Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Here is the survey and here is a summary.
From the summary:
Overall support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percentage points, from 32 percent in 2003 in a Pew Research survey to 53 percent in 2013 in PRRI's survey. During this period, gay marriage became legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, that blocked federal recognition of legally wed gay couples.Even though "[o]verall, most people (51 percent) say sex between adults of the same gender is morally wrong":
Since 2003, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America opened their doors to gay bishops and clergy, even as most other major U.S. denominations kept their teachings against homosexual behavior intact. Yet over the decade, PRRI found, the number of people who say same-sex marriage is against their religious beliefs dropped, from 62 percent to 51 percent.
... "support for legality outstrips moral acceptability in several religious groups," said Jones. For example, 47 percent of white Catholics find gay sex to be morally acceptable, "but 58 percent of the same group say they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. It is not only that they are more tolerant of a legal norm. They are shifting their own moral lens on the issue."Now the really bad news for Al. While 51 percent of Americans think homosexual relations are morally wrong, "56 percent of millennials (ages 18-33) – say it is morally acceptable."
Meanwhile, religious leaders' continued preaching against homosexual behavior is driving some people out the church doors, Jones said. PRRI found people perceive three major religious groups to be "unfriendly" toward lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people:
• The Catholic Church (58 percent)
• The Mormon church (53 percent)
• Evangelical Christian churches (51 percent)
Among those who say they left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity, nearly one in four (24 percent) say their church's negative teachings or treatment of LGBT people was an important reason they left. ...
At the root of change: A personal connection to someone who is LGBT. The number of Americans who say they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian rose from 22 percent in 1993 to 65 percent today.
Personal connections to someone who is LGBT, the biggest factor in favoring gay rights, has risen to 65 percent generally but, among millennials, "71 percent say they have a close friend or relative who is gay or lesbian."
And worst of all for Al, among those who say they left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity, 31 percent of millennials, compared to 24 percent generally, say that church homophobia is a major reason, "damaging churches' ability to bring in — and keep — young adults."
It sounds like, Al, that you are not losing the argument with your kids but that you have lost it.
Saturday, March 01, 2014
The Eyes of Texas ...
United States District Judge Orlando L. Garcia has issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the State of Texas "from enforcing Article 1, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution, any related provisions in the Texas Family Code, and any other laws or regulations prohibiting a person from marrying another person of the same sex or recognizing same-sex marriage." This is not a final judgment but the grant of a preliminary injunction is all but the equivalent in that such an order requires that a plaintiff must establish four factors: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a substantial threat that failure to grant the injunction will result in irreparable injury; (3) the threatened injury outweighs any damage that the injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) the injunction will not disserve the public interest. However, since other courts have stayed similar decisions recently, Judge Garcia stayed his ruling pending an appeal.
As always, the important part is just who the plaintiffs are:
Plaintiffs De Leon and Dimetman have been in a committed relationship since they met in 2001. De Leon is a United States Air Force veteran. She was on active duty for four years and served six years in the Texas Air National Guard. De Leon was honorably discharged after ten years of service. At the time she met Dimetman, De Leon was serving in the Texas Air National Guard while also working as a statistical analyst. Dimetman was running her own business.Those are, of course, horrible people, who society should penalize and shun and try make their lives miserable.
As a couple, De Leon and Dimetman have supported one another as they pursued further education. During their time together, De Leon attended and completed graduate school, receiving a Master's degree in Applied Statistics from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Meanwhile, Dimetman attended the University of Texas Law School and became an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. De Leon and Dimetman continue to share finances, live together, and have a loving, stable relationship.
De Leon and Dimetman wanted to have a family, and it was important to them to marry one another before they became parents. The couple wanted to marry in Texas, their home state, but Section 32 prevented them from doing so. Therefore, they chose to marry in Massachusetts, a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. They married in Boston on September 11, 2009, after having an eight-year solid, loving relationship.
In 2012, De Leon and Dimetman became parents to a child, C.' Although De Leon is C's biological mother, both her and Dimetman consider themselves C's mothers. They both share child-rearing duties and obligations. Because Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, Dimetman could not be considered C's legal parent without going through the adoption process. Therefore, to obtain recognition as C's parent, Dimetman formally adopted C at considerable expense. ...
Plaintiffs Holmes and Phariss met in the spring of 1997. At the time, Holmes was in the Air Force and stationed in San Antonio. Phariss was and remains an attorney licensed to practice in Texas. The couple quickly developed a friendship that became a dating relationship. On August 9, 1997, the couple went on their first date. They celebrate August 9 as their anniversary.
After dating for several months, Holmes and Phariss started living together. Holmes, who joined the Air Force when he was eighteen, began a military program to become a physician's assistant. After completing the program, the Air Force stationed Holmes at different bases throughout the country. Because Phariss continued to live and work in Texas, he and Holmes spent the next eleven years in a long-distance relationship. Depending on where Holmes was serving, Phariss and Holmes would travel as often as every week to see each other. During Holmes' final assignment at Sheppard Air Force base in Wichita Falls, Texas, Holmes and Phariss generally saw one another each weekend and on special occasions during the week.
Holmes honorably served our nation for nearly twenty-three years and retired as a Major at the end of 2010. After enduring an eleven-year, long-distance relationship, Holmes and Phariss were able to live together again. Holmes and Phariss now want to marry in Texas. On October 3, 2013, the couple applied for a marriage license at the Bexar County Clerk's office, but Defendant Gerard Rickhoff refused to issue one because Holmes and Phariss are both men.
As Judge Garcia noted:
Defendants in this case have identified two bases or purposes for Section 32: (1) to increase the likelihood that a mother and a father will be in charge of childrearing; and (2) to encourage stable family environments for responsible procreation. These bases fail rational basis review as explained below. ...As to the Due Process argument, Judge Garcia found:
There is no doubt that the welfare of children is a legitimate state interest; however, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples fails to further this interest. Instead, Section 32 causes needless stigmatization and humiliation for children being raised by the loving same-sex couples being targeted. ...
Defendants have not provided any evidentiary support for their assertion that denying marriage to same-sex couples positively affects childrearing. ... To the contrary, this Court finds that far from encouraging a stable environment for childrearing, Section 32 denies children of same-sex parents the protections and stability they would enjoy if their parents could marry. ...
Furthermore, Defendants' proferred reason fails rational basis because Defendants have failed to establish how recognizing a same-sex marriage can influence, if at all, whether heterosexual couples will marry, or how other individuals will raise their families. ... Defendants' proferred rationale presumes that same-sex couples cannot be good parents -- this is the same type of unconstitutional and unfounded presumption that the Supreme Court has held "cannot stand." ...
The procreation argument raised by Defendants also fails. The notion that [banning] same-sex marriage will encourage responsible procreation assumes that heterosexual marriage is "naturally procreative." However, procreation is not and has never been a qualification for marriage. ...
Defendants have failed to establish how banning same-sex marriage in any way furthers responsible procreation. "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages."
The Constitution guarantees that all citizens have certain fundamental rights. These rights vest in every person whom the Constitution protects and, because they are so important, an individual 's fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote and may not depend on the outcome of elections. (Emphasis in original) ...Anyone who values fairness in our society ... anyone who thinks that decent, loving people should be treated equally under our laws ... cannot rationally or honorably try to deny Cleopatra De Leon, Nicole Dimetman, Victor Holmes, and Mark Phariss the rights and privileges of marriage.
In this case, Defendants argue the right to marry does not include the right to same-sex marriage. That is, Defendants claim this is a "definitional" issue, in that Plaintiffs are seeking recognition of a "new right to same-sex marriage" as opposed to the existing "right to marry." This Court finds this argument fails, as the Supreme Court did not adopt this line of reasoning in the analogous case of Loving v. Virginia. Instead of declaring a new right to interracial marriage, the Court held that individuals could not be restricted from exercising their "existing" right to marry on account of their chosen partner. ... That is, an interracial marriage was considered to be a subset of "marriage," in the same way that same-sex marriage is included within the fundamental right to marry.
Only people, intentionally or not, who are evil could want that!
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Poor Misunderstood ...
According to, Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, they are not bigots, out to impose a new round of Jim Crow laws on LGBT people, where people in businesses of "public accommodation" can refuse to serve some minority ... think Lester Maddox and axe handles ... they just don't want to be forced to participate in ... to celebrate ... same sex marriages! Thus we must have laws all across America to protect the tender consciences of Christians!
And examples of this are "now piling up," though, strangely, they all seem to resemble the same few instances we've heard about for a couple of years now: "[a] wedding photographer in New Mexico, cake bakers in Colorado and Oregon, and a florist in Washington State ..."
[T]he key issue is not a willingness to serve same-sex couples, but the unwillingness to participate in a same-sex wedding. Christian automobile dealers can sell cars to persons of various sexual orientations and behaviors without violating conscience. The same is true for insurance agents and building contractors. But the cases of pressing concern have to do with forcing Christians to participate in same-sex weddings — and this is another matter altogether.It has something to do with "artistic ability" and "expressive ideas."
Well, thank ... um ... goodness, Al has cleared that up for us!
As long as Christians aren't forced to participate, their consciences are safe!
So the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act is no problem as long as the Christian employers aren't asked to roll on the condoms, swallow the pills or (Heaven Forfend!) actually participate in the sex, with or without "artistic ability" and "expressive ideas" ... right?
That sound you hear is the motors of the goal posts being revved up.
Personally, I might be willing to allow some businesses involving "artistic ability" and "expressive ideas" to refuse to cater to same sex marriages if, and only if, they are required to post prominently, near the entrance to their business, in very large type, something like: "We reserve the right to refuse to serve people who we deem morally and socially corrupt."
Something tells me, in that case, the problem will be self-correcting.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Now, in one of the two pending lawsuits, state officials have announced that they will not defend the law but will continue to enforce it until there is an order striking down the provision:
The key statement in the new Oregon document, which was in the form of an answer to one of the lawsuits, said state officials "will not defend the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage in this litigation. Rather, they will take the position in their summary judgment briefing that the ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review." The paragraph added, though, that they would continue to enforce the ban as a legal duty unless and until it were struck down in court.Pretty soon the wingnuts will have to start importing heads from China to replace the ones that keep exploding.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Now, Virginia Is Really for Lovers!
In a nice touch, Judge Allen opened her opinion with a quote:
We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn't that what marriage is? ... I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. ... I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.Once again, there are people at the heart of the case:
- Mildred Loving, "Loving for All," Public Statement on the 40th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (June 12, 2007).
Plaintiffs Timothy B. Bostic and Tony C. London live in Norfolk, Virginia, where they own a shared home. Mr. Bostic is an Assistant Professor of English Education in the Department of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He teaches English Education to undergraduate students.Judge Allen then details a rather long list, on page 6 and 7 of the decision, of the benefits that same-sex couples are given that are denied to Ms. Schall and Ms. Townley and the emotional and economic tolls they suffer as a result.
Mr. London is a veteran of the United States Navy. He also worked as a real estate agent in Virginia for sixteen years.
Mr. Bostic and Mr. London have enjoyed a long-term, committed relationship with each other since 1989, and have lived together continuously in Virginia for over twenty years. They desire to marry each other, publicly commit themselves to one another, participate in a State sanctioned celebration of their relationship, and undertake the solemn rights and responsibilities that Virginia's Marriage Laws confer presently upon other individuals who marry. ...
Plaintiffs Carol Schall and Mary Townley live in Chesterfield County, Virginia, with their fifteen-year-old daughter, E. S.-T. Ms. Schall is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University ("VCU") in Richmond, Virginia. She specializes in research on teaching autistic children.
Ms. Townley is the Supervisor of Transition at Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. ("HDL"). She trains individuals with significant disabilities so that they may work at HDL.
Ms. Townley and Ms. Schall have enjoyed a committed relationship since 1985. They have lived together continuously in Virginia for almost thirty years.
In 2008, Ms. Schall and Ms. Townley were legally married in California. ...
Ms. Townley gave birth to the couple's daughter, E. S.-T., in 1998. During her pregnancy, she was admitted to the emergency room at VCU's Medical Center due to complications that left her unable to speak. Ms. Schall was denied access to Ms. Townley, and could obtain no information about Ms. Townley's condition, for several hours because she is not recognized as Ms. Townley's spouse under Virginia law. ...
Since E. S.-T.'s birth, Ms. Schall has yearned to adopt her. Virginia law does not permit second-parent adoption unless the parents are married. Because Ms. Schall is not considered to be Ms. Townley's spouse, Ms. Schall is deprived of the opportunity and privilege of doing so.
Good, decent, loving couples, loving parents, loving people, should not be so burdened. As Judge Allen put it:
Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms, a rending that would take his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others, he wrote these words: "It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just ... the same thing—fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have. "
The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court's power, they and all others shall have.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
The Real Argument
Cue the Religious Right head explosions in ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a marginally saner right wing theocrat than most, laments what he calls Justice Anthony Kennedy's "singular and decisive influence of one judge" in his majority decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the key provision of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
Of course, one justice does not a majority make.
What Mohler means is that, on a closely divided Court, he is more than willing to accept 5-4 decisions that rule for positions he favors as 'wise' decisions, while those that go against what he wants are the fault of only one justice.
Here's where Mohler's marginal sanity kicks in:
Christians who affirm the biblical understanding of marriage as the union of a man and woman must now recognize that we can no longer count upon the government and its laws to reflect that understanding. Even the proponents of same-sex marriage must surely recognize the radical legal and moral shift in Western civilization and human history this change implies. Christians understand that marriage is one of God's greatest gifts to humanity and that marriage, as defined by the Creator, is fundamental to human flourishing.Mohler, at least, has recognized that, when it comes to same-sex marriage, the Religious Right has lost. This was reinforced by Judge John G. Heyburn's notation that:
We now know that the government cannot be counted on to affirm this message. As a matter of fact, we have to face the reality that the government — even in the Commonwealth of Kentucky — may teach a radically different message through its laws. But the real question for Christians is not whether the government gets the question of marriage right, but if we do. In the grand scheme of things, that is the Church's real challenge.
[T]he Court was not presented with the particular question whether Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. However, there is no doubt that Windsor and this Court's analysis suggest a possible result to that question.But here is the real argument for same-sex marriage, as detailed by Judge Heyburn:
Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon reside in Louisville, Kentucky and have been together for 31 years. They were lawfully married in Ontario, Canada in 2004 and have two minor children who are also named Plaintiffs: a 14-year-old girl; and a 15-year-old boy. Jimmy Meade and Luther Barlowe reside in Bardstown, Kentucky and have been together 44 years. They were lawfully married in Davenport, Iowa in 2009. Randell Johnson and Paul Campion reside in Louisville, Kentucky and have been together for 22 years. They were lawfully married in Riverside, California in 2008 and have four minor children who are named Plaintiffs: twin 18-year-old boys; a 14-year-old boy; and a 10-year-old girl. Kimberly Franklin and Tamera Boyd reside in Cropper, Kentucky. They were lawfully married in Stratford, Connecticut in 2010.In short, here they are, for all to see: loving couples; committed to their relationships for the long haul; no doubt proud parents; and decent human beings not so very much different than the rest of us.
By all means, Al, go on preaching from your pulpits ... shout it from the tops of your steeples ... that these are horrid people that are not entitled to ordinary human rights. Just don't expect the law to enforce your prejudice the way it once enforced your racism (a Southern Baptist must be aware of that).
Please, please, go on!
I can think of no more effective way to diminish the toxic effect of your brand of religion on the body politic of the United States.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Convincing people to reject evolution—and the Big Bang, the age of the earth, and many other mainstream scientific ideas—was accomplished in part by portraying the scientific community as a cabal of elitist, politically motivated secularists conspiring with the assistance of Satan to undermine the traditional values of American Christians. This view of the scientific community resonated with conservative Protestants, bewildered by a world that they once controlled but that now seemed to be leaving them and their values behind. Such a view provides a reason to reject so-called "expertise" in favor of homey assurances that everything they needed to know about origins is in the Bible.- Karl W. Giberson, "Ken Ham: The Making of An American Religious Huckster," The Daily Beast, February 9, 2014.
Just as it has always been.
Friday, February 07, 2014
Lenny Flank's Law
No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.The money quote from Senator Monroe was:
I wanted students in high school and college both to … you know … to hear both sides of the story, whether its global warming or environmentalism or evolution versus creationism.I was getting ready for work when I found the interview and only had time to note the above bit before rushing out the door. Tonight, after listening to the whole thing, I discovered there were other interesting bits:
And I think that our society has gotten to be real one sided in schools. Where the kids can't afford to go to a private school they should be able to have the both sides of the societal debate during school because we claim we want to get them ready for life and so that would be the way to go.In other words, when kids can't afford to go to private religious schools, the state should step in and give them a religious education at taxpayer expense! Another "small government" Republican hard at work!
There were a lot of misconceptions out there about what the bill would do and there just no way to go against the misconceptions on the one side. On the other side, even though it was a good bill and even though the intentions were good and it had tons of support, I think the good that would have come from it would have been outweighed by the trouble that would have been caused with lawsuits with the state based on what's happened in other states and there are better ways to go about what I'd like to achieve for the teachers and for the students.Can you say "Dover," boys and girls? ... Good!
For me, the main idea for the bill was to make it so a student would have a choice whether to believe they came from some animal or developed from monkeys or some other mammal or amphibians or repti ... whatever they just are told they evolved from. They should have another side of the story saying, no, you're special, you were made for a reason. But we don't get that side in the schools and I just wanted to have a balance.Senator Monroe here displays his deep understanding of evolutionary theory. And, of course, it is the duty of government to instruct children on their purpose in life, even to those children, and their parents, who might disagree with Senator Monroe's beliefs in that regard!
Just another example of the Rev. Dr. Lenny Flank's law: "The ability of a creationist to shut his mouth about creationism's religious motive is inversely proportional to the legal necessity of their doing so."
Thursday, February 06, 2014
The Invisible Hand
No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.I speculated that the Discovery [sic] Institute might not like it because, if a local teacher started to teach ID and went over the line into proselytizing, the DI would have cover from any court invalidating what the teacher was doing by saying that he or she didn't "understand" ID and, therefore, the decision didn't affect ID as it was "supposed" to be presented. However, if the school district or board defended itself on the basis it could not stop the teacher because of the law, the focus would shift to whether ID itself is religious in nature and the DI could be faced with another "Dover Disaster."
What's more, the Kitzmiller case was never appealed because the creationist board members were defeated in an election shortly before Judge Jones rendered his decision. Avoiding an appeal is less likely in the case of a statewide law and the last thing the DI wants is to compound the Dover Disaster with a Circuit Court of Appeals or (Designer forbid!) a Supreme Court decision that ID is a religious argument.
My conclusion was: "It will be an interesting test of how vulnerable the DI feels to see their reaction to this bill."
I think we now have our answer. As the San Francisco Chronicle has reported, the bill has been killed by the South Dakota Senate Education Committee at the request of the sponsor:
The measure's main sponsor, Sen. Jeff Monroe, R- Pierre, said he had to scrap the bill because it was badly written but didn't elaborate. He said supporters from across the nation have said there are far better ways to address the issue, but he declined to say what he might do in the future. [Emphasis added]Dollars to donuts, Sen. Monroe will soon be introducing a bill closely following the DI's "sample academic freedom bill," which should remove any possible doubt as to just who those "supporters from across the nation" were.
The DI will, almost certainly, never admit their role in this because [shudder] that would be honest.
Update: You can hear an interview with Monroe where he says:
I wanted students in high school and college both to … you know … to hear both sides of the story, whether its global warming or environmentalism or evolution versus creationism.Its too late in the session for him to bring a new bill so we'll have to wait until next year to see what he'll come up with (as if we didn't already know!).
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Please Tell Me He Was Kidding!
This is only slightly better than the nutbar "science teacher" In Louisiana who "informed" her students that, "if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today."
Of course, the answer is some variation on "If you are descended from your grandparents, why do you still have cousins?"
Perhaps the only hope for the future of America is that the shit-eating grin means he is satirizing the creationists.
P.S.: James McGrath has been usefully compiling after-debate reactions (Christian, atheist and secular alike) here and here. Outside of YEC sites, it appears there is a consensus that Nye "won" (there is no such thing as really "winning" in debates with YECs).
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Short But Not So Sweet
SENATE BILL NO. 112Now, of course, the bit about "prohibit a teacher in ... nonpublic school" is unnecessary. State and local school authorities can set minimum standards for what is taught in private schools but cannot otherwise control the curricula of such schools.
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to prohibit schools from preventing the instruction of intelligent design.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That chapter 13-33 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.
But what will be interesting is the reaction of the Discoveryless Institute to this legislation.
The DI might know more about South Dakota politics than I do, recognize that the bill has no chance of passing and, therefore, hunker down and say nothing about it.
The bill is, however, close (depending what side of their mouths they are talking out of at any particular time) to the DI's pre-Kitzmiller position expressed in Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook:
[S]chool boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution-and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design.Note the "strictly religious concerns." Also, the vague "making education inclusive, rather than exclusionary." Inclusive of what? ... if not conservative religious belief?
The controlling legal authority, the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, explicitly permits the inclusion of alternatives to Darwinian evolution so long as those alternatives are based on scientific evidence and not motivated by strictly religious concerns. Since design theory is based on scientific evidence rather than religious assumptions, it clearly meets this test. Including discussions of design in the science curriculum thus serves an important goal of making education inclusive, rather than exclusionary. In addition, it provides students with an important demonstration of the best way for them as future scientists and citizens to resolve scientific controversies-by a careful and fair-minded examination of the evidence.
Of course, history began to change after Kitzmiller.
Discovery Institute opposes mandating intelligent design in public schools, and opposes legislation that even comes close to a mandate. Such laws if passed would focus unwanted and even career-killing attention on scholars working within the intelligent design paradigm. Bills, like doctors, should first do no harm.Laws mandating the teaching of ID in elementary and high schools would destroy the careers of "scholars," exactly how? Oh, if the courts find, as Judge Jones did, that ID is just 'creationism in a cheap tuxedo,' there would go all those lucrative "seminars" and books and rounds on the Religious Right rubber chicken circuit reassuring the rubes that science supports the Bible.
Here is their dilemma: at present, if some teacher starts teaching ID and some student objects, the ACLU, Americans United, Freedom from Religion Foundation or some other such group has to hunt down each individual teacher or school board and show that what those particular people were teaching was religious. If this bill becomes law, once they get one student who objects, they can go straight to the state law and make the case that ID itself is religious and not science.
The DI got lucky in Kitzmiller. The locals, sick of the stupidity, voted out the creationists on the Dover school board, so there was no appeal. It's less likely to happen that way with a statewide law.
It will be an interesting test of how vulnerable the DI feels to see their reaction to this bill.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Except it isn't.
Instead it is a Christian school ... exclusively!
It is a school where the school marque flashes Biblical messages, such as (at 01:41):
IN ALL WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE GOD & HE WILL DIRECT THY PATH - PROV. 3 v 6It is a school where Jesus (or a very poor "portrait" of him) looms over the exit where students go to board buses:
It is a school where that same poor "portrait" of Jesus presides over graduation ceremonies:
And worse, it is a school where, according to the ACLU suit, a "science teacher" ends her tests with:
ISN'T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!And guess what! The "Lord Boda [Buddha]" isn't the "right" answer! Did I mention that the plaintiff school child is of Thai descent and a Buddhist?
But it, incredibly, gets worse:
As [the "science" teacher] was returning the tests to students, one student declared again, for the whole class to hear, that "people are stupid if they think God is not real." [The "science" teacher] agreed, responding, "Yes! That is right! I had a student miss that on his test."But we are not finished yet! When the outraged parents went to complain to the school superintendent, they were told that "this is the Bible Belt," and she recommended that they simply tolerate [the "science" teacher's] proselytization because "[t]eachers have religious freedom."
In a irony meter exploding statement, the superintendent then wondered whether the child "has to be raised Buddhist" and even asked whether he could "change" his faith ... because, of course, teachers have religious freedom but children don't!
But just to bring me back around to the main purpose of the blog, here is what the "science" teacher said about evolution:
[She] told her students that evolution is "impossible" and a "stupid" theory that "stupid people made up because they don't want to believe in God." She has informed her students that, "if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today."
The school board issued the usual statement:
The Sabine Parish School Board has only recently been made aware of the lawsuit filed by the ACLU. A lawsuit only represents one side's allegations, and the board is disappointed that the ACLU chose to file suit without even contacting it regarding the facts.This will, doubtlessly, play out the usual manner: the locals will insist that their behavior is perfectly legal because they are the majority and demand the school board defend their right to impose their religious beliefs on all and sundry.
The school system recognizes the rights of all students to exercise the religion of their choice and will defend the lawsuit vigorously.
From there, it will go one of two ways. First: the school's insurance company will explain that, unless they remove all the Biblical and Jesus iconography, refrain from official school prayers and (gasp) stop telling children that don't believe in Jesus that they are "stupid," they will lose this suit and, if they don't follow the insurance company's advice, it will not pay the damages. The school board will then face up to reality and agree to a settlement with a Federal judge ready at the nonce to penalize them if they return to their wicked ways. Or ...
Second, they will be seduced by the offer of some Christian group (such as the merry band of incompetents at the oxymoronic "Liberty Counsel") to fight the case because they are getting "free" representation, not realizing that, when the bill comes due, Liberty Counsel will be nowhere to be found. In which case the students of Sabine Parish will be the losers, when hundreds of thousand dollars are siphoned away from, you know, actually educating them.
Either way, the school board is toast!
By the way, here is the father's moving story.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Master of ID
What I find interesting is the DI's criticism of it, in the person of Michael Flannery.
According to Flannery, Meredith's thesis is that "Darwin's rejection of religion was based mainly on a narrow definition of it: the dubious religious doctrine of a six-thousand-year-old earth and the constancy of species since creation." Flannery, on the other hand, insists that "Darwin's views on theism generally and Christianity specifically were much broader and pervasive than a mere rejection of the design argument of William Paley (1743-1805) or the 6,000-year-old earth of Archbishop Ussher (1581-1656)."
Again, I'm not interested in who is right about that, though Flannery is probably closer to the truth, if he is fairly representing Meredith's position. Darwin was, self-admittedly, confused about his position on theism and his stated views changed frequently over time. All of that was further masked by his desire not to cause pain to his Unitarian wife (who, therefore, was not a True Christian™ by our modern Religious Right's "standards") .
This is where it gets interesting:
This leads to the second key point. A theory like Darwin's that purports to explain all of nature and of life itself cannot be separated from the metaphysical commitments of its founder.Really? So Protestantism can't be separated from Martin Luther's anti-Semitism?
Flannery goes on to babble about the supposed differences between "begotten" versus "made" that somehow makes methodological naturalism "inherent in the theory [of evolution] itself," presumably as opposed to Newton's theory of gravity which, though Newton allowed the possibility that God's angels might have to adjust the Solar system at times, never invoked anything but natural forces to explain gravity or its effects. Long before Darwin scientists had been invoking methodological naturalism; Darwin just had the "misfortune" to make it work for that most central issue of our egocentric species, showing how we could have arisen without being the special pet of some superior being.
And then the money quote from Flannery:
... Meredith's downplaying of Darwin's religious views as a mere rejection of the young earth design argument à la William Paley is seriously misleading. Meredith winds up serving as an apologist for methodological naturalism at the expense of viable theism. He isn't the first to be so deluded. What apparently is true of God and money is also true of God and Darwinism: "No one can serve two masters" (Mattew [sic] 6:24).And since "Darwinism" is the DI's code word for "modern evolutionary science" we can translate that to "no one can serve both science and God." Thus, Stephen Meyer, Casey Luskin, David Klinghoffer, William Dembsky and all the other admitted theists in the ID movement, despite their frequent claims to the contrary, cannot serve science by actually doing it; they are only "serving" God by pretending to do it ... and lying about it! Other Christians, for example, Ken Miller, have no problem serving both science and theism ... in their proper forums! But not IDers ... all they're concerned with is keeping theism "viable" against the pernicious influence of nasty science!
Once again, thanks for the confirmation that ID has nothing to do with science but is, instead, a dishonest attempt to circumvent the Constitution of the US and sneak sectarian religious instruction into public schools at taxpayer expense.
But, then again, they told us all that in the Wedge Document, didn't they?
Friday, January 17, 2014
Quote of the Day
As reported by SCOTUSblog:
A federal judge in Tulsa, ruling that the majority view of Oklahoma voters that marriage should be open only to a man and a woman "must give way to individual constitutional rights," on Tuesday struck down the state's ballot measure banning same-sex marriages. Senior U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern put his ruling on hold during any appeal that is pursued by the state to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.But the judge's money quote is this:
Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.Well said, well said!
People in Oklahoma might want to wear raincoats for a while in case of nearby wingnut head explosions.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Giggle ... Snort ...
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Someone Is Not Even Wrong on the Internet
Worse, everyone who has spent any time in various online forums has fallen prey to the sentiment.
After many years (and the help of an 11.25-step program) I have mostly given up the addiction of trying to correct all the idiots on the web (or listening to their attempts to correct me).
But sometimes you run across something so monumentally stupid that you just have to do something, even if it is only holding it up for ridicule on an obscure blog floating forlornly on the vast ocean of the internet.
You may have heard that the Oklahoma State legislature has gotten itself into quite a pickle.
The legislature decided it wanted to have a Ten Commandments monument erected on the grounds of the state capitol. Anyone but an idiot knows the purpose was to proclaim the hegemony of local fundamentalist Christian majority, in clear violation of the Establishment clause of the Bill of Rights. But, as a [cough] fig leaf, State Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, who introduced the bill and paid the $10,000 cost of the monument, and state Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso, the bill's Senate sponsor, argued that the monument would only honor the historical significance of the Ten Commandments and not its religious aspects. They readily admitted that they were basing this on the Supreme Court decision in Van Orden v. Perry.
The Van Orden case had significant factual differences from this situation. Both the plurality decision by Justice Rehnquist and the concurring decision by Justice Breyer (who was the fifth vote to uphold the constitutionality of the Texas monument) made much of the fact that the monument was donated by an outside and widely respected civic group, the monument had stood for some 40 years without complaint and it was one of 17 monuments and 21 historical markers commemorating the "people, ideals, and events that compose Texan identity."
Compared to that was the case of McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., decided on the same day as Van Orden. As Justice Breyer noted:
[Van Orden] also differs from McCreary County, where the short (and stormy) history of the courthouse Commandments' displays demonstrates the substantially religious objectives of those who mounted them, and the effect of this readily apparent objective upon those who view them. That history there indicates a governmental effort substantially to promote religion, not simply an effort primarily to reflect, historically, the secular impact of a religiously inspired document. And, in today's world, in a Nation of so many different religious and comparable nonreligious fundamental beliefs, a more contemporary state effort to focus attention upon a religious text is certainly likely to prove divisive in a way that this longstanding, pre-existing monument has not.Correctly focusing on the Oklahoma monument's stand-alone nature, a number of organizations have been lining up for a chance to have their own monuments erected. First and most amusing was a Satanist organization, whose design is, I think, rather nice.
Trait Thompson, chairman of the Capitol Preservation Commission, which decides on monuments on the capitol grounds, said that "There are standards for this type of art. It has to be relatable to the history of the state of Oklahoma in some form or fashion. And it has to be museum-quality art." Whoa! Let's look at the 10 Commandments monument, shall we?
Of course, the Oklahoma legislators are busy digging the hole they're in even deeper.
"I think you've got to remember where you are. This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland," said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon. "I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma, and that's not going to fly here."Umm ... the purpose of the Establishment clause is not for the government to be tolerant of non-majority religious or non-religious beliefs but to be neutral towards all of them.
"I do not see Satanism as a religion, and they have no place at the state Capitol," said [Rep. Earl] Sears, R-Bartlesville.The government doesn't get to decide which religions are "real" and which aren't and why is religion even an issue if you are just celebrating the historical influence of the 10 Commandments? Surely you are not going to deny the historical influence of the concept of Satan, after so many Christian leaders have sermonized about him throughout our history, are you Representative?
Even worse for the legislature, now a Hindu group has proposed erecting a statue of the monkey god, Lord Hanuman. Even if they could make some case that the Satanist's offer is a sham, there is no way they could deny a religion such as Hinduism, which has a small but real presence in Oklahoma, access to government grounds on the same basis as Christianity.
As a result, the state has called a moratorium on all proposals for monuments on the capitol grounds pending the outcome of an ACLU lawsuit, further admitting that the original intent was to further Christianity.
But enough preliminaries ... let's get to the stupid!
One Delilah Belmont, self-described as a "professional journalist and blogger," for something called the Civic Tribune, has an article under the headline: "Hindus Attempt To Violate First Amendment, Propose "Giant Monkey God" Statue On Oklahoma Capitol Grounds."
Now, if a Hindu group was trying to have a monument only to its religion on government grounds, that would be, if successful, a violation of the Establishment Clause and all we could accuse Ms. Belmont of was being incredibly ignorant of the story she was purportedly reporting on. But that's not it!
Yesterday marked the day that yet another religious minority group demanded special treatment from the United States. A Hindu sect called the Universal Society of Hinduism made a request to the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission asking to have a monument of their own placed on Capital grounds, a giant statue of their demonic Monkey God named "Lord Hanuman."Lordy, lordy, lordy! Where to begin? Of course, she got the factual details wrong. The Satanic monument has not been approved. Nor does this case involve "Federal soil." And Hindus do not consider Lord Hanuman to be "demonic" (quite the contrary, he is considered the embodiment of bravery and faithfulness), anymore than Christians consider their God to be demonic ... although others may have a different opinion on that score!
This request is a timely one, and adds to the growing list of religious minorities in the United States who are seeking to be treated above and beyond the average American, such as last week's attempt by Satanists to get their own memorial added to the same grounds in Oklahoma's Capital.
Despite the First Amendment protecting government property from endorsing or sponsoring religious freedoms that were not Christian, the Satanic religious group has won their plea to have a monument erected on capital grounds. This has opened the flood gate for even more religious minorities to request their own pagan Gods be represented on federal soil, as we have seen yesterday with the Hindu group's application.
The Satanic monument will join the 10 Commandments monument that was built in 2012, after the GOP state legislature passed a law that allowed religious displays back in 2009. This law was of course only meant to allow Christian religions access to placing their own monuments on the property, but due to an unforeseen loop hole, Satanic and Hindu groups are now taking advantage of the legislature.
But, worse, she seems completely ignorant of the US Constitution!
Even the clinically insane (or cynically deceptive) Bryan Fischer merely claims that the Establishment clause protects Christianity only, not that it prohibits government endorsement of religious freedoms for non-Christians. Nor is it seeking "special rights" or to "be treated above and beyond the average American" to demand that the government treat all religions equally. And, it wasn't a "loop hole" in the law that is going to trip up the Oklahoma legislators. It is, in fact, the Establishment Clause that will bring this whole scheme to grief.
The one thing that Ms. Belmont got right was that "[t]his law was of course only meant to allow Christian religions access to placing their own monuments on the property." What she fails to appreciate is that the legislators, in doing so, not only broke the 9th Commandment (as Protestants count them) but their oaths of office to "protect and defend" the Constitution of the United States.
The only "loophole" here is that the people of Oklahoma elected a particularly dumb and venal breed of legislators.
Thursday, January 09, 2014
The Curse of Ham
Answers in Genesis's Ken Ham is bemoaning the fact that its Ark Encounter theme park is in serious financial trouble. AiG and Ham are faced with the daunting task of selling $29 million in unrated (i.e. "junk") municipal bonds by Feb. 6 or face collapse. Staggeringly, the northern Kentucky city of Williamstown (where Ark Encounter is supposed to be built) in December issued taxable "industrial-development" bonds for affiliates of Answers in Genesis. Even more staggeringly, they have managed to sell $26.5 million of these "securities" (is "a fool and his money are soon parted" from the Bible? If not, it should be!). However, unless they sell at least $55 million in total, a redemption of all the bonds will be triggered.
As Bloomberg noted:
The [bond] documents cite at least 39 risks to buyers, including that Answers in Genesis has no obligation to back the debt. Bondholders' sole revenue stream would come from money spent by visitors.Ham takes these developments with all the rationality we have come to expect of him:
As you have read in some of my prior emails, many challenges and road blocks came up as we worked through the stages of the bond offering and the first closing. From atheists attempting to register for the bond offering and disrupting it, to secular bloggers and reporters writing very misleading and inaccurate articles about the bonds, to brokerage firms saying "yes" but after reading these incorrect reports saying "no" in allowing the Ark bonds into their client accounts ...In other words, giving their clients sound financial advice ...
Several persons directly involved in the Ark bonds process have indicated to us that they have never experienced the level of opposition as we have encountered. It's an indication of the immense spiritual battle we are in, as per Ephesians 6 above ["For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."].Yeah, that's the ticket! Satan made them not do it! And atheists! And secularists! And the main stream media! And Wall Street! (Are there any dog whistles I forgot to blow?)
As I've written to you before, the attacks we have seen on the Ark bond offering have just confirmed for me that the Enemy does not want this project to go ahead. Actually, though, the opposition just encourages me. You see, if we weren't involved in a vital Bible-proclaiming outreach that should have a massive impact on the hearts and lives of countless people, I don't believe we would see this sort of opposition.
Sunday, January 05, 2014
In a New Yorker Minute
The above one could easily have been labeled "Scientists" and "Creationists" instead of, respectively, "Realists" and "Idealists."
The following one might be "Irreducible Complexity."
Last is "Fairy Tales Come to Life."
Friday, January 03, 2014
Coming By It Naturally
John Wilkins, the inestimable but resolutely antipodean philosopher of science, has a nice article up on What is "nature"? As John notes:
Many critics of science, including Christian philosophers like Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, attack something they call "naturalism", the view that the natural world is all there is. As Papineau notes in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry, the term has no very precise meaning in philosophy, or in science. However, as he goes on to note, there are two streams: ontological naturalism (the view that all that is, is natural) and methodological naturalism (the view that all that can be known can be known via natural methodologies such as scientific method). ...John goes on to discuss other aspects of "nature" and its modern uses, so go and read it.
"Nature", however, is often held to exclude the "supernatural", which is defined against the natural. If nature is all there is and their properties, then the supernatural doesn't exist, or is propertyless. This cannot be the view Plantinga and Craig wish to defend, so the question remains: what is nature? Mill goes on to note that the natural is regular and lawful, that it behaves in ways which are predictable. ...
Why do I bring it up? Well, as one who argues often over philosophy, and particularly its relation to science, it is comforting to know that professional philosophers basically agree that you are not a complete dufus.
Thursday, January 02, 2014
Not for a lack of trying!
Via Ed Brayton comes the story of Jim Garrow "predicting" that President Obama will soon try to distract Americans from his supposed scandals … by claiming that he is now in touch with alien life.
But, even worse, Obama will invite Canada to invade the US (along with Russian, Chinese and UN "Blue Beret" troops), which can fight any "insurrection" because Canadian soldiers don't swear allegiance to the US Constitution (Why were we never told this?).
Of course, a Canadian invasion of the US could take a long time as the Canadian Army waits, politely at our checkpoints for permission to enter. The upside is that we will be politely asked to line up to be shot!
The next question is, under Obamacare, will someone see to having these peoples' medication adjusted?
Thursday, December 26, 2013
The Daily Register of Harrisburg, Illinois has an article about how evolution (termed "change over time" by the Illinois State School Board of Education) is actually taught in local schools.
Correctly defining Intelligent Design as "a form of creationism which proposes that 'certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection,'" the paper surveys a number of schools as to when and how evolution is taught and if ID is offered as an alternative.
Most say that "change over time" is taught and that ID isn't (though one mealy-mouthed principal said that he "was unaware if the theory of intelligent design was being addressed by the high school science teacher").
But one principal stated:
[T]he theory of change over time was taught at the freshman to sophomore level in the science classes. The theory of intelligent design was presented as an "alternate belief system" and neither theory was given more emphasis as to validity.And the name of that principal? ... Wait for it! ...
Chills, man, chills!
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Damn! I blinked!
New Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled that, based on its state constitution (making it immune to Federal court review but not to attempts to change its constitution), that "the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law."
In Utah, a Federal judge has ruled that Utah's 2004 state constitutional ban of same sex marriage violates the Federal guarantees of Due Process and Equal Protection.
Both decisions shred the usual talking points of the bigots about same sex marriage. The Utah decision in particular takes on the claims that denying same sex marriage doesn't abridge gays' fundamental right to marry because they are still at liberty to marry a person of the opposite sex and that gays are really seeking a new right to same sex marriage, not access to an existing right. Both eviscerate the claim that marriage is or should be restricted to those who can "naturally" procreate.
The Utah decision can be, eventually, appealed to the Supreme Court but, beyond the excellent analysis of Judge Shelby in his decision*, the state will have to overcome the "sea change" in America itself. As NPR points out, at the beginning of the year, 14% of Americans lived in jurisdictions that permitted same sex marriage, at year's end that will be 38%. Jeffrey Toobin notes that the Mormon Church's reaction was "practically apologetic in its disagreement with the decision."
The Church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect. This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.It has been said that the Supreme Court decides cases on the law but, nonetheless, it reads the newspapers. Roe v. Wade may have been one of the very few cases where the court either didn't read the newspapers or misinterpreted them and got out ahead of where Americans were socially. The tea leaves are not nearly so hard to read now. I predict that, should the Utah decision reach the Supreme Court, it will be upheld and not by a bare 5-4 majority.
It has, in this small corner, been a miraculous year for human rights!
* As Jeffrey Toobin, in his New Yorker piece deliciously noted:
Shelby also took note of Scalia's dissent in this year's Windsor case, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Scalia wrote, "the real rationale of today's opinion…is that DOMA is motivated by 'bare…desire to harm' couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status." Shelby noted dryly, "The court agrees with Justice Scalia's interpretation of Windsor."
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Keep Saturn in Saturnalia!
Happy New Year!
Oh, heck ... let's just say it!
Uhhh ... Mat?
Mat Staver, head of the oxymoronic Liberty Counsel and dean of Jerry Fallwell's faux law school, is displaying his Freudian lingerie. Apparently, being gay is so fabulous that, if gay marriage becomes legal nationwide, everyone will soon be gay!
If you ultimately promoted same-sex marriage and everyone started to go towards same-sex marriage, what would happen to society? It would just simply cease to exist. Moreover, you’d have rampant increase in diseases. Already, you have rampant increase in diseases among same-sex activities, specifically men having sex with men. Same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships is destructive to individuals and it’s destructive to our very social fabric.Of course! We all know that there are hardly any straight people left in Massachusetts!
But it's all right, Mat! Just let your feelings out!
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Cause and Effect
General religiosity is declining and "not at all religious" status increasing, especially in the last 4 years.Of course, Jerry goes on to say: "Could it be. . . . .those strident New Atheists?" and PZ would attribute it to the FFRF, American Atheists, American Humanists, Americans United, or your local freethinking group (and, tongue firmly in cheek, to Freethoughtblogs).
First of all, I should say that this trend, especially if it is eating away at the influence of the toxic Religious Right on America, is a good thing.
But I wonder if otherwise skeptical scientists should be so quick to declare the cause of this social change which, if not seismic, is significant. I haven't tried to analyze the raw data, nor would I be capable of doing so. But neither have Jerry or PZ, at least on their
But if I was hunting for a correlation to another recent notable change in social attitudes that matched, timewise, this one, there is one that stands out: the change in attitudes toward gay rights and, especially, gay marriage. I suspect that we owe any reduction in religiousity to the over reaching of the Religious Right, beginning in 2004, on these issues, particularly as it coincided with the maturing of the "Millennials."
There can be little doubt that the amazingly quick national change in attitudes toward gay rights is fueled by people under 40. Just as that generation was in their teens and early twenties, when people naturally question their upbringing and parents' beliefs, the Religious Right launched their unreasoning and hateful campaign. Worse for them, AIDS was just then turning from a "death sentence" into a chronic condition that could be treated and controlled and fear and loathing was turning to sympathy. Also, more and more gays were "coming out," not just in the media, but to family and friends. It's harder to objectify people you like and love as "sinners" needing stoning to death. The Religious Right may have chosen just the "perfect storm" in which to set off on that sea trial.
And once you start to question the humanity and rationality of the religion you were brought up in, it's less hard to walk away altogether.
I, for one, suspect that any weakening of religious belief in America is chiefly due to the LGBT community ... and [cough] God bless 'em.
And one more thing ... the "accommodationists" [defined here as scientists and science supporters who told children that science and, particularly evolution, was not necessarily incompatible with religion, in hopes they would not dismiss it out of hand] also coincided with the Millennials. The "high water mark" of creationism was the mid-1980s, just at the beginning of the Millennial generation. The "New Atheists" (apparently now an acceptable term if we judge by Jerry) have told us often that "accommodation" has failed. They need much more data to credibly make that claim.
Social changes of these sorts are not the product of simplistic forces. It is much more likely that they come from a trickle that grew to a stream and, hopefully, will soon become a flood unlike any imagined by the bigots of the Religious Right.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
It seems that a Federal judge* has:
... ruled late Friday that part of the state's law prohibiting "cohabitation" — the language used in the law to restrict polygamous relationships — violates the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion, as well as constitutional due process. He left standing the state's ability to prohibit multiple marriages "in the literal sense" of having two or more valid marriage licenses.This is, according to the title of Mohler's article "Moral Mayhem Multiplied."
You mean that Abraham, Isaac, Solomon and (God's favorite) King David were committing moral mayhem?
Of course, the chief villain to Mohler is Justice Kennedy who, as the "swing" vote, thought that gays should not be imprisoned for consensual acts between adults and, since that was the case, we shouldn't have laws otherwise penalizing gays for what some states freely allow them to do. Talk about your moral mayhem ... allowing gays to have actual rights!!!
The funny part is this:
Of course, the moral revolution that has transformed marriage in our times did not start with the demand for legal same-sex marriage. It did not begin with homosexuality at all, but with the sexual libertinism that demanded (and achieved) a separation of marriage and sex, liberating sex from the confines of marriage. So sex was separated from marriage, and then sex was separated from the expectation of procreation** and child-rearing. Marriage was separated from sex, sex was separated from reproduction, and the revolution was launched.Sex being separated from reproduction is the problem? The suit was brought by Kody Brown, who stars in "Sister Wives," the reality television show, and who, along with his four wives, has 17 children!
What? Isn't that enough reproduction for you, Al?
* The judge was appointed by George Bush the Lesser.
** To no one's surprise at all, the real wingnut complaint is contraception. God wants 'em barefoot and pregnant! Strangely, Kody seems to have fallen down on in that regard ... somehow.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
If You Can Colbert It!
Michael Schulson at The Daily Beast has a nice summary of the creationist attempts to censor, as much as they can, evolution out of pubic school textbooks. The piece is called "When Creationists Collide with Stephen Colbert" and his "hook" is Don McLeroy's appearance, and savaging, on Stephen Colbert's show in April 2012. Colbert's money line was "I've always been a fan of reality by majority vote."
One good insight by Schulson is:
It wasn't just the defeat of explicitly Christian creationism that drove the rise of intelligent design; it was also lifted by favorable winds from certain corners of the secular university. Various academic movements in the humanities were emphasizing that scientific theories are constructed by humans—and that, as a result, biases and politics and other non-scientific factors might play some role in the formation of scientific theory. Maybe scientists were not quite as objective as they claimed. In this vein, Thomas Kuhn, a physicist-turned-philosopher, famously argued that science tends to be dominated by certain paradigms, each of which comes with a whole set of implicit premises and rules. These paradigms occasionally reach a point of crisis, when, burdended by their inherent limitations, they collapse and make way for a whole new way of conceptualizing the field.This is, of course, why people like Steve Fuller wrecked their reputations in defense of ID.
Thinkers like Kuhn implied that change could come from unlikely quarters. Creationists needed to show that being on the fringe didn't mean being wrong, and that scientific authority wasn't as absolute as it seemed. It was an ideal match. Johnson—who originally wanted to title his first book on evolution Darwin Deconstructed—started writing about a Darwinist monopoly on knowledge, and about the difficult at arriving at objective truth, or at least objective truth not revealed by a divine being.
By taking these postmodernist insights to their extremes, Johnson and other intelligent design advocates can argue that, rather than religious people with a mission, they are scientific revolutionaries, boxed out by a politically-charged, biased community that will only gradually come to accept the radical reality of their ideas. To put is mildly, this is a massive stretch. But it lets them recast the whole conversation not as one of Bible vs. science, or of pseudoscience vs. science, but of one kind politicized science oppressing another.
And once mainstream academic science is seen as a political tool, then it starts to seem patently undemocratic. After all, scientific research is reserved to a highly trained elite. ...Or as McLeroy himself stated [see, 4:15 of the video]: "Someone has to stand up to experts ..."
Which is why, perhaps, we get public figures like McLeroy, who just dismiss the experts out of hand and choose their own science. It's all biased anyway—and look, we can vote on this. Our opinions matter. Who are you to tell us otherwise?
Schulson is right, in a way, when he says:
Science advocates would do well to remember McLeroy the next time they respond to creationists, or vaccine-deniers, or climate skeptics with a barrage of facts, as if a bundle of correct information will somehow right those persistent wrongs. Sure, the scientific argument may be right. But in politics, being right isn't enough. Say what you want about postmodernism: in democracy, reality does come with a dose of social construction.That doesn't mean we have to accept it or that it can't change. Think of the change that has come over the issue of same sex marriage in the last ten years and, particularly, among young adults. If we are persistent enough, if we show that these "experts" are just people like all the rest of us, who are honestly trying to do their best to make their and our world better, we can win not just the minds but the hearts of future generations.