December 2011

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2011.

Happy Kitzmas. This is the sixth anniversary of the famous decision in Kitzmiller vs Dover School Board, which really exposed the duplicity of those in the Intelligent Design creationist movement. Judge Jones, who many did not see as a particular ally to those fighting this incursion of religion into American schools, actually provided a exceptional smack-down of the devious and dishonest strategy taken by those wishing to push Intelligent Design creationism as science. This has led to many US-based bloggers to conclude that Intelligent Design creationism is something of a ‘busted flush’. But in reality, this is only true in the USA, where publicly funded schools are prohibited by the Constitution from teaching or promoting religion. In contrast, here in the UK we have a government that actively encourages the development of faith schools, and via its ideologically driven Free Schools raises the spectre of increasing the presence of creationism in our nation’s schools. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

In a article today, the British Humanist Association  reports More creationist Free Schools planned for 2013 opening.  It’s clear that Michael Gove’s Free Schools programme is likely to continue to attract those of the devious and deceitful religious type.  If I take as an example the awful sounding Destiny Christian School proposed for opening in 2013.  The school’s website covers up mention of creationism, saying under the FAQs:

Destiny Christian School will provide a curriculum that is broad, rich, inclusive and based and in line with the National Curriculum.

The BHA article, however, clarifies their position:

In Bedford, Destiny Christian School is being proposed by the Miracle Church of God in Christ, and if approved to open, will be a member school of the Christian Schools’ Trust (CST). At an open meeting attended by a BHA supporter, the group were asked about their policy on creationism and responded that they believe creationism is science and intend to teach it as such.

The affiliation to the Christian Schools Trust is something of a giveaway. Incidentally, any school adhering to the CST Statement of Faith has to be considered suspect in the modern United Kingdom, in which religious belief is generally declining. It’s not actually terribly clear whether the horribly named Destiny Christian School actually does, but it has all the common evangelical hallmarks (including a request for prayers to deliver skilled people to the project team).

Clearly the Free School scheme is seen by those adhering to creationist wingnuttery as an open invitation to pollute impressionable young minds with an inadequate science education.  

I see that Jonathan McLatchie has crossed Larry Moran’s radar (Fishing for Creationists).  Jonathan published one of his verbose articles taking issue with Jeffrey Shallit’s takedown of a video featuring Phillip Johnson, the grand-daddy of Intelligent Design creationism  (This Video Should be Shown to all Biology Students - see also A Discovery Institute Flack Responds) – it’s a video dating to the early days of the Intelligent Design variant of creationism, and reveals Johnson’s ignorance of biology and evolution.  The whole thing’s blown up to include another example of ID creationism misquoting, selectively quoting, and just plain failing to comprehend the scientific literature, this time on homology (both morphological and molecular).

Paul Nelson, in particular has weighed in at Sandwalk.  In case you’re wondering about Nelson’s background in biology, it is the usual extensive education seen in ID creationism.  According to his Wikipedia page,  ”In 1998, Nelson gained a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago”.  Anyway, the discussion has spilled out into a new post, Homology, where I expect the discussion to continue, amid the accusations that he’s selectively mis-quoting and misrepresenting the literature.  Worth following.

And on the ‘further incomprehension by McLatchie’ front, we have this blog article cross-posted to crossexamined*: An Eye-Opening Discovery: The Remarkable Vision of Anomalocaris. This is a ‘teaser’ paragraph from the full article at the very silly and mis-named Evolution News and Views, to which I don’t link, due to its ‘no comments’ policy).  For the rational-minded, the new discovery is really very interesting: that the ‘top predator’ in Cambrian seas was equipped with an effective visual system comprising a high resolution compound eye.  The proposal has elicited quite a bit of discussion, not least around whether or not the eyes are really part of Anomalocaris (which, interestingly, McLatchie doesn’t refer to), but also that it suggests that Anomalocaris had arthropod affinities.  Anomalocaris itself has had an interesting history in palaeontology, having over the years had body parts identified as three different species.  While I cannot fault McLatchie when he says “This beast poses mysteries both small and large”, he then ruins it by charging off into his usual nonsense.  Apparently the new discoveries make it another “tough day to be a Darwinian”, though it’s not clear quite why he says this, other than senior ID creationists say so (Meyer, Nelson and Chien** – the latter being one of the few biologists in the ranks of ID creationists), and that it’s the hoary old story of ‘sudden appearance’ of complex structures (such as a very high resolution compound eye) in the fossil record that exceeds his capacity to grasp the science.

For my part, I am fascinated by Anomalocaris, and look forward to further discoveries about the Cambrian seas. Not so much the ID creationist mangling of those discoveries!

*Jonathan McLatchie seems to be the sole blogger at crossexamined.  Many of his posts there are ‘interesting’.

** Chien apparently leads the Discovery Institute Paleontology Research Program, according to his Wikipedia page, though that page suggests he’s a biochemist rather than a palaeontologist.

Tags: ,

New Statesman – Richard Dawkins to guest-edit the New Statesman Christmas issue

In a 100-page special issue, the evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins brings together some of the world’s leading scientists, thinkers and writers.

Should be interesting!

Jonathan M who seems to have become a regular blogger for the Discovery Institute has noticed this blog once again (From the Darwinist Blogosphere, Stephen Meyer’s Trip to London Elicits a Typical Reaction) in a posting at the bizarrely named Evolution News website – no comments permitted there, it would seem. The BCSE believes Jonathan M to be Jonathan MacLatchie (sometimes his name is given as McLatchie), an undergraduate student in forensic science [UPDATE: Jonathan is now taking a Masters degree in Evolutionary Biology & Systematics at the University of Glasgow (!) ] who appears to have absorbed a typical strategy beloved of Intelligent Design creationists: of devising neologisms that don’t correspond to normally used science terminology, and combined this with ignorance of biology. P. Z. Myers was exposed to some of his ‘thinking’ while visiting Glasgow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,