My comments bolded and in square brackets, on articles about University of Kansas Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Paul Mirecki's proposed course on "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies" :
Univ. of Kansas Takes Up Creation Debate: Univ. of Kansas Religion Course Seeks to Debunk Creationism, Intelligent Design As 'Mythology', ABC News/AP, ... LAWRENCE, Kan. Nov 22, 2005 - Creationism and intelligent design are going to be studied at the University of Kansas, but not in the way advocated by opponents of the theory of evolution. [Also at CNN, San Francisco Chronicle & Seattle Post-Intelligencer.] A course being offered next semester by the university religious studies department is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies." [It will be most interesting to see how, in a scholarly and objective way, this course will make the case that "creationism" and "intelligent design" are "mythologies." But apart from ID being based solely on the empirical evidence of nature:
"The first misunderstanding is that intelligent design is based on religion rather than science. Design theory is a scientific inference based on empirical evidence, not religious texts. The theory proposes that some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause as opposed to an undirected process such as natural selection. Although controversial, design theory is supported by a growing number of scientists in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books. While intelligent design may have religious implications (just like Darwin's theory), it does not start from religious premises." (West J.G., "Intelligent design is sorely misunderstood," Seattle Post- Intelligencer, August 9, 2005).Christian "creationism" is based on Christianity being true (which it is). So to claim that Christian "creationism" is "mythology" would necessitate demonstrating that Christianity is false. I look forward to seeing that demonstration!] "The KU faculty has had enough," said Paul Mirecki, department chairman. "Creationism is mythology," Mirecki said. [This is necessarily a claim that that Christianity is false. It seems that the separation of Church and State only works one way in the USA these days? BTW Mirecki is an atheist/agnostic:
Challenging worldviews Atheists and agnostics group battles misconceptions, The Lawrence Journal-World, Jim Baker, May 1, 2004 Got God? Members of the Kansas University Society of Open- Minded Atheists and Agnostics don't. The 20 to 30 students who belong to the group don't believe in God or think there's any way human beings can know whether God exists or not. ... Paul Mirecki, professor of religious studies at KU, says he is happy to serve as faculty sponsor for the group so it can have meetings and events such as "Religiously Incorrect." "I have been their faculty sponsor for three or four years, and I haven't received anything negative about it. Part of it is because the group hasn't gotten much attention," Mirecki says. "As soon as they start getting media attention, opposition will come from those people who like to oppose people who are not like them."Evidently Mirecki exempts himself from his own criticism that "opposition will come from those people who like to oppose people who are not like them."!] "Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not." [As I said, I look forward to Mirecki demonstrating that in a scholarly and objective manner in this course!] Earlier this month, the state Board of Education adopted new science teaching standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory, defying the view of science groups. Although local school boards still decide how science is taught in the classrooms, the vote was seen as a major victory for proponents of intelligent design, which says that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power. [It is false this oft-repeated claim that "intelligent design ... says that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power." All that ID claims is that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause" and "Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that ... the intelligent cause must be a `divine being' or a `higher power' or an `all-powerful force'":
"1. What is the theory of intelligent design? The scientific theory of intelligent design 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. Note: Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause. Nor does it claim that the intelligent cause must be a `divine being' or a `higher power' or an `all-powerful force.' All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence." (Crowther R., "Discovery Institute gives overview of intelligent design," Baptist Press, December 17, 2004).]Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation as the handiwork of God camouflaged in scientific language as a way to get around court rulings that creationism injects religion into public schools. [This is patently false. ID says nothing about "the Bible", let alone its "story of creation," and those who keep saying it will discredit themselves in the eyes of the general public as either dishonest or deluded.] John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Intelligent Design Network in Johnson County, said Mirecki will go down in history as a laughingstock. "To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it's just another example of labeling anybody who proposes (intelligent design) to be simply a religious nut," Calvert said. "That's the reason for this little charade." [I disagree that "Mirecki will go down in history" (he is not important enough for that) but I agree that he is "a laughingstock"!] Mirecki said his course, limited to 120 students, would explore intelligent design as a modern American mythology. Several faculty members have volunteered to be guest lecturers, he said. [Again, I would be very interested in seeing Mirecki's evidence and argument that "intelligent design [is] ... a modern American mythology."] University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Monday said he didn't know all the details about the new course. "If it's a course that's being offered in a serious and intellectually honest way, those are the kind of courses a university frequently offers," he said. ... [I wonder what Hemenway will do if "it's a course that's" not "being offered in a serious and intellectually honest way"? In fact, it is significant that he even mentioned that criteria!]
Use of `mythologies' questioned: Intelligent design backers criticize KU course title, The Kansas City Star, Nov. 23, 2005, Laura Bauer ... Months before a University of Kansas religion course is even taught, its title has riled some who say the school is acting the spoil sport in the evolution debate. The course, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," will be offered next semester. [What if the boot was on the other foot and a course was proposed with the title, "Darwinism, Evolutionism and other anti-Religious Mythologies"? Would not the Darwinists be "riled" (to put it mildly)?] The goal, university officials say, is to open students up to the many cross-cultural stories of how the world was created. [But, apart from ID not being a "stor[y] of how the world was created", labelling as "mythologies" all those "stories of how the world was created," means that Christian creation, and therefore Christianity itself, is a "mythology", when Christianity explicitly claims that it is not:
2 Peter 1:16 (RSV) - "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths [Gk. mythos] when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (my emphasis).It would then be most interesting to see the result of a separation of Church and State case brought by (say) the Thomas More Law Center against Mirecki and the University of Kansas!] Those in the intelligent design camp believe it is just KU's way of degrading the concept. Intelligent design is the belief that some aspects of nature show evidence of being designed by a creator. ". All of a sudden, just from the title, intelligent design is being put in there with mythology," said Bruce Simat, an associate biology professor at Minnesota's Northwestern College, who testified on behalf of intelligent design at Kansas hearings in May. "I think it's reactionary. I think it's defensive. I think they are unwilling to study intelligent design head-on." [Good point. But the more the Darwinists employ these "defensive" tactics, the more the public will assume that they are "afraid to encounter the best arguments against their theory":
"In the final analysis, it is not any specific scientific evidence that convinces me that Darwinism is a pseudoscience that will collapse once it becomes possible for critics to get a fair hearing. It is the way the Darwinists argue their case that makes it apparent that they are afraid to encounter the best arguments against their theory. A real science does not employ propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked, nor does it rely on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story. If the Darwinists had a good case to make, they would welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate, and they would want to confront the best critical arguments rather than to caricature them as straw men. Instead they have chosen to rely on the dishonorable methods of power politics." (Johnson P.E., "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, p.141).]For months, Kansas has been embroiled in controversy over what the state should teach its children in the science classroom. Earlier this month, the state board of education adopted new standards that allow for nonnatural explanations and cast doubt on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. [Obviously the reporter realizes that this is a `payback' (see also last article)!] The course title is not meant to offend any religion or belief, KU Provost David Shulenburger said Tuesday. He explained in a written statement that "myth" and "mythology" are common in the academic study of religion. [This is just disingenuous damage control. The singling out of "Intelligent Design" and "[Christian] Creationism" with "other Religious Mythologies" at the University of Kansas, following the Kansas Board of Education's adoption of new science standards, let alone Mirecki's statement, "The KU faculty has had enough ... Creationism is mythology", makes it obvious that this is just a payback (see also last article)!] The course will accommodate as many as 120 students. They will be introduced to many different creation stories and be able to make up their own minds on what they believe, university officials say. [I look forward to Mirecki's depiction of "Intelligent Design" and "[Christian] Creationism", which is "offered in a serious and intellectually honest way!] What worries John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of Johnson County's Intelligent Design Network, is whether the course instructor will be educated in the science behind intelligent design. " People will be misled and buy the lie," Calvert said. [Well, if "the course instructor" is not "educated in the science behind intelligent design" such that students "will be misled" then presumably action (up to and including legal) can be taken against Mirecki and the University of Kansas?] "But the public is going to see what's going on. We're not all fools. Misinformation has a finite life." [Agreed. It is Mirecki and his ilk who are the "fools", continually employing "misinformation." The public will increasingly wonder why, if the Darwinists have truth on their side, they "would [not] want to confront the best critical arguments [of ID] rather than to caricature them as straw men".] But some, in addition to faculty members at KU, think the class is a good thing. Boo Tyson of the Mainstream Coalition said she likes that the topic is being taught in a religion curriculum. "It may be right way to go about this. Let's have this discussion in religion classes," Tyson said. "I don't think creationism or intelligent design belongs in a science classroom. I think it's a sign of weak faith to try to prove your faith." [This last is pure Gnosticism. Christianity is a "faith" based on facts , in particular the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith":
1 Cor. 15:12-20 NIV: " But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." (my emphasis)]Tyson said that after the course, students should be able to decide for themselves where they fall in the debate. The nonpartisan coalition, based in Johnson County, works to maintain the separation of church and state. [Well, then they should be against Christian "creationism", and therefore Christianity itself, being classified by the State as a "mythology"! But of course, "the separation of church and state" is these days (when there is no prospect of a State religion being established) just a tactic to attack and marginalize Christianity. Those doing it don't realize that they are unwittingly proving Christianity to be true (2 Thess. 2:3 ;Luke 18:8 ; Rev. 11:3-10; 20:1-9)!] Shulenburger said the course allows the university to fulfill its obligation to the community and students. "My concern is that our faculty feels free to go to their disciplines and teach from them on any subject," Shulenburger said. "Regardless of the controversy associated with it." ... [ID has no problem with ID and "the controversy associated with it" being taught. In fact that is ID's "teach the controversy" position. But to prejudge ID (and "creationism") as "mythology" is hardly "being offered in a serious and intellectually honest way"!]
Critics: E-mail reveals intent: KU professor says note about creationism course wasn't public, The Capital-Journal , November 24, 2005, Ric Anderson. A University of Kansas instructor has inflamed conservatives with comments he made in announcing plans to teach a course examining intelligent design as mythology. Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU's Religious Studies Department, wrote in an e-mail that the course was his response to religious fundamentalists promoting the study of intelligent design and creationism in the state's public schools. "The fundies 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 'mythology,' " the message said. [See above on "payback"! So much for this course "being offered in a serious and intellectually honest way"!] The message was sent Saturday to a list-serve group for the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, a student organization for which Mirecki serves as faculty adviser. [This `society of open-minded atheists' has a T-shirt for sale which has on it, "MYTHICAL CREATURES", then a list starting with "Frankenstein's Monster" and ending with "GOD" (thanks to Krauze at Telic Thoughts for the idea of showing the graphic).] Mirecki addressed the message to "my fellow damned" and signed off with: "Doing my part to (tick) of(f) the religious right, Evil Dr. P." [Mirecki's designating himself "damned" and "Evil" (like Dawkins' "A Devil's Chaplain") illustrates C.S. Lewis' point that, "the doors of hell are locked on the inside" and that what "rebels" against God most want in this life, "God to ... leave them alone", is "what He does" in the next life:
"I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. ... They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free. In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: `what are you asking God to do?' To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does." (Lewis C.S., "The Problem of Pain," , Fount: London, 1977, reprint, pp.101-102. Emphasis in original).]John Altevogt, a conservative columnist and activist in Kansas City, Kan., said Mirecki had accomplished his goal. "When somebody writes a letter like this and says, 'I'm going to go out and slap them in their fat faces, I'm going to go out and (tick) them off,' congratulations, you've succeeded," he said. Altevogt said he would send a copy of the message to every Kansas legislator as an example of religious intolerance and hate-mongering at the university. He said he thought Mirecki should step down as department chairman. [Clearly Mirecki has forfeited any claim to be an objective scholar in this area. If his course still goes ahead, which now seems unlikely, it would now have no credibility.] Sen. Kay O'Connor, a conservative Republican from Olathe, said she saw the message as a "slap in the face of every Judeo-Christian religion." O'Connor declined to say whether she thought the Legislature would consider withholding funds over the issue. "But Public Relations 101 is you don't kick sand in the face of a person you're asking for money," she said. [This raises a good point. Why should the vast majority of theists provide their taxpayer's money to fund the tiny minority of atheists, so the latter can use those funds to advance their atheistic religious position and attack the theists' religious position?] Mirecki didn't deny writing the message but suggested it wasn't meant to be seen by the general public. He said Wednesday that a "mole" who had been monitoring the student organization's list-serve sent the message to a fundamentalist organization. "It's their version of ethics -- one citizen spying on another and reporting to authorities," he said. [What about the "ethics" of pretending that one is proposing a course for "The goal ... to open students up to the many cross-cultural stories of how the world was created" when really one is trying to get back at "The fundies" to give them "a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology'"?] Mirecki said he had received more than 250 e-mail messages and phone calls since news of the course broke earlier this week. The vast majority were supportive, he said. Mirecki declined to discuss the issue further, saying he would give no interviews until after the holidays. Andrew Stangl, president of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, said the list-serve was designed to provide an open and informal forum for discussion. The list-serve is open to the public, but users must register with a username and a password. "This was just supposed to be SOMA members and people who want to openly discuss these issues," Stangl said. "That's who he thought he was making the comments to." Altevogt said the privacy argument was groundless. "That's silly," he said. "There's no expectation of privacy on the Internet. That's basically saying, 'Shame on you, you caught me.' " [Agreed-anyone who thinks a "list-serve ... open to the public" is confidential, is either naive, or a fool. But it could have been a SOMA atheist/agnostic member who was disgusted by nasty Mirecki's email.] David Shulenburger, KU provost and executive vice chancellor, said he didn't believe Mirecki intended the message to go beyond the list- serve recipients. "I certainly regret the choice of wording in it, and it doesn't reflect the attitude of the university toward individuals who hold certain beliefs," Shulenburger said. [More damage control. Mirecki himself said of the "more than 250 e-mail messages and phone calls" he received about it, "The vast majority were supportive" and presumably many, if not most, of these were from the faculty.] Shulenburger said Mirecki had compiled a good record as a teacher and scholar. He said the course had a legitimate, educational purpose at a time when Kansas is drawing worldwide attention for debate over the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. "This is a scholarly course that will look at the various creation stories that are peculiar to many different religions," he said. "Students will be able to hear the lectures, read the literature, discuss issues in class and form their own opinions. There's a scholarly intent." [Mirecki's email refutes that. I would be very surprised if the course goes ahead now, which is a pity!] John Bacon, a conservative Republican member of the Kansas State Board of Education, said the tone of Mirecki's message suggested the course would be biased against creationism and Christianity. "As a taxpayer, I take exception (to Mirecki's message)," he said. "I think it has the potential of alienating a lot of the supporters of KU." [Mirecki forgot his fellow atheist William Provine's point that, "prominent atheistic or agnostic scientists publicly deny that there is any conflict between science and religion" because "funding for science might suffer if the atheistic implications of modern science were widely understood":
"My observation is that the great majority of modern evolutionary biologists now are atheists or something very close to that. Yet prominent atheistic or agnostic scientists publicly deny that there is any conflict between science and religion. Rather than simple intellectual dishonesty, this position is pragmatic. In the United States, elected members of Congress all proclaim to be religious. Many scientists believe that funding for science might suffer if the atheistic implications of modern science were widely understood." (Provine W.B., Review of "Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution," by Edward J. Larson, Oxford University Press: New York, 1985, Academe, Vol. 73, January/February 1987, pp.51-52, in Morris H.M., "That Their Words May Be Used Against Them: Quotes from Evolutionists Useful for Creationists," Master Books: Green Forest AR, 1997, p.396)]Mirecki, who joined the KU faculty in 1989, said in the list-serve message that six faculty members had signed up for the course, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and other Religious Mythologies." ... [I hope that the course does go ahead, because it will be instructive (and fun!) to refute Mirecki's claims that Christian "creationism" (and therefore Christianity itself) and "intelligent design", are mythological.]
PS: See tagline quote that is my next installment of Paley's design argument.
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"
"Nor, fifthly, would it yield his inquire more satisfaction to be answered that there existed in things a principle of order, which had disposed the parts of the watch into their present form and situation. He never knew a watch made by the principle of order; nor can he even form to himself an idea of what is meant by a principle of order, distinct from the intelligence of the watch-maker." (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," , St. Thomas Press: Houston, TX, 1972, reprint, p.5)
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