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Skeptic Paul Kurtz founds Darwinist think-tank in DC

Obviously this new think-tank is not about science as such but about pushing a materialistic, Darwin-undergirded conception of science. Question: Did Kurtz ever get the memo from the NCSE that evolution is religiously neutral?

Mission statement: A Global Federation committed to science, reason, free inquiry, secularism, and planetary ethics
Source: http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=221
By Center for Inquiry
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Nathan Bupp
Phone: (716) 636-4869 x 218
E-mail: [email protected]

Washington, D.C. (November 14, 2006)—The Center for Inquiry/Transnational, a think tank devoted to promoting reason and science in all areas of human interest, announced today that it is opening a new Office of Public Policy in Washington, D.C. This initiative will mark an unprecedented drive to bring a rigorous defense of science and secular values to policy makers located at the focal point of America’s political and cultural battleground.

Paul Kurtz, chairman and founder of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that the foundations of our democratic society are now under attack. “The social and scientific progress we take for granted has been advanced by a basic scientific philosophical point of view: scientific naturalism,” said Kurtz. “The methods of the sciences, and the assumptions upon which they are based, are being challenged culturally in the United States today as never before. Despite its success in providing us with unparalleled benefits, religious fundamentalists seek to inhibit free inquiry and to misrepresent the tested conclusions of scientific naturalism. This is a highly charged political issue—both science and secularism are under political attack.”

With these concerns in mind, the new office released a declaration, “In Defense of Science and Secularism,” at a news conference held today at the National Press Club. Signed by Nobel Prize winners Steven Weinberg and Paul Boyer, as well as many leading scientists and public intellectuals, including E.O. Wilson, Ann Druyan, Lawrence Krauss, Peter Singer, Leon Jaroff, Arthur Caplan, and Elizabeth Loftus, the document calls on political leaders of both parties to “base public policy insofar as possible on empirical evidence instead of religious faith,” to “maintain a strict separation between church and state,” and “protect and promote scientific inquiry.”

Spokespersons for the Center say that several public-policy controversies have illustrated the public need for a broad expertise in scientific naturalism. From President Bush’s political veto of Congress’s bipartisan bill to expand federal funding of stem cell research to the Intelligent Design debate, to an appointed spokesperson from NASA insisting that references to the Big Bang be diluted with language stating that NASA takes no position on whether the Big Bang actually happened—all indicate what experts at the Center for Inquiry call “part of a broader cultural war on scientific naturalism and the Enlightenment in general.” Science advocates said this illustrates how both the will of the majority and scientific progress are under attack at the very highest levels.

Kurtz said that the new Office of Public Policy will draw on the Center’s relationship with leading scientists, academics, and public intellectuals, who all share the Center’s stated purpose and concerns. “We intend to develop relationships with sympathetic legislators in Washington, D.C., and will provide experts to testify in legislative hearings,” said Toni Van Pelt, Policy Director for the office. “We will submit position papers, solicited from our network of fellows and scholars, and work with legislators who care about science and reason to effect legislative responses to attacks on Enlightenment values,” continued Van Pelt.

Ron Lindsay, an attorney, philosopher, and the Center’s legal director said, “We stand ready to provide the media and the American public with background, from a wide variety of experts in the physical and social sciences, on all major political issues.”

In sum, the Center for Inquiry hopes to become a full-fledged player in the public-policy arena, aspiring to the ranks of organizations such as Brookings, Heritage, and Cato, all of which serve as both think tanks and public-policy advocates. They plan to set themselves apart, however, from many of the traditional think tanks located within the corridors of the Beltway, in that it will be the only think tank committed solely to science, reason, and secularism as the critical building blocks of American democracy. The new office maintains a Web site here.

Declared Kurtz, “We have a vital role to play. We are part of the mainstream of American life—part of the Founding Fathers’ Enlightenment tradition—and essential for the vitality of future scientific research; we need to make that point abundantly clear.”

The Center for Inquiry is a nonprofit, educational, advocacy, and scientific-research think tank based in Amherst, New York. The Center is home to the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), publishers respectively of FREE INQUIRY and SKEPTICAL INQUIRER magazines. The Center’s Web site is here.

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10 Responses to Skeptic Paul Kurtz founds Darwinist think-tank in DC

  1. “The social and scientific progress we take for granted has been advanced by a basic scientific philosophical point of view: scientific naturalism,” said Kurtz.

    Sure, scientific naturalism brought about all the major social progress in the last couple of hundred years!! Makes me feel better. Oh yes, Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of non-violent protest and the father of modern day India — whoops, a spiritual leader. Hold on, I got it, Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader — oh darn, another prominent spiritual leader. Oh, I got it, the abolitionist movement, what could be more important? What’s that you say, it was fed and cared for in churches? Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) — say what, a big time Christian? This is got to stop. William Wilberforce, the catylyst behind ending the slave trade in UK another passionate Christian!! This is blowing my “faith” in this new Think Tank. Please, somebody help.

    Yep, by all appearances Paul Kurtz looks like a warm-hearted, happy, jovial fellow. Check it out. Just the sort of qualities that Atheism is sure to bring to your life. Sign me up!!

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/?p=16

  2. By the way, what do these guys do for fun? Celebrate the fact that, at the end of their lives, they will fade to black, as if they never existed? Exclaim gleefully that all who love them do so because of some nifty brain chemistry empowering just the perfect set of neurons? Find hope for the future in the fact that nations that systematically adhered to Atheism and secular humanism are flourishing — you know, places like North Korea and the old USSR?

  3. *stands and applauds Ekstasis.

    You beat me to it, my friend. Well put.

  4. Not that I do not have my own thoughts and opinions, but I think these words written by Richard E. Rubenstein in his book, Aristotle’s Children , are wise. In the final chapter, he writes about these “culture wars” and issues, and using of labels, i.e., “fundamentalist”, “rationalist” [page 295]:

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/.....i_n6145305

    These disputes are not between faith and reason but between alternative visions of the good person and the good society that have roots in both modes of thought. What makes them potentially destructive (among other things) are claims that one party’s views are purely rational and scientific, while the other’s rest on pure faith. Such claims eliminate the possibility of dialogue, since, according to modernist conceptions, rationality relies on inductive logic and objective evidence, while faith is validated by other means entirely.

    I myself submit that neo-Darwinism, based on its “findings”, is as much a matter of “faith” as most far less harmful “religious” tenets.

    As James P. Hogan wrote of Darwinism in Kicking the Sacred Cow

    But even if the facts were as presented, what would it all add up to, really? Light moths do better against a light background, whereas dark moths do better against a dark background. This is the Earth-shattering outcome after a century and a half of intensive work by some of the best-known names in science developing a theory that changed the world? Both light strains and dark strains of moth were already present from the beginning. Nothing changed or mutated; nothing genetically new came into existence. If we’re told that of a hundred soldiers sent into a jungle wearing jungle camouflage garb along with a hundred in arctic whites, more of the former were still around a week later, are we supposed to conclude that one kind “evolved” into another, or that anything happened that wouldn’t have been obvious to common sense?

    He also summarizes Spetner’s arguments nicely — see the below link. My conclusion — Kurtz has no interest in “dialog”. So be it.

    Bill and others should continue their inquiry. As Aquinas wrote in his Summa Theologica I.1.8 “Grace does not abolish nature, but completes it.” We have but the need of the attitudes of humility and respect, which are sadly lacking in the above statement of Mr. Kurtz.

    http://www.baen.com/chapters/W.....88___7.htm

  5. P.Phillips the Aquinas comment is very insightful. If we are the only organisims capable of grace that is truly profound.

  6. If “skeptic” Paul Kurtz applied 1/2 his skepticism he has to towards ID and Creation to the theory of evolution he wouldn’t support it.

  7. In sum, the Center for Inquiry hopes to become a full-fledged player in the public-policy arena, aspiring to the ranks of organizations such as Brookings, Heritage, and Cato, all of which serve as both think tanks and public-policy advocates …

    Declared Kurtz, “We have a vital role to play. We are part of the mainstream of American life—part of the Founding Fathers’ Enlightenment tradition—and essential for the vitality of future scientific research; we need to make that point abundantly clear.”

    More likely they will remain is ineffectual as Ayn Rand’s followers who have a similar mission to change the world into a world ruled over by “rational” people (i.e. them). They claim that science in under attack when in reality they are the ones attacking science by refusing to acknowledge legitimate scientific challenges to their doctrines simply because they do not like the implications that those challenges force them to admit as plausible.

    They are irrational and unscientific in their fear and loathing of ID. It’s one thing to fear and loathe religions e.g. because they usually seek to enforce behavior, t is another thing entirely to fear and loath ID. It is their irrationality and unscientific attitude towards ID that showcases their real purpose. That purpose isn’t to “defend science”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Their purpose is to attack faith. They hate ID with a passion because it gives scientific credibility to faith. That giving of a scientific “rational” cause for faith is something which strikes at the heart of the rationalist/humanist/objectivist combine whose sole purpose is in attacking faith as lacking a rational and scientific basis.

    They are actually advancing the cause of bigotry and irrationality and suppression of science. Their ideology guides them, not rationality nor pure scientific objectivity. Their pretentious babbling masquerading as truth, light, and the American way is delusionally self reverential to the point of hilarious absurdity.

  8. Mentok: “They are irrational and unscientific in their fear and loathing of ID.”

    Exactly so. One suspects their fear and loathing of ID is energized by an instinctual realization that Darwinian randomness does not, cannot, and will never, account for the origin of the function-specific information now found to be a key driving factor in the genome.

    The ID paradigm threatens to unravel the materialistic foundation and philosophy of the Darwinists’ worldview. Kurtz’s and similar other Darwinist think-tanks and sundry efforts are driven by an emotional need to undermine ID’s imminent and inevitable success in every conceivable way they can.

    This has rightly been called the Information Age. How apt that Intelligent Design, with its focus on genomic information, is the bright rising star on the scientific horizon.

  9. ” says that the foundations of our democratic society are now under attack.”

    Well he got that much right, although he seems confused and doens’t seem to realise that he is the one undermining it.

  10. “The methods of the sciences, and the assumptions upon which they are based, are being challenged culturally in the United States today as never before. Despite its success in providing us with unparalleled benefits, religious fundamentalists seek to inhibit free inquiry and to misrepresent the tested conclusions of scientific naturalism. ”

    Benefits, except for bombs, Tuskegee, and a few other cases.

    “This is a highly charged political issue—both science and secularism are under political attack.”

    So he’s for free inquiry, yet complains because when people inquire freely he feels it is an attack?

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