Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Discovery Institute is Mad (again)!

A while back we commented on how the Discovery Institute (DI) doesn't get invited to the good parties.  For example, in 2009, when the Vatican hosted a 5-day conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin's 'On Origin of Species', with a main topic of the compatibility of science and creation, the DI was not invited, and that made them sad.

Then just last year (2016) when the Methodists were holding their General Conference, not only was the DI not invited, but the Methodists wouldn't even let them host an Intelligent Design (ID) information table.  That must have made the DI cry because they were so upset they named the United Methodist Council (UMC) as their 'Censor of the Year'. (Which is a Badge of Honor as far as I am concerned!)

Well the "March for Science' is in the running this year -- not only did they not invite the DI, but when the DI asked to be included, they were reminded that they aren't a scientific organization and apparently it made them very, very sad.  There are several posts already on the DI's Evolution 'news' and Views site and I am sure more on in the works.  When the DI had their little tiff with the UMC I stopped counting at 20 different posts, all saying the same whine.  I'm sure there will be plenty of more posts.

Here is a post I saw on the subject: "John West: March for Science or March for Secularism?"  According to West, so of course please take this with a little skepticism, the organizers of the March for Science said:

“it is not our policy to advance specific worldviews or ideas outside of current consensuses of scientific fields.”
Now before you ask, my skepticism is two-fold.  First of all, this is coming from the DI and over the last 10 years of blogging, which include many posts about the DI, I don't immediately trust anything they say.  Secondly, and more specifically, this quote is only part of one sentence and with the tradition of quote-mining the DI holds near and dear to their hearts, I would rather see their request and the March's response in their entirety, rather than let the DI pick and choose which parts to display for me.

However, if that is an accurate quote and if that is within the context of the March's reply, I would have to say they were being exceedingly polite.  Think of what they could have said concerning the DI as a pseudo-science organization, a ministry, one whose continuing efforts damage science education . . . I mean there is a litany of reasons why any organized activity that includes science should exclude organizations such as the DI.  I wonder if Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) or the Access Research Network (ARN) tried to wrangle invites as well.  How about the American Federation of Astrologers?  I mean if you are going to let in pseudo-science, you might as well get a diverse group.  Plain and simple, I don't trust the DI.

Something else this post does is misrepresent some of the organizations that are invited.  Here is a quote from the post:
"West notes that these include American Humanist Association, Secular Student Alliance, and the Secular Coalition for America—all of which use science to argue that God doesn’t exist. "
That is not what those organizations argue, that's another DI strawman. Here from the Secular Student Alliance:
"Sometimes people use “secular” to mean absolute neutrality toward religion, or as an umbrella label for nonreligious people. When the Secular Student Alliance uses the word “secular,” we as using it as an adjective describing a person who forms their identity independent of any assumptions about the supernatural, is willing to rethink their beliefs in light of empirical evidence, and forms their values based on concern for the present and future world."
It's not that they argue God doesn't exist, but what they are supporting is that they do not need to kneel down to a deity to have full and meaningful lives.  If you really look at those specific organizations, you would see they do little to interfere with peoples actual religious freedoms, but they do defend the rights of people not to have religion forced upon them.  What they also sometimes do, which tends to annoy theists to no end, is to provide valid and verified scientific explanations for many of the things theists attribute to one deity of another, particularly when a theist is trying to force their belief onto others.  I have never seen a member of any of these organizations claim there is no god, but I have often seen theists claim science is wrong because their own explanation includes their deity.  We discussed some of this during the Kim Davis fiasco in Kentucky.

There is a difference between actual religious persecution and what theists like to claim is religion persecution:
Of course, West and his friends can't admit that and probably don't see it that way.  Without their religion they don't seem to feel that have a life, let alone one with meaning.  The problem is they can't conceive of the idea that everyone doesn't feel that way.  So instead of honestly representing these organizations, they get more mileage out of claiming such organizations are some sort of militant organization.

If you have to ask why I would say such things about the DI, I offer one last piece of evidence . . . well, one out of this particular post.  The DI is teaming up with The Stream for a series of posts whining about not being invited.  Well, just what is 'The Stream'?  It self-identifies as (I added the underlining for emphasis):
"The national daily championing freedom, smaller government and human dignity. The Stream offers a rich and lively source for breaking news, Christian inspiration and conservative commentary while challenging the worst in the mainstream media."
They include the following basic tenets:
  • Every human being has equal value and dignity.
  • We are inherently and specifically social.
  • Marriage and the family are the fundamental social institutions.
  • We can know God and moral truth.
  • Judeo-Christian religious faith guards our freedom.
  • We’re all sinners.
  • We need a state strong enough to protect and maintain the rule of law but limited enough not to violate it.
  • We are meant to be free and responsible.
  • When we’re free, we can create wealth and value.
  • Culture comes before politics.
So basically, one ministry is teaming up with another ministry to complain about a secular activity that rejected one of the ministries because they are masquerading as a scientific organization.  Gee, how surprising!  And let me remind everyone, tongue firmly embedded in cheek, how there is nothing religious about the Discovery Institute!

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