Hypocrisy and Faith-Bashing

by

Perhaps the anti-evolution pressure groups that led the attack on honest science in Texas think that no one was paying attention to their repulsive tactics. Well, we were.

In one of its scathing attacks on pro-science members of the Texas State Board of Education, the Discovery Institute is accusing board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas of dragging religion into the debate over evolution. The level of hypocrisy in that sneering attack is off the scale:

In defense of her views, Mrs. Miller launched into a remarkable speech about how she is a Christian and “a student of the Bible,” as if her personal religious beliefs have any relevance to what should be taught in science classes. . . . Once again, a defender of evolution has appealed to religion rather than science to justify his or her views. Mrs. Miller is certainly entitled to her religious views, but she wasn’t elected to serve on a state board of theology. While the government has a legitimate secular interest in teaching the science of evolution, it has no right whatever to try to dictate students’ theological beliefs about evolution, pro or con. The fact that evolution defenders can’t stick to science when justifying their censorship of the science curriculum is telling.

That’s rubbish.

Over the past two months, creationist pressure groups have bombarded pro-science board members with e-mails and calls demanding that they dumb down the science curriculum on evolution. Ms. Miller noted that many had attacked her religious faith, and she was rightfully upset.

One prominent e-mail tied teaching about evolution to serial murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer and implied that board members accepting the science of evolution either weren’t really Christians or were rejecting the teachings of their faith.

Board chairman Don McLeroy endorsed a vicious book charging that scientists who support instruction on evolution are “atheists,” parents who want their kids to learn about evolution are “monsters,” and pastors who see no conflict between faith and accepting the science of evolution are “morons.”

And board member Ken Mercer of San Antonio said he was “praying for” three Republican colleagues on the board who he suggested had come under the influence of atheists and secular humanists.

The Discovery Institute thinks people will forget all about those faith-baiting attacks. News flash: Texas Freedom Network won’t, and we’ll be making sure that no one else does either. Creationist pressure groups and their supporters on the state board have crossed a serious line. They viciously dragged the religious faith of anyone who disagreed with them through the mud. If they have a conscience, they should be ashamed of themselves.

TFN supports the right of families and congregations to educate their children in the tenets of their faith. Public schools have no business interfering by deciding whose religious beliefs also should be taught in science classrooms. Science classes are for science. Efforts to poison the debate by bashing the faith of those who disagree are as shameful as attacking the faith of those who reject evolution simply because of their religious beliefs.

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21 Responses to “Hypocrisy and Faith-Bashing”

  1. Shawn Says:

    :et’s be a little fair here. It’s true that both sides of the atheist and theist arguments contain little substance in context to the point of the other, but that’s the point. The two compare apples and oranges – tangible and intangible, it just happens that the allegedly intangible side is content with faith based on… well… intangible beliefs.

    Now, to the subject at hand – The email linking evolution to Jeffrey Dahmer… that’s a reach and a half, and a counter point can be made that faith based religion links directly to terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden, or genocidal murders like Saladin and King Richard of England. The problem with these linkages on either side is that they don’t prove, let alone justify the linkage of the caustic behaviors. See, Religion isn’t a cause for war any more than the Dollar. Waging a war in the name of something is not the same as waging a war FOR something. Many combatants don’t fight FOR God, nor do they fight BECAUSE of God… and again, the same is said for money (excluding mercenaries and PCM groups).

    In the end, all of this is strictly opinion. There are many things in science that cannot yet be proved, and some of what has been proved can be disproved or has been. the biggest issue that both sides here face is their cling to absolution and unless were talking math, very little is ever absolute.

    Should the parents of a community have a say in what is taught in the classroom? yes. Does this include allegedly intangible beliefs? yes. However, as stated in the article, public schools shouldn’t touch religion, and they should equally avoid counter or anti-religion. A general housewife and mother knows no more about evolution than an evolution biologist with no kids knows about being a parent and cooking Eggplant Parmesan. So where does one find a middle ground? Practically, be leaving each other alone – but realistically this isn’t going to happen.

  2. Charles Says:

    Well. I am not gone quite yet.

    When I was in college back in the 1970s, American archaeologists and perhaps some vertebrate paleontologists, believed that there might have been some isolated exceptions to the great extinction of Pleistocene megafauna that occurred about 12,000 B.P. Of course, this would have involved a very few isolated environments (probably north into Canada and Alaska) that could have survived and supported extremely small megafauna populations as late as 5000-3000 B.C. However, no real evidence of this had been found at that point in time, so it was more or less speculation.

    Now, we all know that many Christian fundamentalists (those in need of a cerebral transplant) believe that the Earth is only about 5000 years old. They further go on to believe that human beings and dinosaurs coexisted—can you say Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Pebbles, and Bambam? The odd thing about this? Dinosaur bones are not found in intact, nondisturbed Holocene soil deposits that also contain human remains such as prehistoric chert tools, carved bone, fire-cracked rock, etc. Imagine that? However, hearkening back to the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna, and considering that the Earth is only 5000 years old, we apparently have to equally consider the outside possibility that a few dinosaurs might have made it into later millenia, say around 33 A.D.

    As we approach Easter, the scriptures tell us that Jesus made his last and great triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on the back of an “ass” (not a Texas SBOE member but arguably more qualified and definitely more blessed by the Lord). Today we would interpret that word “ass” as “donkey.” That is what the Bible tells us. But—could there be another possibility?

    Could the Romans have used a few late-surviving dinosaurs as pack animals and war machines? “Cry havoc and let slip the Stegosaurus of war!!!” Might the Romans have used their dinosaurs against Hannibal’s elephants in the Second Punic War? Might a few dinosaurs have been used as beasts of burden in ancient Roman Judea. It makes about as much sense as anything else up to now. I say this only because I ran across a fanciful picture that was published in the Dallas Morning News last Thursday. This picture would be news to Jesus, and I guess that he would be greatly amused by it. However, and this is the real tragedy here, the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists have such a warped sense of real time, geological time, and science that this picture is actually possible somewhere near the outer edge of their circle of belief. Here is the picture:

    Jesus riding dinosaur

  3. Ed Darrell Says:

    In the end, all of this is strictly opinion. There are many things in science that cannot yet be proved, and some of what has been proved can be disproved or has been. the biggest issue that both sides here face is their cling to absolution and unless were talking math, very little is ever absolute.

    That’s inaccurate. Evolution is not opinion. Evolution has been observed, in the lab, and in the wild, in real time.

    Your opinion may include not teaching those facts to children. You may make a case for withholding the truth from them, if you wish, and let your opinion fly. But you may not pretend these facts do not exist, not without making yourself a prevaricator.

  4. Coragyps Says:

    Shawn wrote, “A general housewife and mother knows no more about evolution than an evolution biologist with no kids knows about being a parent and cooking Eggplant Parmesan.”

    That’s exactly the problem, Shawn! Why do you think Ms. G. Housewife knows so little about evolution? I’ll give you the two most likely scenarios: 1) she was daydreaming during biology class most of the week when that was covered, or 2) she took biology in Texas, and any mention of the E-word was omitted in that biology class.

    Why it was omitted might depend on her age – before TAKS it likely wasn’t required. If she was in my younger daughter’s class, it may be because the teacher said, “These next two chapters are about evolution. They won’t be on the final, but you can read them if you want to.”

  5. Dr. Donald Masters Says:

    Ignorance is at the base of the arguments regarding both evo and creationism. The evo deniers know little about that subject or their own biblical position. Why? Because they interpret the bible literally missing the allegorical points that the multiple authors of Genesis (900 bc) were trying to make. The authors made up their own “science” to explain things. Had they had our current knowlege there would be no excuse to use these fables, and to say that God wrote or inspired these parables is really calling God a liar. Presumably he knew better.

    The literalists depend on a house of cards and feel compelled to defend each and every issue; the failure of one wrecks the entire content. However, the scriptures are so contradictory within themselves and when they are used to prove reality their weakness in testable evidence becomes apparent. The only power left for the creationists is to attack the current knowledge base with vigor. Like the fire ants, they are persistent!And they are completely unreasonable. Jerry Coyne, in his book Why Evolution is True, says that he will no longer try to debate with them. They refuse to stay within the rules of bebate, use fiction as fact, and dont defend their own beliefs but attack tthe opponents as not being perfect. Some issues in Evolution may never be found, but the basic framework is correct and we don’t have to appologize for the few unfinished areas in question.

    As an indicator that ignorance is at the root of “the argument”, from my vantage point of a long time student of science vs. religion, I have talked about the issue with people from all educational stratas. I conducted a survey of beliefs within a Sunday school class of young to middle- aged adults and found very little real understanding, actually primitive concepts about both sides of the issue. Evolution is hard to grasp, particularly if you have been educatd since early childhood on creationism. You are in conflict with all those around you; some describe it as being isolated. We are not dealing with easy solutions here. These old beliefs die hard and random debates do no good. However, we can’t have our science education so contaminated with fables; we must go after the oppostion with equal vigor using what ever remedies are available (political, legislative, direct testimony, letters, emails etc). Remember the fire ants; they wont give up without a struggle.

  6. Buhallin Says:

    I too have given up arguing with them.

    I live in San Antonio, and listen to a Christian fundamentalist talk show host on my way home from work. It’s tough to stomach some times, but I look at it as intelligence on the enemy. Events like last week remind me why I endure it.

    The entirety of last week was devoted to the science standards issue, as the standard gay-bashing and anti-abortion rants took a back seat. Their entire debate for me was summed up with one called whose only comment was “If man is descended from monkeys, then why do we still have moneys??” Caller and host both had a good laugh and shared a “How right you are!” verbal high-five.

    Anybody with even the tiniest understanding of evolution can probably have a higher flaw count than word count in that sentence. But it doesn’t matter. The people driving most of this are not only ignorant, they LIKE it that way – they celebrate ignorance, enjoy it, and do everything in their power to spread it. There is no debate or discussion with such people. They will not allow knowledge to intrude upon their isolated little world.

    Unfortunately, they dominate in Texas right now. It shows, too – we rank 46th and 49th in SAT scores, and I believe 48th in the country for composite educational quality. The Board of Education, the Legislature and Governor, and my favorite lunatic fringe talk show host don’t seem to have a problem with that. I guess that’s to be expected – 48th worst educational system means the third best ignorance rating in the country, and that’s a good thing!

  7. randalflagg.net Says:

    Hypocrisy and Faith-Bashing « Texas Freedom Network…

    um… the Discovery Institute accusing a pro-evolutionist of resorting to religion to defend their views? kettle and pots come to mind here……

  8. Charles Says:

    Well. Maybe I do not really need to leave right now because Buhallin just brought up an important idea that I wanted to address before the Texas SBOE meetings—but forgot. Many things in our cultural world are binary: 1 and 0, on and off, black and white, male and female, feminine nouns and masculin nouns (Romance languages), and even hot and cold. Yes, some Native Americans in the Central American tropics divide their cultural and natural world according to hot and cold. Jaguars are cold Macaws are hot. Christian Neo-Fundamentalism has a binary outlook on the world too. I saw jump out of your seat. You think it is good old-fashioned, lung-screaming, in-your face good and evil. Right? Well, sort of, but not exactly in the way you are thinking. You are perhaps thinking steal (take) and give (charity) or maybe kill and save. That is not quite it. Although it is not entirely so, it involves some overtness but also some subliminal thought patterns that carve out a unique worldview and even affect language use. “Fred, what in the Sam Hill is Charlie talking about”? Well, here goes.

    The Christian Neo-Fundamentalists divide their world into “sacred” and “secular.” Now, that is not all together bad because some things in life really are sacred and some things really are secular. The Knights of Columbus are sacred and the Mystic Knights of the Sea are secular. The Catholic Church is sacred and the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall is secular. Some nice person long ago saw this obvious distinction and thought the two words should be in the dictionary for just such cases. However, exceeding common sense and the basic intent of both the English language and the dictionary over the past 40 years, the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists have sought to greatly expand the concepts of “sacred” and “secular.” They have literally (how else) ballooned them to fill most of the their known “culturverse.” They have begun dividing all of American culture into sacred and secular. But notice that these are not just two separate categories like chocolate ice-cream and vanilla ice-cream. Instead, they are perceived of as categories at war with each other—one being intrinsically good and the other being instrinsically evil—all with it never being particularly clear whether there are degrees of perceived good or evil—or whether sacred is always good and secular is always evil.

    How does it affect language. Well, I have noticed from time to time that the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists like to avoid saying that they accept the sacred and reject the secular. Rather, I have noted that they like the word “eschew.” A Christian-Neo-Fundamentalist might be heard to say, “We embrace the sacred, but we eschew the secular.” Okay. Say that word for me, and rather than saying it straight out of your mouth, pucker your lips really tightly and force the air out of your nose as you say it: “Eschew.” There. You got it. So what does that mean in the real world today? Does it just mean that the Bible is embraced and the Book of the Dead is eschewed. Not exactly, this dichotomy today colors the whole fundie view of the world around him and his fellow man—it goes off into unusual corners—and anything or anyone out there is subject to this tagging that will define them as either good or evil. Let’s look at it.

    Pat Boone is sacred. Tony Bennett is secular. Amy Grant is sacred. Dolly Parton is secular. We embrace Sandy Patti but we eschew Petula Clark. We embrace Chuck Swindoll, but we eschew Agatha Christie. We embrace Greer, South Carolina, but we eschew Charleston. We embrace Tennessee, but we eschew Michigan. We embrace England, but we eschew France. We embrace excited megachurches but we eschew small churches with quiet congregations. We embrace the dollar but eschew the Euro. We embrace water torture but eschew simple questioning. We embrace American sovereignty but eschew the United Nations. We embrace Old Testament legalism but eschew New Testament love. We embrace creation science but eschew real science. We embrace the wealthy man but eschew the poor man. We embrace our health insurance but eschew the sick with no insurance. We embrace freedom but eschew the imprisoned. We embrace the KJV but eschew the NIV. We embrace abstinence only but we eschew birth control. We embrace grape juice but we eschew wine. We embrace hymns but we eschew popular songs. We embrace Fox News but we eschew CNN. We embrace James Dobson, but we eschew Billy Graham. We embrace Tom DeLay but we eschew Jimmy Carter (who is not a real Christian). We embrace white people but we eschew black people. We embrace tobacco but we eschew smoking and chewing. Figure that last one out?

    And where is this all leading if it keeps up? We embrace Lenox crystal but we eschew Waterford crystal? We embrace 6-penny nails but we eschew 8-penny nails? We embrace vanilla ice-cream but we eschew chocolate ice-cream? Who knows where it will end. Playing fast and loose with scripture, they are using their human minds to divide up everything in this dimension of existence into sacred and secular—and in effect—are creating their own personal moral system out of virtually everything and everyone in their surroundings. One could say of it, “In the Bible but not of the Bible.” Everything is subject to labeling. Anything that is perceived of as sacred is good; anything that is perceived of as secular is evil. We embrace holy water but we eschew tap water. We embrace chlorinated water but we eschew fluoridated water. We embrace Joseph McCarthy but we eschew Dwight Eisenhower. We embrace John Birch, but we eschew Martin Luther King Jr. It is just plain crazy—which brings me full circle to what Buhallin said:

    “Anybody with even the tiniest understanding of evolution can probably have a higher flaw count than word count in that sentence. But it doesn’t matter. The people driving most of this are not only ignorant, they LIKE it that way – they celebrate ignorance, enjoy it, and do everything in their power to spread it. There is no debate or discussion with such people. They will not allow knowledge to intrude upon their isolated little world.”

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Buhallin: Kind of like this? http://legorobotcomics.com/?id=14

  10. Larry Fafarman Says:

    There are “cafeteria Christians” who interpret the gospel literally but do not interpret the creation story literally, and then there are the “fundies” who interpret both literally. These cafeteria Christians often consider the fundies to be irrational and superstitious. Actually, though, these cafeteria Christians have it backwards: If god is supposed to be all-powerful, then the creation story is much more rational than the gospel. The creation story is consistent with the idea of an all-powerful god. On the other hand, the god of the gospel is weak and limited — the god of the gospel must battle Satan for control of the world and it is Satan who sets the rules of battle.

    As for that stupid Clergy Letter Project, there ought to be a separate clergy letter for clergy who see no conflict between evolution and religion but who are skeptical of evolution.

  11. Larry Fafarman Says:

    TFN said,
    –In one of its scathing attacks on pro-science members of the Texas State Board of Education, the Discovery Institute is accusing board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas of dragging religion into the debate over evolution. The level of hypocrisy in that sneering attack is off the scale: —

    There is nothing hypocritical about it. What is the DI supposed to do, just remain silent when she exploits her religious views in an attempt to defend her views on evolution education?

  12. TFN Says:

    Larry, she was defending herself from attacks that she’s not a good Christian. You’re aiming your arrows at the wrong target — unless you think people have no right to defend themselves from vicious attacks on their faith. Do you?

  13. Larry Fafarman Says:

    TFN Says (March 31, 2009 at 2:09 pm) —
    –Larry, she was defending herself from attacks that she’s not a good Christian. You’re aiming your arrows at the wrong target — unless you think people have no right to defend themselves from vicious attacks on their faith.–

    Personally, I don’t care if she’s a good Christian or not.

    Also, according to the Discovery Institute’s John West, she used her religious beliefs to directly defend her views on evolution education:

    Miller also lavished praise on Francis Collins’ book The Language of God for persuading her about the correct theological understanding of evolution.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/03/texas_board_meeting_recap_for.html

  14. TFN Says:

    Oh, Larry, Larry, Larry. That’s where you get your information?

  15. Larry Fafarman Says:

    TFN Says (March 31, 2009 at 2:59 pm) —
    –Oh, Larry, Larry, Larry. That’s where you get your information?–

    Oh, TFN, TFN, TFN. Is the information right or is it wrong?

  16. Nightgaunt Says:

    The flaws of the text book is that it is created and vetted by the company and not by scientists and academics who know the material and want to remove from politics and religion. I live in Texas and evolution has been under attack since before I was concious of it. In the 1970’s it was still under assault. So it was minimized and stigmatized but it doesn’t matter. Recent polls show only 13% accept scientific evolution in this country. A far larger % accept the religion/evolution muddle mix. Ignoring both the tenants of their religion and the scientific method itself. I understand both to know the only way they could be compatible is to ignore certain elements of both. Which is fine for the layperson but not for science. We don’t want the Dominionists and other theocrats ruining science the way Stalin did in Russia with Lysenko for 40 years or Hitler with Heorbiger in Germany and many other past examples of politics and theology replacing science and rationality.

    I agree with the late, great, Dr. Stephen J. Gould commented on such differences constitute two separate ‘magisters’ that do not intersect and should remain so. The ironic thing is that the creationists have won continuously just by those numbers you see cited above but it isn’t enough. To many of he diehards there can be no macro-evolution also no “strengths and weaknesses” of their creationism/intelligent design will be taught either. Nor will you be able to teach evolution in their schools which is something they are not interested in. Use that next time they bring up the idea of “fairness” and “academic freedom” to the table and see how they will be adamant against the conception. They will invoke state/church separation in a spectacle of about-face so fast it will be a blur! Their masks will be torn off by their own hand. The little dictators inside will show through. I would be interested in noting what happens when it is done to these primitives. Anti-intellectuals carrying on a long tradition in this country. The 2nd Reformation just may happen here, we are ripe for one. Sad, very sad.

  17. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Nightgaunt Says (April 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm ) —
    –The ironic thing is that the creationists have won continuously just by those numbers you see cited above but it isn’t enough. To many of he diehards there can be no macro-evolution also no “strengths and weaknesses” of their creationism/intelligent design will be taught either. Nor will you be able to teach evolution in their schools which is something they are not interested in.–

    What in the hell are you talking about? The Darwinists have had a monopoly in the public schools for the last few decades. The courts won’t even allow evolution-disclaimer statements.

  18. howy61 Says:

    Let’s hear it for Geraldine “Joe Wilson” Miller.

    Once again I am embarrassed by my Republican Party members. Her statement is culturally bigoted, ethnocentric, and un-Christian.

    Miller: “Why would you take Christmas and Rosh Hashanah out and replace it with a Hindu festival, that’s not well known, or with very little if you will substance to it?”

  19. Nightgaunt Says:

    Yes Larry and it just isn’t taking for them. So could you imagine if these same people pushing the religious based pseudo-science of Creationism took over our country? Science trumps religion in some schools for now. But for how long? Would you be for teaching evolutionary biology in Sunday school? I think not, thus is the analogy I make with Creationism in regular school. It doesn’t fit. And as for “Darwinist” biology is at that stage where Darwin is a pioneer but left far behind by new discoveries. When was the last time you heard physics being referred to as “Newtonianism” recently? One of the pillars but more has been found out since their basic discoveries. You people are fixated on Darwin and hence identify evolution, in its general sense, with him alone.

    Such “disclaimers” are done to undermine what science is. Would you go for disclaimers for the Bible? No. Religion is about absolutes, science is concerning the optimum level of knowledge and applicability at any one time. They are incompatible in their fundamentals. One or both would have to compromise in order to meld together as I see it. The Stoics and Epicureans understood that and were the first to do so over 2,000 years ago. I know you don’t. Why don’t you actually study and at least understand how science works. It won’t taint your religious views, just give you a larger perspective to work with.

  20. Tim Says:

    Lets face it, in a hundred years tadays science fact will be as laughable at Intelligent Design. Scientists are the new priests, and priests are becomming relics of the past. There is an evolution in human gullability that makes us shift from one buch of mis informed ignorance to another.

    200 years ago everyone listened to the priests, no mostly we listen to scientists. Is there any fact in either, no.

    Modern science and religion have a lot in common, both claim to know fact, and the fact is neither of them do.

    Priests facts come from faith, scientist facts comes from scientific method. Religion served western world for a good 2000 years, science has done remarkably well for 200 years. Religion fueled war, witch hunting etc., child molestation (catholic priests), Science has fueled industrial revolution, polution, nuclear bombs, instruments of war.

    Neither in my mind should proclaim superioty, both are flawed.

  21. Nightgaunt Says:

    If we just let the present criterion for Science then Religion just doesn’t measure up. Anymore than the Scientific Method is applicable in the metaphysics of religion. They just don’t mix and should never be so. But because Science is universally accepted in academia the religionists want such recognition. It is different from their own Majester of Theology. They want it both to dominate and reconfigure to their own views into a hybrid. Texas , Arkansas & Kentucky are places where the Creationists/Intelligent Design advocates fight their battles and win when the School Boards are weak. Then they must lose the next round, thrown out and a realistic curriculum is restored. Semper Vigilis, “always vigilant” must be our motto.

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