Thursday, June 05, 2008


Flaming Assets

Sometimes it's nice to know there are some verities in life -- things that can be counted on to be rock steady when everything around you is spinning past at an accelerating rate.

And sometimes not.

An example of the latter is the way that the Discovery Institute has never seen a disingenuous spin they didn't like. The DI can be counted on all right -- to distort anything and everything it touches.

The latest example is almost funny though. Robert Crowther is over at the Ministry of Misinformation complaining about the New York Times article, "Opponents of Evolution Adopting a New Strategy," that focuses on the upcoming battle over the science standards about to be considered by the Texas Board of Education.

Crowther's complaint that the author, Laura Beil, is wrong to think the "strengths and weaknesses" ploy is new, not only misses the point of the article but ain't much of a defense in any case.

But here's where the giggles come in: Crowther kvetches that Beil interviewed "quite a few" opponents of the standards (four by my count), "as opposed to the one single person she spoke to that favors the current science standards." But that one unnamed proponent just happens to be the chairman of the state education board, Dr. Don McLeroy, who gets about as much of his views into the article as his opponents combined.

But it isn't hard to see why the Discovery Institute isn't happy. After all these years denying that they are pushing creationism, along comes Doctor Don:

The chairman of the state education board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist in Central Texas, denies that the phrase ["strength and weaknesses"] "is subterfuge for bringing in creationism."

"Why in the world would anybody not want to include weaknesses?" Dr. McLeroy said. ...

Dr. McLeroy, the board chairman, sees the debate as being between "two systems of science."

"You've got a creationist system and a naturalist system," he said.

Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth's appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. "I believe a lot of incredible things," he said, "The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe."

But Dr. McLeroy says his rejection of evolution — "I just don't think it's true or it's ever happened" — is not based on religious grounds. Courts have clearly ruled that teachings of faith are not allowed in a science classroom, but when he considers the case for evolution, Dr. McLeroy said, "it's just not there."

"My personal religious beliefs are going to make no difference in how well our students are going to learn science," he said.

No, of course not! Just because he believes in creation science ... um ... a creationist system of science ... won't effect what "weaknesses" he, a dentist, sees in evolutionary theory when the overwhelming majority of biologists see none. Right! The courts won't think twice before buying that!

No wonder the DI wants to forget McLeroy's name.

No matter how hard the DI tries there is nothing they can do to distance ID from creationism. It seems to me that the creationists the DI is trying to convert to cdesign proponentsists are either not devious enough or too faithful to disavow their religious connections and beliefs to further the cause.
This is a problem for political actions in particular. In order to reap the political benefit of having injected the locally favored religion into governmental action, you have to make it clear to the electorate that that will be the outcome. But, when that is done, an evidence trail is left that demonstrates that government is favoring a particular relgion and/or religion in general, in violation of (the current interpretation of) the Establishment clause.

Damned if you do, not praised if you don't.
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