Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Kwanzaa

From Erik Erickson:

Kwanzaa: The Scientology of Holidays 
What do you get when you take a bad science fiction writer with a desire for immortality and add a lust for tax breaks? Scientology. What do you get when you take a neo-marxist felon and add a desire for black nationalism? Kwanzaa. What do both Kwanzaa and Scientology have in common? They are products of post-modern culture given legitimacy by a press hell bent on diminishing the Judeo-Christian heritage in the United States. 
Over the next few weeks, the media will be profiling families celebrating Kwanzaa — advent wreath lighters are too religious for media profiles. 
Kwanzaa has absolutely nothing to do with Africa and everything to do with hating the United States.
So where did Kwanzaa come from?
Kwanzaa has absolutely nothing to do with Africa and everything to do with hating the United States. Kwanzaa is the brain child of Ron Everett, who you will not be surprised to learn, chaired the African American Studies department of California State University, Long Beach, from 1989 to 2002. Some time before that, he spent several years in jail for torture, changed his name to Maulana Ron Karenga, put on a dashiki, embraced marxism, and declared Kwanzaa a real holiday. 
In 1971, a California jury convicted Karenga of assaulting and torturing two women. A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times documented the torture: “Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Ms. Davis’s mouth and placed against Ms. Davis’s face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said.” 
Being California, the state released Mr. Karenga in 1975, then promptly admitted him to public universities so he could become Dr. Ron Karenga. In 1977, Karenga outlined the principles of Kwanzaa and later noted, “People think it’s African, but it’s not. I came up with Kwanzaa because black people wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of Bloods were partying.” Karenga went on to call Christ “psychotic” and declared Christianity a “white religion.” Apparently, the media agreed. 
As the late Tony Snow once commented, “There is no part of Kwanzaa that is not fraudulent.”
The more I see of this bizarre world, the more convinced I am that cultural shifts and conflicts are fundamentally a conflict between Christianity-- in its explicit and implicit forms-- and all the ideologies and people who hate Christianity. The idea that Kwanzaa-- a fake "holiday" nobody celebrates that was fabricated by a convicted torturer and certified nutjob who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a university let alone be faculty-- is culturally sanctioned and even celebrated in schools is simply a dollop of spit aimed at Christmas and Christianity.

The same can be said for liberals' bizarre embrace of Islam, which is as illiberal a religion as can be imagined-- except that it is anti-Christian, which is the cynosure of the liberal enterprise, beginning with Diderot and ending... with twerking or whatever.

Kwanzaa is a racist rite, bizarrely lent credence by our rapidly rotting pop culture-- a culture that is basically defined by all that is not Christian. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

What the MSM didn't tell you about the ship stuck in the Antarctic ice

The [ice-bound] expedition is being led by Chris Turney, “climate scientist”, who has “set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.” The purpose of the expedition is “to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.”
Funny how the real nature of this "research" expedition never gets mentioned in the MSM. These global warming loons set out on a little propaganda pilgrimage and got trapped by reality, in this side-splitting-ly funny irony.

They went to Antarctica in the middle of summer to gin up propaganda for global warming, and got stuck in ice.

Gaia, it seems, has a sense of humor.

Please pray for their safe rescue.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

'What do IDiots believe?'

Larry Moran:
What do Intelligent Design Creationists believe?

It's always difficult to pin down an intelligent design creationist. They demand detailed "naturalistic" explanations of everything before they will accept them but, on the other hand, they won't ever give you their explanation. For example, we know they have doubts about the evolution of bacterial flagella but have you ever heard them describe theirhypothesis? Like who made the first flagellum? When? Why? 
It's also difficult to tell the difference between the various creationist cults. Clearly there are Young Earth Creationists who support the Intelligent Design Creationist movement but sometimes the IDiots say that YEC is inconsistent with Intelligent Design Creationism. Isn't that strange?

Most IDiots define their movement in very broad terms but they get really upset with Theistic Evolution Creationists. Apparently, you can't believe in theistic evolution and still be an IDiot. Who knew?
Moran quotes my friend Granville Sewell, a mathematician who has (correctly) argued for years that the Second Law of Thermodynamics precludes the emergence of complex organisms without intelligent agency.

I.D. advocates are an eclectic bunch. I certainly can't speak for anyone but me, but my sense of things is that most I.D. folks accept an old earth and some changes in living things over time. Some of us accept common ancestry, some doubt it. Many of us take a 'theistic evolution' stance, accepting much of evolutionary theory but asserting that God's design is evident. Others (I, for one) see evolution in Thomist terms, understanding change in living things over time as teleology.

What links all of us is our assertion that intelligent agency is discernible in some aspect of biological structure, function, and evolution. Those who invoke Bill Dembski's Explanatory Filter assert that design is the most reasonable inference for some, but not necessarily all, of biology. Those of us who see things from a Thomist viewpoint see design as an analogical inference to God's agency in secondary causation in all of nature, working through material, efficient, formal and final causes.

But Larry Moran doesn't know or care about any of that. He's not a man of nuance.

For the record, I do not "believe" that " ... a few fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the basic particles of physics into Apple iPhones." I think it's the most reasonable explanation. I don't know of any other explanation that is supported by evidence.
Larry thinks that the scientific evidence supports the view that the known laws of physics, without any additional input from intelligent agency, entirely explain human beings and Apple iPhones.

In any context other than that of an atheist scientist writing on a blog, such a viewpoint would properly be classified as insanity.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

In which I enter Jerry Coyne's "Make your own atheist billboard" contest...

Jerry Coyne is running a "Make your own atheist billboard" contest.

First prize is an autographed copy of Why Evolution is True (presumably second prize is two autographed copies).

Several people have griped about the in-your-face and not-useful nature of the American Atheists billboard in Times Square... I agree that it’s not well done, though I think it’s better to have some public display of atheism than none. But that one could have been much better. 
So, I suggest that you submit your atheist slogan for a billboard below (you can also suggest layouts, illustrations, etc.). Maybe the FFRF could use some help with their billboards! If there’s a really good one, I’ll send the commenter an autographed copy of WEIT. 
I liked one reader’s suggestion that the best billboards will awaken the somnolent doubts of believers, and maybe put them over the tipping point of doubt.
Here's Jerry's poster:

Here's my entry:

Friday, December 27, 2013

The only kind of gun control that works

From the Christian Science Monitor:
As they investigate the latest school shooting in the United States – Friday at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. – one thing is clear to law enforcement officials there: The presence of an armed deputy sheriff on regular duty at the school was the key factor in preventing more deaths and injuries. 
As soon as he heard the first of five gunshots, that officer and the two school administrators he was talking to raced toward the commotion shouting their presence and ordering students and staff to follow the school’s lock-down protocol. 
As a result, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a briefing Saturday afternoon, the heavily-armed shooter realized he was about to be confronted by an armed officer, and he took his own life. 
“We believe that that action was absolutely critical to the fact that we didn’t have more deaths and injuries,” Sheriff Robinson said. The whole episode – from the time the shooter entered the school until he shot himself – lasted just one minute and 20 seconds. 
In the years following the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., the public and school officials have debated whether it’s right to turn schools into what some critics call “armed camps.” Arapahoe High School with its 2,229 students and 70 classrooms is an open campus with no metal detectors, although it does have that armed deputy on duty every day classes are in session.
 Of course, Colorado's new post-Newtown gun laws were worthless.

This socialist murderer (the 17 year old girl has died) took his own cowardly life ninety seconds after entering the school, because and only because he knew a good guy with a gun was running down the hall toward him. A single armed officer in the school obviously saved many lives, without even firing a shot.

Imagine how Newtown would have been different if an armed guard had run down the hall toward Lanza seconds after he shot his way into the building. It makes me sick to think of all those kids being killed because of liberals' idiot "gun-free zones".

Face it: gun-grabbers kill people. They impose worthless moral-preening policies that are a mass-killers' best friend.

The only gun control that works-- and it really works-- is when a good guy controls a gun. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Davos Man

From Jerry Bower in Forbes, on 'Davos Man':
A Christian Alternative To 'Davos Man' And The Federal Reserve 
[The World Economic Forum in] Davos. That’s not my phrase; Davos Man is something in the financial press, some of the columnists in the Financial Times refer to Davos Man. What is Davos Man? Well, there’s Cro-Magnon man; there’s Neanderthal man; there’s Homo sapiens, that’s you and that’s me — that’s ‘wise man’; and then there’s Davos Man, the next stage in human evolution. 
Davos Man (it’s almost always man except for a few token women) has gone to a highly prestigious university, is extremely influential, and is extremely powerful. They do not think of themselves as part of the human race; they are above the human race. C.S. Lewis writes about them in The Abolition of Man, that wonderful essay, or…his novel That Hideous Strength. National identity is really no longer a factor for them. They’re almost like virgin births: They’ve come out of something but now they’ve left it behind, no matter what their humble circumstances. They now will save the world… If only you will obey them. If you will give them power, if you will leave religion, and the traditional moral code, and nationhood, and family, and neighborhood, and entrepreneurship behind and embrace the future, the Eurozone future of a constitution that’s [tens of thousands of] words long and cannot find one sentence to acknowledge the influence of Christianity in the formation of Europe. The post-moral, post-religious, post-national, post-modern man will save you.
Davos Man is a theanthropos, he is a god-man, he is the new man of human evolution. Embrace him — obey him– and you will be secure. And the world will be stable. And the markets will settle down. And you won’t have to be afraid about food, about what you shall eat or what you shall drink or what you shall wear. You won’t have to worry about those things anymore; there’s a welfare state for those things and you can just be the cog in the great machine of humanity, which has no reference to anything outside of itself, and you’ll finally have peace, [have] shalom under Davos Man. Of course, it’s all bunk. The new man is Christ. He is the theanthropos, the God-man; He is the next stage in human evolution, not in the sense that He evolves through randomness, but in the sense that He is the advancement on Adam. Adam’s the first man; he failed, he is of the earth, earthy. Christ is the heavenly man, the God-man. He succeeded. He is of the heavens, He is heavenly. He is the new man, and so everybody incorporated into Him is the new man. By man – ‘anthropos’ in Greek [I mean] ‘human’ — not ‘Andros’, not masculine. So there’s neither Jew nor Greek, Chinese nor Western, white nor black, male nor female in the new man, who is Christ. So who’s the real new man? It’s the Christian. 
The Christian has no illusions that we’re going to save the world through economic power. We know that the world doesn’t need us to save it, because it’s already been saved. All we have to do is act like it’s already been saved — we don’t have to save it. If you try to save it, you’ll destroy it. All we have to do is walk as though it’s already been saved. 
Why am I here, why did I come? I came here because Davos Man is failing as he has never failed before in my lifetime. The more power they have, the more decisions they make, the more Basel I’s or Basel II’s or new financial architectures, the more meetings they have in Jackson Hole, the more meetings they have in Davos, Switzerland, the more meetings they have of G-20s and G-10s, the more rules they impose, [then] the more chaotic financial markets become. If somebody tries to rule the world in place of God in the name of stability, they do not produce stability. They produce chaos. We are living in the age of financial chaos because we gave in to the men who said, “Treat me like a god and I will give you stability.”
Bower, remarkably, is optimistic:
So it’s a great moment in history. It’s a great time to be alive. I can’t think of any time in history – I’m at the end of something and I’m at the beginning of something. You and I stand at a hinge point in history. A friend of mine just started a university devoted to the study of the writings of St. Augustine, who was the theologian who was there at the fall of the Roman Empire. He said, “Jerry, we’ve already started the university but what do you think of the idea?” I said, “Great timing! Rome fell; a new civilization started; you’re at just the right point in time.” 
Europe is going and it’s going fast. Christendom that has become apostate is falling faster than any civilization in history and we get to see that. And then, we see the Gospel moving East. Now we see the revitalization of civilization from the East. Paul had a vision from the spirit: “Come West! Go to Macedonia,” and he followed and it was fruitful, and [then] they disobeyed and now they’re falling. Now the spirit says: “Okay, come East!” Why was the West such a great place for the Gospel to take hold? Not because it was great but because it was so terrible. It was broken. Why did it go through the Greek world? Why did the Gospel go through the Greek world? Because they had been destroyed, obliterated by the Romans. They were a culture in decline. Northern Europe, my former people, were the lowest of the low in global civilization – so why did the Gospel go through there? Not because God said ‘I want to choose the genetically best people in the world’. He went to loser land. 
Socialism is a catastrophe. Capitalism works, more or less. It is a remarkable generator of wealth. But, as Pope Francis has been pointing out, capitalism has its evils, and in some ways the evils may pose more of a danger to us than socialism does.

No one who lives under the boot of socialism-- national or international socialism-- ultimately has any illusions about it. The dehumanization and the violence and the moral rot are obvious. But capitalism has its enticements. It can be quite alluring, like comfort food, and lead us to forget what really matters in life, which is God and our relation to Him.

Our world-- capitalist and socialist and every gradation between-- is a skirmish in a much grander spiritual war.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us

We who live today and have been blessed by the Nativity often forget how radical this story was to the ancients. Even to devout Jews-- the Lord's own family and community-- the idea that God would come to earth as Himself was beyond imagining. The Messiah was to be a messenger of God, a warrior, who in martial strength and power would save the Lord's people.

No one imagined that the Lord Himself would come among us as a newborn, a helpless impoverished infant born in a cave for animals.

Chesterton pointed out this dissonance with eloquence. He observed that the equation of the Creator of the universe to a newborn in a feed trough was akin to the attribution of gravity to a kitten.

After 2000 years, we still can't plumb the depths of His grace. The enormity of the Nativity is shockingly beautiful. This beautiful truth tells so much about our Lord and about His love for us.

Merry Christmas.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Oh Holy Night

Here is a beautiful paean to this magical night by Celtic Woman, to celebrate this night when Love entered His creation.

To add to our joy, it seems that the truth of the Virgin Birth is still widely recognized by Americans. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

"... there’s something about neurosurgeons that make them especially susceptible to woo."

Jerry Coyne thinks my profession is a bit woo-prone:
I am starting to think that there’s something about neurosurgeons that make them especially susceptible to woo. Perhaps it’s because they work on the brain, and marvel at the connection between the piece of meat they stick scalpels into and the mind that comes from that meat. Or perhaps it’s something else, but there does seem to be a trend. Think of creationist flack Michael Egnor, heaven-visitor Eben Alexander (author ofProof of Heaven, in which he had a near-death experience, saw God, and made a ton of dosh), and evolution denialist Ben Carson, who got a Presidential Medal of Freedom but says he doesn’t have the “faith” to accept evolution. All of these men are neurosurgeons.
Coyne then goes after Sanjay Gupta for being insufficiently dismissive in an interview with Joel Osteen.

Neurosurgeons are indeed an idiosyncratic bunch. Perhaps it's the egos, or the stress, or the peculiar lot of neurosurgeons to have to face mortality daily without blinders. We see a lot of stuff.

Quite a few of my colleagues are seriously religious people. Probably no more than the general public, but certainly more than many of our basic science colleagues in fields such as evolutionary biology.

Materialism has less appeal when you're up to your elbows in it, and you see that there are so many aspects of life that materialism is blind to. I started out in this business thirty years ago pretty much a materialist. That didn't last long, just as a young soldier's fantasies of combat don't long survive the first bullets.

A few years of doing neurosurgery and treating patients day and night convinced me that man is a whole lot more than matter.

There's a lot of woo out there, because life is a mystery. Ultimately, we all rely on faith-- faith is merely a metaphysical inference drawn from incomplete evidence.

Here's my faith, and here's Coyne's:

I believe:

In God the Father
In Christ
In the Holy Spirit
In the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection and in Christ's miracles
In the immateriality and eternity of the soul
In objective moral law and the reality of sin
In grace and forgiveness and redemption

Coyne believes:

Everything came from nothing.
Nothing has an ultimate purpose.
The laws of nature happen without a law-giver.
'Survivors survived' is a scientific explanation for life.
Men have no souls.
The human mind is meat drippings.
There is no objective moral law.
There is no free will.

Christianity, as I see it, fits life like a key fits a lock.

Coyne's atheist faith, as I see it, is sophomoric gibberish indistinguishable from mental illness.

Pick your woo.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dominican friars meet a bunch of bananas In Chinatown

To help get you in the Christmas spirit, another routine Christmas season encounter on the streets of New York.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Monkeying with the Monkey Trial

Jerry Coyne is in a tizzy about David Klinghoffer's and my posts on his bizarre photo taken while he was hugging the grave of John Scopes, the defendant in the Scopes Monkey Trial. Coyne hides behind the skirt of English historian Adam Shapiro, a self-styled expert on the trial who wrote a book about it.

Shapiro raises some issues on his blog that should be addressed. Shapiro, with my commentary:
Why Attacking John Scopes as Racist isn’t True

Two fellows of the Discovery Institute have been criticizing biologist and prominent critic of antievolutionism Jerry Coyne after he posted a picture of himself visiting the grave of John Scopes earlier this month. The substance of both Michael Egnor’s and David Klinghoffer’s response was the same: Scopes was put on trial for teaching from a horribly racist textbook that promoted eugenics. Therefore, it’s unconscionable that Coyne should embrace Scopes (or more specifically his tombstone,) or declare that he should like to shake Scopes’ hand, unless Coyne was also legitimating the horrible racism that Scopes taught to some poor innocent Tennessee school children.
Scopes was put on trial for violating the Butler Act, which prohibited teaching human evolution to schoolchildren in Tennessee. What Scopes actually taught, if anything, is unclear, because Scopes lied about what he did, and the trial was a legal ploy to spur a Supreme Court ruling. The truth was irrelevant to Scopes and to his team.

Hunter's textbook Civic Biology was racist and taught eugenics. It was vile stuff. If a teacher taught from it today, he wouldn't be prosecuted for violating the Butler Act. He would be prosecuted for federal civil rights violations.

Shapiro correctly observes that Tennessee school children were innocent, and largely poor. And their parents didn't want them taught human evolutionary swill in school.
Coyne responded to these posts which prompted an even longer response from Egnor which essentially doubled down on Scopes’s alleged racism, and demanded that Scopes ought to have “taught the controversy” rather than just teaching eugenics.
Seems an obvious point. Since Scopes lied about what he actually taught, we have to go with hypotheticals. Should Scopes have taught eugenic racism from the text, or should he have taught the kids that this was dodgy science and repellant morality? Coyne and Shapiro are still thinking about it.
Egnor’s first post links to the Wikipedia page for the textbook Scopes used in 1925, George W. Hunter’s 1914 Civic Biology. (Egnor also links to a page from the UMKC law project that shows some pages scanned from the textbook, but he quotes directly from the Wikipedia page. The UMKC link doesn’t contain all of the material that’s cited. It seems that Egnor went only by what he read on Wikipedia, even though the entire Civic Biology is available for free, at least in the US on google books.) As I’ll discuss a bit later on, the quotes from Hunter’s text in the Wikipedia entry are somewhat out of context, running together passages from different parts of the book, which give the impression that evolution and eugenics were closely related.

I quote the text. And of course evolution and eugenics were closely related. Eugenics was experimental human evolution, as defined by eugenicists. The headquarters of eugenic science in the United States at Cold Spring Harbor was founded in 1904 and was named the Station for Experimental Evolution.
I noticed that the Wikipedia page for the Civic Biology actually cites my book as a reference, but clearly Egnor didn’t bother with it. Egnor (and Klinghoffer’s) posts are rife with patently false historical assertions about Scopes and about the Civic Biology. Coyne’s has some error as well, but much less.
Why I would quote Shapiro's obscure book is unclear, when I quoted the actual text of Civic Biology. If I wanted to quote a water-carrier for eugenic historical revision, I had many other choices. Most of the other sources sharing Shapiro's apologetic eugenic historiography were written in German, but translations are available.
Did Scopes Teach the Eugenics Section of the Civic Biology? 
Egnor states that “Coyne’s hero taught the schoolchildren of Dayton from a textbook with rancid eugenic racist hate.” But (as Coyne correctly points out) Scopes wasn’t the regular biology teacher, he only filled in as a substitute briefly. It’s almost certain that Scopes, personally, did not cover the eugenics passages. For that matter, Scopes was unsure that he’d even taught evolution, relating in his memoir that he had to go back and look in the textbook to even be sure it was in there.
Would you forget whether you gave a lecture endorsing eugenic genocide?
But Egnor’s subtle and precise in never actually stating that Scopes taught racism or eugenics. In his second post he says: “Scopes’s legacy consists entirely of inviting prosecution by proudly teaching human evolution from a eugenic racist textbook.” Scopes taught the textbook. The textbook taught eugenics. Given that Scopes didn’t even remember whether he’d covered evolution, it’s probable that he didn’t even know (beforehand) that the textbook he was reviewing contained eugenics. Nonetheless, Scopes is morally appalling to Egnor and Klinghoffer because of his association with the textbook. By extension, Coyne is appalling because of his embrace of Scopes.
Scopes didn't remember if he covered evolution. Scopes didn't know if the textbook contained eugenics. The textbook he admitted using contained eugenics and racist swill. All, apparently, reasons the Coyne couldn't resist hugging his grave.

Presumably, if Scopes had remembered teaching non-racist-non-eugenic human evolution, Coyne, being an enlightened fellow, would have been even more enthusiastic, and would've dug Scopes up and kissed him.
Interestingly, William Jennings Bryan tried the same thing during the Scopes trial. In one of his speeches, he began to attack Hunter’s Civic Biology for other material that it contained rather than the part that ostensibly put Scopes afoul of the law. (Note that even then, Bryan didn’t even think the Eugenics was worth mentioning.) As I argue in my book, this backfired tremendously as it opened the door to the defense to discuss the broader relationship of evolution to religion.
Bryan detested the Darwinian peon to natural selection and survival of the fittest in human evolution as an incitement to cruelty to the weak and as a horrendous affront to human dignity. He was right, as any reading of Civic Biology, and any honest historiography of the first century of Darwinism and eugenics, will attest.
Did Scopes’s Accusers Mind the Racism or Eugenics of the Civic Biology 
In an earlier post, I argued that antievolutionists in the 1910s and 20s were not motivated by antagonism towards eugenics. In fact, the same year that the antievolution law was passed, the state legislature also passed a General Education Bill that reinforced school segregation.
Tennessee was one of the minority of states that refused to pass a eugenic sterilization law. Shapiro slanders the good people who tried to prevent the teaching of racist eugenics swill to their children, while he shills for the Darwinists who wrote and taught the swill.
If anything John Scopes indicates in his memoir that his family was quite opposed to racism.
Scopes lied about the entire context of the trial. His memoirs, Shapiro insists, are to be trusted implicitly. Did Scopes' memory improved after the trial?  He remembered that he was no racist. But he still couldn't remember if he taught that weak people should be sterilized and that Negroes are closer than Caucasians to apes.
Historian Jeffrey Moran has noted that while some African-Americans were opposed to evolution at the time of the Scopes trial, their concerns were its incompatibility with scripture not the purported eugenic applications of evolution. Moran also noted that

African-American intellectuals invoked Scopes and the respectability of science as part of their struggle against white supremacy in the South: they identified with John Scopes as a victim of southern repression and they claimed that antievolutionism derived much of its strength from racist assumptions that resonated with white southerners. 
After insulting Tennesseans for opposing eugenic racism in their schools, Shapiro claims that blacks were really on the Darwinian side. I wonder how many black kids learned their biology from the chapters in Civic Biology that Scopes taught (or didn't teach or whatever). "Mama, I didn't do so well on the bio final, but it says that we're closer to the anthropomorphous apes, so there'll be a curve."
If people though that Scopes and what he taught was deeply racist, you’d think that would show up more among the racial minorities who were close audiences to the Scopes trial. For the record, although Bryan was personally opposed to the KKK, he also opposed the Democratic Party’s consideration of a 1924 platform resolution condemning them. At least for some African-Americans, Bryan’s accommodation of the KKK a year earlier certainly shaped their distrust of his agendas at the Scopes trial.
After insulting Tennesseans for rejecting Darwinian filth about human evolution and asserting that blacks really liked being compared to apes by Darwinists, Shapiro tries to stick the KKK label on Bryan, who detested and fought the Klan all his life.

Such is Shapiro's "scholarship". Carrying water for eugenicists is no easy task, nor pretty.
How Racist was Eugenics in the 1920s? 
Eugenics was described by Hunter in the Civic Biology as the improvement of the human population, not as the basis of ensuring the superiority of those races. It’s true that eugenic sterilizations in the United States (some of which stayed on the books until the 21st century) were deeply racially skewed: both in terms of racist assumptions built into intelligence testing and in selective enforcement of the eugenic laws. However, the racial disparities became more pronounced in after the Second World War. In the 1910s and 20s, eugenics seems to have been less about race and more about class: specifically the class of people who were perceived as non-contributors to society: criminals, the “feebleminded” and the immoral.
Eugenicists attributed class degeneration to biological factors, prime of which were race. Shapiro, who pretends to scholarship on eugenics and race, should read Lothrop Stoddard's classic 1920 eugenic text The Rising Tie of Color against White World-Supremacy, published five years before the Scopes Trial, during which Shapiro claims that eugenics wasn't racist. Harvard-trained Stoddard was perhaps the early 20th century's most prominent scientific racist and a leading (and foaming) eugenicist.

In human evolutionary biology, race and class were joined at the eugenic hip, without a sliver of light between them.

Surely Dr. Shapiro doesn't believe that eugenicists were trying to breed a ruling class of eugenically superior Negroes.
Eugenics was considered an application of a biological principle of heredity moreso than evolution (inasmuch as those could be seen as distinct principles.) This included the presumption that at the cultural and developmental level, social improvements (or disimprovements) could be passed on. The eugenic theories that were outlined in Hunter in 1914 were based on a combination of hard (genetic) inheritance principles as well as “soft inheritance.” That is to say that (this era of eugenics) prescribed neither essentialist or hierarchical views of race.
Eugenics was applied human evolution-- experimental evolution as the eugenicists named it--  and the science of eugenics antedated the science of genetics by more than a generation. Galton (Darwin's cousin) introduced eugenics in 1871 and named it in 1883. The Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor-- the excrescence of eugenic science in America-- opened in 1904, a year before the word "genetics" first appeared in the scientific literature.

Human evolutionary biology and eugenic science routinely invoked the proximity of Negroes to anthropomorphous apes, although not essentially or hierarchically proximal, as Dr. Shapiro reassuringly points out.
The passages of Hunter’s textbook that talks about the hierarchy of races are part of the section that discusses human evolution. But those are in a completely different chapter than the passages on eugenics.
One chapter on human evolution, and one chapter on applied human evolution.

For some reason, Shapiro believes this makes eugenics less racist.
Egnor states without citation: “Eugenic racism in 1925 was consensus science in the field of human evolution.” This statement is wrong on several levels. It’s wrong that eugenics was primarily about race (in 1925). It’s wrong that eugenics was primarily considered an application of human evolution (as opposed to heredity.) And it’s wrong to claim that it was a consensus. But disagreeing only with the last of those three claims tacitly reinforces the first two. This is an extremely subtle – and dishonest – rhetorical strategy.
Eugenics was about hate, for which race was central.

As I observed in a previous post, eugenics in 1925 was consensus science in the field of human evolution. By the late 1920's there were 376 eugenics courses in leading universities-- Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins, to name a few-- along with enthusiastic support from media and government. Eugenic science was funded lavishly by the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Harriman Railroad foundation, and the wealthy businessman J.H. Kellogg. Many national and international conferences on eugenics and human evolution were hosted at leading research institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, and eugenic science gained the imprimatur of leading scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. By the 1930's, thirty-one states in the U.S. passed compulsory sterilization laws based on mainstream eugenic science and human evolution, and eugenics would receive the explicit endorsement of the Supreme Court in 1926. By the end of the first half of the 20th century, sixty thousand Americans had been sterilized involuntarily on the basis of consensus eugenic science.

Nazi eugenics was a derivative of American (and to a lesser extent British) eugenics, and German eugenicists were effusive in their praise and acknowledgment of debt to American eugenicists.

There was astonishingly little criticism of eugenics from the scientific community in the United States, and almost none of it from the evolutionary biology community. The list of pioneering unrepentant eugenicists is a subset of the list of Darwin Medal recipients. The few scientists who did dissent in the 1920's were geneticists (T.H. Morgan), although most of the genetic dissent was on the science, not on the ethics. Of prominent evolutionary biologists, J.B.S. Haldane was almost alone in consistently criticizing eugenics as an affront to human dignity.

Eugenics was mainstream consensus evolutionary biology. The complicity of the scientific community-- and the near-unanimity of support from the evolutionary biology-- was a scandal of astonishing proportions, and the complicity of modern historians in covering up the truth of eugenics remains no less a scandal.

Among historiographic apologists for eugenics, casuistry such as Shapiro's is (to borrow a phrase) an extremely subtle-- and dishonest-- rhetorical strategy.

None of this is to say that eugenic practices were morally justified or shouldn’t shock us, but they weren’t directly connected to evolution. Scopes and other readers of Hunter’s textbook wouldn’t have seen it that way.

Eugenics was directly connected to evolution. Eugenics was a sub-discipline of human evolutionary biology-- "Experimental Evolution" as eugenicists at Cold Spring Harbor named their Institute.  The evolutionary rationale for eugenics was simple: man had evolved by natural selection, but civilizations' care for the weak and dissolute threatened the degeneration of the human species. It was necessary, to preserve the human race, to take evolution in hand, and to prevent the unfit from procreating.

The only alternatives to eugenics, from the Darwinian perspective, was natural selection-- wholesale slaughter of the unfit by the fit-- or evolutionary catastrophe.

Eugenics was advanced (incredibly) as humane enlightened applied human evolution. Contra Shapiro, eugenics was directly and explicitly connected to evolution.

The fact of the Scopes Trial is simply that John Scopes lied, and advanced the credibility and the teaching of evolutionary racism and eugenics.

So why would Coyne embrace Scopes' grave?

And why would Adam Shapiro embrace Coyne?

(Cross-posted at Evolution News and Views)

Friday, December 20, 2013


A bizarre Obamacare ad. Must be highlighting the fact that plan's new psychiatric option covers personality disorders.

In a related story, this is the best political ad I've ever seen:

I'm gonna contribute to the Republicans in 2014, specifically so they can run this ad against every Democrat incumbent in the country.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Eugenics and the Station for Experimental Evolution

Jerry Coyne is goin' all Bagdad Bob about David Klinghoffer's and my criticisms of his bizarre embrace of John Scopes' grave and his implicit endorsement of the racist eugenic textbook John Scopes was convicted of using to teach human evolution to students in Dayton Tennessee in 1925 in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

No matter that Scopes was a short-term substitute teacher for the biology class, couldn’t even remember whether he taught human evolution from the book, and almost certainly didn’t teach the eugenics part of the book... 
Coyne extols Scopes, hugs his grave, and then denies that Scopes did anything.
[E]ugenics wasn’t even considered part of evolutionary biology back then, but was seen as part of genetics.

The science of genetics began with de Vries' and Correns' rediscovery and replication of Mendel's work in 1900. The word "genetics" wasn't coined until 1905, by Bateson.

The science of eugenics began in 1869, when Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, published his landmark Hereditary Genius. Galton was obsessed with his cousin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (the full title of Darwin's masterwork is rarely acknowledged) which was published just a decade earlier.

Galton coined the term "eugenics" in 1883 with his work Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development.

Darwin himself published Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. Darwin echoed his cousin's eugenic science, lamenting smallpox vaccination because it ensured the survival of the weak and "excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed."

Darwin noted:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
Karl Pearson, Ernst Haeckel, Herbert Spencer and Charles Davenport began their groundbreaking eugenics research and advocacy in the last decades of the 19th century. In 1889 the Royal Commission on the Blind, Deaf and Dumb discouraged intermarriage between the disabled based on eugenic science. In 1896 the National Association for the Care and Control of the Feeble Minded was organized in England to advocate for the eugenic sequestration of handicapped people. Connecticut passed the first eugenic law in the United States in 1896.

Charles Davenport, the Harvard-trained champion of American eugenics, assumed directorship of the Cold Spring Harbor research lab in 1898. American eugenic science was pioneered by Davenport at Cold Spring Harbor. Davenport's laboratory, which became the clearinghouse and research center for American eugenics, was named the "Station for Experimental Evolution" in 1904, a year before the word "genetics" was coined.

Eugenics was derived from Darwinian evolutionary biology with remarkable celerity by direct descent. Eugenics antedates genetics by at least a generation.


Eugenics was presaged in Darwin's work in 1859 and 1871, originated and named in the work of his cousin Francis Galton in 1869 and 1883, developed by a number of evolutionary biologists in the last decades of the 19th century, and became part of public policy and law in England and the United States prior to 1900.

The Center for Experimental Evolution-- eugenics, that is-- opened in Cold Spring Harbor in 1904. The word "genetics" was coined in 1905.

Note to Coyne: Eugenics was not "a part of genetics". Eugenics was experimental evolution, named so by the Darwinists who pioneered it.

(Cross-posted at Evolution News and Views)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

L.A. Museum's "God's creatures" sign enters witness protection program

The Darwinist Stasi seem to have succeeded in ripping down a sign in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County that celebrates God's creatures. The sign read:
"The Nature Lab is a gift to Los Angeles to celebrate all of God's creatures and enable NHM to broaden our understanding of the natural world through the process of scientific discovery." Anonymous Donor 2013
Jerry Coyne exalts. He quotes an anonymous source:
The anonymous donor quote at the NHM has been removed. My second-hand source tells me it will not be replaced. No doubt your efforts, coupled with those of a science reporter at KPCC looking into the mess, compelled the administration to finally do the right thing. Without doubt, you and your WEIT audience were the driving forces, for which I’m grateful.
Anonymous sources, frantic censorship, legal threats. This is Coyne's version of the scientific method.

While removing the sign has proven to be tractable, removing the evidence for intelligent agency in nature is proving to be more difficult

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jerry Coyne: "... it’s rude to not respond to an evolutionary biologist who writes about a sign like this"

Jerry Coyne is in a snit because of a sign in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The sign reads:
"The Nature Lab is a gift to Los angeles to celebrate all of God's creatures and enable NHM to broaden our understanding of the natural world through the process of scientific discovery." Anonymous Donor 2013
Coyne had written this email to Dr. Jane Pisano, president and director of the museum, demanding the removal of the sign and implicitly threatening litigation. He didn't get a reply, which he considered rude.

Well rudeness bothers me as well, so I'll respond to Coyne, on behalf of the museum-- it's a public museum, and I'm part of the public:

Dear Jerry,

Your email of December 4 is acknowledged. Thank you for your intemperate missive regarding the sign in our museum.

We''ll respond to your email paragraph by paragraph:
"A friend of mine who recently visited the new Nature Lab at your Museum forwarded me the attached sign, which ascribes the existence of animals to God."
We're glad your friend stopped by. He is free of course to express his opinion, just as our donor is free to do so and all of our patrons are free to do so. If you wish to express your opinion in our museum, you are welcome to contact our public programs office regarding donations to the museum. Rest assured that we would give your atheist viewpoint full consideration. Even fringe views from bigoted cranks are given a respectful hearing in our museum.
"I suspect, but don’t know, that this quote was one that came from the anonymous donor, as implied by the quotation marks." 
That's what the quotation marks mean. Perhaps we should have been more clear and included a definition of "quotation marks" on the sign. We tailor our signage for a fifth grade reading level. It may prove necessary to lower it.
"Perhaps he or she insisted on this quote as a condition for funding, something that I think the Museum should have resisted strongly."
We don't doubt that you believe that we should have resisted using the quote. Thank you for keeping us informed about your opinion in such a timely fashion.
"As an evolutionary biologist, I object to the invocation of God... ."
Surely you're not asserting that evolutionary biology is inherently an atheist project. That would be quite problematic if you wish to teach evolutionary biology in public schools. I will assume you just got carried away and misspoke.
"First, scientific evidence shows us that animals are not “God’s creatures,” but “evolution’s creatures.” Thus the sign gives the impression that God had a hand in evolution, and implicitly puts the Museum’s imprimatur on that sentiment."
Apparently you didn't misspeak. We were not aware of the God-disproving research to which you implicitly refer. Perhaps it was presented at a scientific breakout session at one of the magician-sponsored Amazing Meeting seminars held annually in Las Vegas. We are unable to keep current with all of the breaking new atheist science. Perhaps it was sandwiched in between the UFO talks and the Star Trek presentations.

We would be delighted to open a new wing of the museum devoted to scientific atheism. With your financial generosity, we would call it "The Jerry Coyne- Trofim Lysenko Wing". We are already planning a series of exhibits collectively titled "Scientific Atheism: Doing Science with the Parking Brake On", which will include exhibits on "The Darwinist Junk-DNA Scandal", "The Steady-State Universe Theory to Avoid the Implications of the Big Bang", and "Survivors Survived: Atheism's Creation Myth", scheduled to open early next year. A new wing devoted entirely to atheist junk-science would dovetail nicely.
"Second, it’s not perfectly clear that this quote comes from the donor (I didn’t get that myself on the first glance), and will certainly be misinterpreted by some people as the Museum’s own sentiments."
We really didn't expect the sign to be misinterpreted, given that early elementary schoolchildren usually visit the Children's Museum rather than the Nature Lab. Our apologies.
"Thus the sign is doubly misleading. Finally, the invocation of God in a public museum could be seen as be a violation of the First Amendment."
Your Jacobean jurisprudence would preclude public display of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, the invocation of God and the Ten Commandments at the Supreme Court and in innumerable speeches by presidents and legislators, as well as the quotations from Abraham Lincoln on the Lincoln Memorial and from Thomas Jefferson on the Jefferson Memorial. It would preclude all of the religious art on display in public museums across America. It would also preclude the display of crosses and stars of David on veterans' graves at national cemeteries.

Your quest for censorship is a bit quixotic, but the League of the Militant Godless might be of assistance to you. We notice that you did not enlist the assistance of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a hate group that you've previously used to shake down people who invoke God. Perhaps their recent Holocaust denial lite made their agenda too clear even for you.
"Regardless of what the donor wanted, I think it abrogates our scientific principles to “celebrate all of God’s creatures” when that statement is, by scientific lights, palpably wrong."
The scientific evidence for God's non-existence would be of great interest to us. We were unaware that the Deity was an Object of scientific investigation, being supernatural and all.
"Would you have taken the money from someone who insisted that the gift celebrates “all of Wotan’s creatures,” or “all the creatures created by space aliens”? Those signs are just as scientifically supportable as what appears on the sign now."
We give due consideration to all requests from donors, even pagans, Raelians, and atheists.
"I recognize that Museums are strapped for funding, and do think that Nature Lab is a good thing."
Unless, it seems, that the exhibit doesn't meet your exacting standards of atheist dogma.
"But I don’t think it’s worth kowtowing to religious sentiments, and polluting the nature of science, simply to get money."
Kowtowing is not acceptable in science. I'm sure you understand why we have disregarded your threats.
The very existence of the sign, in fact, undercuts the mission of Nature Lab: to teach people how science is done.
Your email threats demonstrate nicely how your own science is done.
I needn’t remind you that science is done by ignoring God, and has never given the slightest bit of evidence for the intercession of God in the origin, evolution, and diversification of life. 
We regret that we can't do more to comply with your demands. But rest assured, Jerry, that your email hasn't been futile. Your email suggests a moniker for marketing our new scientific atheism wing:
"Guillotines, Gulags and Gag-Orders: Atheist Science Since the 18th Century" 
And please don't be dismayed by the fact that your email is remarkably ill-conceived and ill-tempered. We understand that you had no choice to do otherwise.


Mike Egnor

(Cross-posted at Evolution News and Views)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pro-abortion Leftists storm Cathedral in Argentina

From Hot Air:

A graphic video from Argentina is making the rounds of the Internet today showing violent protests with pro-abortion activists attacking pro-life people praying at a Catholic Church. 
The abortion activists attempted to storm the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista (John the Baptist) in Argentina late last month. 
Taken in San Juan de Cuyo, Argentina sometime between November 23 and 25, the video shows, as described on YouTube, “feminists and their male peers bellow[ing] noisy and anti-Catholic slogans drawing through the city. In retaliation, 1500 young Catholics formed a human shield around the Cathedral to prevent about 7000 antagonists from storming the Archdiocesan Church.” 
The video shows topless women spray painting the people praying — in their faces and putting Nazi swastikas on their clothing.
We in the United States in the 21st century often forget the hate and violence the Left is wont to use against the Catholic Church. These pro-abortion fanatics in Argentina kill babies; it's naive to expect them to show much consideration for anyone else.

They burned an effigy of Pope Francis. We on the right need to keep in mind how much the radical Left hated Archbishop Bergoglio in Argentina. The Left understands him better than we on the right do. He is a passionate enemy of Leftism.

Expect more-- much more-- of this violence. The 20th century was the century of martyrs. Forty five million Christians around the world died for their faith in the last century, the vast majority of them died at the hands of Leftists-- of the international and national socialist types. That may have just been the warm-up. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On anniversary of Newtown shootings, experts cite need for better mental health care

[Dissociated Press] On the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, mental health experts across the nation are calling for better psychiatric care for the people who play such a pivotal role in mass shootings.

"Gun control advocates are nuts", noted Dr. Marcus Warren, president of the American Psychiatric Council, an umbrella group of mental health organizations dedicated to the mental health of the American public. "Nearly all of our mass shootings-- from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Fort Hood to  Aurora Colorado to the Washington Navy Yard-- have been carried out because shooters were emboldened by the publicly declared fact that no one at any of these facilities is capable of armed self-defense."

Dr. Warren shook his head, clearly exasperated at the extent of untreated mental illness in our body politic.

"Gun-free zones are a lethal weapon. They attract mass shooters like a flame attracts moths. It's a crazy policy-- almost guaranteed to inspire mass shootings."

"Gun control advocacy is probably the most serious undiagnosed mental illness in the United States." Dr. Warren sighed. "Again and again gun control wackos enact lunatic legislation that demonstrably does nothing to curtail violence, and in fact, by declaring schools and countless public places across America as "gun free zones", clearly invite mass shooters to kill without fear of hinderance."

"Long before the Newtown shootings, gun control crazies in Connecticut passed some of the nation's most restrictive gun control laws." Warren observed. "By declaring Connecticut schools "gun free zones", these loons provided Adam Lanza-- a puny adolescent loser who could have been stopped if someone in the school had a BB gun-- with an opportunity to kill 26 defenseless people. Because Sandy Hook Elementary School had no armed security, and legal restrictions disarmed teachers and administrators who could have defended the children, Lanza knew he had at least ten minutes of complete freedom to kill at will."

"Gun control loons were Lanza's accomplices. They provided this demon with his theatre of defenseless innocents."

Dr. Warren shook his head. "There is no question about the diagnosis. Gun control advocacy is insane. It disarms victims, and emboldens killers. Why create buildings full of certified unarmed victims? After all, what is the definition of insanity? It's deficient reality testing, unhinged wishful thinking, and persistence in doing the same pointless thing that you've been doing over and over for decades, expecting a different result next time."

"We need to get these gun control psychos the help they need", Dr. Warren sighed, "before they kill again."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Breaking News: Flame attracts moth

There has been another school shooting, in Colorado. It appears that the shooter killed himself and wounded another student. Please pray for all of them, and their families.

When are we going to learn that "gun-free zones" attract shooters? Gun-free zones are like flames, shooters are like moths. A gun-free zone gives a shooter 10 minutes of absolute power, with the opportunity to kill himself when the police arrive.

If the shooter were confronted immediately by armed guards, or even by armed school personnel, his power fantasy would disappear in a puff of smoke. The shooter's knowledge that he would be shot before he could shoot himself and many others would obviously be a major deterrent.

Mass shooters rarely choose armed victims.

Gun control nuts are accomplices to mass shootings in gun free zones. 

Merry Christmas, from Greenpeace

Sweet little yuletide video from the fanatics at Greenpeace. Looks like an outtake from the Blair Witch Project.

Warmists are real assholes. At least in the Santa video they're disappointing schoolchildren, not leaving them to die of malaria or blowing them up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"sort of like watching a cat playing with an incredibly arrogant and somewhat dim mouse..."

This from Mike Flynn on Jerry Coyne's ignorant rant in which Coyne denied the centrality of Christianity to the rise of modern science.

Flynn's post is brilliant.

Mark Shea describes Flynn's refutation of Coyne as "sort of like watching a cat playing with an incredibly arrogant and somewhat dim mouse. Fun!"


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Scientism and Heisenberg

"What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning."*

Heisenberg identifies the chief delusion of scientism-- the delusion that the scientific method reveals truth, in a way that other methods of knowing- metaphysical, logical, intuitive, don't.

Here Heisenberg (who was philosophically quite literate for a scientist) follows Kant. We lack direct knowledge of the world as it is outside of our minds. We perceive phenomena-- knowledge of the natural world filtered through our mind-- rather than noumena, things as they are in themselves.

Scientism is a delusion. The scientific method will never lead us to the full truth about nature in itself. Scientific knowledge is inherently limited by our method of questioning. It does not-- cannot-- provide full certain knowledge of nature. It is inherently limited by our methods and by the ideological presumptions from which we draw our methods.

How then do we get closer to the truth about nature? We do so by acknowledging our bias, and working to ensure that our methods of studying nature don't blind us to aspects of nature as it is.

Such self-blindness is most striking in the dogmatic atheism that afflicts most evolutionary biologists, who refuse to consider purpose in biology, which is replete with purpose. By eschewing causation other than an arid materialism, atheist scientists leave much of nature unexposed to their method of questioning.

Do theists suffer an analogous blindness? No. Most versions of theism acknowledge primary and secondary causes. Where inference to an intelligence behind nature is unnecessary to describe a natural process, none is offered. Where intelligence behind nature is manifest, the truth is acknowledged.

The wisest approach to the study of nature is to keep an open mind, and to eschew dogmatic metaphysical presumptions that prevent us from following the evidence.

*Werner Heisenberg. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958), 78.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Does Jerry Coyne embrace what Scopes actually taught?

Darwinist Jerry Coyne wishes he could have shaken the hand of John T. Scopes.

The Dayton Ohio science teacher was the defendant in the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Dayton Tennessee in 1925. The trial brought together William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, who battled over the legality and morality of Scopes' use of the textbook Civic Biology in science classes.

Scopes was convicted of violating the Butler Act, a Tennessee law that prohibited teaching evolution in public schools.

Coyne recently visited Paducah Kentucky, where Scopes is buried, and posed for a picture embracing Scopes' grave.

[I] was happy to have found the site[.]

“A man of courage.” The trial was in 1925, so he was only 24 years old at the time. It’s amazing to realize that he was still alive when I was in my twenties. I should have sought him out to shake his hand.
As noted, the crux of the charge against Scopes was that he violated the Butler Act by teaching evolution to schoolchildren. Scopes textbook of choice was Hunter's Civic Biology (1914).

At this link are portions of the textbook that Scopes used in class, with excerpts as follows:

Evolution of Man. -- Undoubtedly there once lived upon the earth races of men who were much lower in their mental organization than the present inhabitants. If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals. He was a nomad, wandering from place to place, feeding upon whatever living things he could kill with his hands. Gradually he must have learned to use weapons, and thus kill his prey, first using rough stone implements for this purpose. As man became more civilized, implements of bronze and of iron were used. About this time the subjugation and domestication of animals began to take place. Man then began to cultivate the fields, and to have a fixed place of abode other than a cave. The beginnings of civilization were long ago, but even to-day the earth is not entirely civilized. 
The Races of Man. -- At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America. ... 
Improvement of Man. -- If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. This improvement of the future race has a number of factors in which we as individuals may play a part. These are personal hygiene, selection of healthy mates, and the betterment of the environment. 
Eugenics. -- When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics. ... 
Parasitism and its Cost to Society. -- Hundreds of families such as those described above exist today, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites. 
The Remedy. -- If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with some success in this country.

Coyne's hero taught the schoolchildren of Dayton from a textbook with rancid eugenic racist hate, which was part and parcel of evolutionary theory during the first century of Darwinian ascendancy and remains the subtext of the Darwinian understanding of man today. The good folks of Tennessee, and the citizens of many communities across the country, wanted none of this venom taught to their children.

Coyne embraces his hero Scopes--"a man of courage"-- and would have liked to have shaken his hand.

Here's my question to Coyne:

Do you embrace what Scopes actually taught?

(Cross-posted recently at Evolution News and Views-- David Klinghoffer added a related post, and Coyne replied)

Monday, December 9, 2013

MFAM scientists denounce MFAP scientist

Darwinists have reacted with outrage and denial to a theory by geneticist and evolutionary biologist Eugene McCarthy that human evolution is the result of the union of a male pig and a female ape.

P.Z. Myers has christened it the "MFAP (Monkey F***** a Pig) hypothesis". Myers points to the chromosomal incompatibilities, the child-rearing disparities and the unlikelihood of successful hybridization between pigs and apes.

Darwinian BioBlogger Alison Campbell finds it unlikely, for similar issues of chromosomal incompatibility and lack of phenotypic evidence.

Dr. Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, scoffs at the theory-- "highly original, completely implausible... I laughed out loud."

So how to explain human origins?

The MFAP hypothesis, Darwinists insist, is crazy.

Darwinists all accept the MFAM (Monkey F***** a Monkey) hypothesis, which, unlike the MFAP hypothesis, is perfectly sane.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"If you don’t believe Catholics about this, just read Ayn Rand"

Patrick J. Deneen at The American Conservative:
I think it is because of the left’s “narrative of disruption” that the right is panicked over Francis’s critiques of capitalism. These Vatican criticisms—suddenly salient in ways they weren’t when uttered by JPII and Benedict—need to be nipped in the bud before they do any damage. Of course, all along Catholic teaching has seen a strong tie between the radical individualism and selfishness at the heart of capitalism and liberationist sexual practices, understanding them to be premised on the same anthropological assumptions. (If you don’t believe Catholics about this, just read Ayn Rand.) While Hadley Arkes laments that Pope Francis did not speak at more length on sexual matters, if one reads his criticisms of the depredations of capitalism with care, one notices that he uses the same phrases with which he criticized abortion—namely, that abortion is but one manifestation of “a throw-away culture,” a phrase as well as in Evangelii Gaudium in his critique of capitalism (Section 53). If one attends carefully to Francis’s criticisms of the economy’s effects on the weak and helpless, one can’t help but perceive there also that he is speaking of the unborn as much as those who are “losers” in an economy that favors the strong. Like John Paul and Benedict before him, Francis discerns the continuity between a “throw-away” economy and a “throw-away” view of human life. He sees the deep underlying connection between an economy that highlights autonomy, infinite choice, loose connections, constant titillation, utilitarianism and hedonism, and a sexual culture that condones random hook-ups, abortion, divorce and the redefinition of marriage based on sentiment, and in which the weak—children, in this case, and those in the lower socio-economic scale who are suffering a complete devastation of the family—are an afterthought.

There are other parts of Deneen's essay with which I disagree, but I agree emphatically with this paragraph. People who think that it is high time that the Pope spoke out decisively on the evil traces in capitalism do have some quite valid points. This is of course established Catholic teaching, but the Holy Father is emphasizing it with particular clarity.

Readers of the blog know well that I detest socialism. Socialism is now and always, here and everywhere, a catastrophe. It is greed and envy annealed into an economic system. It serves only the indolent and powerful. It is without question the worst economic system, next to slavery, that man has devised.

Capitalism is undoubtedly the most effective generator of wealth man has ever devised. It has lifted billions of people out of poverty, and has saved billions of lives of people who otherwise would have perished of hunger and disease.

But that is not to say that capitalism is without sin. Capitalism facilitates a "throw-away culture", and too often dehumanizes man and treats his as a commodity, as a "consumer" or a "producer", rather than as a human being.

Capitalism is also a soporific. It dulls the senses, and encourages millions of people to live in cheap bling-luxury. It easily leads to the worship of things. It is a deep idolatry, more lethal than many other idolatries because of its remarkable effectiveness at creating wealth. It can be corrosive in a way that other idolatries, such as communism, cannot. Masses living under the socialist/communist boot are never convinced of their "bliss". The rot is always in front of socialism's chattel-slaves. People living under capitalism too often don't even know they're chattel, of a spiritual sort.

The answer to capitalism is not socialism. We must not replace overstuffed Madison-Avenue-hedonism and spiritual corruption with Detroit-style economic implosion and state corruption.

The answer to capitalism and to socialism-- the answer to all slavery-- is Christ.

We need a spiritual revival, and I think the Pope is right. Life issues are not entirely distinct from economic and cultural issues. One need look no further than Ayn Rand to see the link between unfettered worship of material acquisition and unfettered lust and disregard for innocent life. One can lust for possessions as easily as one lusts for mistresses. One can throw away an uneconomical employee just as callously as one throws away an unwanted wife or a child. Rand was a passionate advocate for capitalism and material acquisition, and a passionate advocate for contraception, abortion and eugenics.

I read Rand avidly in college-- I assure you that Howard Roark would be just as comfortable in a Planned Parenthood boardroom as he would be in a Wall Street boardroom. There is a worldview-- a growing worldview-- in which there is no cognitive dissonance between capitalism and anti-life views.

Although the Catholic Church explicitly condemns socialism, it does not condone unfettered capitalism either. The Church teaches solidarity and subsidiarity as the basis for a good society. We are called by God to help each other (solidarity), on as close a scale to the family and community as we can (subsidiarity).

Solidarity and subsidiarity are the anthesis of capitalism and socialism, and form the basis for a truly humane-- a truly Christian-- social system.

The devil-- or should I say the problem-- is in the details. The easiest response to dehumanized capitalism is impoverished socialism. But that is the wrong response. Worship of State is not the remedy for worship of Wealth. There is another way-- the Christian way-- but that way is spiritual and moral renewal, and does not lend itself well to political methods.

It won't be easy. It means changing hearts and souls. We need Him. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nelson Mandela R.I.P.

Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday.

He had a remarkable life, full of drama and suffering and redemption. Despite his early associations with communism and his undeniable youthful participation in terrorism, he emerged from prison as a man of peace, and a man of genuine courage and integrity.

When he was released from prison, many feared that he would seek vengeance.  There is no doubt that the policy he fought-- apartheid-- was manifest evil and a crime against humanity. Oddly, Mandela was a (tempered) socialist, although he devoted his life to tearing down a government-imposed system of racial stratification that was the last full measure of socialism.

After living his life under a system that denigrated his humanity, he showed astonishing mercy and forgiveness once in power. It might have been expected that he would seek vengeance against his jailers and against the racists who treated him and most South Africans as less-than-fully-human. Yet he showed astonishing mercy. He spared his nation much bloodshed, and brought to public life a rare dignity and decency. A comparison to Lincoln is not inappropriate. He fought to free his people, and in power he ruled with malice toward none and charity for all.

He was a devout Christian-- a Methodist. He spoke to the Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference in Zion City, Moria, South Africa in 1992, two years after his release from prison:
This great festival of rejoicing [Easter] marks the victory of the forces of life over death of hope over despair. 
As we bow our heads in prayerful worship this day, our minds cannot but dwell on the evil of violence that today stalks our land. We cannot but call to mind the cries of mothers violated, brutalised and outraged by armed foreign mercenaries and killers in our midst. 
As we lower our heads in supplication to the Lord of Hosts, the blood-curdling battle cries of armed men, sweeping through a township like a swarm of locusts in a maize field, ring in our ears, and we know that in some home, this night shall be night for mourning. 
We pray with you for the blessings of peace! We pray with you for the blessings of love! We pray with you for the blessings of freedom! We pray with you for the blessings of reconciliation among all the people of South Africa! 
Khotso e be le lena! May peace be with you!... 
I wish to close on a note of hope. May this Easter bring with it the blessings of the our risen Messiah and may His love shine upon you all. May the Almighty grant Your Grace the wisdom to continue in your great work of spiritual guidance. You shall remain in our prayers as we shall be in yours.
In his mercy and work for peace and reconciliation, he followed in our Lord's footsteps, just as he had carried his cross for so many years under the vile system he brought down.

He was a moral giant of the 20th century. May God bless him, and welcome him home.

NB: Deroy Murdock has a thoughtful reminiscence on Mandela's life at NRO.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Scientism and Bertrand Russell's neutral monism

In philosophy of the mind, most of the debate during the past century has turned on the materialist and the dualist perspectives. Materialists have argued that physical things are really the only things that exist, and that the mind is a physical thing, and dualists have argued that the mind and body are immaterial and material things, respectively. Both materialism and dualism have their well-trod problems-- materialism seems to explain away, rather than explain, mental states, and dualism notoriously suffers from the interaction problem-- how does an immaterial mind interact with a material brain?

I believe that materialism has more problems than dualism, as you might have guessed, but neither is satisfactory and there are other ways to understand the mind.

Idealism is the view that everything is immaterial mind and physical things qua physical don't actually exist. It has had venerable defenders, but is hard to take seriously. Famously, Dr. Samuel Johnson, when asked how he could refute Berkeley's idealism, said "I refute it thus" and kicked a rock.

Another explanation for the mind is provided by Thomistic dualism, which presupposes Aristotelian and Thomist metaphysics and proposes that the mind bears the same relation to the body that form bears to matter. I believe that it is the most satisfactory explanation for the mind.

A fifth approach to understanding the mind is neutral monism, championed by Bertrand Russell. Russell was, as you probably know, an atheist, but not a materialist. His observations on philosophy of the mind are cogent, are of surprising relevance to our modern debate on scientism.

Russell began with affirmation of indirect realism. He posited that our sensory perceptions do not necessarily present us with the world as it is. We have no reason to think that red things have "redness" in them. Atoms have no intrinsic color. We perceive red because of the way our perceptive system processes light of a certain frequency. We perceive phenomena- things as they appear, not noumena-- things as they are.

But Russell pointed out that the scientific investigation of the natural world-- which would seem to present us with a much more secure picture of reality-- has its own problem. It's a serious problem. Russell pointed out that scientific knowledge of the physical world entails causal explanations of particles-- electrons and protons and photons are described in terms of how they interact with other particles. Substances are described by science according to what they do. Science does not describe substances-- electrons, protons, photons and aggregates composed of them-- by what the are.

Russell holds to structural realism-- the view that science tells about the causal relations (the causal structure) of real things, but does not tell us exactly what those things are, in themselves. For example, the brain is understood under scientific investigation as matter related by a complex simulacrum of causal events-- atoms and molecules and action potentials. But science is silent-- must be silent-- on what the brain is in itself. Science describes relations we understand in nature, just as perceptions describe sensations we have of nature. Neither perceptions nor scientific understanding provide us with an understanding of nature as it actually is.

Is our quest for direct reliable knowledge of nature-- nature as it really is-- hopeless? Russell says no, and he makes a remarkable observation. Perception and scientific investigation do not exhaust our ways of knowing. We can also use introspection to know certain things. And unlike perception and scientific investigation of natural things like mental states, introspection is direct knowledge of mental states. It is the only kind of knowledge we have that is not mediated by sensory organs or conjured from scientific study of causal relations. By introspection we know our mental states as they are.

Russell argues that, in philosophy of the mind, the materialists have it exactly backwards. Materialists reduce the mind to the brain, trying to explain the mind in terms of appearances and causal relations of brain tissue. But the reality is that it is the mind that we directly experience-- the brain is reducible to the mind, so to speak, not the mind to the brain.

By neutral monism, Russell means that there is one kind of substance and it is neutral, in the sense that it is neither wholly mental nor wholly physical. This one kind of substance-- he called it qualia-- can be introspected, and can be perceived, and can be understood via scientific investigation of causal relations. But only introspection lets us know this monist substance (our mind/brain) as it actually is. Perception and scientific study merely give us indirect knowledge of our mind/brain.

Russell observes that if you want to know what the brain is like intrinsically, in itself, neuroscience won't help you. You can know what the brain is like intrinsically only by contemplating your own thoughts. In a very real sense, you know more about your brain than any neuroscientist knows about it, because you know your brain (mind/brain) first-hand, not in a perceptual or abstract scientific way.

Russell proposed that qualia are the ultimate substance of which everything is composed. Qualia are neither intrinsically mental or physical. When organized into neural structures, qualia are mental. When organized into non-neural structures (rocks, chairs, etc) qualia are physical.

Russellian identity theory-- neutral monism-- has obvious strengths. In my view, its greatest strength is that it flips materialists' arguments. It is the mind, not the brain, that is known directly and with certainty, and materialist theories that try to reduce the mind to the brain or eliminate the mind altogether (eliminative materialism) are fundamental errors.

The obvious weakness of Russellian neutral monism is the implication of pan-psychism-- the notion that there is or at least can be a little bit of "mind" in everything, including inanimate objects. That seems to me to be a bit too much to accept as is, despite the significant strengths of the viewpoint.

In addition to refuting materialism, as Russell's theory nicely and decisively does, neutral monism makes scientism, which is the view that scientific investigation is the ultimate arbitrator of our understanding of nature, a difficult proposition to defend. The scientific endeavor, laudable and effective as it undoubtedly is in some circumstances, is sharply limited. Science can only investigate causal relations between things, not the things in themselves.

And the only things we can know directly, in themselves, are our own mental states.

Introspection, not perception nor science, provides the only direct kind of knowledge.

(NB: Ed Feser's Philosophy of Mind--a Beginner's Guide is an excellent introduction to these philosophical conundrums. He provides a balanced discussion of the broad range of philosophical approaches to the mind-brain question.)

Cross-posted at Evolution News and Views