May 11, 2008

Little Revelations from Maine and a Thank You to Bloggers Big and Small

Actually, the note of appreciation comes first to the many bloggers who have picked up the story of the Creationist escapade in Maine and so are helping it to get exposure outside of that single state:

Thanks, too, to people who've left comments on other blogs alerting them to this so-far little exposed situation, such as The Chaplain of An Apostate's Chapel.

One of the interesting things to me when these debates flare up in online fora is to take note of how people view things. For instance, fundamentalists often appear to view evolutionary biology as a religion because, I think, they tend to see the whole world as divided into two camps: their own religion and the opposition. Anything that opposes their own religion becomes another religion in their minds as a product of their own fundamentalist mindset.

Equally revealing is the conflation of Intelligent Design and Creationism. Personally, I don't see much of a difference. Intelligent Design mainly seeks to find specific points at which to inject a creator; that's why I tend to refer to it as Neocreationism. Classical Creationism, in keeping generally with scriptural literalism, always asserts that the creator came in the beginning. It's just a matter of where one puts the gaps. Neocreationists see gaps here and there; Classical Creationists essentially see one huge gap at the very beginning of everything. That's not a terribly important distinction, though. Many ID proponents place emphasis on the big gap at the beginning, too. This is fostered by the Neocreationist leadership itself by conflating abiogenesis, or even cosmology, with evolutionary biology. I've yet to see any of the big ID guys from the Discovery Institute take Classical Creationists to task and, indeed, if Ben Stein's drek had anything new to reveal, it was that the Neocreationist crowd is more than happy to include explicit religious ideology in its tactics.

The upshot of this produces some either very confused or very intuitive (in a skewed way) individuals, one of whom has been quite active in the fora associated with newspaper reporting of the Matthew Linkletter/Norman Luce exploit. He goes by the user ID C-Fairer and is from Waterville, Maine according to his profile. Waterville is about 30 miles from Athens and about 20 miles from Madison, the "ground zero" in this latest Creationist flare-up. I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that C-Fairer has or will attend the SAD 59 Board of Directors meetings.

He or she (I think he's male, but that could be my own bias) wrote something today that I felt should be shared:
C-Fairer of Waterville, ME
May 11, 2008 1:19 PM

The 1st Amendment is this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The founding fathers didn't want a Congress to establish a national religion like the "Church of England". Mentioning "Intelligent Design" along with Evolution does not "establish a national religion". Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, Christians and atheist exist together in this country cause all beliefs are tolerated.

Banning any discussion of "Intelligent Design" definitely is prohibiting the free exercise of religion (a violation of the 1st Amendment). Congress did pass laws restricting its practice in todays schools.

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Therefore, banning any discussion of "Intelligent Design" is in violation of this Amendment. Schools are being censored.

"Separation of Church & State", however you choose to define it's meaning, is not in the Constitution. The 1st Amendment is.
This says a lot about how this individual thinks, of course. First, he's bringing up Intelligent Design. Note that nobody on the SAD 59 Board of Directors has explicitly used those words to describe what they want taught or not in science courses. Linkletter, for instance, has used the word Creationism in every instance. C-Fairer, however, is obviously perceptive enough to realize that there's no meaningful difference between the two "alternative theories." Therefore, what it's called is of no concern. It's not the "religion" of evolutionary biology.

Secondly, C-Fairer certainly does see this as a religious issue and not a scientific one. He's invoking a Constitutional amendment that was written to protect religion (in his interpretation of it), but not protect anyone from religion. Not allowing Intelligent Design, words he has substituted for Creationism, to be taught in science classes, is not a violation of rational thought, good science or sound education but a blow against Christianity. I don't know that he means Christianity with certainty, of course, but somehow I doubt that the Creationism he'd want students to learn about would be based on the story that Vishnu in the form of a boar (Varaha) raised the earth out of the waters of primordial chaos. Call it a hunch.

I'll make another bet here. I'll bet that the Discovery Institute Illuminati won't chastise C-Fairer or people like him as they go about pulling the strings behind the scenes as they've done in several states now. For all of their protestations that ID isn't based on religion, they don't do anything to discourage the idea held by many of its adherents that it's religious in nature. In fact, I'm sure they'd be absolutely happy with getting Classical Creationism inserted into science classes instead of Neocreationism if they thought it could be gotten away with.

If I'm wrong about that, I'd love to see Casey Luskin or William Dembski or any of the other odd fellows of the DI make a public statement on Evolution News and Views that they don't want Creationists in their movement and rebuke those who conflate ID with religiously-inspired stories of how the leopard got its spots.

I wouldn't advise anyone holding their breath on that score, though.

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