When I posted about Don McLeroy, a creationist who the Texas governor just appointed to head the State Board of Education, I knew the situation was serious. Following in the bleak tradition of this current White House of making sure you appoint the absolute worst 180-degree-wrong person for a job, McLeroy seems to be the perfect candidate: he thinks the Universe is 6000 years old, he thinks evolution is wrong, he wants to bring religion into the classroom, he honestly thinks abstinence-only sex education is a good idea. I read his website, too, where he makes all this -- and much more -- very clear.
On his own this guy would just make me sad. But as the head of the BoE, he is dangerous. He wants to brainwash kids. And his ideas would make someone's from the Dark Ages appear quaint.
But this transcript of a talk he gave at a church in 2005... well, you have to read this for yourself to understand just what kind of willful ignorance we're fighting.
Comparing (his version of) Christians to scientists, he says (my emphasis):
G.K. Chesterton, 100 years ago, 1908 basically, uh, made an interesting observation that is really interesting: The Christian is quite free to believe that there's a considerable amount of settled order and an inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle. And I think that really describes it exactly, when you want to see, these people can't stand anything getting into their spotless machine. They can't tolerate anything. We can tolerate a lot, but they can't tolerate anything.
This is absolutely, 100% positively wrong. It's precisely backwards! A scientist looks around, observes phenomena, and then tries to explain them. If these explanations fail, then they are modified or discarded. This means two things: bad ideas go away, and good ideas get better, get closer to explaining reality.
Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it's inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. They can tolerate nothing that disagrees with their preconception of how the Universe ought to behave. That isn't a good way to learn about the Universe. It's madness.
He's right about one thing (even a shotgun eventually gets one piece in the right place): scientists look for natural explanations. But as I like to point out, there is no such thing as the supernatural! Take, for example, ghosts: if they are real, then they are part of the natural order of things. There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real. So there cannot be anything supernatural: if something exists, it is part of nature.
So of course scientists look for natural explanations for things. That's the way the Universe works.
I could go on an on; his speech is so full of garbage that they should have called Mike Rowe. But I have to point out this gem he uttered when describing a public discussion over textbook adoption (again, emphasis added by me):
But I want to tell you all the arguments made by all the intelligent design group, all the creationist intelligent design people, I can guarantee the other side heard exactly nothing. They did not hear one single fact, they were not swayed by one argument.
Of that I am quite positive!
Seriously, though, this guy has to go. If you are a Texas resident, I strongly urge you to write Governor Rick Perry, and politely tell him why he needs to yank McLeroy from this position.
And of course:
Tip o' the mortarboard to PZ.