Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Draft of a press release for ACA

On December 20, 2005, judge John E. Jones III issued a 139 page ruling on the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, stating that a rule requiring teachers to present Intelligent Design (ID) as a scientific alternative to evolution is unconstitutional. In Judge Jones' own words:
After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.
We in the Atheist Community of Austin applaud this ruling. We have been saying for many years that Intelligent Design is not science, but merely biblical creationism dressed up with the trappings of science.

Since the introduction of the Wedge Strategy in 1990's, it has been embarassingly clear that Intelligent Design is a front for a group of individuals whose ultimate goal is to undermine scientific knowledge and shoehorn religion into public schools. They have done no original research, produced no scientific results, and accomplished little more than a massive and relentless public relations campaign for their ideas. Their strategy has been to repeatedly infiltrate school districts in individual towns across the country, instituting changes in local education standards, in the hopes that ID might eventually receive a facade of credibility if they win enough political battles.

Our home city of Austin received a taste of this campaign in 2003, when the neo-creationist road show came to Texas to demand that misleading statements about evolution be added to the state's textbooks. In that instance, as in this one, they were resoundingly defeated.

Unless Judge Jones' ruling is appealed, it will only directly affect Pennsylvania school districts. However, because the ruling is so thorough, it will likely serve as a legal template for any future decisions on the topic of ID in schools. Judge Jones minced no words regarding the scientific uselessness of Intelligent Design, also stating:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
The issue of creationism affects education throughout the country. It is not a matter of atheists against Christians. It is a matter of good science, backed by decades of evidence, against a nonscientific political crusade. It is about religion masquerading as science, trying to sidestep the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state that exists in this country. This week, a major blow was struck against this agenda.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005


This post I wrote was deemed (by ongoing vote) the number one best post on the Motley Fool message board system for about four hours yesterday.

The discussion was about a college professor who had ridiculed creationism in private email. Another poster wrote, "Mocking someone else's beliefs is just plain ugly".

I replied:

That is a load of bunk and I will now mock you for having this belief.

(Waggling my finger) Mock, mock, mock.

All beliefs are created equal, but some become harder and harder to maintain with a straight face over time. Anyone in the 21st century who believes, for instance, that the earth is flat, deserves all the ridicule they can be subjected to for this belief. I mock them now.

Mock, mock, mock.

Fundamentalist Muslims believe that women are the property of their husbands and fathers, that they should not be out in public without male escorts and veils, and that they must never speak their mind or contradict their men. For holding those beliefs, I mock fundamentalist Muslims.

Mock, mock, mock.

As recently as 50 years ago, a large number of people in certain areas of this very country believed that blacks were inferior human beings, and that they should not be allowed to sit at the same tables as white people or share the same drinking fountains, and if they tried to marry white women, they deserved to be lynched. Those people were jackasses, and I mock them.

Mock, mock, mock.

You can sit around and come up with rational arguments to use against cretins who believe the holocaust never happened. And you SHOULD be familiar with those arguments, if you want to be solid in the real facts. But at a certain point, you don't legitimize holocaust deniers by giving them equal time in history classes and giving students the opportunity to decide for themselves. You tell them what the best evidence of history points to, and you rightly say that holocaust deniers are morons who have no leg to stand on.

Mock, mock, mock.

Don't get me wrong, I hold that everyone's right to BELIEVE their own ridiculous ideas is sacred, or as close to "sacred" as an atheist can muster. But to tell me that I have no right to POINT OUT that their beliefs really are ridiculous is outrageous. Many ideas are not just stupid, they are downright harmful to a society and the innocent people who live there. And since I do not believe in censorship, the best way to effectively combat these beliefs is to mercilessly mock bad, outmoded, and wrongheaded ideas every chance I get.

Mock, mock, mock.

It is not only GOOD to mock obviously bad ideas for being bad. I argue that it is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT to shoot them down whenever possible. Otherwise, ideas that are completely unreasonable start to sound reasonable to an uneducated populace who never learned how to tell the difference between fact and opinion. And the folks who cynically take advantage of other people's bad education to hoodwink them into believing things, so they can steal their money and commandeer their lives, are the lowest scum of the earth. They should be exposed. And then mocked.

Mock, mock, mock.