Creationist Wisdom #618: Kitzmiller Was Wrong

Today’s letter is another response to the newspaper articles we wrote about a couple of weeks ago: Ten Years After the Kitzmiller Case, about several articles in the York Daily Record, located in York, Pennsylvania, which were written for the coming ten-year anniversary of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

The creationists aren’t happy, and the York Daily Record is allowing them to rant. We wrote about the first letter from one of them in #615: Kitzmiller, a Travesty. Today’s letter-to-the-editor is another, and it appears in the same newspaper. It’s titled Lessons from Dover ID case. The newspaper has a comments feature, but so far there’s only one comment.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. We Googled around and found that he may be a hog farmer, or perhaps he raises feed for hog farms, but that doesn’t qualify for full-name treatment. His first name is Harlan. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

He begins by vaguely referring to one of the newspaper’s articles celebrating the Dover case and an unnamed participant in the litigation, possibly Tammy Kitzmiller, about whom he says:

[S]he is still proud to be so narrow-minded to think it’s only one side to a story and it’s her side. If I was so narrow-minded, I would be hiding not smiling in the Sunday News photo.

Why wouldn’t Harlan be smiling? He tells us:

The people of Dover had faith in our judicial system and the outcome would be that the school did not teach intelligent design but gave the students a chance to see the other side by reading a book in the library.

Harlan sees himself as a fair-minded man. All he wants is to give the students a chance to read the other side. What library book does he have in mind? The Kitzmiller decision leaves little doubt. Starting on the first page of his opinion, Judge Jones wrote about the event that triggered the case:

On November 19, 2004, the Defendant Dover Area School District announced by press release that, commencing in January 2005, teachers would be required to read the following statement to students in the ninth grade biology class at Dover High School:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

And of course we all know about Of Pandas and People — a wretched creationist tract. What Harlan wants is the same thing the creationist school board wanted, and ten years later he’s still furious that his side lost. Let’s read some more from his letter:

It seems that Judge Jones came out of the same mold Kitzmiller did. Narrow-minded and one-sided and the knack to shuffle the facts to his thinking instead of the people’s rights to justice.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Harlan continues:

His decision cost the Dover school system $1 million of educational funding. And by the way, where did all this money go? The case couldn’t have cost this amount.

Really? What’s Harlan’s basis for saying that? Litigation is time-consuming and expensive. The trial itself lasted 40 days, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. The case generated an ark-load of papers, before and after the trial, all of which required time to research and prepare. The list of exhibits submitted by both sides is enormous, all of which had to be studied and when possible, rebutted. Witnesses had to be interviewed, deposed, and many had to travel to the courthouse and stay in hotels. $1 million doesn’t seem unreasonable for an effort of that magnitude. Here’s more:

Jones states no other school system challenged the intelligent design problem since. My answer to that statement is what other school system has a million dollars to gamble on a judge who scrambles the facts. (Duh.) If any other school system is faced with the same problem, don’t depend on our justice system (it only works sometimes).

Harlan seems oblivious to the facts brought out in the trial about the undeniably religious nature of intelligent design “theory,” and he’s also oblivious to the Constitutional prohibition of teaching religion in pubic schools. His position is simplicity itself: Hey, give the students a chance! Oblivion seems to be a requirement of creationism.

Ah well, now we come to the end:

Wake up, silent majority, and make your presence be known. The loudmouth minority is ruling and this has got to change.

So there you are. Harlan is unhappy. He’s not alone. To him, and all of those who agree with him, we say: BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #618: Kitzmiller Was Wrong

  1. Harlan seems oblivious to the facts brought out in the trial about the undeniably religious nature of intelligent design “theory,” and he’s also oblivious to the Constitutional prohibition of teaching religion in pubic schools.

    Exactly. His is an infantile reaction, as is typical of science-deniers of all strains. He sticks his fingers in his ears and . . .

  2. They keep getting it wrong. There are no gaps in the Theory! The gaps are in the evidence and those gaps keep getting filled. There is no gap in the theory for those folks to plug in “God did it.”

    They, instead, should be complaining about the Discoveroids who promised them they could supply scientific experts to “prove” ID before the court. Instead they ran like rats to dark corners where they could not be found during the trial. Sure, they lobbed some “editorials” from the West Coast, but even those undermined the Dover School Districts case, most of them saying they didn’t want ID to be taught in schools, just that the Theory of Evolution had gaps big enough for their god to hide in.

  3. Intelligent design is not a theory, its a theology. Although the words look similar – the Greek roots are different – the former from “theoria” consideration, speculation, a looking at – the latter from “theo” god.

  4. The case didn’t cost $1 million; the judgement awarded was $2 million, but the plaintiff’s lawyers donated their share.

  5. Although the words look similar – the Greek roots are different – the former from “theoria” consideration, speculation, a looking at – the latter from “theo” god.

    A good way to remember the root of “theoria” meaning “a looking at” is the American English word theater or British English word theatre.

  6. They keep getting it wrong. There are no gaps in the Theory!

    Very true. In fact, they are so very spectacularly wrong because if one was going to pick a scientific theory to complain about for lack of evidence and for problematic gaps, The Theory of Evolution would probably be one of the very worst of all possible choices. How many scientific theories have so many different kinds of evidence and slam-dunk arguments as The Theory of Evolution?

    Considering the huge percentage of people in the United States still denying The Theory of Evolution, science curricula should include far more emphasis on the importance of consilience in science. Students need to understand that what Ken Ham and others denigrate as “circular reasoning” is nothing of the sort—and is actually consilience from many different, independent confirmations of evidence. That’s an advantage, not a logical fallacy.

    A lot of evolution-deniers assume that The Theory of Evolution depends entirely on fossils. And the same mockers think that without radiometric dating, “old earth dogma” would entirely disappear. Surely any student who passes a high school biology course ought to be able to name at least six kinds of evidence and arguments for The Theory of Evolution. I don’t want to dictate to the experts in evolutionary biology how textbooks should be organized, but I’ve wondered if the first few chapters could deal with enough basic biology fundamentals that The Theory of Evolution could be introduced by the fourth chapter or so—and then continually referenced in the remainder of the textbook. My concern is whether too many high school biology textbooks are still “soft” on evolution in order to survive textbook adoption processes in the State of Texas and so it gets far too easy to relegate The Theory of Evolution toward the end of the textbook. (I’ve not looked at typical textbooks since the 1990’s but I’ve gotten the impression that it’s still a problem.)

    Although science instruction shouldn’t be entirely built around whatever Young Earth Creationists are saying, it would nevertheless seem wise to emphasize more strongly at least some of those very areas where evolution-deniers are piling their arguments. On topics like the age of the earth, it could be wise for textbooks to not only explain how we know that the earth is old but also why denialist claims are so ridiculous. In that way, if a student’s church has an “Answer in Genesis Weekend”, it would be great if the student already understands why “Were you there?” is so ridiculous, and be capable of saying “I can give you six reasons why I didn’t have to be there to know what happened.”

    Anybody who insists, “That would never work!”, should investigate and confirm that many churches where those kinds of “confrontations” have actually happened eventually decided that because church members hold various views on origins, they refuse to endorse any one viewpoint by bringing origins-ministries and “creation science” speakers into the church.)

  7. (Computer ate my last comment. I’ll try again):

    Apologies if I don’t bother reading Harlan’s “wisdom,” but since he claims to want “fairness”…

    All he wants is to give the students a chance to read the other side. What library book does he have in mind? (“Of Panda’s and People”)…

    …may I remind everyone that there are 3 sides, not 2:

    1. The science – that which has earned the right to be taught in science class, due to having what Pope John Paul II called a “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of evidence.

    2. Misrepresentation of that science, e.g. “Of Panda’s and People.”

    3. Refutation of #2 that exposes it to be pure misrepresentation. For that, the ideal place to start is Frank Sonleitner’s excellent review.

    2 and 3 would be topics not for science class, but encouraged for the ~99% of a student’s waking hours that he’s not in science class.

    So if Harlan truly wanted to be fair, he’d recommend 2 and 3. If he recommended 2, and omitted 3 – and let’s get real, he’s certainly aware of it, or other refutations – that would be effective censorship.

  8. Considering that most American students don’t use their school libraries except for assignments, and that most Americans never read another non-fiction book in their lives after leaving school, there would seem to be little harm in including a creationist book or two. Except that such books would be purchased with taxpayer money (unconstitutionally) and would, if creationists had their way, then become required reading in the name of “teaching the controversy.” (Well, if they really got their way, only such books would be permitted.)

  9. Eric Lipps: “… if creationists had their way, then become required reading…”

    True, but nowadays students can easily find plenty of non-tax-funded anti-evolution material. Certainly we don’t want to be perceived as banning such privately-funded material regardless of how misleading it is. My point, however, has nothing to do with that, but with the fact that anti-evolution activists rarely even mention the existence of, let alone demand or even “recommend,” sources that refute the anti-evolution propaganda. Instead they imply that the regular (legal, evolution-only) science lesson qualifies as the “point,” while their propaganda is the “counterpoint.” But that’s absurd, because an evolution lesson does not even mention creationism/ID, let alone misrepresent it. That’s why a truly fair “debate” has 3 parts not 2. That 2 of the 3 parts of the debate are inappropriate for science class is true but irrelevant to this point. And yes, I’m much more bothered that our side allows them to pretend that “part 3” doesn’t exist than with the fact that they “do what they gotta do.”

    The other question, “would they allow only anti-evolution material if they were allowed to (e.g. if Edwards v. Aguillard and Epperson v Arkansas were both reversed, unlikely as that is) is a good one. But I probably disagree with 99% of fellow “Darwinists” on the answer. Certainly Ken Ham and the other Biblical activists would revert to a pre-Scopes era role of demanding that evolution be banned, and teach their “evidences” for a 6-day-~6000 year ago creation. But the Discoveroids would not, because they know that it’s nonsense, and would only draw the attention of the “fence-sitter” students (as much as 50%) to where the real weaknesses are. No, the Discoveroids would only teach the bogus “weaknesses” of evolution, and stick to their “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” approach to the alternative. There would be no mention of Genesis because they know that it’s nonsense, legal or not. Outside of science class they may encourage belief “in spite of no evidence,” but they have done that already, such as Dembski’s pandering “Flood” speech.

  10. FrankJ
    I suggest that they know that the YEC-Deluge Geology-Baraminology excursus on Genesis is nonsense, and that there are alternatives which take account of the culture in which Genesis was composed, and the issues that concerned it.
    Whatever use one finds for Genesis, one can realize that it is an anachronism to treat it as addressing concepts which have appeared with the rise of modern science.
    It would be disasterous for anti-evolution to present fairly “all sides” about Genesis.