Reverend Mills and the Creationist Lie Machine

I’m putting the text of my response to the most recent complaint published in the op-ed pages of The Advocate today by the good Reverend Gene Mills, head of the Louisiana Family Forum and Defender of the Right (Wing). Here’s a link to the letter.

Here’s a link to the version of my rant below that was published in The Advocate on May 12.

Well, I do enjoy a good rant every now and then, and nothing is quite as entertaining as listening to a member of a majority group complain about conspiracies and oppression, which is why I took such delight in reading Reverend Mills’s diatriabe published on May 7. It appears those evilutionists are at it again, trying to keep the “good word” from students in
public-school science classrooms.

Let’s see what has Mr. Mills and the Louisiana Family Forum up in arms. He states that the Louisiana Science Education Act was passed by an overwhelming majority in the Legislature of 2008. As anyone who has observed politics in
this state for more than five seconds can tell you, a legislative majority does not imply that a statute is correct or appropriate. He further decries the mistreatment of his pet legislation in the media; see, he says, right here there is language that precludes the advancement of religion. Curiously, the Livingston Parish School Board has already brought up teaching actual old-school creationism in their science classes, using this law as a justification (see here: http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/99705064.html). Even if we didn’t have this bald-faced application of the intent, we know that the Discovery Institute, which has been shopping this model statute to any state legislature that will bite, exists to promote intelligent design creationism (which it claims is scientific). So, yes, if we redefine the terms
“science” and “religion,” I guess I could agree with Mr. Mills that the LSEA is clearly not “designed” to promote a religious
agenda in public school science classes.

I’m particularly fascinated by his next paragraph, wherein he mockingly refers to the “settled science” of anthropogenic climate change and something he refers to as “human embryo experimentation for research purposes.” Apparently, he is attempting to link the BP oil leak to what? Climate change? I’m pretty sure the investigative panels have concluded that corruption, collusion, shoddy oversight, and poor management practices were ultimately to blame for the accident which wrought untold damage to Louisiana’s coastal environment and killed 11 men. I’m guessing this must be one of the Right’s “blame Obama” strategies–stir people up against the repeal of LSEA by getting them worked up about the temporary deepwater drilling moratorium. It’s lame and obviously unrelated to the topic at hand. As far as “human embryo experimentation for research purposes,” I know of no such research underway. I believe Mr. Mills means “embryonic stem-cell research.” Is that what you and the DI mean by “human cloning”? Yes, it’s true that the federal government can now once again fund research into life-saving cures for genetic disorders of all kinds using embryonic stem-cells. Whenever I see religious people get worked up over a blastula I start to wonder why they don’t protest outside of fertility clinics, where unimplanted embryos are routinely destroyed.

Finally, he discusses the State-Times (defunct now for many years) as being on the side of the evilutionists trying to censor his ideas. Nobody’s censoring you, Mr. Mills. Obviously The Advocate publishes your many ill-conceived jeremiads. You’re perfectly free to shout about your Christian beliefs in your house of worship every week. But don’t try to sneak your back-door creationism into science classes, because people who care about the future of Louisiana will stand against you and you will lose.

I will add in this forum a few other things on this topic. We have seen editorials time and again by Mr. Mills and Mr. Darrell White of the LFF on this topic and one thing is abundantly clear: either these men have severe issues with a cognitive dissonance around the notion that they are promoting religion in science classes and that America is not a “Christian nation” or they are simply liars. The fact of evolution is not in dispute within the scientific community. Period. Many controversies may erupt in the primary literature (little if any of which I expect that Mr. Mills and his like could even understand, but maybe that’s being unkind) over the tempo and mode of evolution, philosophies of species concepts, appropriate methods of reconstructing biogeographical histories, the significance of neutral mutations, et cetera. But no one questions that life evolved, except in the context of a religious discussion. This fact has been illustrated on numerous occasions and in a variety of forums for the benefit of these men, frequently by Zack Kopplin and Dr. Barbara Forrest.

I find it particularly disingenuous of Mr. Mills to declare in his letter that the LSEA does not promote a religious doctrine. The statute was written with the express purpose of allowing discussion of intelligent design creationism in science classes, and intelligent design creationism is most assuredly not science. It’s nothing more than a belief system that if you can find something that you think is too complex to have evolved by mechanisms currently understood by science it must have been the work of a supernatural agent. But that’s a lie. Maybe you didn’t look hard enough, like Michael Behe, whose irreducibly-complex bacterial flagellum was easily shown to be functional with fewer parts that he described. Or maybe you just figured if you defined your terms to mean things unique to your discussion and used enough symbolic logic in your papers, like William Dembski, no one would notice that your “research program” is still just the attempt to poke holes in evolution that has been around since the days of Duane Gish and Henry Morris. The simple truth is that if there is a supernatural cause for a phenomenon that we can observe directly or indirectly, then it isn’t–it’s a natural cause that we hadn’t heretofore known.

There are a lot of unanswered questions in biology just as there are in all of the other scientific disciplines. If Mr. Mills and Mr. White really cared about the scientific education of the kids in this state, they would be encouraging those children to try to answer those questions, not to take the DI route of plugging any unknowns with the mystical G-factor. Intelligent design creationism, just like old-fashioned creationism, doesn’t do anything to advance human knowledge, and it’s time we put this absurd debate to bed, if only people like Mr. Mills would permit it.

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