Home » Creationism, Darwinism » Science and society: Defending the right to differ

Science and society: Defending the right to differ

A friend advises me that the Creation Museum in Kentucky disturbs some visitors, according to LiveScience. Its sponsors chose to respond by defending their beliefs.

It seems to me that there is a larger principle at stake here. People can have a private museum on their own land about whatever interests them. I could have a museum featuring heritage tomatoes, if I wanted to, on land that I own. Assuming I charged admission or was selling seeds, a question might arise whether it is for profit or not for profit. But that is an administrative issue.

I knew that this was part of a growing culture war when I heard that the fact that the museum ‘disturbs’ some is supposedly important.

I told my friend, who supports the museum’s cause: You don’t need to defend your beliefs. Defend your right to have a private museum. It doesn’t become someone’s business to interfere just because they disagree, and have friends in influential places. Period.

I strongly recommend Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, for orientation in this area.

I summarize his key findings here.

This uproar is part of the success of the new atheist movement among elites and legacy media, for sure. The old atheist would have thought the creation museum was bunk, but otherwise minded his own business, to the extent that he shared basic, non-fascist values, beautifully summed up, here in Canada, in the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights, that used to be framed and hung in Canadian union halls, but is now quietly absent in many places, I fear:

I am a Canadian,

free to speak without fear,

free to worship in my own way,

free to stand for what I think right,

free to oppose what I believe wrong,

or free to choose those who shall govern my country.

This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

From the Canadian Bill of Rights, July 1, 1960.

It is absent when people are ashamed to read it, and compare it with what has happened in the age of social engineering via “human rights” commissions/tribunals (who think humans are just clever animals), who have held, for example, that a food service employee has a “human right not to wash her hands ( a point certainly disputed in the health care profession, but may become part of “Darwinian medicine” at some point), have butted in on who a Catholic bishop’s altar servers should be or what he is allowed to say about the Catholic Church’s view of the gay lifestyle (creating huge legal expenses for dioceses that might otherwise have spent the funds on various good works), and have even held hearings on whether a comedian’s jokes are funny.

What went wrong: Civil rights (the rights of citizens and others we accept into our community as landed immigrants, refugees, etc.) were replaced by “human rights”, which is more like “animal rights” – free-floating speculation, rather than a thousand years of English common law tradition.

Don’t think it stops here, by the way. Once “anti-hate” legislation is in place, the new atheists will fit fine into the new environment, especially if their values are running it. You can guess what that will mean for discussion of evident design in the universe.

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13 Responses to Science and society: Defending the right to differ

  1. AMEN and excellent point.
    I saw this also as a public relations attack of the liberal media. I though also to defend this and that.
    Yet the point of privacy should trump everything.
    Now they might say its offered to the public and so is a public thing in reality and not that private.
    yet as long as private opinion is legal then hints that its illegal by being evil are null and void.
    imagine all the noise if creationists/conservatives/anybody could say being disturbed by some public offering should in some way disqualify same offering.
    The criticism is a malicious attempt to make the museum as having a evil message.
    Well I say the more attention the better. Bring in all who have ever complained about these left wing activists breaking relationship with integrity.

  2. Denyse:

    First – “Uproar”? I wouldn’t have even known about the original article if you hadn’t posted about it.

    Having now read it, it seems a fairly reserved discussion of how an expression of fundamentalist views can make individuals uncomfortable – specifically those individuals who equate fundamentalism with past life crises, or who (for some reason) object to being told that they are inherently sinful. Are you saying they have no right to these feelings, or have no right to express them?

    Furthermore, what I don’t see is any suggestion that the Museum should be shut down, or that similar museums shouldn’t be built in other locations. (Unlike a certain community center in New York.)

    The AIG article, on the other hand, ratchets up the rhetoric with “stop the hate”, etc. but actually has little it can complain about and spends most of the space re-iterating the normal creationist arguments. I can only assume that it was a slow week and they needed an excuse to bang the “we are persecuted” drum.

    But you are right in one point – they don’t need to defend their beliefs. That was entirely their choice. Do you have any evidence that these ‘others’ were trying to do more than just express their own opinions?

    After all, I support the right of someone to build a museum like that, because by doing so it ensures that I have the right to point out that it’s a temple to religious bigotry and homophobia and represents the lowest form of pseudo-science.

  3. Mikev6 writes, “But you are right in one point – they don’t need to defend their beliefs.”

    Conveniently, that is the only point I was trying to make.

    If I decided to construct the world’s biggest heritage tomato and potato museum/greenhouse*, I should not need to defend my beliefs either.

    Unfortunately, the region in which I live is full of busybodies, some of whom are government- or industry-funded for various reasons.

    Or else they are pensioneers, often with nothing to do all day, and all day to do it in.

    As long as I could just run my greenhouse/test plots/seed stall/gift shop in peace, I wouldn’t mind if someone said that it was “a temple to religious bigotry and homophobia and represents the lowest form of pseudo-science.”

    Work is hard. Opinion is free.

    It would be discourteous to deny to others what I wish for myself.

    * Commonly called “New World” plants, because they originate in the Americas rather than Eurasia.

  4. Denyse:

    As long as I could just run my greenhouse/test plots/seed stall/gift shop in peace, I wouldn’t mind if someone said that it was “a temple to religious bigotry and homophobia and represents the lowest form of pseudo-science.”

    And how, exactly, does the LiveScience article or the research described there interfere with the operation of the museum?

    On the flip side, I know folks who would be happy with a similar sentiment:

    As long as we can get married and get on with our lives in peace, we wouldn’t mind if some people felt that gay marriage made them uncomfortable and said so.

    They don’t have the right to differ, however.

  5. @mikev6,

    Actually, they had a hard time getting the museum built because so many people tried to use legal means to keep them from it. All because of their beliefs.

    At one time they wanted to expand their parking lot and again there were groups who wanted to keep them from it for the same reasons.

    I would say that they have good reason for feeling persecuted.

  6. ellijacket:

    I would say that they have good reason for feeling persecuted.

    Sorry – I find it hard to use the word “persecution” when one has difficulties expanding a parking lot. (Perhaps they should review the case of Archbishop Romero for a bit of balance.) I have difficulties with my local HOA regarding the type of grass I grow on my lawn – I would hardly count that as persecution.

    Furthermore, they are quite happy to cry “persecution” when it’s their rights and beliefs being criticized, but blissfully ignore how they are attacking other’s rights and beliefs, and are shocked when their victims actually have the temerity to complain about it.

    Much the same way as the OP, where we are asked that “everyone just get along” and keep our noses out of other folk’s affairs, but only atheists are mentioned as being the problem.

  7. @mikev6,

    The reason it falls under persecution is because they were being attacked for it solely because of their beliefs. I agree it’s not major persecution but it still falls in that area, call it what you will.

    As far as the CM attacking anyone…I’m not familiar with any particular situation where they have. Are they party to any lawsuits out there?

  8. MeV6:

    Pardon, but do you not see the common thread of problems between what Mrs O’Leary addressed in . . .

    You don’t need to defend your beliefs. Defend your right to have a private museum. It doesn’t become someone’s business to interfere just because they disagree, and have friends in influential places [I add: Like media, courts and parliaments]. Period.

    . . . and your attempt to make up a moral equivalency claim on the behalf of those seeking to arbitrarily redefine and overturn and change beyond recognition a foundational institution of not only our civilisation but all civilisations we have a record of: the stable family based on the permanent bond between a man and a woman?

    Worse, do you not see that at our best, we all struggle to consistently do the right. (C S Lewis rightly said that our moral fallenness is a doctrine that we can prove from the newspapers.)

    In that context, when I see not only your remarks above but also the use of what has become a well-poisoning smear word in the context of the underlying study being presented, I have to ask you to reflect on the implications of your tone and attitudes when you said:

    an expression of fundamentalist views can make individuals uncomfortable – specifically those individuals who equate fundamentalism with past life crises, or who (for some reason) object to being told that they are inherently sinful. Are you saying they have no right to these feelings, or have no right to express them?

    To that I point out that you have no right to indulge in smear-words — AP has actually issued a style guide on that — and you have a responsibility to take our moral challenge as a race seriously.

    In short, you are inadvertently bringing out some of what Plato warned against on the radical relativism and amorality of evolutionary materialism, 2,300 years ago in The Laws Bk X:

    _________________

    >> Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them. >>
    _________________

    There are some sobering issues that are on the table, and have been on thre table regarding evolutionary materialism, for 2,300 years.

    GEM of TKI

  9. mikev6,

    After all, I support the right of someone to build a museum like that, because by doing so it ensures that I have the right to point out that it’s a temple to religious bigotry and homophobia and represents the lowest form of pseudo-science.

    The lowest form of pseudoscience’s spot is already filled by evolutionary biology.

    There is nothing homophobic about that museum, nor anything portraying religious bigotry. You have imported those notions to it, you won’t get them from it.

  10. ellijacket,

    As far as the CM attacking anyone…I’m not familiar with any particular situation where they have. Are they party to any lawsuits out there?

    Exactly. Have they stopped anyone across town from expanding a parking lot for their beliefs? I doubt it. It’s a red herring that mikev6 is using as an attempted argument. Obviously he/she feels wounded for some reason, and can barely contain his/her contempt no matter how badly the CM was persecuted. Notice the article says “Now, a new analysis argues that for people already alienated by religious fundamentalism, the museum can be a painful reminder of discrimination and isolation.” Of course, if you already find some worldview uncomfortable, you’re going to be uncomfortable once you’re around it. This is called begging the question.

  11. PS: MEv6, further pardon, but I am also disturbed by how you dodged the issue of censorship by finding legalistic objections to building a museum, as reported by ellijacket. That raises the question of your enabling such censorship by playing lawsuit games and judge shopping.

  12. Onlookers:

    A sampler of the report AiG is countering:

    The pressures [on a set of students brought to the museum by the professor writing he adverse review] were particularly tough for gay members of the group, thanks to exhibits discussing the sinfulness of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. A lesbian couple became paranoid about being near or touching one another, afraid they would be “found out,” Barton writes. This “self-policing” is a common occurrence in same-sex relationships in the Bible Belt, Barton said.

    Did the exhibits advocate that homosexuals should be killed or otherwise treated with violence? I doubt it — that would have been headlined.

    The homosexuals in question were on someone else’s property, where that person — having overcome attempts to suppress his rights to freedom of expression — was expressing a significant [and sometimes unpopular] view in our community about homosexual conduct and the agenda to transform marriage.

    In short the article by the professor and the account by the reporter come very close to a turnabout accusation to justify censorship.

    It is time for a very serous rethink on what is going on in our civilisation.

    Here is one clue.

    “Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins.” And, we are already seeing censorship and smear tactics being used against AiG.

    GEM of TKI

  13. KF:

    Slavery was also a foundational institution of our civilisation. Depending on when you define our “civilisation” as being founded (many would point to the ancient Greeks or the Romans) you could include torture, genocide, the non-status of women and many other “institutions” that we have now moved on from.

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