CMI: Darwin Day is Unconstitutional!


Creation Ministries International, like most Christian right groups, has a rather bizarre conception of what the First Amendment means. In the delusional world they inhabit, it’s not a violation of the Establishment Clause to teach their religion in public schools, but it is a violation for Congress to commemorate the achievements of Charles Darwin. Rep. Rush Holt is sponsoring a Congressional resolution to honor Darwin Day, which has no chance of passing, and CMI is throwing a tantrum over it.

Why are the atheists asking the government to endorse something that is so blatantly wrong and obviously a bait and switch tactic? What’s at stake? There are only two views of how the universe, the world and you and I came to be. Either it was created or it evolved. This is a philosophical debate—ultimately, it’s not really about the science. The constitution calls for the state not to be involved in the establishment of any religion—yet a mandated religious view is being proposed.

They need to Google “non sequitur.”

Is evolution really ‘scientific’? Most people don’t realize that interpretations of the past are clearly determined by our belief system. ‘Science’, as most people understand the phrase, can only deal with interpreting ‘facts’ that we observe in the present. Those facts are then filtered through one’s preexisting belief system or worldview about the past. And in many cases, the proposed mechanisms that supposedly occurred in the past are not actually observed to be happening today. How can this be science, which most understand to be the observable, repeatable and testable scientific method? Even the world’s leading Darwinian evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, said:

“Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”[ii]

That’s not science!

Yes, actually, it is. This is a standard creationist tactic of defining science in this absurdly narrow way. By that “reasoning,” we could not convict anyone of a crime on the basis of DNA evidence, fingerprints or any number of other forms of forensic science. I guess we’d better empty the prisons, eh?

Oh, and of course Nazis! Eugenics! Stalin! *yawn*

Comments

  1. says

    ‘Science’, as most people understand the phrase, can only deal with interpreting ‘facts’ that we observe in the present. Those facts are then filtered through one’s preexisting belief system or worldview about the past. And in many cases, the proposed mechanisms that supposedly occurred in the past are not actually observed to be happening today.

    This is a paragraph-length version of “WERE YOU THERE?!

    And, it’s just as intellectually dishonest and stupid. Why? Because christians believe in something that happened when they weren’t there to observe it and they are establishing their belief systems on second-to-the-Nth-hand accounts.

  2. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    They need to Google “non sequitur.”

    Apprently they also need to Google “religion”.

    The constitution calls for the state not to be involved in the establishment of any religion—yet a mandated religious view is being proposed.

    *sigh*

  3. dugglebogey says

    They are arguing epistemology. “How can we know anything?”

    When someone feeds me this bullshit I always answer.

    “Can you prove to me that god didn’t create you five minutes and just created everything exactly how it is and implanted your memories to make you think you’ve been alive for many years?”

    Of course you can’t prove it. But you know it’s not true.

  4. says

    They are arguing epistemology. “How can we know anything?”

    Yes, which is death ground for religionists. All of their claims of knowledge are based on, what, a 2000 year-old book? Some guy said he saw a burning bush that talked to him. Holy shit! Anyone with such a load of unsupported crap as religion is inviting mayhem when they start attacking someone else’s basis for knowledge – it’s brilliant strategy. Like fighting a land war in Asia.

  5. shouldbeworking says

    According toSection 8 in the secret Articles of the Constituition, Congress is prohibited from honouring any foreigner!

  6. doublereed says

    So if you walked around with a big black-blue spot over your eye, that wouldn’t be evidence that I just punched you in the face, right?

  7. raven says

    Most people don’t realize that interpretations of the past are clearly determined by our belief system.

    So much wrong here, it is hard to know where to start.

    1. This is the common worldview schtick. There are two worldviews, the bible and science.

    It’s incredibly wrong. There aren’t two worldviews. There are thousands, millions, billions. One could say that each person has their own personal worldview.

    2. This is Solipsism. Reality is whatever we think it is. It is also wrong. Most educated adults interpret the past using the vast amount of data that humans have gathered over the centuries and logic and common sense.

  8. Chiroptera says

    You know, if your religion has you believing “facts” that are incorrect, then it is not persecution to inform you that you are wrong. Nor is it a violation of anyone’s religious freedom if the government were to celebrate the person who first figured out that the earth isn’t really a flat disc being held up by elephants.

    Marcus Ranum, #5: All of their claims of knowledge are based on, what, a 2000 year-old book?

    It’s more insidious than that. They believe that their beliefs are special because god magically makes them know the truth. Combine this with presuppositional apologetics, and the density of impenetrable stupid causes space-time itself to break down.

  9. raven says

    Another common lie of fundie xian creationists.

    They equate science and especially evolution with atheism. And claim all scientists are atheists (it is about half, not much different than the general population).

    1. Science and evolution have absolutely nothing to do with religion. Evolution is a scientific theory that explains how life changes through time. Evolution the fact is that life has and does change through time.

    2. Some other subjects that have nothing to do with religion. Plumbing, astronomy, knitting, auto mechanics, gardening, chemistry, paleontology, etc..

  10. TxSkeptic says

    This can be very dangerous boomerang logic for them:

    “And in many cases, the proposed mechanisms that supposedly occurred in the past are not actually observed to be happening today.”

    And in the specific case of everything in the whole bible which “occurred in the past are not actually observed to be happening today.”

  11. John Pieret says

    The constitution calls for the state not to be involved in the establishment of any religion—yet a mandated religious view is being proposed.

    You mean like the religious view that prayer is effective and valuable? There goes all those National Day of Prayer proclamations!

  12. raven says

    Richard Dawkins, said:

    “Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”[ii]

    They quote mined Dawkins here. Or lied, that being a main sacrament of fundies.

    It’s also not true, something I’m sure Dawkins knows. We see evolution all around us happening in real time. New emerging diseases, new flu epidemics, rising antibiotic resistance, much of the world wheat crop is threatened by a newly evolved stem rust, etc.

    Below is one all too common example of evolution that we’ve all seen.

    2. One of the most common evolution events we see is…cancer. Cancer is a Darwinian disease. Cells lose growth control, become immortal, evade immune surveillance, metastasize, become resistant to chemo, radiation, biologicals.

    It’s a long pathway. We can compare the host progenitor with the end stage cancer cells by DNA sequencing. Typically there are around 100 different mutations, maybe 10 or 15 of which are causal to the cancer cell phenotype.

    This is evolution, somatic cell evolution, in real time. It’s common enough that 2.3 billion of the 7 billion people alive to day will die of it.

    There are some things that have happened that we really haven’t observed in real time. Ice ages, mountains rising, continents colliding. redwoods growing 300 feet high, pools of oil forming in rock. Some common events happen on the time scales of thousands or millions of years and humans only live about a century at best.

  13. dingojack says

    “There are only two views of how the universe, the world and you and I came to be. Either it was created or it evolved. ”

    And I’m assuming you are preposing the former, that god created the universe (and everything in it). How do you know, were you there?!?.

    Shit, you’d think this level of sheer idiocy would have died out by now, if only based on it’s ineffectiveness as an argument in supposedly conversations by and to ‘adults’.

    Dingo

  14. John Pieret says

    dingo:

    And I’m assuming you are preposing the former, that god created the universe (and everything in it). How do you know, were you there?!?

    They have an “answer” for that, they have the inspiered Word of God and God was there. Of course, there weren’t there to see God supposedly inspire the people who wrote down the Bible but that doesn’t seem to bother them much.

  15. Sastra says

    “Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”

    Depends on what you mean by “evolution” and “happening.” Every process in the theory of evolution is one which we can see today. Scientists are not inventing a lot of hitherto unknown occult forces which suddenly came into play only in the past, when one species magically turned into another. That’s what creationists think happened.

    Philosopher Stephen Law uses the term “Going Nuclear” to describe the attempt to avoid providing evidence and argument by “blowing up the world” — denying the possibility of knowing anything at all about anything at all. In other words, you introduce radical skepticism and hope it either changes the argument or places all views on the same undifferentiated level of empirical mud — an earthly disaster area which God/Spirit allows them to soar above freely. Special ways of Knowing! Liberation from the rational rubble!

    It’s a useful phrase because it conjures up a vivid picture. When pseudoscientists with a religious or spiritual agenda are brought into contact with their lack of scientific rigor, they often Go Nuclear.

  16. iknklast says

    There are only two views of how the universe, the world and you and I came to be. Either it was created or it evolved.

    Perhaps if you define view in that extremely broad way – creation – I suppose you might make this argument. No, wait, there are many views about how the world came into existence! Most of the creation stories are more interesting and more imaginative than the Abrahamic religions. This guy is only interested in that particular view, though. Creation by separating yin and yang? What about Vishnu? Or turtles all the way down?

    The one fact that stands out blatantly in all this, though, is that out of all those views of how the world came into being, only one has actually been supported by evidence. That’s the one we should teach.

  17. raven says

    They have an “answer” for that, they have the inspiered Word of God and God was there. Of course, there weren’t there to see God supposedly inspire the people who wrote down the Bible but that doesn’t seem to bother them much.

    It can.

    How do you know jesus even existed. Were you there?

    Fundie: We have eyewitness acounts in the bible.

    At this point they have lost.

    The gospels were written decades after the supposed event by anonymous authors who weren’t eyewitnesses. They could have just made it all up. And the NT is known to be mostly fiction. Around a third of its books are known forgeries.

  18. Michael Heath says

    Creationist Ministries writes:

    Even the world’s leading Darwinian evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, said:
    “Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”[ii]
    That’s not science!

    Richard Dawkins’ book, The Greatest Show on Earth dedicates an entire chapter to direct observations of evolution. That chapter is aptly titled, “Before our very eyes”. One of the finding is the guppy experiments: Reznick, D. N.; F. H. Shaw, F. H. Rodd, and R. G. Shaw (1997). “Evaluation of the rate of evolution in natural populations of guppies (Poecilia reticulata)”. Science 275 (5308): 1934–1937. doi:10.1126/science.275.5308.1934. PMID 9072971.

  19. jnorris says

    Creation Ministries International, like most Christian right groups, has a rather bizarre conception of what the First Amendment means.

    The First Amendment is on a long list of things Christians do not understand and are not allowed to learn about. Science is also on that list.

  20. Wylann says

    ” There are only two views of how the universe, the world and you and I came to be. “

    And the blithering idiot is wrong right out of the gate. Amusingly, there’s a single (pretty) coherent scientific view, but there are lots of the creation views, even within the xian belief system. So this is a really bad argument for them to go down. I’m assuming this moron is a typical YEC?

  21. cjcolucci says

    “WERE YOU THERE?”

    For future reference, yes, I was.

    What, you don’t believe me? Why not? Were YOU there?”

  22. naturalcynic says

    @raven 10:

    1. Science and evolution have absolutely nothing to do with religion. Evolution is a scientific theory that explains how life changes through time. Evolution the fact is that life has and does change through time.

    Evolution is a good paradigm for the explanation of the history of religions. Substitute changes in meme frequency over time for changes in allele frequency over time. One can plot major speciation events around and the years following 30 CE in Judea, 325 CE in Nicea, 451 CE at Chalcedon, 622 CE in the Hejaz, 680 CE at Kargala, 1054 at Constantinople, around 1517=1520 in Wittenburg and other towns in Germany, 1530 in Geneva, 1533 in London, etc. etc.Following these upheavals, memetic drift makes these religions more distinct.

  23. kangxi says

    @cjcolucci:

    “WERE YOU THERE?”

    For future reference, yes, I was.

    What, you don’t believe me? Why not? Were YOU there?”

    Actually, I think this is a pretty interesting argument. You made a statement that is a bald assertion (“I was there”). The other party thinks this is a ridiculous statement, but to rebut it they have to make a hypothesis (that you’re wrong), observe available evidence (their knowledge that they know of no instance where people have lived past1000 – if they’re a biblical literalist & believe in Methuselah), and make an inference (all people die). By walking the other party through the process they’ve just done to arrive at their rebuttal you’re showing them that they’ve just followed the scientific process in miniature. Voila! You’ve switched the argument to a different track: how scientists do their work. Then light the blue touchpaper (ie point them to talk.origins), retire to a safe distance and wait for the explosion.

    Or maybe not. But we can hope…

  24. colnago80 says

    Imagine the rise in blood pressure amongst the fundies if it were proposed to declare Dec. 25 Isaac Newton Day.

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