May 31, 2007


Caption: This man is the product of artificial selection.

Here's another item I've been sitting on for a while. An interesting rift has emerged among conservatives between the religious right's embrace of creationism and others who want the movement to avoid being cast as anti-science.

From the May 5 NY Times:

Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy?....

For some conservatives, accepting Darwin undercuts religious faith and produces an amoral, materialistic worldview that easily embraces abortion, embryonic stem cell research and other practices they abhor. As an alternative to Darwin, many advocate intelligent design, which holds that life is so intricately organized that only an intelligent power could have created it.

However, other conservatives not only want to avoid being seen as hostile to science:

Some of these thinkers have gone one step further, arguing that Darwin’s scientific theories about the evolution of species can be applied to today’s patterns of human behavior, and that natural selection can provide support for many bedrock conservative ideas, like traditional social roles for men and women, free-market capitalism and governmental checks and balances.

Darwinism has been a political football from the beginning. It's results, usually grossly distorted and misunderstood, have been claimed by economic conservatives, Marxists, Nazis, militarists, nationalists, and many others. The track record for politicizing science isn't much better than that of literalizing and legislating religion.

Here's the irony of the day: many people who embrace literal creationism embrace social Darwinism or the mis-application of ideas of natural selection and competition to society through their hostility to policies that would reduce inequalities and promote shared prosperity.

DROP EVERYTHING! and check out this AP item. It ran in the Gazette yesterday but I found the link elsewhere:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Proof that a 12-foot creature with fiery red eyes spooked Braxton County schoolchildren in 1952. Proof that aliens crashed a spaceship near Roswell, N.M., in 1947. Proof that the U.S. military engaged alien spaceships in battle over the Atlantic Ocean more than 50 years ago.

"You're going to see some hard evidence" at the Flatwoods Monster 55th Anniversary and Flying Saucer Extravaganza on Sept. 7-8 in Charleston, said promoter Larry Bailey. "That's a promise. That's not just promotional talk."

The UFO conference coincides with the 60th anniversary of an unexplained sighting of a crashed aircraft in New Mexico that is still a source of controversy and speculation of a government coverup. It's also the 55th anniversary of sightings of a noxious-odor-emitting monster in Flatwoods in Braxton County.

Full disclosure: El Cabrero may have contributed to the UFO hysteria in his jr. hi. years when he wrapped up in aluminum foil to look like a spaceman and walked on I-64 near his beloved home town along the banks of the Mud River...

SPEAKING OF ALTERNATE REALITIES, President Bush keeps manufacturing his own. This is another gem from AP:

WASHINGTON , Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him.

There's more that's worth reading in the full article.


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