John West and the Methodists, Yet Again

Buffoon Award

The Discoveroids’ collective tantrum, which we last reported in Discovery Institute vs. Methodists, Continued, shows no sign of abating. Oh wait, we made one later post: A “Poll” on Discovery Institute vs. Methodists.

We’ve lost track of how many times the Discoveroids have written about the situation — at least 15, possibly 20 or more. Well, today they’ve done it again. Their creationist blog has a new article written by John West,whom we affectionately call “Westie.” He was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo above this post. Westie is vice President of the Discovery Institute, which makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy.

Westie’s article is Official United Methodist News Service Implies Intelligent Design Is … Satanic? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The United Methodist News Service (the official news service of the denomination) has published an article about the UMC’s ban on Discovery Institute from having an information table at its upcoming General Conference. I give a lot of credit to reporter Heather Hahn for being willing to talk with me to get Discovery Institute’s side of the story.

This is the article Westie’s talking about: Denial of GC2016 booth sparks protest. Westie quotes selectively from it, but he doesn’t mention a few things it says that we think are relevant, so we’ll present them here:

General Conference planners last month denied a group’s request to have a display at the 2016 legislative assembly, saying the group was not in line with the church’s social teachings.

[…]

The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design, argues church leaders are ignoring the denomination’s motto of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” The group has set up a website urging people to email various United Methodists seeking a reversal. The Commission on General Conference has a vetting team to ensure exhibitors conform with the Social Principles, the denominational teachings contained in both the United Methodist Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions. The Discovery Institute did not quite meet this test, a commission leader says.

[…]

Intelligent design proposes that life is so complex that nature must have had an intelligent designer. After the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 [an obvious reference to Edwards v. Aguillard] struck down creation science in public schools as unconstitutional, intelligent design gained popularity as an alternative to the study of conventional evolutionary biology. The Discovery Institute, a public policy think tank founded in 1991, explicitly seeks to champion intelligent design in academia.

However, according to its Social Principles, The United Methodist Church does not see conflict between faith in God and the study of biological evolution.

[…]

General Conference in 2008 [that was after the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District] approved a resolution “opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.” The commission cited the resolution specifically in declining the Discovery Institute’s exhibit application.

In other words, the Methodists know exactly what the Discoveroids are up to, and they want no part of it. The Discoveroids’ natural constituency is comprised of (1) idiots who think their “theory” really is science; and (2) hard-core creationists who don’t care about that, but who recognize that the Discoveroids are fellow creationists. The Methodists don’t fit either description.

Okay, back to Westie’s post. He doesn’t quote that stuff — it’s too revealing. Instead he focuses on other things. He says:

But there are some rather strange passages in the article. Take the following sentence:

[Westie’s quote from the UMC article:] Because intelligent design starts with belief in a designer, who as Jesus said should not be put to the test, it doesn’t offer testable hypotheses the way evolutionary biology does.

Westie doesn’t mention that his quote was described in the UMC article as coming from Jory Weintraub an immunologist “at United Methodist-related Duke University,” even though that link to Weintraub’s page is in the UMC article. Anyway, he claims that it’s wrong:

First and foremost, intelligent design does not start with “belief in a designer.” It starts with the empirical data of nature, and from this data it infers the existence on an intelligent cause.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

Second, intelligent design most certainly does offer testable hypotheses. Casey Luskin and William Dembski have both offered good discussions of this issue, as does Stephen Meyer in Appendix A of his book Signature in the Cell.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Westie continues:

Finally, there is the appeal to the authority of Jesus. The reference is to a passage in the New Testament where Jesus is tempted by Satan to prove himself the Son of God and Jesus responds: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12). The implication seems to be that intelligent design is not only wrong, it’s a temptation straight from Satan! Wow.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! “Wow” indeed! Here’s more, and now Westie gets around to picking on Jory Weintraub, with whom he had some email exchanges:

Dr. Weintraub also wouldn’t disclose whether he himself is a United Methodist, or what his own religious affiliation might be. Of course, he has every right to weigh in with his opinion regardless of religious affiliation. But the article makes a point to highlight that Weintraub works for the “United Methodist-related Duke University,” as if that gave him special authority to speak for the UMC. Given the context, I thought readers might want to know what his own religious views are.

Gasp! Could it be that Dr. Weintraub isn’t a Christian? That would certainly discredit everything he says. Egad — he might even be Jewish! How dare he — of all people! — suggest that the Discoveroids are Satanic? Good point, Westie!

The Discoveroid article babbles on, but this is long enough. You get the picture. Westie has once again demonstrated that he is a worthy recipient of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “John West and the Methodists, Yet Again

  1. “First and foremost, intelligent design does not start with “belief in a designer.” It starts with the empirical data of nature, and from this data it infers the existence on an intelligent cause.

    We’re breathlessly waiting for your evidence, any evidence whatsoever, Westie.
    Perhaps the Dishonesty Institute saw this as a potential moneymaker and now they’re left out in the cold, tin cups in hand in the street back alleys.

  2. With each of his whining posts, Westie reveals more of the Tooter idea that they are somehow entitled to spread their propaganda anywhere they want, in any venue no matter how private. This is the mindset of the religious fanatic. The whining and sniveling of the Tooters gives me much to laugh about. Waldteufels thrive on Tooter tears; it’s a guilty pleasure, I confess.

  3. Attacking Dr. Weintraub, Westie sinsterly suggests

    I thought readers might want to know what his own religious views are

    Yet again, the DI takes a page straight out the Joe McCarthy playbook. Why deal in facts and data when you can smear?

  4. michaelfugate

    If the Intelligent Designer (blessed be he/she/it!) is responsible for mutations and given that most mutations are neutral and of those that aren’t neutral harmful ones outweigh beneficial ones, then doesn’t this make the Designer indifferent if not outright sadistic? Would that what we would infer from the evidence?

  5. DavidK says: “We’re breathlessly waiting for your evidence, any evidence whatsoever, Westie.”

    You want evidence? Do ya? You probably can’t handle it, but okay — look out the window! Take a good look! Now then, how can you explain all of that without a designer? Huh? Huh?!

  6. Interestingly enough, in the SDA Mark of the Beast/Sunday Laws/End Times world of my youth, groups like the DI that try to mix religion and government were viewed in precisely this way. An executive at the DI would be seen as little more than an aspiring anti-Christ, conspiring to blur the lines between religion and state at the behest of Beelzebub.

  7. Of course, the religious views of the Discovery Institute fellows, employees, and adherents are irrelevant and, quite frankly, none of your danged business.

    What everyone else believes is incredibly important and cause for endless speculation.

  8. Mike Elzinga

    The UMC article by Heather Hahn is worth reading in its entirety.

    As I mentioned on a previous thread, I gave a series of talks to the UMC back in the 1970s and 80s. There is no doubt in my mind that the UMC knows exactly the game that the Discovery Institute is playing.

    Incidentally; Heather Hahn mentions the flood of angry emails they got, but she also mentions emails in support. One of those emails in support of the UMC’s decision not to allow the Discovery Institute to have a booth was mine. In that email I reviewed the history of the ID/creationist movement, their Potempkin village of cargo cult science, and I also referred them to the materials and court cases archived at the National Center for Science Education.

    The UMC knows the the story of ID/creationism pretty well. Westie can scream all he likes; it will get him nowhere. In fact it will simply confirm the historical behavior of ID/creationists that everyone is now totally familiar with.

    So keep on screaming, Westie.

  9. Mike Elzinga

    I forgot to mention that the UMC article by Heather Hahn provides a link to the Dover decision in the archives of the National Center for Science Education. She also mentions the UMC’s awareness of the role played by the DI in that trial.

    I had specifically referenced Kitzmiller vs.Dover and the other major trials in my email, and directed the UMC to the materials at the NCSE. So it is clear that the UMC knows the details of ID/creationism’s history far more than Westie is aware.

  10. Well, at least we know who the 2016 Censor of the Year will be!

  11. It takes a special kind of crazy to get in a denominational flame war with an established mainstream Christian national church over their non acceptance of your dressed in a lab coat creationism dogma.
    Well done Westie..!

  12. Dr Weintraub of Duke University on the UMC decision to not allow the Discoverhoids to spin their Dark Ages dogma at the churches national council.”“In my opinion, the UMC’s stance on this topic reflects an open-minded, progressive, enlightened view that is absolutely necessary if people of faith are going to understand and embrace science without feeling alienated or marginalized,” Weintraub said by email. “This is exactly what the science community (which, itself, includes many people of faith) wants to see.
    Only the kooks and looneys are being swept along in Westie’s diatribes.
    This REALLY got under his very frail and transparent fraudulent skin.
    Way to go UMC.

  13. Not only does the UMC leadership know exactly what the Discovery Institute is, because the DI has thrown their temper tantrum, the UMC has been compelled to re-iterate it’s position on real science vs faux science to it’s worldwide membership through it’s official news service. The church publicly described the Discovery Institute and it’s role in advancing bogus science as an attempt to introduce religion into the classroom, both to it’s members and to anyone else that follows it’s news (as, no doubt, at least some reporters do.). The UMC clearly stated that science and faith are not in conflict. This is not good for the DI, and had they held their temper, it never would have happened.

    Further, the DI has informed it’s own followers in it’s numerous rants on this issue that at least one major mainstream religious denomination holds that it’s perfectly okay to believe in God and also accept evolution. The DI’s carefully cultivated message for many years is that evolution is atheistic and the source of all evil in the world. Well, apparently that’s not true – the DI now tells it’s followers.

    This reminds me of when they held a lecture at SMU, another Methodist school, and were slammed by SMU professors afterwards. Some lessons are never learned.

  14. SC: “The Discoveroids’ natural constituency is comprised of (1) idiots who think their “theory” really is science; and (2) hard-core creationists who don’t care about that, but who recognize that the Discoveroids are fellow creationists.”

    Like nearly everyone but me you omitted the most important part of their “natural constituency”: (3) paranoid fanatics who know that evolution and ~4 billion year of common descent are thoroughly supported by an unsought convergence of multiple lines of independent evidence, that “scientific” creationism is several mutually-contradictory, long-falsified “theories,” and that ID is a scam to conceal those horrendously inconvenient facts from the “masses” whom they think can’t handle them (even though most can).

  15. I wonder how many people are in consistency (1).
    ISTM that most people who believe that there is something interesting about their favorite idea would tend to enlarge upon it. There is something odd about going to such lengths to avoid that.

  16. @TomS:

    Exactly. Not sure if SC meant “consistency” to include the Discoveroids as well as their fans, but it’s a safe bet that there are exactly zero Discoveroids that are 1s, and probably <1% of them 2s. In radical authoritarian cultures there are leaders and followers, with only a tiny fraction "in transition." I often semi-joke that the "wisdom" letter writers are among those rare "transitional fossils," but in fact they have already crossed the most important line, the one where they realize that what others need to believe is much more important what they themselves believe. They have already begun to learn what to say, and what to omit.

    Fans of Biblical creationism are almost all 2s, but fans of the DI, probably also mostly 2s, may include many 1s, given how little thought they give to the actual science. But I suspect that they too are being slowly replaced by, or quietly converting to, 3s.

  17. First and foremost, intelligent design does not start with “belief in a designer.” It starts with the empirical data of nature, and from this data it infers the existence on an intelligent cause.

    That wouyld certainly be news to the folks at Tennessee’s Bryan College, whose administration is now strong-arming its professors and other staff to sign a statement of faith asserting just that.

    And shouldn’t that be “existence of an intelligent cause”? Surely a public statement should be better edited than that!