case is the current standard for courts to use when determining if a state action (that includes the actions of local school boards) violates the First Amendment. The decision is here: Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). In that case, the US Supreme Court tried to bring some order out of the chaotic mess of earlier Establishment Clause cases, saying:
Every analysis in this area must begin with consideration of the cumulative criteria developed by the Court over many years. Three such tests may be gleaned from our cases.
Those three tests which the Supreme Court “gleaned” from earlier cases are now collectively referred to as Lemon test, which has three “prongs.” A state action (like a school board’s pro-ID policy) must pass through those prongs in order to survive a First Amendment challenge. They are: (1) the statute (or school board policy, or any state action) must have a secular legislative purpose; (2) its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) the statute must not foster “an excessive government entanglement with religion.” (Those quote marks are in the Lemon opinion, because that language was taken from an earlier case.)
If a state action violates any one of the three prongs of the Lemon test, then it’s in violation of the First Amendment. That’s why the judge decided the question of whether ID is science or religion. It wasn’t a whim, it was his job — the whole case centered on the nature of intelligent design. Okay, let’s get back to Casey’s rant:
Since that trial, materialists have been proclaiming that the ID debate is over because a federal judge decided that it’s a religious concept, not a scientific one. But judges are not inerrant. In fact, the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling contains many factual and legal mistakes. Judge Jones’s errors include: [long list of alleged errors].
We’ve dealt with all of that in prior posts — see, for example, Casey and Kitzmiller — the Case He “Forgot”. Casey just can’t accept reality. His rant continues:
A court ruling cannot negate the scientific evidence pointing to intelligent design. Rather than showing that ID is not science, the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision shows that scientific and academic freedom in this country are at risk.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s more:
Judge Jones stated in his ruling that ID is a religious concept, in part because “Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God.” Is that a valid objection?
That was a tiny part of the opinion. Casey conveniently (or compulsively?) overlooks the mountains of other evidence the judge considered. We discussed a small part of it in Kitzmiller v. Dover: Who is the Intelligent Designer? There’s no shortcut, however; one needs to actually read the decision in order to grasp how overwhelming the evidence was. Moving along, Casey agrues:
If religious motives or beliefs are sufficient reasons to dismiss scientific theories, then many of the foundational figures of modern science would have to be erased from the record.
Yeah, yeah — Isaac Newton and all those guys before Darwin. But Casey fails to grasp that Newton’s scientific work wasn’t religious in nature. That’s in contrast to intelligent design, which is nothing but religious. Another excerpt:
ID and neo-Darwinian evolution are both scientific theories that can have larger philosophical or religious implications. But the fact that they may have implications for or against theism does not disqualify either of them from being scientific.
That’s true, but what disqualifies ID isn’t its implications. Rather, it’s the fact that it has no evidence, no tests, no research, and no comprehensible theory. Aside from a few things like that, it’s rock solid. Here’s the end of the rant:
Science should be an empirically based search for truth. If ID critics want to harp upon the religious beliefs and motives of ID proponents, then they should be forewarned that the argument cuts both ways. Scientists, whatever their personal beliefs, should have every right to express their views. Their personal religious or anti-religious views are irrelevant as long as they are making sound scientific claims.
Nice going, Casey. We look forward to your next Kitzmas rant.
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