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Kansas Anti-Creationism Professor Resigns 1469

Posted by Zonk
from the tangled-web dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Professor of religion at University of Kansas has resigned from his position at the university because of his anti-creationism views." From the article: "Mirecki had planned to teach a course in the spring that examined creationism and intelligent design after the State Board of Education adopted science standards treating evolution as a flawed theory. Originally called 'Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies,' the course was canceled last week at Mirecki's request." The article goes on to explain that Mirecki evidently sent poorly worded email with anti-Christian sentiments around to people interested in the class, and was subsequently beaten for his troubles.
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Kansas Anti-Creationism Professor Resigns

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  • His sign (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:28PM (#14224454)
    One of his emails talked about how he couldn't wait to teach this course to throw his position against ID in "their big fat face." Okay, if you profess (ahemm) to be a professor and you can't muster up any more intelligent way to communicate than that I submitt you have no business teaching at a university. Kindergarten? Maybe.
  • by el-spectre (668104) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:29PM (#14224463) Journal
    I applaud the guy for having the courage to recognize ID for what it is, a (weak) philosophical argument, not science. But as head of a religious studies department, attacking a given faith is just unprofessional.

    I'm an atheist, but I don't go pissing on church doors. That's (figuratively) what this guy did, and screwed up his career in doing so.
  • Kansas (Score:2, Insightful)

    by colemanguy (915683) <deanklenda.colemanguy@com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:30PM (#14224466) Homepage
    Woot! I am from kansas
  • Religious Violence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vodkamattvt (819309) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:30PM (#14224469) Homepage
    Perhaps, instead of constantly attacking scientific communities and sex, religious leaders and their respective communities should actually teach what god and jesus intended .. compassion and forgiveness. When two people believe in god so much to beat someone up because they said something anti-christian says, to me, that the leaders of the religious community have failed miserably to actually relay the teachings of their religion.

    Then again, Im agnostic and havent attended church and base all my knowledge on written word and whatnot. Maybe in church they are saying to strike those evil doer anti-christians down like the wrath of god?

  • From the article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:31PM (#14224482) Homepage Journal
    A recent e-mail from Mirecki to members of a student organization referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face." Mirecki apologized for those comments.

    Me thinks "poorly worded" is an understatement. It's one thing when you're a troll on Slashdot using that language. It's a completely different thing to be in a respected teaching position and acting like a Slashdot troll. And he wonders why people are upset with him. *shakes head*

    (P.S. I do hope they catch the assholes who beat him. That's not exactly acceptable behavior, either, no matter what he said.)
  • Both Sides Wrong (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:31PM (#14224485)
    Is it just me who thinks that both sides should give their heads a shake?

    He should not have written what he wrote.

    The assailants should not have attacked him for it.

    Two wrongs don't make a right. Is that too cliche?

    Hopefully I got this in before the inevitable flame-spewing deluge of trolls converges on this post.

  • The darn fool. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Halfbaked Plan (769830) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:31PM (#14224486)
    Mirecki evidently sent poorly worded email with anti-Christian sentiments around to people interested in the class, and was subsequently beaten for his troubles.

    All he had to do was stick to science and his ideas would have won. Instead, he played into the stereotype that 'scientists are anti-Christian' and has paid the price.

    But there are really three sides to the issue:

    1. Dogmatic Christians pushing their belief system as the anti-science.

    2. Dogmatic Athiests pushing their belief system as the anti-religion.

    3. The Rest Of Us.

  • by theGreater (596196) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:34PM (#14224506) Homepage

    That's the part that confused me enough to make me read it twice. The CHAIR of the Religous Studies Dept. was saying things like:

    • referring to religious individuals as "fundies"
    • "a nice slap in their big fat face"
    • others described as "repugnant and vile"
    That boggles the mind. No excuse for beating the man, for any reason.

    -theGreater.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:35PM (#14224517)
    Remember, there are a lot of Books in the Bible. Some of the older ones (Old Testament) have a lot of stuff about smiting and even killing or enslaving your enemies.

    It all depends upon what part of the Bible the church you attend wants to focus on. There's as much legitimacy in focusing on God's Rightous Wrath as there is in focusing on Jesus Forgiving.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:35PM (#14224520)
    Yes. And not very much in keeping with the teachings of this bloke called Jesus of Nazareth (or perhaps Jesus the Nazarene...), either. I don't believe in gods as such, but most of the stuff Jesus is reported to have said is pretty sensible. Modern-day adherents to Christianity/Islam/Judaism (they're all pretty much the same) are anything but sensible, unfortunately.
  • by Thaelon (250687) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:36PM (#14224527)
    Someone else was beaten or killed in the name of religion! *gasp*

    What's the total up to now? A few billion?
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AstynaxX (217139) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:37PM (#14224537) Homepage
    The choices of prefix for this post... I'm curious, why is he anti-creationist rather than pro-evolutionist? Now, this may be innocuous, but choice of words can reveal bias.

    Also, anti-fundamentalist is not the same as anti-christian. Being opposed to a specific, fanatical, often belligerent sect of a religious denomination is not the same as being opposed to the entire faith.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rei (128717) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:40PM (#14224553) Homepage
    So what are you alleging? That he beat himself up? Do you think that "a conservative activist in Kansas" has more credibility with respect to the investigation than Lt. Kari Wempe of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office?

    Does smear have no bounds in this country?
  • by el-spectre (668104) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:43PM (#14224589) Journal
    I'm not saying he deserved a beating, not at all. I was talking about the other bit. When you hold a professional position and act unprofessionally (remember, he was communicating with a school organization), there are consequences.

    Also, there's no reason to assume "fundies" are idiots. They may be misguided, wrong, or just of a different opinion than you, but that doesn't make them idiots.

    I've met some brilliant preachers, and I recognize that even though I don't believe in their Magic Man In The Sky (tm)
  • by johansalk (818687) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:44PM (#14224598)
    When a whole nation is dedicating itself to anti-Islamism, while Christianism is fucking it up the ass (how's that for "poorly-worded"?), it's only fair that in a state like Kansas, made infamous worldwide by that ludicrous anti-science christianism, scientists would have an anti-Christianism sentiment and it's only fair that they make it heard by all concerned. If they won't, who will?! Don't kid yourself, Science, and scientists are under attack by the deliberate liars and peddlers of self-serving nonsense.
  • by pla (258480) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:45PM (#14224617) Journal
    But as head of a religious studies department, attacking a given faith is just unprofessional.

    You can teach Greek Mythology without always speaking the name of "Zeus" with reverential awe.

    You can even poke fun at your subject matter, depending on the focus of the course - I fondly remember my 1st semester physics professor ended practically every topic with something along the lines of "and of course in the days since Newton, we've discovered that most of this counts as complete rubbish, but I still expect you to know it for the test".

    In the case of the topic under consideration, I (and any potential studend would) have every expectation this professor did not plan to merely present it as an objective overview of the tenets of ID (though students should of course have come away understanding those); but rather, a thorough debunking of a laughable-yet-popular ("popular" in the sheer-number-of-fools sense) topic, possibly broad enough to include a general overview of the roots of the dangerously antiintellectual attitude currently brewing in our culture.
  • by Zambo McSplanky (836445) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:47PM (#14224644)
    OK, so... why do fundamentalists get so worked up over this evolution thing? The Bible says not a darned thing about *HOW* God created everything. And it's pretty easy to get around the "well, it says it only took a day to make ____" -- considering it also says "a thousand years are like a day and a day like a thousand years". But all holy-textual concerns aside, it's like arguing about the tool. No rational scientist would argue that God is provably nonexistent... due to the utter lack of hard data available! No rational Christian would argue that God HAD to have used a non-evolutionary mechanism to create the world... due to the lack of scripture on the matter! Evolution is the hammer. Life on Earth is the spice rack. Who build the spice rack? Who knows! But we know they used a HAMMER because there are hammer marks all over the wood. And nails were involved. So just grow up and admit you don't know EVERYTHING! Both sides!
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:48PM (#14224651) Homepage
    The choices of prefix for this post... I'm curious, why is he anti-creationist rather than pro-evolutionist?
    Because he's a professor of religion, not of science. Evolution has little place in theology; however it's perfectly reasonable for a theologian to question whether creationism represents fundamental religious belief or is simply an overly-literal interpetation of a nice and comforting myth.
  • by chezmarshall (694493) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:50PM (#14224661) Homepage
    It's easy to understand the conflict here. Of all people, scholars of religion are going to see how different religions absorb ideas from one another. I guess it tends to make them rather skeptical that any particular religion has access to some unique revelation. When you combine this skepticism with Christian fundamentalism in general and intelligent design in particular, there's going to be some discord.

    However, it's very myopic to reach any kind of opinion that all of this reflects poorly on Christian fundamentalists, Kansas, or religion in the United States. Consider that for his heresy, this guy got a beating that 99.99% of his fellow countrymen think was unjustified. Compare that to Iran, for instance, where writing a book that others consider disrespectful to Islam will get you a giant-sized can of fatwa.
  • by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:50PM (#14224665)
    Can't say that I'm a believer (I'm baptised, but I didn't have much of a choice then), but ...

    If you're a christian church and focusing more on the old testament than the new - and especially the loving and forgiving christ (Jesus), isn't it a fair case to call you a jew instead of a christian?

    As I understand it, christianity builds on the old testament, sure - but it weighs in much more heavily on forgiveness (obviously forgotten during the crusades and inquisition) and love than on "smiting your enemies". Pretty sure you'd be shit out of luck if you tried portraying Jesus as wanting you to "smite and even kill or enslave your enemies".

    Or did I not get the memo?
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omERD ... g minus math_god> on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:50PM (#14224668) Homepage Journal

    I know, he had his friends beat him up! Or, err... He managed to convince a hospital to fake a report or something.. err... and the police department too! Yeah, that's it! Obviously anybody who's beaten up is going to remember the exact road it's on and everything. And you're going to remember exact details about your attackers too, even when it's at night. Nobody's confused, frightened or panicky after being physically assaulted, especially atheists!

    Perhaps we ought to test out these theories on the stupid idiot who's trying to cast some sort of cloud over the guy's credibility without having any hard evidence to back it up.

  • And vice versa... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HexRei (515117) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:51PM (#14224678)
    ...would people be equally outraged if the Religious Studies Chair at a religious school, let's say BYU, were to badmouth atheism? My guess is that it probably happens all the time.
  • Re:The darn fool. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smallpaul (65919) <paul@presc[ ]net ['od.' in gap]> on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:52PM (#14224687)
    I don't understand what scientists you are referring to. He is a religious studies professor.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:53PM (#14224692)
    > Of course these people know their beliefs are right and if people don't believe them then they bloody well should do. Welcome to the world of religious extremism, if you need me I'll be in the bar with the bulletproof glass.

    Which will work well until the night of broken glass.

    Maybe it's not 1984, but it's 1938.

  • by Alien Being (18488) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:54PM (#14224702)
    "attacking a given faith"

    He attacked "faith run amok". The problem isn't that people have this faith. The problem is that some of them try to pass it off as science and to make laws out of it. Their zealotry goes against what this country stands for.

  • Way to go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:54PM (#14224707)
    The only difference between religion and mythology is that mythology was the nonsense that people used to beleive, and religion is the nonsense they beleive today.

    Keep your religion out of our science! You beleive what you want, but anyone that thinks they have a right to force what they beleive on someone else needs a swift kick in the ass (and yes, that includes other people's children, its tragic enough that parents are allowed to brainwash their own children)
  • by yintercept (517362) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:58PM (#14224748) Homepage Journal
    In some regards, the Intelligent Design groups have a point. The way that our society treats intelligent men and women, it is clear that it is not a dominant trait. The way humans chose to breed and the way that the powers that be cut down anyone who dares question authority ... one would guess that intelligence could not have evolved in the human species.

    The idea that people get worse with each generation has been around since at least Plato!

    Personally, I think the intelligence design debate will peter out as people realization that Intelligent Design is not only bad science. It is bad religion. The premise behind the belief is that the writers of the Intelligent Design book can see the hand of God in the gaps of the fossil record as currently understood by evolutionists.

    The premise of intelligent design is that our God is a second imperfect God who did a shoddy job when he put together the earth. God did such a bad job that we can see the gaps in the fossil record.

    If you held to a perfect God theory, then you would expect to find a perfect chain of evolution in the fossil record. For that matter, studying evolution would be a very spiritual and fulfilling science in that you are studying a perfect work of a divine creator.

    As more people seriously contemplate the theory of Intelligent Design, I suspect that they will find it lacking in both scientific merit and theological merit.

    On the far side of the debate. There was one area I wish science would bring to the table. That is that there is a lot of garbage philosophy stuffed into science. This was one of the demons that Karl Popper chased. Both Hegel and Marx were trying to guise philosophies as science. Both Hegel and Marx were claiming to see the future direction of the evolution of man. Today, I see a quite a few philosophies trying to gain the highground of scientific merit in by similarly perverting science.

    My point in this rambling is that good science is not in conflict with good theology because science (the study of the way things are) is also the study of the "divine creation."

    What we see all of the time in these silly debates is crappy science in conflict with crappy theology.

    It is a great shame that the proponents of Intelligent Design seek to deprive children of quality education because they have a bad theology. Similarly, I get sad when I see wanks pushing their personal believes in the guise of evolutionary psychology or that Hegelian/Marxists nonesense.

    Both good science and good theology seem hard to come by these days.
  • by el-spectre (668104) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:00PM (#14224768) Journal
    Reverence wasn't what I expect. For that matter, there are lots of courses in college that exist specifically to question a subject.

    The mistake was not the class, it was sending insulting email in a professional context, that's all.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lifewish (724999) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:02PM (#14224783) Homepage Journal
    I would have downmodded the parent (yay! Mod points!) but sadly there isn't actually a moderation option for 'bollocks'. You'll note that, of the parent's links, one is just Mirecki refusing to speak to a fundamentalist journalist (this is what we call "following the lawyer's advice", and from the tone of the subsequent interview I can only say that I would have done the same). The second is a Conservative activist incisively pointing out that not all information on brutal beatings is immediately made available to the public (or it would be incisive if that's what he realised he was doing) and suggesting that the request for Mirecki's resignation (which iirc occurred before the beating) indicates he's a shifty sort of fellow.

    This is complete trash. It barely even suggests that Mirecki lied, let alone naturally pointing towards that conclusion. There are no inconsistencies. There is no need for double-quotes round the word 'beating'. There is only a respected member of the academic community, who planned a controversial course (and then made a stupid comment about it on an obscure mailing list), getting beaten up by two punks and a heavy object for suggesting that their beloved Creationism might, just possibly, be classed as a 'myth' in Religious Studies circles (which happens to be factually accurate, and wouldn't even count as tactless if he hadn't made the aforesaid dumb remark). This is unjustifiable and I'm mildly shocked to see anyone other than the monosyllabic perpetrators fighting Mirecki over this.

    More, I'm deeply worried by the chilling effect this will have on other courses similarly critical of Intelligent Design and Creationism. Evolutionary biologists critique evolution every day - why should ID and 'scientific creationism' be exempt merely by dint of being scientifically vacuous?
  • by hmbcarol (937668) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:02PM (#14224786)
    People seem to confuse the very tiny number of people who attacked this professor and who maintain a non-scientific militaint anti evolusionist stance with the much larger group of people who call themselves "Christians".

    People are extrapolating the actions of a small group of hateful idiots to an entire class of people who happen to have an overlapping characteristic and disparaging the entire group as stupid, backward, or violent.

    I suspect those same people would be horrified if the actions of a single minority member were to be unfairly extrapolated to their entire race or culture.

  • Re:The darn fool. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:04PM (#14224809)
    Actually, most Slashdotters fall into category #2. Take a look at some of the responses you got for some examples.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Moridineas (213502) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:05PM (#14224821) Journal
    Eh, I'm not going to go so far as to claim the attack didn't happen, but it does seem like there are some oddities involved.

    http://www.kansan.com/stories/2005/dec/08/ne_mirec ki_folo/ [kansan.com]

    http://www.kansan.com/stories/2005/dec/07/ne_mirec ki/ [kansan.com]

    Who knows? I don't, but I feel sorry for all involved... the militant religious, the militant atheists, and stupids who have to put up with such a politicized anti-Evolution anti-religious crap. Long story short, people are idiots.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:05PM (#14224822) Journal
    I've met some brilliant preachers, and I recognize that even though I don't believe in their Magic Man In The Sky (tm)

    So have I, but they're not the ones that are pushing creationism.

    -jcr
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@nOsPAm.hotmail.com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:06PM (#14224838) Journal
    What would Jesus do?

    He'd lie on the ground bleeding, same as Mirecki did.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nasch (598556) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:07PM (#14224852)
    Modern-day adherents to Christianity/Islam/Judaism ... are anything but sensible, unfortunately.

    All of them? There aren't any sensible people of those faiths?

  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:14PM (#14224917) Homepage Journal
    I was actually a bit more concerned about the "nice slap in their big fat face" remark than the "fundie" remark. I mean, that's not exactly the most professional remark I've ever heard. I shudder to think what the rest of his email was like.
  • Re:The darn fool. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by agm (467017) * on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:14PM (#14224925)
    Agreed. But atheism isn't asserting a belief in anything. It's about lack of belief, not belief of lack.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zootm (850416) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:20PM (#14224975)

    Don't mention the forged Texas National Guard documents - right asshole? Because it's only wrong if a Democrat gets his reputation hurt. Scum like you make me sick.

    At the risk of feeding the troll, I'll put in my two cents or whatever here. I am not American, and I had heard of both of these, but the Swift Boat Veterans "thing" seemed to be far larger in scale (of both the smear and the controversy) than the Texas National Guard thing. So to choose one good example, a more prominent one would be the advisable one. The Swift Boat Veterans thing is a perfectly good example of people talking complete bullshit in a high-profile way for political gain, and a single example is enough.

    I'm sure there are high-enough profile examples going the other way, but Swift Boat Veterans is a perfectly good example, is what I'm trying to say. "Scum like you make me sick" shows a fantastic level of complete ignorance.

  • Re:Beaten? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat (172735) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:22PM (#14225008)
    What "oddities"? I read both articles you linked, as well as the badger herald article you linked above, and none of them cast doubt on the beating. There is one conservative activist whining that a guy who ran to the hospital after being assaulted can't remember what street he was on, but nothing suggesting he made anything up. The second article from the Kansan said the cops no longer consider it a hate crime, but that does not mean they don't think it occurred. My guess is that to be a "hate crime" in Kansas, like here in California, the target of an attack must be a member of a protected minority, and secular humanists don't fit the bill. But there is nothing suggesting he made up the attack except insinuation on the part of an activist.
  • Re:His sign (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gentlewizard (300741) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:24PM (#14225019)
    College professors aren't supposed to be wishy-washy and neutral: the reason for tenure is to encourage them to have opinions, even strong ones. It's the interplay of multiple strong opinions, sometimes polar opposites, that makes the university experience useful.

    That's why, for example, the University of California not only tolerated, but defended Angela Davis [ucsc.edu] and her pro-Comummunist party views, despite the current "governator" being one Ronald Reagan.

    So maybe he didn't say it very well. It's what he believes.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:27PM (#14225039)
    OK, so... why do fundamentalists get so worked up over this evolution thing?..... Evolution is the hammer......

    The problem is that evolution is not like a tool. Instead it is a self-propelled dynamic that needs no outside maker/creator etc. The prerequisites for evolution (differential reproduction of heritable variation) is both basic and abundant in all biological systems of all levels of complexity (it even applies to "nonliving" prebiotic chemical systems such as RNA soups and lipid mycelles). The point is that even the simplest bacteria has all the tools it needs to make itself a different species given enough time.

    That is what upsets the religious. Evolution doesn't need any gods.

  • Re:Beaten? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:28PM (#14225046)
    Definately both bad.

    Fundies are just as dangerous, as this article shows.

    The difference is termininology - muslim extremists, christian fundamentalists.. in fact there's little difference - both prepared to kill for their beliefs.

    Actually, to be a bit more precise, they're prepared to kill YOU for your beliefs.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:29PM (#14225057)
    Methodist churches have different views than Catholic churches.

    Who's to say which is "correct"? Except God/Jesus, that is. And neither of them return my calls anymore.

    Pay attention to the stories you'll be seeing about this. Check how many local churches publicly condem those actions and how many "Christians" write about how "he deserved what he got". You might have to hit local papers for that last one.

    The church is shaped by the preacher and the congregation finds a preacher who shares their view.
  • Sounds like.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:41PM (#14225161) Homepage
    he could have been more tactful in his choice of words. Also since he was assaulted for his expression I have a question. What happened to 'love your neighbor as your self' and 'turn the other cheek'? Sounds like the two that went after him are no better then the crazy people claiming to do things in the name of Islam over in the middle east.
  • Living in Lawrence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CompMD (522020) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:49PM (#14225230)
    I live, attend school, and work in lovely Lawrence, Kansas. I've been all over the state, and no other city has the allure and mindset of Lawrence. This is the most tolerant, free-thinking, and progressive city in the state. If you have any doubts of that, you should read up on your civil war history. There are people other than rednecks in this state. Keep in mind that Helium was discovered here 100 years ago this week. Lynx, everyone's favorite text-based web browser was born here (read your man page). I could go on for quite a while.

    The attack on Professor Mirecki is heartbreaking. Violence in the name of God is disgusting. I think that the rift between members of academia and radcial Christians is growing. We are becoming the society that as a nation, we most actively despise: a society driven by radical religious fundamentalists who have misinterpreted the tenets of the locally dominant religion.

    Kansas has always been a little weird. Nobody can debate that. However, Lawrence has been proud to stand out from the rest of the state and see things more thoughtfully. This most recent regression has hurt what Lawrence has always stood for: freedom. Freedom to live, freedom to express one's ideas, freedom to explore the unknown, and the freedom to stand up for those things.

    Whatever your current thoughts are about Professor Mirecki, the criminals who attacked him, or the course he was trying to teach, you should probably get your news from sources a little closer to the action. The Lawrence Journal-World [ljworld.com] has covered this quite thoroughly and has some very interesting blog posts from a wide variety of bloggers (myself included) discussing the articles. I recommend it if you want to get a better view of the scenario.

    Plenty of stupid things have taken place in Kansas this year. Let's work to fix the problems that we have caused here and try to move forward.

    Nick M.

    Research Assistant

    Kansas NASA EPSCoR

  • Re:Beaten? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kermyt (99494) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:51PM (#14225250) Homepage
    Maybe you are looking for the abortion clinic bombers and doctor murderers, I believe they are fundementalists. And the Muslum world (By and large) condems terrorism as well, even though extremists still perpetrate violence. Very little difference.
  • Re:To clarify... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by belmolis (702863) <billposer@@@alum...mit...edu> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:51PM (#14225252) Homepage

    This is an important point that I think people aren't paying enough attention to. He has resigned only an extra administrative position that he may not particularly have enjoyed anyhow. In American universities (outside of the medical schools) being Chair of the department is usually not that big a deal. It isn't like some European universities where the Chair is really the person who runs the show. Mirecki still has his job and his academic rank - all he's done is stepped out of the limelight a little, whether to make life easier for himself or to keep himself from being a lightning rod for anti-University sentiment.

  • Re:Beaten? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Total_Wimp (564548) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:54PM (#14225277)
    On Monday, Mirecki was treated at a Lawrence hospital for head injuries after he said he was beaten by two men on a country road. He said the men referred to the creationism course. Law enforcement officials were investigating.
    Isn't that just a bit extreme?

    Oh Hell yeah.

    I happened to catch a book-signing talk by John Gibson about his new book "The War on Christmas," a few weeks back. In his talk he mentioned several incidents where people had removed references to Christianity or Christmas from a public place and subsequently received death threats. He even said that one of those men had to move his wife and kids out of town for the holidays because he feared for their safety. Let me reiterate, the ones getting threatened were the seculars and they were getting threatened by people who were presumably very much Christian.

    My girlfriend raised her hand and asked why Gibson was claiming seculars were perpetuating a war when his own examples showed Christians doing all the threatening behavior and she pointed out that he had said several times how nice the seculars seemed to be when he interviewed them. Gibson gave a very watered down reply that there are two sides to any war while the crowd proceeded to turn around and try to shout down my girlfriend. They neither noticed the substance of what she said, nor the fact that the she was taking every part of her point directly from the rhetoric of the author they had come to see. They didn't seem upset in the least that Christians were engaged in threatening behavior.

    I certainly don't have an agenda against Christianity, but I must say that in my mind Christians are doing very big damage to their reputations with these kind of antics. Death threats and beatings are so over-the-top wrong that it amazes me when I hear Christians give the contradictory proclamation that Christianity is about Love. That it's about turning the other cheek.

    I'm not against Islam, but I'm very much against Muslims who fly planes into tall buildings. I'm not against Christianity, but I'm very much against Christians who beat college professors on country roads. I don't think there's anything remotely like a war on Christianity right now, but if Christians keep insisting on beating and threatening people who disagree, they shouldn't be surprised when we eventually fight back.

    TW
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by agiduda (861184) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:56PM (#14225288)
    I lived in Lawrence Kansas over a decade ago. Even then stopping on a rural road and getting out for a tail-gating pickup with two men in it was not positive thing to do in your own evolution.
  • by Lendrick (314723) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:03PM (#14225332) Homepage Journal
    This was an email sent out promoting his class to a number of students who may be interested in it. As such, he was acting in a professional capacity, and standards of professional conduct should apply. Furthermore, when you send inflammatory email to large groups of people, even those who generally agree with you, you should assume that it will eventually be made public.
  • by theodicey (662941) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:03PM (#14225333)
    Well, I respectfully suggest that the much larger group of people who call themselves "Christians" get a grip on the extremist, bigoted elements of their community which are currently running the country (and have always run certain states).

    Until you take some proactive steps to shame and marginalize the Dobsons, Robertsons and LaHayes, mainstream Christians will inevitably be associated with aiding and abetting backwardsness and stupidity.

  • by Elektroschock (659467) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:09PM (#14225372)
    Sorry, I am very concerned to see pseudo-science infiltrate the United States and when scientists are depicted as anti-Cristians because they support views which are commonly accepted among educated people I wonder what direction the US will go. What next?

    Perhaps improvement in theological education is the first step. Enlightment reloaded. If uneducated preachers spread unenlighted views and therefore a kind of scum of public opinion undermines real science, it is time to think why people in other Christian countries in the world do not even talk about this bullshit. I mean, the US is not Iran...

    Proper university education for preachers and scientific reflection on theological issues and "Christian" pseudoscience will fade away.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:25PM (#14225491) Homepage Journal
    The student organization in question was the Society for Open Minded Athiests and Agnostics.

    So your point is that they're not as "Open Minded" as they claim?
  • by jjohnson (62583) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:46PM (#14225643) Homepage
    That's great that there's an underlying philosophy. Doesn't make it science, though, so there's no reason to give it equal time in a science class.

    Yes, science is profoundly materialistic. That's what science is. Accept it or don't, but corrupting it does everyone who's benefitted from scientific fields like medicine, physics, chemistry, etc... well, it does all of us a disservice.
  • *roll eyes* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tigris (192178) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:50PM (#14225666)
    Why is it that every ethnocentric/religious/sexually-oriented/whatever else group in the world these days is treated with respect except Christians? We're easy targets, sure, and it's not unexpected. After all, 6000 of us were covered in pitch and set on fire to light Roman streets in one fell swoop under Emperor Nero. Why should we expect any different treatment now?

    Some facts

    Percentage of the U.S. population who self-identify as Christian: %82

    Percentage of Senators = 89%

    Percentage of Representatives = 90%

    Percentage of Supreme Court Justices = %78

    Percentage of Presidents = %100

    Percentage of Current Governors = 94%

    Christmas = Federal Holiday

    and I can go on and on.

    Poor little Christians. So very, very oppressed.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:54PM (#14225697)
    Someone else was beaten or killed in the name of religion! *gasp*
    What's the total up to now? A few billion?


    Being that religion has been the social glue to bind humanity's tribal attitudes together for, oh only ten of thousands of years against the last two-three centuries of secularlist thought, methinks you give religion too much of a bad rap.

    Atheist viewpoints are not inherently better. Look how many people have been killed in a few years by fascists in worship of the state and racial purity or communists in the rise of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie or in economic "growth" initiatives.

    People are people and will attempt to hurt people who are different from them regardless of what supposed values make their kind of people better. Religion gets a bad rap because it's been the most abused concept in history, but making religion go away won't fix that human tendency either. It is not religion's sole provence (to paraphrase Voltaire) to make one believe in absurdities and then commit atrocities.
  • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:05PM (#14225767)
    You're very right. And I've always wondered why Christians are so intent on getting ID taught. It very clearly contradicts the Bible. And if you're willing to accept that the Bible isn't literal truth, then what the hell is the problem with thinking God made the laws of physics, hit the on-switch, and sends a Jesus or two every once in a while? You don't need gaps in the fossil record for that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:11PM (#14225802)
    You'd have to be crazy to be doing Religious Studies and not be an athiest.

    Faith in Christianity, Judaism and Islam stems from
    -taught by parents and community
    -have an old book

    All have a fair few similarities. All claim there's is the one true god.
    If you believe in one, that means two are wrong - and those two have exactly as much to support them
    as yours. If you believe they are all about the same one god figure, see Hindusim - thousands apon thousands of gods.

    Look at Jesus - basically a sun/harvest god by the basic story.
    Look at the "Flood" - then look at the Epic of Gilgamesh - same story, much older, fictional.

    I can't see how if you studied religion in depth you could walk away not thinking it was all a scam.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:38PM (#14225942)
    I mean, the US is not Iran...
    Yeah, for now...
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:03PM (#14226060)
    In a watered down, distant way you saw exactly why the founders of the American Republic insisted on the separation of church and state and why Bush, Rush and all the other far right extremists are essentially anti-American.
  • by lostboy2 (194153) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:27PM (#14226173)
    Interesting comments. I too tend to believe that there's more to life than simple biomechanics, but IMO the fuss isn't about Evolution vs Intelligent Design or Science vs Religion.

    Many (and I'd hope most) of the scientists, teachers and professors who object to including Intelligent Design in science classes aren't objecting because they think Evolution is 100% correct, or because they think Intelligent Design is wrong. They object because Intelligent Design isn't science, by definition of the term "science".

    There are two purposes to any science class, in my opinion: one is to teach students what are currently believed to be the most accurate scientific theories, but the other (and perhaps more important) purpose is to teach the scientific method [answers.com]: the method by which those theories are developed.

    The main components of the scientific method are observation and experimentation. That is, you observe something, formulate a hypothesis, develop experiments that you can run to test the hypothesis, run the experiment and then see how well your hypothesis holds up. Typically, you'd find that something wasn't exactly the way you thought it would be, so you'd tweak your hypothesis, develop new experiments, and repeat the process ad infinitum. Through this process, you'd inch closer and closer to "the truth".

    With Intelligent Design, however, there aren't any experiments that you can run to reliably test the hypothesis. If God is omnipotent, God can alter the outcome of any experiment. Thus, you can never prove or disprove the theory (which, is the whole point of Faith, as I understand it). While that doesn't mean Intelligent Design is wrong, it means it doesn't fit the definition of Science.

    Now, many people (including Senator John McCain [politicalwire.com]) wonder why teachers and scientists are so opposed to including Intelligent Design in the curriculum. The problem is that doing so would be an inherent contradition and, as a result, teachers would not be teaching the scientific method, which is the whole point of the class. It would be like teaching that beef is a vegetable in a botany class.

    That's not to say that the current scientific theories are all correct. In fact, we know that they're not. One hope of teaching science is to develop the next generation of scientists who can test and refine or change the current theories (or develop new ones) and bring us closer to "the truth". If we teach students that it's acceptible to ignore the results of scientific method in favor of theories that are untestable, then we are crippling our own progress and will slip further and further behind Germany and Japan (for example) in fields like Engineering. Would you want to fly in an airplane whose design was based on theories that are not testable and which contradict what we believe to be the laws of physics? Or, more succinctly, would you fly in an airplane whose design was based on faith?

    This is not to say that we should never discuss Intelligent Design at all. I've heard many scientists say that it is a valid topic, just not for a science class (or, at least, not a high-school level science class, in my opinion).

    Interestingly, many scientists feel the same way about String Theory [pbs.org] as well (which is why this isn't about Science vs Religion). String theory is an attempt to rectify some of the inconsistencies between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. The problem is that there's no observable tests for String Theory. So, while it might be true, there's no way we could test it to find out.

    At one point (and it may still be the case) there were five versions of string theory, all of which seemed equally valid. But some of those theories contradicted the others. Since none of them could be tested, how would you know which one is correct? Similarly
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shanep (68243) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:29PM (#14226185) Homepage
    Yeah, those Christian fundies are hacking off people's heads all over the place, and blowing themselves up inside crowded buses, schools, and bars because the rest of us don't believe exactly as they do.

    Idiot.


    Yeah, instead the Christ fundies blow up unidentified crowds of people (who are just walking down the street in their own country) with laser GBU's, kill innocents including children, call them "collateral damage" and the overall operation a "liberation" and all in the name of taking down some regime which never threatened to attack or had the means to attack the USA.

    Iraq did of course have a cunt load of oil, but that has nothing to do with the "liberation" does it?

    Then there is the whole torturing random people (who had one two many AK's in their house) to death and raping women (I've seen the photos). Oh and then there is the Christ fundies who make pot shots at random people in Iraq going about their own business (I've seen the video). Oh and the shooting of unarmed "combatants" (seen lots of the videos)... oh and the avoidance of getting so much as a shrapnel hit on a mosque, yet happily killing people who exit that same mosque, only once they get far enough away... etc etc etc.

    Yeah, the Christ fundies are just a bunch of kind, loving, forgiving, good folk aren't they?

    Hang on a sec, one to many AK's? If we applied this to the US, almost everyone would be fucking dead. Oh but that is okay because it allows US citizens to protect themselves from a government turned tyranical or from invading forces. So in Iraq, a home with more than 1 AK is a terrorist house, but in the USA a home with more than one gun is the home of some good little capitalist consumers. Right?

    Idiot.
  • Academic integrity (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:46PM (#14226271)
    The real issue with the course was academic integrity. See, in the academic study of religion and mythology, you aren't supposed to look at the "validity" of the belief, per se. You're supposed to separate your private beliefs from your subject matter so you can engage in intellectually honest study. Usually, the biggest problem in the context of religious studies is the students have a very difficult time setting aside their beliefs and studying things like the Bible as historical texts. Here, the problem was the professor made statements that proved he had no objectivity about ID and Creationism.

    In a nutshell, teaching a course that critically evaluates ID and Creationism in a mythological context, by examining their historical antecedents, evidence, portrayal in the media and so forth and that compares and contrasts them with alternative viewpoints is fine. Indoctrinating students and trying to discredit (as opposed to describe and understand) a belief system to "get in the fundie's face" is completely inappropriate. The role of a professor in religious studies is not to push students toward a specific belief or dogma (if you want that, attend seminary), but rather to develop their critical thinking/reading abilities so they are capable of forming their own opinions, backed by evidence, as academic integrity demands.

    In short, I'm glad the professor cancelled the course, and I'm glad he's stepped down as department chair. On the otherhand, the cockrammers who beat him up are probably your typical anti-intellectual townies. It's a damned shame that academic institutions are looked down on so much in America these days.
  • Right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DanTheLewis (742271) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:55PM (#14226331) Homepage Journal
    I'm a Protestant, and I don't start with Biblical inerrancy or something like that. In fact, I find those ways of reading the Bible rather dubious. Rather, I have been profoundly affected by the figure of Jesus; who is he? What was he about? What would he have to say to people like me? The answers to those questions, and to others about the meaning of life and death and about lived beliefs, brought me to Christianity.

    As a person of faith, I find that such a stance frees me to be rather more objective about the Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible. If I find out that Christ's story is a cheat, I can drop it, finally, in the knowledge that I was faithful to my reasons as far as they went. But now I don't have to concentrate on every so-called contradiction in the Bible. Instead, I can begin to know Jesus by examining the writings of the people who knew him best, and slowly expand from there.

    So I don't always know how to take the Hebrew Bible. The sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob talked about God, at times, in ways I don't recognize. I am not trying to revive the Manichean heresy (he thought that the Adonai of the Old Testament was the evil God, and Christ was the good God who defeated Adonai). But I can allow the questions to get a lot deeper into my thinking this way.
  • Re:His sign (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:55PM (#14226333) Journal
    There are so many things wrong with Intelligent Design, there aren't even words for it.

    Lets just take two:

    1) It leads to an infinite regression. If complex things cannot come to being by themselves, then the creator can't come to be out of nothing either. And so forth. Que the infinite regress of creators.

    2) As a scientific theory, it lacks all predictive power. Apply the theory of evolution to, for example, Avian Flu, and you can imagine that, during the course of it's fluish mutations it will hit upon the combination that will make it contagious among the dominant species on the planet, thats natural selection among countless flu variations.

    What do you get when you apply ID to Bird Flu? The Creator is a bastard? The Creator is annoyed with us because there's too much sex on television?

    I sat in a coffeeshop listening to an ID advocate committing logical error after error. He was sitting there,and reasoning backwards from any number of existing things to their inevitable nature as created things. Hilariously bad science. I have in my hand a hairbrush, it is made of a substance I will call plastic. I cannot imagine making such a thing, it is not wood, nor stone. Therefore there must be a magician involved somewhere! Oooo, look a landbridge! Could something so useful have come about by accident? No!

    I sat and tried not to listen, while eating my damn lunch, and trying to imagine how any Intelligent designer could design a creature as foolish and ignorant as man.
     
  • Rule #2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:06AM (#14226381)
    Do not vote for a politician who claims special communication with higher beings.
  • Re:The darn fool. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sam_handelman (519767) <skh2003@[ ]umbia.edu ['col' in gap]> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:14AM (#14226420) Homepage Journal
    The Post Chronicle article is nonsense - refusing to talk to the press is evidence that he was not actually assaulted? That's completely ridiculous. The article also accuses the professor of not keeping his story straight - either that he is unable to say exactly where it happened, or that he has contradicted himself - but doesn't provide sources for that assertion, let alone quotes.

      It is true that he may be lying (although I doubt it). Anyone could be lying - but no evidence that he is lying is actually presented in the article to which the parent links.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat (172735) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:27AM (#14226471)
    I can't speak for him, but I bet that to him fundamentalists seem ignorant, naive, and arrogant even if one looks just at the religious texts and their interpretation

    Probably even more so when he looks just at the fact that two of them beat the shit out of him for disagreeing with them.

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:32AM (#14226490) Journal
    LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!

    I CAN'T HEAR YOUUUUU!!!!!!!

    LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!

    The Baptists are into the King James, most of them. That's the "Original" Bible (Har Har). Well in the King James, in the Book of Joshua (as a random example), there is a bit about Rahab the Harlot (tons of whores in the bible), and how she hid some of Joshua's spies in her house...

    Chapter 2, verse 15, "...Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall." Italics not mine.

    Well then along comes Joshua, and does his marching sonic warfare thing and knocks down the wall (chapter 6, vs 20, "...the wall fell down flat, so that all the people could..." yadda yadda rape murder etc), then in 22, Joshua sends people to the whore's house to thank her, and they bring her with 'em on the rest of the campaign (main guys in the bible like whores, don't ask). The house ON TOP of the wall that FELL DOWN FLAT.

    This stuff is rife in the Bible. It's been translated so many times, it's hard to see how it could NOT be rife. But they stick to it like glue, and they flat ignore any inconsistencies. They call it Faith, I call it idolatry pointed at a book.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:40AM (#14226528)
    "Creationism was taken out of schools"

    Creationism was never in the schools. At least not the ones I went to. What schools should teach, and what I took advantage of when my high school offered it as an elective, is comparative religion. I was able to learn from a completely unbiased view what every major religion believes. I am now an atheist. I wasn't always an atheist. I started out as a toddler and later a pre schooler at Christian schools. I went to church weekly for most of my youth. What went wrong? I find that most Christians have not really understood what's in the Bible. Most are also not willing to take a cold, critical look at why they have come to believe what has been taught to them in church.

    "now even Christians cannot wish anyone "merry Christmas" without fear of losing their jobs."

    Would it irritate you as a christian if everyone wished you a happy hanukkah or happy ramadan? Personally, as an atheist, I like Christmas. Giving and celebration are good things that I enjoy. However, it is primarily a religious event and we need to keep that in mind.

    "They cant disagree with certain poeples lifestyles without being stereotyped and called a "homophobe", "racist", or "hateful"."

    I think better terms are "nosy" and "close minded". Why should anyone need to disagree with a lifestyle out loud? I haven't noticed gay people trying to export and promote homosexuality. I think science has proven that it's mostly genetic anyway. It's not a disease that must be stamped out before becoming rampant.

    "As for the anti-creationism in the classroom, as a student I find it offensive that not all sides of the issues raised."

    When does a side become worthy of being presented in a science class? Why doesn't the theory of the flying spaghetti monster deserve to be covered as well? Evolution is complex. That's why some time is needed to understand it. Creationism is simple. Pretty much everyone knows the premise, that God created everything. Any further explanation of it delves into religious doctrine which clearly does not belong in a science class.

    "Its an institute of learning, there should be no censorship of ideas."

    Fine, then teach Creationism in a religion class. No censorship in that. To teach it in a science class dilutes the concept of science.

    "I believe in a creator. It makes logical sense to me."

    Fine with me. Believe what you want. I beleive in Santa Claus. That doesn't mean I want Santa Theory to be taught in a science class.

    "A favorite author of mine is Hugh Ross, PH.D. One good book to read is "the Creator and the Cosmos". Research on how astronomy and science today is in agreement with Genesis Creation account from the Bible. www.reasons.org is an excellent science webpage."

    I offer this quote:

    "Though Ross may be a scientist by training, and though his reasons to believe are drawn from the current scientific developments, this is not a book of science. Ross does not examine the evidence and draw conclusions based on the evidence. He already knows his conclusions and, to his credit, states them up-front. To Ross, an uncreated universe has no objective meaning and in such a universe, human life also has no meaning. He refuses to accept that possibility. And so, with that largely emotional assumption, Ross decides that only a created universe is possible- regardless of the data. That data can do nothing else but support his conclusion and so must be bent, as needed, to be consistent with a created universe."

  • Re:Rule #2 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TIMxPx (859220) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @01:38AM (#14226744)
    Special communication? The message of Christianity is that a relationship with God is freely available to all through Jesus Christ. So i assume that you're talking about some other religion, or some uniquely insane politician, neither of which has anything to do with Biblical creation.
  • by bxbaser (252102) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:09AM (#14226863)
    "But we definitely (in my mind) get *something* that has to be accounted for, and hard science alone can't account for it"

    hard science right now cant account for it.
    go back 300 years ago and hard science couldnt account for a lot more of it.
    Go ahead 300 years from now and hard science can account for a lot more of it.

    Sooner or later there will be nothing left that hard science cant account for.
  • by jlanthripp (244362) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:17AM (#14226888) Journal
    The Michelle Malkin (who is this woman?) article links to and quotes an article in the Lawrence Journal World [ljworld.com]. That is where the info about the location and time of the alleged beating comes from.

    It'd be hard to spin the alleged facts presented in the article. The good professor claims:
    1. He was on his way to breakfast, at about 6:40 AM.
    2. He was being tailgated by two men in a pickup truck
    3. He pulled over and stopped.
    4. The two men tailgating him stopped and exited their vehicle.
    5. The good professor exited his vehicle
    6. The two men beat him.


    Now, it seems to me that the good professor did at least 2 extremely stupid things in that situation -

    Just recently, here in northwestern Georgia, a man was shot 5 times in front of his kids, when he got out of his truck to confront a man who had been tailgating him. It was dark at the time.

    If someone's tailgating me after dark on a country road, I make random turns till the tailgater decides to stop following me. If he persists, I loosen my jacket, unsnap my holster, and drive to a well-lit area like a 24-hour convenience store.
  • by mr_economy (937681) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:45AM (#14226992)

    I have it on good word from more than one of his co-workers in Religious Studies that it really happened. Honestly there is no reason for him to fake the beating, it's not like it will gain him much sympathy from the crowd that he upset anyway.

    And I most certainly agree it was a stupid thing to confront those guys. I grew up in Western Kansas (unfortunately), and anyone who has grown up in this area knows that two guys in a big truck means bad things. That being said, after being hounded by both the state legislature and every major and minor news organization imaginable, I don't think he was probably in the best state of mind at that time.

    I will reiterate that his 'fundies' comment was in one paragraph of a rather long email. His outrage is also quite understandable. The state board of education, comprised of lay members of the community, has decided to impose a new definition of science upon those trained in it. Neither I, nor most other people, have an issue with Intelligent Design being discussed in schools. After all, if we talk about Greek mythology, we should include the academic study of other religious mythologies as well. But none of those mythologies belong anywhere near a science class. If the legislature does indeed implement those recommendations from the BoE, there will be serious ramifications for Kansas students. More than one prestigious public university has vowed to not allow students from Kansas high schools if evolution is replaced in favor of Intelligent Design. Not to mention our state becomes, once again, the mockery of that nation. Speaking of vanishing multimillion dollar business deals, it becomes increasingly difficult to attract business commerce to a state seen as backward.

    On the hypothetical question of his usage of "Jews" or "Muslims", that question is not even worth addressing. Neither the Jews, nor the Muslims in this state are mounting a campaign to destroy science. It's not worth speculating about a situation that has little probability of occurring.

    Finally, your labeling of the cancelled class as an "anti-ID" class is misleading. There is a serious difference between the academic term of 'myth' and the way 'myth' is used in everyday conversation. The American Heritage Dictionary defines myth as: "A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society." The ID class would have explored the birth and evolution (no pun intended) of the Creationism and Intelligent Design myth systems. Because it traces a historical path, Dr. Mirecki is/was supremely qualified to teach it: his expertise lies in early Christian cultures and societies. The controversy that came with that class exposes the ID cronies and what they were really attempting: to repackage Christian myths in the most watered-down version in order to get a foot in the door of public schools. There is no outcry over the study of Greek religions and religious texts as mythology, nor is there any outcry against the same thing for American Indian religions.

  • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@@@alum...mit...edu> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:48AM (#14227008) Homepage

    The differences between ID and evolution are not just differences in philosophy. Most forms of ID take as a major premise the claim that biological structures are so perfect that they must have been designed by an intelligent designer. And of course those IDers who are fundamentalist Christians, certainly a large fraction though not all, think that the designer was not merely intelligent but omniscient and omnipotent, the natural consequence of which is that biological structures should all be really well designed. The premise of biological perfection is an empirical premise, so empirical that it is false. IDers have a terrible time explaining why so many biological structures are horrible kludges. Take the retina for instance. What kind of nutcase would design an eye like that?

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @03:19AM (#14227091) Homepage Journal
    how are you any different when you are also saying that you are right and they are wrong without a second though?

    Here's the short version:

    Most atheists have gone on to 2nd thought, and further. Seriously.

    Now, if I say to you, "Yesterday, I had a ham on rye, and I got it from the deli", how likely are you to believe it? Let's look at it. First, ham on rye is a reasonable foodstuff. Second, delis sell this combo, and it's in the common experience of most people to have that confirmed as objective fact. Now, you don't know if I had it in fact, but inasmuch as it's a reasonable claim, you might be inclined to accept it unless it is shown that I have a habit of lying about my lunch, or it turns out that there is no deli later. ok?

    But, if I say to you, "Yesterday, I had manna from heaven, which was given me by an angel", now how seriously are you going to take me? What is manna? How often has it been noted coming from heaven? How many people have been observed to have been fed by an angel? When was the last time anyone photographed or measured an angel? Even if you skip all of that, still, are you going to take me at my word?

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you're going to agree that my story is unlikely. Most people would, and for good reason. Here it is: I'm making an extraordinary claim, one that is outside the realm of common (or even known) human experience, and so your instinct is going to be to want some pretty good evidence for my claim before you get all jolly and decide I'm telling you the truth.

    The refined phrase is: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

    Finally, the problem here is that the bible(s) are full of extraordinary claims. People rising from the dead. People being turned into pillars of salt. The entire world being flooded, which would require more water than there is on the planet. Everyone having common ancestors in the persons of Adam and Eve. Geological formation of planets (this one, specifically) in non-geological time frames as well as creation of complex life in very, very short time frames. So, just as you probably found it in your heart to doubt my story of manna from heaven at the hands of an angel, atheists find good reason to doubt the stories told in the bible. These stories make extraordinary claims. Not only is there no extraordinary evidence, there appears to be no evidence at all for those stories, and quite a bit (like fossils, current amount of water on the planet, observed evolution and speciation time frames, various methods of dating geological formations, DNA comparisons between one human being and the next) which actively argue for disproof of some of the specific points made in those stories.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:34AM (#14227259)
    Answer me this, how can you (or any of these poor threatened heathens) justify removing GOD from our Nation under God?

    I'll bite.
    When we accepted the term "One Nation Under God", it was because we were fighting godless communists, and if godless communists say that phrase they burst into flames and are consumed by fiery death. It worked for awhile... as in, until 9/11. The phrase no longer protects us because our enemy loves God. It's the only thing they live for. It's no longer applicable in exposing our enemies, which is the only reason "One Nation Under God" was created as a pseduo-motto for America

    Also, since the primitive founding fathers never uttered the phrase or forced others to, we are unsure of the effect it would have had on the British. The best they had was some pathetic pluralistic catchphrase..."E Plurbus Unum". Those simpletons won on luck alone with that motto.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:23AM (#14227374)
    Well, why won't they let me put up a sign on the courthouse lawn that says "God does not exist", or "The Bible is a fairy tale"? I pay taxes! I vote!

    The problem is, you seem to think absence of blatant christianity in the public square on the public dime is antichristianity. Most people just see the absence of christianity(or any other religion) on the state grounds as a pretty simple way to keep the peace. It's off limits to keep fights from breaking out and tearing this country apart. By fighting for more and more special christian rights, you are undoing America and turning it against itself. And you don't care because you think you're making it better. The courthouse will be in flames one day, but at least it will have the ten commandments on the lawn and a crucifix in the parking lot.

    I truly can't believe you just said you're offended by empty space, because that's all it is. That's all you're arguing over. Christians have a right to not be offended by lack of Chrisitan artwork and/or symbols in their surrounding spaces? Funny, that's not in the Constitution. Maybe it is to be found in the Bill of Interior Decorations?

    Go ahead and run for office. I would find it refreshing to see a christian in the government. Why, I hope one day this country will elect an openly christian president! Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.

    Oh, and my anti-bot validation word for this comment was "centrist". Heh.
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:33AM (#14227388)
    Christians who beat professors. Christian preacher(s) that celebrates the day a gay man was killed. Don't forget where all the hate towards homosexuals comes from. There is a huge list of hate problems within the Christian community.

    I think the time has come for the Christian community to trim away the untamed hate and allow some light to shine on the love being choked out by it.
  • Re:Rule #2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:42AM (#14227410)
    why do you need to Jesus to have a relationship with god? Why do i need a church? Why do i need a systemic beleif system that profits of the goodwill of its flock?

    Why cant i just love god and be a good person for whatever god is, or may not be?

    Why does one have to be in a cult to get some place? Heaven, Halebob, burned to the ground in Waco...

    It seems whenever a group of people get together in the name of god, they seem to miss the entire message of god.

    I wont claim to know what god wants... but it sure as hell cant be hating each other over sexual preferences, fairy tales, or exploiting the poor to become even more wealthier. I'm sure as hell national health care is a good "christian" thing to do, yet so many seem to be against it.

    Ah well.. GOD.. who knows what he, she, it, wants...

    Lets just be nice to each other... i think thats the whole point.

  • Re:To clarify... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rew (6140) <r.e.wolff@BitWizard.nl> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @06:00AM (#14227456) Homepage
    Suppose you know a thing or two about Chemistry, and you are teaching a (basic) course in the second year of university. Nothing speculative, just the basics: 2 H2 + O2 -> 2 H2O stuff like that.

    Suppose the school board decides that you have to point out to the students that what you're teaching is just a theory, and that you have to point out that there are other theories. (Nobody has SEEN the molecules react!). Someone is appointed to teach the "earth, water, air and fire" theory. How would that make you feel? How's that for science?

    The most recent noteworthy news from Rome is that they have found a reasonable way to make science and christianity work together. If a super-being set off the universe a long, long time ago, setting the rules of physics, evolution and chemistry, then they don't see anything inconsistent with the bible.

    Now suddenly the "war" between creationists and evolutionists is defused. Good. Science is not inconsistent with the bible. Good.

  • by n6kuy (172098) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @06:06AM (#14227478)
    >This riddle always irked me: If God is omnipotent, can he make a rock so big that he can (I think you meant "can't") move it?

    The question is linguistic nonsense. Don't agonize over it.
    God can't make a square circle, either.
  • by rickbrodie (535715) <richard@HORSEsamsari.org minus herbivore> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @06:45AM (#14227551)
    Not to be insulting, because your post makes a lot of sense, but I find it slightly concerning that you claim to be a "buddist" but cannot even spell buddhism or muslim or even testament properly. Maybe these are the accepted spellings in your part of the world - though you sound like you come from america - but I have never come across these alternate spellings before...

    I do hope that for the sakes of a lot of people in the world that they are wrong in their religious beliefs because if they are right quite a few are going to burn. I can't see God taking kindly to raping small boys and murdering people for financial gain
    This does not seem like a very buddhist sentiment to me, to be honest. I thought it was only for god to judge? I like to think that I try and follow the buddhist philosophy as much as possible too, and I know that it does not do us any good to spend our days judging others.
  • Re:Rule #2 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by louzerr (97449) <Mr DOT Pete DOT Nelson AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:45AM (#14227792) Homepage
    But see, that's the point - we HAVE tried to just be nice to each other, and no matter what, we keep getting pissed at each other, and want to flatten each other's cities, steal each other's resources, and piss in each other's wells.

    So, while I don't agree with you, go ahead and look for an answer besides God. But there's over 7,000 years of human history saying "let's just be good people, and be nice to eachother" is a philosophy that sounds good, but doesn't work.

    Now, back to the topic at hand - I don't see anything wrong with an open debate, but no matter what, it's only an opinion and speculation! I won't fully believe either side until they produce some witnesses!
  • Re:Rule #2 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:49AM (#14227923)

    The point to the Bible is that you can't be good enough to go to heaven. Therefore, you need a Savior who is good enough (aka perfect) who became a sacrifice for you. You can't work enough good works to get to heaven since your good works are as filthy rags. Therefore when you accept Jesus for your salvation, your faith is counted for righteousness and you get saved apart from your works.

    That's the problem with people, they want to get to heaven their way and not God's way. They think they can be good enough to get to heaven and they can't. Most people don't want to hear the details so they turn off their ears to these words and turn their hate towards the messenger. So, will you hearden your heart towards God or will you get saved His way by accepting Jesus as your payment for sins and be really saved?

  • god Does Not Exist (Score:1, Insightful)

    by cannuck (859025) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @10:45AM (#14228118)

    Like Molli Ivans, the Texas syndicated journalist writes: "there is no such thing as left and right - what one needs to go and find out - who is getting screwed and who is doing the screwing?

    It's obvious - that one of the easiest way to get rich in the USA is to start a church and make sure that everyone learns that this specific church knows the right god - and that if one doesn't give money to this church - one will go to hell. And that those that don't believe in this church and/or this church's god - will go to hell. And of course most churches say this in one way or another.

    So these rich folk love screwing both the suckers who give them money - by lying to them (because there is no god) - and screwing the people who don't give them money or believe in their god - by getting the people who donate money to this church - to go and hate/screw the people who don't believe in this particular church and their god - and more often than not, to go and kill those non-believers .

    And of course this started way before the crusades - but since the coming of television - this insanity has drastically escalated - especially in the USA.

    Usually when someone runs around talking about invisible people - they are thrown into the luny bin! But if someone can run around (on television and other big rooms) and claim to know invisible people who talk to them or talk to someone they know - they are showered with money

    So in the end we have rich people - who got rich by screwing people - then begin to attack/screw anyone who shows even a shred of evidence that god may not exist. And of course "science" is on the top of the attack list

    In the end - we have people who believe in invisible people - and also believe that one can have a baby without intercourse, and that people can rise from the dead, that the earth is the center of the universe, and that all children are born in sin - so its okay for priests and others to screw children - fornicate that is.

  • by jimktrains (838227) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @10:48AM (#14228138) Homepage
    Religion is not the opposite of science. This is the biggest problem in the world today: that people do not understand this. There is not reason that I cannot belive in God and evolution. The two can go hand in hand. Religion is why (the philosophical why) things are they way they are and science is how (fact, figures, mechanisms ::shivers::) they became what they are.

    Example:
    Religion: People exist because God wanted there to be people
    Science: People exist because random genetic change enabled there to be people.

    What is contradictory in my example?

    I have a friend who is agnostic. I get from him that since there is more than one religion he has no basis to say that one is correct and another is not. He also does not see any relgion that does what is says (i.e.: radical muslims and christians both contridict their values). He isn't agnostic simply because he feels science and religion contridic each other. In fact, he has helped me reconsile some of my beliefs and science.

    Also, please do not judge all christians by the STUPID actions of a few. Why should some dumb ass in Kansas, who can't possibly belive that God wanted evolution to happen and made it and science cannot say "God willed it," so we can only comprehend random change and statistical patterens as left overs from God's will, should make me, who can reconsile belife and science, look like an idiot?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @11:57AM (#14228429)
    Interestingly enough, we are all descended from one mother, and one father, although not human. Basically if you trace back through our ancestors, at some point in the past, perhaps 100 million years ago, there would have been one single female animal that gave birth to an animal that eventually had children that evolved into us, and perhaps a sibling that evolved into some other current day species. If this wasn't the case, then we would have to accept the tremendous improbability of 2 spontaneous beginnings of life separetely evolving over millions of generations and yet ending up with humans that can still mate with any other human.

  • by CommieOverlord (234015) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @03:53PM (#14229500)
    I better not find out that a single slashdotting atheist celebrates Christmas in any way (giving gifts, taking time off from work, etc.)

    That's a remarkably stupid comment. While I do not celebrate Christmas per se, I fully celebrate a winter celebration/feast/holiday. It's a time to have fun with friends and family, and add colour in the middle of bleak and cold winter. The winter celebration is in no way solely a Christian concept. Besides, my workplace shuts down at Christmas, I have no choice in the matter.

    Two obviously non-Christians (Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek)

    That's a sneaky statement. "Christians can't do bad things, therefore they must evil atheists". You know, they believe in Christ, the God, and the Bible. That makes them Christian. They may not have full understanding of the concept but it's the believe they faith in, so that's what they are. They're Christian, albeit errant Christians.

    Millions of atheists murder and rape people,

    And millions of Christians murder and rape people too. Given that people who identify as atheists make up 10% of the population in North America, Christian murders and rapists probably outnumber them by an order of magnitude.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:16PM (#14229609) Homepage Journal
    I realised that it took a lot more faith to picture myself as a deterministic cog in a Universe consisting only of mathematically perfect laws, than as a part of a greater plan. The idea of being a mere biological machine ceased to appeal to me when it became a matter of denying reality as I perceived it. What about you? Have you really thought about this?

    Not in those terms, because it doesn't "deny reality as [I] see it."

    As I see reality, I'm an animal (a biological machine) with some intelligence. More than some animals, less than others. I am fairly certain this is the case for all animals. This makes sense to me, and (so far) I have encountered nothing to make me think otherwise... even a little bit.

    Perhaps there is extraordinary evidence for the existence of God. Perhaps it's you.

    I don't think so. If humans (it is silly to consider it to be me, but I will consider it to be people in general) are supposed to be the evidence for design, then I can only conclude that the designer in question was an incompetent fool. From babies born without critical (or simply useful) parts of their anatomy, to the incredibly dangerous and flaw-riddled female role in the reproductive system (which, I should point out, has only just recently begun to be less so, and only by the efforts of other humans, not any god or gods), I see the human condition and human configuration as one long testament to random development and/or extremely poor design. Which definitely leaves out the concept of a god or gods as has commonly been brought forth by the religions I have known and read about.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:13PM (#14229917) Homepage Journal
    Example:
    Religion: People exist because God wanted there to be people
    Science: People exist because random genetic change enabled there to be people.

    What is contradictory in my example?

    Science puts forth the idea that random genetic change was part of the process because science has observed this process, and the theory, in a fairly basic and reasonably well accepted intellectual exercise, simply extends the idea that this has been going on since DNA has been the blueprint mechanism for building another biomachine similar to the previous biomachines. In short, there is decent evidence for this idea, and given that so far, it seems to be the idea with the best evidence in support, it is reasonable to use it as the current working model until, or unless, something better comes along. Add to this the observation that DNA is a combination of chemicals, and apply the idea that this combination might have come together as the result of some natural series of events, and we have a general overview of a theory of life, sans god or godlike influence.

    Religion puts forth the idea that people are here because god wanted it that way. This is in the final analysis an attempt to answer the same basic question: How did life get started? If you want to start with the premise that god started us by triggering and/or designing DNA-based organisms, that just moves the domain of the question to: How did god get started?

    If your answer is that god was always here, then why can't your answer be that we were always here? If your answer is that god's existance arose spontaneously, then why can't your answer be that we arose spontaneously? If your answer is that god was designed by someone else, then you've just moved the domain one step further and we go around again.

    The bottom line is that we do not know how life got started here. Science, to its credit, is trying to find potential answers to that using the tools that belong to it: Examining evidence, deduction, theorizing, testing, falsification and around again. In the process, many interesting things have been uncovered (DNA, for instance) and many many more can reasonably be expected. That's the reason science is so popular; it is very productive of real-world benefits, not just metaphors for objective reality. That, in turn, gives at least some of us considerable confidence in science, and the scientific method in general.

    Still, we do not know. We will not know even if life is created in the laboratory. We may have discovered something that is one of the possibilities, but we can't be certain, because we were not there when it happened. There is no "proof" forthcoming from science, only theory. And theories are mutable — that is their primary strength.

    Turning to religion, the first question is, ok, if god kicked this off, where is the supporting evidence for this idea? We have the NT (AD 300 or so) and we have the OT, which is quite a bit BC compared to the NT, but still, very, very recent in terms of the planet's apparent geological age. We have nothing that backs up any of the bible's accounts, and in fact, we have quite a bit that contradicts the bible's accounts. Now, if you want to step away from the bible (a long way!) and just say that god did it 4 billion years ago using natural tools, then I simply ask, where is your evidence to back that assertion up? We look to the sky and we see solar systems in all stages of formation; theory accounts for much of this without a huge number of unknowns. We don't see god up there, but we do see physics.

    So perhaps you'd like to go back to the formation of everything instead (which pretty much removes the idea of god from our day to day lives [or even eon to eon existance as a race] and I would question why you would even care at this point, but...) and then we are back to but who created god? And if your answer is "was always there", then we're back to that can be the answer for everything, and there is no need for a god to explain anything at all.

  • Re:Rule #2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moz25 (262020) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:27PM (#14230772) Homepage
    The actual problem is with people like yourself who make absolute claims about deities and then that there must be something wrong with people who don't accept their mythology as fact. More troubling is the inability to conceive other points of view to the level that one cannot even imagine how another person's life and thoughts do not resolve around the same deity or a deity at all and that the person's motivations and logic can still be expressed in that deity.

    It's all fine, but let's not forget that it's only one of the multiple popular mythologies of our present day. Once we start confusing mythology with reality, we run into trouble.
  • by metlin (258108) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @03:45PM (#14234409) Journal
    Isn't it ironic how complex and capable our Gods become in relation to how complex and capable we become?

    God was first a voice in the sky causing thunder and rain, and then he became a spirit from the planets, and when we knew what the planets were, only to become a spirit in the stars. And now, we find out that he's not in the sky, he's not in the planets nor the stars - and so, he definitely is beyond our comprehension, beyond our Universe.

    The problem is that the "God" for many religions (e.g. Christianity) were created keeping in mind the science and advancement of that age. Unfortunately for the religion, science has moved on.

    Ergo, those "tall claims" do not hold water anymore.

    Science is not against religion - it just raises the standard that religion has to live up to.

    And religion, like most man-made things, is man-made. And men would rather fight than try and live up to a higher standard. The only folks who would rather not fight tend to be those that are capable of rational thought.

    Unfortunately, there does not tend to be a very large percentage of those that adhere to fundamentalist religious tenets who practice rational thought.

    End result? Well, the end result is that religion considers science to be its enemy because it raises the bar. It makes you think, rather than blindly follow. And we all know how much our fellow humans love thinking.

    So, science is considered to be an affront to science. But mind you - it is quite possible for having religious faith even if you are scientific, just that your worldview would be a lot more overarching. But most people are not capable of this, and to them, science is evil because it challenges their beliefs.

    And while science does not care about religion, it gets dragged into a fight, simply because by its very existence, science is a threat to those that would rather blindly take word-for-word from a 2,000 year old book that's been forcefully edited by zealots over the ages -- rather than think for themselves. As a result, these folks threaten science and what it stands for, and science has no choice but to fight for.

    Religion is based on faith, science if based on fact. Unfortunately, as science grows, it discovers new facts that challenge what religion claims based on faith. The very act of discovery is a threat to religion and its claims.

    So, that is why religion hates science. By its very existence, it threatens to shatter the blind security and ignorance of its believers, forcing them to think rather than blindly follow. And we all really do know how much our fellow humans admire and relish thinking for themselves.

    Of course we do, don't we?

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