Creationists suffer another legal defeat

By Phil Plait | June 23, 2010 7:15 am

Some good news from Texas! Yeehaw!

The Institute for Creation Research — one of the biggest nonsense-peddlers in the 6000 year history of the world — was handed a nice defeat this week. That link to the National Center for Science Education (the good guys) has all the info you need, but to summarize: the ICR moved from California to Texas. In the previous state, for reasons beyond understanding, they were able to grant Master’s degrees in their graduate school. But Texas didn’t recognize their accreditation, so they filed to get it approved.

Not so surprisingly, scientists and educators rose in protest, and in 2008 the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board — the organization that grants accreditation — denied the ICR. The creationists appealed. In the meantime, they also tried to extend their ability to grant degrees temporarily while the lawsuit continued. What happened this week is that the extension as denied.

And I mean denied. Check out what the court said:

It appears that although the Court has twice required Plaintiff [the ICR] to re-plead and set forth a short and plain statement of the relief requested, Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.

That’s not surprising, as that’s the only kind of information the ICR is capable of producing. Not to mention wrong. See the Related Posts links below for lots more on the ICR’s recent follies.

As far as I can tell, this defeat means that the ICR is still seeking accreditation, but until and unless it does, it cannot grant degrees in Texas.

So what can be said about this? Oh, let me quote one of the pithiest and to-the-point minds of our day:

<Nelson Muntz>Haha!</Nelson Muntz>


Related posts:

Peer-reviewed creationist research? HAHAHAhahahahaha!
Ark of descent
Creationist (heh) Master of Science (haha) degree (HAHAHAHAHA!)
ICR at 0 degrees


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Religion
MORE ABOUT: creationism, ICR, NCSE, Texas

Comments (107)

  1. Nelson Muntz is a genius! (except shouldn’t it be, “HA.. haa!”

  2. Gus Snarp

    Brilliant! So apparently they just think in an ‘overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information’ manner and are incapable of realizing that other people don’t!

  3. Dan I.

    Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah Hey hey hey ..goodbye

  4. wright1

    Oh, most welcome news indeed. Shows that more than a few Texas educators, administrators and judges are NOT fans of fundie flapdoodle.

    We haven’t heard the last from the ICR, I’m sure. But it’s a heartening sign for them to get this particular rebuff from within the Bible Belt.

    Go, Texas!!

  5. “The Institute for Creation Research — one of the biggest nonsense-paddlers in the 6000 year history of the world”

    haha, very good! :)

  6. And cue the overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information comments in three…two…one…

  7. “maundering”? Neat word – sort of like “meandering” meets “maudlin”

    I suspect that many judges are wannabe theater critics.

  8. rob

    Texas Higher Education Coordination Board FTW!

  9. DennyMo

    Darn, Dave Brooks kinda stole my thunder! But I’ll say it anyways: Cool, I learned a new word today.

    maundering
    1 chiefly British : grumble
    2 to wander slowly and idly
    3 to speak indistinctly or disconnectedly

  10. nobody

    I came across this page the other day:
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Theory_of_Relativity

    Apparently conservapedia.com is a wikipedia-clone written by creationists. I tried to read the article on GR out of curiosity, but the amount of crap written in there was beyond what I can stand (especially the part on the “lack of evidence for Relativity” is really fun to read; I am not responsible for your mental health after reading that though).

    The thing is, I did a PhD in GR and its cosmological aspects, so just skim reading the article I understood that is full of crap and bogus claims etc. However, many people (including my father despite all my efforts) believe that if something is on the Internet or on TV then it is true.

    @Phil: Please bring this site to the attention of the skeptic community (if it is not already known), so that some action is taken. Unfortunately though, the freedom of speech covers them as well…

  11. Kaptain K

    Finally, something that doesn’t make me ashamed to be a Texan!

  12. That little excerpt made me chuckle out loud. I’d like to shake the hand of the person that wrote that!

  13. You mean that their prayers did nothing to change the outcome? SHOCKING! :o

  14. Jumblepudding

    But…but.. if life happened by random chemical reactions over millions of years, why are the tears of a newborn baby so BEAUTIFUL?

  15. Gary Ansorge

    The application of law in our courts is about 75 % logic and 25 % precedent. Anyone who is lacking in logic and an understanding of precedent is virtually certain to be unable to impress an educated judge(which doesn’t mean a stupid law will not get passed. It DOES suggest that when those laws come before a constitutional court, they will be discarded).

    This is a classic example of the Poop Think that continues to fuel such exemplars as the ICR. They really DON’T know how to think and I expect the judges in this case were aware of that fact. We’re all aware of the contorted thinking they must adhere to in order to believe the crap they do.

    In nature, a law is merely an observation of the way the universe works. I wish all our human laws were the same.

    Gary 7

  16. PhilB

    Wow, after all the Texas School Board crap, it’s nice to see Texas do something right for a change.

  17. PP

    “Having addressed this primary issue, the Court will proceed to address each of ICRGS’s causes of action in turn, to the extent it is able to understand them.” (page 12)

    :P

  18. @ Gary Ansorge:

    In nature, a law is merely an observation of the way the universe works. I wish all our human laws were the same.

    Oh dear. Not me. Too many gory National Geographic TV shows when I was a kid. :o

  19. In other news advocates of the theory that storks deliver babies lost a bid to teach their theory alongside the reproduction and live birth theory. Stork advocates maintain that the reproduction theory is “icky.”

  20. bigjohn756

    “…overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.”

    Isn’t there a single word to fit that? Oh, yeah, I know. The word I’m looking for is BULLSH*T!

  21. mike

    I always suspected that a small minority of Texans were not humorless, jerkwater clods. Glad to hear that at least a few of them still wield influence.

    nobody: Don’t worry, the Lenski Affair (if nothing else) ensured that Conservapedia and Andrew Schlafly received national prominence and a well-deserved round of pointing and laughing.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lenski_affair

  22. Jason

    @bigjohn756: Great, now you have that Bea Arthur scene from History of the World Part I in my head: “Oh! A BULL—T artist! Did you bull—t last week? … ”

    To add my own somewhat-vulgar reaction, I’ve seen judges get a little punchy after a trial and pretty-up their prose through various means, and I’ve seen some quotes that leave no doubt as to their outside-the-court opinions of one side or another. But it’s pretty rare for me to see an out-and-out b—-slap in a decision like this. Gotta call ‘em like ya see ‘em, I guess.

  23. @ Martha #19:

    And in a related story, the Alchemical Institute was defeated in its efforts to get its table of the 4 elements posted alongside the traditional Mendeleevian periodic table in Texas classrooms. The Institute’s spokesperson was melancholic, but vowed to try again.

  24. Cindy

    Hey, Phil,

    Any particular reason why you have closed off the comments on the “Alternate Universe Airshow”? Yes, I do remember all of those shows, but then again, I’m only a few years younger than you. ;-)

    As for this posting, glad to see that there are a few Texans involved in education that understands how important critical thinking and logic are to education.

  25. dre

    Nonsense-peddlers, not -paddlers.

  26. Tim Hansell

    I don’t see the Texas school system to be run by the sharpest tools in the shed.

    Perhaps things have changed since I lived in Texas, but I recall that the state organization that approves text books approved several text that were essentially blank on the inside. The publishers sent out copies there were covers with only blank pages inside (due to a mistake of some kind) and the board approved these text books anyway!!

  27. Robert Voss

    “Maundering,” syn., “drivel,” (Websters Dictionary). Very apt

  28. Derek

    Now is not the time to stop and gloat, we must keep this up and remove accredidation for The Evergreen College in Olympia WA….Continue this progress we’re making in the good ‘ol US of A.

  29. Alexa

    Unfortunately I’m not the least surprised that ICR was able to grant Masters degrees in California. I love this place but when it screws up it’s BIG time.

  30. John Nouveaux

    And the best part, for me, is I learnt myself a new word: “Maundering” — what a glorious word!

    Thank you ICR for helping to increase my vocabulary!

    Haha!

  31. Robert Voss

    Derek, what’s this about Evergreen College? I haven’t heard.

  32. It’s so nice to see all the backhanded compliments directed at Texas and Texans. Real classy, folks. In the mean time, let’s all give California a pass for allowing THIS EXACT NONSENSE to happen on their watch.

  33. Pi-needles

    @26. Tim Hansell Says:

    I don’t see the Texas school system to be run by the sharpest tools in the shed. Perhaps things have changed since I lived in Texas, but I recall that the state organization that approves text books approved several text that were essentially blank on the inside. The publishers sent out copies there were covers with only blank pages inside (due to a mistake of some kind) and the board approved these text books anyway!!

    Blank textbooks – all dem learnin’s you need! ;-)

    I bet some creationists wishes all the science textbooks were blank – that or blanked out.

    Great to hear some good news coming out of Texas for a change. :-)

  34. Ad Hominid

    @Robert #30

    Evergreen State is something of a lightning rod for the new right’s ongoing demonization of academia since it is non-traditional and experimental in structure.
    For the average dittohead or wingnut, this means that it is even more infested with hippies, pinkos, and communards than your usual commie college, presenting a mortal threat to wholesome Family Values®, free enterprise, and our precious bodily fluids. It even calls itself a “LIBERAL arts college” and in fact belongs to a whole network of such institutions.

    (ESC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and has received many awards.)

  35. Robert E

    @Wayne, #31:
    “In the previous state, for reasons beyond understanding..”
    Please re-read what Phil has said. He hardly give CA a “pass.”

  36. JT

    @31 Wayne

    Odd, I didn’t know Texans had rice-paper for skin.

    As someone from Alabama, I completely fail to sympathize and invite you to get over it.

  37. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oh, good; Texas is undoomed again!

    National Center for Science Education (the good guys)

    Not quite. They are as religious as the organizations they fight, in that they have a belief in belief – they are accommodationist – and accept special pleading for religion against science and skepticism. They even support specific religions in their library/link service IIRC; I guess we should call them “semi-organized religious”.

    But in this matter alone they fight the good fight. “Good doggie! Yes you are!”

    But…but.. if life happened by random chemical reactions over millions of years, why are the tears of a newborn baby so BEAUTIFUL?

    Ha! Good one.

    But behind the stupid equivocation on the different meanings of “random” (since after all, chemical reactions are depending on stochastic meetings of molecules et cetera and so distribute probabilistically – but that is not what they mean) is an even stupider idea – that reactions happens willy-nilly.

    If so, all atoms would simply aggregate in an enormous dust particle. Sort of like the dust bunnies that plays beneath my bed if I haven’t hunted them for a while. But on a planetary scale.

    Fortunately that doesn’t happen. And even disregarding the stronger chemical forces that aggregates atoms in a causal and bounded [sic!] manner, not even Van Der Waals forces are that indiscriminating.

    And of course the very mechanism that empowers evolution and closes the adaptive loop is selection, which is nothing but random.

    Instead of counting evolution’s effect on biochemistry as twice non-random, creationists against facts count it as twice random.

    And they ask why we laugh at their wanton display of stupidity and bearing false witness?!

  38. HAHAHAHAIt wasn’t that their prayers didn’t work. Satan was just too strong… this time! *evil laugh*

  39. Lewis

    Hmm, I hope that CSS makes that image not butt into other posts… Ok, doesn’t seem to so I’ll make this post a little longer and refrain from floating elements in future posts. :)

  40. John Paradox

    The final part of the quote:
    Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.
    pretty much shows they’re using the traditional technique: If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS.

    Unfortunately, they aren’t even good at that.

    J/P=?

  41. Murff

    There are more Churches than there are schools in America, why can’t these loons be happy with teaching their religious views those Churches…that were actually built for that reason?

  42. mike burkhart

    I’ll just say that creationists need to stop reading the Bible like a science book, it isnt. To get a bit off topic about National Geographic, I’ve never watched the show but I find the magazine to be an exclent source of information about Astronomy and Space. I’ve found many back issues at old book stores , some of the best are: 1970 Journey to the planets ,1974 about stars , 1963 the space program with a list of staletes in orbit at that time, (in fact National Geographic covered the space program well ) and1973 Mysteries of the moon . Also National Geographic has printed a star chart (it can be found online now) , maps of the moon,mars , a chart of the universe showing distances and objects in cylnders,and a poster with a satleite vew of the Earth on one side and a portrat of all the Astronauts who walked on the moon on the other.

  43. Katharine

    The fact that this group of people continues to exist continues to make me think that we need to switch around the Education and Defense budgets.

  44. Katharine

    We need a good old-fashioned World Anti-Theocracy Day.

  45. Duane

    @14 Jumblepudding:

    “But…but.. if life happened by random chemical reactions over millions of years, why are the tears of a newborn baby so BEAUTIFUL?”

    This one’s easy: Natural selection favored babies who’s tears were more “beautiful” than others, since babies thrown off cliffs at 2:00 AM don’t have the chance to spread their ugly-teared genes….

  46. Brian

    I’ll just say that creationists need to stop reading the Bible like a science book

    … or a legal textbook (apparently).

  47. @ mike burkhart:

    I was referring specifically to ghastly videos of nature’s tooth and nail “laws.” Natural law #1: thou shalt not be a zebra or thou shalt be rendered limb from limb whilst still alive and stuffed down the gullet of a hungry lion.

  48. Jim

    We (Christians) were close – so close – to having just a faith. Not a pseudoscience or cult or religion, but just a faith.

    In the late 19th century, early 20th century, a lot of philosophers and theologians had come to the realization that while there was some philosophical merit to the Bible, much of it simply couldn’t be reconciled with reality.

    The histories became stories, the ancient histories became myths and no one in their right mind, they figured, could interpret it literally. Somewhere along the line, people in their wrong mind hijacked the discussion.

    Well, at least this is a step in the right direction.

  49. Neil

    As has been pointed out already, they “peddle” nonsense. You, Phil, are a dedicated “nonsense paddler”.
    Keep spanking ‘em. Hard.

  50. Doing a little jig here, boy-o! Woohoo!

    HJ

  51. jcm

    This is schadenfreudelicious!

  52. Ohio Mike

    Personally, this Texan had an immediate and prolonged warm feeling flow over his body. Ahhh…

  53. Brian Too

    53. Ohio Mike,

    Did you check your leg? I’m not implying anything, but that can feel warm too, even kinda nice until the realization sets in. My personal rule is never announce the warm feeling until the leg has been checked first!

    Oh, and confusing handle. Former Texan?

  54. Steve in Dublin

    Torbjörn Larsson (#37):

    National Center for Science Education (the good guys)

    Not quite. They are as religious as the organizations they fight, in that they have a belief in belief – they are accommodationist – and accept special pleading for religion against science and skepticism. They even support specific religions in their library/link service IIRC; I guess we should call them “semi-organized religious”.

    What?! NCSE accommodationist? What planet are you on? Last I recall, Eugenie Scott, one of their chief spokespeople, tore Ray Comfort a new back passage, here:

    Scientist Genie Scott’s Last Word to Creationist Ray Comfort: There You Go Again

    And in her previous response to the release of his tainted On the Origin of Species.

    Also, they came down *extremely* hard on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with a whole website dedicated to debunking all of Ben Stein’s bulldinky.

    So I have no idea where you get that the NCSE is ‘accomodationist’, sorry.

  55. NCSE is accommodationist in the sense that they push the “science is no threat to religion” line as a strategy and the NCSE recommended reading list used to contain numerous works by the likes of Francis Collins but avoided Dawkins, Dennett, etc.

    I find most accommodationist arguments trite and deferent to nincompoops, and yet I still think NCSE fully deserves to be called “the good guys.” Also, it helps that the NCSE responded to criticism and the reading list seems quite balanced to me.

  56. Sadly, many Christian conservatives will take this as more evidence that higher education needs to be regulated by the Feds, including standardized exit exams. It’s a shame they don’t notice that international students come to the US for our higher education because it’s already better than that of so many other nations, and that when these international students come here they’re infinitely better prepared than our home-grown college students – who had to go through federally and state regulated K-12 schools, including standardized exams.

  57. @35 Robert E

    Please re-read what _I_ said. “Let’s all” clearly refers to the commenters, not Phil’s article. Phil is fair and even-handed, as usual, giving credit and blame where it is due.

    @36 JT

    Sorry if my comment came off as a thin-skinned whine, I am not offended. It is tiresome, though, when good news and bad news are both met with the same condescending disdain. I seriously don’t understand why so many folks love to hate Texas. Let’s all celebrate this win and move on.

  58. Superb!
    “Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.”
    This is just TOO well written!
    Love it! It gives me hope for humanity!

  59. Amanda, an actual scientist--go figure

    Although I agree this shouldn’t have been an accredited organzation, I really can’t help but almost be offended that anyone trying to put religion and science together you pretty much attack. I’m a scientist, and I’m a firm believer in God. In fact, as I was getting my degree, from a well recognized university mind you, it only furthered my belief in God. Even the great Albert Einstein quoted, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I guess shame on him for trying to even connect the two, never mind he was one of the greatest physicists of all time.

  60. Amanda (6): That is unfair and untrue. I do not attack anyone trying to put religion and science together. I attack people who use religion as a weapon to force their morality on others, those who use religion to try to influence legislation, those who try to suppress reality, and those who twist science into a Mobius strip. Creationists are guilty of all four.

    You can go ahead and feel offended all you want, but it won’t change my stances on those who use religion is such a manner.

  61. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Amanda (#60):

    Even the great Albert Einstein quoted, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I guess shame on him for trying to even connect the two, never mind he was one of the greatest physicists of all time.

    If I was given a brick for every time that I had heard that old chestnut, I would have enough to build a bloody house!

    I’m a scientist, and I’m a firm believer in God. In fact, as I was getting my degree,…

    Degree in what? Contextomy? (Quoting out of context.) :P

    A real scientist should know that the practice of quoting out of context is a logical fallacy and a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way so as to distort its intended meaning. As an appeal to authority, it involves quoting an authority on the subject out of context, in order to misrepresent that authority as supporting some position.

    Here is the original quote in its proper context from Einstein — Science and Religion:

    Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason.

    I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.


  62. Surely U. Gest

    I don’t get it, isn’t Texas the state full of zipperheads who think like they do?

  63. confused

    I’m not sure what the big deal is here. Admittedly I do not know all the facts and what the curriculum was, but if we award Master’s degrees with a focus on the fictional such as religious studies, English degrees, film studies, why not this? If it’s not hurting anyone, who cares? While it may not seem like a legitimate field of study to some, it does to others. Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong? I feel that science is verging on suppression of basic freedoms and are turning into the very thing they are claim to be fighting for – narrow mindedness and the enforcement of one system of beliefs.

  64. Grand Lunar

    I’m surprised to hear this coming from Texas, given some of their other actitivities that make me shudder and fear for the future of the nation.
    If only THIS situation was the norm there.

  65. Brandon

    *sigh*, a lot of atheist and false Christians give people of intelligence such a bad name. When will people learn that there are two types of believers that exist? That is, a person who abuses’ the word of God for personal advantage; and a person who follows the word of God for personal fulfillment.

  66. EINSTEIN

    Amanda (#60):
    Even the great Albert Einstein quoted, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I guess shame on him for trying to even connect the two, never mind he was one of the greatest physicists of all time.

    FROM THE GRAVE: “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” [From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, published by Princeton University Press.

  67. Steelstrings

    As long as they leave the tooth fairy and Santa Claus alone, I’m ok with the decision.

  68. MT

    @Amanda — have you ever changed the reported results of your research because they conflict with your faith? No? Then you’ve learned that faith does not _inform_ science. Now if we can just get IDers and Creationists to learn the same lesson.

  69. Robert

    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’

  70. Lonnie

    You realize now that. . . ironically. . . we must AVOID meeting Extra-terrestrial Aliens until this debate is settled?

    Because in the Movies, the Wise Aliens always say something to the effect of: “We have been watching you for a Thousand Years”

    And the Creationists will shout: “See! See! Even Aliens agree that we’ve only been around for several Thousand Years!!”

    Which begs the question: ‘How old do Creationists Think the Universe is?’

  71. “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”
    — Albert Einstein, following his wife’s advice in responding to Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the International Synagogue in New York, who had sent Einstein a cablegram bluntly demanding “Do you believe in God?” Quoted from and citation notes derived from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (draft: 2001), chapter 3.

    “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
    — Albert Einstein, in a letter responding to philosopher Eric Gutkind, who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt; quoted from James Randerson, “Childish Superstition: Einstein’s Letter Makes View of Religion Relatively Clear: Scientist’s Reply to Sell for up to £8,000, and Stoke Debate over His Beliefs” The Guardian, (13 May 2008)

  72. Seth

    Fine, if you don’t believe creationism, don’t. I am not going to force you. But if the organization has met all the requirements to be accredited, you should not deny them because you don’t like them. By your own words, you admit that you a hypocrite, a zelot, or a biggot. One day you will stand before God and beg for His forgiveness, that will be a haha moment. One of “I told you so”.

  73. MartinM

    While it may not seem like a legitimate field of study to some, it does to others. Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong?

    If only there were some method we could use to test competing models of reality to determine which are more successful.

  74. Mike

    Wow. That’s some great unbiased journalism. You should be proud.

  75. JT

    “Admittedly I do not know all the facts and what the curriculum was, but if we award Master’s degrees with a focus on the fictional such as religious studies, English degrees, film studies, why not this?”

    Because science does not “focus on the fictional” (for that matter neither does English). ICR is free to give whatever religious degrees it wishes (that being specifically exempted from the state’s accreditation requirements), but degrees in fields such as science, engineering, medicine, etc. mean something. They imply a basic competence in a field which is used in part for licensing people to do such things as teach, build bridges, or perform brain surgery. If you want your brain surgeon to have graduated from a school that never taught anything at all about the brain, and in fact denies its very existence, then you’re mad.

  76. #10 Nobody:
    Having read the article in your link during my lunch break, I can only say that I’m glad I work in a portakabin… because a wooden wall isn’t quite as painful as brick!!!
    Even by the demanding standards of creationists, the “Lack of evidence for Relativity” part is a masterpiece of garbage. To pick just two examples…
    1. “The precession of Mercury’s orbit can be fully explained by Newtonian physics.” Er – since when??? The fact that it most certainly can’t was precisely what led U.J.J. le Verrier, in the 1850’s, to postulate another unknown planet, closer to the Sun than Mercury! ( For those who don’t know, le Verrier was the astronomer who predicted the existence of Neptune, by realising that Uranus wasn’t behaving quite as it should. After being proved right, it was quite natural that he should propose a similar explanation for Mercury’s anomaly. He couldn’t possibly have known the correct explanation, as General Relativity still lay 60 years in the future. )
    2. “The GPS system doesn’t need to make any allowance for Relativity.” HUH??? That’s news to me!!! I’m a software engineer; about ten years ago, I worked on an aircraft landing guidance project, which involved very precise GPS positioning – and I’m talking centimetre precision. The required level of accuracy was one part in 10^11, and as I recall, there was rather a lot of horrendously complex maths, to correct for – guess what – relativistic factors!

  77. KP

    So I stumbled upon this article at digg, and feel I have a few thoughts worth saying. First, I’d like to state that I have ZERO knowledge of either the ICR or the NCSE. I had never heard of either of these organizations until I read this article.

    Basically my thoughts and feelings can be summed up by two words: who cares? Maybe this is my Canadiana talking, but does it really matter if whatever school the ICR runs is able to grant Masters degrees? I mean, how many people are there in Texas and the surrounding area? And of these people, how many would actually attend this school in question, never mind putting in the time and effort required to get a masters degree? Less than one percent I would imagine. So, even if the views of the ICR are so abhorrent and go against anything and everything you believe in, the question remains, who cares? If this tiny fraction of the population graduates from this school with a masters degree in whatever it is they teach, is it really that offensive to your existence?

    Again, maybe it’s because I’m Canadian and, as a country, we really don’t care all that much about religious belief, but the ongoing struggle between religious and evolutionary groups in the US can often appear mildly comical to an outsider. I’m not trying to insult the states. I understand and respect that people on both sides of the fence are extremely passionate about this issue and are willing to fight for what they believe is right, but the truth is it seems kinda ridiculous to me.

    And if anyone cares, let the record show that I would classify myself as a christian.

    Sorry for my rambling.

  78. bmhickey21

    Not taking the Creationists side or anything – but isn’t everyone entitled to their own beliefs? You may not believe that the world is 6000 years old, and that’s your right – but to acknowledge the National Center for Science Education as the “good guys” is wrong. No wonder there is growing negativity and intolerance in the world…

  79. LOL! I hope I played some small part in getting these crooks thrown out of California.

    http://www.icrcult.org/

    Tax benefits on a great many written materials by such cults was ended in the State of California, driving the Focus on the Family cult and the ICR cult out of California, and I helped in that effort.

  80. Lars

    @Seth #78:

    But if the organization has met all the requirements to be accredited, you should not deny them because you don’t like them.

    And what if the organization hasn’t?

    By your own words, you admit that you a hypocrite, a zelot, or a biggot. One day you will stand before God and beg for His forgiveness, that will be a haha moment. One of “I told you so”.

    How very Christian of you. Anyway, it’s a good thing that your god doesn’t exist; it kinda takes the wind out of your threats.

    @KP #83:

    If this tiny fraction of the population graduates from this school with a masters degree in whatever it is they teach, is it really that offensive to your existence?

    No. But it’s offensive and damaging to the concept of a masters degree.

    @bmhickey21 #84:

    isn’t everyone entitled to their own beliefs?

    Yes, perhaps to their own beliefs, but not to their own facts.

    You may not believe that the world is 6000 years old, and that’s your right

    I am glad we live in a world where we have the right to not believe in nonsense.

    to acknowledge the National Center for Science Education as the “good guys” is wrong.

    Following your own rhetorics, why shouldn’t Phil Plait be entitled to believe that the NCSE are the good guys?

  81. @ 78 Seth. It is equally likely (or unlikely) that you will one day stand before allah and beg his forgivness. Besides any god who would punish non believers in lake ‘o fire is not worthy of worship.

    I am not a god fearing American because your god does not exist therefore there is nothing to fear.

  82. CupOfTea

    Just put online :-). Let’s see how long it stays…

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Institute_for_Creation_Research

  83. Nigel Depledge

    Confused (69) said:

    I’m not sure what the big deal is here. Admittedly I do not know all the facts and what the curriculum was, but if we award Master’s degrees with a focus on the fictional such as religious studies, English degrees, film studies, why not this?

    If they awarded mere theology degrees, no-one would have any problem at all.

    The trouble is, the ICR is to good theology what BP is to the environment.

    The ICR claims that the garbage they teach is legitimate science, when it is merely misinformation and propaganda. To offer science degrees in that is to tarnish the value of science degrees everywhere else.

    If it’s not hurting anyone, who cares?

    The ICR does a great deal of harm.

    They fool gullible, ignorant parents into believing that there is a legitimate scientific alternative to – well, actual science. They convince these people that biblical literalism has a valid place in today’s reality.

    These parents then raise their kids in the belief that modern science is merely another choice (instead of a process to understand how the universe operates, of which the conclusions inescapably point to, for example, an ancient Earth). These same parents then pressure their kids’ schools to either gloss over topics such as evolution (without which nothing else in biology makes any sense) or, worse still, to grant some vague credence to a religiously-founded alternative.

    While it may not seem like a legitimate field of study to some, it does to others. Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong?

    That’s easy. The universe itself is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. If your ideas match what is observed to occur, then they are either correct or a damn good approximation (this is where we are with modern science). If your ideas do not match reality, then they are wrong. The ICR rejects this concept.

    I feel that science is verging on suppression of basic freedoms and are turning into the very thing they are claim to be fighting for – narrow mindedness and the enforcement of one system of beliefs.

    And this is an example of how their insidious propaganda works. Science is not about belief. A hydrogen atom has one proton no matter how hard I might wish to believe otherwise. All life on Earth is related and descended from one or a few ancestral species no matter how hard some people wish it were otherwise. Science assumes only one thing – that the evidence we see correlates with a reality that is external to the self. From this, everything else arises as reasoned conclusions drawn from evidence.

  84. Nigel Depledge

    Brandon (71) said:

    *sigh*, a lot of atheist and false Christians give people of intelligence such a bad name. When will people learn that there are two types of believers that exist? That is, a person who abuses’ the word of God for personal advantage; and a person who follows the word of God for personal fulfillment.

    Good question.

    I think there are actually several aspects to this point.

    First, only a small handful of atheists really play any part in general attacks on religion. However, it can clearly be shown that pretty much every type of religious belief is irrational. The assumption that some form of supernatural being exists, despite the complete absence of any supporting evidence, contradicts the principal of parsimony.

    On the other hand, I gather that most atheists in Europe and N. America are more than happy to support the right to religious freedom. You’re more than welcome to believe whatever you choose, as long as you don’t try to force it onto other people.

    Second, why do so many moderate believers remain silent when the lunatic fringe is making all of you look silly? There are, AFAICT, only a very few religious people that openly criticise the strident claims of organisations such as the ICR. Take, as an example, the teaching of evolution in American high schools. There are too many places where a minority of vocal parents have an antire faculty cowed into submission, forcing teachers to either gloss over evolution as a topic or water it down as “only a theory” rather than the overarching paradigm of modertn biology that it deserves to be. But what of the parents whose beliefs are more moderate? Why do they so rarely stand up and put a stop to such nonsense?

    Perhaps if the more moderate believers were to make more effort to stop the extremists from making (in the case of my example above) Christianity look silly, there would be fewer critiques from atheists.

  85. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 94. Nigel Depledge:

    But what of the parents whose beliefs are more moderate? Why do they so rarely stand up and put a stop to such nonsense? Why do they so rarely stand up and put a stop to such nonsense? Perhaps if the more moderate believers were to make more effort to stop the extremists from making (in the case of my example above) Christianity look silly, there would be fewer critiques from atheists.

    At least some Christians *DO* vigourously oppose the wingnut fundamentalist extremists.

    One notable example that I would like to draw your attention to is the very intelligent and compassionate evangelical Christian Fred Clark who runs the superb Slacktivist blog that deconstructs and debunks the sadly best-selling but appallingly written & extremely nasty ‘Left Behind’ novel series by wingnut “Christian” fundamentalists LaHaye & Jenkins.

    This blog well worth checking out I’d say – see : http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/

    I’d also point to Jim Wallis a “Liberal Christian” of the Sojourners blog which is often very interesting with a very “Religious Left” perspective and is, I think, pretty good see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wallis

    & a further example I’d like to offer here is that of Rabbi Michael Lerner who runs the equally fascinating, pro-Peace in Israel-Palestine, inter-faith Tikkun organisation. As you’d guess Rabbi Lerner comes from a Jewish perspective and background.

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Lerner_(rabbi)

    So these people *do* exist and I do think that many atheists are guilty of overlooking such people and tarring all religious folks with the same “strawman” brush.

    Its not always as simple as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and other “New Atheists” would have y’all believe.

    PS. For the record – NOT that it should make any difference anyhow -I’m an agnostic. I don’t believe in God, I don’t disbelieve in God – I just do not know for sure either way & I won’t pretend to. I’ve read Dawkin’s books among others & I’ve got Christian friends, I’ve been Atheist & I’ve been Christian and now I’d class myself as neither.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    @ Messier Tidy Upper (95):

    Thank you for those excellent links.

    Those people are some of the most prominent of the very few to whom I alluded in the same paragraph from which you quoted me.

    However, as a proportion of all the moderately religious people, they are a tiny fraction.

  87. Nigel Depledge

    Seth (78) said:

    Fine, if you don’t believe creationism, don’t. I am not going to force you.

    That’s just as well. I can’t stand proselytisers.

    But if the organization has met all the requirements to be accredited, you should not deny them because you don’t like them.

    To be accredited for what? Have you ever read anything that they have published?

    The ICR pretends that there is a creationist version of science, and that creationism (I can’t recall if they mainly propound YEC or OEC, but both have major flaws when compared with reality) has some scientific validity. They are wrong. Even if they were to offer theology degrees only, I doubt they could achieve any worthwhile accreditation, because they ignore every aspect of reasoned thought that they don’t like.

    By your own words, you admit that you a hypocrite, a zelot, or a biggot.

    No. By your words, you show the depth of your ignorance.

    One day you will stand before God and beg for His forgiveness, that will be a haha moment. One of “I told you so”.

    There is a simple answer to your claim here: prove it. Show us the evidence, any evidence, that what you claim may indeed be true. If you cannot, then please crawl back underneath your rock.

  88. Nobody @ #10 – Conservapedia is a notorious fount of misinformation obsessed with finding “liberal bias” in everything (mathematics for example). They do, however, have their nemesis – check out Rational Wiki.

    (Apologies if this double posts – system went buggy there for a moment)

  89. Nigel Depledge

    Bmhickey21 (84) said:

    Not taking the Creationists side or anything – but isn’t everyone entitled to their own beliefs?

    Well, when it comes to spiritual stuff, certainly. But I don’t think that a belief in the insubstantiality of the number 12 bus will prevent it from killing you when it runs you over.

    You may not believe that the world is 6000 years old, and that’s your right –

    No it’s not. The world simply isn’t a mere 6000 years old. That ain’t a belief, it’s a proven fact. The world is 4.6 billion y.o. no matter what you or I might believe.

    That’s where science – real science – differs from what the ICR does. Science draws conslusions about the world by reasoning from evidence, without any a priori requirements. The ICR starts with a conclusion – the Bible, more or less – and tries to screw around with the facts to make them fit. In fact, there is almost nothing in the Bible that actually fits with a real physical description of the world and how it functions.

    but to acknowledge the National Center for Science Education as the “good guys” is wrong.

    Nope. They (in this case) defend the teaching of correct science. THat can only be a Good Thing.

    No wonder there is growing negativity and intolerance in the world…

    The negativity and intolerance are initiated, perpetuated and disseminated by organisations like the ICR. Science has found (to a large extent, and we’re still working on the stuff we don’t yet know) how the world works. The ICR wants to thro out much of that work and replace it with fantasy.

  90. Michael 735

    What a badly written article. In the name of “Open Minded, Tolerance” it displays anything but.
    When will you Evolution Cultists just admit you are a religion. I know (I once was one of you), you’ll never do that. But that’s OK. You see, you refuse to answer basic questions about the origin of the universe and life itself, and somehow those basic questions just never seem to go away.

    You claim you are based in science, yet want us (who by our own admission are faith based) to prove ourselves. However, by the Scientific Method (i.e. observable, repeatable, measurable) the burden of proof is on you. So, since you can’t prove that which is based in faith (nothing created everything by random chance), you throw insults. If you were truly intelligent, you’d answer the simple questions on the table. If you answer them, they go away.

    1. prove within the definition of science, how nothing created everything by random chance. Or in other words, how’d the creation of the universe defy the First Law of Thermodynamics? You’ve never answered that, just told us we’re stupid for daring to point out the emperor has no cloths.
    2. how could evolution defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Random chance moving nature from lower orders to higher orders without design based work?
    3. Prove scientifically that life can come from non-life. Scientifically I mean. Where is the observations in nature? Even within a Labratory (which would imply … the horror … ‘Design’)?
    4. Prove there is no God? What would that take? First you must define what God is. Then you must have omniscience (a symbol of Godhood). So, to prove conclusively there is no God, you first must be God. So, since you are not God, you can’t prove He doesn’t exist.

    I left your faith of Evolution when I realized it was a faith. Unproved and unprovable. Faith in the Judeo-Christian God is intellectually honest. It admits it’s based in faith. Evolution lies to itself, hoping if it repeats the lie that it’s based in science enough times everyone around will believe it is based in science (didn’t Hitler claim something like that? … Oh, yea he did).

  91. Michael 735

    Oh, one more thing. Since when did the Vaunted Evolutionary Scientists depend on the legal system? I thought you were based in facts, not lawyers. But, Evolution and lawyers go well together. Same level of personal ethics.

  92. Darth Robo

    Michael735

    >>>”When will you Evolution Cultists just admit you are a religion.”

    Because religion requires faith due to lack of evidence. Evolution has evidence which you refuse to accept due to faith. You do know what science is, right?

    >>>”However, by the Scientific Method (i.e. observable, repeatable, measurable) the burden of proof is on you.”

    Feel free to do a search on PubMed, where you can search on any scientific topic you like. Literally hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed published scientific papers following the scientific method which satisfy said burden of proof, supporting evolution.

    Whether that satisfies creationists is irrelevant as they don’t comprehend science anyway. As we shall soon discover.

    >>>”So, since you can’t prove that which is based in faith (nothing created everything by random chance), you throw insults. If you were truly intelligent, you’d answer the simple questions on the table. If you answer them, they go away.”

    They went away likely before you were born. But Creationists can’t help but use arguments which were debunked decades ago. But let’s see, shall we?

    >>>”1. prove within the definition of science, how nothing created everything by random chance. Or in other words, how’d the creation of the universe defy the First Law of Thermodynamics? You’ve never answered that, just told us we’re stupid for daring to point out the emperor has no cloths.”

    I’m sorry Mike, but this has nothing at all whatsover to do with evolution. Evolution comes under the heading of biology, and as such deals with the diversification of life here on Earth, not the formation of the universe which comes under astrophysics. Oh, and Mike, just to let you know, even other creationists know not to mention thermodynamics. But don’t forget, your alternative “explanation” is that an all-powerful invisible magic dude created the universe with a magic poof. And uh, violating those same laws of thermodynamics (if we follow your “logic” to its conclusion).

    >>>”2. how could evolution defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Random chance moving nature from lower orders to higher orders without design based work?”

    A number of problems here. You conclude “design” was necessary in the first place, although you have not demonstrated that. Thermodynamics was invoked again, big mistake number two. Plus don’t forget that you yourself (presumably) developed from a single cell to a fully grown human being (disorder to order) all via natural biochemical processes, with no evidence of a “designer” at any time causing or interfering with this process. This process, along with evolution, quite simply does not defy any laws of thermodynamics.

    Hence why even your questions themselves are flawed from the get-go.

    >>>”3. Prove scientifically that life can come from non-life. Scientifically I mean. Where is the observations in nature? Even within a Labratory (which would imply … the horror … ‘Design’)?”

    Once there was a time when you were not alive. Now you are alive. Since our Earth is of finite age, there was a time when Earth did not have life. Later on, we have life. Ergo: life came from non-life. Whether Goddidit or it happened via natural processes. This is your third “point” now, and so far you haven’t even ADDRESSED evolution. What gives?

    So if I may educate you a little more, I’ll remind you that evolution specifically deals with the diversification of life on Earth. It doesn’t deal with the formation of the universe, nor does it deal with the formation of life (abiogenesis). All evolution needs is for life to be here. Life is here. Life evolves. Facts. If you dispute this, all you need do is scientifically demonstrate that life is in fact NOT here. Take your time.

    And just to address your last point of figuring out abiogenesis in the lab, no, that would NOT be evidence of “design”. Just because a gardener can plant a flower seed in a plant pot does not falsify the fact that plants reproduce naturally all over the world, all without the aid of a gardener.

    >>>”4. Prove there is no God? What would that take? First you must define what God is. Then you must have omniscience (a symbol of Godhood). So, to prove conclusively there is no God, you first must be God. So, since you are not God, you can’t prove He doesn’t exist.”

    Actually, since God is YOUR hypothesis, it’s your responsibility to define exactly what it is, and what scientific evidence you have to demonstrate it’s existence. But as you have just pointed out, it is not possible to prove that (a) God does not exist. Therefore it’s rendered non-falsifiable. And if it’s not falsifiable, it’s not scientific.

    I’m disappointed, Mike. For all your railing against evolution, you didn’t address it at all. Not once. Your arguments were flawed from the get go and didn’t even deal with the subject anyway. Now is it clear why no-one takes Creationists seriously?

    >>>”Faith in the Judeo-Christian God is intellectually honest. It admits it’s based in faith.”

    Depends on the believer, doesn’t it? ICR seem to disagree, hence why they’re attempting to offer Masters degrees on a non-scientific subject for which they have no evidence for. So it seems not all belief is intellectually honest. If that really were the case, Creationists would leave science alone.

    >>>”Evolution lies to itself, hoping if it repeats the lie that it’s based in science enough times everyone around will believe it is based in science”

    Then by all means, come up with a better explanation that has valid practical applications, such as developing new vaccines to counter continually *evolving* diseases and viruses? Prediction of telomere/centromere placement in human chromosome 2? Successful prediction of fossil traits and location in proper geological strata? You got a better theory?

    Didn’t think so.

    >>>”(didn’t Hitler claim something like that? … Oh, yea he did).”

    Something like what? Did he also mention Godwin’s Law?

  93. Darth Robo

    >>>”Oh, one more thing. Since when did the Vaunted Evolutionary Scientists depend on the legal system? I thought you were based in facts, not lawyers. But, Evolution and lawyers go well together. Same level of personal ethics.”

    Oh, that must be why all those creationists are SKIPPING the scientific method and scientific research parts (remember that SCIENCE thing we were talking about) and BREAKING THE LAW by ignoring the First Amendment and pushing for Creationism in public school SCIENCE classes. Their main weapons: PR campaigns and politically pressuring local school boards. So much for “personal ethics”, eh? What happened to all that “intellectual honesty” you were talking about?

    And when evolution vs Creationism DOES tangle in the courts (as it has done many many times) the Creationists seem to FORGET to bring all the their so-called “evidence” to court.

    Which is why they always lose.

    And why they’ve lost EVERY SINGLE COURT CASE since 1925.

    No wonder you’re complaining. (shrug)

  94. d05register

    Being scientist and believer at the same time is a BIG joke

  95. Rembot

    Yes, I agree with one of the early posters here — this site (and the issue of teaching evolution in schools) should be much tighter with the skeptic community. The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), Council For Inquiry (CFI), and Skeptic are strong and active in this and allied areas. If I hadn’t just “40 Days and 40 Nights” (an outstanding book by Darwin’s great great grandson, by the way), I would not have an appreciation for the work that NCSE has been doing. There is considerable crossover possible between allied organizations — perhaps NCSE should branch out and be the clearing house for the worldwide base of talent to keep evolution in our schools and sciences. Keep up the good fight — fundamentalism will be one of the primary shapers of the 21st century, worldwide, and we’ll be lucky to survive it.

  96. Brian

    Never ceases to amaze me how all you non-religionists are just as intolerant and vicious as you claim the religionists are.

    We had a saying when I was in the Nam: Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.

    Holler and rant all you want, both of you. It’s a right and in fact an obligation He gave both sides, and He really prefers everyone to make their own choice. He cares deeply for the people on both sides, and it matters to Him what choice you make, but He won’t force you one way or the other.

    But a day will come, and the day will come, when He will “sort ‘em all out”. And on that day, ALL voices will be equally stilled, and it won’t matter whether you believe or not. If you’ve chosen not to believe, the chance to change your mind will be forever over.

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