Disco. rubs out new writer's ministry background

Every now and again, the Disco. 'tute's blog rolls out some breathless announcement. Sometimes they've been invited to join other creationist groups at a public forum, or maybe they're angry at a newspaper article claiming they have ties to religion, or they might just have come up with another reason to claim evolution is at odds with their theistic understanding.

My favorites, though, are the times when they invite a new contributor to their blog. First it was the incomparable Michael Egnor. Then Martin Cothran, who is such a stereotypical wingnut that I'd have had to invent this global warming denying, Holocaust denial-defending, anti-Semitism-trivializing, murder-condoning, racism-coddling, homophobic, anti-woman, anti-sex, logic-refuting logician as an antithesis to TfK if the Discovery Institute hadn't brought him to my attention.

Now comes Heather Zeiger. Her introductory essay is, by the standards of other DI bloggers fairly tame. A bit too much like a college paper that she keeps circulating in hopes that some day someone will see the brilliance in it that her professors missed. But it doesn't accuse anyone of inspiring a murderous rampage, and doesn't even seem bothered by acknowledging that evolution can do some things. Her argument is â¦Â oh who cares?

The point is really the introduction, which was presumably penned either by blog editor Anika Smith, DI communications director Rob Crowther, or the ever-charming Casey Luskin.

Today we welcome a new contributing writer to Evolution News & Views, Heather Zeiger. Ms. Zeiger graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in government and politics. She received her M.S. in chemistry, also from UTD; her research was in organic synthesis and materials.

Oddly, when you check Ms. Zeiger out on Google, you find her much more informative bio at PROBE Ministries, a fundamentalist religious organization run by a DI fellow who also likes to wax on about the perils of masturbation (I count at least 60 articles on masturbation at the PROBE website, including this, which should be framed: "As an overcomer in pornography and masturbationâ¦").

Anyway, Zeiger has worked for PROBE for 4 years, a fact which Disco. dances around. Compare their bio of Zeiger to her bio at PROBE:

Heather Zeiger graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in government and politics. She received her M.S. in chemistry, also from UTD; her research was in organic synthesis and materials. She interned at Probe Ministries prior to graduate school and now serves with Probe as a Research Associate. Her interests involve science and culture issues, including bioethics, origins, and the environment. She is currently working on a M.A. in bioethics from Trinity International University. She is married to David, another former Probe intern and teacher at Trinity Christian Academy. You can find Heatherâs updates on her web site: www.hz-probe.ministryhome.org.

The bolded portion is almost identical to DI's, the rest was oddly omitted. It's like DI wants to hide something about her background. And it's not uncommon for people involved with DI to want to hide parts of their résumé. So maybe it was her choice to elide her last 4 years of work. After all, the last update on her PROBE website doesn't mention DI, either, just indicating, "I am transitioning out of Probe and will be working on some new and exciting things!"

Then again, she hasn't been shy about noting her ties to PROBE or to Disco. Looking through her posts to the PROBE website make stimulating reading. Here's her "prayer update" (a personal fundraising newsletter, as far as I can tell), describing how she came to testify against accurate science standards in Texas 2 years ago:

Discovery Institute called [Disco. fellow] Dr. Ray Bohlin and I to testify for the State Board of Educationâs public hearing regarding the new wording for the TEKS before their final vote in March. I was asked to testify as someone who went through Texas public schools and is now a scientist. Since my background is in chemistry, I addressed the origin of life issue as an example of an active field of research with many unanswered questions, yet it is presented in class as a case-closed fact, a boring tid-bit which does not foster scientific curiosity in our students.

Now, her masters dissertation doesn't indicate that she has any specific expertise on origin of life research, and she's got no papers in that field. Maybe Disco. just figures some of Bohlin rubbed off on her. A review of her other prayer letters and writings at PROBE doesn't inspire confidence in her scientific background.

She a peek at her work at PROBE and Trinity University in her prayer letter from spring, 2009:

One of the big areas that God has called me to work in is bioethics. I am pursuing a bioethics degree from Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL...from a distance. I am still working at Probe full-time, [â¦]

Iâm looking forward to this because everything I learn and study at Trinity I have been able to use in a ministry context at Probe, from my articles on human/animal hybrids, to healthcare, to questions about genetic engineering. [â¦]

This program has truly been one of the best investments Iâve made. Everything I have done with it, I have been able to put back into service for God either at Probe or in conversations and interactions with others.

And now she's bringing her evangelical-school bioethics ministry to the "it's all about the science" Disco. 'Tute, not back to PROBE Ministries (whose doctrinal statement demands belief that "Man was originally created in the image of God. He sinned by disobeying God; thus, he was alienated from his Creator. The historic fall brought all mankind under divine condemnation.")

In fairness, she might just have got uncomfortable with all the talk about "overcomers in masturbation" around the ministry. But her stated mission fits nicely with Disco.'s. Compare this remark she tossed off:

My personal calling (and vision, if you will) is to keep the Christian perspective in science,

With a document from Disco.'s found (which they've since tried to hide like a dirty Kleenex, or perhaps a tube sock):

Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. â¦the Center explores how new developments ⦠raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature. â¦

Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions. â¦

Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

They fit together likeâ¦Â I mean she'll be handy around ⦠I'm sure she'll work out fine.

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"Since my background is in chemistry, I addressed the origin of life issue as an example of an active field of research with many unanswered questions, yet it is presented in class as a case-closed fact, a boring tid-bit which does not foster scientific curiosity in our students."

Willingness to speak in public about scientific topics in which one lacks expertise? Check.

Unsupported assertions about what goes on in public school science classrooms? Check.

Yep. She'll fit right in at the DI.

One of the big areas that God has called me to work in is bioethics.

I know that it is common in the US but I wonder why God seemingly never addresses Europeans directly, not even his representative in Rome.

sparc wrote "I know that it is common in the US but I wonder why God seemingly never addresses Europeans directly, not even his representative in Rome". The main reason is that the percentage of Europeans who want to impose a religious view is tiny. Also, the percentage of Europeans who vote on religious grounds is tiny.
The main problem is infection via the English language from the USA to Ireland and Britain. So we have bloviating loons like Mr Kevin Myers of "The Irish Independent", whose most recent article about evolution can be found here: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/kevin-myers-ev… He is also rabidly phobic about Islam, in my opinion. The rest of Europe has a more or less effective language filter against the latest nuttiness to ttravel across the Atlantic. Compare, say, French feminism, with the full-blooded anglo version.
Finally, and happily, there is no body of organised opinion in Europe trying to reverse the Enlightenment as the Disco bobbers wish to.

Nice (re)opening shot. It is good to have you back. Makes me feel like firing my blog up again after a few weeks off for exhaustion.

There are some really scary people out there ain't there. And they are not all TeaBaggers either!

I addressed the origin of life issue as an example of an active field of research with many unanswered questions, yet it is presented in class as a case-closed fact, a boring tid-bit which does not foster scientific curiosity in our students.

Because nothing fosters scientific curiosity like teaching children that scientific research is misguided and futile since life was poofed into existence through magic.

So I don't see what's so scandalous here, since a simple Google search gives all the information you "uncovered." People highlight areas of their resumes all the time depending on what is applicable in a given job/situation. When she worked with the ministry and had to raise her own funds, she wrote to donors in a different fashion. Obviously, neither DI nor Ms Zeiger feel like her past and current ministry associations will impact the subject matter she will cover as a writer for DI. Perhaps you think they're wrong, but it's not dishonest or misleading.

As far as the content of her post, I wonder if you agree or disagree that modern science has taken us to a place where we have to conquer the very processes that made us. Should we guide our own evolution with hope and excitement, or should we admit that sometimes millions of years of evolution has found the right solution and we "shouldn't tamper?"

By A_Science_Teacher (not verified) on 17 Sep 2010 #permalink

A_Science_Teacher: I certainly do think that Ms. Zeiger's last 4 years of work, work at PROBE and studies at an evangelical school, will impact her work at DI. They met her through that work, so they clearly think well of it, and leaving out the last four years is hardly the sort of modest omission that can be waved away as a constraint of space. Her time at PROBE is a lot more relevant than her work on immobilized Wurster's crowns.

As to the content, it's drivel. Everything we do helps guide our evolution, whether we intend to "tamper" or not. She seems to find it contradictory that people would simultaneously accept certain phenomena as the result of a noble evolutionary history, while trying to overcome other results of evolution. But it's hardly a contradiction to think gravity is real but still support spaceflight, or to accept heredity but still think people should be able to use makeup to change their appearance. Evolution, like gravity and other natural phenomena, is not normative.