Republican SBOE Candidates Duke It Out

Republican candidates for Cynthia Dunbar’s District 10 Texas State Board of Education seat met over the weekend at a public forum in Georgetown. It appears that evolution and sex education were among the hottest topics of discussion, according to the online Williamson County Conservative Examiner. (Hat tip to TFN Insider reader abb3w for calling this to our attention.)

Austin attorney Brian Russell, the State Republican Executive Committee member recruited by Dunbar to run for the seat, explained that he believes in “intelligent design”/creationism and then trotted out the tired argument that science students should be able to “critique, evaluate, and analyze all scientific data.” Of course, no one has really argued otherwise. The issue is whether science classes will be required to teach junk science arguments against the overwhelming scientific data backing up evolution. Russell thinks they should.

Russell also argued that public schools should teach “directed abstinence,” according to the Examiner. Opponents of responsible sex education seem to have stopped using the “abstinence-only” name for programs that keep students ignorant about how to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The “directed abstinence” (or “directive abstinence”) wording suggests that supporters simply want classes to insist that students remain abstinent. But everyone believes teens shouldn’t be having sex. The issue is whether schools in a state that has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation should also be providing medically accurate information about contraception and methods to prevent the spread of STDs.

Marsha Farney of Georgetown argued that schools should teach evolution “as a theory only.” She agreed with Russell on abstinence programs but called for segregating such classes by gender.

The Examiner article wasn’t quite clear about the position of teacher Rebecca Osborne of Austin on the evolution issue. According to the article, Osborne was critical of a “disconnect between the classroom and the state board” on the issue. On sex education, Osborne called for more parental involvement and “character education” classes.

Read the full Examiner article here.

53 thoughts on “Republican SBOE Candidates Duke It Out

  1. After reading that one, I’m gonna need some dessert with lunch today. You know the one. Fru-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-it…

  2. I really want to ask these candidates to explain why no evidence for ID or traditional creationism exists in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I’m guessing Russell would go with the vast conspiracy idea.

  3. C’mon James. You know better than that. Satan has blinded the eyes of all the so-called “real scientists” such that they are incapable of seeing the truth—even the ones who claim to be Christians—excluding that Dr. Ken Miller up at Brown University. Catholics like him are not real Christians anyway—all of them were blinded long ago on so many different fronts. Just call up the people over at the Dallas Theological Seminary and ask them.

    Our whole universe and everything that is in it were created in a 6-day magic show about 6000 years ago. Any scientifically induced or deduced facts that are not in agreement with that conclusion are definitely and irrefutably wrong. They just cannot possibly be right. Where is the alternative science that supports that conclusion? I don’t know. The ID and creationist people have never found it. The real scientists have never found it. The only conclusion might be that God is holding out on us with the facts. Here is one possibility.

    The realm we call existence or the universe really was created in six 24-hour days just 6000 years ago by beings in an alternative dimension called Heaven. Our existence and consciousness of our own universe are really more or less a dream state with our actual nature and condition being something entirely different in an underlying matrix (like in the movie). The ruler of this alternative dimension is called God. He wants everyone in our universe to believe in him and understand him by faith rather than by evidence. He loves those with the capacity for complete faith and hates those who trust only in their senses. For those people who do not or cannot have faith (damaged goods), He has intentionally built into our universe a set of structures and relationships that make everything appear to be billions of years old and all natural when it is really not. It was done this way as a simple test discriminator (binary 1 vs. 0) to evaluate the viability of the real beings in their underlying matrix state. Those people who are incapable of faith will be deluded by their senses with regard to the world surrounding them. They will think that everything is “natural” when it is really not. At some time in the future, God will jump out of his closet and say, “Boo!!! Fooled you didn’t I???!!! Then all of the underlying matrix beings who were deluded into believing the wonderfully contrived sensual world around them will be culled from their breadboard locations in the matrix and be thrown into the fire pit out in back of the test facility. The matrix beings who were capable of faith in the dream state called our universe will be removed from the matrix and transplanted into a larger program where they will function properly and experience eternal usefulness, happiness, and bliss.

    How’s that?

  4. Did anyone else notice that other “Popular Articles” linked to this website have headlines such as “U.S. military is liaising with extraterrestrial life according to independent sources” and “ANZUS treaty: New Zealand discloses UFOs as U.S. hides possible ET/UFO base at Pine Gap, Australia” ?? Once you leave reality behind, there’s no end to what you can have rolling around in your head.

  5. Hey, Charles. As somebody who has graduated from DTS and who now teaches there, I can say you have done an excellent job of totally misrepresenting what is taught there.

  6. Okay. I assume Sandra means the statement that I made about Ken Miller, the Catholic Church, DTS, and evolution is incorrect. Therefore, DTS officially subscribes to evolution, believes that Catholics like Dr. Miller are full-fledged Christians in good standing with the Lord, and is certain that Catholic theological error and teaching has most likely NOT blinded Dr. Miller to the “fact” that creation occurred in six 24-hour days precisely and literally as described in Genesis 1.

    Happy reading folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Are those the only options?
    Catholics are not real Christians.
    Catholics are full-fledged Christians.

    Either the world was created in six days
    We officially ascribe to evolution?

    I don’t see a lot of room for nuanced discussion here.

  8. There isn’t much room for nuanced discussion about evolution. It’s connected to the science of geology, and microbiology, and genetics, etc. Yes, biological scientists know which parts of “theory” are more totally proven, and which are less. They know where there’s still room for REAL scientific research and not just the “that sure does look like a little machine that was made by some guy, therefore it was “created” by God.,” type of “science”.
    The answer to who is or isn’t a “Christian” is really up to God.
    Unless you’re talking about the human political institution called Christianity.
    Then it’s apparently the business of certain right wing control freaks to impose their decision about who is or isn’t a “Christian” on the rest of us. Unfortunately, some of the rest of us have our own opinions.

  9. Sandra. What is the official position of Dallas Theological Seminary on the subject of evolution as set forth by Charles Darwin initially and then later as it has progressed in scientific thinking from his time up to the present. How does that flush with the DTS’s official doctrinal position of scriptural inerrancy? I have done a web exploration and have been unable to find any statement of the DTS’s official position on evolution. Far and away, most fundamentalists reject evolution outright and view any sort of compromising, nuancing, or double-talk about it to be spiritual and moral treason of the worst possible kind. Are you telling us that this is not true at DTS? If so, I would find it wonderfully refreshing.

  10. There wasn’t much there except the demonizing of Darwin and the cheerleading for i/d.
    Not everybody that accepts evolution is an atheist. They’re put into the same camp by the fact that they either have to accept that science has made no case for or against God, or they have to accept a very narrow superstitious definition of how God works. There is no scientific case for God the supernatural actor.
    The “supernaturalists” will eventually be done away with by the fact that “God” gave us brains to think with.
    Put some science on the table and then we can talk.
    The idea that the only motivation for people to behave morally is the promise of a pass through the pearly gates or a one way ticket on the subway to hell is hooey, and it’s contradicted by the Christian doctrine that all people are sinners. In other words, it’s not God’s grace that’s making people behave, in fact, it may make them worse, because they think they can lie, hate, beat people down, as long as they invoke the name of Jesus as some kind of “deus ex machina”.
    And we’re back to where we started from….

  11. So, Sandra. I take it that the official position of the Dallas Theological Seminary on evolution might be phrased something like this:

    “A lot of different people have a lot of different ideas about evolution, creation, natural selection, etc. Scientists differ among themselves. Creationists differ among themselves and with scientists. Churches differ in what they believe. It is all just one huge and confusing mass. Therefore, who knows what the correct answer is? Can I hug you?”

  12. Sandra. What are your personal thoughts about creation, evolution, and the Texas SBOE? How will you be voting in the upcoming SBOE elections?


    I tried posting a response to your immigration article on your blog. When I finished, I entered the alphanumeric code for spam avoidance, and clicked “Submit Post.” It never showed up on your blog site. Do you have to click the “Preview Button” and do that first every time to get it to post. Do you have to preregister somewhere to post? Just wondering.

  13. Some answers in no particular order:

    DTS does not have an official position on creation/evolution. Many of us think the creation accounts focus more on the why than the how. See:

    Charles, uh, we’re not a super huggy bunch. We get a lot of engineer types…

    Francis Collins believes in theistic evolution. I consider him a brother in the Lord. But I agree with the statement that it’s not our job to walk around determining who is “in” and who is “out.” Jesus himself said the “wheat and tares” would grow together. I take that to mean, among other things, that we have unbelievers in Protestant churches and believers in Catholic churches…

    My brother-in-law taught in the public school system and he took teams of high-schoolers to nationals in the Science Olympics–a real science geek. Before he was killed by a texting-while-driving teen five months ago, he would have said that he felt “Expelled” was pretty accurate.

    Charles, I went to my blog and found that your comment on immigration was posted. Perhaps it had to be approved because it was anonymous. I loved what you wrote–agreed on every point. Thank you for adding something constructive to the discussion.

    David, I agree with this, “The idea that the only motivation for people to behave morally is the promise of a pass through the pearly gates or a one-way ticket on the subway to hell is hooey, and it’s contradicted by the Christian doctrine that all people are sinners.” Indeed, it also contradicts the concept of salvation by grace through faith in Christ (as opposed to salvation through abstinence).

    As someone who has authored a book on sexual intimacy in marriage, I have given lots of thought to the sex ed question. I have reservations about what my daughter (15) has been taught in school. But I still think it’s better than nothing–which is what most kids get from their families. I am aggravated with both sides in the political discussion.

    I’m pretty torn on some of this stuff, and might even enjoy a good discussion/be open to pursuasion on some points if I thought it could happen without getting written off as a Catholic-loathing, Darwin-hating, abstinence-preaching fundy. But statements like “typical creationist blather” pretty much shut the door for me. As the editor in chief of the magazine that ran that article, I took a hit from the six-day creationist end of the readership. So I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s atypical.

  14. Sandra, regarding the article I referred to as “typical creationist blather,” if you can point to any peer-reviewed articles in legitimate scientific journals that support anything in that article, please do. Otherwise, it’s just meaningless babble.

    The theory of evolution, on the other hand, is supported by a mountain of evidence. Doesn’t really matter whether you disapprove of it or not. The evidence speaks for itself.

  15. Sandra, here’s one example:

    “Christians, on the other hand, observe the beauty of the natural world, take note of the gigabytes of coded DNA information packed within living cells, and see the fingerprints of God. ”

    I could just as well claim to see the fingerprints of leprechauns, and I have as much supporting evidence as the intelligent design movement does.

  16. Ms. Glahn, my sincere condolence to you for the loss of your brother.

    “…he would have said that he felt “Expelled” was pretty accurate.”

    I’m truly sorry for him, if he did feel that way, as that movie has been pretty thoroughly debunked. And Stein’s attempts to conflate evolutionary theory with Hitler and the Nazi’s death camps show a craven and base side of religion that is becoming much more prominent in today’s public square; a lack of embarrassment for cherry-picking facts, quotes etc., in a desperate run at science itself, for the mortal sin of contradicting the bible, and by extension, biblical inerrancy.

    As for the movie’s premise, that ID and it’s proponents have been railroaded out of academia, here is the list of supposed “outcasts” expelled from their teaching positions, and the true stories behind their shorter than expected tenures:

    In the meantime, I would ask potential ID’ists; What are your theories proposals for…anything. So far, the only textbooks that have been proposed for HS science class inclusion, have been devoid of anything ID-ish, instead pointing out supposed weaknesses of evolution. While the weaknesses themselves can many times be argued otherwise, the point remains, what does ID propose to solve? Asserting the potential cause of matter says nothing about how that will enable scientists to better do the things they now use evolution to assist them with.

    No, ID is nothing more than the shoehorn it was initially “designed” to be. Supernatural claims due to acceptance of an Intelligent Designer as cause is merely a few twists of the law from creation theory itself, and without a lick of research or evidence to boot.

  17. Sandra said, “Charles, uh, we’re not a super huggy bunch. We get a lot of engineer types…”

    I hear that. We at TFN Insider have had a discussion about engineers on several occasions throughout the past year. In fact, at one time, we had an engineer who was an anti-semitic, holocaust denier type with some really strange ideas. He got banned from the blog for persistent something or other.

    The crux of our engineer discussion was this. We have noticed that an inordinately large number of engineers turn out to be the really obstinate, in your face, and “talking to a fence post” six-day creationists. I have seen virtually the same phenomenon with undergraduate business majors, MBA types, and high school diplomates that could not think their way out of the proverbial brown paper bag. When we get into people with majors in the sciences, humanities, and communications/languages, we do not see a lot of that. We wonder what the deal is with these folks. I have hypothesized that the engineers are like this because they use science to “create” practical and useful things. They see God as a fellow engineer who is in the same business as them. In addition, if you have ever worked with engineers as I have, one of the first things you notice is their apparent perception that they ARE God. I have described it like this, “I have a degree in engineering, which means that what I know automatically subsumes the full range and depth of all human knowledge.” I believe psychololgists refer to this as narcissism. Scientists like me and engineers have a history of not working well together, mainly because the scientists spend a lot of their time rolling their eyes . In a recent job interview, the interviewer asked me this question, “You’re a scientist. We don’t have many of you around here. Do you think you would be able to get along well with all these engineers?” Because you appear to be a thoughtful person, would you like to add any salient observations on why so very many engineers are young Earth creationists?

    Please accept my condolences with regard to the death of your brother. That must have been hard. I do not understand why people think they can do dumb stuff like that and drive safely. In the town where I live, we have designated parking on the streets. My car was parked on the street one morning. While I was shaving in our bathroom, I heard this huge sound like a bomb detonating. About five minutes later, a low and hesitant knocking sound to my kitchen door. It was a woman who had been driving to work. She said, “I’m sorry. I just hit your car.” Well, we went out to look at my car, and she had done a huge number on the whole left side of my care. I later learned that the impact was so hard that it had bent the chassis of the car. If I had been in that car, i might be in the same condition as your brother. I very nicely asked her what she was doing when the crash occurred. Here is what she said, “I was trying to drive while juggling my cup of coffee and simultaneously trying to apply my make-up. The car just went out of control.” Well, duh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just a personal evaluation, I think your brother is dead because people have come to think that they are responsible only for themselves and no one else. Every time I get into my car, my subconscious flips a switch that says, “Okay Charles. You are responsible for yourself and everyone else out here in the road. Drive defensively and safely. Look out for your neighbor as well as yourself. Avoid doing stupid stuff.” It seems to have worked so far.

    Well, back to job hunting…

  18. Sandra,

    I can understand that evangelical Christian organizations like the DTS would avoid taking a position on evolution because the creationists have so effectively equated evolution with atheism, never mind that the vast majority of those who accept evolution in this country are theists. The “why” and the “how” can certainly coexist for theistic evolutionists like Francis Collins, Ken Miller, Karl Giberson, Keith B. Miller, and many others, but they can’t for creationists and intelligent design proponents. What really troubles me is how people rationalize the fact that there is no evidence for Biblical creationism or the neo-creationism of intelligent design in a single peer-reviewed scientific paper – there are currently about 19 million scientific papers indexed at the National Library of Medicine. Does this mean that scientists are involved in a decades-long, perfect global conspiracy? That they are all incompetent? I would like to know your thoughts.

  19. P.S. I missed the mention of your brother-in-law and I add my condolences to those of my colleagues.

    As for the shameful agitprop that was Expelled, in which ID proponents attempted to blame Hitler on Darwin, all I can add to trog69’s post is that Darwin is nowhere to be found in Mein Kampf, and Hitler in fact ordered Darwin’s books burned.

  20. Sandra, my condolences for your brother.
    As long as you’re attempting to be reasonable, you will have problems with the “6 day” people.
    There are so many contradictions and discrepancies in their basic idea, which is ” the Bible is inarguably and literally true,” the Jewish people were “Chosen” throughout Old Testament history and now that “special” status has been conferred on right-wing Americans (Master race?).

    I think there are so many engineers who are radical right because there are so many military industrial related companies like TI and Raytheon where there are decades of cultural bias that encourages that.

    Not only is evolution of species a fact, there is also sociological evolution. Cultures evolve. Anyone past the first semester in the History and Philosophy of Sociology is convinced of that. Societies not only change, they are in a constant state of adapting, evolving. “Six day” people want to adhere to the Bible as it was back then, and “enforce the patriarchy” etc. But the fact is, they pick and choose which Biblical teachings they want to adhere to.

    The fact is, as long as “Christianity” is perceived as a political institution, and as a way to separate the “us” from the “them”, it will continue to “encyst” further into an obdurate knot of poisonous hatred. Only when this totalitarian thrust is dead can it redeem itself as a matter of the human heart, and as a force for joining people together rather than isolating them.
    Science is science, it’s just a tool human beings use, just like the stick a primate puts into a termite mound to catch termites for food.

  21. James F.:

    Another factor in DTS’s refusal to take an official position on evolution may be the fact that it bills itself as a nondenominational seminary. Some denominations are officially or unofficially friendly to evolution. For example, the official science statement of the United Methodist Church clearly subsumes evolution without actually using the word. The Separate Baptists down south despise evolution. Perhaps DTS does not want to be offensive to one or the other by taking a stand. Beats me.

    However, I am a bit confused by DTS, and this is perhaps what led Sandra to challenge my earlier statement about Dr. Ken Miller and Catholics. I put the emphasis on the word “confuse.” The DTS’s big calling card is dispensational premillienialism. If you look at the school’s history, it is a thread that runs so true—for them at least. Unless I am mistaken, dispensationlism has had a very nearly exclusive run in fundamentalist churches. In my area of the South (might be different in Texas), it is my impression that nearly all dispensational churches are evolution-hater churches, which might be why I perhaps wrongly hanged that sign on DTS. To add further to the confusion yesterday afternoon, I did some research out on the Internet and discovered something interesting about what Sandra referred to about being written off as a “…a Catholic-loathing, Darwin-hating, abstinence-preaching fundy.” The really intense fundies that try so hard to roast evolution were taking DTS or people affiliated with DTS in one way or another to task over all kinds of sinful failures, theological sellouts, blah, blah blah. And no, I do not remember the names of the websites. It was just clear to me that a lot of rabid fundies hate DTS. That does not surprise me much. If you go to a large number of rabid fundie websites, which I have done in the past, you will notice that no one hates rabid fundamentalists more than other rabid fundamentalists. They are absoluetely vicious with each other—no holds barred—take no prisoners. You just feel like you want to slap them across the face with a wet tuna to get their attention and say, “Haven’t you got something better to do today?”

    So, I guess DTS confuses me. If we were to get down to the nitty gritty, we would probably have many different theological differences. But that is neither here nor there. The subject here is evolution, science teaching, and so forth.

  22. Some copypastes from the DTS site:

    “We believe that ‘all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ by which we understand the whole Bible is inspired in the sense that holy men of God “were moved by the Holy Spirit” to write the very words of Scripture. We believe that this divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings—historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical—as appeared in the original manuscripts. We believe that the whole Bible in the originals is therefore without error.”

    “We believe that man was originally created in the image and after the likeness of God…”

    DTS professor Reg Grant says: “Forget Shylock’s pound of flesh. Take just one square inch of human skin and you’ll find nineteen million cells, sixty, hairs, ninety oil glands, nineteen feet of blood vessels, six hundred twenty-five sweat glands, and nineteen thousand sensory cells. And our evolutionist friends would have us believe this marvel of intelligent design all came about by chance. ‘Certainly you made my mind and heart; you wove me together in my mother’s womb.’ (Ps. 139:13) It takes far more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in the God who created the evolutionist.”

  23. Charles,

    Admittedly I speak as an outsider, but I was very happy to see that the United Methodist Church recently voiced explicit support for evolution through their official endorsement of the Clergy Letter Project. So thank you, Methodists!

  24. The “fundies” seem to ignore a lot of history about how the Bible was selectively assembled out of various scriptures, and the fact that it has been seen to posit a geocentric universe, superiority of the white race, and of males, etc.

    It’s obvious that the Bible is the story of man’s evolving relationship with God or “God”, as you choose, and that the interpretation of it has been evolving since.

    We don’t think it all came about by chance, chemical reactions occur because the circumstance for the reaction exist, ditto nuclear, astrophysical, geological.
    Chance plays a part, but only the most extreme of the “predetermined destiny” claim that everything that happens is a matter of God’s conscious interference. If that’s true, why bother? Everything you do or don’t do is pre-ordained. So if you go off the wagon and start drinking again, that’s just God’s will. Why fight it?
    It’s so colossally stupid. We’ve got problems to solve. We don’t have time to waste on this crap.

    Finally, fundies and DTS have their opinions about God, I have my opinion. They’re entitled to their opinion, I’m entitled to my opinion. These are actually the total parameters of this discussion.

  25. Hmm, that’s funny; Ms. Glahn seems completely unaware of the stance toward evolution her organization takes.

  26. Just a few points of my own on what Ben says:

    1) The doctrine of “inerrancy” is one of the classic earmarks of Christian fundamentalism, as laid down by the Niagara Bible Conference in 1910, reiterated in later fundamentalist writings, and noted again by Marsden in his famous study of Christian fundamentalism. It is very hard to wear that tag and not be classified as fundamentalist. Since 1979, the Southern Baptists have been unable to escape that label, although they have tried and even begged. Given both the inerrancy and the dispensationalism, I would have to classify DTS as a Christian fundamentalist institution. I doubt that many would disagree with me. In my own mainline church environment and in the current political environment, the term “fundamentalist” is generally perceived as being a bad thing. However, at this point in our discussion, I am not ready to apply my far worse term Christian Neo-Fundamentalist to Sandra or DTS until I actually see some clear signs of it.

    2) The word “historical” in Ben’s quote from the DTS site is hard to get around. Upon reading that, I take it to mean that Genesis should be taken as a historically accurate narrative of literal events that actually did occur and a chronological recounting of the precise way in which they occurred.

    A friend of mine, who is a graduate of the Divinity School at Duke University, says that the Book of Genesis was not written by Moses because the Hebrew language is not archaic, as one would expect. Instead, it has the unique characteristics of the written Hebrew common during the reign of King David. He further indicated that legitimate Bible scholars believe that the contents of Genesis are actually collected oral folklore that had been passed down orally from one generation to the next from the time when the ancient Jews were hunter-gatherer bands and wandering nomads with herds. By David’s more settled time, some scribes became concerned that these important stories might be lost and decided to collect them and write them down on paper in some sensible format. Furthermore, the fact that Genesis contains two different stories of creation is a reflection of the view that there were two different oral folk tales about creation. Not knowing which was more correct, the scribe decided to be conservative and include both. Being an anthropologist, I can tell you that this is precisely what a modern ethnographer on a similar mission would do with folk tales.

    3) Ben will appreciate this, and Sandra will probably shudder—although she already knows this. The quote also says, “We believe that this divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings—historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical—as appeared in the original manuscripts [of the books in the Bible.” I have often said that faith in something like inerrancy does not have to be based upon any mere fact, and this is a prime example of it. Modern scholars do not have the “original manuscripts.” They no longer exist. No one knows precisely what they said or how they said it. We have older versions that go pretty far back in time, but not the original real McCoy’s from which the later versions came. Our friend here at TFN, the right Reverend Dr. Bruce Prescott, presents it as follows in his now famous Inerrancy Test and the related article (link on the test):

    DTS “…believes that the whole Bible in the originals is therefore without error.” Therefore, this is simply an article of faith that cannot be proven with the original manuscripts—and even then you might not be able to prove whether or not the content was correct. I think scientists would refer to it as a “nonempirically-based pronouncement.” However, since when was religious faith ever based on anything that necessarily made any conventional sense. Faith is an affair of the heart, and DTS was right and honest to use only the word “believes” in its pronouncement.

  27. Sandra:

    I visited this page:

    And I found these remarks by you:

    “Why use Gore’s film as a reference? Because he won the Nobel. And that means to engage the culture on this issue, we need to be conversant with what they’ve seen. I recommend watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for the same reason I’d recommend reading The Origin of Species to those who plan to egage with scientists who believe in evolution. Please don’t confuse my recommendation with an endorsement.”

    Seems pretty clear that you don’t “believe” in evolution. Why not come right out and say it here?

    It also seems that you don’t “believe” in global warming, but you won’t come right and say that, either. Or am I misunderstanding?

  28. Oh, dear. I had hoped for better.

    I have wondered what the scriptural basis is for “…and man-induced global warming could not actually be happening and would not pose any problems for life on Earth or human survival.” Because God…

    Can someone help me out on that one?

  29. Well, being an environmental scientist who has pretty much devoted most of his working life to tending the Garden of Eden, I would have to say that the following is probably my favorite green Bible verse:

    “The nations were angry, but your anger has come. The time has come for the dead to be judged: to reward your servants, the prophets, your holy people, and those who fear your name, no matter if they are important or unimportant, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)

    Clean coal anyone?

  30. I resent the stereotype that engineers aren’t “huggy” and are radical right-wing. My father was an electrical engineer, and you’d never meet a kinder, more compassionate person than he. Though he was nominally Republican, the Republican Party of today is very different from what it was in his time. I don’t think he’d recognize today’s GOP. I think he’d think: these people are FRUITCAKES!

    David, I like your logic: If it’s God’s will, why fight it? You can’t. A better point I couldn’t make.

    Expelled was rightfully expelled as bogus. To even call it junk science would be a compliment. Ben Stein, knowing what a hot topic this is, knew he could make a buck if he made a movie about it. End of story.

  31. That might be right about Ben Stein. If you sit down and listen to him talk for a while, he is an old style moderate Republican. Given his background and education, I just cannot see him doing the “Expelled” trip with any real seriousness. It’s like I say about the women who do colon health, laxative, etc. commercials on TV. Our favorite phrase here at the house is, “She must have to send money back home.”

  32. My brother’s an engineer and an evangelical. There’s no one more sincere, sensitive, compassionate, a great father. However, he bought into some rigid, narrow ideas, and they’re poison for his life. They keep his personal faith enslaved to this political definition of Christianity. That’s why this all matters to me.

  33. I’m sorry, but I don’t see this disconnect between Ben Stein and his belief in the “Expelled” whopper. His economic theories that have been printed have been notoriously wrong for a long time. So, other than a ‘game show’ where the answers to trivia made Stein look smart, he hasn’t really done anything to disabuse my estimate of him as an idiot.

  34. Perhaps I was trying to say that he doesn’t seem to be as mad or rabid as most of the rest. If it’s any consolation to you, he is not very funny, which is bad when you are supposed to be some sort of comedian.

  35. Watching Mr. Stein pushing Expelled on the 700 Club w/Pat Robertson, he does sound quite moderate and, in the calling for tax increases on the rich, darned near reasonable. But his crass dishonesty and willingness to be a huckster for those “credit advisor/consultants/consolidation experts” is apparent when he uses the populist ‘soak the rich’ remark to turn it into a suggestion that the “financial services industry” isn’t all crooks. ( Although the group he shilled for( does he still do those ads?) was found to be less than honest about their fees and/or the results of their services to lower/repair consumer’s credit.)

    This would be considered a small error in judgment if he’d stopped right there. Once the movie is mentioned, Ben Stein the moderate is swapped for Ben Stein-liar extraordinaire. To be wrong is one thing; To be an unapologetic tale-teller is detestable.

  36. I would still like to see the ID people’s fully detailed and articulated alternative body of science that better explains species origins and the nature of life on Earth. If evolution and all of those 19,000,000 peer-reviewed articles mentioned earlier are all wrong about evolution, then where is the different body of science that does explain it. Would the ID people please step forward and show all of this alternative scientific truth to someone? We think we are entitled to it.


    “You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that was created in just 6 days. And that creationism has to be guarded by men with small brains and guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Ben? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Charles Darwin and you curse the Discovery Institute. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Dover, while tragic, probably saved souls. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves souls…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that Panda’s Thumb. You need me on that Panda’s Thumb. We use words like wedge, weaknesses, and controversy…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very lunacy I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a crazy pill and take the same dose I did. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

  37. Even if one were to accept ID, there is no way of knowing whether the designer was a christian.
    And one could ask whether the designer was a product of evolution.
    More science please.

  38. The original TFN post was about the upcoming elections and sex education in our public schools. How did we end up talking about Darwin and evolution? I suspect Sandi Glahn first came here to talk sex education because this is a major area of interest in her own writings. Maybe we could switch over and talk about that for a while. I would be interested in what she and the rest of you have to say on that subject. I can say plenty because I have a teenage daughter in high school. Like a jump ball in basketball, please allow me to toss out a rarely engaged controversial subject about abstinence only sex education and abortion that you do not hear about much. That might be a good starting place for our discussions.

    Emile Durkheim was a famous French sociologist/anthropologist who first advanced the now universally accepted idea that human cultures have an “ideal,” which is a population’s shared valuation of how things in the culture “should be,” but there is always an underlying counterpoint theme that is divergent from the ideal. It describes “the way things really are” in the culture. The famous anthropologist Marvin Harris would go on to say that this underlying theme is the equilibrium adaptation that has developed because the ideal often deviates from what is practical and truly needed for adaptation to existing conditions in the natural and social environment. Therefore, this underlying theme may exist subliminally or subconsciously, meaning that most of the people in the culture have the “ideal” on their conscious minds while they are really doing something else subconsciously to be truly adaptive to a perceived problem or condition.

    I have often wondered whether “abstinence only” sex education is an ideal that has a much darker underlying adaptive theme. If a population practices really effective birth control, births and abortions would not be eliminated—but they would go way, way, way down. As shown by the statistics in Texas, “abstinence only” sex education may help some people, but it is associated with an unacceptably high teen pregnancy and birth rate, which is ironic and does not make much sense.

    This is where Marvin Harris would step in and say, “Well, maybe it doesn’t make much sense because there is a more important underlying adaptive theme that necessitates the continuation of “abstinence only” sex education and the fight against abortion.” As I have stated before at TFN Insider, my hypothesis is that “abstinence only” sex education and the elimination of abortion are adaptive precisely because they DO result in so many births. They provide barren white fundamentalist and evangelical couples with a steady and continuous flow of white children for adoption. Put another way, as I sometimes do for clarity and shock value, Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals outwardly despise the sin of fornication, but they are inwardly absolutely delighted with the living fruit it produces—and would like to keep the flow of adoptable white children steady and uninterrupted. As the famous science fiction novel says, “The spice must flow.!!!”

    Personally, I would like to see comprehensive sex education in our public schools and the widespread use of effective birth control methods to CHOKE OFF the need for unwanted births and abortions. The notion of a Christan fundamentalist or evangelical couple openly fighting against the sin of fornication while secretly hoping some white teenage girl will get pregnant so they can adopt her baby is in itself just as morally repugnant as the fornication and abortion.

  39. I think we all glommed onto the ID part of the original post as a way of avoiding the dicier sex issue.
    Personally, speaking from my personal experience, I’ve found prudery to be as perverse and destructive a response to our instinctive cravings as just about any “deviant” behavior.
    The little bit of study I’ve done in sociology involved functional analysis of social constructs, that is, of “manifest” functions (say, the prevention of drug addiction) and “latent” functions (the fact that the war on drugs exacerbates the problem).
    If we truly educate our children, then they can learn that sexual feelings are normal, not dirty, that it’s ok to cautiously and thoughtfully mature in our bodies, and not to abuse others or take advantage of them.
    Not nearly enough is made of male responsibility. The patriarchial, “football team” masculine culture seems to pay lip service to responsibility, but plays a lot of hypocrisy games in actual implementation.
    Your analysis of the hypocrisy surrounding abortion, etc. seems right on target.
    I think reducing abortions is an admirable goal, because it generally is rough on the female, emotionally. I don’t feel like I have the right to make her decision for her. The “creationist” discussion gets at the heart of whether “a soul” is created at the ‘moment of conception”. Even though I know better, it’s been rough on me, looking back as a middle aged man, along with the other occasions when I failed in my responsibility to my partner. We were so naive back then, about a lot of things, though, now there’s no excuse.
    We now know that it’s possible to grow into our adult sexuality and maturity in general without getting someone pregnant, passing on disease, scarring another for life, becoming addicted to sex, drugs or acohol, or any other stimulation of our “pleasure centers”. Life is never easy or perfect, or risk-free, but we’re not even coming close to using basic common sense to maintain our communities and our civilization.
    I don’t think scientists can determine answers to our moral questions. I think it’s entirely probable that amoral scientists will eventually abuse the science of genetics. I would be open to compromise with people of conventional religious faith on a culture that places individual human life and happiness above a “materialist” value system. However, it’s impossible to compromise with evangelicals because of their hypocrisy, for starters. The puppet masters behind their efforts are not really interested in the protection of humankind, only of certain privileged humans.