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Congressman Mark Souder says his highlight of the year was being on Ben Stein’s “Expelled.”

Posted by Andy D. on December 27, 2008

Sylvia Smith interviewed Congressman Mark Souder for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in which Souder states his “personal highlight of the year.”  The highlight is none other than being in Ben Stein’s anti-evolution propaganda movie, “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed.”

You appeared on the big screen this year. What was that experience like?
The biggest single moment was (that) the movie “Expelled” came out on intelligent design. (The documentary about intelligent design – also called creationism – hosted by Ben Stein describes how some educational professionals have been blacklisted from universities and journals because they disagree with the theory of evolution.)

Rep. Souder just admitted that intelligent design is creationism.  The Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard concluded creation science is religion and not science! Intelligent design is the latest failed evolution of trying to get religion into the science classroom starting with outright religion, creation science, intelligent design; and now it is academic freedom.  Intelligent Design was shown to be religion in Kitzmiller v. Dover in 2004.  The Discovery Institute which is the Seattle based ID think-tank tries not to mention who this mysterious intelligent “agent” designer is to avoid entanglement with the First Amendment.  Ben Stein walks all over that premise that ID isn’t really religion in “Expelled.”

Rep. Souder doesn’t say anything about the movie’s deceitful logical fallacy in which the movie attempted to blame evolutionary science for the Holocaust. I watched the movie “Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise last night in which the opening contained the written oath swearing under God one’s support of Hitler. The people committing those horrible killings were mostly religious.  There is a big difference between artificial selection which was around long before the theory of natural selection.  Note, I am not saying religion caused the Holocaust.  Religion was the original source of the division and the extension of Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic zeitgeist; moreover, there was extreme hyperinflation, unemployment, WWI repercussions, shame due to false propaganda, extreme nationalism, rapid industrialization, anti-communism, secret police, and many more variables to make the times uncertain.  Religious and scientific institutions are used in these types of totalitarian movements and are manipulated.  In fact, the Anti-defamation League released a statement against Expelled’s premise.  Moreover, it is a non sequitur to say: if evolutionary theory caused the Holocaust (which it didn’t),  it disproves the authenticity of natural selection and common ancestry of all life.  Ben Stein and/or his producers blatantly quote-mined Darwin, not unlike the negative politics Joseph Goebbels used.

How did your role come about?
Ben Stein’s producer contacted our office about being in a movie off of the subcommittee report we had done on a researcher we believed had been persecuted and pushed around at the Smithsonian Institution because of his views on intelligent design.
He lost his office. He lost his keys. He lost his sponsorship. We were able, over a period of years, to get the e-mails behind this. This was a three-year fight.

First of all, Richard Sternberg was not a paid employee of the Smithsonian and he purposefully abused the scientific peer review process .  He waited until he was leaving the position of editor to release a pro-ID paper by the Discovery Institute’s own Stephen C. Meyer.  The paper was later unpublished and one may see why it wasn’t actual science here.
The lost keys and office are much to do about nothing, as it was part of a pre-planned event at the Smithsonian for bureaucratic reasons in which many people switched keys and offices including Sternberg.  For more on Souder, Sternberg, and the others involved go here and here.  Worst of all, most of this information is in the appendix of Souder’s own report!!!  Souder should know better and is most likely playing politics, as you will soon see.  See NCSE’s Expelled Exposed to see the complete story on all the manufactured “expelled-IDers.”

Was it the highlight of your year?
I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design. I believe that if there wasn’t a purpose in designing you – regardless of who you view the designer as being – then, from my perspective, you can’t be fallen from that design. If you can’t be fallen from that design, there’s no point to evangelism.

Do you see Rep. Souder squirm on “who” the designer is?  Here Souder admits his religious biases.  His personal beliefs should be private and not be involved in science or politics.  It is a simple as that.  Souder needs to represent people of all faiths and those of no faith in his district.  This is extremely disturbing.  If he had his way, he would help turn America into a theocracy.

As an evangelical Christian, I believe the premise of a fall being at the core of reforming lives. I believe the concept of grace and forgiveness comes from having fallen from something.

Again, Mark Souder’s religious beliefs are off limits due to the “no religious test” in Article 6 of the constitution.  However, I am waiting to see if a non-religious person can take his place some day.  It seems there is a religious test for office.  Grace and forgiveness are not only evangelical ideals. They are ideals for everyone including secularists.  We should all appreciate honesty and full scientific inquiry free from meddling of religiously motivated politicians.  The scientific marketplace of ideas has spoken on intelligent design.  Scientific knowledge has to go through testing, hypothesis, must be falsifiable, peer reviewed, and repeatable with more testing before it gets anywhere near science school text books.  Telling students there is scientific alternative to the evolutionary theory is an outright lie.

Now, how that occurred – whether you believe in the young earth theory, gradual evolution, or whatever – is disputed. Those become religious. But whether there was a fundamental designer who developed a complex DNA molecular structure is critical. Since I view that as the most important thing in the world, yes, being in a movie that advanced that cause was the personal highlight of the year.

Rep. Souder thinks that young earth creation or old earth creationism is up to religious belief.  I somewhat agree.  One is entitled to his or her beliefs; however, one is not entitled to their own scientific facts.  The facts are the earth is close to 4.6 billions years old with roughly 4 billion years of evolution and common descent.  There are many religions that have accepted evolution and made their peace with it and one does not have to be an atheist to appreciate it.  Scientists state openly they don’t know how life was originally started and we may never know.  However,  science is much stronger here then Souder or Stein could even try to understand.  See the evolution of RNA into DNA.  Abiogenesis , the study of how the first life began, is technically not part of The Theory of Evolution by natural selection.  Mountains of evidence have been pouring in for a 150 years from many scientific disciplines.  The theory has never been stronger and a scientific theory is not a hunch, but it is the highest form of scientific knowledge.

Why didn’t you call more attention to being in a movie?
I thought this might be the hottest issue in my (re-election) race and that I would be so attacked, and it would bring out the social conservative base in ways we’d never seen.
From the time 2008 started, we could tell this was going to be a difficult political year. We went through a huge immigration debate. Then you moved to the $4 gas debate. Then the economy’s collapsing.

Mark Souder was counting on a culture war backlash to muster up support. The Republican ticket had the political winds against them;  Souder, therefore, was manufacturing a controversy to be reelected.  This is Machiavellian ugliness that Karl Rove played, and I think Americans are sick of it.   It turns out there was a very effective response to Stein’s propaganda film by NCSE and it was so effective there was no social conservative base backlash.  Souder won without it.  Most likely, the reason was he ran a better campaign against someone with little experience; and more likely this is just a Republican stronghold.  FreeThought Fort Wayne is the only group in Fort Wayne that has said anything about Souder’s involvement in Expelled and we are nobody compared to Souder’s influence.  The movie wasn’t very big either and it received horrible reviews by everyone who is not Rush Limbaugh or has a religious political agenda.  Of course, Souder was at the Sarah Palin rally in Fort Wayne that was all about anti-intellectualism and Souder sure knows his base.  “Expelled” is circulating in church basements as I write.  I am getting very sick of religion in politics.  I am pretty sure that this Jesus fellow who everyone keeps talking about would feel the same.

It is disappointing that Souder didn’t stick with helping the Veteran’s Hospital as the interview started with as his highlight of the year.  I congratulate him and want the best for our veterans, too.  Souder’s priorities are out of whack for bringing up his contribution to the tired culture war as his highlight of 2008,  the year that Republican became a dirty word.

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Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Skeptical Battlegrounds, a review

Posted by Skeptigator on December 15, 2008

Steven Novella, of Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe fame, is currently writing a series detailing many of the Skeptical battlegrounds that must be fought now and in the future. The series is hosted at the SkepticBlog, a group blog dedicated to the hosts of a skepticism-themed TV series called the Skeptologists.

Here are the first 3 posts:

I’m looking forward to additional parts to this series, they are concise and well-written. Once it’s completed we may very well have a working plan of action.

Posted in Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

At least we don’t live in Texas

Posted by Andy Welfle on October 21, 2008

Our “atheist prophet”, PZ Myers, posted a really great video about the Texas State School Board, and where many of the candidates stand on teaching evolution and creationism to children in schools. Needless to say, it’s not looking good. Republican Gail Lowe, running for re-election to the board, says she will never support the adoption of an environmental science book that attributes global warming to human activity.

This is a really succinct rundown of those on the school board and those running for seats. It just all sounds like a political nightmare.

I have to admit that I have a hard time listening to the man in the video. He’s kinda crazy looking, in a conspiracy-theory-the-government-is-putting-flouride-in-the-water-to-control-our-minds type of way. But he has a lot of great points, and this makes me glad I don’t live in Texas.

At least our local school board election isn’t fighting over whether or not we should be teaching evolution or creationism intelligent design.  We stick to actual isues like the Code Yellow vs. Code Blue remonstrance debates. is this a concern we might face in the future, though? I’d love to hear your ideas on the topic in the comments.

Posted in Politics, Science | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Odds and Ends

Posted by neuralgourmet on July 26, 2008

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to prepare a proper post this week so in lieu of actually thinking and writing I’d like to instead offer up a pot-pourri of articles elsewhere on the web that have, in one way or the other, caught my interest in the past week or so.

However, before I do that I just want to do a little shameless self-promotion and mention my interview with the Phoenix Mars Lander. No, you didn’t read that wrong. I didn’t interview any of the scientists or technicians involved with the Phoenix project, but went direct to the robot herself. Phoenix and I have been pals on Facebook for a while now and I thought it would only be natural to interview her about her thoughts and experiences as well as the important science she is doing some 170 million miles from home.

So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to some of the more headier and serious stuff. First up, Philosophy professor Priscilla Sakezles writing in eSkeptic claims that “the famous words most often attributed to Socrates, “All I know is that I know nothing,” are in fact a misquote. Today’s skeptical movement likes to trace its roots all the way back to Socrates so it’s perhaps a good idea if we get our quotes right.

Speaking of what we know, most skeptics know that determining whether or not our knowledge accurately reflects the real world is problematic at best. While the scientific method is often considered the best tool we have for understanding how the world works, our brains tend to place more value on anecdotal evidence. Michael Shermer explains How Anecdotal Evidence Can Undermine Scientific Results.

And while the way our brains evolved means we’re not naturally very good scientists, nevertheless science continues to inform our understanding of our minds. Carl Zimmer has a particulary interesting article talking about the three ways our brains affect our perception of the passage of time.

One of the reasons, I think, that it’s important to read and understand science, even if one isn’t a scientist, is because how we understand our world has implications for the kind of society we live in. An article in the May/June 2008 New Humanist talks about how a fundamental ignorance of evolution has led to a rise in creationist beliefs in Europe, including a disturbing new phenomenom — Muslim creationism.

And lastly, it would be remiss of me not to at least mention the case of Barbara Nash. Nash is a quack nutritionist who advised 52 year old Dawn Page to go on a special “detox diet”. Nash’s diet led to Page suffering sodium deficiency so servere that she suffered seizures that left her with permanent brain damage. It is easy to call Nash a quack and wallow in outrage at her advice to Page that the uncontrollable vomiting she was experiencing was simply part of the “detoxification process”. However, Ben Goldacre reminds us that the Barbara Nashes of the world do not exist independently of the society and culture that allows them to thrive.

Posted in Religion, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This guy is the best proof against evolution

Posted by Eye4Cards on June 3, 2008

I’m sure his ancestors would be proud. He makes Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron look like C. S. Lewis and Lee Strobel:

I would feel sorry for the guy, but he leaves no room for pity with this response to one of my favorite series on youtube. Yes, he is talentless and aloof, but he’s kinda like a train wreck. You know how it goes..

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Bertrand Russell:

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.

Posted in Humor, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Arguing Against Arguments Against Evolution

Posted by dystressed on April 19, 2008

PZ Myers has found another creationist who is spreading misinformation.

Posted in Religion, Science | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Christine Comer: Expelled For Real

Posted by neuralgourmet on April 15, 2008

While I might think that the fraudulent documentary Expelled is a non-starter, it can’t be argued that Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents are waging a political war based on ideology. One such casualty of that war is Christine Comer who was the Director of Science for the Texas Education Agency for nine years before being expelled for “repeated acts of misconduct and insubordination”. But what exactly were her crimes? Well, in fact, there was only one. She forwarded an e-mail promoting a talk by Barbara Forrest with the National Center For Science Education. As it so happens, I was over at NCSE’s newly redesigned Expelled Exposed site and happened to see this short video of Christine Comer talking about her experience. There’s not a lot of factual information in there, but it puts a human face on the manufactuversy. Enjoy.

Oh, and don’t forget to bookmark Expelled Exposed’s YouTube channel. I expect you’ll be able to see many more videos there in days to come.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Darwin Day Celebrations

Posted by Skeptigator on March 7, 2008

I know this is posted over on the forums (here and here) but I figured I would get it posted here as well.

The Center for Inquiry – Indianapolis chapter (with which Freethought Fort Wayne is affiliated) will be hosting the Third Annual Darwin Day Conference at the IUPUI campus tomorrow starting bright and early. I know some members expressed an interest in attending/carpooling. I’m not sure who is going but I won’t be able to go to this either. I know I’m a non-participating bum but what can you do.

Check out the link to CFI Indy’s full schedule but some of the highlights will be:

9:00  am—Ancient Roman Creationism: Scientific Pagans vs Armchair Christians—Richard Carrier

10:30 am—Hunters, Gatherers and Killer Apes – Another Adventure in How Science Works–Dr. John Langdon

There will even be a talk on the source of moral values and a panel discussion on Intelligent Design (aka Creationism)

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