Exposing the Discovery Institute

Among the most maddening things about the assault on science education — especially resistance to teaching public school students about evolution without watering it down with arguments rooted in junk science — is the rank dishonesty and religious bigotry that motivate anti-evolution extremists. In yet another excellent Huffington Post essay, Michael Zimmerman of the Clergy Letter Project calls out that kind of garbage coming from the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle.

We told you a few days ago about Zimmerman’s Huffington Post essay explaining that mainstream science isn’t divided over evolution. The “controversy,” such as it is, is the product of religious extremists who attack and seek to marginalize people of faith who see no problem with accepting evolutionary science and believing in God. (The Roman Catholic Church, for example, sees no such conflict. Neither do many mainline Protestants, Jews and other people of faith outside of fundamentalist circles.)

The Discovery Institute countered with an essay on its own website, claiming that skepticism about evolution really is based in science. (Disco made the same absurd argument last year when its staffers descended on Texas during the debate over new science curriculum standards.) But Zimmerman makes quick work of wrecking that disingenuous argument in his new Huff Post essay:

“You may remember Pat Robertson warning the good people of Dover, Pennsylvania, when they threw out the school board members who required that intelligent design be taught in their schools, ‘If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.’

Or you may remember Robertson saying that ‘the evolutionists worship atheism. I mean, that’s their religion.’

Or perhaps Albert Mohler’s comments in Time, will come to mind: ‘You cannot coherently affirm the Christian-truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time.’ In case you don’t remember, let me remind you that Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I could go on ad nauseam, providing you with similar quotes from high-profile fundamentalist clergy members, but I see no need to do so; clearly these folks regularly claim that they cannot accept evolutionary theory on religious grounds. I have no problem with these people saying what they believe, but I am completely opposed to them implying that all who are religious must agree with them.”

Zimmerman is especially dismissive of the claim by Casey Luskin, who wrote Disco’s counter essay, that he (Zimmerman) is ignoring “the science that challenges evolution”:

“I’m sorry to be so blunt, but there’s simply no way to be polite about this: [Luskin’s] claim is utter garbage. And he must know it because he doesn’t direct his readers to a single piece of scientific evidence supporting his charge.

Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts extending, testing, and refining evolutionary theory are published each and every year, but there aren’t any calling the basic premise of the theory into question. And yet Luskin has the nerve to say that there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ of a ‘scientific controversy about the importance of evolutionary theory.'”

Zimmerman also points to the huge sums of money pouring into Disco from prominent religious fundamentalists who “want to remake both science and the United States into their religious image”:

“Luskin and his DI colleagues have created a well-funded public relations machine which they use relentlessly to mislead the public about evolution and to encourage school boards and state legislatures to take steps to destroy high-quality science education. They get what seems to be unlimited air time on Fox to promote their dangerous message.”

Read the whole thing here.

27 thoughts on “Exposing the Discovery Institute

  1. Richard Dawkins, in his book “The Greatest Show on Earth,” attempts to prove the theory of evolution. The ignorati say “it’s only a theory,” without understanding of what a THEORY is, what it means, and that it most definitely is not a “guess.” Theories are analytical tools for understanding, explaining, and making predictions about a given subject matter. That is something the ignorati do not understand or CARE to understand.

    Ask one of those people who wish to lie about the age of the universe and the age of the earth (six thousand years each) and they will turn purple with rage to defend their baseless non-thinking.

    General Dwight Eisenhower was so horrified by what the holocaust had wrought that he commanded that his photographers to document what he saw…fast forward 50 years (or even earlier) and people are denying that the holocaust never happened! In other words, DESPITE PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY naysayers are denying it ever happened!

    It is the same with Evolution. If enough people decide it is “just a theory” they can prohibit it from being taught in our schools and THAT IS EXACTLY what is happening! It is DISGUSTING.

    It has been pretty much proven that human life began in Africa, not the Middle-East. But the bible was written by people who were living in Middle-East, so they get the credit for being the Adam (man) and Esha (woman). Adam and Eve are parables, there never was an Adam and Eve, they never existed.

    We each carry black blood in our bodies; that’s not up for discussion. It is a fact. What shall we do about the bigots who won’t even, in this day and age, shake hands with or hug a black person? The First Baptist Church of Dallas, when Criswell was still around, had nothing but lilly white faces. “They like to worship with their own,” he had said. Yeah. Did he actually BELIEVE that? Or, as I suspect, was he a product of the old South who refused to change with the times?

    Oh, that’s “only a theory” of mind…but I was present at the press conference where he said that. His addled wife once told her Sunday School that Jesus was so perfect that he never even soiled his diaper; I’ll leave any obvious conclusions to you the reader.

    One last thought…Jay Leno asked a college aged girl how many stars were on the flag of the U.S. She replied, “I can’t tell, it’s moving too fast.


  2. Hahahaha, that’s classic. Hey, if she’d had a camera phone, she coulda took a picture, and then counted’em. Easy money.

    Dan, this is a topic you and TFN do a lot more reporting on. The religious right is in a war, and they are playing for keeps. Casey Luskin is in need of some serious comeuppance. He has been spewing sewage on Fox or wherever he can twist and omit data to fit the conservative Christian biblical “facts” about the origins of everything.

    And I cannot express my opinion on this enough; The DI and their benefactors are serious about revising history and erasing science data that does anything to contradict the blueprint book they’ve used for centuries to oppress and control society. Since the far-right biblical worldview places men, and here in the West, it’s the White men, above all others in dominance, the leadership on the political right has no other options: they are not going to relinquish their hold on power without a fight.

  3. Further proof and evidence that the religious far-right of this nation have much more in common with al Qaeda and the Taliban than with anything or anyone else. I’m surprised they don’t pray that they’re cars start each morning considering how uneasy they are with science and the fruits of it.

  4. Why is the State Board of Education a partisan race? Why not make the State Board of Education a panel of college professors?
    Then have districts vote on the changes before they are amended? Doesn’t that make more since? Education should NOT be in political parties hands. It should NOT be a conservative vs. liberal fight. It should be an educated, fact based, evidence based reason for changing anything in the Textbooks. Since I was a teacher in Texas I can feel safe that most teachers do not even teach from the horrid textbooks anyway…If you walk into any classroom they are never used, because teachers can use outside sources with more impact than those horrid horrid textbooks. They can choose (and most will) not to promote the SBoE ignorance. It still does not ease my mind that the board is trying to spread an agenda on our children. I am seriously thinking of pulling my child out of public schools, until we can get a better grip on our educational system.

  5. It’s just a theory that you have to put gas in your car to make it run.
    It might run without gas if you pray (correctly)>

  6. Thomas Paine had some interesting to say that really got the fundies undies up in a bunch. While his Deist credo–“I believe in one God and no more, and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.”–seems throughly innocuous by today’s standard, it was grossly inflammatory to a good many people in 1793. (Religious fundamentalists really don’t vary much throughout history.)

    According to (gag) a Fox liar, initials Glenn Beck, said, “They’re going to tell you that the founders were Deists…don’t believe them, we’re going to prove differently.”

    Dear God in heaven, have we not had enough lying for the past eight years? We’re still embroiled in two wars in which we have NO BUSINESS being in because George W. Bush and his pals thought that it would be a good idea. Now Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox Liars Inc. want to drag us back to the bad old days of lying on demand? What and how are we going to stop these people in their tracks?

    The fundies (funny-mentalists?) have always thought they had a handle on THE TRUTH despite how much they have had to lie to get to where they are. STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF!

  7. Christmas is far from now, but the fruitcakes are already baking. Several nights ago on the History Channel, they did a pretty good documentary on Hannibal. After going through the Punic Wars and the details of the battles, they concluded that Hannibal was one of the greatest military tacticians in history. His failing was that those battles were not advanced towards a coherent and attainable strategic goal. He was great at wining battles but really lousy at winning wars.

    So far, the creation science and Disco Institute fruitcakes have not won a single significant battle for decades. From their perspective, that should be grave cause for concern. From the strategic standpoint, they are doomed to defeat. Why? They are doomed because their understanding of the Bible is wrong-minded and fatally flawed. Evolution really did happen, and it is continuing to happen today. It is part of the natural order that God established in this world. Therefore, opposition to evolution is opposition not just to factual truth—but also to God’s truth. The mainline Christian churches know it. The Catholics know it. Other Christians know it. Truth always wins out in the end. The truth of evolution will win out in the end. It may not be this year. It may not be 50 years from now. However, it will win in the end because the truth always wins—and God will win with it.

    Here is the thing I do not understand. With a string of tactical defeats a mile long, I wonder why these fruitcakes never stop to consider the possibility that they are losing every time for a reason—and that reason is quite possibly because God is not with them—is not on their side—because they are doing battle against him and the natural order he has established. Ultimately, in my opinion, the Christian fundamentalists’ faith is not in God or the Bible. Their faith is in themselves—and they are a pretty pitiful and weak group of “selves” if I ever saw one.

  8. Fundamentalists of all stripes from Crackpot Christian to Loonie Left seek out battles to lose, knowing they will lose as it is the martyr/victim end state that is fundamental to thier rages against a surrogate unreasonable parent hate figure. Picking fights one can win only creates victors not victims. In the event of an accidental victory, it becomes necessary to pick a good fight that can be lost, thereby replacing the victor statue with a victim status.

    It’s a variant on Steve Karpman’s “Drama Triangle” in which the unhappy play hopscotch between the roles of victim, prosecutor, and rescuer. All that is needed to play is to create a villain, real or imagined. The piratical “Sea Shepherds” attacking Japanese whalers invent permission to attack commerical ships in the name of saving the whales …. without a certificate of saviorship from the whales.

    Those who an addiction to playing the Drama Triangle are called True Beliovers as descriibed by the UCal philosopher and long shoreman Eric Hoffer in his book of the same name

  9. Absolutely Charles,

    Ultimately they will lose, as fundamentalists have since the beginning of time (otherwise we wouldn’t be communicating this way). But I think the problem for most modern empircists is fear of what could be wrought between now and then.

    We look at this philosophy and see a history filled with horror and violence because of it. And we fear that it could happen again. Of course we will ultimately win, because we have a reality based view of, well, reality. But these people are scary–let’s be honest about what is really happening in our hearts. We are scared. They are scary.

  10. I’m just tired. I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep. Have you ever looked at Michelle Bachman’s eyes? She looks like one of those people who haven’t slept for years. Ditto the rest of them.

  11. Yeah, remember Color Theory is “just” a theory. I’m an artist and have yet to see proof that yellow + blue does not = green.

    I’m also a Cytotechnologist. My profession is dependent on Cell Theory. Cell Theory teaches us that cells sometimes become malignant. The nature of the transition to malignancy, we have yet to understand thoroughly) but malignancy (like s**t) happens. We could be naysayers and say Nah, malignancy does not happen; it’s just a theory some guy smoking pot thought up on the spur of the moment. Thus Hooray! Malignancy does not exist!

    People who question the Theory of Evolution are people who: (A) do not understand the scientific definition of ‘theory,’* (B) do not understand what evolution actually says, and (C) do not have any desire or wish to become educated in A or B.

    * They are confusing ‘theory’ with ‘hypothesis.’ Never mind trying to explain the difference to them. They’re so simple-minded they will either not understand or refuse to understand.

  12. “We could be naysayers and say Nah, malignancy does not happen; it’s just a theory some guy smoking pot thought up on the spur of the moment. Thus Hooray! Malignancy does not exist!”

    Hey, I didn’t say nothing about malignancies!

    What were we talking about?

  13. Trog, please re-read my posting. I didn’t say you said anything about malignancies. Why in the world did you think I did? There is nothing in my post to indicate that I am addressing Trog or any other particular person.

    Sorry but frankly I’m getting kind of tired of people twisting my words.

  14. Cytocop, please re-read my comment as if it was from a guy who grew up during the late 60s/early 70s. 🙂

  15. Trog, your secret is safe with me.
    What were we talking about?

    Everybody knows that cancer is PDD.
    Prayer deficiency disorder.

    Anybody noticed that the more the DI people and the SBOE folks try to deny biological science, the more that light is shone upon the whole subject, and the science looks more irrefutable and these gentle folk look more stupid? Not just here, but every media and knowledge venue in the country, except of course, Rupert Murdoch’s bowel, I mean Fox News.

  16. Holy cow.

    Here’s your comment that I excerpted: “We could be naysayers and say Nah, malignancy does not happen; it’s just a theory some guy smoking pot thought up on the spur of the moment. Thus Hooray! Malignancy does not exist!”

    Here’s my comment, where I pretended to be that pot-smoking guy: Hey, I didn’t say nothing about malignancies!

    Here’s one of the acknowledged symptoms of marijuana intoxication: What were we talking about?

  17. Yeah, I pretended to be in on the joke too. As if I had ever in my life …
    Wasn’t that governmental policy a couple of decades ago? “Just say nay…”
    Did Rupert Murdoch buy the Discovery channel? For Sarah Palin?
    Is he going to rename it the Discovery Institute channel?
    Dis-gov-ery, the practice of resigning from elected state executive office.
    Anyway, what were we talking about?

  18. OK, (and I DID re-read your post.)

    Just because I haven’t been doing pot recently, how does that make me into a narc??

    I’m so confused….

  19. SEE? You wouldn’t be talking so openly about it if you were cool, man! He’s a narc! I knew it!

    I don’t really need to append a smiley there, do I? hehehehe

    ‘Ere…’ere. <- Definitely a stoners-only joke right there.

  20. Who said anything about recently?
    I think the narc reference was part of the clue.
    What were we talking about?

    Having read “Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion,” I’ve decided this about snake worship:
    The original agriculturalists in the middle east/ fertile crescent/n. africa had underground columbariums. Dove-cotes in which they collected the manure for fertilizer. They also had earthen and underground granaries. I think they early on began establishing pits for snakes to catch mice and rats. The worshippers gave offerings of honey cake to the snakes. I think this was originally a practice of providing bait for the mice which the snakes ate. Eventually this practical habit turned into a religious ritual. Most of the religious literature of the ancient world is about the supercession or superimposition of one city/state’s religion over another’s.

  21. David, that’s interesting. It sheds some light on strange Biblical passages about snakes: from the so-called “Old Testament,” (1) the famous conversation between Eve and the serpent, (2) the snake-on-a-stick as a means of healing and, from the “New Testament,” (3) the ability to handle venomous snakes without suffering consequences being one of the signs of a Christian.