Thirty years ago today…

… the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard. Four days later, the New York Times published Michael T. Ghiselin’s review of The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design. The “intelligent design” offshoot of “creation science” is as much a response to the dissenting opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia as to the work of popular science by the arch atheist Richard Dawkins.

46 thoughts on “Thirty years ago today…

  1. I wonder given the new administration loaded with creationists and science deniers if they’ll have another run at it?

  2. Richardthughes:
    I wonder given the new administration loaded with creationists and science deniers if they’ll have another run at it?

    The person to look at there is Betsy DeVos. If she pushes a policy that school vouchers can be used for schools that don’t conform to national science standards, then you know that creationism will come back with a vengeance.

  3. Richardthughes,

    I hadn’t seen that specific article but I’m not surprised.

    Given that Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State is an ExxonMobile CEO who is negotiating a $500 billion deal with Russia and that the Trump transition team wants to purge the US government everyone who accepts the IPCC consensus on climate change, we have slightly more serious concerns.

  4. Richardthughes:
    I wonder given the new administration loaded with creationists and science deniers if they’ll have another run at it?

    I’m concerned about the Supreme Court. But it’s not a foregone conclusion that a conservative jurist will accept religion in public-school science classes as Scalia did. He (more likely than she, considering who’s doing the nominating) might actually be, like, um, conservative.

  5. As in canada the supreme courts are , my majorities, in rebellion to the contract between the people and a government they give obedience to.
    Censoring truth, and so deciding trith , on God and man and so origins is just another example.
    the more intelligent/just judges do the right thing but more are needed.
    Anyways ID and YEC have become more famous, more feared, more reaching the public on origins then ever in centuries I think.
    It is a revolution that in our time will overthrow unintelligent, intrusive, and silly conclusions about the great matter of origins.
    bringing more of the public in leaves aside origins as being the subject of just tiny circles of informed people.
    the origin wars have made quite more people informed.
    This forum exists where it would never have needed or wanted to exist 100, 50, 30, years ago.
    Bring on more court cases and more accurate, intelligent, science.
    The good and smart guys will prevail.

  6. Kantian Naturalist: The person to look at there is Betsy DeVos. If she pushes a policy that school vouchers can be used for schools that don’t conform to national science standards, then you know that creationism will come back with a vengeance.

    She recently promised an end to national science standards, in one of Trump’s poet-election rallies. My response, on first look at her background, is that she had no apparent qualifications for the job. I did a bit a poking around, and found a remarkable piece by a Detroit journalist who’s followed her for years. Not to give away the punchline, the author is anything but an adversary of charter schools.

  7. It’s happening. Next appointment is Barry for the Supreme Court and Trump and his fuckwads are on their way to turn the US into the next Pakistan

  8. dazz,

    The House Freedom Caucus, which is about 40-70 people, would probly support Barry, but I think most legislators would recognize a deranged tard and block him.

  9. walto,

    I couldn’t get that page to render, but here’s a reprint on another site: It’s Ayn Rand’s America: Republicans have stripped the country of its last shred of morality.

    Tom English: She recently promised an end to national science standards, in one of Trump’s poet-election rallies. My response, on first look at her background, is that she had no apparent qualifications for the job. I did a bit a poking around, and found a remarkable piece by a Detroit journalist who’s followed her for years. Not to give away the punchline, the author is anything but an adversary of charter schools.

    The Amway company, which DeVos married into, has spent millions on privatizing schools. That, and having donated to Trump’s campaign, are her qualifications. There’s a nice little pattern here: the nominees for heads of Education, Labor, EPA, and HUD are basically opposed to doing the very things that those agencies are supposed to do.

    Trump’s America will have big corporations running domestic policy and the military running foreign policy.

    There was a time when we could say, correctly, that this is fascism. But now we can’t say that without hurting Republicans’ precious little feelings.

  10. dazz: It’s happening. Next appointment is Barry for the Supreme Court and Trump and his fuckwads are on their way to turn the US into the next Pakistan

    The legacy of the Cold War is authoritarian kleptocracy in both Russia and the US.

  11. walto: It’s Ayn Rand’s America Now: Republicans Have Stripped the Country of
    Its Last Shred of Morality

    Given how much they depended on the evangelical vote, it seems to follow that “Jesus” has become an alias for Ayn Rand, the new savior of American conservative Christianity.

  12. walto: In the U.S.A. it is about 75% of the time.

    Do you think conservatives in the US were opposed to Obama’s health care act because they don’t want people to have health care?

  13. Kantian Naturalist: Trump’s America will have big corporations running domestic policy and the military running foreign policy.

    And parents will have a choice for their kids between the corporate school and the military school!

  14. Kantian Naturalist: There was a time when we could say, correctly, that this is fascism.

    As more and more power is given to the federal government the country becomes more and more fascist. I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, republican or democrat. All hail the glorious state!

    When are you “progressives” going to wake up?

  15. Mung: Do you think conservatives in the US were opposed to Obama’s health care act because they don’t want people to have health care?

    I would say it’s more like they don’t care if people who can’t afford it are left without health care. And they also don’t care if or why millions can’t afford it because it’s their own fault and no one elses

  16. Mung: Do you think conservatives in the US were opposed to Obama’s health care act because they don’t want people to have health care?

    Most of them opposed it because they believed that the Federal Government would be creating “death panels”–you know when they weren’t busy raping and eating children at local pizzerias. I’m not too worried about the ACA, however. Insurance companies like their private products being mandatory purchases, so it won’t be going anywhere too fast. What I expect will happen is that mandates that the insurance provide halfway decent care will be dropped. So people will be able to get really cheap “coverage” but there will be cancer and diabetes exclusions, etc. The co-pays and deductibles will get bigger too. It will be really shitty insurance. That’s the only way to make it “affordable” without subsidies.

    The x-tians don’t like subsidies–it’s too much like, you know, giving to people who don’t have much.

  17. Mung: As more and more power is given to the federal government the country becomes more and more fascist. I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, republican or democrat. All hail the glorious state!

    When are you “progressives” going to wake up?

    I’m a secular libertarian social democrat. I’m perfectly happy to say that statism and bureaucracy are social evils. The neoliberal take-over of the DNC by the Clintons, Gore, and Obama is utterly nauseating to me. But scaling back the federal and state bureaucracies exposes even more people to the amoralism of corporations. At least governments are nominally accountable to voters, and that nominal commitment can be leveraged. Corporations aren’t accountable to anyone besides majority shareholders.

  18. Mung: As more and more power is given to the federal government the country becomes more and more fascist.

    I’ll be very interested to see whether Trump actually makes any attempt to reduce the power of the President or Federal government generally. Both parties talk a good game.

    The Democrats in Congress have said they don’t intend to abuse the filibuster power the way the Republicans did. We’ll see.

    No doubt the Trump supporters will be watching too and will be quick to give credit where credit is due and criticize impartially when that is called for.

  19. Mung: Do you think conservatives in the US were opposed to Obama’s health care act because they don’t want people to have health care?

    I think conservatives were opposed to the Affordable Care Act because they saw it as a bail-out for insurance companies. And that is completely true. That’s the whole point. That was the point when the Heritage Foundation designed that kind of system, and that was the point when Romney implemented it in Massachusetts.

    Thing is, if you don’t want a society in which people can go broke because they are sick — if you don’t want that — then you must have some way of containing costs. And that can be done in one of two ways: either the government imposes strict regulations on how much the companies can charge, or the government takes over health insurance altogether.

    Republican hostility to both options in the name of “LIBERTY!” means that they are completely OK with having a society in which people can go broke because they get sick.

    If you insist on making individual freedom the only moral value worth having within a capitalist socio-economic system, you end up abolishing morality altogether.

  20. walto: The x-tians don’t like subsidies–it’s too much like, you know, giving to people who don’t have much.

    LoL. You don’t think there are Christians who are democrats? You think it is just the atheists in Congress who vote for subsidies? You know, because they are so numerous and all.

    You don’t think the home mortgage deduction is a subsidy?

  21. Which of the parties is the voice of contemporary xtians, mung? You tell me. (Pence seems to think it’s the Republican Party.)

    Yes, the home mortgage deduction is a subsidy. It’s one more “To them that hath shall be given, and they shall have abundance.” (That’s from the Bible, btw.) provision in the U.S. tax code.

  22. the basic ACA structure was created by conservatives at the Heritage Foundation in the early 90’s to save insurance companies from a Clinton single-payer system they thought would ruin them.

  23. When Obama signed on, they switched positions 180º and opposed it, just like they did with Common Core.

  24. AhmedKiaan,

    Right again, but not because of any antipathy to insurance companies.

    ETA: In fact, the whole biz about letting insurers sell across state lines had been pushed by carriers for many years. It allows the sort of race to the bottom I mentioned above. That’s what we’ll see–and it will be lovely for insurers–since what they understand (and hate) is risk.

  25. walto: Which of the parties is the voice of contemporary xtians, mung? You tell me.

    Neither the Republican party nor the Democratic party.

  26. Mung: Neither the Republican party nor the Democratic party.

    A lot of evangelicals would disagree with you about that, including the VP-elect.

  27. Well Tom, couldn’t you have at least linked to a source that doesn’t make Patrick’s claims about ID being Creationism appear to be … false?

  28. The Court found that, although the Louisiana legislature had stated that its purpose was to “protect academic freedom”, that purpose was dubious because the Act gave Louisiana teachers no freedom they did not already possess and instead limited their ability to determine what scientific principles should be taught.

    Apparently Louisiana teachers were already free to teach Creationism.

    Anyone here think this case made it illegal to teach Creationism?

  29. Mung: But conservative is always bad. Isn’t it?

    Hardly. I’m all for conservative jurisprudence. But conservative applies here to judgment of the law, not judgment of what the social order ought to be. Scalia talked the talk of limited judicial powers when he was in the minority, but hardly walked the walk when he was in the majority. There was no limit to the power he would exercise when the opportunity presented itself.

    The fact of the matter is that our all-hallowed constitution does a piss-poor job of specifying the role of the Supreme Court. The amount of power the Supremes have acquired is ridiculous. Of course, the more powerful SCOTUS grows, the more powerful the president, as the nominator of Supremes, grows. Do you think that evangelical Christians would have turned out in droves to vote for Trump if there had not been a vacancy in the Supreme Court? I doubt it.

    I genuinely deplore judicial activism, irrespective of whether the outcome suits me. But I recognize also that the constitution is ridiculously difficult to amend (not to say that it should be easy to amend), and that many Americans treat it, in any case, as though it were scripture. It’s hard to see how the Republic would have survived if SCOTUS had not, in essence, continued the writing of the constitution, to deal with circumstances the Framers could not have foreseen. I wish that were not the reality of how things work. But I must allow that it does work.

  30. Kantian Naturalist: Trump’s America will have big corporations running domestic policy and the military running foreign policy.

    There was a time when we could say, correctly, that this is fascism.

    Kantian Naturalist: The legacy of the Cold War is authoritarian kleptocracy in both Russia and the US.

    Trump won election as a “strong man” exploiting the fascistic impulses of a large plurality. I believe that he will, in practice, turn out to be much more of a kleptocrat than a fascist.

    Let’s accept that Trump is worth $15 billion. Taxable estates typically owe 16.6 percent of their value in taxes. Assuming that rate for Trump’s estate, abolition of the estate tax is worth about $2.5 billion to his heirs.

  31. Mung: Well Tom, couldn’t you have at least linked to a source that doesn’t make Patrick’s claims about ID being Creationism appear to be … false?

    About 40 percent of Americans are YECs. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of ID proponents would prefer to have an overt “creation science” taught in public schools. ID is, for them, socio-political machination and subterfuge. I wonder if you understand how unlike the typical ID proponent you are.

    ID is, in and of itself, secularized Paleyism. There is no mystery as to why this is so. Phillip Johnson has acknowledged forthrightly the impact that The Blind Watchmaker had on him, in 1987. What no one admits is that ID is largely a defense of Paley-sans-Deity against Dawkins. The notion of irreducible complexity comes from Natural Theology. So does the “search for a search” regress. Dembski’s specified complexity was originally a formalization of Dawkins’s notion of complicatedness –“statistically improbable in a direction that is specified not with hindsight” (TBW, Chapter 1). Dembski tacitly argues that what Dawkins says is merely the appearance of design actually is design. (He finally got around to crediting Dawkins three or four years ago, in an interview.) The active information measures, plural, of Dembski and Marks derive from Dawkins’s explanation of his monkey/Shakespeare model of cumulative selection (better known as the Weasel program, in Chapter 3 of TBW).

    ETA. “About 40 percent of Americans are YECs” is not entirely correct. The question asked by Gallup has to do with the appearance of humans on Earth. A respondent might believe that the Universe is old, but that God created Adam less than 10 thousand years ago.

  32. Mung: Do you think conservatives in the US were opposed to Obama’s health care act because they don’t want people to have health care?

    No, not really. There was no single motivation here. Republicans didn’t want Obama to get credit for anything, especially something that was helpful and worked. And they didn’t want the size of government expanding as rapidly as subsidized health care (properly done) would require. And let’s face it, they weren’t concerned about those most in need of health care, because those people tend to vote Democrat when they vote at all.

    I may be a foolish optimist, but I think once the dust settles we’ll find that Republicans will vote unanimously in favor of a pretty decent subsidized healthcare system they’d have voted against unanimously if Obama (or Clinton) had proposed it. Because the public is concerned about being able to afford medicine when they need it, while politicians are much more concerned about who gets credit for it.

  33. Mung: As more and more power is given to the federal government the country becomes more and more fascist. I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, republican or democrat. All hail the glorious state!

    When are you “progressives” going to wake up?

    Dammit, I’m agreeing with Mung again.

  34. Mung:
    Well Tom, couldn’t you have at least linked to a source that doesn’t make Patrick’s claims about ID being Creationism appear to be … false?

    As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the cdesign proponentsists gaffe proves that intelligent design is simply another form of creationism. When you can replace every instance of “creation science” with “intelligent design” in an entire book without changing the meaning, it’s absolutely clear that the two terms are synonyms.

  35. Flint: I may be a foolish optimist, but I think once the dust settles we’ll find that Republicans will vote unanimously in favor of a pretty decent subsidized healthcare system they’d have voted against unanimously if Obama (or Clinton) had proposed it. Because the public is concerned about being able to afford medicine when they need it, while politicians are much more concerned about who gets credit for it.

    I generally agree, except for the “pretty decent.” It will be worse than the current system, which isn’t great.

  36. I don’t know why Tom is so worried about ID being taught in schools. I mean if the evolutionists can’t even step up to the plate and explain the most fundamental questions, like how do novel features arise, what are people supposed to do?

    http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/david-klinghoffer/scientists-confirm-darwinism-broken

    But I have to disagree with the article a little, Neo-Darwinian theory is not only broken, it doesn’t even exist. It never has.

  37. phoodoo: I don’t know why Tom is so worried about ID being taught in schools.

    I don’t believe that is the concern. I think the concern is over challenges to evolutionism.

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