Sunday, March 18, 2007

Finished reading Monkey Girl

My family went on a quick camping trip this weekend. Two words...cold & windy. But, it did give me some quiet time with my family away from all the hustle and bustle of normal life. I also found time to finish reading Monkey Girl.

The book did put a bit of a damper on my usually festive camping mood. It made me feel profoundly sad. This sadness didn't center around the issues in the debate but rather the way in which people treated each other throughout the Dover ordeal. The bitterness, spite, anger, and resentment throughout left me with an awful feeling that I still haven't shaken.

Humes sees only one side of this situation, and that is unfortunate. His descriptions of people throughout were very telling in that every person who did not support Darwinism was painted as a person who was trying to force religion into the schools. There were also negative overtones in regard to their descriptions such as "his eyes burning and birdlike", "something of a loose cannon", "an affable, balding law professor in his sixties with a conspicuous gray comb-over", "the big, bluff animal doctor", or "a young attorney...with a soft, hoarse voice, a pained expression on his face, and a poker hand he didn't seem to relish...". Humes is a master of subtle digs against those who support design, but his description of Miller, Matzke, Scott, Forrest, and the Dover science teachers are glowing, with Miller even being compared to a "rock star". The term "creationism" (whatever that truly is) is painted as a fanatical right wing belief that only those who are ignorant or liars would associate themselves with it.

Poor Bill Buckingham is ripped up one side and down the other by both sides in the debate. I have to wonder if anyone who opposed his judgment on various issues throughout the whole affair ever approached him personally, one on one, just to see how he was feeling. Apparently, if Humes account is correct, during the time he was on the board and supporting ID he was taking OxyContin for an injury, his mother died, his father died, his dog died, two close Uncles died, his closest aunt died and his neighbor's daughter committed suicide (he was the first to find her). He also considered suicide.

Was anyone around for him? Did the science teachers realize this was going on? Did they care? If they did try to help and he wouldn't accept their help, did they voice their concerns to his clergy or someone who he might be comfortable talking with?

Where is the compassion for others? Why don't people listen to one another with respect and consideration for viewpoints that don't exactly jive with their own? How did this situation go to the lengths that it did? Who would sue over a simple paragraph like the one that was approved by the board? And, when the ACLU took up with those parents who were disgruntled, if I had been a board member, I would have just said let's drop the whole thing because it's not worth the trouble. There are better venues in which to approach this growing acceptance of Intelligent Design and perhaps the evolutionists are right in saying that it should not be brought to the schools yet. Because, as we have seen, the Dover science teachers didn't seem to have any more knowledge about the movement than the board members. Teachers in general have no idea what intelligent design is, and they certainly are not familiar with the arguments against Darwinism because they have never had the opportunity to learn about these issues from anyone other than Darwin supporters.

What people refuse to acknowledge is that there are two distinct interpretations of the scientific data when it comes to origins, and to dismiss either is simply wrong. In the end, that is what this all boils down to -- regardless of what anyone will admit. Is there a higher source of intellect responsible for our existence or not, and can we detect the design in nature that this higher source may have been responsible for?

Although Humes would have us believe that those who support ID are ingenuous, ill informed religious extremists, he never mentions much at all about the fact that the majority of those on the other side of this debate are quite hard core in their atheist or agnostic beliefs. He, like Judge Jones, does not find this relevant at all.

Time and time again we are given examples of something that an ID supporter said that would acknowledge that they do believe in God and do hold certain religious beliefs. Although, this has absolutely nothing to do with the science of ID at all, it is the number one consideration in whether the design inference should be considered scientific.

It’s interesting that Humes gives the flamboyant atheist and University of MN biology professor, PZ Myers, this flattering description:

Myers became a one-man wrecking crew, blogging furiously against Bush, Berlinski, Behe, The New York Times, and Discovery, and posting links to research papers and other information that refuted every one of their claims.

Myers is an interesting, dynamic science writer, and his excitement at the revolution going on in his discipline - developmental biology, one of the hottest fields in science - is palpable, as is hi anger at the claims of ID proponents. His is one of the most read personal science blogs on the Internet -, which routinely draws 25,000 readers a day - and he uses the platform to talk science, post weekly exotic photos of cephalopods (octopuses), and attack intelligent design incessantly.

He never mentions that right under the title of Myers blog site are these words:

"Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal".

Nor does he mentions that Myers has what seems to be a mission to degrade religious thought at every possible opportunity. Some of the categories of his blog include: "godlessness", "kooks", and "creationism", in which he daily rips apart those whose views differ from his own atheistic religious outlook on life. He's harsh, cruel, and unjustly bitter toward religion. I once tried emailing PZ and reasoning with him, but he said something negative and told me he wouldn't respond to any further emails from me. I said nothing disrepectful or nasty, but he refused to even consider my concerns. I was told to go away.

There are many like him involved in this debate and that is why people like Bill Buckingham are concerned. But, Humes considers these concerns somewhat imaginary and that they are merely instigated by people like Kent Hovind. One certainly doesn’t have to listen to Hovind to know that there are many Darwinists out there who reject God. Just surf the Internet for a few days and you'll understand quite quickly that Bill's concern is justified. Though, this CERTAINLY does not mean that science is atheistic. It merely means that many of the vocal scientists supporting Darwin's theory are atheists who want no part of religion and feel that it is a hindrance to our students to rely on God, in any fashion, rather than scientific evidence. Science, itself, is not the problem.

Humes does mention that Barbara Forrest is part of a humanist group because it came up in the trial, but it he also informs us that Judge Jones says that is not significant to the trial. That is something that I truly do not understand.

Nick Matzke, along with others from the National Center for Science education are praised up one side and down the other while every ID supporter is subjected to an endless string of digs. The religious beliefs of the ID supporters are put under a microscope, yet those on the plaintiffs side are rarely mentioned at all.

Miller (who is the token Christian) is also praised beyond belief, but from where I'm standing this gentleman seems to suffer from an inexplicable extraordinary case of personal credulity. In his mind there is apparently nothing that evolution cannot accomplish and he uses the most simplistic examples to support it and extrapolates them to no end.

There is a reason why people like Bill Buckingham are concerned with the implications of evolution and his concerns are not just in his imagination. If you spend enough time on the Internet and read many of the things said by Darwin's supporters on-line, it becomes increasingly clear that the majority of those who support Darwinism are atheists or strong agnostics. There are exceptions just as there are atheists and agnostics who support design, but in the end, this entire debate centers around an interpretation of the scientific data surrounding the facts about evolution. Philosophical and religious beliefs factor in on one’s interpretation regardless of whether either side cares to admit it or not.

It is reasonably clear that the Dover board members were ignorant to many facts regarding evolution, ID and creation science, and that is unfortunate. If someone is going to take a stand on these issues as they did, it is vitally important to completely understand what you are endorsing.

It also appears that they did lie about using the term "creationism" during board sessions and that is something that cannot be overlooked. It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall during those board meetings, because I have no doubt that the Rehms and the science teachers got every bit as nasty as those board members who supported ID. I’ve also seen what the media did to the board members here in Kansas, so I have no doubt that the media did misrepresent the boards actions and their words on various occasions as the board members alluded to.

Sigh...I could go on and on forever as my book is so full of post-it notes it's depressing. But, I’m just too sad about the situation to think about it further right now. I do wonder how Bill Buckingham is faring. He apparently moved away from Dover, and I hope that things are turning around for him. I hate to see people who have gone through so much get beat even further in an ordeal like this. It’s too bad the whole think wasn’t stopped early on to save a lot of heartache for the citizens of Dover.