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Author Topic: Another kick in the teeth for the creationists
Femme Folle
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quote:
The New York Times
March 21, 2008
No Admission for Evolutionary Biologist at Creationist Film
By CORNELIA DEAN

Two evolutionary biologists — P. Z. Myers of the University of Minnesota, Morris, and Richard Dawkins of Oxford — tried to go to the movies at the Mall of America in Minneapolis Thursday evening. Dr. Dawkins got in. Dr. Myers did not.

On those facts, everybody agrees. After that, things break down.

The movie the two scientists wanted to see was “Expelled,” whose online trailer asserts that people in academia who see evidence of supernatural intelligence in biological processes — an idea called “intelligent design” — have unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure or suffered other penalties as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation’s laboratories and classrooms.

Dr. Myers asserts that he was unfairly barred from the film, in which both he and Dr. Dawkins appear, and that Dr. Dawkins would have been, too, if people running the screening had realized who he was — a world leader in the field of evolutionary biology.

But Walt Ruloff, a partner in Premise Media, the film’s producer, said the screening was one of a series the producers have organized for the film, which opens April 18, in hopes of building favorable word-of-mouth among people likely to be sympathetic to its message. People like Dr. Myers and Dr. Dawkins would not have been invited, he said.

Mark Mathis, a producer of the film who attended the screening, said that “of course” he had recognized Dr. Dawkins, but allowed him to attend because “he has handled himself fairly honorably, he is a guest in our country and I had to presume he had flown a long way to see the film.”

Actually, Dr. Myers and Dr. Dawkins said in interviews that they had long planned to be in Minneapolis this week to attend a convention of atheists. Dr. Dawkins, an vocal critic of religion, is on the convention program.

And both had earlier complained that they originally agreed to appear in the movie — then called “Crossroads” — because producers told them it would be an examination of religion and science, not a defense of intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. People who have seen the movie say it also suggests that there is a link between the theory of evolution and ideas like Nazism, something Dr. Dawkins called “a major outrage.”

In an interview, Dr. Myers said he registered himself and “guests” on a Web site for the film’s screening. A security guard pulled him out of the line but admitted his wife, daughter and guests — including Dr. Dawkins, who, Dr. Myers said, no one seemed to recognize. Dr. Dawkins, who like everyone was asked to present identification, said he offered his British passport, which lists him as Clinton Richard Dawkins.

Mr. Mathis said in an interview that he had confronted Dr. Dawkins in the question and answer period after the screening and that Dr. Dawkins withered. “These people who own the academic establishment and who have great friends in the media — they are not accustomed to having a level, open playing field,” Mr. Mathis said. “I watched a man who has been a large figure, an imposing figure, I watched this man shrink in front of my eyes.”

That is not how Dr. Dawkins recalls it. He said Mr. Mathis said “enemies” were attempting to interfere with the film.

“It is impossible to imagine what Mathis is afraid of,” Dr. Dawkins said. “It is impossible to credit such bungling and inept public relations.”

Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, a group that opposes the teaching of creationist ideas in public school classrooms, said in an interview that her organization was setting up a Web site to counter the arguments made in the film.

Dr. Scott said she and other supporters of the teaching of evolution have been having “a horselaugh” over the events as Dr. Myers recounted them, immediately, on his blog, Pharyngula.

She said it was “just tacky” that the producers barred Dr. Myers from the screening, but added, “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for us to have a good laugh at the creationists’ expense.”

Dr. Dawkins said the hoopla has been “a gift” to those who oppose creationism. “We could not ask for anything better,” he said.




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Taylor
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Here's Dawkins and Myers discussing the fun.

Don't write the creationists off too soon, though:

http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/local_story_067125346.html

quote:
EDMOND — The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee has just approved House Bill 2211. The bill is expected to pass the full House, and then to go to the Senate. Its authors describe it as promoting freedom of religion in the public schools. In fact, it does the opposite.

HB 2211 is identical to bills widely introduced into state legislatures across the nation, where they have met various fates. Texas’s Legislature passed it, and Texas is experiencing serious problems as a result. Liberty Legal Institute of Plano, Texas, a group of fundamentalist Christian lawyers, drafted the bill and promoted to legislatures, including Oklahoma’s. It was not written by its Oklahoma legislative “authors.”

The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation.

If a student chose to take his opportunity to speak to a group of students in a school-sanctioned assembly to tell them they must accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior or go to hell, then that student would have a right to do so, according to this bill. Especially, but not only if the student held a position of honor and authority (class officer, team captain), and was speaking in his or her official capacity, the school has clearly established religion in violation of both the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions.

The same would be true if the student chose to tell the assembled students that they would not go to hell, that there is no hell and that those who promote belief in hell are liars. What if a Wiccan student chose to tell the assembled students that the only true God is Nature, or a member of a radical religious sect advocated assassination in order to preserve God’s will? According to this bill, those students would be free, in a forum supported by the school, to do so. Any or all of these scenarios would lead to lawsuits.

The consequence of the bill will be to create havoc and promote discord in the public schools. That’s already happening in Texas, where the bill has been law for several months. Denton, Texas Independent School District, responding to the law, has decreed that no students may ever speak in assembly, to graduation, to the crowd at an athletic event or in other group function. As reported in The Denton Record Chronicle Sept. 1, the superintendent there said if no students are ever allowed to speak, then there will be no discrimination and no basis for lawsuits. Another school superintendent in Texas said, “...we’re just trying to have school, and I think this is a complicating factor” as reported by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization that has spoken out against the bill.

What administrators fear as the law is implemented is a barrage of lawsuits. School administrators in Texas are frightened. They fear lawsuits from students who feel that the school is forcing them to endure religious activity they do not agree with nor want to have imposed on them. They also fear lawsuits from students who claim they have not been properly allowed the forum the law requires. They’ll be damned (or sued) if they do, damned (or sued) if they don’t. Oklahoma will experience the same.

Students already have the constitutional freedom to organize religious groups, to pray or to do whatever religious activity they want at school, so long as they do not impose that on others or use public resources to support their religion. This bill adds nothing in the way of religious freedom. What it will do is create a stew of undesirable litigation relating to an important constitutional issue — separation of church and state.


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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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That's a very sneaky bill. It reminds me of Hilary Clinton's campaign in a way - it's not clear what can be done to stop it, but it's evident that they don't really care who or what they wreck by way of wider damage once they get their way on this...
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Taylor
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Well, it all comes down to the Wedge Strategy, doesn't it? It's not really about facts, the aim is to destroy modern science and replace it with a second Dark Age.

Even fundies not directly associated with the Discovery Institute are working to the same plan: "nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies... we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points... design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

It's here, for anyone who hasn't read it: http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

In fairness, the picture painted in that article up above may be a little too black - I'm not certain that the bill in question really stretches as far as they suggest it does - but the purpose is clear.

[ 22.03.2008, 19:24: Message edited by: Taylor ]

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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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Well, hang on. Their aim is not to institute "a second Dark Age". We might see it as the inevitable consequence of their aim, but that doesn't mean they're aiming for it, or anything like it.

Since they make so much mileage out of the slightest hint that they are being misrepresented or not given a fair hearing, it's important not to give them any ammunition at all.

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Femme Folle
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It's disheartening. Even my old conservative Dad believes very strongly in separation of church and state. He didn't have a problem with what I was learning in science class at school because he knew I was learning about the creationism side of it at church.

Instead of all this nonsense, I would like to see someone propose legislation that would require that anyone who wants their children to be taught creationism or ID must enroll them in a religious school. A lot of parents in Louisiana already do that, although not so much for that reason as so that their lily-white little angels don't have to sit next to the Negro children...but that's another topic.

These people really get on my nerves.

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Taylor
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Well, I'd say that's a harsh but pretty fair description of "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." OK, on reflection "dark age" might be pushing it slightly, but we're still talking about shelving the scientific method wherever it might conflict with a literal interpretation of (certain parts of) the Bible. I wouldn't want to fight hype with hype (these people being convinced that Nazism and Soviet communism were inevitable consequences of "Darwinism"), and there's a danger of slippery slope arguments here, but it's hard not to think in those terms when you read the document through and let it sink in.

Anyway, the most alarming part of all this for me is right here:

quote:
Dr. Dawkins, who like everyone was asked to present identification, said he offered his British passport, which lists him as Clinton Richard Dawkins.
Richard Dawkins' real name is Clint.
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Femme Folle
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I saw that. Made me cringe a little.
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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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quote:
we're still talking about shelving the scientific method wherever it might conflict with a literal interpretation of (certain parts of) the Bible
Well, no, we're not. It's not much better, but nor is it much like that.
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Rogin the Armchair fan
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quote:
Richard Dawkins' real name is Clint.
I hope he doesn't have one of those vanity number plates where the fixing button would be inbetween the L and the I.
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WornOldMotorbike
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quote:
I hope he doesn't have one of those vanity number plates where the fixing button would be inbetween the L and the I.
Took me 6 or 8 readings of that to figure out what the hell you were talking about.
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Femme Folle
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Have you always been this slow?
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WornOldMotorbike
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The what?
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WornOldMotorbike
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Hey, FF, you know what's odd: you never show up in the Recent Visitors lineup. I wonder if it's anything to do with your PM box not working or summat.
Your posts are the only indication you were here. You're like a phantom. The Phantom of The OTF.

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Femme Folle
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Or it could be that I have the box next to "Hide from Recent Visitors feature?" ticked off.
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