Skip to comments.KU prof's e-mail irks fundamentalists (Christian Bashing OK)
Posted on 11/25/2005 8:34:07 AM PST by Exton1
KU prof's e-mail irks fundamentalists
LAWRENCE - Critics of a new course that equates creationism and intelligent design with mythology say an e-mail sent by the chairman of the University of Kansas religious studies department proves the course is designed to mock fundamentalist Christians.
In a recent message on a Yahoo listserv, Paul Mirecki said of the course "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and Other Religious Mythologies":
"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category mythology."
He signed the note "Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P."
Kansas Provost David Shulenburger said Wednesday that he regretted the words Mirecki used but that he supported the professor and thought the course would be taught in a professional manner.
"My understanding was that was a private e-mail communication that somehow was moved out of those channels and has become a public document," Shulenburger said.
The course was added to next semester's curriculum after the Kansas State Board of Education adopted new school science standards that question evolution.
The course will explore intelligent design, which contends that life is too complex to have evolved without a "designer." It also will cover the origins of creationism, why creationism is an American phenomenon and creationism's role in politics and education.
State Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, said she was concerned by Mirecki's comments in the e-mail.
"His intent to make a mockery of Christian beliefs is inappropriate," she said.
Mirecki said the private e-mail was accessed by an outsider.
"They had been reading my e-mails all along," he said. "Where are the ethics in that, I ask."
When asked about conservative anger directed at him and the new course, Mirecki said: "A lot of people are mad about what's going on in Kansas, and I'm one of them."
Mirecki has been taking criticism since the course was announced.
"This man is a hateful man," said state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "Are we supposed to be using tax dollars to promote hatred?"
But others support Mirecki.
Tim Miller, a fellow professor in the department of religious studies, said intelligent design proponents are showing that they don't like having their beliefs scrutinized.
"They want their religion taught as fact," Miller said. "That's simply something you can't do in a state university."
Hume Feldman, associate professor of physics and astronomy, said he planned to be a guest lecturer in the course. He said the department of religious studies was a good place for intelligent design.
"I think that is exactly the appropriate place to put these kinds of ideas," he said.
John Altevogt, a conservative columnist and activist in Kansas City, said the latest controversy was sparked by the e-mail.
"He says he's trying to offend us," Altevogt said. "The entire tenor of this thing just reeks of religious bigotry."
Brownlee said she was watching to see how the university responded to the e-mail.
"We have to set a standard that it's not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America," she said.
University Senate Executive Committee Governance Office - 33 Strong Hall, 4-5169
Joe Heppert, firstname.lastname@example.org , Chemistry, 864-2270 Ruth Ann Atchley, email@example.com , Psychology, 864-9816 Richard Hale, firstname.lastname@example.org ,Aerospace Engineering, 864-2949 Bob Basow, email@example.com , Journalism, 864-7633 Susan Craig, firstname.lastname@example.org , Art & Architecture, 864-3020 Margaret Severson, mseverson@Ku.edu , Social Welfare, 864-8952
University Council President Jim Carothers, email@example.com , English 864-3426 (Ex-officio on SenEx)
Paul Mirecki, Chair The Department of Religious Studies, 1300 Oread Avenue, 102 Smith Hall, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas,Lawrence, KS 66045-7615 (785) 864-4663 Voice (785) 864-5205 FAX firstname.lastname@example.org
Be careful, you're putting the whole field of climatology at risk.
There is no "par". Faith is either 1 or 0. That is the point of faith.
What was it that baffled you? Maximum parsimony? You understand parsimony, right? Well, a maximum parsimony tree is a tree that requires the minimum number of changes to connect all the elements on the tree.
I had no idea a mathematician would have such difficulty with common English words.
So, in general, it would be impossible to conduct an efficient algorithm for what you ask. Although approximation would be possible, any attempt to create a maximum tree would just be ad hoc.
It's odd it's impossible, since we've been doing it for at least 20 years. The scaling of the problem is irrelevant if you're talking about small numbers of organisms and relatively short sequences, and the method is intuitive.
But if you are in the habit of giving your students monkey-work, maybe they are able to get the measure of your field.
I hope you don't teach, because it appears you have a propensity for talking out of the wrong orifice about subjects you don't understand.
"Be careful, you're putting the whole field of climatology at risk."
Indeed. The field of climatology teaches the reason for lightening -- God's anger. And teaches hurricanes are due to God's wrath, forget pressure and humidity. :D
The guy was expressing his opinion on a listserv, as a private individual, just as you are. And just as you are free to use anatomical references on this forum, so he is entitled to use coarse means of expression on the listserv in question. Or do you intend to deny him what you yourself practice?
Free speech, free speech, free speech, decorum be damned. Everyone has the right to be a butthole while working in a publicly funded educational institution because free speech gives you the right to be a jerk. Respect means jack, cuz we got that free speech. Polite discourse is for suckers.
One has to question the intelligence of someone who uses language like the above in a call for polite discourse.
The scaling of the problem is irrelevant if you're talking about small numbers of organisms
That's what makes it monkey-work. It's just an algorithm. Grab the handle. Turn the crank. There's your answer. The real questions are: Can you prove that the algorithm always gives a maximum parsimony tree? That's "proof" now. Not proof-by-example. What is the average-time performance? What conditions on the sequences will fail to produce average-time performance? Can they be considered "unnatural"? Can you construct a tree in polynomial time such that the number of changes to connect all elements on the tree is always at most (1+epsilon)M where M is the minimum and epsilon is a fixed positive constant.
Now if you present a proof in class that the algorithm always terminates and always produces the MPT, then that would be a good start.
You are welcome to defend your faith by claiming that it is a better faith than others, but that does not make it any less a faith.
I don't have time today for anything detailed. If you truly are interested, consult PatrickHenry's List-O-Links. There is enough information there to last a while.
On the subject of trees, there is a continuous record of tree-rings going back about 11,600 years. Not all the same tree, of course, but numerous standing dead bristlecone pines each contribute a part of the sequence. Incidentally, these well-dated rings are used to establish the radiocarbon calibration curves. If there had been a flood, there would have been indications in the rings and standing dead trees all would have been floated or washed away.
There is a tree-ring sequence, but I am not as failiar with that one.
"Sure thing, Mullah Omar. But here in America, we have this thing called "free speech."
Which you are hard at work denying to proponents of ID.
There are limits even on free speech, the old "fire in a crowded theater" being the most familiar example. Speech that interferes with the free exercise of religion is another.
How interesting that you call me a "Mullah," when you defend the "right" of this professor to abuse his authority by infringing on freedom of religion, while I am arguing for the free exercise of religion.
Usually a person has to be a DUmmy to get things that twisted.
"It isn't "leftism" to put religious mythologies in a mythology class."
As a matter of fact, it is. Hard core leftism. The destruction of religious faith is one of the core items on the left's agenda, and relegating religious beliefs to the status of "myths" is undeniably a move in support of that agenda.
So you equate "mocking" and "criticism"?
Shades of leaked memos in the U.S. Senate.
Its capitulation to the old Democratic trick that if you catch us with our hands dirty, well blame Republicans for dirty tricks, said a GOP aide.
"Really? Do you even know what he meant by "stick it" in this context.?"
"If you saw, say, a Scientologist or a Wahabbi on a streetcorner handing out literature, you have the freedom to "stick it" to him by handing out debunking literature, engaging in debate or even mocking."
Acctually, your freedoms in that area are not without limit. For instance, he may not want to debate you, and if you refuse to leave him alone, your behavior might be criminal. Mocking, as well, is in many places regarded as provoking speech, and in some jurisdictions you can be arrested for that.
Further, this took place in a state school. Your position is tantamount to arguing that it is a violation of separation of church and state to promote religion, while it is perfectly permissible to mock religion with public funds.
"You do not exactly have the freedom to lie"
And who is going to distinguish between honest mistake and lie? There are many God-haters right here on these FR threads who have a history of asserting that statements they disagree with are "lies," just like the DUmmies do.
"You do, as with the case with the prof, have the freedom to point out the flaws, inconsistences, lies and whatnot in your opponents worldview."
No, not "as with the prof." What he did was not reasoned argument, but an abuse of power to slap people he hates in the face. And he did it with public funds.
His comments were cited from a Yahoo listserv. How does this involve public funds?
He's just another clown. Strange people these mathematicians - except the applied ones, of course.
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