Some more Sarkar-Nelson

Attendees of the Sarkar-Nelson debate are speaking up at Pandagon and The Ethical Werewolf. As I expected, it sounds like it was a bit of a farce, and that Sarkar did a fine job.

I’m getting a little tired of making this concession every time I speak of him, so let’s get it over with. Paul Nelson is a nice guy. But—and this is a huge “but”—he’s peddling a falsified ideology as science, and he and his fellow travelers at the Discovery Institute are doing their best to screw up education in this country. I’m beginning to think that his only saving grace is that he’s so darned bad at it.

Ark inanity, yet again


Lots of people have been emailing me with this story of yet another Ark expedition. It’s a routine lunacy that comes up all the time—probably the most irritating part of it all is the way MSNBC filed it under their tech/science section. It’s nothing of the kind: it’s mere pareidolia, the product of a loon biased by a desire to confirm a silly story from the Bible, a misplaced myth that claims a big boat landed on Mt Ararat, and a willingness to stare at satellite photos of rock and ice formations until one convinces oneself that a piece looks like a big boat. It also helps if one is willing to draw the shape of a boat in big red crayon on top of the random rock formation.


I wrote about this before, with the same dismissive tone of disgust. These people are fools; this is practically a yearly ritual with a series of indistinguishable fundamentalist kooks trotting off to Turkey, wandering about cluelessly on some hills, and coming home with handwaving testimonials to sell to the faithful and raise more money to troop off to the same sere brown mountains the next year.

Just read archy. He summarizes the whole crazy nonsense well enough. The ark story is one of those things that is so painfully stupid that it makes me lose all hope in humanity.

I survived!

Notice: I made it back! Yesterday was one of those days where too much is crammed into too short a time. I taught my 8:00 class, slalomed down icy roads to St. Cloud State University, gave two talks (an afternoon talk on my work on ethanol teratogenesis to the biology department, an evening philosophy colloquium on Intelligent Design), zoomed home (the roads had thawed, to my relief) and collapsed into bed at 11:30.

Anyway, it was all good fun, and there was a surprisingly large crowd at the ID talk…and they asked some pretty sharp questions. I’d do it all again. Ummm, but maybe after I’ve had a little time to recover—I’m still feeling a little baggy-eyed and leaden-brained this morning.

Left or right, religion and politics don’t mix

The thin-skinned Religious Left whimpers some more. What is it with Kevin Drum and his constant sucking up to the delusional fantasist wing of the Democratic party? Usually it’s Amy Sullivan, but this time it’s Steve Waldman who gets to be the representative pantywaist for poor oppressed Christianity. He wants to claim that liberals are hostile to evangelicals.

I had been making a narrower point—that many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians. Lerner’s indictment is far more sweeping. Is he being unfair? I think a distinction should be made between the elites and the rank and file on this. The fact is that most Democrats are religious. But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party’s image and approach.

Yes, I’m hostile to evangelical Christianity, and I think it is a blight upon the earth. However, take a look at that last sentence.

These “secular liberals”, like me, voted for John Kerry. We rejected his faith, but that was no obstacle to voting for him. Waldman’s own statistics tell us that these people he opposes are tolerant enough and open-minded enough that they had no problem voting for someone who professed his Christianity throughout his campaign. Obviously, this isn’t a problem.

I’d like to know how well Mr Waldman’s preferred voting bloc would favor an atheist candidate for president. How about an agnostic? How about someone who insisted his religion was not going to be an issue, refused to discuss it, and said he was going to represent all Americans without regard to their faith?

I think I know the answer to that: the Waldmans and Sullivans would rend their garments and weep and condemn the candidate. They’d stay away from the polls or they’d abandon the party and vote Republican. They are currently in the majority and they know their religion has an unshakeable lock on representation by our candidates, and still they whine about those “secular liberals”—it’s hard to imagine how frantic they’d be if we “secular liberals” were actually represented by our party. And that is a real problem.

We campaign for and vote for Christian candidates, so I’m not at all sure what more these lunatics want from us. Are we supposed to bow down and convert and tithe, or would it be enough to merely acknowledge the superiority of their Lord Jesus Christ and look sorrowful about having to go to hell?

Waldman also wants to know the roots of our hostility towards “religion and spirituality”. That one is easy: it’s because guessing games, revealed knowledge, irrational prejudice, inappropriate traditions, and unthinking obedience to dogma are not sensible ways to run a country, especially not one with a plurality of religious beliefs. That is the real stumbling block here, not that a minority of the Democratic party demands a rational foundation for our policies.

Boy, whenever Drum serves up a concentrated load of Sullivan and Waldman, it makes me wonder why I bother reading Washington Monthly. I may have to give up.

(Digby also rips into these pious crybabies—I approve completely.)

Gone questin’


Alas, my mandate for today also includes traveling to St. Cloud State University to give two talks, one to the biology department in the afternoon and another to the philosophy department this evening. It looks like I get to be driving through the tail end of a snowstorm today, too.

It may be a little quiet here today. I haven’t forgotten everyone, I’m just going to be excessively busy.