Friday, May 30, 2008


Under the Radar

CNSNews, the media outlet of the Media Research Center, both of which were founded by L. Brent Bozell III, a nephew of William F. Buckley and a member of the board of Bill Donohue's Catholic League, has an interesting article on the recent spate of so-called "academic freedom" bills being bandied about by various state legislatures. Of particular note is the reported likelihood that the Louisiana law, of these efforts the least damaging to good science education, will probably be signed into law within the next two weeks.

First of all, despite the disingenuous and legally suspect disclaimers that have been inserted in these laws, to the effect that the legislation "shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine," it is clear what the supporters of these laws expect them to do if they are passed:

The film [Expelled] has prompted some states to consider legislation that would insulate teachers and students who believe there is evidence of "design" in nature, Walt Ruloff, a co-producer for the film, told Cybercast News Service.

Of course, arguments for design have been a staple of religious belief since time immemorial and pointing to the facts of nature as revealed by science as confirming such design goes back well before William Paley, and his famous "watchmaker" argument from analogy, that Intelligent Design Creationists have barely updated through their analogy to human design of computer programs. But Paley had the honesty to call his book Natural Theology.

Then there is Caroline Crocker ...

If you thought she was looney-toons before, wait to you see her website. There are so many third-person references; random acts of bolded type and even a reference to her promotion of "right thinking," that John Pieret would normally be lead to seriously question if it was a parody site, but for the link from the article.

And here is another bit of amusement. Crocker toes the party line by repeating in the article that the legislation "specifically excludes the teaching of religion." But rummaging around Crocker's website dicloses that she bills herself as "an experienced and popular" Alpha Evangelism speaker.

What is Alpha Evangelism you might ask? Well, according to this article, it is a program by which the evangelists act only as hosts for a dinner and some sort of video, "not facilitators, not teachers, not theologians, not even evangelists.

[T]he leaders are told to keep their mouths shut! They are allowed to ask questions and respond to the answers with non-committal comments such as: "That's very interesting!" But largely they are trained to treat the group members as if they┬╣re guests around their own dinner table.

In short, it is stealth evangelism and, no doubt, excellent training for the kind of stealth creationism that these laws are designed to permit in public school science classes.

The last item of note is the fact that the article is as balanced as it is. Opposing viewpoints are stated forthrightly and Josh Rosenau of the NCSE is quoted fairly extensively. Maybe the more rational members of the Right are beginning to become uncomfortable with the Righteous Right and anxious to avoid always being tied to creationists.

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