They Just Keep Piling On

By Carl Zimmer | January 10, 2006 12:40 pm

Governor Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky uses his State of the Commonwealth speech last night to plug intelligent design:

As I close, let me recognize Kentucky’s veterans. You have served to protect our liberty and the freedom that spurs our quality of life in this nation. Please know that this administration is committed to supporting you.

And where does this freedom come from that many have died to protect?

Our founding fathers recognized that we were endowed with this right by our creator.

So I ask, what is wrong with teaching “intelligent design” in our schools. Under KERA, our school districts have that freedom and I encourage them to do so.

This is not a question about faith or religion. It’s about self-evident truth.

Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was a biology textbook?

I’m going to create a new tag for these little entries. I hope I won’t be adding too many more entries to it, but I won’t be surprised if I do. [Update: See under “Our Dear Leaders Speak”]

(Hat tip: Ars Technica)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Our Dear Leaders Speak
MORE ABOUT: Evolution

Comments (15)

  1. Scott Belyea

    “This is not a question about faith or religion. It’s about self-evident truth.”

    Words fail me. Sad …


  2. Scott Belyea

    “This is not a question about faith or religion. It’s about self-evident truth.”

    Words fail me. Sad …


  3. Jokermage

    “Our founding fathers recognized that we were endowed with this right by our creator.”

    I wonder if anyone has explained Deism to this guy, since many of those founding fathers were Deists.

  4. Walter

    Maybe I’m falling behind, but when did this become an issue in Kentucky? And why this pitch during a state of the state address? This interview with the AP the following day isn’t too encouraging either:

  5. JB "The Middleman"

    Just in – we have a “Dover” situation developing here in California. The dateline of this story is Fresno, CA but the little town of LeBec is actually closer to L.A., about 70 miles north of the city on what is known as The Grapevine – the highway that leads to the San Joaquin Valley. Apparently the I.D. was introduced in a “philosphy” class, though it sounds like the class was created specifically to promote I.D.

  6. KevinM

    I fear biologists are the first to experience “the end of insight”.

    From the annual question “What is the most dangerous idea?” :


    The human brain and its products are incapable of understanding the truths about the universe


    The world may fundamentally be inexplicable


    The End of Insight

    “When the End of Insight comes, the nature of explanation in science will change forever. We’ll be stuck in an age of authoritarianism, except it’ll no longer be coming from politics or religious dogma, but from science itself.â€�

    Personally, what I think is going on is that science is rubbing up against a fundamental human characteristic – innumeracy. I spend part of my time in a nonscientific endeavor dependent on numeracy. Sniping. Telling the difference between 400 and 800 yards is difficult without “cheats”. Telling the difference between 2.4 km and 3.6 km is impossible for a human. It’s all cheat at that point. You’re reading it from a machine which you must put your total faith in. When we delve into issues in which illions or illionths are the unit of measure, well human common sense fails us.

    So how do we communicate the truth to those whose common sense can’t comprehend what we tell them?

    Answers??… Anyone?.. Bueller?

  7. Mark Frank

    I just discovered The Loom. What an asset. Well written, sane and full of genuine, interesting information.

    Re #5 above. If you take the quotes off the word philosophy then it doesn’t seem so bad. ID is a very suitable subject for a philosophy of science class. It raises some important questions about the nature of science. It just shouldn’t be in biology as an alternative to neo-darwinism. In fact in some flavours of ID are compatible with ND. Darwin avoided saying anything about how life began except a few informal comments in a letter.

  8. Mark Paris

    “This is not a question about faith or religion. It’s about self-evident truth.”

    It’s actually about politics. This governor, as most in the South, knows his political base, and he knows they love to have their lack of education celebrated as wisdom.

  9. jray

    Ernie is educated in the sciences. A graduate of a college of engineering, a medical degree, a former air force pilot. Similar to but greater achieving than Rick (the Tex Gov), who also openly promotes ID. It seems either that no amount of education can open one’s mind to scientific evidence and the scientific method of analysis. It is either that or Mark Paris is correct.

    This is, however, an attack on science, sometimes from proclaimed scientists themselves. It seems to be a religious backlash as to past politics or a religious reaction to that which scientists are actually discovering. Albeit, it seems perilous on several fronts. Given that the majority of the public is absolutely mathematically and scientifically illiterate, the public can be convinced of anything. LeBec is just a small but sad sample of what appears on the horizon.

    Forgive any spelling and grammar; I did this on the fly.

  10. linguist

    KevinM, I think that you are onto something very important. I also read through the “most dangerous ideas” article (excellent!) and I have long been pondering the idea that it’s possible science will NEVER fully explain certain things (such as origins…of the universe, of language, etc.) because science is a human mental construct. Anyway, thanks for your post, you helped me clarify my thinking on this topic.

  11. Mark Paris

    I read the first few of the “most dangerous idea” entries. There may be some nuggets in there, but I think it’s mostly “experts” looking through the lenses of their professions and prejudices at subjects they know little about.

  12. Another reason to be glad I left the Bluegrass State 21 years ago.

  13. jackd

    “Ernie is educated in the sciences. A graduate of a college of engineering, a medical degree, a former air force pilot. ”

    Sadly, the experience of the newsgroup over the last fifteen years has shown that all three environments are pretty fertile grounds for breeding creationists. Engineering and medicine are rich in the application of scientific knowledge, but not in the processes that lead to obtaining that knowledge – the processes of science itself. And neither area spends much time on the disciplines where evolution and deep time are most evident, such as geology or developmental biology.

    Folks have hypothesized that engineers are accustomed to thinking about how things are made, and are thus more receptive to viewing the universe and all that’s in it as “made” things. Medical doctors are often the equivalent of automobile mechanics (not to disparage either occupation) in that they mainly deal with diagnosing and repairing malfunctions in physical systems.

    Finally, the US Air Force Academy has long been a hotbed of evangelical Christianity. Devout pilots are a pretty well-known phenomenon.

  14. I’m not going to comment on the politics, but as a writer I’m impressed at the rhetorical loop-de-loops employed here.

    Contrast and compare:

    “You got trouble Folks! Right here in River City. Trouble with a Capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for pool.”


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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