Beyond Good and Evil

Dr. Ronnie J. Hastings

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Mitt Romney — NOT the Man for President

Even without Obama’s excellent record (see Reason to Vote for Obama — His Record), he still would be a better pick for President than Mitt Romney.

Voting for President for me is not a party thing, but a person thing. “Vote for the man!” I always say (“man” here is the generic term for any human qualified; I happen to think we are not far away from a woman President.); do not vote for the party.

One way to decide is to line up the ones who have a chance to win, and for decades now that has been just two candidates. Then, ask the question which one is closest to being like Thomas Jefferson, or Andrew Jackson? Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, fought before, during, and after his own Presidency for the American ideal of equal justice and opportunity for all — for the ideal of the educated electorate, for power being in the hands of the people. Jackson, the first President from the “common people” set the standard in his Presidency of just how to carry out that fight as President of all (except the Indians, unfortunately) the people.

Obama is so much closer to these two than Romney, it is a no-brainer! Romney is an elitist, someone who cannot relate to the 99% of Americans who do not earn as much as he. He is rich, and, like Donald Trump, far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer. He reminds me of Ronald Reagan, a self-made puppet ready to morph into anything the party needs, or, better, ready to morph into anything that will help him win. Romney, like most Republican candidates for President, needs to be that compliant “man of the party,” willing to do whatever the party wants, regardless of his own personal views; Republican candidates overwhelmingly to me are “not their own man.” Obama is his own man.

He (Mitt) reminds me, unfortunately, of most Republican candidates, for, since the death of Lincoln and the advent of the post Civil War Radical Republicans bent upon punishing the South, the Republican candidate has been the dedicated mouth-piece of the economic elitists of this country, and an elitist himself. Consequently, I have never voted for a Republican Presidential candidate in my life, a fact by which I have been erroneously labeled a Democrat.

Republican candidates of late have been the “business candidates.” I have been in a back-and-forth blog with someone I’ll just call Jack, who, apparently, sincerely believes that a good businessman would be a good President. A “good businessman” is assumed to be a successful one, and a successful one is synonymous to being a rich one. In the economic history of this country, being rich usually means being an economic elitist, like Alexander Hamilton. Economic elitists fought for and those today fight for an economic class structure (There have been far, far too few exceptions to this rule of thumb, unfortunately.) — a structure not unlike the one we broke away from as colonies of Great Britain by way of the American Revolution. Economic elitists, therefore, work against our American ideals of democracy, equality, and egalitarianism; they work toward an American aristocracy. Hence, they are polar opposites to the likes of Jefferson and Jackson.

The philosophy of economic elitists is often the “great man” theory of history, as opposed to the “great idea” theory of history. Hence, the elitist rich are comfortable with great kings, aristocrats, military officers, and, of course, CEO’s and autocratic bosses. Rich people of the “great idea” theory tend not to be impressed by individual leadership, and avoid the pitfalls of cults of personality that emerged from strong, selfish leadership. Economic elitists have over time fallen prey to follow autocrats, dictators, and despots of all types, or, given in to the temptation to become one of those themselves.

Our country was founded upon great ideas, not upon the deeds of great men. The philosophy, therefore, of the economic elitists, the “good businessmen,” if you please, is out of “sync” with the ideals of the United States. Economic elitists, usually, are not good for the United States as governmental leaders. They struggle enough with so much money, and don’t have the skills to humanely handle power.

My site administrator and friend, Jim McDonald, recently reminded me of the dark side of economic elitism. I, of all people, should have the dangers of economic elitism before me at all times, for, after all, I read William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich before I graduated high school. I tended to forget about the economics of Nazi Germany; it was boring compared to the military history and political history.

Fear is a poor reason to vote one way or another, so I am not trying to put fear and dread into anyone. I am just saying that Jim reminded me that the dark side of economic elitism is fascist economics. Empowered economic elitism was the economic system of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan. (They lost WWII, by the way, so no fear there.) Full support of an autocratic governmental bureaucracy backs usually large corporations that gained influence and tax breaks helping them to, in turn, support the government. The government dictates what the economy produces, and the economy flourishes to greater and greater profits and production under the protection and exclusive support of the government. Leaders in government and leaders in industry in a fascist regime morph into each other back and forth, making money and gaining power with each change. Dick Cheney, in my opinion, has done just that in our country; he has personally behaved as if we are in a fascist economy!

A fascist regime has industry and government pulling the same way, with money collecting at the top (like our so-called “1%”). Exploiting the people’s sense of patriotism, outside dangers are conjured (exploiting the people’s collective fear) to pick a fight (war) with enemies possessing resources or geographical coordinates the 1% would like to place under their influence and direction to keep the economy growing at the expense of the “enemy.” And war is fought under the guise of a “cause” of the people, when, in reality, the war is an effective way of diverting the people away from their being victims of the exploitation of the “military-industrial complex” giving them instructions, directions, and marching orders. The Vietnam War was a war waged by a fascist-like military-industrial complex operating under the name of the United States of America.

We have fought, similarly to the Vietnam War, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back in his day, Reagan tried to foment a war with Guatemala so we could economically exploit them. The reasons we went into Iraq are pretty oily, even though it is nice to be rid of Hussein, and what makes us think we could do better than the Soviets in Afghanistan, even though it is nice to be rid of bin Laden? Does the sabre rattling done by conservative Republicans at Iran seem like a familiar pattern? It should. Fascist economies need to expand and exploit their neighbors to cover their exploitation of their 99%.

It takes unscrupulous businessmen to run a fascist economy, to, among other things, make the guns to keep the wars going (and the blood flowing). It takes a President just as unscrupulous or, really, really dumb in the White House to back a fascist economy in the United States, sometimes by doing nothing more than giving big tax breaks to the rich economic elitists or turning a blind eye to how industrial outsourcing of jobs is hurting the US economy. (At least the Republicans outsource (foreign slave labor) and do not resort to in-house slave labor, like the Nazis did!)

Believe what candidates do, not what candidates say. By his actions, Mitt seems both unscrupulous and dumb. He either doesn’t mind being another puppet of the Republicans (because of all he can personally gain by being so) or he doesn’t think he is. He can’t be all the latter, for that is as dumb as George W, and I don’t think Mitt is THAT dumb! But he is economically an unscrupulous American, with links to all that outsourcing, all those foreign bank accounts, and the cowardice of not taking ownership of a pretty good State universal insurance plan that shows the way this country ought to go in reaching what the American people deserve — universal health care.

I need to insert here that I am, like Obama, NOT anti-business. The overwhelming majority of businesses, when you include the small ones, are honest, hard-working enterprises doing as Adam Smith envisioned. Thank God for this majority! I am just suggesting that just as absolute power corrupts absolutely, money above a certain amount corrupts predictably in the pockets of most people. What did Scripture say — it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? What Jack calls a good businessman, like he calls Romney, is double-speak for the unscrupulous businessman, such as pervades the 1%. In other words, when you get rich enough, you can “afford” to be unscrupulous.

We suffered economically the stupidity and greed of the 1% in 2008. If America had fallen into a depression, then that would be a step in favor of a stronger fascist economy. Thanks to Obama, we did not do that. But, with this gridlocked Congress we have, which, in my opinion, is preventing the creation of jobs, conditions are again in the favor of a US version of a fascist economy, thanks to the stupidity and stubbornness of half our legislature, the lobbying paid for by the 1%, and the mindless noise made by the Tea Party (like the brown shirts of Nazi Germany). (Check history to see how the Nazis-coming-to-power worked to gum up the works of the Reichstag desperately needing to do something about the German economy in the late 20’s and early 30’s. They probably had a hand in burning the place down, blaming it on the Communists.)

Note Romney talks of creating jobs but he does not say how he is going to do it. He says he has created jobs in his business career, but can’t shake ties to companies that destroyed jobs here by outsourcing. Obama knows how to create jobs and get to working on repairing our infrastructure. FDR (a rich American who was not an economic elitist) showed the way. We need a Congress, regardless of party affiliation, willing to get things done and work with the President. We need companies that spend no money on lobbying or fat bonuses to upper management and spread their wealth to their workers; we need companies whose workers own as much stock in the company as management.

Romney shows, in my opinion, he is part of the unscrupulous 1% — one of Jack’s good businessmen — when he refuses to show no more than two years of his income tax returns, just as John McCain refused to do. (I wonder if Romney knows how many houses he owns, as McCain did not seem to know about the number of his properties.) MSNBC just recently revealed one of the many reasons why he cannot “afford” to report too much. It has come to light Romney has in his IRA tens of millions of dollars! Given the maximum annual contribution to IRA’s most of us have to live under ($6k), that means he has been building up his IRA for thousands of years! Wow! Not even Mormon miracles can get him out of that! Speaking of the Mormons, revelation over the years of his contributions to the Mormon Church, as if he was helping the poor, needy, and destitute — all for a tax write-off, cannot be good for him also. When you look at the opulence, grandeur, and gaudiness of the Mormon temples, it looks as bad as giving “offerings to the poor” into the coffers of Vatican City! It’s like Scrooge giving money to spruce up the lobby of his bank, claiming that as a “contribution” to the poor, needy, and destitute.

My friend Jack, mentioned above, seems to be an economic elitist; he has developed delusions of grandeur outside his profession of engineering; he fancies himself a prophet and a self-ordained Christian minister; he flaunts his wealth, and is further self-deluded into thinking people line up in cyberspace to eagerly lap up his latest advice and pontifications; his “latest” consists of insights like having Senators not elected by the people anymore, but, rather, be appointed by governors or State legislatures like they were over 200 years ago! Can you say “fascist economic elitist”?

Guess who Jack enthusiastically supports for President? — you guessed it, Mitt Romney.

We need to re-elect President Obama. (And also elect a cooperating Congress eager to get to work with the President.)


Throwing a Fit Over Mitt — A Taste of Their Own Medicine

Whatever your political preferences nowadays, I am going to mess with your mind a bit. What if the object of the Obama-bashers’ ire was turned around 180 degrees, and they were bashing Mitt Romney instead? I hope you find some things interesting and thought-provoking in this exercise of wicked fantasy.

If the Obama-bashers were, instead, bashing Mitt, I speculate it would go something like this:

“First, 1), I want to see his birth certificate. His family’s ties to Mexico render his natural-born status suspect. And let’s see a full-blown, multi-page certificate, not a measly ‘statement of birth.’ How do we know that he wasn’t born in Mexico, and was smuggled north across the border like a stash of illegal drugs along some sort of ‘Mormon Underground Railroad?’

2) Just how many houses does he own anyway? Rumor has it he probably lets them be used as part of the Underground Railroad in 1).

3) How come he needs an elevator in his garage for all his cars? I’ve heard he wants to standardized all American garages, requiring them to have elevators, so that only the super-rich can own cars with approved garages.

3) means 4) — pick-up trucks, those badges of poverty, according to Romney, will be outlawed, as, if you own one, you can’t meet the garage standard. The only acceptable vehicles are luxury cars and huge-assed SUV’s. Manufacturers of these two types of cars will be entirely tax exempt under the Romney plan, I’ve heard, such a good businessman is he.

5) He will put into our laws how to treat our dogs, I’ve been told. If you own a dog or dogs, it or they cannot ride inside those fancy cars or SUV’s — they have to be strapped to the roofs of the vehicle with bungee cords. It will not be a crime if your dog needs discipline and you choose to strap your pet atop the roof backwards, so the oncoming airstream as you go down the road will go into the dog’s ass instead of its nose.

6) If your school records show you to have been a bully, you will get preferential treatment for a job in government, I have been assured. Written affidavits from your victims, testifying to the degree of your bullying brutality will proportionally affect your salary; the badder you were, the bigger your paycheck. Nothing is more impressive in the upcoming Romney bureaucracy than proof you have from an early age demonstrated to the less fortunate exactly what they deserve to keep them in their place.

7) I just can’t help but worry about his ethnicity; I’m not sure he is white enough. Just as in 1) his Mexico ties make his birth suspect, his bloodline must be suspect. I know he is Mormon and all, but that does not mean he doesn’t have some Mexican blood in him; we don’t need anybody in the White House of mixed race, especially of Mexican mix, as he would want to give the southwestern US back to Mexico to make up for the outcome of The Mexican War.

8) I want to see a record of all the sermons he has listened to in the Mormon Church. The Mormon theology is just too weird not to worry about its influence on Mitt. Better to be safe than sorry, and assume he agrees with every iota of every sermon he ever listened to.

9) I’ve been told by people whose college roommates or car pool passengers have known a Mormon, that Romney’s election will turn this country into a Mormon ‘cash cow.’ And, consequently, if you don’t turn Mormon yourself, you ain’t gonna get your share of that heifer:

  1. Every church will be required to replace the cross atop its steeple with a golden statue of the Mormon angel Moroni, or Moron, or whatever its name is, blowing its horn.
  2. If elected, Mitt will cut off his hot lines to the major capitals of the world and replace them all with a single hot line to Salt Lake City.
  3. Romney will require, if he is President, at all government functions the wearing of G.I.-issued ‘sacred underwear.’
  4. After he is sworn in, Mitt will introduce us to his many secret wives, and then legalize polygamy.
  5. Every tax deductable contribution to any denomination will be laundered by Romney’s huge staff of accountants, all fanatical graduates of Brigham Young, into a contribution to the Mormon Church to help make their already gaudy temples-that-look-like-castles even more gaudy and big-assed.
  6. All warehouses will become Mormon storehouses to meet the needs of the Mormons only, when whatever perpetually imminent apocalyptic catastrophe they believe will occur, occurs.
  7. By law, each and every verse in the Old and New Testaments will follow the lead of The Book of Mormon, and have added to its beginning the words, ‘And it came to pass…’
  8. Congress, soon after Mitt’s election, will pass a resolution declaring Joseph Smith the greatest linguist in American history.

10) I’ve been assured that Mitt’s business plan calls for all manufacturing in the USA to be outsourced to other countries where labor is cheap, which, in turn, maximizes company profits for administrators and stock holders.

11) With great confidence that it is true, I’ve been told that Romney will soon have Social Security on the road to oblivion, along with its partner Medicare. Those who do not have enough to live their last years in comfort and those whose children do not have enough to assure those comfortable last years will have those last years shortened by sickness, care for which cannot be paid for, so all will receive the consequences for not being fortunate enough to be rich. Parallel to this ‘whatever will be will be’ plan is Mitt’s program to purge all history in Massachusetts of his sponsoring a successful socialized medicine bill for the State; he will have on payroll a staff of historical revisionists, all graduates from Utah schools.

12) It seems by all accounts that Mitt will bring back Prohibition, but this time a ‘super’ Prohibition, taking his que from the Mormon Church: the prohibition not only of alcohol, but of caffeinated drinks of all sorts as well. We’ll have to say good-bye not only to our beer, wine, and whiskey, but to our Dr. Pepper and coffee as well!

13) My sources also tell me that in addition to outsourcing (10) above) Romney plans to demonsrate how good a business President he will be by encouraging everyone to put their money in foreign bank accounts, like he does — preferably those nicely hidden Swiss ones.

14) If Romney is elected, it makes a lot of sense in the minds of all white people, that, again, taking a que from Mormon doctrine before Civil Rights, legislation will be pushed to give preferential treatment to lighter-skinned people, as opposed to dark-skinned people, who God cursed in the past by giving them more-than-white pigmentation.

15) With his blue-jeans and tieless shirt, elected Mitt Romney would disgrace the dignity of the Presidency; he is much too casual; he mingles with poor people too much; he hardly visits veterans’ hospitals, monuments, or cemeteries; he will probably prop his feet up on the White House furniture all the time; all this I have seen with my own eyes!”

How does that make you feel, Obama-bashers? Notice anything? I just did the same thing you do, except changed the words and descripitons to fit your candidate. I hope you agree with me that the stuff above between the two quote marks is ridiculous, describing a Romney that does not exist — the propaganda tactic of the “straw man.” Build up an adversary that does not exist so that you easily “destroy” him, creating the illusion you have dealt with the real person.

This is what Bill Maher has been saying all along about the Obama-bashers. The real Obama is doing his job and there is not much to attack, so they construct a “straw man” Obama and pretend to cut him down. The pity is that no amount of “straw man cutting” is a real criticism of the real man, yet so many of the naive think that it is.

There are real reasons to criticize both candidates. I have already posted a list of reasons to vote for Obama (see Reason to Vote For Obama: His Record). My list of reasons not to vote for him is very, very short, hardly worth posting. My reasons not to vote for the REAL Romney is not so short, so that post is forthcoming.


Creationism and Intelligent Design — On the Road to Extinction

I was drawn into the so-called “creation/evolution controversy” about the year 1980, when creationist friends of mine asked me to “weigh in” and give my scientific opinion about claims of human footprints alongside those of dinosaurs fossilized on the banks and in the riverbed of the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose, Texas, SW of Ft. Worth. Since that time, for over 30 years now, some things have not changed, like my conviction that there is no such controversy, and some have drastically changed (or, should I say, evolved), like my opinion of the scientific merit of any form of creationism and the “flip side” of those forms, Intelligent Design, or ID.

I suppose their choice of getting me to check out the claims was based upon their faith the claims (if true, some of the strongest anti-evolutionary claims yet) had merit, and that if I agreed, the weight of my advanced science degree (Ph.D., physics (nuclear), Texas A&M, 1972) would work to their advantage.

After 30 years or so, I wager my creationist and ID friends wish I had never been asked. Again, be careful of whom you ask. (see Ode to William L. Adling)

This post is a condensation of my reponses to creationism and ID over this period of time. I have found in theory and in practice that 1) “scientific” creationism and its morphed clone, clad in higher degrees — 2) ID, both to be scientifically, theologically, and ethically bankrupt. Consequently, it is my opinion that creationism and ID are on the same road as flat-earthism, a road of a shrinking cadre of “true believers” hawking and evangelizing their own minority view of science (their minority view of “truth”) — a road to oblivion, to ideological extinction. Why I say this is what the rest of this post is about.

Ironically, I was probably the worst Ph.D. scientist the creationists could have chosen as their potential ally:
a) I was an evangelical, Protestant Church member who had read the entire Bible (Old and New Testaments plus the Apocrypha) on my own by the time I attended college.
b) I’ve been a “dinosaur freak” since I was a kid, even though I was trained in the saurian-free science of physics. Once I got to seeing the Paluxy tracks, I was going to poke my nose around those tracks regardless of human track claims or no human track claims.
c) Ever since I figured out Santa Claus, I’ve questioned everything I was told at home, in church, and at school.
d) I am a child of the politically charged decade of the 60’s — I trust no kind of authority; I tend not to take people’s word for it; I believe what people do, not what people say; before I took my first physics class at university, I knew Einstein was right not because he was Einstein, but because nature seemed to verify what Einstein said about nature.
e) I am a philosophy minor, meaning I am one of the rare, and I mean RARE, holders of science degrees, BS, MS, or Ph.D., that has studied the philosophy (and history) of science.

Item “e)” above is the key in this post. Science educators at all levels must share in the blame that most scientists do not formally discuss or study the philosophical underpinnings and assumptions of their profession; they practice the implications of these underpinnings and assumptions all the time, but usually don’t explicitly express them in their research and their papers. (In order for me to study the history and philosophy of science, I had to occasionally “jump ship” from the physics department in the College of Science to the philosophy department in the College of Liberal Arts.) If scientists, as a rule of thumb, don’t know explicitly their own philosophy, how much less do those with little science background, those who are most vulnerable to the corrupt arguments of the creationists and the ID’ers, know that e) is the best, swiftest way to deal with and dispatch all forms of pseudoscience, including the creationists and ID’ers?

Lack of e) all around is the reason that scientists at first did not respond to the bankrupt claims of the creationists, and, later of the ID’ers. But, they could not ignore those claims anymore when they began to affect public policy, like the content of high school biology textbooks in key States like Texas. [If I could, I would establish the history and philosophy of science — something I have taught in high school as an elective — as a required course for HS graduation.]

[Insertion: I want to clarify that my declaration of bankruptcy and extinction above is not said in glee, joy, or triumph; it is stated matter-of-factly. When asked over the years if I wished I had never been invited to visit the tracks or if I wished the creationists, and, later, the ID’ers had never done as they did, I have to honestly say I have mixed feelings on the matter. As much damage as these groups have done to science education and the reputation of Christianity in general on the one hand, I personally have professionally grown by leaps and bounds because of them on the other. My publishing career has essentially not been on physics and math teaching, what I actually did and do in my professional career, but, rather, has been on my research into the creationist mantrack claims; I owe my accomplishments in research after graduation to the Paluxy River! The bibliographical list at the end of this post is not only for further reading on the subject of this post, it is a testament to my mixed feelings; in a way, I owe a big “Thanks!” to these groups of pseudoscientists.

And, in addition, without my “career” as a skeptical scientific investigator of creationist claims, I probably would not have gotten to meet and talk with so many “legit” scientists, people such as Prof. Stephen J. Gould, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Prof. Frank Sonlietner, Bob Schadewald, Dr. John Cole, Dr. Laurie Godfrey, Dr. Stephen Schafersman, Fred Edwords, Prof. Wann Langston, Dr. Jim Farlow, Dr. Louis Jacobs, Dr. Eugenie Scott, Dr. Gerald Skoog, Dr. Robert Pennock, Dr. Kenneth Miller, Dr. William Thwaites, Dr. Michael Ruse, and especially my field colleague Glen Kuban, just to name a few… Thanks to these and so many more, my career marvelously expanded to become a hands-on student of paleontology, dinosaurian ichnology, geology, and paleostratigraphy — all added to my physics and math.]

I. Scientific or Intellectual Bankruptcy — It took me a while, I’m ashamed to say, to see that the creationists and ID’ers were merely using science as a means to an end, not as an end unto itself, which it should be. Science has value for its own sake, for the knowledge of physical existence it gleans and the practical applications of that knowledge, and should not be a means. Creationists and ID’ers, even the ones that honestly attempt to do science as all scientists should do, have a religious agenda, an evangelical goal of “winning” people into their very narrow slice of Christianity (or Islam, or whatever religious context they service, like cult members everywhere do). Science is a way of knowing ideally independent of other cultural influences, such as religion, politics, and social mores. That said, it is naive to say that any scientist’s work is completely free of cultural influences — that is why the process of establishing a scientific consensus, of establishing the stuff that should wind up in the science textbooks in the classroom, includes a concerted effort to “filter” out sectarian and secular cultural biases. The consensus is an agreement “by committee,” by a pleathora of different cultural biases and backgrounds whose non-scientific influences have been muted by the fact the agreement was acknowledged by all.

To choose the cultural means of science is, in a way, a back-handed compliment to science, for, there is no human endeavor more successful than science and math. The creationists and ID’ers attempted to leap upon the back of scientific success and capitalize upon the relative ignorance of the public’s scientific knowledge of scientific content, methodology, and philosophy; “If they call themselves ‘scientific,’ they must know what they are talking about” is the response they expected from the public, and, by and large, that is just what they got.

Consequently, creationists and ID’ers do their “science” backwards, making their results, predictably, scientific and intellectual crap. They go into an inquiry with preconceptions, hypotheses, if you please, and look for evidence that upholds those preconceptions. So far, so good. However, when they see evidence counter to their preconceptions, they ignore it, honestly overlook it, or get rid of it, instead of “following the lead” of all the evidence, as doing science demands you do. When I and others pointed out to the “mantrackers,” as I call them, alongside the Paluxy River, alternative explanations to what they were claiming, or, when we pointed out evidence they seemed to be ignoring, they became angry in varied degrees, accusing us of anti-religious bias, as if we were proceeding under the guise of religious-based hypotheses ourselves! No wonder so many of them did not have, or could not attain a science degree from an accredited institution! Many resorted to “mail-order” degrees to impress those from whom they were seeking support of all forms. They were doing “voodoo” slight-of-hand, or, attempting to do so, under the guise of science and fake scientific degrees; they were making a mockery of the scientific method and muddling the legitimacy of “real” science degrees.

I slowly grew in amazement how these so-called “scientific creationists,” these “mantrackers,” seemed myopically incapable of seeing knowledge obtained any other way than by belief and faith. Epistemologically, both science and pseudoscience employ a form of the correspondence theory of truth, whereby truth depends upon either a.) a relation between a belief/piece of knowledge or b.) a fact in the real world. Science uses exclusively the latter, while other, metaphysical endeavors, including the pseudosciences, use, for the most part, the former. The neutrino in physics was but fanciful, though brilliant, speculation until its existence was confirmed (accepted as a fact) experimentally 26 years AFTER it was postulated!

Just the slightest knowledge of what makes a good scientific theory (e.g. time after time being a simple, logical explanation for fact after fact after fact) would have made any creationist or ID’er hesitate to suggest that the theory of evolution was questionable. As a physicist, theories are “a dime a dozen,” and we physicists conjure and throw away far, far more than we keep, because most of them fail under the necessarily harse glare of scientific skepticism. When I looked at the theory of evolution, I recognized everything that made theories in physics acceptable and reliable. “What’s the problem?” I asked myself. Nothing in the theory; the problem must lie within its critics. And so it did.

Anti-evolutionists of all ilks seem to overlook the content of Darwin’s Origin of Species; it is a careful, methodical collection of irrefutable facts best explained by his theory. Moreover, anti-evolutionists fail to understand that new facts modify theories, when there is not a better idea to take the theory’s place. Darwin would not recognize his theory today, so altered and expanded it is right now; no doubt it will continue to morph and evolve in the future. Evolution is the so-called paradigm of biological theory — it has withstood over 150 years of merciless scientific scrutiny; no better idea has emerged in that time; though surely it will happen one day, evolution’s replacement seems far, far in the future. It has, like every triumphant scientific theory (Newtonian mechanics, kinetic theory of matter, plate tectonics, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.) contributed to the successes of science; anyone, including me, who is alive today because of modern medicine, has to thank research done upon evolutionary assumptions as a reason he/she survives.

And yet, we scientists and students of science do not relate to scientific theory as the anti-evolutionists believe. It is not a religious-like faith we put into scientific theories; we merely subscribe to them, ready to subscribe to another, better one when it comes along. Theory, like all areas of science, is fact-based, not belief-based; observation, not faith, reveals the truths that have made science so successful. Science is not a “God-down” argument; it is a “fact-up” argument.

Dr. Louis Jacobs of SMU has correctly pointed out how hypocritical the ID’ers are in their functioning as scientists. From the ID’ers first launching of their “Wedge Strategy,” wherein science and its philosophical naturalism (Calling science naturalistic is like calling a Mustang automobile a Ford!) would be separated by their “intellectual wedge,” they hinted at a different way of doing science, how one could easily see “ID science” operating differently from “atheistic, secular science.” But, the truth is, you cannot distinguish the work published by ID science from work published by ordinary “evolutionary” science. It is as if the ID’ers are working AS IF they are working under evolutionary assumptions. They know anything done “backwards” would show up like a red flag, and would not stand the scrutiny of a peer-reviewed publication; they cannot hide their non-scientific goal; they are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” They are not fooling anyone, except creationists and other ID’ers.

Dr. Bill Lee recently sent me an article from the magazine Christianity Today in which a believing creationist/IDer was touted as just as good a scientist as all those evolutionists “out there.” Emphasized was his awe over how all forms of life shared the same biochemistry, and the spiritual meaning that fact had for him. I felt like telling him, “No shit, Sherlock!?” That basic fact has been a springboard for so much research since the first time evolution and biochemistry were seamlessly put together. How behind and out-of-touch can you be? The crippling anachronism of the creationists/ID’ers is astonishing.

The intellectual bankruptcy of the pseudoscience of creationism is mind-boggling: I’ve arrived at “mantrack” sites in the afternoon with no human characteristics, characteristics I’m told were clearly there earlier that morning. A creationist with a doctorate in engineering declared (We had him repeat it, to make sure we heard him correctly.) on the banks of the Paluxy that absence of evidence was evidence of presence. In other words, because he had found no human prints was a sign there had to be human prints! Track depressions were declared human on the basis of ignoring or overlooking clear saurian toe outlines on the surface in front of the depressions. Any depression that looked human had to be human, even if in isolation and even if explicable by natural erosion. Fossilized teeth that proved to be fish teeth were declared human on the authority of dentists, who had no experience in comparative dentition.

A more general observation: Because of the coherence and agreement across the seamless boundaries of all areas of the physical and biologiccal sciences, the anti-evolution of creationists and ID’ers makes them also anti-science. The ID’ers especially have been forced to be at odds with all of science, not just evolutionary biology. Nature bats for the scientists, and nature bats last. To be anti-science is to be against the world; they have in some sense lost their hold on reality.

II. Theological Bankruptcy — The more I talked to anti-evolutionists, creationists and IDer’s, it became apparent what a minority of Christianity their views represent. Lured by the success science enjoys in modern society as a major maker of modern society, they resurrected a battle that was fought and settled in the minds of theologians and scientists before 1900. Their anachronistic views are exposed when often it is clear they think the theory of evolution is still as it was in 1859, that science is as it was in the 19th century, and that Protestant evangelical Christianity is as it was in the Victorian era. They are a pitiful little corner of Christianity that makes a lot of noise, as if somehow they represent a major movement in Christendom. Their actions in this position makes them little more than dealers of bullshit.

When I could get them to stop condemning me to Hell on the banks of the Paluxy, or get them up off their knees to stop praying for me so I could talk to them, I sometimes could corner them into a position wherein they actually believed one could not be a Christian and, at the same time, be any kind of subscriber to the theory of evolution. Think about that: they had become so entrenched and isolated theologically in their anti-evolutionary zeal, they were changing the definition of what it means to be a Christian! Creationism and ID are “johnny-come-latelys” in the long history of Christianity; the faith was sorted out and defined without scientific reference of any kind; Christians should be livid these up-starts are trying to change basic things of the faith right under their noses.

I’m no seminarian, but that smells close to heresy to me. Church history has taught me that “heresy” is synonymous to “loser” and “orthodox” is synonymous to “winner” in any faith-based intellectual epistemology, and the anti-evolutionists, being such a Christian minority, have to be heretics, far from being orthodox. Theologically, they could be synonymous with groups like the Arians or the Gnostics.

In one way or another, creationists and ID’ers, the anti-evolutionists, are victims of some form of fundamentalism based upon strict Biblical literalism. The Protestant Reformation, for all the good it did, inadvertently created the possibility of the worship of “The Book” in lieu of the worship of God. If the Bible is considered the absolute Word of God literally, then, to read and study scripture is the same thing as worshipping. Very Reformation! Very much a product of the Renaissance’s printing press! To be a Biblical literalist today, as so many anti-evolutionists are, is to ignore not only all the extra stuff we know about the Bible today compared to just decades ago, it is to ignore all of higher Biblical criticism, which, among other things, reminds us that the “Word of God” is the product of a series of translations from sometimes differing sources by transcribers perhaps not dedicated to accurate penmanship — a pretty shaky product in which to place one’s confidence and faith, if you ask me.

I had a friend,’ Mr. X’ I will call him, a dedicated creationist and sympathizer with ID (It will soon be apparent why I’m withholding his name.). He was a retired science teacher, and, I thought, a creationist with whom I would come to see eye to eye, at least on some things, through our mutual teaching careers. It seems to me that any rational person, especially a science teacher, would read Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 and Genesis 2:4 – 3:24 and agree these are two different creation stories; to me, one needs no higher Biblical criticism to see that! But not Mr. X. His “Christian faith” would not let him admit it as any other but one story repeated. Good luck in trying to reconcile those two stories!

Biblical literalism, which permeates so many creationists like Mr. X, reminds me of an education program with the entire curriculum being the Scripture, and everyone graduates in the fourth grade! Nothing beyond that. It reminds me of the way the Church wanted all pew warmers to be before the congregation could, thanks to the printing press, become literate and read the Bible for themselves. If you read the first story without pulling it out of context, it is clearly a salvo in a pissing contest between the God of the Hebrews, who created the waters and the sky, and the gods of the waters and the sky worshipped by the Hebrews’ neighbors; it is a classic version of “Our God is Better Than Your God.” It is NOT a history from God about how the earth was formed; it is one of countless creation stories over the millenia. If you read the second story without pulling it out of context, it is clearly a morality play whose punch lines are “Don’t ask too many questions.” and “Do as the priests say or you are gonna get it like Adam and Eve;” it is a classic version of “Shut Up and Listen To Us, ‘Cause We’ve Been Here Longer Than You.” It is NOT a different, contradictory history from God about how the earth was formed; it is another one of the countless creation stories over the millenia.

Mr. X was famous for saying that since Jesus seemed to believe the Old Testament, and since Jesus is the Son of God, then the Old Testament must be literally true. He has no skepticism for the Gospels. Poor fellow. We do not know what Jesus said since He did not write down anything, apparently, and the Gospels are unabashed evangelical pieces of propaganda. Jesus could or could not have sanctioned the Old Testament (The Pentateuch), and if he did, it may have been referencing something to which all the attendees to the Synagogue in his audience could relate. It is too much to assume the 1st century Jews interpreted Scripture just like the 20th and 21st century Protestant Biblical literalists do. I think that argument holds no water. I hardly had the heart to breech the subject of the other 17 Gospels we now know of in addition to the 4 in the King James’ Version with Mr. X. (see Sorting Out the Apostle Paul)

III. Ethical Bankruptcy — The base misuse of science as a means toward a non-scientific end rings well enough of the misconduct of propagandists everywhere, but even that is not as bad as the amoral behavior I have seen in persons dedicated to creationism or ID; principles of intellectual integrity and even human decency have been compromised by some of those so dedicated, as if they were acting according to the rule of immorality — “the end justifies the means.”

Mr. X provides the most vivid example of my experience in moral bankruptcy brought on by creationism: He had taken photographs of the “best” and most famous “human trail” in the bed of the Paluxy, the Taylor Trail, to fundamentalist church congregations of anti-evolutionary leanings, convincing these credulous and gullible audiences that he was showing them the “death knell” of evolution. With the help of Glen Kuban, I had a set of photos of the same tracks showing the dinosaurian toe outlines on the front of each one of the tracks in the Taylor Trail, which I showed Mr. X on the big TV screen in my family home when my mother still lived there. He agreed they were dinosaur tracks, not human. That established, I asked him if he would now go and retrace his steps to the churches he had visited, taking and showing my pictures if he wished, to right the wrong information he had been spreading. He saw no reason to do so! He betrayed his profession as a science teacher, and he betrayed his fellow believers, not sharing the best that he knew. What a small-minded, unsavory person! He thought so little of the people he had misled, they did not deserve to know the truth. He apparently thought it best for them to be misled by lies than risk their thinking less of him or of the merits of their faith. I saw nothing moral or Christian about that whatsoever!

Worse than perhaps Mr. X was Carl Baugh, the leading Paluxy “mantracker,” a man claiming a science doctorate from a diploma mill, a man who showed me his “dissertation” consisting of a bit of “library research” and mostly xeroxed copies of other peoples’ articles! He would not accept my offer of furnishing him a copy of my dissertation in exchange. Little wonder why! Baugh, a congregationally-ordained minister with the gift of making a piece of shit sound like the gospel truth by attaching a verse of scripture, bilked many, many people out of their money, time, and sweat. He was known to, on his second visit to congregations, ask the women of the church to donate their jewelry so he could have it all melted down to make a model of something like the Ark of the Covenant. He was a Noachian ark chaser in eastern Turkey and a seeker of living pterosaurs in various parts of the world, but what he was best at was being a con man. He probably drove far more people away from Christianity and the Church than he attracted; it was a revolving door of people coming to help him at first and then leaving as fast as they could as soon as they realized what he was. I’ll have to give Glen credit — he saw him as a con man before I; for a while, I thought he was merely self-deluded.

One example of Baugh’s science will show his claims are not worthy of attention, except for laughs: he claimed he found a fossilized human finger, complete with the flesh and the finger nail — a woman’s, due to its “delicate” lines. It was an iron oxide nodule that had formed in a fissure of the Paluxy limestone in a pattern that resembled a human finger. He had no explanation how flesh and fingernail could be preserved in lithified marine mud that became limestone.

A far more “lofty” example of anti-evolutionists’ lack of ethics, is the practice of “quote mining” — extracting words from evolutionary papers so severely from their context (using ellipses, for example) that meaning opposite that of the author is claimed by the “miners.” So pervasive these misleading propagandistic tactics such as quote mining can be among anti-evolutionists, organizations such as the Foundation of Thought and Ethics, which was the culprit exposed in the famous Dover trial over the inclusion of creationism and ID in the Dover schools, could be called, as I did in a letter once, as the Foundation of Thought and Ethics — the Foundation That Is Neither; it stands for little or no thought and for sorely lacking in ethical behavior.

As Mr. X showed in my moral example above, so bankrupt in intellectual and moral integrity are these anti-evolutionists, they don’t police themselves, and, as a result, their good reputation is eroding into nothingness. Christians not necessarily anti-evolutionists are suffering moral decay also, in my opinion, as they stand by and do not blow the whistle on these awful representatives of Christianity. Many people with whom I’ve talked only have known creationist Christians or ID Christians as representatives of Christianity. Can you imagine what they must think about the integrity of Christianity? I know most Christians are not anti-evolutionists, but I’m not sure these non-Christians do. Mainstream Christianity, take back control of your presentation and reputation! Take it away from these minions of intellectual, theological, and ethical bankruptcy!

If these anti-evolutionist groups aren’t really as bad as I’m saying, then I have had the WORST LUCK over 30 years meeting and talking with almost exclusively their “baddest” eggs! (Kurt Wise at Bryan College in Tennessee, the site of the Scopes Trial in 1925, is one exception that comes to mind.) I know this is too long already, but, I must include two more ethical points: 1) One of the first scientific critical responses to the Paluxy “mantrack” work was a team of four Ph.D.’s known as the “Raiders of the Lost Tracks” — Steven Schafersman, Laurie Godfrey, John Cole, and me. The “mantrackers,” all male, instead of attacking all of us ad hominem, focused their ire on Laurie (an anthrpologist), who was not present at the time; it was hard not to conclude they did not like her because she was a woman (or, maybe, she was shorter than the rest of us?). Sexism is bad enough — how about this one? 2) At textbook hearings at the Texas State Board of Education in Austin years ago many science educators testified in front of the Board (which contained, as it still does, sympathizers to ID) defending the current coverage of evolution in the textbooks for which we had fought for a long time, we sporting T-shirts that read “Don’t Mess with Texas Textbooks!” Trying to counter our position were several creationists and national leaders of ID (In the end, we came out OK in that bout.). A Baptist minister from Austin got up and testified (unsolicited, as far as I know) on our behalf, making the great point that there was no conflict between any part of science in textbooks and mainstream Christianity. I was impressed, and, as he exited the Board Room, I followed him from a distance to catch him in the hall and thank him for his presentation. When I caught up to him, it was clear I was not the only one who had followed him. In the hall, I found him literally surrounded by 5 or 6 what I would describe as ID “goons” shaking him down cult-like, calling him a “traitor,” and an “anti-Christian,” who should not be a minister of the Word of God! Voices were raised in righteous indignation and fingers were waggled and pointed in his face. I was about to wade in, but he did not need my help; he fended them off, and they turned tail back up the hall like the pack of jackals they were. I commended him and encouraged him, adding him to the very short list of people whose church I would attend.

One cover-everything reference: blow-by-blow, complete coverage of the whole “controversy” that is not a necessary one at all: Strahler, Arthur N, Science and Earth History, The Evolution/Creation Controversy, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, 1987. ISBN 0-87975-414-1 (I was a manuscript reader and contributor to this book.)

May creationists and ID’ers never be forgiven for the detention and distraction they have caused science education in this country; it is my opinion they are among the reasons we now lag behind other countries in the world in quality science education. May God forgive them for the black eye they have given Christianity. May what conscience they have be forever pricked by the guilt of their treatment of their fellow human beings. It may take a long, long time, or a short time, but sooner or later they are going to find themselves on that long road to idea extinction, and when they do, they need to look ahead down that road and they will see their kindred spirits, the flat-earthers.



Hastings, RJ, A Tale of Two Teeth or, The Best of Teeth, the Worst of Teeth, Creation/Evolution, Vol 15, #1, 1995, pp 1-14.

Hastings, RJ, A Creationist Blunder Table, Bulletin of the Houston Geological Society, Vol 34,, #10, Houston, Texas, June, 1992, pp 39-41.

Hastings, RJ, Good News From Texas About Biology Textbooks, NCSE Reports, Vol 10, #6, Nov.- Dec. 1990, p 10.

Schadewald, RJ & Hastings, RJ, The 1990 International Conference on Creationism, NCSE Reports, Vol 10, #5, Sept.- Oct. 1990, pp 1, 18-23.

Hastings, RJ, 1990 International Conference on Creationism, The Skeptic, Vol 4, #5, North Texas Skeptics, Dallas, Texas, Sept.- Oct. 1990, pp 5-8.

Hastings, RJ, Creationists’ ‘Glen Rose Man’ Proves to Be a Fish Tooth (as expected), NCSE Reports, Vol 9, #3, May- June, 1989. pp 14-15.

Hastings, RJ, The Rise and Fall of the Paluxy Mantracks, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol 40, #3, American Scientific Affiliation, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1988, pp 144-155.

Hastings, RJ, Creationists’ Tooth Claims Evolve Into a New ‘Fish Story’Creation/Evolution Newsletter, Vol 7, #5, Athens, West Virginia, 1987, pp 18-20.

Hastings, RJ, Tracking Those Incredible Creationists — The Trail Goes On, Creation/Evolution, Issue XXI, Vol 7, #2, Buffalo, New York, 1987 pp 30-42.

Hastings, RJ, New Observations on Paluxy Tracks Confirm Their Dinosaurian Origin, Journal of Geological Education, Vol 35, #1, Lawrence, Kansas, Jan. 1987, pp 4-15.

Hastings, RJ, Tracking Those Incredible Creationists — The Trail Continues, Creation/Evolution, Issue XVII, Vol 6, #1, Buffalo, New York, 1986, pp 19-27.

Hastings, RJ, Godfrey, LR, Schafersman, SD, & Cole, JR, Collection of Articles on recent creationist footprint claims along the Paluxy River, Texas: Tracking Those Incredible Creationists, Creation/Evolution, Issue XV, Vol 5, #1, Buffalo, New York, 1985, pp 5-15.

Hastings, RJ, New Biology Texts for Texas Contain Material on Evolution, The Skeptical Inquirer, News and Comment Section, Vol IX, #1, Buffalo, New York, Fall, 1984, p 10.

Hastings, RJ, Evolution and Science Education in Texas: Two Victories After a Winter of Discontent, The Skeptical Inquirer, News and Comment Section, Vol VIII, #4, Buffalo, New York, Summer, 1984, pp 290-292.

Wedgie Summit

Click the link to download the Word document: Wedgie Summit

Post Navigation