Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Chilling Effect

As expected, the wingnuts are up in arms and vowing to fight for the noble cause of "intelligent design", in spite of the pimp-slapping Bush-appointed Republican judge John Jones gave them in the Dover case. Among other unusual (for the generally oblique pronunciamentos of court speech) phrases, Jones took pains in his decision to point out that several pro-ID witnesses had lied on the stand, and that the entire case was not only a disservice to the Dover students and their taxpaying parents, but an "utter waste" of scarce time and resources. Doesn't get much clearer than that.

"It was a real disappointment," biochemist Michael J. Behe, who testified in the trial, said from his office at Lehigh University. "It's hard to say this chills the atmosphere, because if you're publicly known as an ID supporter you can already kiss your tenure chances goodbye. It doesn't help."

In other news, a small, lonely group of obstetrics students at Johns Hopkins have protested that classes do not give enough time to the "stork-based theory" of reproduction.

"I'm real disappointed," student Michael A. Hunt said glumly. "I don't see why they can't show respect for my deeply-held beliefs, and teach both sides of the controversy. Stork-based delivery is a cornerstone of my spiritual beliefs. Everything else in the Bible hinges on the veracity of the stork and his duty. This just isn't right."

"Do you think Oral Roberts University has an obstetrics department?" Hunt asked brightly.

Some politically influential backers of intelligent design warned that U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who was appointed by President Bush, so overreached that his ruling will outrage and inflame millions of conservative and religiously observant Americans.

"This decision is a poster child for a half-century secularist reign of terror that's coming to a rapid end with Justice Roberts and soon-to-be Justice Alito," said Richard Land, who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and is a political ally of White House adviser Karl Rove. "This was an extremely injudicious judge who went way, way beyond his boundaries -- if he had any eyes on advancing up the judicial ladder, he just sawed off the bottom rung."

Someone should tell Dick Land how ladders work; if Jones were trying to climb the ladder -- in a country where rampant boobism dictates that a true atheist has a snowball's chance in a fictitious hell of getting elected to anything -- he wouldn't count on needing the bottom rung anyway. Besides, who uses a wooden ladder anymore? Or does he mean an aluminum one, but the rung would be sawed off with a Sawzall?

Note how Dick is counting on Scalito to get confirmed, and that he and Roberts will just automatically toe the line for these knuckledraggers. We'll see. I almost hope he's right, because that's clearly what it's going to take to get apathetic Americans to wake up and give a shit about these animals abusing everyone's rights, including the right to not have superstitious nonsense forced on us all the fucking time.

And rest assured, the rest of the world is watching, especially our First World friends, who are watching bemusedly as we devolve into an industrialized Wingnutistan.

The writ of Judge John E Jones III runs only within the state of Pennsylvania. Yet his judgment this week in the case of Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District is the proverbial shot heard round the world. The implications his ruling that religious dogma has no place in the teaching of science go far beyond the picturesque town of Dover. For this was a legal battle that posed uncomfortable questions about the kind of country that George Bush's United States is now becoming.

Judge Jones's ruling may thus help to clarify some of the terms on which the modern world may be able to reconstruct a much-needed dialogue with America.
On Tuesday, Judge Jones delivered an emphatic ruling. He said it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school district to treat "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution in secondary school biology classes.

This is ridiculous and unnecessary, to have led the world for so long, and now to be in the position of watching even our allies regard us with a mixture of suspicion, pity, and contempt.

For a mix of reasons, Judge Jones's ruling is unlikely to be the last word on the subject. But the case has attracted nationwide and worldwide attention. This ruling matters, not just to the parents who brought it on their children's behalf, but because the belief in biblical literalism is on the march in America. A recent survey found only 26% of Americans believe, with Darwin, that life on earth has evolved through natural selection. Two-thirds favour the teaching of creationism alongside evolution, against which the judge ruled, while 38% think evolution should not be taught in school at all. ID has powerful adherents - including Mr Bush himself - and rich and militant supporters who will make trouble for those who hold the line on behalf of Darwin, evolution and science - no corporate sponsors came forward this year for the big Darwin exhibition now in New York, for instance.

Judge Jones has taken a powerful stand against this growing biblical literalism. But there is much more hard work and reasoning still to do to if America's reactionary tide of Christian fundamentalism is to be reversed.

Yes, the dark forces of reason and empiricism certainly have their work cut out for them, if there's any hope of beating back stork-based teachings. Here's a prime example of how the "thought" process works for the loons spearheading this (bowel) movement:

Contrary to Judge John Jones' assertions, intelligent design is not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory that holds there are certain features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause. No legal decree can remove the digitally coded information from DNA, nor molecular machines from cells. The facts of biology cannot be overruled by a federal judge. Research on intelligent design will continue to go forward, and the scientific evidence will win out in the end.

Funny how this clown never quite gets around to offering any actual examples of this purported "scientific evidence" supporting stork-based theory, as opposed to merely seeking out particularities that evolutionary theory hasn't yet addressed. (No doubt that distinction's lost on the IDiots.) Possibly it's because, as West's bio at the end of the piece states, he's an associate professor of political science, not a biologist. Yet somehow he just knows better than 99% of the legitimate scientific community, which relies not only on systematic hypothesis testing, but a rigorous peer review process. Could stork-based theory stand up to such testing and peer review? Oh, I can't wait to find out. Like it's ever going to happen.

Evolutionists used to style themselves the champions of free speech and academic freedom against unthinking dogmatism. But increasingly, they have become the new dogmatists, demanding judicially-imposed censorship of dissent.

Um, asshole? First of all, "academic freedom" does not mean that you get to pretend that mythology is actual science. Second, this inherently political battle was overtly instigated by political groups who are deliberately trying to stage the next front in the Great Culture War. But yeah, if it takes a judge to get you cockroaches to quit wasting people's time and money with this shit, so be it. You asked for it.

Those who think they can stop the growing interest in intelligent design through court orders or intimidation are deluding themselves. Americans don't like being told there are some ideas they aren't permitted to investigate. Try to ban an idea, and you will generate even more interest in it.

Yeah, until they either check it out and realize it's total bullshit, or they just get bored of it and move on to something else. No doubt West and his fellow "scientists" will have the marketing rollout for that something else ready and waiting.


Mitch said...

The anti-science crew has already admitted that their assault is based on mental weakness. They believe that "if evolution is true, we're no better than any other animals." Accordingly, the foundation of their morality would be (*gasp*!) non-existent.

I've met a lot of people who have said they'd be "bad people" and do "bad things" if there was no god. Uh hunh. Speaks for itself. Good luck discrediting evolution! Which actually isn't about the origins of life anyway. In which case, good luck discrediting astrophysics! And geology! You idiots!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the inbred retards to decide it's time to take on relativistic cosmology. Teach those secularist bastards Einstein and Eddington a lesson they'll never forget.

Hey, merry Christmas, Heywood. Keep on doing what you do best, buddy.


Anonymous said...

Americans don't like being told there are some ideas they aren't permitted to investigate.

Damned right. I don't like being told that I shouldn't investigate the idea that George Bush is a criminal, or the idea that ID adherents are religious fanatics on a par with the Taliban.

Heywood J. said...


They believe that "if evolution is true, we're no better than any other animals." Accordingly, the foundation of their morality would be (*gasp*!) non-existent.

Yep, I've heard that one a lot, too. They think that the only thing that separates us from wild animals is divinely ordained morality, rather than opposable thumbs and the ability to reason. There's not much you can say to such people; they're already well around the bend.

Heywood J. said...


Thanks, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

And I think you hit on what might be the best point of attack for actual scientists -- astrophysics, cosmology. Young-earth creationism falls flat on its face every time one commits the simple act of looking upward to the stars. There is an irreconcilable mathematical paradox in a 6000-year-old universe graced with billions of stars whose very light is billions of years old by the time we see it. A 6000-year-old planet at the center of an impossibly ancient celestial firmament?

Emphasizing that simple, easily digestible fact would force the ID crowd to get off the fence and pick a side -- science or superstition.