Pharyngula

Friday at the University of Minnesota

Our Friday plans are getting better and better. Remember, the crappy talk by John West blaming Darwin for Hitler is at 7 on 30 November at the UM campus — come prepared to be critical. The fun part is that we’re meeting between 5:30 and 6:45 in the Campus Club, on the fourth floor of the Coffman Union. Then some really good news: Mark Borrello, UM’s expert in the history of science, is going to speak briefly after West’s drivel. West isn’t going to get away with anything, at least on Friday.

Unfortunately, he’s also being given an opportunity to lie unchecked to the public on Saturday. The Minnesota Family Council — you already know that this is an evil organization because they’ve got “family” in their title — is going to sponsor another talk.

“Darwin’s ‘Evolution Revolution’ and its Impact on Science, Sex Education, Crime/Punishment, Poverty, Business, and Life & Death Issues”

When:
Saturday, December 1st, 9 am to noon

Where:Christ Presbyterian Church, Room 204, Edina, Minnesota (At Highway 100 and 70th St.)

Cost:
$15; Register by calling 612.789.8811, ext. 204 or email. Send checks to Minnesota Family Institute, 2855 Anthony Lane S., #150, Minneapolis, MN 55412

Dr. John West
of the Discovery Institute and author of the recently released book, “Darwin Day in America: how our politics and culture has been dehumanized in the name of science,”
will lead an exciting half-day workshop on the cultural implications of Charles Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution” and discuss fresh developments undermining its materialist foundations.

Dr. West will discuss the impact Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection
, rooted in scientific materialism/naturalism and its negative impact on a wide range of human endeavors including:

  • Comprehensive sex education
  • the treatment of crime as mental illness
  • the use of eugenics, sterilization, and abortion to solve poverty problems
  • “survival of the fittest” business ethics

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection gave scientific legitimacy to scientific materialism/naturalism which is rooted in the belief there is no God and man and creation is not the result of Design and a Creator but a purposeless, meaningless, chance process.

This worldview has impacted critical areas of life:

  • In politics it’s resulted in a utopian belief that science can solve society’s moral and social problems by changing human nature and re-engineering society resulting in the dehumanizing of individuals and the diminution of human dignity.
  • In ethics it’s resulted in moral relativism and evolving standards of right and wrong.
  • Stifling of free speech.
    Religious free speech is stifled because evolutionists and materialists control the definition of right and wrong.

In conclusion, Dr. West will discuss recent developments in the debate over evolution and what they bode for the future.

I’m not going to attend, and I definitely wouldn’t pay out $15 to listen to this fraud. At least you can get an idea from that laundry list of social ills what he’s planning to babble about.

Comments

  1. #1 Hank Fox
    November 27, 2007

    Just a suggestion, PZ:

    Tell interested people to arrive at the event as much as an hour or more early.

    An event near me last year which featured a creationist shill was so packed by highly-organized Christian church groups that nobody critical could get in. The Christians were able to organize more than 200 early-arriving, cheering, applauding, god-praising people to pack the hall with an audience sympathetic to the DI guy.

  2. #2 Martin
    November 27, 2007

    Solving humanity’s problems is dehumanizing?

    Sigh…only a Christian…

  3. #3 Stuart Ritchie
    November 27, 2007

    These guys are h-h-h-hilarious. The last creationist I saw doing a talk on this subject was SAVAGED in the question time, even by his fellow creationists!

    ‘But wait… didn’t people systematically massacre other people before Darwin discovered evolution?’
    ‘Well… yes… but… ah… next question?’

  4. #4 coathangrrr
    November 27, 2007

    * In ethics it’s resulted in moral relativism and evolving standards of right and wrong.
    * Stifling of free speech. Religious free speech is stifled because evolutionists and materialists control the definition of right and wrong.

    Wow, relativism *and* stifling free speech. You’d think those would be at odds with each other. I guess the attacks on literature by Christian organizations don’t count as attacks on free speech. And neither does picking and choosing which parts of the bible to accept as literal count as relativist. Clearly the bible only condones slavery because of the time it was written.

    Oops, relativism!

  5. #5 noncarborundum
    November 27, 2007

    But I like my evolving standards of right and wrong. For example, the Bible encourages genocide and slavery, but I think a whole lot of people are better off now that we think they’re wrong.

  6. #6 MAJeff
    November 27, 2007

    I think it’s a nice reminder where the MFC got their start. They began as the Berean League with the specific goal of opposing the repeal of Minnesota’s sodomy statute. Their only reason for existing is controlling other people’s sex lives.

    Demented Fuckwits (I did my MA Thesis on them, and those two words appeared nowhere in it, to part of my committee’s dismay, I think).

  7. #7 Corey Schlueter
    November 27, 2007

    I found out on my on-line page-a-day calendar that the term “survival of the fittest” is attributed to Herbert Spencer, British philosopher and sociology.

  8. #8 Rey Fox
    November 27, 2007

    its negative impact on a wide range of human endeavors including:

    * Comprehensive sex education
    * the treatment of crime as mental illness
    * the use of eugenics, sterilization, and abortion to solve poverty problems
    * “survival of the fittest” business ethics

    Are these people smoking crack? Seriously.

  9. #9 Scott Hatfield, OM
    November 27, 2007

    I have found that the expression ‘survival of the fittest’ does more harm than good, pedagogically. It is routinely criticized as a tautology by armchair attorneys, involves the easily-misunderstood concept of fitness, and blurs the important distinction between personal survival and reproductive success. Darwin is supposed to have adopted the expression in later editions of the Origin on the prompting of A.R. Wallace, to his apparent regret.

  10. #10 Scott Hatfield, OM
    November 27, 2007

    Oops! I forgot to mention that Dawkins has a nice discussion of ‘fitness’ in The Extended Phenotype which addresses this matter. Definitely recommended.

  11. #11 Tex
    November 27, 2007

    These guys just don’t understand reality. Even if evolution were guilty of all it is charged with above, that has no bearing on whether it is an accurate description of how the world works. Relativity, with its postulated equivalence between mass and energy, is responsible for atomic bombs and every nuclear power plant disaster in the past and in the future. Using the same logic, these nuts should be going around arguing that Einstein was wrong because people were killed at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl.

  12. #12 MAJeff
    November 27, 2007

    Are these people smoking crack? Seriously.

    Yes, yes they are. My thesis was an analysis of their framing (sorry PZ) of sex education from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. They really are of the “talk about it and kids will do it” school of thought toward comprehensive sexuality education. Their framing shifted in the early 1990s from “no sex ed” to “abstinence only sex ed,” in part–I argued–because comprehensive sex ed, including condoms for disease prevention, had such overwhelming support. They’ve always relied on obfuscation and lying in the public sphere, and upon having a greater than proportional impact among decision-makers. Their prescriptions continually fail, but these are the folks for whom “faith” matters, so we get faith-based policies like abstinence only.

    I truly despise these people. I’ve seen them at work at the Capitol; I’ve lobbied mentally challenged legislators under their sway (Nueville, I’m looking at you); I’ve worked hearings they’ve attended. They’re evil; pure and simple. Evil. Demented. Fuckwits.

  13. #13 vhutchison
    November 27, 2007

    At a Presbyterian Church? Presbyterian churches even here in Oklahoma do not entertain such nonsense. Indeed, the Presby Church of the U.S. has a good resolution against creationism teaching in public schools, etc.

    Go early and give ‘em hell!

  14. #14 The Stone
    November 27, 2007

    Give ‘em Hell PZ, no uh I mean give ‘em a black hole to talk into instead.

  15. #15 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 27, 2007

    Dr. West will discuss…its negative impact on a wide range
    of human endeavors including:

    …”survival of the fittest” business ethics

    Fuckin commie…

  16. #16 Uber
    November 27, 2007

    But I like my evolving standards of right and wrong.

    I have often wondered about people who oppose evolving standards of right/wrong. Clearly they haven’t read the bible and frankly isn’t not having an evolving standard the very definition of close minded?

    How is that a good thing?

  17. #17 Bert Chadick
    November 27, 2007

    The Presbyterians have fractured in the last couple of decades, and a lot of them have taken up snake handling. Suburban demi-fascists lubricated with Dallas oil money have created one of the creepiest organizations around.

  18. #18 DiscGrace
    November 27, 2007

    Mark Borello?! So you jerks at Morris are the ones who stole him away from Michigan State before I got to take his Science & Tech Studies class! Instead I got stuck with a crazy lady who was obsessed with East German (Stasi) spy stuff. And who at one point assigned us several chapters of reading, then came into class the day it was supposed to be finished and said, “Well, I couldn’t get past the first few pages with all those acronyms! We’re not going to do anything with this textbook after all!”

    Now I know it’s all your fault.

  19. #19 MAJeff
    November 27, 2007

    My recollection is that the Presbyterians were the “saner” Calvinists…Now, the Calvinists I know are Christian Reformed, so it doesn’t take a lot to look sane. But still, Calvinism is itself pretty fucked, so…..

  20. #20 Shawn Wilkinson
    November 27, 2007

    I thought poverty and hunger was abated by human farming and the eating of the young?

  21. #21 MAJeff
    November 27, 2007

    I thought poverty and hunger was abated by human farming and the eating of the young?

    Not young enough. Abortion has gone up under Bush, but we’re still behind for fetus omelet orders (damned stem cell researchers). You’d be surprised how well those things cook up with some onions and mushrooms. It’s a Western without the ham!

  22. #22 matthew
    November 27, 2007

    Off Topic:

    Youtube’s Pat Condel has a new vid out called “Why debate dogma?” and it’s damn near perfect.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=I5cXWElb-GE

  23. #23 waldteufel
    November 28, 2007

    Matthew, thanks for the heads up on Condel’s new video.

  24. #24 Dan
    November 28, 2007

    Before Darwin, businessmen were noble.

  25. #25 ngong
    November 28, 2007

    This West dude shows a blatant disregard for history in his very first sentence. Darwin had nothing to do with the Evolution Revolution. That was Lancelot Link.

  26. #26 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    November 28, 2007

    And prior to that, they were nobles. This meant that war was just an extension of business, and you got to be judge and jury in any internal dispute.

    Ahh, the good old days, when Knights were despicable bullies and women were chattel.

  27. #27 Rick Schauer
    November 28, 2007

    Can’t wait. (sheepish grin)

  28. #28 Michael X
    November 28, 2007

    Wait, a DI fellow is holding his talk at a church?! But hey, doesn’t that fly in the face of their image as a strictly science foundation with no ties to religion? [/obnoxious sarcasm]

    I’m actually most interested in these “fresh developments undermining [evolution's] materialist foundations.” I’m thinking that “fresh” means give or take 200 years. Not the kind of people you’d want to buy fresh baked bread from…

  29. #29 Peter Ashby
    November 28, 2007

    “My recollection is that the Presbyterians were the “saner” Calvinists…”

    Hah! have you met the Rev Dr Ian Paisley? he is head of his own splinter Free Presbyterian Church. They are even smaller than the wee, wee, wee Frees. Some of them make Fred Phelps look normal.

    Fortunately over here with the exception of Paisley they have zero influence unless you live in the northern parts of the Western Isles (the southern bits are Catholic and more relaxed). Though I understand it is now possible to get a drink in Stornaway on a Sunday without having to go to the airport. I used to work with a guy who, when he was home on leave from the army, used to take bolt cutters to the chains on the swings on a Saturday night.

  30. #30 nunyer
    November 28, 2007

    Signs. You need signs.

    Not the biblical kind – the kind all of the audience can read even if you’re not allowed to ask questions.

    Signs that will make good pictures/copy for the front page. Short, sweet, simple, clever.

    Like copies of the “ID Expelled? No! Flunked? Yes!” sticker.

    Or a list of pre-Darwin evildoers.

    Just thinkin’ . . .

  31. #31 Jason Failes
    November 28, 2007

    “Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection succeeded due to science’s use of methodological naturalism, which is rooted in the belief we should seek natural causes to explain naturally observable phenomenon.”

    There. I fixed it.

  32. #32 Caitlin
    November 28, 2007

    This church is Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) according to their website, which means they SHOULD be mainstream and liberal by Christian standards. It’s the Presbyterian Chruch of America (PCA) that is much more conservative in a “Focus on the Family” kind of way. I’m surprised to find that a PCUSA church would host this nonsense.

  33. #33 Kristine
    November 28, 2007

    I can tell you, this time I’m not putting up with the You-can’t-sit-there-my-Bible’s-on-that-chair-because-my-friend’s-coming-soon crap. I sat on the fucking floor all during Behe’s speech with a seat open (and a Bible on it) and a surly girl next to it.

  34. #34 Jim A.
    November 28, 2007

    Why would somebody use a biological process as basis for an ethical/moral system? What does one have to do with the other? The answer is, they DON’T. They quotemine science to support their preconceptions the same way people quotemine the bible. At least the bible was intended to be a guide to an ethical system… for bronze-age sheppards.

  35. #35 Spaulding
    November 28, 2007

    Well, if West would strip out those fallacious criticisms of biological knowledge via appeal to consequences, then he’d just have a discussion of philosophy and ethics. And that’s fine. Sounds like he’s opposed to unethical business practices and censorship, which is nice, even if I disagree with some of the other stuff he advocates.

    It’s kind of too bad he’s paranoid that biological knowledge represents some sort of vast conspiracy against human decency.

    Just kidding! He’s a dumbass using some kind of pathetic bait-and-switch moral logic. You’re opposed to unethical business practices, right? Therefore science is arbitrary and bad, and god is real and good. What a powerful mind, huh?

    For future reference, West: scientists don’t control the definition of right and wrong, reality does.

  36. #36 Kristine
    November 28, 2007

    Tell interested people to arrive at the event as much as an hour or more early. An event near me last year which featured a creationist shill was so packed by highly-organized Christian church groups that nobody critical could get in.

    Yes, this is probably what happened when Behe was at the U, too. Maybe we should ask people to give up their seats by saying, “Don’t be so ‘Darwinist’!”

  37. #37 Paul Browne
    November 28, 2007

    ” Dr. West will discuss…its negative impact on a wide range
    of human endeavors including:

    …”survival of the fittest” business ethics”

    LOL…when I read that I just imagined a Con going through the list with “yes…yes..hell yes…hang on just a second?”

  38. #38 Sili
    November 28, 2007

    Peter Ashby, “used to take bolt cutters to the chains on the swings on a Saturday night.”

    I don’t quite follow. Were these the chains the swings sung on so that they couldn’t be used on Sundays? – or were they chained down so that they couldn’t be be used on Sunday? In short, was your colleague crazy or not?

    nunyer, “Or a list of pre-Darwin evildoers.”

    Maybe it’s just Freudian, but I re’d that as “pro-Darwin dildos” and had rather a WTF-moment.

    Good luck making an ass exposing this git for the ass he is.

  39. #39 Adrian
    November 28, 2007

    Christ Presbyterian Church? Real original.

    Someone should start naming churches after Jedi Masters. Then maybe I’d go.

  40. #40 Sastra, OM
    November 28, 2007

    The religious worldview has impacted critical areas of life:

    * In politics it’s resulted in a utopian belief that religion can solve society’s moral and social problems by supernatural forces changing invisible human souls and selecting between the “saved” and the “damned,” resulting in the dehumanizing of individuals and the diminution of human dignity.
    * In ethics it’s resulted in moral relativism and arbitrary standards of right and wrong as there is no way to choose between competing supernatural claims which are closed, dogmatic, and cannot be judged by their earthly consequences.
    * Stifling of free speech. Secular free speech is stifled because religionists who claim “God’s” backing try to control religion’s right to define what’s right and wrong in social politics.

    There, I fixed it.

  41. #41 Rev. Barky
    November 28, 2007

    Darn, and I just gave my last 15 bucks to stop the murder of unborn babies, oh, oh, it just tears my heart open just to think about it – please, please someone has to put a stop to this – arrrrrggh! Come back Terry Shiavo, come back! it hurts so much my tears are falling into my ketboard annt blooog ks
    ee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee g22ddaammlll ! fukkknn kkebybbrrrrrrrrrddd!!!!! jjjjeeeessssuuuusss cccccchhhhhhriiiisssttt1111111111!!!!

  42. #42 Rev Barky
    November 28, 2007

    Pat Condel’s video just hit me between the thighs – ugh! I have been bumping my head up against this sentiment in my local Atheist group. He brought up the crux of the matter “you wont change anyone’s minds by ridiculing them”. So why is it that when one gives a brilliant but polite debate on reason to a class of bible college students they say afterward “I’m glad I attended – it just makes my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ even stronger”

  43. #43 Monado
    December 1, 2007

    In the past, say up til the 1940s, the swings were chained down in parks on Sundays so that children wouldn’t violate the Sabbath by enjoying themselves in “Toronto the Good.” Thank God that’s over with!

    In, uh, Life With Father, I think, the author (Clarence Day?) said that, as children, his mother had had wonderful Sundays picnicking with her family and his father had had awful Sundays waiting for God’s Day to be over so they could run and jump and play again, so they both decided that their children would have the nice kind of Sundays.

  44. #44 Chiefley
    December 1, 2007

    I think they are barking up the wrong tree. The theory of gravity has been involved in far more nefarious deeds throughout history than ToE.

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