Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Farmer Responds to Caldwell

For those who haven’t noticed, the DI blog has a new contributor and it is none other than Larry Caldwell. Caldwell, if you are not familiar with him, is about equal parts ridiculous and litigious. He’s sued Genie Scott. He’s sued Berkeley over the Understanding Evolution website. He’s sued all sorts of people. Hell, he’ll probably sue me after this post. In short, he’s just loads of fun to deal with.

His first post there was an attack piece on University of Georgia biologist Mark Farmer. He dredged up year old emails he had received from Farmer making inquiries about the positions of Caldwell’s organization, quoted them out of context and jumped to the false conclusion that Farmer was contradicting himself and was trying to be sneaky and cover up the “fact” that he is a public “Darwinist” but a closet creationist. As you will see, this is nothing more than Caldwell’s powers of imagination.

When I saw this, I thought it was rather unconvincing, to say the least. I emailed Mark Farmer to get the story and offered him the opportunity to reply to Farmer publicly. We have exchanged several emails over the last week. He has now written a full reply and sent it to Caldwell, and he has given me permission to post it here. I have shortened it just a bit by taking out some links he included that I don’t think are relevant to the issue. Here’s Farmer’s response to Caldwell:


Dear Mr. Caldwell,

Thank you for sharing with me the link to your recent
posting on the Discovery Institute’s webpage. It was
also sent to me by another regular reader of the site.
Congratulations on your appointment as DI’s new
Evolution News and Views contributor. I hope that by
publicly aligning yourself so closely with the
Discovery Institute you do not risk damaging the fair
and unbiased image you have tried to cultivate for
QSEA. To both of you I am very grateful, for you see,
I normally would never consider spending my time by
reading postings on this page.

I can’t decide if I am just surprised or simply
dumbfounded that you would take so much time from your
busy day to learn about me and share it with the
world. To be perfectly honest since I received your
petulant email of December 8, 2005 I really haven’t
given you or the QSEA a moment’s thought. I suppose
I should feel flattered. Just think, you have spent
nearly a year learning more about me and I haven’t
spent five minutes thinking about you (I confess that
I did think about you for four minutes when I learned
that your frivolous lawsuit against the Understanding
Evolution website had been thrown out of court).

Never did I imagine that my effort to learn more about
the workings and motivations of QSEA would trigger the
conspiracy theory that you have woven. Nor did I ever
think that you would consider me to be such a threat
that you felt compelled to spend what had to be many
hours doing Google searches only to find out that my
real name is Mark Farmer and that I live in
Winterville, Georgia (oh but wait, I seem to recall
that I readily and honestly provided this information
when I first wrote to your organization). Had you
simply asked me I would have gladly told you more
about myself and my beliefs, much as I have with
respectful and honest creationists with whom I have
carried out civil discourse. You seem to have missed
several other facets of my life such as the fact that
I have recently been traveling around the country
presenting my seminar “Intelligent Design: The
Evolution of the Creationist Movement.”

So, other than publicly accusing me of being a
creationist (we’ll come back to that later) let’s see
what exactly it is I stand accused of doing.

Years ago did I sign a carefully worded petition
protesting the inclusion of non-scientific topics in
the Cobb County science classroom? Absolutely. Does
it logically follow that I therefore accept EVERYTHING
presented on the “Internet Infidels” website? Not
hardly.

You wrote: “Notably, in his correspondence with QSEA,
Mark A. Farmer did not disclose his roles as biology
professor and fervent Darwinist. We only discovered
those dimensions of Mark A. Farmer through detective
work on the internet by my wife, Jeannie.”

Hmm, you make it sound like being a “fervent
Darwinist” is a bad thing. By the way I am a fervent
evolutionist, not a Darwinist. I was under the
impression that the QSEA was open to all points of
view, not just a select few. I also did not tell you
that I was a member of the Winterville City council,
an Athens-Clarke County volunteer soccer coach, a land
owner and conservationist, a Red Cross blood donor or
a die-hard Georgia fan (How ’bout them DAWGS). I also
did not tell you that Winterville is only eight miles
from Athens (Google Maps is a really amazing tool
isn’t it?). Why? Because it was not relevant, and
because I was acting as a private citizen, and not
acting in my official capacity as a professor at the
University of Georgia. This is also the reason that I
wrote to you on my very publicly acknowledged and
honestly registered “Yahoo” email account and did not
use my UGA email account to contact you, I try to keep
my private activities separate from my public ones.
As stated before my original email to QSEA contained
my full name and home address, yet it took Mrs.
Caldwell a full year to “uncover” this? Which of us
is the bumbling Inspector Clouseau wannabe? If I was
truly trying to disguise who I was do you not think
that I would have created a separate and untraceable
email account or at the very least not signed my
letter and provided my address?

You accurately quote me as saying “Specifically I
would like to know whether or not you support the word
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being taught in
our public schools. This is an issue I feel very
strongly about…”

As a lifelong Episcopalian I see nothing in this
statement that is inconsistent with who I am or what I
believe. Last I checked creationists did not have a
monopoly on a belief in Christ. As you correctly
deduced (in part because I stated it so blatantly)
this IS an issue that I feel very strongly about. I
do not believe that public schools or universities
should be used for the promulgation or promotion of
any one organized religion. Never once did I say or
imply that I thought that the teachings of Jesus
should be part of the public school curriculum. You
seem to have jumped to an erroneous conclusion in that
simply because I believe in Jesus that I am somehow a
creationist! This is as misguided as those folks who
assume that because I am an evolutionary biologist
that I am an atheist. As one who is trained in the
law I am surprised that you would commit such an
egregious error.

You next quote me as stating “Should your lawsuit
prevail I feel that the concepts of ALL religions, and
thus alternatives to evolution, will be forever be
banned from schools.”

I have, on several occasions, publicly admitted that I
am open to the idea of a “Religions of the World”
class in public schools. Such a course could help
young Americans better understand their brethren
around the world who have different ideas than do we.
I think such a course would be invaluable in educating
our citizens who seem to have a very poor
understanding, and therefore are increasingly
intolerant, of other people and other cultures.
Apparently they are also increasingly intolerant of
other Americans. Included in this course could be a
discussion of alternative creation myths, not just the
Biblical Genesis account but also the creation
accounts of Hindus, Native Americans, and African
cultures. While I feel strongly that such topics are
not appropriate for the science classroom (all of them
invoke the involvement of supernatural entities, the
concept of which falls outside the realm of science) I
am open to exposing young people to these ideas as it
would make them better educated world citizens. I
believe that if carefully crafted this can be done in
a way that does not promote one religion over another
and would thus be consistent with the first amendment
of the US Constitution. So you see my statement above
is entirely consistent with my very public position on
the matter.

Finally you state “Mark A. Farmer says he is
passionate about putting religious alternatives to
evolution into biology:” As a lawyer you really should
be more careful about what you say about other people.
I have NEVER proposed anything of the sort. As I
mentioned above I have demonstrated a willingness to
publicly debate creationists. The American Vision
organization paid me quite handsomely for doing this
in May of 2006. By labeling me as a “closet
creationist” you may have limited my opportunities to
be invited by other Evangelical organizations and thus
caused me future financial harm. I am not a lawyer
but couldn’t this be construed as libel? If I felt
that your blog posting would be read by anyone of
consequence I might be tempted to retain legal
counsel, but I do not think that this will be
necessary.

In summary I think that the following letter to TIME
from David Graf summarizes many of my feelings very
eloquently. Unlike Mr. Graf I am not, nor have I ever
pretended to be, an evangelical Christian, still I
share many of his concerns.

“As an evangelical Christian, I reject intelligent
design because it is not science but bad theology.
Within science, it is no crime to admit that we don’t
have all the answers. Within theology, however, it is
a crime to use God as an excuse for our ignorance. If
we don’t understand how something came about in
nature, then we ought to use the brains that God gave
us to think about and work on the problem. Otherwise
we turn God into a magic word to use whenever we can’t
figure things out.”
David P. Graf – Chicago

With regards,

Mark A. Farmer
Private U.S. Citizen

Comments

  1. #1 kehrsam
    November 29, 2006

    Wonderfully snarky (and appropriately so). As for Farmer’s “deception,” has it not occurred to these bozos that people not sharing their views might ask for information? Apparently their goal is to not try to influence the opinion of anyone who is not already an IDer. Not that I would mind.

  2. #2 ArtK
    November 29, 2006

    The short, informal version of the above:

    “Larry, where you aren’t dishonest, you’re merely incompetent. Mark”

    I often wonder how many of these creationists wear WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) jewelry and then do the exact opposite of what they should.

  3. #3 Alejandro
    November 29, 2006

    If I felt
    that your blog posting would be read by anyone of
    consequence I might be tempted to retain legal
    counsel, but I do not think that this will be
    necessary.

    Ha!

  4. #4 Jim Ramsey
    November 29, 2006

    If God had meant man to think, he would have given him a brain.

    Oh, wait….

  5. #5 JanieBelle and Kate
    November 29, 2006

    Alejandro, we had the exact same thought…

    If I felt
    that your blog posting would be read by anyone of
    consequence I might be tempted to retain legal
    counsel, but I do not think that this will be
    necessary.

    HA!

  6. #6 Larry Caldwell
    November 29, 2006

    Thank you for posting Mark Farmer’s response to my blog post. Farmer’s response is full of contradictions that might be amusing to pick apart, but he really doesn’t refute what we said in the post –we caught a fervent non-creationist Episcopalian Evolutionist who publicly opposes including religious teachings in biology posing as a Creationist who advocates including religious teachings in biology.

    By the way, one of the notable contradictions in Farmer’s e-mail is his claim that he opposes teaching including religious teachings in biology. Yet, he apparently has no problem with the National Center for Science Education/University of California Understanding Evolution website’s advocacy of including religious theology in biology, as long as only liberal Christian theology is included. Apparently, Farmer, like Eugenie Scott, doesn’t oppose teaching religious doctrine in biology class after all –as long as its religious doctrine ,such as Farmer’s own Episcopalian doctrine, that supports Darwinism (pardon me, Dr. Farmer, Evolutionism).

    So I guess, as it turns out, Farmer really does support “support the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being taught in” biology, as along as its an interpretation of the Bible Farmer agrees with.

    P.S.: For the record, it took my wife less than fifteen minutes to find the information on Farmers included in our post; not a year, as Farmers suggests.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    November 29, 2006

    Larry Caldwell wrote:

    y the way, one of the notable contradictions in Farmer’s e-mail is his claim that he opposes teaching including religious teachings in biology. Yet, he apparently has no problem with the National Center for Science Education/University of California Understanding Evolution website’s advocacy of including religious theology in biology, as long as only liberal Christian theology is included. Apparently, Farmer, like Eugenie Scott, doesn’t oppose teaching religious doctrine in biology class after all –as long as its religious doctrine ,such as Farmer’s own Episcopalian doctrine, that supports Darwinism (pardon me, Dr. Farmer, Evolutionism).

    This is the lie at the center of your ridiculous (and properly dismissed) lawsuit against the Berkeley site. Despite your pretensions, the school does not advocate “including religious theology in biology”, it merely refers to the fact, entirely undisputed, that most mainline Christian denominations accept evolution and have no difficulty reconciling it with their theology. It takes no position on whether those positions are true or not, it merely describes them. There is no establishment clause violation in describing religious beliefs, of course, and Farmer’s argument against your suit was precisely correct – it if were to succeed, it would set a much, much stricter standard forbidding any government statement that even mentioned religion, without actually advocating or endorsing it.

    And it is flat out dishonest to claim that Farmer was “posing as a creationist” in his email to you. Nowhere in those emails does he either say or imply that he is a creationist, only a Christian (and they are not the same thing; ironically, the very website you failed in suing contains the proof of that. Perhaps you should read it). Understanding clear distinctions clearly is not your strong suit, Larry.

  8. #8 Larry Caldwelll
    November 29, 2006

    Ed, I take it that you, like Scott, approve of including comparative religion discussions in biology. So, to be consistent (given your aptitude for “clear distinctions”), I assume you also approve of including the creationist religious viewpoint in that discussion. Wow, the folks over at Creation Research Institute and Answers in Genesis are going to happy to hear this news.

  9. #9 Timothy Sandefur
    November 29, 2006

    For what it’s worth, California Civil Code section 985 prohibits a person from republishing letters and other private communications in writing without the will of the writer. I would be interested in knowing if Mr. Caldwell had Mr. Farmer’s consent to publish the original emails on his blog.

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    November 29, 2006

    For the record, I did have Dr. Farmer’s full permission to publish his letter. If Caldwell did not, that would be most ironic, would it not?

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    November 29, 2006

    Larry Caldwell wrote:

    Ed, I take it that you, like Scott, approve of including comparative religion discussions in biology. So, to be consistent (given your aptitude for “clear distinctions”), I assume you also approve of including the creationist religious viewpoint in that discussion. Wow, the folks over at Creation Research Institute and Answers in Genesis are going to happy to hear this news.

    Larry, for crying out loud, the Berkeley site is not a high school biology curriculum, it’s a website to help people understand evolution better. The site neither proposes nor even suggests that any information about religion at all be included in any biology class at any level. It is simply an informational website, and in one section it addresses popular misconceptions about evolution. And all it does is note that many religious groups accept evolution and links to a page of statements from religious groups to that effect. It has absolutely nothing to do with what should or shouldn’t be taught in a biology class. Why do you insist on lying about what it says?

  12. #12 Reed A. Cartwright
    November 29, 2006

    I found it funny that Caldwell implied that Farmer supported or was connected to Internet Infidels simply because I posted the text of some petitions that were signed on the UGA campus.

    Last time I looked, I wasn’t Mark Farmer.

  13. #13 Larry Caldwell
    November 30, 2006

    Ed, you wrote:

    “[T]he Berkeley site . . .neither proposes nor even suggests that any information about religion at all be included in any biology class at any level.”

    Not true. On the UE Website, your friend, Eugenie Scott, expressly advocates including comparative religion discussions in high school biology classes. (But don’t take my word for it, check our her article for yourself at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/Scott1.html.)

    So Ed, where do you stand on this: Do you endorse Eugenie Scott’s recommendation to include discussion of religious beliefs in high school biology, or do you oppose teaching about religious beliefs in high school biology? If you do advocate including discussion of religious beliefs in high school biology, do you advocate including creationist religious beliefs as well non-creationist religious beliefs?

    **********
    Timothy, you wrote:

    ” For what it’s worth, California Civil Code section 985 prohibits a person from republishing letters and other private communications in writing without the will of the writer. I would be interested in knowing if Mr. Caldwell had Mr. Farmer’s consent to publish the original emails on his blog.”

    Timothy, you obviously don’t know enough about copyright law to be giving legal advice on the subject. As any knowledgeable attorney would know, the fair use doctrine permits publication of quotations from even copyrighted works –with or without the author’s permission. So the question of whether or not Mr. Farmer gave me consent to quote from his e-mails to me in my blog post is legally irrelevant.

  14. #14 Raging Bee
    November 30, 2006

    Larry: I just gave the article you cited a quick reading, and NOWHERE do I see where Scott “expressly advocates including comparative religion discussions in high school biology classes.” Scott DOES advocate encouraging students to see through creationist claims, but that’s only relevant insofar as those claims contradict fact or interfere with science education. (And if that’s your idea of “comparative religion,” that’s probably because all of those creationist claims are religious, not scientific.)

    Did you misunderstand what Scott was saying? Or are you lying again?

  15. #15 Jason I.
    November 30, 2006

    Larry Caldwell said:

    So I guess, as it turns out, Farmer really does support “support the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being taught in” biology

    No, his actual quote was:

    I have, on several occasions, publicly admitted that I am open to the idea of a “Religions of the World” class in public schools.

    Doesn’t sound like he’s talking about teaching anything about religion in biology classes to me. But then again, I could be completely misinterpreting the underlying intent of his straightforward and simple sentence.

    Larry Caldwell also said:

    On the UE Website, your friend, Eugenie Scott, expressly advocates including comparative religion discussions in high school biology classes. (But don’t take my word for it, check our her article for yourself at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/Scott1.html

    That link is not part of the Understanding Evolution website. It is part of the University of California Museum of Paleontology website called “Learning from the Fossil Record”. While the UE website may link to the main page of the UCMP site, there are no links from anywhere on the UE website to the “Learning from the Fossil Record” section, so it can hardly be considered the same website. Also, Miss Scott does not in any way advocate the teaching of religious principles, but rather suggests making students aware that belief in God does not preclude accepting the vast amount of scientific supporting the Theory of Evolution.

  16. #16 Larry Caldwell
    November 30, 2006

    Here is the part of Scott’s article on the UC Berkeley website that I have in mind:

    “Teachers have told me they have had good results when they begin the year by asking students to brainstorm what they think the words “evolution” and “creationism” mean. As expected, some of the information will be accurate and some will be erroneous. Under “evolution,” expect to hear “Man evolved from monkeys” or something similar. Don’t be surprised to find some variant of, “You can’t believe in God” or some similar statement of supposed incompatibility between religion and evolution. Under “creationism” expect to find more consistency: “God”; “Adam and Eve,” “Genesis,” etc. The next step in constructing student understanding of concepts is to guide them towards a more accurate view. One goal of this exercise is to help them see the diversity of religious attitudes towards evolution.

    After one such initial brainstorming session, one teacher presented students with a short quiz wherein they were asked, “Which statement was made by the Pope?” or “which statement was made by an Episcopal Bishop?” and given an “a, b, c” multiple choice selection. All the statements from theologians, of course, stressed the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution. This generated discussion about what evolution was versus what students thought it was. By making the students aware of the diversity of opinion towards evolution extant in Christian theology, the teacher helped them understand that they didn’t have to make a choice between evolution and religious faith.

    A teacher in Minnesota told me that he had good luck sending his students out at the beginning of the semester to interview their pastors and priests about evolution. They came back somewhat astonished, “Hey! Evolution is OK!” Even when there was diversity in opinion, with some religious leaders accepting evolution as compatible with their theology and others rejecting it, it was educational for the students to find out for themselves that there was no single Christian perspective on evolution.”

    I’ll let your readers decide whether Scott is advocating inclusion of comparative religion discussion in high school biology.

  17. #17 Raging Bee
    November 30, 2006

    Larry: thank you so much for permitting us to judge your claims against the evidence. Not that we need your permission, but thanks anyway. With your permission, then, I would like to say that the teachers mentioned in your citations were NOT teaching “comparative religion” in science classes (that phrase doesn’t even appear anywhere in the article); they were merely clarifying, by lectures and discussions, the exact nature of what the theory of evolution actually says, and what it doesn’t say.

    If you try to shoehorn your religious claims into a science class, then you’d better not be surprised when those claims are discussed — and, in all likelihood, debunked — in that very same class.

  18. #18 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    As has already been noted several times, the article that Larry links to is not part of the Understanding Evolution website. More importantly, the fact that it might advocate doing something that Larry thinks is unconstitutional does not make the advocacy of it unconstitutional. This is a very important distinction. Whether Genie is right or wrong about how to handle a situation like that, Larry’s claim was that just advocating that it be handled that way amounts to a violation of the constitution. This is clearly nonsense. By this same reasoning, anyone at any public university who mentions on a public university website their belief that teaching ID is constitutional would be violating the constitution merely by taking a position on whether it is or isn’t constitutional. And that’s about as dumb as it gets.

  19. #19 Raging Bee
    November 30, 2006

    Ed: NEVER say “that’s about as dumb as it gets” — you’ll be proven wrong just about every time.

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    For the record, here is how I would prefer a teacher handle a situation where a student says that evolution conflicts with their religious views. I would prefer they say something along these lines:

    “It’s true that for some people, evolution is in conflict with their religious views. Some religious groups reject evolution because it contradicts what they believe, while other religious groups think evolution is just fine. This is an issue that we simpy can’t address in a public school setting. Our job is to teach you the science and the science behind evolution is extremely well supported by the evidence. You’ll be learning about that evidence in this section. But we will not be talking about the religious controversy over this. If you have questions about that, you can talk to your parents about it or to other adults whose views you respect. But here we will just deal with the scientific issues.”

  21. #21 Larry Caldwell
    November 30, 2006

    Ed:

    I like most of your last post. It appears that you and I agree on one thing –teachers shouldn’t be discussing anybody’s religious beliefs in biology. The only thing in your post I’d change is the following sentence: “Our job is to teach you the science and the science behind evolution is extremely well supported by the evidence.”

    I’d have science teachers tell students, “Our job is teach you the science of evolution, and to do that accurately, we will be teaching you about scientific evidence that supports evolution, as well as scientific evidence that poses a challenge to evolution.”

  22. #22 kehrsam
    November 30, 2006

    Mr. Caldwell said: Timothy, you obviously don’t know enough about copyright law to be giving legal advice on the subject. As any knowledgeable attorney would know, the fair use doctrine permits publication of quotations from even copyrighted works –with or without the author’s permission. So the question of whether or not Mr. Farmer gave me consent to quote from his e-mails to me in my blog post is legally irrelevant.

    I take it that you are not a knowledgeable attorney. Fair Use applies generally to copyrighted material after they are published. The email exchange in question had not been published, so unless it falls into one of the exceptions, you may have violated the owners copyright. In this case, as Sandefur (who I understand has gone to law school) points out, there is a California statute on point which might apply even if Federal copyright is not implicated. For the record, I’m not an expert on copyright either, but at least I took the course. Just saying “Fair Use” is not the end of the issue.

  23. #23 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    Notice that Larry suddenly stopped defending his claim that the Berkeley site was unconstitutional.

  24. #24 Raging Bee
    November 30, 2006

    Yeah, I also notice that Larry suddenly stopped defending his “comparitive religion in science class” claims as well.

  25. #25 kehrsam
    November 30, 2006

    Do you think he’ll drop the copyright thing, too? If so we’ve managed a hat trick.

  26. #26 Raging Bee
    November 30, 2006

    Ed: you’re right, in theory, to try to avoid mentioning religion in a science class. In practice, however, all those creationist claims are made to drag science education to a halt, and in all probability, a science teacher will have to address them just to get things going again. Once a monkey-wrench has been thrown into the works, we have to admit that the monkey-wrench exists, and discuss how to get it out of the works.

  27. #27 Coin
    November 30, 2006

    Do you think he’ll drop the copyright thing, too? If so we’ve managed a hat trick.

    Don’t forget, we may even have, in that vague little “scientific evidence that poses a challenge to evolution” comment in there, a stellar example of how the DI and its affiliates have suddenly stopped defending their claim of a “designer”.

  28. #28 Larry Caldwell
    November 30, 2006

    Ed, you wrote:

    “Notice that Larry suddenly stopped defending his claim that the Berkeley site was unconstitutional.”

    Wrong. We filed our appellant’s opening brief in our Ninth Circuit appeal on October 20, 2006, and the state and federal governments will be filing their appellees’ briefs on December 29th.

  29. #29 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    But you gave up on defending them here. That probably doesn’t bode well for your appeal. Would you like to make a small wager on the outcome? $100 says you lose.

  30. #30 Timothy Sandefur
    December 1, 2006

    Excuse me, was I just called an incompetent attorney by, of all people, Larry Caldwell? I will, as Blake said, “cherish the fool’s reproach–it is a kingly title!”

    “Fair use,” Mr. Caldwell, has never been held to apply to violations of Cal. Civ. Code 985. In fact, California courts have found that it protects rights “of a wider and more exclusive nature than the rights conferred by [federal] statutory copyright in published works. [Section 985] prohibits any kind of unauthorized interference with, or use of, an unpublished work on the ground of an exclusive property right, and…is perpetual, existing until lost or terminated by the voluntary act of the owner…[as opposed to federal] statutory copyright [which] permits a ‘fair use.'” Carpenter Foundation v. Oakes, 26 Cal.App.3d 784, 794 (1972) (citation omitted).

    This strongly suggests that fair use doesn’t even apply.

    What’s more, “fair use” would never permit the entire protected writing to be published without consent of the owner in a manner forbidden by law! Fair use authorizes the quotation of published copyrighted material under circumstances where doing so is not a realistic threat to the rights protected by the law–such as photocopying from a text book to hand out to class. You, I suppose, would not know much about reading class assignments, so perhaps that analogy is lost on you.

    You are in violation of the law, Mr. Caldwell.

    What makes that fact especially sickening is that I have seen too often how much you enjoy throwing around legal threats and scaring the crap out of good people–people who are safe as a legal matter, because your claims have no realistic connection to the basics of the law, but who are still afraid of legal procedures that they don’t know about. You’re a bully, Mr. Caldwell, and an ass, who enjoys throwing threats of baseless lawsuits at people in order to silence their criticism. I don’t much like ignoramuses and bullies, Mr. Caldwell. The next time you try to use a legal term like “fair use,” perhaps you should try learning what it means. And perhaps before you go publishing private correspondence, perhaps you should check to see if it’s legal first.

  31. #31 Raging Bee
    December 1, 2006

    Brave Sir Larry ran away
    Bravely ran away, away
    When Reason reared its fright’ning head
    He bravely turned his tail and fled
    Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Larry…

  32. #32 Bryan Lighter
    December 3, 2006

    “You’re a bully, Mr. Caldwell, and an ass, who enjoys throwing threats of baseless lawsuits at people in order to silence their criticism. I don’t much like ignoramuses and bullies, Mr. Caldwell.”

    What’s wrong with being a bully if you can get away with it? If bullying and engaging in baseless lawsuits is instrumental in Mr. Caldwell acquiring what he wants, what is the Darwinian reason as to why this is wrong? Baseless lawsuits are the bread and butter of the history of American jurisprudence. From Lochner to Roe, and from Everson to Kitzmiller, the bombastic bullshit of judges taking away the sovereignty of the people to craft policy consistent with their values and beliefs is the American way. Does anyone really think that the Establishment Clause was intended to prevent local school boards from requiring a modest statement at the beginning of a semester telling students that there is a pro-ID book in the library?
    I believe it is a stupid policy. But unconstitutional? That’s baseless liberal sophistry.

  33. #33 Ed Brayton
    December 3, 2006

    “Bryan Lighter” writes:

    What’s wrong with being a bully if you can get away with it? If bullying and engaging in baseless lawsuits is instrumental in Mr. Caldwell acquiring what he wants, what is the Darwinian reason as to why this is wrong?

    That is an absolutely ridiculous question. One might as well ask for a “gravitational reason as to why this is wrong” or a “quantum mechanical reason as to why this is wrong.” Evolution is a scientific theory that explains the natural history of life on earth; it’s not a “worldview” or a “belief system” or whatever the religious right wants to call it these days. It’s not a system of ethics, nor does it attempt to be.

    Baseless lawsuits are the bread and butter of the history of American jurisprudence. From Lochner to Roe, and from Everson to Kitzmiller, the bombastic bullshit of judges taking away the sovereignty of the people to craft policy consistent with their values and beliefs is the American way.

    You mean like when those big bad judges took away the “sovereignty” of the people to “craft policy consistent with their values and beliefs” by forbidding people of different races to marry? If you’re going to take the position that the people have “sovereignty” to make policy “consistent with their values” and that any interference with that is wrong, then you’re stuck having to defend a whole range of vile and unconstitutional policies. You’re stuck applauding the Dred Scott decision and defending the Jim Crow laws. But of course, you don’t really mean this; no one possibly could. What you really mean is that whenever judges overturn a law that you agree with, then they’re “taking away the sovereignty” of the people.

    Does anyone really think that the Establishment Clause was intended to prevent local school boards from requiring a modest statement at the beginning of a semester telling students that there is a pro-ID book in the library?

    Does anyone really think that the 14th amendment was intended to prevent laws forbidding interracial marriage? Those who wrote it said explicitly that it was not intended to do so. But the text and the principle clearly does, regardless of whether those who wrote it intended to apply it in that manner. There are a whole range of constitutional provisions that were applied far more narrowly than they should be, including this one, and we’ve done very well by expanding that coverage. The principle is what matters, not the limited application of it at a particular time in history.

    I’m curious why you won’t tell us who you really are. Whoever you are, you’re at Baylor (the IP traces there). I know it’s not Frank Beckwith; he wouldn’t leave a comment this childish, certainly not on my blog. Samuel Chen, perhaps? The tone and the silly rhetoric would certainly fit. Actually, it could be Dembski himself, since he now has an office at Baylor again (more on that story later, stay tuned). Come on, my anonymous troll, don’t hide who you are.

  34. #34 John
    December 3, 2006

    Larry wrote:
    “I’d have science teachers tell students, “Our job is teach you the science of evolution, and to do that accurately, we will be teaching you about scientific evidence that supports evolution, as well as scientific evidence that poses a challenge to evolution.””

    What scientific evidence is that, Larry?

    Please be specific. Note that since you wrote “evidence,” quoting of anyone would not fit the bill.

  35. #35 Larry Caldwell
    December 4, 2006

    John:

    You wrote:

    “I’d have science teachers tell students, “Our job is teach you the science of evolution, and to do that accurately, we will be teaching you about scientific evidence that supports evolution, as well as scientific evidence that poses a challenge to evolution.”

    What scientific evidence is that, Larry?”

    The scientific evidence that has led over 600 Ph.D. scientists and counting to sign onto a statement that says “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

    The scentific evidence that has led hundreds of medical doctors to sign on to the following statement:

    “As medical doctors we are skeptical of the claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the origination and complexity of life and we therefore dissent from Darwinian macroevolution as a viable theory. This does not imply the endorsement of any alternative theory.”

    http://www.pssiinternational.com/

  36. #36 Tim
    December 4, 2006

    Ed Brayton is looking sillier and sillier as this conversation goes on. That’s what happens when you let emotions cloud your judgement and support those (Farmer) that shouldn’t be supported.

  37. #37 Larry Caldwell
    December 4, 2006

    Mr. Sandefur, you wrote:

    “What’s more, “fair use” would never permit the entire protected writing to be published without consent of the owner in a manner forbidden by law!”

    Timothy, don’t forget, we didn’t publish either of Mark Farmer’s e-mails in their entirety, we only included brief quotes from the e-mails. We chose to include Mr. Farmer’s actual words from his e-mail, rather than paraphrases, out of fairness to Farmer, so that readers could read what he actually wrote in his e-mails.

    Now, Discovery Institute has posted a link to Mr. Farmer’s lengthy rebuttal to my post on this blog. Again, we have provided readers with Mr. Farmer’s actual words on this blog, rather than a paraphrase of Farmer’s words on the DI blog, as we could have done. And, significantly, Mr. Farmer has expressed his satisfaction to me regarding my clarification of his position in my responsive post on this blog; and Mr. Farmer has expressed satisfaction with DI’s publication of the link to Farmer’s response on this blog.

    Notably, Farmer has never communicated any objection to the fact that I quoted from his e-mails in the first place; he just requested that we post his response and clarify his actual positions, which we’ve done.

    So now, Mr. Sandefur, getting back to your legal argument … Even assuming arguendo that the Carpenter Foundation case supports you on fair use, it still wouldn’t support a viable legal claim by Farmer. Under that decision, he wouldn’t be entitled to injunctive relief, and he wouldn’t be able to prove any recoverable damages.

    Mr. Sandefur, above you accuse me of “throwing around legal threats and scaring the crap out of good people–people who are safe as a legal matter, because your claims have no realistic connection to the basics of the law, but who are still afraid of legal procedures that they don’t know about. You’re a bully, Mr. Caldwell, and an ass, who enjoys throwing threats of baseless lawsuits at people in order to silence their criticism.”

    Well, Mr. Sandefur, let’s review; you are an attorney making implied legal threats against DI and me on behalf of a person who hasn’t even retained you, who apparently has no objection to our quotation from his e-mails, and who, even if he did object, would not be entitled to equitable relief or damages in court in any event. And you are doing so in an effort to try to silence our criticism of people such as Farmer.

    So by your own criteria, Mr. Sandefur, what does that make you?

  38. #38 Ed Brayton
    December 4, 2006

    Isn’t it interesting how Larry so neatly dodged John’s question while pretending to answer it. He even cleverly edited John’s question. Here’s what John asked, in full:

    What scientific evidence is that, Larry?

    Please be specific. Note that since you wrote “evidence,” quoting of anyone would not fit the bill.

    Larry edited out the second part, obviously because he was not going to comply with it and actually be specific. But he doesn’t even bother to quote someone else, he merely points to the lists of doctors and “scientists” (most of them not in relevant fields and therefore as irrelevant as a list of auto mechanics) who reject evolution, on the assumption that if they reject it they must have evidence against evolution. Nice dodge, Larry. Now how about actually answering the question?

  39. #39 Ed Brayton
    December 4, 2006

    Tim wrote:

    Ed Brayton is looking sillier and sillier as this conversation goes on. That’s what happens when you let emotions cloud your judgement and support those (Farmer) that shouldn’t be supported.

    This might be a lot more meaningful if you actually, you know, made an argument. If you actually pointed out something I’ve said that is false or silly, someone might actually take such conclusionary pronouncements seriously.

  40. #40 gwangung
    December 4, 2006

    What scientific evidence is that, Larry?”

    The scientific evidence that has led over 600 Ph.D. scientists and counting to sign onto a statement that says “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

    Mr. Caldwell:

    A) This is NOT scientific evidence. You know quite well it isn’t.

    B) You also know that some of the people who signed have RECANTED, because they stated they were misled by the originators of the statement.

    C) And you also know that most of these people are NOT experts or particularly learned in biology. There are far more biologists named STEVE who’ve support evolution.

    This is a lame statement made in support of a lame argument. You can do much better than this.

  41. #41 jba
    December 4, 2006

    gwangung: “You can do much better than this.”

    Are you really sure of that? :>

  42. #42 Jeff Hebert
    December 4, 2006

    Ed Said:

    Would you like to make a small wager on the outcome? $100 says you lose

    Sadly, due to provisions in the new anti-gambling legislation, we’re going to have to arrest you for that, Ed. In addition, further investigation has shown that as a Lions and MSU fan, you’re guilty of crimes against humanity and are, thus, an enemy combatant. I’d recommend you call a lawyer, but you’re not going to be allowed one where you’re going.

  43. #43 Kate
    December 4, 2006

    Wait a second… you mean Bryan Lighter wasn’t a parody?? When I got to the line “What’s wrong with being a bully if you can get away with it?”, I was certain that he was being entirely tounge-in-cheek… I shudder to think that such people can vote!

  44. #44 Raging Bee
    December 4, 2006

    Larry: have any of those “over 600 PhD scientists,” or those “hundreds of medical doctors,” done any actual scientific work to debunk, or even cast any serious doubt on, the theory of evolution?

    (PS: if all those hundreds of experts actually signed a public statement, then you should be able to give us an exact count of the signatories to each statement. Why have you not done so? Afraid of confronting the reality gwangung already explained?)

  45. #45 Raging Bee
    December 4, 2006

    Is “Brian Lighter” a parody? Or is he the Cliff Notes version of Larry Fafarman?

  46. #46 Timothy Sandefur
    December 4, 2006

    I’m not sure I understand Caldwell’s point with regard to his illegal publishing of Mr. Farmer’s emails. The links provided on Discovery Institute blog really have nothing to do with it. The fact that Farmer “has never communicated any objection to the fact that I quoted from his e-mails in the first place” has nothing to do with it. It’s true that Farmer may not object to Caldwell’s lawbreaking. After all, it is a minor thing, and most people are not as eager as Caldwell is to take minor infractions and run to the courthouse for a round of “Pin the Martyrdom on The Donkey.” So Farmer isn’t a litigious ass like Caldwell is–that hardly proves that the republications of the emails was allowed under Cal. Civ. Code s. 985, which states that “Letters and other private communications in writing…cannot be published against the will of the writer, except by authority of law.”

    As for my alleged “implied legal threats”–now that’s laughable. I made no threats. I simply pointed out that in addition to being a bully and an ass, Larry Caldwell is also a hypocrite who is a stickler for the law when it’s his ass being skewered, but republishes emails in violation of state law. What I said is true, and remains so. Note that Caldwell provides no defense of his ridiculous “fair use” statement, for example. Typical for this man, who is an embarrassment to the California bar.

  47. #47 Leni
    December 4, 2006

    Holy crap- Caldwell passed the bar?

    That is embarrassing. For California.

  48. #48 Larry Caldwell
    December 4, 2006

    Mr. Sandefur, since Mr. Farmer hasn’t and apparently doesn’t object to our quotation from his e-mails, you have no evidence to support your accusations that Farmer’s quotations were used “against his will,” or that my use of those quotes was “illegal” or “in vioation of state law.”

  49. #49 Raging Bee
    December 4, 2006

    Larry: Sandefur explicitly quoted the passage of law on which his accusations are based; and you are lying when you say otherwise. Farmer’s failure (so far) to file a complaint does not change what the law says, any more than my failure to report a pot-smoker to the cops makes pot legal.

    PS: You still haven’t answered my questions about the relevance of those “public statements” allegedly casting doubt on evolution.

  50. #50 Larry Caldwell
    December 4, 2006

    John:

    Your argument implies either (1) that none of the over 600 Ph.D. scientists and hundreds of Medical Doctors who have signed onto these statements are qualified to state a scientific opinion regarding the scientific evidence relevant to Darwin’s theory of evolution, or (2) that they’re all stating such a scientific opinion without any evidence to support such an opinion.

    Here’s a link to an article with citations to peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that discuss the scientific evidence you appear to be looking for:

    http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=1127

    I’m sure those articles, written by scientists, do a better job of describing the scientific evidence that poses a challenge to Darwin’s theory of evolution than I could.

  51. #51 Ed Brayton
    December 4, 2006

    Ah, the famous list of articles allegedly supporting ID. Which conveniently, and absurdly, includes lots of articles by people who explicitly reject ID and have demanded to be taken off the list. None of this, Larry, even comes close to answering the question you were asked, which was to present the evidence for ID. You’ve now tried two different ways to dodge it. One could easily conclude that’s because you don’t have a real answer to it. That’s okay; no one else does either.

  52. #52 Raging Bee
    December 4, 2006

    Larry wrote:

    John:

    Your argument implies either (1) that none of the over 600 Ph.D. scientists and hundreds of Medical Doctors who have signed onto these statements are qualified to state a scientific opinion regarding the scientific evidence relevant to Darwin’s theory of evolution, or (2) that they’re all stating such a scientific opinion without any evidence to support such an opinion.

    John’s statements “implied” nothing of the sort; you’re deliberately distorting other people’s statements again. John merely alluded to the now-well-known facts that a) signed public statements do not constitute evidence for anything; and b) no one, signatory or not, had actually done any science to disprove evolution, or offered any evidence to cast doubt on the theory.

    I’m sure those articles, written by scientists, do a better job of describing the scientific evidence that poses a challenge to Darwin’s theory of evolution than I could.

    I just checked out that link you provided; and in the first paragraph, I noticed this sentence, bold and in italics:

    The publications are not presented either as support for the theory of intelligent design, or as indicating that the authors cited doubt evolution.

    Do you even read the articles you cite? Or do you just toss out URLs to make yourself look knowledgeable?

  53. #53 Raging Bee
    December 4, 2006

    Oops, sorry, the first paragraph after John: should also have been italicized.

  54. #54 Coin
    December 4, 2006

    By the way, Mr. Sandefur, could you please explain something which is confusing me? How does “California Civil Code section 985″ apply to an email sent from Georgia to California? Wouldn’t the fact the email is sent over state lines make state law inapplicable? For example, it was my informal understanding that many states have laws which make it illegal to record a telephone conversation without the knowledge of the other party, but that these laws cannot apply to telephone calls placed across state lines, in which case only federal law applies. Is this correct, and if so, what is the difference between the case of recording a phone call and publishing a “written communication” which would allow California law to apply in the latter case but not the former?

    Just trying to understand, thanks.

  55. #55 gwangung
    December 4, 2006

    Mr. Caldwell, you ARE capable of beter, but your continued reference to such discredited lists as the Discovery Institute’s is moronic.
    Come now, you are basically saying that engineers and physicists are equally competent to judge biology as biologists.

    Again, you are dodging the request to PROVIDE EVIDENCE. Referring to a list that a) includes scientists THAT WANT OFF and b) includes scientists whose expertise are not in biology is NOT EVIDENCE.

    Provide evidence….how about doing the hard work of ACTUALLY READING the research, instead of referring to the Discovery Institute (whose references, in many cases, CONTRADICT their point).

  56. #56 Mark Farmer
    December 4, 2006

    For the record, my emails to QSEA (not specifically to Larry Caldwell although only he and Mrs. Caldwell responded) were not sent with the intent of public distribution but rather so that I might learn more about the mission of QSEA (this was in fact the subject line of my original email). I am certain that Mr. Caldwell will confirm this, thus ending speculation as to whether or not I was trying to somehow disguise the intent of my inquiry.

    The quotes from my emails were accurate but were distributed without my express permission to do so. I have not filed any formal or legal complaints against Mr. Caldwell but neither do I give up the right to do so at some later date.

    I leave it to you legal beagles to hash this one out. I am an evolutionist and scientist of faith who is rather enjoying this dialogue and all the discussion my simple inquiry has sparked.

    -Mark A. Farmer

  57. #57 Eric
    December 7, 2006

    The original email from Dr. Farmer claimed

    I was considering making a donation to Quality Science Education for All but in reading about your recent activities I am still a bit confused as to what the mission of QSEA actually is. Specifically I would like to know whether or not you support the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being taught in our public schools. This is an issue I feel very strongly about and would need to know your position before making a decision to financially support QSEA.” (emphasis added)

    If Dr. Farmer’s email was fully sincere, it would indicate that Dr. Farmer was seriously considering financial support for QSEA, provided that the mission of QSEA did not conflict with his own position on the stated issue of concern, i.e. the question of teaching “the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in public schools — or more specifically in the context of the mission of QSEA, in Quality (public) Science Education for All.

    Consequently, I would be very interested to know what answer to the stated concern would have encouraged Dr. Farmer toward financial support.

    It is a plain fact that the mission of QSEA has never included or proposed putting “the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” into quality science education for all. It turns out that Farmer is actually opposed to this as well. (“I do not believe that public schools or universities should be used for the promulgation or promotion of any one organized religion. Never once did I say or imply that I thought that the teachings of Jesus should be part of the public school curriculum.”)

    On the issue identified by Dr. Farmer as necessary to his decision, the mission of QSEA agrees with the position of Dr. Farmer. Neither intends to introduce “the teachings of Jesus” into the curriculum.

    So, should QSEA expect to see support from Dr. Farmer, as implied by Dr. Farmer’s email? If not, what response from QSEA could possibly have lead toward Dr. Farmer giving the implied financial support, if the email was indeed sincere and truthful? Does there exist any possible answer to the stated concern that ever had any chance of leading toward financial support?

    If not, it would then seem that Dr. Farmer’s email was disingenuos, and apparently motivated by something other than a desire to financially support QSEA. In that case, he was legitimately caught pretending to be something that he was not.

  58. #58 Ed Brayton
    December 7, 2006

    Eric wrote:

    Consequently, I would be very interested to know what answer to the stated concern would have encouraged Dr. Farmer toward financial support.

    The answer seems obvious to me, perhaps because I’ve discussed this with Mark. I imagine the answer that they do not support putting religious alternatives like ID into science classrooms. That’s Mark’s position, and he does indeed feel strongly about it. Unfortunately, Caldwell does support that (whether they call it by that name is irrelevant), so no, I doubt they’ll be getting any money from him.

  59. #59 Coin
    December 7, 2006

    Ed wrote:

    I imagine the answer that they do not support putting religious alternatives like ID into science classrooms. That’s Mark’s position, and he does indeed feel strongly about it. Unfortunately, Caldwell does support that (whether they call it by that name is irrelevant), so no, I doubt they’ll be getting any money from him.

    I think what Eric is trying to say is that if QSEA is the kind of group that Farmer would not be interested in giving money to, then it was disengenous of Farmer to ask QSEA questions in order to find out whether or not they’re the kind of group which Farmer would be interested in giving money to. Or… something.

    Eric wrote:

    “Specifically I would like to know whether or not you support the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being taught in our public schools. This is an issue I feel very strongly about…”

    Consequently, I would be very interested to know what answer to the stated concern would have encouraged Dr. Farmer toward financial support.

    “No”, I think.

    I mean, you’d have to ask Dr. Farmer of course, but my understanding from what he has written here is that he feels very strongly that public schools are not the appropriate place to teach the word of his Lord and savior Jesus Christ, and so would be less inclined to support a group which supported such things.

  60. #60 Larry Caldwell
    December 8, 2006

    Ed, you wrote:

    “I imagine the answer that they do not support putting religious alternatives like ID into science classrooms. That’s Mark’s position, and he does indeed feel strongly about it. Unfortunately, Caldwell does support that (whether they call it by that name is irrelevant), so no, I doubt they’ll be getting any money from him.”

    I have never supported “putting religious alternatives like ID into science classrooms” and I don’t now. So, Ed, your claim that I do is simply false.

    To the contrary, I have consistently supported leaving all religious viewpoints on evolution out of biology classes, including my own. Which is why I opppose Eugenie Scott’s recommendation on the UC Museum of Paleontology website that religion be discussed in biology classes for the purpose of persuading students to moderate their personal religious views towards evolution, and why I oppose UC Berkeley/National Science Foundation’s recommendation that public school teachers use liberal Christian theology in biology class to try to convince students that “most Christian and Jewish groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution” or that “The misconception that one has to choose between religion and science [evolution] is divisive.” I equally oppose those who advocate including conservative Christian religious views on evolution in biology class.

  61. #61 Eric
    December 8, 2006

    Ed, I think Coin has the better understanding of my point.

    It is readily apparent, even from the most cursory understanding, that QSEA intends to promote including evidence against Neo-Darwinism within public science education, alongside the evidence that supports it. Is it really true that Dr. Farmer was seriously considering supporting such an organization financially? If so, perhaps Dr. Farmer would like to explain why he wanted to support such an organization. Perhaps there are nuances to his position that have yet to come out of the closet.

    If not — if there never was any real intention of support, then the email was a pretense, plain and simple, and Dr. Farmer was caught pretending to be something he was not. If such is the case, a frank and honest admission would be more commendable than attempting continued pretense.

    I find it even more difficult to swallow the implication made in the email that his decision of support was connected in any way to the position of the QSEA mission regarding the teachings of Jesus in public schools. Mr. Caldwell has made it clear that QSEA is not advocating this. Neither is Dr. Farmer. On the issue Dr. Farmer raised, they agree. If that had had any true relevance as an obstacle, that obstacle is removed. But it seems highly questionable that any answer to this question could have possibly lead to support, as the letter implied.

    Leaving QSEA aside, if it is the case that some organization X has no interest in adding religion to the curriculum, and it is the case that their mission is to have public students see scientific criticisms of Neo-Darwinism, as well as the case for it, then is that the kind of organization that Dr. Farmer wants to give his hard earned money to support?

    If he endorses such a mission and would seriously like to support such an organization, I would very much like to hear from him why he feels that way so strongly that he would attach financial support to it.

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