Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Creationist Wisdom #541: Truth Doesn’t Change

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Republic of Fairfield, California. It’s titled Truth does not change. The newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. But today’s letter is written by The Rev. Art Zacher, pastor of the Berean Baptist Church in Fairfield.. Excerpts from the rev’s letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

How does one determine truth from error? The March 2015 cover story of National Geographic features “The War on Science.” This issue suggested that those who disagree with their current views of “science” are ignorant and uneducated.

The rev is talking about this: Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?, which was the March cover story. It must have hurt the rev’s feelings, because then he says:

Does science really have all the answers? Perhaps true science does, but often false science is used as a trump card. The Bible warns in 1 Timothy 6:20, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” Science is rarely settled. Often what is taught as true in one generation is discarded by the next.

You know where this is going. The rev likes his “science” to have all the answers, and he wants those answers to be be eternally true. Let’s read on:

Consider for a moment the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial that occurred in Dayton, Tennessee, where the validity of evolution was debated. Interestingly enough, all the scientific evidence used in that trial to support evolution and was strongly promoted by scientists at that time has been discredited.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The validity of evolution was not debated at the Scopes Trial. It was such a biased affair that Clarence Darrow wasn’t allowed to present any evidence for evolution. Wikipedia says Darrow “brought in eight experts on evolution. But other than Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist from Johns Hopkins University, the judge would not allow these experts to testify in person. Instead, they were allowed to submit written statements so that their evidence could be used at the appeal.”

Your Curmudgeon has a transcript of the trial. We read Metcalf’s testimony — during which the jury was excluded from the courtroom. Most of it was a review of his education and employment. He wasn’t allowed to present any evidence for evolution. He was barely allowed to define evolution, and he couldn’t discuss its acceptance among scientists, because that was objected to as hearsay. Nevertheless, the rev gives a long list of evidence he claims was presented at the trial, including: Neanderthal Man, Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Haeckel’s drawings, peppered moth color changes, and vestigial organs. Regarding that list, the rev claims that:

All these proofs were believed by many of the scientists of that day as irrefutable evidence of evolution. Of course, this doesn’t disprove evolution, but it certainly doesn’t help the claim of “settled science.” It does show that this so-called “science,” though believed by many, was based on misinterpreted data, outright fraud and wishful thinking.

It would take pages to respond to that, and it’s not worth the bother. Anyway, none of those things were used as evidence in the Scopes trial. The rev continues:

Truth is not determined by majority consensus. This principle holds whether it is in the discipline of science or of morals. The Bible claims to be the truth. Jesus said in John 17:17, “Thy word is truth.” If one rejects the Bible as the source of truth, all sorts of problems arise, such as this: Where does truth come from?

Jeepers, without his bible, the rev wouldn’t know anything. Your Curmudgeon is always a gentleman, so we won’t say that even with his bible, the rev — no, we won’t say it. Here’s more from the rev’s letter:

Without absolute truth, you drift toward absolute chaos.

Wow — if it’s not one absolute it’s another, and the rev is trying to save us from chaos. What a great guy! Moving along, the rev has some suggestions for determining the truth — and none of them is even remotely related to the scientific method:

When considering hot-button issues such as abortion, global warming, nontraditional “marriage” or evolution, my first suggestion is, follow the money. If someone has financial incentives to lie, their testimony is unreliable.

The only reliable truth comes from the unemployed. Wait — the rev is employed, and his livelihood depends on his claim that he’s got the truth. So can we trust him? This is confusing, but that was only the rev’s first suggestion. He has three more:

Second, if a position is strong, there is no reason to lie or mislead by tampering with the data. Third, those who intentionally lie or mislead cannot be trusted – period.

If we follow those two suggestions, then no creationist can be trusted. Here’s number four:

Fourth and most important, if a theory contradicts the Bible, you can be sure it is wrong.

That’s a good one! This is the rev’s final paragraph:

Nothing from archeology, history or ancient documents has ever been able to sustain questions concerning the validity and the integrity of the Bible. The Bible can weather the storm. Truth does not change. It stands forever.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The rev’s statement is confined to archeology, history, and ancient documents. Even that limited claim is dubious, but somehow he left out biology, geology, physics, and astronomy. Oh, wait — they contradict the bible, so they’re worthless. Great letter, rev!

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Kansas NGSS Case — Creationists’ Brief Is Filed

You remember the lawsuit we first wrote about in Kansas Creationism: It’s Back Again. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

Contrary to all expectations, Kansas recently adopted the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). Then a lawsuit was filed in the US District Court’s Topeka office, attempting to block Kansas from implementing the science education standards on the grounds that … well, evolution is atheism, you know. Here’s a link to the plaintiffs’ complaint — it’s a 51-page pdf file: COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al. The lead plaintiff’s initials stand for their Orwellian name, “Citizens for Objective Public Education.”

If you’re looking for a good time, take a look at “Exhibit A,” starting on page 37 of the complaint. It’s a letter that COPE (one of the plaintiffs) wrote back in June 2012, listing their objections to what were then the proposed science standards. It’s an amazing catalog of creationist arguments — one of the best collections we’ve ever seen.

Among the lawyers for the creationist plaintiffs is John Calvert, who made a name for himself during the Kansas evolution hearings back in 2005. Wikipedia lists him among the participants and says that he “has worked closely with the Discovery Institute in finding constitutionally allowable ways to bring intelligent design and failing there, Teach the Controversy, into public schools.”

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) are tracking the case and have an archive of the pleadings here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE. You can find links to a lot of information at the Justia website: COPE et al v. Kansas State Board of Education et al, but you can’t access the court’s docket, which lists what’s been filed, and you can’t read the pleadings without a PACER subscription.

The state filed a motion to dismiss based on, among other things, sovereign immunity, the plaintiffs have no standing, the science standards (the NGSS) are secular, not religious, the NGSS standards don’t violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, and they don’t restrict the plaintiffs’ right of free speech. Then — wonder of wonders! — that motion was granted and the case was dismissed. NCSE has archived a copy of the judge’s order, which you can read here: Order on Motion to Dismiss. It’s a 37-page pdf file.

Our last post about the case was back in December when the creationists filed an appeal: Kansas NGSS Case — It’s Back!. Things have been quiet since then, but we just found a bit of news in the Topeka Capital-Journal of Topeka, Kansas, the state capital. Their headline is Parents’ group Citizens for Objective Public Education files appeal in fight against Kansas public schools curriculum. The newspaper has a comments feature.

That’s a misleading headline, because the notice of appeal was filed months ago. What just happened is that the creationist plaintiffs have filed their brief. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us:

Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) is asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the organization’s lawsuit that seeks to stop the 2013 plan. The group contends the plan violates the religious rights of students, parents and taxpayers and is unconstitutional.

[…]

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that the plaintiffs didn’t have “standing.” Standing is a legally protectible stake or interest in a dispute that entitles a plaintiff to bring the dispute to court.

We already know that. What’s the news? Let’s read on:

A new 64-page COPE filing at the Denver-based court contends that a judge in Kansas City, Kan., erred in December by throwing out the organization’s lawsuit.

That’s the news — all of it. NCSE has a copy of the brief in their archive — Brief of Appellants. It’s a 119-page pdf file. If you like reading that stuff, go right ahead. We don’t plan to spend any time on it, and we sympathize with the lawyers who will have to reply to the thing. This is what the newspaper says about it:

The standards [the NGSS] endorse and seek to establish “a non-theistic religious Worldview in the guise of science education,” COPE claims in arguments filed at the appeals court. The organization argues that in dismissing the lawsuit Crabtree “incorrectly characterized” parents and children who are plaintiffs as “bystanders” whose injuries from the standards are abstract, rather than concrete and particular.

So there you are. Thus ends today’s episode of the creationist soap opera in Kansas. [*Emotional violin music swells in the background*] Will the good, god-fearing folks of Kansas triumph against the satanic evolutionists? Will the atheist state force its godless theory of evolution on the innocent children? Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode of Kansas, the Flat Earth State — Rapture or Retribution?

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

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Creationist Wisdom #540: Secret Things

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Nevada Appeal of Carson City, the capital of Nevada. It’s titled Exposing evolution’s fatal flaws. The newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. But today’s letter is written by Ben Fleming, pastor of Silver Hills Community Church. Excerpts from the rev’s letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, wrote, “Evolution is a universal acid that dissolves every ethical and moral system it encounters.” The extent evolution is indeed such a “universal acid” helps in explaining our societal decay.

Creationists don’t like Daniel Dennett, the author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. That Wikipedia article has a brief section on his universal acid expression. You’ll be shocked — shocked! — to learn that it doesn’t speak of dissolving “every ethical and moral system it encounters.” They quote Dennett as writing: “it eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways.”

Okay, Back to the rev’s letter:

Evolution teaches nature selects those organisms which leave more offspring; and the more sexually aggressive a person, the more offspring he would usually produce.

That’s odd. We don’t recall Darwin advocating sexual aggression. Let’s read on:

In addition, Jerry Bergman, in The Darwin Effect, says eugenics — selective breeding and sterilization to create a superior race — which the Nazis adopted and attempted to put into practice, was birthed from evolution. Hitler made it clear in his writings and speeches he believed in evolution and the survival of the fittest. That was why he had millions of so-called “lesser persons” murdered.

That’s absolute garbage. Hitler knew nothing, wrote nothing, and said nothing about Darwin — see Hitler and Darwin. As for eugenics, as we explained in Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin, Darwin specifically rejected the idea. The concept of destroying defective children was practiced in Sparta, and it was Plato who recommended state-supervised selective breeding of children — see The Republic by Plato, Book 5.

The rev isn’t doing very well. Then he describes some of the intellectual horrors he routinely encounters:

Evolution has gripped our world view. Man becomes the center of his existence, and whether or not they admit it, the majority of Christians accept evolution. We Christians do not know why we must reject it. We question how God created man. Is man made in God’s image? Can we honestly believe God created all things in six literal days? Did God actually create something out of nothing, since evolution tells us there must be a “Big Bang?” I had coffee with an agnostic college student who told me, “It’s a fact that all men come from Africa.” He genuinely believes man came from monkeys.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the rev continues with his catalog of horrors:

The Bible tells us God instructed Noah to bring two of every kind of animal into the ark. How could this boat be big enough to hold dinosaurs? If they fit into the ark, how did Noah feed them? What kept them from killing the other animals? Some people conclude the dinosaurs died off before the flood, while some people even discount a great flood. People have so many questions about dinosaurs, and they seldom find sound answers to their questions.

This is terrible! How can the rev respond to such misguided unbelievers? He gives us the answer:

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the word of this law.” Is it enough to conclude the dinosaurs are one of the secret things of God? Should I not just accept the mystery of the dinosaurs?

Well? Is it enough to accept that such mysteries are “the secret things of God”? The rev concludes by inviting you to his church this Sunday, to hear a speech which will be given by Keaton Halley, a speaker with Creation Ministries International. It sounds like a great opportunity.

If you plan to be in Carson City, Nevada this weekend, and you’re in the mood for some of that ol’ fashioned, down-home, foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’, psalm-singin’, floor-rollin’, rafter-shakin’, old-time creationism, now you know where to find it.

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

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Ken Ham’s Litigation: Kentucky Moves To Dismiss

If you don’t know about the suit filed against Kentucky by Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — it’s discussed here: AIG’s Complaint Against Kentucky. The last time we posted about it was Ken Ham’s Litigation: Two Reactions.

Today we have some news from the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (not far from ol’ Hambo’s Creation Museum). Their headline is Beshear asks for dismissal of Ark case. An icon below the headline will take you to the newspaper’s comments feature.

“Beshear” refers to Steve Beshear, the Governor of Kentucky. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The Beshear administration on Friday asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by developers of a proposed Noah’s Ark theme park over the state’s rejection of tax incentives for the project.

That’s expected. It would be unusual for the motion to be granted, but one never knows. Then we’re told:

Park developers Answers in Genesis filed the lawsuit in February in U.S. District Court claiming its right to freedom of religion was violated by the state’s denial of its application for $18 million in state tax incentives to for the park in Grant County. The suit was filed against Gov. Steve Beshear and Bob Stewart, secretary of the state Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

We know all that. Ol’ Hambo claims his religious freedom was violated by the State’s denying him that $18 million. Let’s read on:

In their motion to dismiss on Friday, Beshear and Stewart said, “Providing the public funding sought for religious purposes … would constitute an unlawful establishment of religion” under the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions. [That ellipsis is in the newspaper’s article.]

It’s possible that the judge might dismiss the complaint. You know about the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Here’s the Kentucky Constitution. Section 5 of the state’s Bill of Rights says:

No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion; nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed; and the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

And although it doesn’t seem directly applicable to Hambo’s theme park, Section 189 of the Kentucky Constitution says:

No portion of any fund or tax now existing, or that may hereafter be raised or levied for educational purposes, shall be appropriated to, or used by, or in aid of, any church, sectarian or denominational school.

Back to the news story:

Beshear and Stewart said that the state’s denial of public funds for the ark park “reflects no hostility toward Plaintiffs’ faith” and does not prohibit Answers in Genesis and its affiliated organizations from following their religious beliefs.

That’s certainly true. The rest of the story is background information, so we can do without it. But this is worth noting:

Last year a board within the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet that reviews such applications gave preliminary approval of an application seeking $18 million in tax rebates for the $73 million development that would feature a 510-foot wooden replica of Noah’s Ark.

But in December Stewart rejected the aplication [sic] on final review saying the applicant changed its position on hiring practices and now intended to discriminate in hiring based on religion. Stewart said the project had evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of the ministry activities of Answers in Genesis.

Motions to dismiss are usually routine, and in all likelihood, this one will be dismissed and the litigation will continue. We’ll be watching.

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

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