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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Someday a Place for Us" - the History of Creationism

Happy Darwin Day! In the interests of inclusiveness, let's give a history of the "controversy," shall we?

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude. No doctrine however profound and sublime will be effective unless it is presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth…
If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine. When some part of a doctrine is relatively simple, there is a tendency among the faithful to complicate and obscure it. Simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. He seems to use words as if he were ignorant of their true meaning. Hence, too, his taste for quibbling, hair-splitting and scholastic tortuousness.
-Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, pp. 80-81, 1951

The Long History of the Demise of Evolution
1825: We are going to overthrow physical philosophy and the old earth concept. (Granville Penn)
1840: We are going to overthrow physical philosophy and the old earth concept. (John Murray)

22 November 1859: Origin of Species goes on sale and is a best-seller

1860: Charles Darwin’s book will be forgotten in a few years. (Richard Owen)

1866: Gregor Mendel’s seminal paper on heredity, “Experiments on Plant Hybridization,” is published in Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brünn. Unfortunately, Darwin never sees this paper and despairs of finding the actual mechanism of heredity and natural selection. Mendel’s work languishes largely unknown, cited only three times in the next 35 years.

1871: We will overthrow astronomy, evolution, and the old earth concept. (Patrick M’Farlane)
1878: We will overthrow evolution once it “whimsically” concludes that man was actually descended from a dog. (Thomas Cooper)

1882: Charles Darwin dies.
1884: Gregor Mendel dies.

1894: Evolution’s influence is “ebbing.” (J. William Dawson)
1895: We will overthrow “flippancy” about the Flood. (F. R. Wegg-Prosser)

1900: Mendel’s work is rediscovered and the ensuing new field of genetics finally yields genotypic insights into natural selection

1903: “[T]he beginning of the end [of evolution] is at hand.” (Prof. Zockler)
1904: We will overthrow evolution. (Eberhard Dennert and Luther Tracy Townsend)
1912: We will overthrow “flippancy” about the Flood. (George Frederick Wright)
1924: We will overthrow evolution, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (George McCready Price)
1929 We will overthrow evolution. (Harold W. Clark)

1935: We will overthrow evolution and all the evidence for it. (Harry Rimmer)
1940: Evolution and all “false science” is in decline. We will overthrow evolution, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (L. Allen Higley)

1936–1947: Formulation of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis of Darwin’s and Mendel’s approaches

1961: “I concede micro-evolution, of course.” (Evan Shute)
1963: We will overthrow the Modern Synthesis, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (Henry Morris)

1968: Epperson v. Arkansas – the prohibition against teaching of evolution in Arkansas schools violates the Fourteenth Amendment

1971: Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould present their paper on evolution via Punctuated Equilibrium (P.E.) at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. Creationists attempt to seize on P.E. as “proof against evolution”

1975: “There are many and varied theories of evolution today, but scientists who reject divine creation are beset with serious problems and these are being increasingly recognized.” (Clifford Wilson)
1976: We will overthrow the Modern Synthesis, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (Duane T. Gish)

1977: Stephen Jay Gould summarizes P.E. in Natural History magazine

1980: We will overthrow the Modern Synthesis. (Scott M. Huse)

1982: McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education – “equal time” for “creation science” is an attempt by a small group to “foist its religious beliefs on others” in violation of the the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

See also Creationism on Trial

1984: We will overthrow the Modern Synthesis, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (Henry M. Morris)
1987: “Every major pillar of Evolution has crumbled in the decade of the ‘80’s. (D. James Kennedy)

1987: Unfortunately for Mr. Kennedy, Edward v. Aguillard put the last nail in the coffin of “creation science” in schools – Louisiana’s “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction” violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

1988: More and more scientists are flocking to “abandon” evolution! (Luther D. Sunderland)
1989: More and more scientists are flocking to “abandon” the Modern Synthesis, geology (the old earth concept), and this “flippancy” about the Flood! (Henry M. Morris, not to be outdone)

1990: More and more scientists are flocking to “abandon” evolution! (Mark Looy)
1991: We will overthrow the Big Bang Theory, the Modern Synthesis, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (Duane T. Gish)
1993: Intelligent Design will replace natural selection. But “[t]his not an argument against Darwinian evolution.” (Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon)
1993: “Evolution theory itself has now collapsed under scientific scrutiny!” (T. V. Varughese)
1994: We will overthrow the Modern Synthesis and the old earth concept. (John D. Morris)
1994: We will overthrow the Big Bang Theory, the Modern Synthesis, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (Don Boys)
1995: We will overthrow the Big Bang Theory, the Modern Synthesis, the old earth concept, and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (Henry M. Morris)
1995: We will overthrow “Darwinism.” (Philip E. Johnson (not the architect))
1996: We will scientifically prove God’s ability to transcend science (Hugh Ross)
1996: Behe’s works will overthrow “Darwinism.” (Philip E. Johnson)

December 20, 1996: Carl Sagan dies.

1997: “In the not-so-distant future, when someone of the stature of a Stephen Jay Gould or the late Carl Sagan holds a press conference to announce he has finally reached the conclusion that evolution is scientifically bankrupt, other scientists will quickly follow suit. It’ll resemble rats deserting a sinking ship.” (David Buckna)

1997: We will overthrow the Big Bang Theory, the Modern Synthesis, geology (the old earth concept), and this “flippancy” about the Flood. (poor Henry Morris again)

1998: “Darwin gave us a creation story, one in which God was absent and undirected natural processes did all the work. That creation story has held sway for more than a hundred years. It is now on the way out. When it goes, so will all the edifices that have been built on its foundation.” (William A. Dembski)

1998: Evolution, once “impregnable,” is “sinking.”. (Philip Johnson, apparently unaware that he’s setting a bad precedent by affirming, as no other creationist did (as you can see from the above), the enduring strength of evolutionary theory)

1999: “’Yes,’ their teachers will be obliged to inform them, ‘a lot of people back in those unfortunate days had gotten it into their silly heads that the whole world and everything in it had somehow evolved by accident, you see. It was all rather strange.’” (The silly head of Patrick Henry Reardon)

1999: The Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document is leaked and reveals the DI’s five-year strategy, which includes various publicity campaigns but no scientific research.

2000: More and more scientists are flocking to “abandon” evolution! (Ray Bohlin)
2001: Shifting the emphasis from the evidence in the fossil record to the evidence in DNA and genetics shows that more and more scientists are flocking to “abandon” evolution! (the tragic Henry Morris, trying to keep up)
2001: The Discovery Institute initiates its “Scientific Dissent from Darwin” petition to gather signatures of legitimate scientists who oppose evolution
2001: “Intellectual honesty will soon force many scientists to abandon Darwin’s theory of the evolution of species in exchange for intelligent design or outright Biblical creation.” (Gregory J. Brewer)

2002: “Creation scientists may be in the minority so far [emphasis mine], but their number is growing, and most of them (like this writer) were evolutionists at one time, having changed to creationism at least in part because of what they decided was the weight of scientific evidence.” (Henry Morris, conceding a previous acceptance of evolutionary theory which he had heretofore not claimed)
2002: More and more scientists are flocking to “abandon” evolution! (Ralph O. Muncaster)
2002: “Here’s a prediction. Universal CD [common descent] will be gasping for breath in two or three years, if not sooner.” (Paul Nelson, setting a bad precedent in departing from vagueness and unverifiability)

2002: Stephen Jay Gould dies

2003: “In fact, the common presupposition that evolution is right may soon be behind us.” (Ralph O. Muncaster)
2003: I think there is some probability that the entire paradigm may come crashing down at some time in the future [emphasis mine].” (Henry F. Schaefer)
2003: “The only thing holding the tattered theory of evolution together is the powerful desire of millions of people to hold on to the notion of evolution regardless of its scientific weakness, because the alternative is unthinkable to its practitioners.” (Grant R. Jeffrey)

February 16, 2003 - “Project Steve” is launched as a tongue-in-cheek parody of the creationist petition, and gathers more than 700 scientists named “Steve” in support of teaching evolution in science classes

(Newly appointed Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu is among these “Steves”)

2004: “In the next five years, molecular Darwinism – the idea that Darwinian processes can produce complex molecular structures at the subcellular level – will be dead [emphasis mine].” (William A. Dembski, stupidly making a specific prediction and in the process, contradicting his previous claim that he is not anti-evolution)

2004: Michael Zimmerman initiates the Clergy Letter Project rejecting creationism and intelligent design. As of September 26, 2008, the Clergy Letter Project had collected 11,685 signatures of U.S. Christian clergy.

2004: Tiktaalik roseae discovered

2005: “Darwin’s going down the tube. ... No question about it.” (Richard Thompson)

October 2005: Archaeologist R. Joe Brandon initiates the Scientific Support for Darwinism and nets 7733 signatures in four days

December 21, 2005: In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board, Judge John E. Jones III rules: “The overwhelming evidence is that Intelligent Design is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism and not a scientific theory. It is an extension of the Fundamentalists’ view that one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution.”

The court case is hereafter known as “Kitzmass!”

“Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”

2006: Phyllis Schlafly lambasts Judge Jones for refusing to “hit one for our team.” Jones also receives death threats.
2006: Dembski predicts: “Evolution will be dead in ten years.” His foolhardiness garners a shimmy.
As of July 2007, the Discovery Institute’s list of “Scientific Dissent from Darwin” gathers eight “Steves” and as of August 2008, garners 761 names, many of whom are not active scientists, with some who have never worked as scientists. Also, visiting scholars at prestigious institutions are listed as affiliated with that institution rather than their true affiliation.

2008: Ben Stein makes and promotes the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
Stein redefines intelligent design as “the fact that God made everything” and “Darwinism” as everything from evolution to the Big Bang to galaxy formation to plate tectonics to chaos theory to abiogenesis to a conspiracy by “Darwinists” to stifle dissent. In essence, Stein went even farther than Henry Morris ever did and claimed: We’re going to overthrow evolution, geology, astronomy, paleontology, chemistry, physics, ecology, climate science, the university application process, the scholarly peer-review process, public relations, and who knows, even economics itself. Good luck with that.

The Discovery Institute tries to contain the damage done to intelligent design by Ben Stein.

2009: Creationism, as it was in 1988, is in disarray: Ben Stein won’t join Michael Moore as an Oscar nominee, the ID advocates quarrel on their own blog about their FAQ page (I call it their FAUX or FAUQ page), and try to redefine so-called “intelligent agency” as non-supernatural. Yeah, right. Here’s what I had to say about an Intelligent Designer who is not supernatural. Then I had a change of heart and admitted that animal agency could be supernatural. However, I don't think the Judeo-Christian intelligent design advocates would be too thrilled to have animals as gods.

(By the way, does that appeal to anyone who believes in God? That the Intelligent Designer is not supernatural? Just asking.)

is the bizarre, twisted evolution of creationism: from a story of a 6-day creation of a Creator God to an Intelligent Agent who sometimes “acts stupidly” and is not supernatural. Gee, you may as well accept unguided natural selection. At least it doesn't act stupidly.

Stupid design? What’s next? Senior Moment design? Unconscious design by an unconscious agency? Brahman born from the cosmic egg and dreaming our reality? Well, at least that would be more palatable than religious fundamentalism; after all, the Hindus hold many creation myths simultaneously and take none literally.

So why do I pay so much attention to creationists? Well, why does anybody watch any soap opera? ;-) It's fun.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Blogging the Writing of the Peer-Reviewed Paper

I'm going to try an experiment.

The Triumvirate has been in mothballs because of me being just too gosh darn busy - and now, as an assignment I must write a paper that is of sufficient quality to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Naturally, I'm a little stressed out. Also, being that my undergraduate degree was in English, I'm still an English nerd enough to be concerned about the lack of literary drafts and ephemera accessible to scholars who are studying contemporary writers - drafts and notes and diary pages that we have from previous great writers - because of the rise of the personal computer and the internet.

Therefore, I'm going to attempt to solve all three of these concerns at once by blogging the iterative process of writing my paper.

I'm going to journal my process in blog posts at the Triumvirate, along with my questions, false starts, revisions, and frustrations, and attach successive drafts of the paper. However I will not make these drafts visible to anyone but me for the time being. Only after my paper is written, submitted, and judged/graded, will I make the drafts public. This is due to the fact that I don't, at this time, want comments or help. Please, I need to do this alone!

Another reason is that this is really an attempt to archive drafts, and as such, each individual blog post will not really make sense out of context, but only as a part of the whole. Because the whole will be more than the sum of its parts, I considered making the posts private as well, to be unveiled when the drafts are made accessible, but ultimately I decided against that. This is part journal, part archive - and it's also an experiment in a new area of archival theory, the idea that the archivist in our digital age is involved in record-creation, not just in record-keeping, and must manage not only the end of the record's life-cycle, but its beginning.

With personal computers and the internet I hope to recapture what we have largely lost of what the writer creates while working, and hopefully to provide something valuable about the scholarly communication process as well.

Maybe if I get my act together (I want to write another paper for publication, as well as enter as student paper contest through IMLS), I can finish blogging The Extended Phenotype and my Galapagos Diary.

The first post.
The second post.
The third post.

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