Re: The NABT controversy

Keith B Miller (
Sun, 15 Feb 1998 15:56:34 -0600

To all:

I received the following post from Eugenie Scott of the National Center for
Science Education. She has been working hard to try to dissuade Massimo of
his efforts to reverse the change in the NABT evolution statement. She has
been very firm in denying that evolution implies any atheistic metaphysics,
and opposes the use of science to advance an atheistic agenda. Her
comments are of interest in the current discussion of the "open letter" by
Massimo. Please do follow her advice to communicate with Massimo. Let's
not keep this discussion to ourselves.

The Darwin Day discussed below was organized by Massimo.


>Provine's Darwin Day talk here in Knoxville was truly bizarre. In one
>breath (well, one hour) he pronounced that evolution means there is no
>God, there is no ultimate meaning in life, there is no design, there is
>no afterlife, there is no virgin birth, no resurrection, and
>furthermore, evolution means there is no free will, hence we should not
>be revengeful against those who do badly and rather than have capital
>punishment, we should lock people up for a year or so until we have
>loved them into being rehabilitated. This was quickly followed by
>admonishions that we should embrace cloning, sterilization of children
>from age 12-21, the ability of parents to choose their children's
>characteristics, and limit people to one child families. Oh -- and
>Eugenie Scott is a repressor of truth because she doesn't want to give
>all religions a chance to compete with evolution in the classroom. She
>is guilty of the "nastiest kind of denegration" of fundamentalists
>because they are not "good Christians". I am not making this up. Of
>course, in his public lectures he omitted what he has said in print (and
>which I have no reason to doubt he still believes): that the reason he
>wants "equal time" for creationism in the classroom is that he is sure
>this will produce more atheists. Instead, he claimed that having a
>free-for-all in the classroom would be "So much fun!" I'm sure teachers
>feel that way, which is why so many of them teach evolution....
>The audience didn't exactly get up and cheer. The ones sitting near me
>looked at him like they might at a visiting Martian.
>Although the people in charge of Darwin Day appear to like Will, they
>are posting his talk on their web site, which I doubt will have a
>positive effect on his reputation. It'll probably help those of us who
>take a more moderate view, though.
>But do nonetheless encourage your associates to send their comments
>directly to Massimo, and not just talk to one another. I have been
>hammering pretty hard at them for the past three days, and I don't find
>Massimo totally unreachable. On the other hand, if I weren't
>pathologically optimistic, I wouldn't have kept this job for 10 years.
>Provine is hopeless, of course. I got nowhere with Will, even after
>what I thought was a quite credible refutation of his "evolution =
>atheism" position based on logic, philosophy of science, and empirical
>evidence. As Montagu said, "The scientist has truth without certainty;
>the bigot, certainty without truth." We can all do with a little more
>appreciation of uncertainty, I think.
>If you wish, you may post the above message, if you think it would be of
>interest to people on the list.

Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506