I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stupidity of the term "intelligent design creationism"

Nick Matzke wrote on Panda's Thumb,

Just last week over at the Thinking Christian blog there was a huge stink raised over the alleged inappropriateness of linking ID to creationism. After much argument the anti-linkage people more or less conceded that there were some good reasons to link ID to a somewhat generic definition of creationism (relying on special creation), but still protested loudly about how inappropriate it was to make the linkage, because most people (allegedly) would assume that creationism = young-earth creationism, and linking ID to young-earth creationism was oh-so-wildly unfair.

No, the "huge stink" was not "over the alleged inappropriateness of linking ID to creationism" -- the huge stink was over the term "ID creationism," which represents the notion that ID and creationism are so intimately linked that ID cannot or should not be mentioned without also mentioning creationism in the same breath. Tom Gilson wrote on his Thinking Christian blog,
Several times in the last few days the term “Intelligent Design Creationism” has crossed my line of sight. It’s a misnomer, a duct-taped concatenation of concepts that overlap somewhat, but not enough to merit being stuck together the way ID opponents have done. Robert Pennock is perhaps the worst, but Barbara Forrest, Richard Dawkins, and P.Z. Myers are also frequent offenders.

Gilson did not say that ID and creationism are not linked -- he said that they are "concepts that overlap somewhat, but not enough to merit being stuck together the way ID opponents have done." Evolution has been linked to atheism, sometimes by evolutionists themselves (Richard Dawkins said that evolution theory made it possible to be an "intellectually fulfilled atheist"), but people do not regularly use the term "evolution atheism" or something similar. The term "intelligent design creationism" is just plain asinine.

I don't know if Judge "Jackass" Jones actually uses the term "ID creationism," but he should be added to the list of offenders because he ruled in Kitzmiller v. Dover that "ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."



Friday, October 23, 2009

Incredibly stupid inference

Richard Hoppe wrote on the Panda's Thumb,

In spite of the Disco ‘Tute’s [Discovery Institute's] recent efforts to imply that the Smithsonian Institution is somehow sympathetic to anti-evolutionist films, the stodgy old place persists in being a place where evolution education is important. Most recently it has announced (pdf of press release) the upcoming opening of a new exhibition hall devoted to human origins.

And what exactly are these "recent efforts" to "imply that the Smithsonian Institution is somehow sympathetic to anti-evolutionist films"? In another article, Hoppe describes these efforts as a mere statement describing the original contracted screener of the film, the California Science Center, as a "west coast affiliate" of the Smithsonian Institution! And Hoppe said, "In its glee about the showing, the ‘Tuters issued a press release that strongly implied that the Science Center and Smithsonian are somehow involved in the film’s premiere"! Actually, the "'Tuters" accused the Smithsonian of putting pressure on the Science Center to cancel the premiere and accused the Science Center of caving in to the pressure, and how did those accusations imply "that the Science Center and Smithsonian are somehow involved in the film’s premiere" and "that the Smithsonian Institution is somehow sympathetic to anti-evolutionist films"?

BTW, the premiere has been moved to the University of Southern California, which is right in my neighborhood, so I am planning on attending (the California Science Center is also in my neighborhood). Following the screening will be a panel discussion that will include well-known ID proponents David Berlnski and Jonathan Wells (Berlinski is not listed in the DI's announcement but is scheduled to participate).


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Darwinist cafeteria Christians are "implacable foes" of ID

William Dembski wrote,

Howard Van Till’s review of my book No Free Lunch exemplifies perfectly why theistic evolution remains intelligent design’s most implacable foe. Not only does theistic evolution sign off on the naturalism that pervades so much of contemporary science, but it justifies that naturalism theologically -- as though it were unworthy of God to create by any means other than an evolutionary process that carefully conceals God’s tracks.

Here are some reasons why Darwinist cafeteria Christians -- people who take the gospel literally but do not take the bible's creation story literally -- are "implacable foes" of ID:

(1) They are bending over backwards to try to appease the atheistic Darwinist establishment.

(2) They try to justify their inconsistency -- i.e., the inconsistency of accepting the gospel while rejecting the creation story -- by claiming that they are obliged to reject the creation story because the scientific evidence for evolution is airtight. With this position, they cannot afford to admit that evolution has any scientific weaknesses at all.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Darwinists still belittling "Expelled"

The Framing Science blog gleefully reported that Michael Moore's new film Capitalism: A Love Story has moved past Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed to become the 5th highest grossing political documentary. It is not fair to compare Michael Moore and Ben Stein. Michael Moore is by far the world's most successful producer of documentary films and his name has far more box office recognition than Ben Stein's. Ben Stein's "Expelled" either is -- or is very close to being -- the most successful documentary produced by someone other than Michael Moore. "Expelled" did quite well, everything considered.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Debate over term "intelligent design creationism"

The oxymoronic term "intelligent design creationism" is one of my pet peeves. I don't know who coined the term, but it took a pretty sick mind to do it. The term is now being debated on the "Thinking Christian" blog -- here is my first comment in that debate (I have since added other comments):

Creationism is not inherent in ID -- creationism is just a philosophical implication of ID. In actual practice, ID is just the study of the probability that the complexity and diversity of living things could have arisen by random genetic variation and natural selection only.

I never liked the term "intelligent design" because it implies the existence of an intelligent designer, and such implication is not necessary in the study of ID. But as Juliet said in Romeo and Juliet, "what's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Nick Matzke's first comment is telling: "Two words: cdesign proponentsists." There is a hell of a lot more to this debate than just that typographical error. Nick's arguments are based on stereotyping and guilt-by-association.

Ironically, many religious creationists reject intelligent design. One of the reasons why they reject ID is that they feel that god's word does not need scientific evidence to support it. Some creationists feel that it is blasphemous to even imply or suggest that god's word needs scientific evidence to support it. [link]

One of the main reasons why Darwinists insist that ID is creationism is to have a basis for using the Constitution's establishment clause to attack ID.

Also, many people make the mistake of assuming that ID is the only scientific (or pseudoscientific) criticism of evolution theory. For example, coevolution can be a big problem for evolution even if irreducible complexity is not. [link]

Here is another one of my comments in that thread:
One of the problems is that many people interpret the term "intelligent design" literally -- they start asking, "who is the intelligent designer?" "What does the intelligent designer look like?" etc. But there are many figurative or idiomatic terms and expressions that do not really mean what they appear to literally mean. "Intelligent design" could be defined as the study of whether living things have the appearance of being intelligently designed, i.e., whether it appears that it is unlikely that they could have arisen from unintelligent causes such as random genetic variation and natural selection. Describing the identity and/or characteristics of an imaginary "intelligent designer" is beyond the scope of ID, just as describing the origin of life is beyond the scope of evolution theory, but critics of evolution theory do not keep insisting that evolutionists describe the origin of life. As for whether or not ID is "good" science, there is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state.

And here is part of another comment:

Wheels said (#87),
Ken Miller, Catholic and biologist, is a well-known opponent of ID because he recognizes that there isn’t any science involved, that it’s just bad and recycled arguments from earlier anti-evolution efforts, and that it’s not compatible with his own faith regarding Creation and understanding of the world.

Regarding the statement, “it’s not compatible with his own faith regarding Creation and understanding of the world,” William Jennings Bryan had a good answer for that:

If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense?

As for the term “intelligent design creationism”: it is clear that the intent of the users of this term is to obfuscate. They are playing with words, trying to take advantage of the ambiguity of the term “creationism.” Nothing that they say will change that fact.

Even if intelligent design is a part of creationism, what purpose is served by adding the qualifier “creationism” to the term “ID”? If ID is unique to creationism, then wouldn’t just “ID” alone be a sufficient description? Adding that qualifier implies that ID is part of other things as well — how about “intelligent design science”?

Yeah, I should have said, "what other kinds of ID are there"? LOL

There is also a debate on Panda's Thumb.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Creationist" Floridian seeks US Senate seat

The popular Little Green Footballs blog and Fatheaded Ed Brayton have called former Florida House Speaker Mario Rubio, who is challenging Florida Governor Charlie Christie in the primary election for the Republican nominee for a Florida seat in the US Senate, a "creationist." [link] [link] A news article last year reported Rubio's reaction to the new Florida state standards for science education:

TALLAHASSEE (FBW) – An evolution compromise approved on Feb. 19 [2008] by the State Board of Education was the best that could be achieved in that body but legislative action to protect academic freedom of teachers offering criticisms of Darwinian evolution is possible, House Speaker Marco Rubio told Florida Baptist Witness in a Feb. 20 interview.

Rubio said the Board of Education’s addition of “scientific theory of” before each reference to “evolution” in new science standards for Florida’s public schools was “the best fix available” with “the way those votes were lining up.”

Although he and other House leaders supported the theory compromise in a Feb. 19 letter to members of the Board of Education, Rubio said critics who believe explicit language protecting academic freedom is necessary “may be right.”

At the Feb. 19 BOE meeting, opponents of the science standards uniformly opposed the theory compromise, arguing instead for an “Academic Freedom Proposal” which would have added a clause to the standards permitting teachers “to engage students in a critical analysis” of Darwinian evolution.

John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, in a Feb. 17 letter urged the BOE to oppose the theory compromise in light of the standards’ “silence about teaching scientific criticisms of evolution.”

Sullivan said both strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution should be taught and said the standards should “honor and encourage the academic freedom of teachers and students on an issue of fundamental importance and ongoing scientific controversy.”

Asked if the legislature would be open to academic freedom legislation, Rubio told the Witness, “I think so. Sure. Well, I think the Florida House would. I can’t speak for the Senate.”

Although a vote count had not been taken on the issue, “we may have sufficient votes on that in the Florida House,” he added.

Rubio said there also could be activity in the legislature by evolution proponents who wish to remove the theory compromise language.

“I think there’s still going to be folks out there talking about this – on both sides. … I think this will be a battle that will go on for quite some time,” he said.

The “crux” of the disagreement, according Rubio, is “whether what a parent teaches their children at home should be mocked and derided and undone at the public school level. It goes to the fundamental core of who is ultimately, primarily responsible for the upbringing of children. Is it your public education system or is it your parents?”

Rubio added, “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

I disagree with Rubio's statement that he doesn't "want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong." Depending on the circumstances, I think it is OK for public schools to do this.

It is not clear whether Rubio is really a "creationist" -- he might just merely be in favor of "academic freedom" to teach scientific criticisms of evolution in public schools. I think that evolution should be taught in the public schools but I also feel that scientific -- or pseudoscientific (I added that for the benefit of the Darwinists who keep moaning that there are no scientific criticisms of evolution) -- criticisms of evolution should also be taught in the public schools. And the following recent additions to the Florida state science standards really need to be removed:

(1) -- the statement that evolution is "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology." That statement simply is not true. In fact, in a recent national survey of science teachers, 13% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that an "excellent" biology course could exist that does not mention Darwin or evolution at all, and even I don't agree with that statement.

(2) -- defining scientific theories as "well-supported" and "widely accepted." That's ridiculous -- there are strong scientific theories and weak scientific theories. No standard dictionary that I have seen defines scientific theories in that way. Darwinists are creating confusion by coming up with new definitions of "scientific theory" just to suit the Darwinist agenda.

IMO the above two statements in the new Florida standards definitely "mock" and "deride" what some parents tell their kids about evolution and creationism. The Darwinists seem to have the badly mistaken idea that a ruling by a crackpot activist judge in Pennsylvania gave them carte blanche to nationally tyrannize our public schools by means of dogmatic teaching of evolution.

I am particularly sensitive about the evolution controversy in Florida because the so-called Florida Citizens for Science blog has banned my arguments about coevolution. [link] [link]

I have no idea where Rubio's opponent in the primary, Gov. Charlie Crist, stands on evolution education. I hope that evolution education will be an issue in Florida's primary and main elections for the US Senate.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Richard Dawkins the accommodationist

There is now a big dispute going on over whether Richard Dawkins is really an "accommodationist." Dawkins said in a Newsweek magazine interview that he mainly targets creationists and not theistic evolutionists -- he said, "I think there is a certain justified irritation with young-earth creationists who believe that the world is less than 10,000 years old. Those are the people that I'm really talking about." That statement is accommodationist towards theistic evolutionists. He also called Darwinist cafeteria Christian Francis Collins an "intelligent evolutionary scientist." That is also accommodationist towards theistic evolutionists. So how is Dawkins not an accommodationist?
Josh Rosenau says, "It will be interesting to see whether the usual suspects go after Dawkins with quite the same vehemence that has met others advancing similar lines of argument." One of those "suspects," of course, is Sleazy PZ Myers, who said that he "metaphorically puke[s] on the shoes" of those who make the "goofy" argument that "if you don't be nice to god belief, the churchy scientists will take their ball home." So far, PZ has not made one peep of criticism of Dawkins' accommodationist statements.

Please don't get me wrong -- I have no sympathy for the accommodationists or their useful-idiot mascots, the theistic evolutionists. As I have said many times, the Darwinist cafeteria Christians have it reversed -- the bible's creation story actually makes more sense than the gospel. Both the creation story and the gospel require belief in the supernatural, but the creation story is fairly straightforward whereas the gospel is full of illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility. Also, the creation story is consistent with the idea of an all-powerful god whereas the god of the gospel is a weak, limited god who must struggle against Satan for control of the world.


The breathtaking inanity of Eugenie Scott

When Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, was asked, "are science and religion compatible?", she answered,

I don't have to address that as a philosophical question, I can address that as an empirical question. It's obvious that it is. Because there are many people who are scientists who are also people of faith. There are many theologians whose life it is, whose job it is to think about religious issues, who are enthusiastic accepters and supporters of science and who are excited by the things scientists discover. So it's empirically obvious that there's no necessary conflict between science and religion.

So she said that "it's obvious" that science (here mainly meaning "evolution") and religion are compatible because some scientists and theologians say or think that the two are compatible. What an idiot.

The National Center for Science Education presents a completely one-sided view of the evolution vs. religion controversy. The NCSE ignores or denies the existence of (1) Darwin-doubting that is based on science instead of religion and (2) people and religious organizations that believe that evolution and religion are not compatible. The NCSE is so one-sided on this issue of evolution and religion that the Univ. of Calif. Berkeley was sued -- in Caldwell v. Caldwell -- for allegedly violating the Constitution's establishment clause by posting an evolution-education website that linked to the NCSE website (the case was dismissed on the phony grounds that the plaintiff -- a parent of a student in the public schools -- lacked standing to sue).



Sunday, October 04, 2009

Anti-Defamation League's Darwin problem

An article titled "Richard Dawkins's Jewish Problem," posted by David Klinghoffer on Evolution News & Views and his Kingdom of Priests blog on Beliefnet, says,

The Anti-Defamation League, the country's leading group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, is rightly sensitive to the offense of trivializing the Holocaust. Why, then, has the ADL said nothing in protest against the Darwinian biologist and bestselling atheist author Richard Dawkins and his comparison of Darwin doubters to Holocaust deniers?

The ADL has objected to attempts to inject Nazi imagery into the health-care reform debate ("Such statements only serve to diminish and trivialize the extent of the Nazi regime's crimes against humanity"), the abortion debate ("Such analogies can only trivialize and diminish the horror"), the animal-rights debate ("the issue should stand on its own merits, rather than rely on inappropriate comparisons that only serve to trivialize the suffering of the six million Jews"), and in many other contexts.
But if Rush Limbaugh, for example, used "outrageous, deeply offensive and inappropriate" Nazi comparisons to stigmatize sponsors and supporters of health-care reform, why is it no less outrageous to compare people (like the late Irving Kristol, for example) who doubt Darwinian evolution to the moral cretins who deny the Holocaust? In his new book, currently the #22 best seller on Amazon, The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Dawkins calls Darwin critics "history-deniers" and dwells on the comparison, even remarking that "The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust."

David Klinghoffer is completely clueless here. What we have here has nothing to do with "trivializing" the holocaust, David. To the ADL, "trivializing" the holocaust means cynically exploiting the holocaust to further a political agenda, and by that standard, the hypocritical ADL "trivializes" the holocaust as much as anyone. The "trivialization" issue is just a pretext cooked up by the ADL. What the ADL does in regard to Darwinism is try to show it in the most favorable light. The ADL is rabidly pro-Darwinist for the following reasons: (1) Darwinism is opposed by Christian and Moslem fundies, who are despised by the ADL, and (2) the ADL fears that teaching criticisms of Darwinism in the public schools threatens the principle of church-state separation. The ADL went so far as to call the Kitzmiller decision a "victory for students." ADL national director Abraham Foxman angrily denounced the Darwin-to-Hitler message of the Coral Ridge Ministry's TV documentary "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" and an accompanying book, saying, "Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people." However, when Ben Stein's movie "Expelled" also carried a Darwin-to-Hitler message, the ADL was faced with a problem: Ben Stein is Jewish and the movie includes two prominent Jewish supporters -- David Berlinski, an agnostic Jew, and Gerald Schroeder, who even wears a yarmulke in the movie. The ADL initially "solved" the problem by pulling the article denouncing the Coral Ridge Ministry but finally bit the bullet by reinstating that article and adding an article denouncing "Expelled."

Of course, I am very disturbed that Klinghoffer refers to holocaust deniers as "moral cretins," but that is another issue.



Friday, October 02, 2009

Judge "Jackass" Jones should be disqualified

Judge John E. "Jackass" Jones III should be retroactively disqualified from deciding the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. The Kitzmiller decision has little precedential value to begin with, but the whole decision should just be declared to be null and void. It was bad enough when Judge Jones said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that the decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. But now Judge Jones is scheduled to participate in a five-person panel discussion titled, "Overcoming Resistance to the Reality of Evolutionary Change in Nature." What is worse, Jones is scheduled to receive the 2009 President's Medal from one of the two sponsors of the panel discussion, the Geological Society of America (the other sponsor is the Paleontological Society). What stronger indications of bias are possible? Also, Judge Jones has many times broken his pledge to not speak about the Kitzmiller case directly.

The title of the panel discussion, "Overcoming Resistance to the Reality of Evolutionary Change in Nature," is of course very condescending. And the announcement for the discussion again shows that the Darwinists overestimate the importance of religion and underestimate the importance of the scientific evidence as factors that cause many people to question evolution theory:
. . . . less than 40% of Americans are convinced of the reality of biological evolution. In one study, 31% of respondents said that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

These studies show that a majority of Americans accept or deny evidence of evolution, geologic processes and the age of the Earth to the extent that they can be reconciled with their religious or other core beliefs. All too often many people, including scientists, accept what they want to believe about the world.

Jerry Coyne is right -- in twenty-five years, the Darwinist cafeteria Christians and their accommodationists have not made a dent in the size of the Darwin-doubting percentage of the public.

A few definitions:

Darwinist Cafeteria Christians: These Darwinists believe that evolution and religion are compatible. These Darwinists take the gospel literally but expressly reject the bible's more credible creation story (the creation story is fairly straightforward whereas the gospel is full of illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility). Examples are Ken Miller and Francis Collins.

accommodationists: Darwinists who are not Cafeteria Christians but who have a policy of coddling them. Examples are the National Center for Science Education, NCSE director Eugenie Scott, and Chris Mooney.

new atheists: These atheists refuse to accommodate Darwinist Cafeteria Christians. Examples are PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins

Thoughts for the day:

If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense?

-- William Jennings Bryan link

Unfortunately, some theologians with a deistic bent seem to think that they speak for all the faithful. . . . . The reason that many liberal theologians see religion and evolution as harmonious is that they espouse a theology not only alien but unrecognizable as religion to most Americans.

-- Jerry Coyne in the New Republic magazine link

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