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Academic Freedom

Nature Editorial Attacks Christianity of Francis Collins

Casey Luskin reports : Nature Immunology Editorial Botches American Law and Science Education

May, 2010 editorial in Nature Immunology makes it clear that they don’t trust religious persons–even those who are neo-Darwinian evolutionists like Francis Collins–in positions of scientific authority. The editorial (written by the journal’s editors) states:

The openly religious stance of the NIH director [Francis Collins] could have undesirable effects on science education in the United States. … In the introduction and in interviews surrounding [Collins’] book release, he describes his belief in a non-natural, non-measurable, improvable deity that created the universe and its laws with humans as the ultimate aim of its creation. Some might worry that describing scientists as workers toiling to understand the laws and intricacies of this divine creation will create opportunities for creationism adepts.
Strikingly, despite being a world leader in science, the United States still struggles when it comes to scientific education. Creationism is creeping back into the science curricula of public schools. And although intelligent design, the latest form of creationism, suffered a major defeat in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial (Nat. Immunol. 7, 433–435, 2006), when the US Supreme Court ruled that including it in science curricula is unconstitutional, creationists are making a comeback.

(“Of faith and reason,” Nature Immunology, Vol. 11(5):357 (May 2010).)

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Baylor’s New President Meets Baylor’s New Super-Genius Professor

Baylor incoming president Ken StarrBaylor professor Robert MarksBelow is an op-ed by me that appeared yesterday in the Baptist Press. It revisits the persecution by Baylor administrators of Robert Marks and his work on ID (for the history of what happened, go here). Specifically, it addresses the challenge that Marks’ work on ID is likely to pose to incoming Baylor president Ken Starr. Interestingly, today’s New York Times (go here) hints at the same issue:

Dr. Sloan [Baylor’s former president] angered faculty with his leadership style, and he hired William A. Dembski, a proponent of intelligent design who found little favor with the school’s science departments (and has since left). Dr. Sloan resigned in 2005. Since then, Baylor has had another president and an interim president.

Asked about Baylor’s tumult, Mr. Starr, who knows from tumult, was circumspect.

“A lesson learned is the need for the conversation in the community to remain very vibrant,” he said, a bit vaguely, when asked about the Sloan years. “I want to be very clear that I am not laying any blame at the feet of any of my predecessors,” he added.

Yes, “circumspect” is the right word. In any case, here is my op-ed:

FIRST-PERSON: Vindication for I.D. at Baylor?
William A. Dembski | Posted on May 6, 2010


FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Baylor University remains a proving ground for SBC controversies. Former Baylor president Robert Sloan’s “2012 Vision” continues, at least for now. This vision rests on two pillars, seeking to establish Baylor both as a top research university and as a school faithful to its Christian heritage. Secularized faculty, who are in the majority at Baylor and forced Sloan’s removal (he is now president of Houston Baptist University), see Baylor’s Christian heritage as a liability and would like to make the university’s slide into secularization complete.

Ken Starr, who becomes Baylor’s new president June 1, therefore faces a crucial test: Will he continue the full Baylor 2012 Vision, advancing not just Baylor’s academic distinction but also its Christian faithfulness, or will he give up on this second pillar of the vision? Starr’s commitment to academic excellence is not in doubt. During his tenure as dean of Pepperdine Law School, he significantly raised its academic standing. The question is what he will do regarding Baylor’s Christian identity.

Starr, no stranger to controversy, seems poised to do the right thing. But good intentions are one thing, decisions and actions are another. Baylor will be sure to test Starr’s mettle. Indeed, his first test is likely to come from an unexpected source, an online college resource known as College Crunch (www.collegecrunch.org). Organizations like this draw traffic to their website (and thus earn their keep) by posting items of interest to prospective college students. One such item, first appearing on the site in March, lists “The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors.” On this list is Baylor professor Robert J. Marks II. Here is College Crunch’s description of him (www.collegecrunch.org/…/the-20-most-brilliant-christian-professors): Read More ›

More coffee!!: Intellectual freedom in Canada: Ann Coulter visit

Controversial American lawyer and commentator descended on Canada, facing predictable demands from current and future tax burdens (= university admin and students who know a “free” breadbasket when they see one) that she be charged with/censored for hate speech. More here.

Latest here: Coulter files human rights complaint in Canada. I hope exposing the shakedown scandal to the world will have a good effect.

Now this: Also, the anti-Coulter disgrace to Canada (like, we can’t think for ourselves, and need these people to do it for us? We don’t need anyone to do our thinking for us, but if we did, why the present and future tax burdens at universities?) Also, Original post. Update here. Just so you know what happens here when you hit the entitlement mob in the breadbasket.

One reason why Coulter got hated was setting straight the issues in the intelligent design controversy, against a host of tax burdens and foundation burdens. (Generally, reader, you are paying for Darwinism through your taxes or foregone taxes because the outfit is supposedly a charity, no matter how much ridiculous nonsense it fronts.)

It is true that Coulter doesn’t mince words about what she thinks. But so? If you don’t think she is worth listening to, don’t listen to her. Go home, have a hot chocolate, and watch the hockey game. Anyway, chill out.

A friend writes to say, advising one of her supporters,

I think – seriously – he should claim as her “identifiable group”… “American.” It would be a fantastic way to get Canadians to face up to their chronic, rapid anti-Americanism in a public forum

I think Five feet of Fury is right, on the evidence. In Canada, to benefit from the “human rights” shakedown, you need to claim to belong to an identifiable group.

Americans are an identifiable group. They even have birth certificates, passports, and driver’s licences to prove it.

Also, there is a shameful history in Canada of using anti-Americanism to bolster national pride in order to support failing social and economic strategies. Read More ›

We’re Not Critics – We’re Enemies!

Today’s Fox News website had this little story, entitled Climate Scientists Plan to Hit Back at Skeptics. In the article, Stanford University climate researcher Paul R. Ehrlich had this to say about global warming skeptics:

“Most of our colleagues don’t seem to grasp that we’re not in a gentlepersons’ debate, we’re in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules,” Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.

Its worth noting Ehrlich’s use of the phrase “merciless enemies”. In other words, challenge the preferred dogma, and you’re not just ignorant – you’re an enemy, and thus, by extension, deserving of any and all ad hominem attacks hurled your way. One can almost hear “let me assure you, we haf vays to make you accept the dogma!” Read More ›

Can SETI’s algorithm detect intelligence?

TED granted Jill Tartar her wish to: “empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company”. TED and Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has set up SETIQuest.org to:

. . . make vast amounts of SETI data available to the public for the first time. It will also publish the SETI Institute’s signal-detection algorithm as open source code, inviting brilliant coders and amateur techies to make it even better. . . . You are officially invited to join the search for extraterrestrial life. . . .With available cloud storage and processing resources, we can prov de digital signal processing experts and students with a lot of raw data … and invite them to develop new algorithms that can find other types of signals that we are now missing,”

The Challenge for ID
1) Is SETI’s methodology valid? Read More ›

Darwinian Desperation: Petition to Re-Classify “Non-Science” Books

Not content with their virtually complete hegemony over public school science education, now the Darwinists have a new ploy to eradicate ID from scientific consideration: just re-classify it away. In a petition, some PSU science students are demanding the complete re-classification and re-shelving of ID related books to a non-science category. Apparently the instigators of this petition believe that the mere presence of an ID related book on a science shelf serves to further confuse an already confused public about what is and is not science. Citing a recent survey by the NSF that “70 percent of Americans do not understand the scientific process,” the petition claims that “further confusion surrounding what is and is not science is particularly problematic.” According to the petition, (and the NSF), the general public is just to stupid to know the difference between “real” science, and philosophy masquerading as science. Read More ›

Climategate: Plausibility and the blogosphere in the post-normal age.

Philosopher at Large, Dr. Jerome Ravetz has a fascinating exploration of moral and peer review issues on ClimateGate as “Post-Normal science” at Watts Up With That

. . .
At the end of January 2010 two distinguished scientific institutions shared headlines with Tony Blair over accusations of the dishonest and possibly illegal manipulation of information. Our ‘Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035′ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is matched by his ‘dodgy dossier’ of Saddam’s fictitious subversions. . . . The parallels are significant and troubling, for on both sides they involve a betrayal of public trust. . . .
Climategate is particularly significant because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State. This scandal, and the resulting crisis, was created by people within science who can be presumed to have been acting with the best of intentions. Read More ›

California Lawmaker demands answers over museum censorship

Apparently round two of the controversy over the California’s Science Center’s cancellation of Darwin’s Dilemma is getting ready to take place. This was reported and discussed here back in October, as well as here and here in December.

Now, a California State Senator is calling the constitutionality of the censorship into question. Read More ›

Coffee!! I am now an Examiner columnist … ?

Go here for my first column (“Some claim that Satan is a great motivator, just like God”). Sure, especially if you think you could save money by having hellfire heat your house, and here for my second, (“Faked embryos back at PBS, December 29, 2009.”)

No really. The fudged embryos are back. As a “learning tool,” in total ignorance of the development hourglass. The “hourglass” just means that embryos look different when very young, similar later, and different again when older. That says nothing about common descent, one way or the other (that is just the trouble, right?).

Embryos, like cakes, dresses, and renovations, look different at different stages.

I think common descent is probably true in most cases, but we cannot necessarily use embryos to prove it.

I wonder how long this Examiner thing will last? Read More ›

Brian Leiter’s rampage against Thomas Nagel

. By any accounts, Thomas Nagel has proven himself a more nimble philosopher than the hamfisted Brian Leiter. That’s perhaps why Leiter simply can’t get over that Nagel liked Stephen Meyer’s SIGNATURE IN THE CELL (reported at UD here). For Leiter, when scholars of Nagel’s stature endorse books coming out of the rogue Discovery Institute, that endorsement itself constitutes an attack on liberal democracy, cultured discourse, science, etc. Leiter simply can’t let this go. Here are the posts to date on his blog: leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/12/nagels-nonreply.html leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/12/more-comments-from-philosophers-on-thomas-nagels-shameful-stunt.html leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/12/thomas-nagel-jumps-the-shark.html leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2008/09/nagel-wins-ba-3.html

Truth and Science

It is almost axiomatic in our culture that the pronouncements of Science are synonymous with Truth. This received wisdom is so prevalent that whenever media reports begin with the words “Scientists have found that…[fill in the blank]”, whatever follows is widely believed by the public to be unassailable fact. So revered is Science and so respected its methods, that the mere suggestion that something might be amiss is considered ignorance or heresy. And so the statements of Science are defended vigorously while the critics are dismissed as quacks and uninformed idiots. The prevailing attitude seems to be (to slightly bend the well-known quote from Richard Dawkins) “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in the findings of Science [emphasis and edit mine], that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

For those of us who have long been engaged in the ongoing Evolution/Intelligent Design debate, we know that Read More ›

Intellectual freedom: New atheists vs. everybody else

 I only got round to posting about this conference just now, and do not know if anyone else did before, but note this:

Atheists have disabled the web page for the ID conference in Castle Rock this weekend. They are also calling the 800 number and trying to tie up the lines so others cannot get through. This is really ugly. I am re-posting the information on this event info below. They will take people at the door, but get there early. Despite the opposition, several hundred have already signed up. If so inclined, pray for the vicious souls doing this and for the success of the event itself. (October 29, 2009)

Two comments come immediately to mind: Read More ›