Monday, April 05, 2004

As Does Seebach Linda Seebach of the Rocky Mountain News has called my attention to this column she has written on ReligionGate. She is kind enough to cite this blog, and quote some of my writing, in her column. Here's a sample:

The Discovery Institute should probably avoid sending out press releases on April Fool's Day.

The one I got Thursday was headlined “Evolution Group Uses Federal Tax Money to Promote Religion, According to Critics,” and at first I thought it was a spoof, though it did occur to me to wonder how anybody could tell, given the source.

The Discovery Institute (discovery. org on the Web) is a Seattle-based think tank which is in fact quite sound on a number of issues. I think I've even quoted them on occasion. Not any more, though, because its section on science and culture is largely devoted to promoting the idea of intelligent design, and that is a sufficiently odd preoccupation as to cast doubt on everything else they do.

According to an earlier e-mail from the same source, intelligent design theory “holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” (the quotation marks are in the original e-mail, which does not say who is being quoted).

John West, associate director of the institute's Center for Science and Culture, declares in an online article that intelligent design is not creationism. That's true, if the word is used to refer only to the "young earth" creationism based on a more-or-less literal meaning of Genesis. Young-earth creationism is so incompatible with all modern science, not just evolutionary theory, that essentially nobody would believe it except out of religious necessity.

I can't say I have ever found anything useful emanating from any of Discovery's many orifices, but I certainly endorse the rest of this excerpt.

Ms. Seebach goes on to include one small criticism of the NCSE/Berkley website:

That said, if this is a half-million-dollar project, I don't think the taxpayers got their money's worth. The page with the paragraphs about religion features a cutesy cartoon of two men holding hands, one a scientist in a white lab coat holding a fossil and the other a man in a clerical collar holding a Bible. Awww, how sweet.

For middle school students, maybe. But I'd be worried to learn that there were actually people teaching science in school who needed instruction at this level. Perhaps I should be worried.

Actually, I had the same reaction to certain parts of the cite. It is, at times, a bit too cute. On the other hand, the site is intended as a place to go for quick information. It is not a replacement for a graduate seminar.


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