Rafe Mair has come out in defence of MP James Lunney's creationism and what a defence it is.
Namely, he's defending Lunney against Richard Littlemore's amusing piece, Social media smites creationist James Lunney, ex-Tory MP where Littlemore points out that the public has every right to point out politicians' silly beliefs when they see them -- for the sake of the common good!
When we lived in villages, everyone knew the fool. And when he said something silly, the people either pointed and laughed and or they turned away in embarrassed sympathy. In either case, they didn’t elect him chief.By all accounts I've read, Mair is a brilliant lawyer with a great list of achievements. This defence is not one of them. Let's take a look at it.
After explaining that he is a lukewarm Christian (read: Anglican) and singing the praises of chiropractors as 'bona fide healers who the public vote for consistently with their wallets because they bring relief the medical profession cannot' -- something sort of like homeopaths and those scam artists in Florida, the Hippocrates Institute -- Mair got to the meat of his argument.
Dr. Lunney's main sin, evidently, is that he is a creationist and denies the theory of evolution as propounded by Charles Darwin. Evidently creationism is so way out a view as to be unacceptably unorthodox, not to mention embarrassing to the Prime Minister.I shall have to send my time machine for Mair, as he's obviously stuck alongside Lunney and countless other creationists in the nineteenth century. It's possible, I supposed, he's missed the memorandum that Charles Darwin died in 1882. It may seem astounding to someone whose religion stands by the words of a man who died 2,000 years ago, but the science around evolution has changed since Darwin laid it out!
This betrays a gross misunderstanding of the science that only gets worse as the defence goes on. Scientists have not been sitting on their laurels since 1882. They've been testing, correcting and expanding the theory of evolution all along. Lunney is challenging the findings of multiple fields of biological science for over a century.
Mair redeems himself by getting the following right, though:
My religion believes in a man who could walk on water, who fed thousands with food sufficient only for scores and turned water into wine. He also raised the dead and ascended bodily into heaven upon his own death.
The senior Christian religion believes all that plus that when one takes communion, the bread and wine turn into the actual flesh and blood of Christ.
Mormons believe that the true beliefs were found by a guy named Joseph Smith, inscribed on golden tablets which he transcribed into a new "Bible", after which he somehow lost the gold tablets.
I could go on but only wish to make the point that there's not a religion in the world that I know of that doesn't strain normal credulity in its teachings.
Indeed. It's all completely ridiculous. So why on earth would you get your ideas about reality from it? Why in heavens name would you challenge the scientific method by substituting your favourite myth or fairy story?
Dealing with evolution I can't quarrel with what Darwin had to say. I'm no scientist and certainly it would appear from the physical evidence that he's right. However he doesn't go all the way and this is where I personally argue with evolution.Darn tootin! You're not a scientist and neither is Lunney and so why are we having this argument?
In fact, what is even meant by the above paragraph? If Mair admits he's not a scientist and that the physical evidence he sees confirms evolution, then why proceed?
It's because Mair takes issue with the completely unrelated problem of how life first began on our planet. He then has a problem with the very very completely unrelated problem of how the universe began!
The question I have is, where did the water and the amoebae come from? I go further than that. Science tells us that it all started with some matter the size of a golf ball exploding into the universe as we know it. Without dealing with just how remarkable that is, the question arises, where the hell did the golf ball and the necessary oxygen come from?Indeed. Where did the golf ball and the oxygen come from? If only the cosmologists had any sort of idea whatsoever, right? Then the biologists would know how the different species of animal came to be.
I mean, how are we supposed to know how golf balls even work until we know how they were made, who invented them, the inventor's birth place, parents, grandparents...
He then points out that if we all don't know for sure, then why is postulating an infinite being outside of time and space that knows everything and can do everything and is utterly beyond our comprehension or ability to explain any more silly? Why is a completely incomprehensible thing for which no one has any proof of more silly... than, say... trying to come up with actual plausible, testable solutions to the problem?
He goes on to point out that many religions -- which he's pointed out above make completely irrational claims -- reject evolution. I'll help him out with this graphic from Wikipedia.
This is completely predictable for belief systems based on dogma lifted from non-evidence based... well... fairy tales. I'll then invite him to take a look at Project Steve on the same Wikipedia article:
The Discovery Institute announced that over 700 scientists had expressed support for intelligent design as of February 8, 2007. This prompted the National Center for Science Education to produce a "light-hearted" petition called "Project Steve" in support of evolution. Only scientists named "Steve" or some variation (such as Stephen, Stephanie, and Stefan) are eligible to sign the petition. It is intended to be a "tongue-in-cheek parody" of the lists of alleged "scientists" supposedly supporting creationist principles that creationist organizations produce. The petition demonstrates that there are more scientists who accept evolution with a name like "Steve" alone (over 1200) than there are in total who support intelligent design. This is, again, why the percentage of scientists who support evolution has been estimated by Brian Alters to be about 99.9 percent.And:
There are many scientific and scholarly organizations from around the world that have issued statements in support of the theory of evolution. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society with more than 130,000 members and over 262 affiliated societies and academies of science including over 10 million individuals, has made several statements and issued several press releases in support of evolution. The prestigious United States National Academy of Sciences, which provides science advice to the nation, has published several books supporting evolution and criticising creationism and intelligent design.Oh, but it's still totally open for debate amongst believers of religions which assert the existence of flying chariots, arks containing every animal in the world, talking donkeys and snakes, etc. Science be damned, we still don't have buy in from those groups.
Since by any objective standards all religions are goofy, why is Dr. Lunney any goofier than the rest of us Christians, Muslims, Jews and so on?Not at all. I would say his beliefs are right on par with the official doctrines of these religions. If he believes these things then he is just as deserving of the same sort of ridicule ardent believers of other silly things are.
Don't get me wrong though. I believe the vast majority of religious people in the 21st century, possess more sense than what their religion itself states. How could anyone function in the modern world if this weren't the case?
No, Dr. Lunney is right – this is a matter of freedom of belief and freedom of speech. That this embarrasses the Prime Minister and his resident toadies, or indeed Richard Littlemore, scarcely alters the basic right in a free society to hold one's own beliefs and express them without incivility and ostracism however unorthodox they are or how goofy they may seem to others, even to the vast majority.I'm not certain what Mair is asking for. Does this blog post cross the line? Are we permitted to point out the error and then required to apologize for our insensitivity or any sort of emotional harm it may cause? Are we allowed to satirize Lunney, or is that forbidden? Will we hurt all important religious sensitivities and risk jail time like in Russia, Iran or Egypt? Can we poke fun at the ridiculousness of his ideas and question other assumptions he may have which might affect his policy as a politician or would this be too offensive for him... for the law?
Where's the line, precisely, Mair? Who gets to decide when it's been crossed?
Because people demanding respect for their deeply held religious beliefs in our society and crying foul and screaming slander when they do not get it -- that does slide into the territory of blasphemy and blasphemy laws.