Wack is Back, Part II

BARBARA FORREST knew the odds were stacked against her. “They had 50 or 60 people in the room,” she says. Her opponents included lobbyists, church leaders and a crowd of home-schooled children. “They were wearing stickers, clapping, cheering and standing in the aisles.” Those on Forrest’s side numbered less than a dozen, including two professors from Louisiana State University, representatives from the Louisiana Association of Educators and campaigners for the continued separation of church and state.

That was on 21 May, when Forrest testified in the Louisiana state legislature on the dangers hidden in the state’s proposed Science Education Act. …

The act is designed to slip ID in “through the back door”, says Forrest, who is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert in the history of creationism. She adds that the bill’s language, which names evolution along with global warming, the origins of life and human cloning as worthy of “open and objective discussion”, is an attempt to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial.

Forrest’s testimony notwithstanding, the bill was passed by the state’s legislature – by a majority of 94 to 3 in the House and by unanimous vote in the Senate. On 28 June, Louisiana’s Republican governor, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, signed the bill into law. The development has national implications, not least because Jindal is rumored to be on Senator John McCain’s shortlist as a potential running mate in his bid for the presidency.

New legal threat to school science in the US,” 09 July 2008, New Scientist, Amanda Gefter

I’ve written about this sort of thing several times before but these creationists, uh, intelligent design-ists, are the Energizer Bunny of radical Christian idiocy. It’s almost perfectly Orwellian: teachers are free to teach students non-science in the name of scientific objectivity.

I keep wondering at what point this sort of thing will create a common sense uprising. Why does any Christian want to compete with the schools, for one thing, or with science, for another? It seems to me that religions have much more effective methods of persuasion than the classroom.

Wack is Back!

Is cutting edge science too much for high school students to understand?

No! In general students need to have a good overview of the current ‘cutting edge’ issues in science. Without such an overview they will not be able to wise decisions about career choices in science. If science is presented as if all the important and exciting work has already been done few students will chose a career in science and America will continue fall behind other nations in the production of young scientists. The view of science as a static cut and dried body of knowledge is simply false and misleading. Even those who do not chose a science or technology career need to be aware of what the cutting edge issues are about because otherwise the will not be able to participate a good citizens in our nation’s development of legal, ethical, and moral choices of our modern society. When presented with a challenge students often rise to the task but without a challenge students commonly settle for mediocrity. Our students should not be undersold or repressed.

Texans for Better Science Education Foundation, FAQ

Since John McCain has been the Republican choice it”s been relatively quiet on the wacky Christian front, with the exception of Mr.“God is Punishing New Orleans.” Appearances can be deceiving. In fact, as the New York Times reports, they’ve been busily re-tooling themselves as a kind of “fair and balanced” movement.

The Texans for Better Science Education Foundation’s language is so freakishly Orwellian that you’d think they modeled themselves on 1984.They claim that “new discoveries” cast doubt on evolution. That means it’s mainstream scientists who are holding us all back because they can’t deal with change.

The ideas are absurd but the rhetoric seems to work and the TBSEF has managed to get their ideas on the agenda of the Texas Sate Education board. If the creationists get their ideas into Texas textbooks, of course, they get them spread all over the country, since publishers are not going to create special editions for each state.

Wacky Christian Fun!

According to the Bible’s account in Genesis, Chapter One, dinosaurs were created on day five and day six of creation week and lived with man until the Flood of Noah, [Dr. Grady] McMurtry points out. After the Flood, he says dinosaurs were at a disadvantage for survival and most dinosaur species became extinct during the next several hundred years.

Allie Martin from One News Now

Hate crimes” bill H.R. 1592, which is on the fast track to passage in Congress, will officially give homosexuals and cross dressers special elevated status in society based upon their chosen sexual behaviors and/or wardrobe. Under H.R. 1592, the victims at Virginia Tech would officially be considered less valuable to society than homosexuals and cross dressers who are the targets of insults, intimidation, simple assault or other “violent acts.”

from Americans for Truth (from a Concerned Women for America) Press Release

It’s like shooting ducks in a barrel, really, but I was amazed to see what a quick trip down wacky Christian lane can turn up. Do people really read these articles and think, “Oh yeah, that dinosaur part of the Bible is great!”

Is there this big anti-hate crime constituency out there somewhere, shaking their heads and saying, “Those liberals, punishing bigotry again!” I also found this wonderful Christian rant against Rosie O’Donnell’s “Mean-Spirited Left-Wing Ravings.”

It includes 19 video excerpts, with annotations, dating back to 1999. The video above comes from May 2005. It really makes you wonder how much time these guys and gals have on their hands.

Feed and clothe the poor? Comfort the suffering? What fun is that? You can go here for background on the American Family Network which, sad to say, is based in Elvis’ home town.

Note: A writer named Jeff at One News Now sent me a nice note providing a passage from Job, not Genesis, that he (Jeff) believes describes Dinosaurs:

“Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you; He eats grass like an ox. Behold now, his strength in his loins, And his power in the muscles of his belly. He bends his tail like a cedar; The sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze; His limbs are like bars of iron.” (Job 40:15-18)

Jeff also provides a link to this page:


Here, creationists claim that, ala the Flintstones, human beings lived alongside Dinosaurs! The truth is, you simply cannot argue with these things.

Conservatives in Retreat

Reinvigorating a mature nation means using government to give people the tools to compete, but then opening up a wide field so they do so raucously and creatively. It means spending more here but deregulating more there. It means facing the fact that we do have to choose between the current benefits to seniors and investments in our future, and that to pretend we don’t face that choice, as Obama did, is effectively to sacrifice the future to the past.

The Collective Turn,” David Brooks

I sometimes see David Brook as the “reasonable conservative,” if only because he rarely if ever sounds like his wacky-right comrades. He doesn’t seem to associate Israel with the coming apocalypse and he doesn’t have any strange ideas about what makes a rape legitimate or not or how the state should force women to bear the children of their abusers. He might think these things, of course, but if he does he keeps them out of print.

If Obama’s nascent liberalism is real and if it pushes the conservative nuts further into obscurity, Brooks would be a good model for conservatism in retreat. In effect, his stripped down conservatism only has one last idea: we cannot allow ordinary people to take a larger share of the huge profits of American capitalism less we kill the goose that laid our golden egg. If we do, we become “European” and stagnant.

Yet the last three decades of corporate tax policy has led to an unprecedented gap between rich and poor on the one hand and huge corporate reserves of cash on the other. It’s not simply capitalism that concentrates wealth, though, its government policy as well, and whatever government policy can do it can undo as well. That’s the real anxiety behind Brook’s calm demeanor and his implicit call for a new conservatism.