Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mirecki: Beating up intelligent design

Beating up intelligent design, The Scientist, March 2006, Ishani Ganguli ... Late last year, following the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to treat evolution as a disputed theory in elementary and middle school classrooms, Paul Mirecki, a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas, announced plans to teach a counter-course: Special Topics in Religion: "Intelligent Design, Creationism, and other Religious Mythologies." Soon after that, the trouble started. After comments Mirecki made about the course on a private listserv were made public in late November, the university reevaluated the class. "The fundies," Mirecki wrote of religious conservatives on Nov. 19, 2005, to a university group he advises, the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, "want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category [of] mythology." Mirecki apologized for the comments and withdrew the course on Dec. 1, 2005, after additional controversial comments he made on the listserv, apparently disparaging a variety of groups and individuals, were published, says Lynn Bretz, University of Kansas spokesperson. Bretz says Mirecki had been making such comments for three years. About 30 students had already enrolled in the class. Early on the morning of December 5, Mirecki showed up at the emergency room of Lawrence Memorial Hospital with bruises. He told police he had been beaten on a rural road by two men who had referred to the course. The police investigation is still open, according to Lieutenant Kari Wempe of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Mirecki stepped down as chair of the department of religious studies two days after the alleged beating. He and the university administration said the resignation was voluntary, though his peers recommended the move. Mirecki later released a statement repudiating this. "I've become radioactive and the university's administrators won't support me," he wrote, and is considering suing the university. Though "a lot of people feel that it's really unfortunate what happened," says Jennifer Gleason, assistant professor in the University's department of ecology and evolutionary biology, "the [biology] department doesn't seem to be really doing anything about it or taking a stand or anything. Obviously we need to do a better job of educating the public about what evolution is about." Mirecki, who remains a tenured professor, is currently teaching "Understanding the Bible." He did not return calls for comment. As to whether an "intelligent design as mythology course" has a future at the University of Kansas, with or without Mirecki, the administration said in a December statement that it "continues to believe the course has merit and should be taught in the future." The university has "been very clear that neither [intelligent design] nor creationism should be taught as science," Bretz writes in an E-mail. ... [A fair summary which, by just telling the story, presents Mirecki in a poor light. Indeed, the headline, "Beating up intelligent design" makes it clear that it was Mirecki who did the beating up of ID, not the other way around.

I had expected that the police would by now have charged Mirecki with a hate-crime hoax, since his minor injuries did not match his claim of having been beaten "with their fists and a metal object for about a minute" and by Mirecki's own admission that the police treated him "more like a criminal than a victim." However, it seems they are just going to leave it open.

The atheist (and what's more anti-Christian) Mirecki teaching "Understanding the Bible" is another example of what Jesus observed:

"If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit" (Mat 15:14).

That is because, as the Bible itself teaches, it can only be truly understood with the illumination of the indwelling Holy Spirit:

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14. My emphasis)

That is why Mirecki (and his ilk) cannot see the difference between the gnostic gospels (like his so-called "Gospel of the Savior") and the New Testament gospels. To him (and them) all religious writings (the Bible included) are just the fully naturalistic products of human beings, and so are all equally false.

If the University does teach an "intelligent design as mythology course" they would have to fully justify their claim from the ID movement's own writings (which is why they will never do it).

Gleason does not draw the obvious conclusion why "the [biology] department doesn't seem to be really doing anything about it" is that they, like Mirecki's own colleagues in the Religious Studies Department, don't believe Mirecki's version. And as for doing "a better job of educating the public about what evolution is about", Mirecki has in fact done that-evolution in the sense that the University of Kansas and other universities understand it, is atheistic (and therefore anti-Christian), i.e.:

"the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis)]

PS: I have added the following Mivart quote to my "Problems of Evolution" book outline, PE 2.8.6. "Fallacies used to support evolution ... Straw man". However, unlike Mivart (or maybe Mivart was just being polite?), I do regard Darwin's erecting of a straw man of his opponents' position as "intentional misrepresentation." I agree with the Darwinist Gillespie in the quote immediately above where I have put Mivart's, that "Darwin [in] setting up a straw man in order to improve the appearance of his own case ... had selected his target well and knew exactly what he was doing" !

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Nothing could be further from Mr. Darwin's mind than any, however small, intentional misrepresentation; and it is therefore the more unfortunate that he should not have shown any appreciation of a position opposed to his own other than that gross and crude one which he combats so superfluously-that he should appear, even for a moment, to be one of those, of whom there are far too many, who first misrepresent their adversary's view, and then elaborately refute it; who, in fact, erect a doll utterly incapable of self-defence, and then, with a flourish of trumpets and many vigorous strokes, overthrow the helpless dummy they have previously raised. This is what many do who more or less distinctly oppose theism in the interests, as they believe, of physical science; and they often represent, amongst other things, a gross and narrow anthropomorphism as the necessary consequence of views opposed to those which they themselves advocate." (Mivart S.J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London & New York, Second edition, 1871, p.19)

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