Category Archives: Intelligent Design

West Virginia Evolution Litigation

This news appears in the Charleston Daily Mail of Charleston, West Virginia — the capital and largest city of that state. Their stunning headline is Lawsuit claims evolution is a religion. The newspaper has a comments section. Here are some excerpts from the article, with bold font added by us:

A parent of a Jefferson County student has filed a federal lawsuit against local, state and federal education officials claiming the teaching of evolution, which he says is a religion, violates his child’s Constitutional rights.

Your Curmudgeon is delighted. At last we have a topic to blog about that is worthy of our talents. Then we’re told:

Kenneth Smith, who is representing himself, filed the four-page federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia against the Jefferson County Board of Education, state Superintendent Michael Martirano, National Institute of Health director Francis Collins, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education.

Four pages! That’s a big complaint. He seems to have named all the right defendants. They’re probably hiding under their desks. Let’s read on:

“His complaint is against all Defendants, who’ve fostered the propagation of religious faith in our West Virginia public school machinery and government at large,” the May 12 lawsuit said. Smith alleged education officials violated the U.S. Constitution because he claimed they are “propagating” a religious faith in public schools.

Is that a quote from the complaint? Does Smith say: “His complaint …” instead of something like “Plaintiff alleges …”? This is very impressive! We continue:

“Their actions during the 2014-2015 school year affects [sic] my child’s future directly through the state grading system to enter college and the ability to earn economic security and a good job in her chosen veterinarian medical field of work, by being taught a faith base [sic] (evolutionary ideology) that just doesn’t exist and has no math to back it,” Smith’s lawsuit said.

There’s no math to back up evolution. Hey — that’s brilliant! Here’s more:

While denying the Plaintiff’s accurate scientific mathematical system of genetic variations that proves evolution is a religion, it will benefit our government economically and efficiently increase our judicial and law enforcement departments in many ways,” the lawsuit said.

Wowie — Smith has the math to prove that evolution is a religion! One more excerpt:

Smith’s lawsuit seeks a trial by jury and requests a federal judge declare evolution as violating the U.S. Constitution. A response has not yet been filed to this lawsuit.

We Googled around and found another source that says the suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, and is assigned to Judge Gina Groh. It looks like a PACER subscription is required to see anything at the court’s website.

Aha — we found it through the Justia website. It’s here: Smith v. Jefferson County Board of Education et al , but they also require a PACER subscription.

No problem. The press is certain to cover this case, so we expect to learn more — much more! Stay tuned to this blog.

Addendum: Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have just posted about the case: Antievolution lawsuit filed in West Virginia. They have a link to the complaint. It only takes a minute to read.

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Discovery Institute Attacks John Glenn

What John Glenn recently said about teaching evolution has been all over the news, and we knew it wouldn’t be long until we heard from the creationists. But before we get to them, here’s what the famed astronaut and former United States senator said, according to an article at PhysOrg: John Glenn: Evolution should be taught in schools.

John Glenn, who declared as a 77-year-old in a news conference from space that “to look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible,” says facts about scientific discovery should be taught in schools — and that includes evolution.

You can imagine the anguish that causes creationists. Here’s more:

The astronaut, now 93 with fading eyesight and hearing, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that he sees no contradiction between believing in God and believing in evolution.

“I don’t see that I’m any less religious by the fact that I can appreciate the fact that science just records that we change with evolution and time, and that’s a fact,” said Glenn, a Presbyterian. “It doesn’t mean it’s less wondrous and it doesn’t mean that there can’t be some power greater than any of us that has been behind and is behind whatever is going on.”

That’s quite acceptable to your Curmudgeon, but you know it’s driving the creationists crazy. The first to react is the Discovery Institute. They just posted this at their creationist blog: John Glenn, Please Don’t Let the Media Tarnish Your Reputation. It doesn’t have a byline. They say, with bold font added by us:

Out of all the content in reporter Julie Carr Smyth’s interview with John Glenn, the Associated Press selected this for the headline, now echoing around the country: “John Glenn: Evolution should be taught in schools.” Since many readers never make it past the headline, this is the message they got from the AP: An American hero wants to keep Darwin in science class, with the implied background that nefarious creationists and other science deniers, the favorite bogeymen of the popular media’s imagination, must be plotting to push Darwin out.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s a media conspiracy! Then they attempt to soften their remarks:

Let’s be clear: John Glenn is a great American. [We’ll skip the rest of the reluctant praise they knew was essential.] So what did he actually say about teaching evolution? All that Ms. Smyth records is this:

Then they repeat the same words that PhysOrg quoted. Here’s their reaction:

It would not be appropriate to challenge an American hero on such an occasion, much less an honored senior citizen. If someone else had said this at a younger age, though, one wishes that a well-informed reporter had been present to ask some follow-up questions and bring greater clarity to the issues:

Then they give us the questions that someone “well-informed,” presumably a Discoveroid, should have asked, such as:

Sir, are you talking about Darwinian evolution, or just “change”? Change over time is uncontroversial, but if you mean Darwinian evolution as an explanation of how complex life forms arise, that’s defined as unguided, purposeless, blind change. Evolutionary theory is restricted to material processes, with no intelligence “behind” it. Do you not see a contradiction between that and belief that “some power greater than any of us… is behind whatever is going on”?

Oh yeah, some clever Discoveroid, maybe Casey, could have reduced Glenn to tears with that. How would Glenn have reacted? For some reason, that brings to mind the reaction of another astronaut when he was confronted by a Moon-landing denier: Buzz Aldrin punches Bart Sibrel after being harassed by him. Hey, if the Discoveroids can imagine putting questions to Glenn, we can fantasize about his response.

Okay, the Discoveroids’ relentless — but imaginary and therefore safe — cross-examination of Glenn continues:

You spoke about “some greater power” in your statement. Is that an intelligent power, or is it a material force like gravity? Do you believe that intelligence has power?

Wow — that’s a tough one! Glenn would have been squirming. Here’s more:

Is evolution (in the Darwinian sense) really a “fact of scientific discovery”? Or, instead, is it a paradigm through which a great many scientists interpret facts and thereby preserve, without their necessarily even realizing it, an ideology of materialism that frequently gets confused with what “science says”?

It’s lucky for Glenn that those Discoveroids weren’t there to rip him to shreds. We’re leaving out several of their questions, but you can click over there to see them all. If you bother to do so, note that their questions somehow fail to ask Glenn about all the evidence contradicting evolution. Oh, that’s right — there isn’t any. After their barrage of questions, they say:

It’s sad to see confusion about Darwinian evolution persisting in the media year after year. What matters is the evidence, not an argument from authority or the opinion of an aging hero that misguided reporters can latch onto and proclaim in bold headlines.

The Discoveroids would never latch on to someone with a good reputation who, in his dotage, embraced mysticism. Well, there’s Alfred Wallace, Philip Skell, Thomas Nagel, and probably a few others we can’t think of at the moment. But that’s different — they finally recognized The Truth, so it’s okay if the Discoveroids exploit them. Here’s how they finish:

Mr. Glenn, out of our respect for all you have done for America, there is still time to wipe off this bit of tarnish from your reputation, allowing your words to shine with clarity.

We don’t need to say anything, do we? Okay, but only this: Well done, John Glenn!

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Creationist Wisdom #575: Lunney the Loony #3

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Parksville Qualicum News of Qualicum Beach, a town located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. (Parksville is a neighboring city on the same island.). The letter is titled Lunney will be missed. The newspaper has a comments section.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote her by using her full name. Her first name is Carol. Excerpts from her letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I am sorry to see James Lunney retire from the Conservative government. I’m also disappointed that he was treated so disrespectfully by members of his own political party and verbally attacked for his Christian beliefs.

Most of our readers recognize that she’s talking about James Lunney — Creationist Canadian MP. He’s the Conservative member of the Canadian Parliament who quit the Tory caucus, citing a deliberate attempt to “suppress a Christian worldview.” Besides being a creationist, he’s also a chiropractor. We’ve written about him a few times, most recently Creationist Wisdom #562: Lunney the Loony #2.

Carol is a big fan of James Lunney. She proudly says:

I also share Lunney’s belief in creation and am proud to call myself a Christian. I was created with my own unique fingerprints and DNA, I did not evolve… everything designed has a designer.

Hey — she’s right! If we all had the same fingerprints and DNA, that might be evidence of evolution, but — oh, wait a minute. Never mind. Let’s read on:

Most doubters, followers of the theory of evolution, know little about Charles Darwin and his flawed theories. History will tell you that he believed in God, but the thought of creation absolutely baffled him.

Darwin may have been baffled, but that’s because he was a fool! Carol isn’t baffled at all. She continues:

Darwin once stated that the thought of the eye, and how it could possibly be produced by natural selection, made him ill.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s always amusing when creationists use a bogus quote from Darwin to discredit his work. We debunked the “eye” quote here: Evolution of the Eye. But Carol is just getting started. Here’s more:

The human eye could not have evolved over long periods of time, because it is absolutely useless unless complete.

Yeah! What good is half an eyeball? Hey, she has even more evidence:

Vision involves a complete system of organs — all interrelated, all thoroughly designed. That’s the way it is with the whole human body. Lungs and heart, nerves and muscles, all perform incredibly complicated tasks.

No doubt about it. Carol is an amazing piece of work. Her final paragraph is nothing but some general praise of Lunney. This is the last of it:

He is a man of his word who stands up for what he believes in. I would say this was a rare find in a politician and he will be sadly missed.

Carol is probably referring only to his dropping out of the Tory caucus. We looked around but couldn’t find anything saying that Lunney is resigning from Parliament. We hope he stays. He’s an endless source of entertainment.

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Klinghoffer Defends Dr. Ben Carson

This article appeared yesterday at the website of Pacific Standard, a bimonthly magazine: Why Do Some Doctors Reject Evolution?. It has this sub-title: “Presidential hopeful Ben Carson isn’t the only practitioner who’s got some doubts.”

Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon, formerly the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who is currently one of many seeking the Republican nomination for President. He’s almost universally liked — at least among Republicans — but he’s given virtually no chance to be the nominee. Practicing medicine is a fine thing, but it isn’t regarded as sufficient experience for the Presidency. He’s also a creationist, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in the Republican party these days.

We wrote about Dr. Carson only once before — Kirk Cameron Gets Award for “Excellence”. After that we stopped thinking about him. But here’s what the Pacific Standard says. Science journalist Francie Diep describes who Carson is and then asks, with our bold font added:

How can doctors deny evolution? We assumed such beliefs would be unusual among doctors. After all, evolution is the foundational principle of biology, which, in turn, is the basic science that backs medicine. Ninety-eight percent of scientists, a closely related profession, accept evolution.

That’s a good question, but we’ve run across creationist physicians before. Here’s the answer she offers:

Although doctors use many insights from biology, many don’t actually need to understand or believe in evolution correctly to do their jobs. “Most physicians are not scientists. This is not a knock, but they’re more akin to engineers,” Gorski says. [That’s David Gorski, a surgeon and researcher at Wayne State University.] “They take science that’s already known and they apply it to a problem, the problem being making patients better.”

Then Francie Diep writes:

When I asked if I should worry if I had a doctor who didn’t accept evolution, the consensus answer seemed to be: Not necessarily, but be cautious. “I think it depends on the specialty,” Gorski says. “To be honest, to do an operation, you probably don’t need to understand evolution. If you’re in infectious disease, however, where evolution to antibiotic resistance is a very important consideration, I would say it would not be a good thing not to accept evolution.”

There’s much more to the article, and it’s good reading, but we want to give you the reaction of the Discovery Institute, who have some physicians among their number. They just posted this at their creationist blog: Doctors and Evolution. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

In an almost charmingly naïve article, Francie Diep at Pacific Standard wonders, “Why Do Some Doctors Reject Evolution?” Her news peg is Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who has expressed reservations about Darwinian accounts of evolution — though I don’t know that anyone has questioned him sharply and in an informed way about his ideas on the subject.

No one who is really “informed” has questioned Carson about his creationism. Presumably, Klinghoffer would require the questioner to be informed about the glorious wonders of intelligent design. Then he repeats the Gorski quote that: “Most physicians are not scientists. This is not a knock, but they’re more akin to engineers.” Klinghoffer is offended. He says:

It’s not a knock? It sure sounds like one. The countervailing consideration is that physicians and engineers — and why not throw in computer scientists as well? — do something on a daily basis that evolutionary biologists never do. The doctor or engineer’s responsibility is to maintain, devise, or build complex systems, even from the ground up, systems that must operate continuously without fail. If the system does fail, then the physician, engineer, or computer scientist has flopped in his job.

Yes, that’s what they do. And it fits the Salem hypothesis. Let’s read on:

Luxuriously insulated from reality, biologists theorizing about the history of life, how it arose and developed, face no such pressure … . Vague stories and magic words typically substitute for detailed explanations of how biological systems could come into being through purposeless, unintelligent processes alone. It often seems that the only serious pressure that Darwinists do face is from us.

According to Klinghoffer, evolution is all “vague stories and magic words.” Of course, the Discoveroids would never deal in such. They don’t use meaningless magic words — like “specified complexity” and “fine tuning” and “information.” Their intelligent design theory is very specific about how biological systems come into being — the transcendent designer did everything when no one was looking. Klinghoffer continues:

Miss Diep rolls out the usual line about how evolution is vital to biology which is vital to medicine, ergo medicine needs evolution or ought to do so. But even some hardline Darwinists admit that the practical benefits of their cherished theory are scarce.

Practical benefits? Well, it’s true that we can send a man to the Moon using only physics, astronomy, and aeronautical engineering. But then, have there ever been any practical benefits from the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design? Could there ever be? If even the remotest possibility existed, then why doesn’t anyone other than bible colleges hire their “design theorists”?

Klinghoffer goes on a bit longer, but we’ve seen enough. All that remains is for Carson to join the Discovery Institute. But we doubt that he will. He may be a creationist, but we don’t think he’s that far gone. Well, we shouldn’t make any predictions. One never knows what a creationist will do.

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

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