If you’re interested only in history and education, and if you think there is no overlap between the people who try to censor biology textbooks and those who try to “reform” history books, you may go to the next post and skip this one.
Quote accuracy is a big deal to me. When creationists can’t look you square in the eye and tell the truth about what another human being said, they lose my confidence, and their arguments lose credence. I think all scholars and policy discussants have an obligation to readers, policy makers, and the future, to try to get right quotations of famous people. I think this responsbility is particularly important in health and science issues. It was in the vein of checking out the accuracy and veracity of quotes from creationist publications some (okay — many) years ago for a minor issue Congress was dealing with that I discovered the depths of depravity to which creationists stoop to try to make their case that creationism is science and should be taught in public school science classes — or that evolution is evil, and shouldn’t be taught at all. Famous writings of great men like Charles Darwin regularly undergo a savage editor’s knife to make it appear he wrote things quite contrary to what he wrote with regard to science and evolution, or to make it appear that Darwin was a cruel or evil man — of which he was quite the opposite.
With the great benefit of having the Library of Congress across the street, I would occasionally track down obscure sources of “quotes” from scientists, only to discover in almost every case where creationists claimed science was evil, or wrong, that the creationist tracts had grotesquely distorted the text they cited. It was as if the creationist authors had been infected with a virus that made them utterly incapable of telling the truth on certain things.
Over the years I have observed that dedicated creationists tend to lose the ability to tell when they have stepped over the line in editing a quotation, and have instead changed the meaning of a quotation to fit their own ends. This the inherent dishonesty of creationism. It affects — it infects — almost all creationists to one degree or another. Many creationists seem to be under the influence of a virus that renders them incapable of telling a straight story about science, or Darwin.
I ran into a raging case recently. It would be amusing if not for the fact that the creationist seems to be an otherwise rational person.
WordPress’s “tags” feature collects blog posts that have the same tag as some I’ve used; nominally, of course, the tags would be on the same topic. 4Simpsons blog showed up in my tags collection when I discussed the melodramatic program Coral Ridge Ministries produced, claiming Hitler’s driving philosophy was from Darwin. (That is a dubious claim that ignores European history, economics, and the fact that Darwin opposed in his life all forms of tyranny — but that’s rather the point: Creationists don’t let the facts get in the way of a pulpit pounding exposition. Even when the claims are silly, they get treated with utmost regard.)
4Simpsons chief author is a fellow from Houston, Neil Simpson. I gather he is a member of a Houston Methodist congregation, and he appears to be kind of guy you like to have as a neighbor. He plays guitar, appears to spend a lot of money, and he does civic work, like flying to Africa to build houses for orphans.
But on creationism, he leaves reason and charity behind.
I had commented on a couple of posts, and then got engaged in a several-posts long discussion of several things. And he rather abruptly announced our discussion was going nowhere, and cut out my last response in one thread. Rather rude, I thought — but it’s his blog. (Earlier he complained when I pointed out that Stalin was anti-Darwin, taking a similar position to Simpson — in the creationism looking glass, it’s expected that they can draw specious connections between science and evil, but it’s “unfair” and “ad hominem” to point out that creationism’s ties are stronger.)
Simpson laid out a set of
demands requests for what he wants “Darwinists” to do, a list that I found unreasonably, fanatical, and wrong. I left two posts with comments on small parts of his rant (so many errors, so few electrons). Both of my posts disappeared.
You can go read the thread. Here are the two most recent posts that got cut.
About 7:00 p.m. CDT, September 15:
You want scientists to stop demonizing religious people?
Here in America, for three weeks last month, we were deluged with D. James Kennedy’s bizarre, demonizng sermons claiming that there is a direct line from Darwin to Hitler.
I have no problem failing to “demonize” creationists. They tend to do that themselves. I do have problems with campaigns like Kennedy’s which is filled with links that stretch logic past the breaking point, and false claims that any high school journalist can easily debunk.
And then, if I point out that the man told what would be considered a lie to most normal people, inevitably someone will claim I’m “demonizing” him. I’m only pointing where the demons are.
We do acknowledge the Piltdown hoax, and the Haeckel hoax. Scientists discovered the hoaxes. Now, will you acknowledge the hoax that says Piltdown misled science (few, if anyone, ever granted much credence to it), and that says evolution is wrong because of Haeckel’s drawings (his point was overstated, but now we have photos, which verify the evolution point)?
And, I’m still waiting for anyone on the creationist side to acknowledge the many new hoaxes of Dr. Jonathan Wells. His mis-citations of moth studies, to pick one egregious chapter in one of his books, would be enough to lead to academic suspension for students at many good colleges. They are dishonest, things that embarrass me as a Christian (and there’s some question whether Wells, as a Moonie, should be counted among us).
And then there is the hoax about no fossil evidence . . .
Oh, yeah, I think I begin to see the problem here.
And, when I reread Simpson’s complaints about First Amendment claims and the Cobb County Textbook Massacre, I wished I had included something there, so I said:
September 15th, 2006 at 7:08 pm
Am I on a roll?
I’d love to hear creationists stop claiming to be First Amendment specialists when they have difficulty with the separation of church and state. The Cobb County case is pretty clean, it seems to me — 2,000 people petitioned to put Jesus in the biology books, and they got caught.
Creationism has no science behind it. That was the testimony of the creationists in the Arkansas trial, and again, recently, in Pennsylvania. Consequently, it doesn’t belong in science texts as science. The First Amendment protects our right to believe things that cannot be demonstrated. It creates no right to insist others believe that way, or that students be instructed incorrectly.
The Cobb County stickers carry improper, inaccurate instruction. They run afoul of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and should be banned.
I guess it was too much of a roll for Simpson.
Dear Reader: Is my post so offensive? Or, do you suspect, as I do, that this guy is wrong, and overly sensitive about his position?
In the internet world we have regular ravings of anti-Darwinists in places like the blog known as Uncommon Descent, perhaps the leading blog of intelligent design fans. The keepers of that blog find it “clever beyond measure” to ban people from posting there, generally those who do not toe the intelligent design party line, especially scientists or anyone else who may know a thing or two about evolution. As in Stalin’s Soviet Union, the place can be treacherous because the party line may change from day to day, and no one can really predict how, why or when. The blog steps all over itself in comments, editing comments to please the poobahs, or just deleting any comments that make a cogent case against ID, or in favor of evolution.
Consequently, Uncommon Descent unintentionally provides amusement to scientists and groups of people who study evolution. Few days go by that at least one howler does not occur at Uncommon Descent, where people well out of their depth say luidicrous things about nature, about science, or about each other. The blog has had a rough year, too — the crushing decision against creationism in the Pennsylvania trial was at least partially to blame on the blog’s major boss, William Dembski (he had agreed to be an expert witness, then backed out mysteriously, and with rancor).
If one is amused by that sort of thing, 4Simpsons is another blog for your amusement.