Looking Ahead: The Controversy In 2014

Here it comes — our year-end rant that will upset almost everyone. This has become a tradition around here — as each year comes to a close, we discuss what the new year will be like in The Controversy between evolution and creationism. Some of this is copied from our year-end posts of earlier years, because certain things never change.

To keep everything in perspective, remember that The Controversy is a tiny but prominent part of a greater struggle. Creationism by itself is goofy and insignificant, but it’s the vehicle chosen by the Enlightenment’s enemies — Western Civilization’s counter-revolutionaries (see The Infinite Evil of Creationism).

Creationists often say that logic and morality are possible only with their worldview, but we know that’s ridiculous. In a universe where Oogity Boogity is the explanation for everything, logic has no place. Reason is the only antidote for the creationists’ madness and the tyranny with which they hope to enforce it, which is why they hate reason. When Oogity Boogity is the officially authorized answer to all questions, thinking becomes a crime against the state. In the creationists’ longed-for theocratic paradise, reason is treason.

Creationists are unintentionally funny, but with all the entertainment we enjoy with our sarcasm and ridicule of their insanity, it’s necessary to remind ourselves that this is no joke. Although society may seem stable, it’s always on the brink of falling into the darkness, and that’s really what this is all about.

What’s at stake here isn’t the theory of evolution. All the babbling about that is merely the confused ravings of misguided simpletons and crazed charlatans. What’s really going on is a conflict of infinitely greater importance. We’re engaged in a war for the preservation of the Enlightenment, which is the ultimate accomplishment of Western Civilization. Even if you’re not personally involved, you’re going to be affected, so you’ve got to be aware of what’s going on. Don’t forget for a moment that the oh-so-holy and moralistic creationists would cheer wildly if you were tied to the stake and torched for heresy.

Now then, what can we expect in the coming year? Unless there’s an unexpected cutoff in the funding of the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — they’ll continue to be the lobbying and public relations engine that drives creationist legislation. We explained all that when we began this blog (see: Enemies of the Enlightenment). The Discoveroids have a large, faith-based network of sympathetic supporters in local school boards and state legislatures around the country, including some members of Congress. They also have an undetermined number of other accomplices in various advocacy groups and in the media. Much of their support network consists of “public interest” groups with the word “Family” in their organization’s name. They’re all fellow travelers and useful idiots who eagerly do the Discoveroids’ bidding.

There will be more creationist legislation to track, as idiotic legislators keep trying to force creationism into the public schools. You may be sure that such bills are already being prepared for the legislatures in various states — most recently in the guise of “academic freedom” laws. If you need to know the dates of this year’s state legislative sessions, you can refer to this: 2014 Legislative Session Calendar.

One area of activity that does change from year to year is litigation. At the moment, the court case we’re watching is the federal civil-rights lawsuit John Oller filed against the the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Our last update was John Oller Litigation Update — 18 Nov 2013. You can see the court’s docket here: Oller v. Roussel et al, but most of the pleadings can’t be read without a subscription. The last we heard, the trial was delayed until 19 May 2014.

There’s also that wild case in Kansas to bar the implementation of the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). That suit was filed in the US District Court’s Topeka office. Our last post about it was Kansas Creationism Case: The State Strikes Back. NCSE is tracking it here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE.

There are potential cases we’re watching for. The expected prosecution of Northern Ireland creationist David McConaghie, who has been accused of bathroom voyeurism, is still stalled (so to speak) while the matter is being probed — see Creationist Voyeurism: McConaghie Update. And the Ball State Imbroglio is still smoldering, but we regard it as potentially explosive. Our last post on that one was Jo Ann Gora Will Resign.

One thing we know for sure — there will be no scientific breakthroughs that support creationism. A breakthrough in creation science is about as likely as one that supports astrology. It’s just not going to happen. Despite all the noise they make, creationists have had no impact on science, industry, agriculture, medicine, academia, or any other rational endeavor. We often fail to notice what doesn’t exist, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that creationists have failed to accomplish anything of any substance whatsoever. All the action they generate will be legal and political, because despite the endless propaganda, The Controversy has nothing to do with science — well, nothing except destroying it.

And don’t imagine that the political battle-line is Republican vs. Democrat. It may superficially seem so, because the GOP has more creationists than do the Dems. Both political parties are crazed, although in different ways, and neither is a friend of the Enlightenment.

Something strange and horrible happened to the US in the 1960s. Before then, both political parties had essentially the same foreign policy, and we had not only prevailed through two World Wars, but we had become the undisputed leader of the Free World in the struggle against the Soviets. Additionally, both parties supported science, undoubtedly due to the success of the Manhattan Project and then the Space Race.

But then, just when the future seemed unlimited, something happened. It was as if the gods decided to flip a switch and change everything. The Dems lurched wildly to the left, launched the Great Society, the environmental movement, and a variety of other social experiments — all of which expanded the size of government at the expense of the private economy. At the same time they’ve withdrawn from defending freedom around the world. While that was happening, the GOP was captured by the social conservatives and by the surprising emergence of creation science among religious primitives, who became politically mobilized to legislate their own bizarre agenda.

The result is that your Curmudgeon finds both parties repulsive. Neither Jack Kennedy nor Barry Goldwater would recognize today’s political landscape, and certainly the Founders would be aghast at what we’ve become. But let’s not dwell on that. It’s too depressing, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

So we’ll stay focused on The Controversy. As it continues, it will be played out not in science labs, but in courtrooms and legislative chambers — and of course the media. People come and go, code words are revised, and tactics evolve, but the game never really changes. Neither do we.

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

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23 responses to “Looking Ahead: The Controversy In 2014

  1. Our Curmudgeon notes

    Something strange and horrible happened to the US in the 1960s

    How about (1) Vietnam (for which we can thank the Dems) and (2) Richard M. Nixon (for whom one could also, in a way, thank the Dems)?

  2. Sitting here in little old England I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a little while now,though i suspect that in 2014 you will still be highlighting the Purveyors of Oogity Boogity and their theocratic wedge,nevertheless here’s wishing you a happy new year.

  3. “Something strange and horrible happened to the US in the 1960s.”
    Yep and in didn’t happen in Western-Europe, where creationists are marginal (except perhaps for the UK; that I wouldn’t know).

    “The Dems lurched wildly to the left, launched the Great Society, the environmental movement, and a variety of other social experiments.”
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The Dems to the left! To the moderately right-wing you will mean.

    “the GOP was captured by the social conservatives and by the surprising emergence of creation science among religious primitives”
    Yeah and the intriguing question is: why didn’t that happen to any major political party in Western-Europe? Social conservatives more than enough.

    “the game never really changes”
    The game has slowly petered out in Western-Europe, festered as it was with communist and social-democratic parties. Weird isn’t it? Well, only in your worldview.

  4. OK, SC, now my thoroughly Dutch take on the Controversy. In The Netherlands plus several other Western-European countries something dramatical happened in the 60’s as well: governments made sure all education became available for everyone. As a result 50% of the Dutch has finished some form of higher education based on scientific principles. Guess who were responsible for this governmental regulation? Social-democrats and christen-democrats, ie those politicians who recognize that Adam Smith’ Invisible Hand is not a mechanism one always should rely on. Hence Controversy in the USA, not in Western-Europe.

  5. mnbo; not to dis the Netherlands by any means, but to compare a country about three times the size of metro Chicago and close to the same population @16M, it’s like comparing the Netherlands to my neighborhood. I’m willing to bet my neighborhood has a better standard of living and a higher rate of secondary education than the Netherlands.
    If you want to make it a fair comparison to the US, you need to include all the EU countries including Albania, Turkey, Cyprus, and Vatican City, to name a few.

  6. Richard Olson

    This site is great for tracking the activities of creationists.

  7. Aw, come on! Number Two on the Disco Tute “hall of shame” is a comment that they printed on the dust jacket of Meyer’s Hopeless Monster 2.

    Are you kidding me?

    The Number Two story is a dust jacket endorsement?

    Why not the outstanding review of “Doubt” in Science magazine by Charles Marshall who called Meyer’s work a “systematic failure of scholarship” or, in other words, a PACK OF LIES!

  8. When Americans start saying that there’s nothing that they can do about the politics of their country, we’re all in terrible trouble.

  9. “The Discoveroids have a large, faith-based network of sympathetic supporters in local school boards and state legislatures around the country, including some many members of Congress.”

  10. Docbill; I couldn’t control my anticipation for the DI’s #2 so I coerced my browser to the tooters site and I’ve never been more disappointed. Maybe I don’t understand how to intelligently design a countdown list, but I would have thought that you would get progressively better or at least less stupid.

  11. I’ve let the moment slip for properly responding on this thread; perhaps I’ll take up the topic on a future ‘Intellectual Free Fire Zone’ thread, but I’ll log here for now my growing question about our Curmudgeon’s assertion:

    Something strange and horrible happened to the US in the 1960s. Before then, both political parties had essentially the same foreign policy, and we had not only prevailed through two World Wars, but we had become the undisputed leader of the Free World in the struggle against the Soviets.

    I am thinking along the lines that much of the “strange and horrible” things that happened to the US were precisely a result of US “foreign policy” and the domestic view of the US as the “leader of the Free World.” My problem with that is at least twofold:

    [1] In the Manichean Good Guys vs. Bad Guys cartoon view that comprised the era of the Cold War, an awful lot of utterly appalling regimes were uncritically included under the banner of the ‘Free World’ (think: Saudi Arabia, or South Africa, &c &c). Any tin-pot despot who would at least denounce Communism was OK by the USA, with the result (inter alia) that every regional conflict could only be seen in Washington as a skirmish in the Cold War, which was a horribly distorting picture that led to many policy disasters.

    [2] The American self-proclaimed role of “leader of the Free World” was not always as benign as presumed by American domestic opinion, and in some regions clearly regarded (with some justification) as good ole fashioned assertion of hegemony by a nation state. Nothing new in that–but a significant number of Americans (in my opinion) did not seem to grasp this perception, fuelling the ‘you’re either with us or against’ mentality that has been both juvenile and disasterous in US foreign policy.

    Just my two cents worth on a rainy New Year’s Day….

  12. Megalonyx modestly says:

    I’ve let the moment slip for properly responding on this thread …

    No, this is a good day for it. Then Megalonyx says:

    In the Manichean Good Guys vs. Bad Guys cartoon view that comprised the era of the Cold War, an awful lot of utterly appalling regimes were uncritically included under the banner of the ‘Free World’

    Of course! There’s a serious shortage of so-called “Third World” nations that are governed by George Washington types. In a global conflict, you pick up the allies that happen to be available. In WWII, we were allied with the Soviets, a regime every bit as hellish as was Germany, and I never hear any rumblings about that. In the Cold War we supported the Shah of Iran. He may have been a bit of a despot, but compared to the lovelies who came after him, which would you prefer?

    The American self-proclaimed role of “leader of the Free World” was not always as benign as presumed by American domestic opinion, and in some regions clearly regarded (with some justification) as good ole fashioned assertion of hegemony by a nation state.

    Hegemony? Hogwash! When in history (before the US “hegemony”) has the hegemonic power refrained from taxing its “allies,” and forthrightly looting them? It’s true that we obtained mining and drilling rights around the world — but we paid for what we got. Would the world be a better place if those resources had been seized by the Soviets? Or if, today, they went to China? China supports Iran, and North Korea too. Foreign policy is an exercise in dealing with reality, not some academic dreamland.

    It’s very fashionable to criticize US foreign policy as it was in those days. Obama even apologizes for it. So now we’ve withdrawn from the world. Everybody happy now? I don’t think the world is better off as a result — but that’s expected. I’m a Curmudgeon.

  13. Richard Olson

    This is ‘withdrawn from the world’?

    What’s the cost of being free? With over 700 military bases in 130 countries throughout the globe, the United States military spending is greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India and the rest of NATO combined. And as the country drowns in debt, sources estimate that together, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost more than $150 billion a year. Imagine what the “city on the hill” could do if it invested that much money on domestic construction instead of international destruction.
    Read more at http://all-that-is-interesting.com/us-military-presence#ilp5XeroSUPojwlJ.99

  14. Not sure if previous post actually made it out of my machine; if it did, and is stuck in spam filter, please delete this duplicate! Here’s a corrected copy of the original:

    Our Curmudgeon notes

    In the Cold War we supported the Shah of Iran. He may have been a bit of a despot, but compared to the lovelies who came after him, which would you prefer?

    Except: the US didn’t “support” the Shah, the US installed him via a coup against a democratically elected (and nationalistic) government, he was substantially more than “a bit” of a despot (vastly more despotic, corrupt, and tyrannical than George III!), and the current crop of thuggish ‘lovelies’ aren’t simply the regime that “came after him”, they were able to seize power on the back of widespread unrest created by the Shah’s regime (propped up by Western governments). If I were a Discoveroid, I’d reduce the argument to: no Shah, no Khomeini… 🙂 By local measure, Mossadegh was a ‘George Washington figure.’

    History of Iran–in fact, of the Middle East–was very, very little to do with the Cold War, except in the eyes of American, British, and French governments. Now, I’m not actually disagreeing all the widely with most of your post, as it happens, except where I think you’ve oversimplified matters (which is impossible not to do in the blogosphere, I grant you!). One can make reasonable arguments for and against, say, Mossadegh’s nationalisation of Anglo-Persian Co. on economic or even, I suppose, moral grounds (and you’d probably be surprised by the side of that argument I’m inclined to take), but I think it unreasonable to argue that engineering a coup against a popular and democratic foreign government has had far ranging and deleterious unintended consequences.

  15. mnbo says “the game has slowly petered out in europe festered as it is with communists and social democrats”.
    Perhaps. However, we don’t have small man syndrome.
    The USA, has produced 320 Nobel Laureates since
    we pushed the fascists out of Holland (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
    Thats over 1 Nobel per million citizens in America (using todays 313 million as the total).
    The Netherlands have produced six, (6), since WWII and a total of 19 since the beginning of the 20th century.
    Thats roughly one Nobel Prize for every 2.5 million people in the Netherlands since WWII (using todays 16 million as the total).

  16. Megalonyx says: “Not sure if previous post actually made it out of my machine; if it did, and is stuck in spam filter”

    Yup, the ol’ spam filter gotcha again. I donno why. I’m keeping the second comment and tossing the original.

  17. @Megalonyx, Curmudgeon: I find Curm’s statement that the USA has withdrawn from defending freedom rather bizarre. Post-WWII the USA basically took over Hitler’s foreign policy, or at least his foreign policy toward communism. Hitler was on a religious jihad to wipe communism off the face of the Earth, and after we beat him, we took over that jihad, adopted the whole “Gott Mit Uns” ethic only translating it into “One Nation Under God” and inserting that into the Pledge of Allegiance. We set about supporting right-wing dictators with genocidal programs.

    Curm: In WWII, we were allied with the Soviets, a regime every bit as hellish as was Germany, and I never hear any rumblings about that. In the Cold War we supported the Shah of Iran. He may have been a bit of a despot, but compared to the lovelies who came after him

    Apples and oranges. Khomeini came after the Shah so it’s cause-effect, not either-or. The Shah was not “invaded” by Khomeini in the way the USSR was invaded by Hitler.

    We have to remember all the people in foreign countries who died as a result of US foreign policy. Their lives count for something. Ask the average American how many people died in Vietnam and if he’s educated, he’ll say 58,000 people. Asians just do not register. The number of Asian deaths in Vietnam is perhaps two million.

    The US supported right-wing dictators and death squads in many countries. We don’t even remember this. We supported the coup in Vietnam against Ngo Dinh Diem, who died as a result. We supported the coup in Chile, Sept. 11, 1975, against democratically elected Salvador Allende, who died as a result. The troops of his successor, Pinochet, just threw random people out of airplanes into the ocean. Los desapericidos.

    We supported coups in Guatemala, Iran, Greece and I don’t know how many other places.

    In the 1970’s, we supported Suharto in Indonesia who had launched an anti-communist purge that murdered perhaps two million people. In 1975, Pres. Ford was then a member of the fundamentalist Christian group “The Family” aka “The Fellowship”, which runs the Presidential Prayer Breakfast once a year, and uses the breakfast to evade State Dept. rules and introduce right-wing dictators to the President, as well as Senators and military contractors. The Fellowship’s internal documents, obtained by journalist Jeff Sharlet, showed they had been pushing for close ties between US government and military contractors as part of a deliberate plan. In 1975 Ford flew to Jakarta and green-lighted Suharto’s plan to annex East TImor. The invasion started within 24 hours of the President flying out of East Timor. The last radio transmissions from East Timor were about their imminent death. Hundreds of thousands were massacred by American-armed troops.

    The Family also supported Mohammed Siad Barre who burned Somalia to the ground, and Pinochet in Chile. Jeff Sharlet wasn’t able to examine the Family’s documents about Pinochet because the Family closed their archives before his research was done. There’s probably more horrible stuff in their archives.

    In the 1980’s we supported right-wing dictators and death squads in Central America, and the mujahedin in Afghanistan, with whom Osama bin Laden was fighting at the time, and we supported apartheid South Africa.

    Apartheid was supported by Ronald Reagan, Pat Robertson (who argued that the West needed Africa’s natural resources, and Pat Robertson himself proceeded to literally loot Africa’s resources with his mining companies funded by his Christian donors), and creationist one-hit wonder Ted Nugent, now star of Fox News, who stated clearly that Apartheid was good because not all men are created equal.

    In the 1980’s we also “tilted” towards Saddam Hussein in the war he started against Iran to seize its territory. Iran, however flawed, was the innocent victim in that war. We provided intelligence to Hussein to help him out, and huge numbers of Iranians died as a result, including children.

    We’ve done and still do everything we can to assist the Israelis in seizing land and property from Arabs. We don’t even think Palestinians are human. They might as well be monkeys to us. They’ve got no property rights.

    Today we rapidly accelerate AGW, knowing full well that the rising of the oceans will cause entire nations to disappear. Granted, they’re island people, and we’ve always seen island people as Tarzans and Man Fridays. They’ve got no property rights.

    In America we don’t give any thought to all the people affected by our actions– it’s not clear we regard them as humans– certainly we don’t respect their property rights. Their lives are worse less than our lives, but how much less, I wonder? A thousandth? A millionth?

  18. Diogenes, nice rant. A bit one-sided, however. Got any info on Soviet behavior during the occupation of their satellites? Or doesn’t that matter?

  19. Richard Olson

    If Soviet superpower Cold War behavior results in equal catastrophe as USA superpower Cold War behavior, do the two sums of catastrophe somehow cancel each other on the cosmic balance sheet? If another misbehaves, does that permit license to also misbehave up to and equal the misbehavior of the other? Is wrong behavior only wrong if/when it exceeds the wrong behavior of another, and not innately wrong (my apologies, Euthyphro)?

  20. As Bill O’Reilly would say, you can’t justify bad behavior by pointing to worse behavior.

    And Curm describes my post as a “rant.” He knows it is not a rant. He has seen me rant; if I wanted to rant about US foreign policy, your sneakers would melt. More like a eulogy.

    Curm calls it a “rant” in order to portray factually accurate statements as emotional or irrational. Common far right rhetorical technique.

  21. mnbo commented that Europe doesn’t seem to have the same problem of creationism that we see in the US. Not being familiar with the popular culture in European countries, I’d have to take his word for it.

    But assuming that’s true, I’d say the US creationism problem is due primarily to the strength of the Southern Baptists, and the younger evangelical offshoots that insist on a literal reading of the KJB.

    As for US foreign policy, no comment. I only have opinion, and that would just muddy the waters. My knowledge base is science. However, I will say that I’ve been around long enough to observe that there is much truth to the adage that “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  22. Diogenes says: “Common far right rhetorical technique.”

    You know I’m far from the far right. But it’s indisputable that communists — when power — are thieves and murderers. When we were in a global conflict with the Soviets, supporting anti-communist regimes was the proper thing to do.

  23. Our Curmudgeon asserts

    When we were in a global conflict with the Soviets, supporting anti-communist regimes was the proper thing to do.

    No, not in all cases: think of Afghanistan, where we were so blinded by our belief we were in just such a “global conflict with the Soviets” we help build the radical Islamist factions (such as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami, whose Mohammed Omar went on to form the Taliban). My enemy’s enemy ain’t always my friend–but US policy makers were so locked in to the cartoon version of geopolitics to work that out.

    Much more could be said on this topic, but I fear it would take us far beyond the reasonable limits of your excellent blog. I do predict, with some confidence, that historians of the not-too-distant future will come to regard the 20th Century Cold War in much the same way as we now regard the 17th Century European conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism, i.e., a good old fashioned power struggle about which the contemporary ideological rhetoric was flat-out wrong.

    Let’s check my predication together in about 30 years 🙂