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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

KU course creates furor in Topeka

Conservative lawmakers call for hearings; professor issues apology for e-mail

November 29, 2005

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— Some state lawmakers are turning up the heat on Kansas University officials over a planned class they say appears aimed at mocking religious fundamentalists.

State Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, met with KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway for more than an hour Monday, and some lawmakers are calling for full-blown hearings when the Legislature convenes in January.

"I would like to have the opportunity to ask some questions and get some answers," said state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, vice chair of the House budget-writing committee.

The dispute centers on a course planned by Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU's department of religious studies, titled: "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism." During a meeting Monday, religious studies faculty members approved the spring semester elective course, but the words "and other Religious Mythologies" were removed from its title.

Equating creationism with mythology dismayed some legislators, but many became angry when they learned of an e-mail Mirecki wrote to a listserv about the course. The Mirecki e-mail referred to the recent controversy over whether intelligent design should be taught in Kansas public schools.

"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,'" Mirecki wrote.

He signed the note "Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P."

KU officials have backed Mirecki and the course, but they expressed regret about the content of the e-mail. On Monday night, Mirecki issued an apology for the e-mail in an official statement from KU and said the message was "ill-advised."

"I have assured the provost of the university that I will teach the course according to the standards this university rightfully expects - as a serious academic subject and in an manner that respects all points of view," Mirecki said.

House Appropriations Chairman Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said KU should withdraw the graduate-level course.

"Spoofing what other people believe is not graduate work. It's more the work of bar attendants," Neufeld said.

Landwehr said if the course was deemed appropriate, someone else should teach it.

Mirecki's e-mail "raises a larger question as to whether or not this individual is the right person to be teaching any course at a university," she said.

Brownlee also said she was concerned about whether the course met the university's standards.

"The KU administration - it is their job to hold their faculty responsible, and then it is the job of the Legislature to hold the administrators accountable," she said.

Hemenway said the university was reviewing whether the course received adequate review by other faculty members before being offered.

"What we've been reviewing is the situation, not the academic content of the course, but whether university procedure of faculty review of this course has been followed," he said.

The three legislators interviewed - all key veteran lawmakers - said the controversy surrounding the course wouldn't affect their dealings with KU during the budget process.

"I can't intimidate anyone," Neufeld said. "They can be intimidated, but that's their choice."

Comments

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

Now we have lawmakers micro managing the university.

Let's face it creationism is not science. At best it is merely a philosophy that has not been well thought out before putting it forward as a matter worthy of academic level study. I'm surprised those legislators are so critical for having the matter included in a college curriculum. They should be thankful...perhaps they are paranoid that the truth of the matter will surface?

Jeff Barclay 9 years ago

A couple of random thoughts.
Of course there should be a hearing into this. KU brought this on themselves. There is no reason state tax money should be funding anti-religion. Was any consideration going to be made concerning the millions that have died because pro-evolution, racist Nazi Socialism and Marxist Communism? Both Hitler and Marx developed their views based upon evolution. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, advocated the killing of the infirm and unwanted minorities. She was also an evolutionist. Christianity gave the US all of its first colleges, hospitals, orphanages, and humanizing social service agencies. Don't fault Christianity, fault some of the people who practice it. This is why Christianity teaches that mankind is not evolving or improving. Christianity teaches that created man is lost and in need of salvation. This what Christmas is all about. But of course, I can't use that word either.

ksmattfish 9 years ago

This is a Christian nation, and it's everyday Christians who want their children taught evolution in science class, and want religion kept in church. It's Christians who will be voting the right wing education board members out. The religious fanatics try to push the idea that it's godless sinners who don't agree with them, but it's the moderate Christian majority that doesn't agree with them.

By the way, comparing those that don't agree with you to the Nazis got old last year. It's time to come up with a new lame brained comparison.

Kookamooka 9 years ago

Could this be a breach of first amendment rights? This professor should have the freedom to write whatever he wants in an email. I think the fact that he is being censured and that the administration is having to talk to lawmakers is SCAREY. Our freedom has never been more at risk.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years ago

Mirecki screwed himself by writing that idiotic e-mail. He blew any shred of credibility the course may have had by making it clear that he was on a "sour grapes" mission. The course should still be offered, but it should be taught by someone more objective.

belle 9 years ago

I think everyone, including lawmakers should stay out of it. Let KU figure out what to do. I don't think the job description for lawmaker, or congressman/congresswoman says that they should determine the appropriateness of college coursework. After all, the individuals taking college coursework are adults! I agree Kookamooka, our freedom has never been more at risk.

Mari Aubuchon 9 years ago

Why does the Christian Right suffer from such a persecution complex?

Not having absolutely everyone and everything under your thumb does NOT constitute persecution.

Is their belief so fragile that any questions or arguments to the contrary can shatter it?

This is not a topic for the legislature just as creationism is not a topic for science.

sairen42 9 years ago

The state legislature should have no say whatever in the content of KU courses offered. That's what academic freedom is all about, and its one of the most important freedoms an educated nation could have.

As religious fundamentalism rises in the U.S, not just in Kansas, it's only more important to understand the causes, motivations, and potential effects of the religious fervor when it conflicts with science.

If Hemenway or anyone else in the University feels there's a problem with a course, there are ways to deal with that that don't involve the state congresspeople throwing a hissy fit because someone offended their sensibilities.

bookemdano 9 years ago

@Barclay - OK, so we're supposed to fault Christians, not Christianity--got it. But it's somehow okay for you to impugn evolution for the whacked-out views of a few nutjobs who happened to believe in it? Riiiiight.

tir 9 years ago

I agree that Professor Mirecki's email has put both the university and himself in an embarrassing position, but I sincerely hope that KU will not knuckle under to pressure and allow conservative legislators or religious leaders to dictate what they can or cannot teach, not now and not ever. I believe that both Mirecki's class and Professor Hoopes' class should still be taught in spite of the controversy, because ID and the issues surrounding it need to be studied and debated openly and without fear of censure. It angers me deeply that some religious conservatives in this state and across the country are attempting to force their beliefs into the curriculum of public schools in the guise of science, and attempting to threaten institutions of higher education into silence on the issue. KU needs to stand up to them in the name of academic freedom.

mom_of_three 9 years ago

Tir, you said it all and perfectly.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years ago

ID is science?? That's news to me. I thought it was an issue of faith, rather than science.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Barclay,

As usual, your ignorance is astounding. The Soviet Marxists most certainly did not accept evolution; in fact they banned it and evolutionary geneticists were sent to Siberia. Ever heard of Lysenko? Inheritance of acquired traits? The idea of "survival of the fittest" was abhorrent to the Marxists of "each to his ability; each to his need".

As for National Socialism: it was founded on christian principles and most Nazis were christians (catholics, mostly) with christian underpinnings and goals. Denial of this is denial of reality, but then most fundies have no problem denying reality.

For a primer on Nazi christianity, peruse this site:

http://www.nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm

or simply Google "Hitler christianity"

meggers 9 years ago

wendt,

I'm guessing you meant to put a "not" in the first sentence of your response to Barclay.

The inevitable consequence of allowing ID into the science curriculum is the "dumbing down" of a field that is already in serious trouble in the US, due to globalization and the advances of other nations in the field of science.

wbob 9 years ago

We should wonder why a university professor writes so poorly and makes so many errors.

sgl8888 9 years ago

Too many Christians. Not enough lions.

Jamesaust 9 years ago

"funding anti-religion"?

I thought ID wasn't the result of religion - not creationsim with the references to Bible verses erased.
Please! once the Radicals get their story straight, then get back to me.

"ill-advised"?

That's about the perfect word.
Fortunately, our entire public sphere does not depend on the motivations behind people's acts but rather the substance of them.
Mirecki no more has to be virtuously motivated in offering an academic course than an opposition political party has to be virtuously motivated in questioning the policies of the governing political party. It was Adam Smith who observed: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." I don't care why Mirecki wants to offer the course, only that it be a proper academic exercise - THAT is the sole concern of the Legislature.

meggers 9 years ago

Thanks for the clarification, wendt. You make a very good point.

Godot 9 years ago

This isn't about whether ID is wrong or right, and it is not about freedom of speech, or even academic freedom. It is about how a tenured professor, one who is entrusted with huge responsibility with little or no oversight, mishandled himself, about his lack of professionalism and absence of knowledge of even the basic tenets of ethics. This is about expecting more from our universities.

bankboy119 9 years ago

Well I have a question for you who say Mirekci's statement was okay and that the Christians should just be quiet. Why is it okay to be Anti-Christian but if I say something Anti-Gay it's hatespeech? Why isn't Anti-Christian speech hatespeech as well? Or if I say something racist it is hatespeech as well which is not protected under the First Amendment. How does speech being Anti-Christian not be classified as hatespeech? I'm not going the "oh we're so persecuted" route. I just want a couple of answers. It is pretty amazing that all other beliefs are tolerated except what has to do with Jesus.

DaREEKKU 9 years ago

I agree with you bankboy119! How hypocritical of them! Christians are the biggest joke. Their close minded, hateful, archaeic beliefs belong in a large brick church and not my public schools.

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

Look the guy blew it by putting that stuff in an email. How many of you have written an emotional or sarcastic email that you would not want the world to read? Big deal.

His email does not negate the fact that ID is not science and it is being pushed by christrian extreemists. It is no big secret that the ID cult has a political and not a scientific agenda and they rely on karl Rove tactics to advance that agenda. They are dishonest, they mislead the public, they use underhanded tactics, they distort evolution and scientific theories. Then they pretend they are being persecuted by mainstream scientists when they are called out on it.

Read about the political agenda of the ID cult here:

Wedge Startegy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_st...

Teach The Controversy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teach_th...

Have any of you even read ID darling Behe's testimony? He is an embaressment to science and his own cause. he says his ID theory is testable but he's never bothered to test it. He said he had more "fruitful" things to do than prove his own theory.

Read the transcripts here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover.html

Behe teaches at Lehigh University, look at their biology department website, his own school/employer distances themselves from Demski and ID right there on the front page! http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/index.html

Finally, for some very funny reading on Behe and the ID cult go here: "The Brontosaurus: Monty Python's flying creationism."

http://www.slate.com/id/2128755/

Enjoy!

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

Wendt:

a) you're my hero b) did you read the The Brontosaurus: Monty Python's flying creationism."? funny stuff.

concerned_citizen 9 years ago

Gosh this ID/Creationism/Darwin-or-Death crap is getting old...but, Mirecki is an ass, to be sure. I LOVE the thought of know-it-all, oh-so-enlightened college professors groveling before people they gleefully disparage and despise! I LOVE it. Being a college professor should not make you immune to good manners and polite behavior. I LOVE the fact that even though they are high in their ivory towers teaching more and more irrelevant crap they have to grovel to a bunch of ignorant boob politicos. An atheist in the religious studies department? ONLY at a college...anyway that jackass's class would only be taken by kids who either already agree with him and aren't terribly interested in an academic challenge or by others who simply need the credit and the class time doesn't interfere with anything else they'd rather be doing.

So, somehow being a college prof means you don't have to behave with the slightest bit of manners towards those you disagree with? I hope the state slashes his funding with a machete and he can go find a job elsewhere.

Confrontation 9 years ago

Wendt-on behalf of all current and future students, thanks for having common sense

Could you imagine our ID-schooled students going up against children in Japan, etc?

"Okay, Billy, can you explain gravity?" "Yeah. Some dude in the sky made it happen. He keeps things from floating up."

badger 9 years ago

I'm with those who don't understand how opposition to Intelligent Design can be anti-Christian if it's specifically stated by its advocates not to be a Christian teaching. If teaching a class against ID is 'anti-Christian' then why again isn't teaching a class favoring it 'pro-Christian'?

Mirecki's comments were unwise, ill-advised, and kind of on the side of the not-bright. Someone should have reminded him that there is really no reasonable expectation of privacy in email, because the 'FWD' button works so very well, and you can't prevent any of your readers from using it - nor can you prevent someone who knows how from retrieving the email from the main server. He'd do well to remember this lesson the next time he's tempted to crack wise in writing on a sensitive topic with the potential to explode all over his head.

However, the inability to be wise and thoughtful in your electronic correspondence does not preclude the ability to be a good teacher and to take your subject matter seriously.

I certainly hope he does so, because from the start, he's going to have critical eyes on his classroom, and it would be a shame for the reputation of those who are opposed to ID in science classrooms to be associated with someone who not only spoke without thinking, but also exercised his place as an educator without doing so.

harrierist 9 years ago

I did not realize the influence of religious Christian Fundamentalism existed in Kansas and the danger in having people let their religious views affect their political decisions. Actually an atheist may be the perfect person to be able to analyze these religions. Becasue their doctrines do infact propose a Philosophy with which to live one's life. Because their are facts in evolution, such as canine genes found in sea lions for example. No religion can claim by the scientific method that God exists. Now science infact can. Such as Sir William Crookes, Noble Prize winner in Chemistry at the turn of the 20th century from England. A sceptic at first conducted experiments concerning the proof of materialization meduims connecting with those persons who have crossed over to the other side. Atheist Michael Roll from England has a whole website dedicated to the scientifc proof of life after death, cateloging the number of scientists through out modern history some Noble prize winners. www.cfpf.org.uk Their Spirit commuications reveal the dimensions our Sprirt bodies travel to after we cross over. Our Spirit bodies scientists hypotheize are made up of matter at the sub -atomic particle level. But Mr. Roll also has kept a log of all the religionists and governments throughout history, who have kept scientists from letting this information get out to the masses. Up and til now the religions have had a monoply on what happens to us when we cross over, But now with the internet the information is their and governments, TV evangelists, the Roman Catholic Church & Fundamentalist Protestants can't stop it. Other sites: www.victorzammit.com www.afterlife101.com www.near-death.com and of course, www.survivalafterdeath.org

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years ago

Nearly everything evil in the world has occurred as a result of organized religion. Now I'm not condeming people who have spirituality and believe in a God, but organized religion has been the basis for more killing, torture, and persecution than any other thing in history. People in those religion's OBVIOUSLY follow their teachings...

badger 9 years ago

No, no, no, HPK.

Organized religion can't be to blame. The real evil comes from those nasty, dirty heathens who resisted the rightness of the organized religion being pressed upon them, forcing the righteous to take up sword and fire to convert them!

I mean, hey, the Crusades never would have happened if those darn Muslims had just converted and given up the territory, right?

Look how well that strategy worked for the tribes of North America when faced with European expansion! Even today, they live in the luxury of government support, with clothes, and schools, and liquor all paid for with tax dollars and glamourous high stakes gambling revenue! Why, they've even got these nice cozy blankets to remember the 19th century by!

Farmers_Daughter 9 years ago

Regardless of one's views on ID, the issue that bothers me concerns the email and those who accessed and disseminated information from private correspondence.

"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.

Mirecki said he wrote the message in a private e-mail and that an outsider had accessed the listserv.

"They had been reading my e-mails all along," he said. "Where are the ethics in that, I ask."

A quick check of the Yahoo groups where the listserv is located and the email supposedly posted turns up 99 groups which include a mention of ID; of those only 25 were listed as publicly acessible and half of those were sites in favor of ID. The posted email is NOT easily or publicly available--How was Mirecki's PRIVATE correspondence monitored? THAT is what scares me!

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

What you people don't realize is the Intelligent Designer (aka Mango the Magic Sky Pixie) is also a part time Intelligent Interior Designer. He sports pink hot-pants and a purple Stetson and fire engine red cowboots. The Intelligent Interior Designer is a fashions diva to be sure!

When he is not creating irreductable whatever you callits, he's designing important things like where to place the lime green pillows in the living room so they don't clash with the turquoise devan and matching end tables.

The Intelligent Interior Designer is so complex no one can test his existance but look around at all the interior beauty you see, that stuff didn't "evolve" from slime now did it? Ha ha! Of course not, it was the Interior Desinger who created it!

I pity the anti-scientific fools who doubt the existance of the duality of the Intelligent Interior Designer!

ps. think concerned citizen is on to something - yank funding from any higher learning institution where a professor mutters a sarcastic word in a private email. We should also find a way to monitor their thoughts for anything sarcastic or deemed unkind.

Mari Aubuchon 9 years ago

Why shouldn't those of us who value a secular public education and a non-theocratic government be alarmed and yes,angered, by the changes of the last few years?

The controversy surrounding creationism/ID goes far deeper than has been publicized. The proponents of ID want more than to have their beliefs taught alongside science. Their goals, as stated by the Center for Science & Culture at the Discovery Institute are as follows:

Governing Goals * To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies. * To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals * To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory. * To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science. * To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals * To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science. * To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts. * To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

Once again, I ask:

Why shouldn't those of us who value freedom of expression, diversity of belief, and scientific knowledge find such a lust for cultural and political power to be a threat to our future?

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Mirecki is entitled to his opinion. Is the legislature now going to try to discern the "motivation" behind every KU course?

We are a society that is based on actions, not thoughts. It matters not what anyone thinks. What matters to the society is only what people do. This is why we don't (yet) punish individuals for thinking about committing a crime. Only the action is relevant to the society.

Mirecki can think whatever he likes as long as his course is conducted with academic rigor. Punishing him and KU for his thoughts is abhorrent and un-American.

Godot 9 years ago

"The conservative Christians must realize that IF YOU DO SOMETHING STUPID, PEOPLE WILL MAKE FUN OF YOU. That is not a theory."--Wendt

Public employees must realize that IF YOU DO SOMETHING STUPID, AND POLITICAL, ON PUBLIC TIME WITH PUBLIC RESOURCES, CONCERNED TAXPAYERS WILL TAKE YOU TO TASK FOR IT.

This argument wouldn't even be taking place if Mirecki, 1) worked for a private university, and 2) had not taken it upon himself to contact the press to brag about his new course, and 3)had not involved the university administration in his excercise in political activism.

People who believe that Mirecki was just trying to educate the ignorant about this topic should consider this: few students are receptive to learning when the teacher begins class by insulting their intelligence and deeply held beliefs, and then calls them names and slaps them in the face. Competent teachers know this.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

KU needs to divorce itself from the state of Kansas. If only the state would "donate" the land and buildings, KU could easily get by with increased tuition, aggressive fundraising, and aggressive support and pursuit of external grant funding.

Mount Oread University would then be free from the Taliban that hold a sword over its head in the legislature.

I think KU would become a much better and stronger university without meddlesome state legislators who are slowly starving the university to death.

Godot 9 years ago

Get some of your rich buddies (Soros comes to mind) to buy the buildings, land an fixtures from the State ofKansas, and buy the underfunded pension, too, and I'd say, go for it. I'm sure you will be able to do a much better job of managing it on private money. K-12 and medicaid could use the money that is freed up. It would help the city and county, too, because all that property would be subject to property tax, and all the expenditures would be subject to sales tax.

This is a great idea! I'll give George a call myself, just to get the ball rolling.

hammysammy 9 years ago

Who cares if Mirecki wrote that e-mail. I would be willing to wager that a large portion of the faculty have expressed a negative opionion about the embarrassing debacle called Intelligent Design. It's a free world. Everyone has opinions. Get over it. All teachers have, gasp, opinions. It's their professionalism INSIDE the classroom that matters. Not the lack of it in a private e-mail exchange. And I don't care that he was stupid enough to write it in an e-mail. People should grow up and accept the fact that other people are also grown up and don't need to have their every move dissected and monitored.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

Remember, harrietst, that the Roman Catholic Church has no problem with evolution. Please don't group Catholics among the religious fanatics who want to strip evolution from biology classes.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

harrietst, sorry. I obviously didn't read your whole post the first time.

It is still true that the Catholic Church has no problme with evolution, but that's not at all what you were talking about.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

problem, not problme.

Apparently I'm the one with problems!

Godot 9 years ago

Wendt, please try to show some restraint.

Most of agree that Mirecki did something stupid.

Mirecki wrote the email in his capacity as a faculty advisor to the atheist student association. That was an offical duty. Arranging with his colleagues to teach this course with the purpose of slapping the fundies in their big fat faces, and then to do a press release about it, no doubt was done on univeristy time with University resources. Using the computer in "his office" as you state, if it his office at KU, then there is no right to privacy, and he is using public resources. Like it or not.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

I guess we are to the point where public universities and schools can't teach anything that religious fundamentalists disagree with.

A set of offensive subjects should be made public by the fundamentalist legislature, and then a top-to-bottom audit of all classes, science, books, music, performances, and art in Kansas should be judged against these.

This is the only way the public education system can be held accountable for offending delicate fundamentalist christians.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Godot: your words:

"no doubt was done on univeristy time with University resources. Using the computer in "his office" as you state, if it his office at KU, then there is no right to privacy, and he is using public resources. Like it or not."

Any proof of this? Well, I guess we can just assume this based upon his incorrect thoughts, so why go to the trouble of having proof.

Sounds like ID to me.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years ago

Is it just my imagination, or do the religious "fundies" appear to be afraid of every little thing that might threaten the precarious house of cards they have built out of their religious beliefs? You know...just asking...

PoeticHeteroSapien 9 years ago

I'm a member of the group to whose bulletin board the Mirecki quote was posted, and it's part of a running joke from our private conversations on the subject... the fact that religious types claim ID is a science and NOT a religion, screaming like stuck pigs anytime anyone suggests differently, has become a source of amusement to us.

So the expression, "throw it in their big fat faces" to teach it as a religious course is not hateful when you understand the context... it's a fact that this very course DOES throw it in their big fat faces, as evidenced by their reaction to the course even before the bulletin board posting came to light. Go back to LJW articles a few days ago and read their tone BEFORE Mirecki's comments became public, thanks to a mole on our board.

The expression "Doing my part to piss off the religious right" is a bumper sticker and common expression, and no more indicates intolerance or a poor choice as a professor than if he had put "Freedom isn't free" or any other popular slogan as a signature.

Blowing this way out of proportion and acting like martyrs seems all these fundamentalist Christians are capable of doing. The fact that they are now all throwing themselves on the nearest-available rhetorical crosses for self-crucifixion only indicates that Mirecki was right all along-- anyone not walking in-step with the Religious Wrong's idealism is automatically labeled "hateful" and attacked immediately with the full weight of conservative finger-shaking and economic pressure.

Score one for Dr. Mirecki and his ability to see right through the motivations of this one particular sect of religionists. That's why we like him so much even though he's not an atheist. I think that the only reason Dr. Mirecki has had to offer anything in the way of a retraction is because it takes the ammunition away from the self-crucifiers, and returns this to the realm of religion-class academic debate... his area of expertise. For those of you who think he doesn't know religion, this is the man who translated the most recently-translated lost gospel.

If you knew Mirecki, or had ever taken his "Understanding the Bible" course, you'd know he's an intellectually honest and brilliant individual, and I'm only upset that I'm not able to take his new course. I'm proud to know the man, and proud to see that his predictions about the Religious Wrong were dead accurate all along.

Boy did you guys fall for it, too.

Godot 9 years ago

So did you, just now. Thanks.

Godot 9 years ago

Wendt: "Dr. Mirecki did not contact the press. He made an email on a very niche Yahoo forum. "

Ummm, there was an article announcing the class in the LJW one day, followed by the email story the next. In the email, Mirecki boasted that he has many media contacts. If Mirecki did not make the contact with the JW to announce his class, then maybe the JW staff can reveal how they learned about it.

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

Would you guys quit pretending ID has something to do with religion and God? Sheesh...The ID folks have already denied it is about God and religion. And they wouldn't say it if it were not true! There's is purely a scientific pursuit and not political nor religious....Maybe...

Jonathan Wells, Ph.DA , a Moonie and senior fellow at the Discovery Instutute puts his "scientific" mission this way:

"I was admitted to the second entering class at Unification Theological Seminary. During the next two years, I took a long prayer walk every evening. I asked God what He wanted me to do with my life, and the answer came not only through my prayers, but also through Father's [Rev Moon] many talks to us, and through my studies. Father encouraged us to set our sights high and accomplish great things...[Rev Moon]frequently criticized Darwin's theory that living things originated without God's purposeful, creative activity. My studies included modern theologians who took Darwinism for granted and thus saw no room for God's involvement in nature or history...

...Father's words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle...

...As a graduate student at Yale, I studied the whole of Christian theology but focused my attention on the Darwinian controversies. I wanted to get to the root of the conflict between Darwinian evolution and Christian doctrine...I predict that the Darwinist establishment will come apart at the seams, just as the Soviet Empire did in 1990."

Now THAT is from a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

You guys think I am making this stuff up? :-) Go here and read it all

http://www.tparents.org/library/unification/talks/wells/DARWIN.htm

Now repeat after me...ID is not creationism...ID is not creationism...ID is not creationism...

fairae 9 years ago

First of all, has anyone ever heard of that little rule that this country was founded on, "Freedom of religion"? Its an amazing thing... Not only are we not supposed to force religion upon others, but others are not supposed to force their upon us. This course is a look into the realm that others see without crossing their own religion. I mean, really if you were Taoist, or believed in Buddha, what would be your stance? Is this real? This is not a Christian nation! If you believe that you are breaking one of your own deadly sins. Christians that held that belief in the past relentlessly murdered, stole, and conquered all the name of their god. That is murder, no matter how it is perceived through the goggles of religion. This class mearly outlines a possible creation, since no one was actually there let alone knows. I went to KU for the freedom to study what I wanted, when I wanted, and to some extent how I wanted. If outsiders are trying to cause havoc on some religious class that in no way even pertains to them, they should look inside themselves and ask how would they view a course in Buddhism? Would they see this as mythology? The answer is definatly.

Who knows, maybe it will turn those who originally did not believe in Christ to Christians, yet on the other hand, maybe they will convert from Christianity...

Godot 9 years ago

Wendt, really, now, you should have done your research. Here is the original story. No mention of email. Plenty of quotes from Mirecki. Is this the "inauthentic leap of logic" to which to refer?

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

I just received an email with the text of Mirecki's first apology, before Hemenway and Brownlee edited it. Here it is:

"I apologize if my comments upset fundamentalist christians. It was wrong of me to make fun of their big, fat faces, and I would certainly never slap their big, fat faces. This was a metaphor (M-E-T-A-P-H-O-R). I understand now that moderate thought, reason, and evidence are deeply hurtful to fundamentalists and that the university is certainly no place for a study of ID. Only blind faith and dogma do ID justice. My bad.

Sincerely

Prof. Mirecki

P.S. I hope this doesn't affect your basketball tickets. PM"

Godot 9 years ago

Wendt: "KU Administration was involved through having to respond to challenges coming from conservative Christians in the legislature. Dr. Mirecki didn't go to a Yahoo forum to present KU's stance on Intelligent Design."

Mirecki stated in his email that he could get Hemmenway to speak in the class because of Hemenway's anti-ID stance. That would appear to involve the administration, even if not willingly on the adminstration's part. That is why Hemenway had to get involved, to get the University out of the mess Mirecki got it into.

When you earn the privilege of being a professor at a major, state sponsored university, you enjoy the freedom and resources available to you that few people in this country have. In return, you have the responsibility to use that privilege with respect and honor. You also should realize that you are not paid by the hour, you are not even paid by the week or by the "piece," you are paid for the sum total of who you are, what you know, how effectively you convey that knowledge, and what you can do to further enhance the reputation of the university.

It appears that one particular professor at KU, and perhaps many others, do not take this responsibility seriously.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Godot: Good luck with your jihad against KU professors.

grimpeur 9 years ago

Of the sum total of Prof. Mirecki's comments on the matter to date, here is the relevant and important part:

"Creationism is mythology," Mirecki said. "Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not."

He is correct, and no amount of hand-wringing, threatening language, righteous indignation, or phony outrage will change the fact that ID has no place in any science curriculum. Mirecki's choice to broadcast his personal feelings about fundies' attack on science and education may not have been the best idea, but it has no bearing on the need to put ID where it belongs: in a discussion of religious mythology and its political impact on society.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Godot,

Your words below. Where are you getting this from?:

"When you earn the privilege of being a professor at a major, state sponsored university, you enjoy the freedom and resources available to you that few people in this country have. In return, you have the responsibility to use that privilege with respect and honor. You also should realize that you are not paid by the hour, you are not even paid by the week or by the "piece," you are paid for the sum total of who you are, what you know, how effectively you convey that knowledge, and what you can do to further enhance the reputation of the university."

Is this your opinion or is this in KU professor contracts? Just curious.

Harry_Manback 9 years ago

These people act like all students are FORCED to take this class. It's an elective to most students and it's also a night class I think. The nice thing about college, unlike public secondary schools, is that you can CHOOSE classes to take instead of being forced to learn about it. ID people get angry cause they say, "both sides should be taught" in public schools, and then when KU goes ahead and does that, it's not good enough! If you want to go to KU it's a CHOICE, just like you can choose to go to Bob Jones University or any other religious school to learn about things like this as fact and not theory.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

I think someone might have already made this joke about the title of this article, but it seems this "controversy" has created many "Fuhrers" in Topeka.

Godot 9 years ago

My agenda is focus. The issue here is bad business and academic behavior on the part of a public employee who happens to be a tenured professor. I will not be drawn into the ID vs evolution debate because that isn't the crux of the problem. That is the boil that burst to reveal the infection.

By the way, this isn't about someone who posts as Godot. Godot is just an onlooker, albeit one who is invested as an alma mater and taxpayer, who, like Mirecki and Wendt and yourworstnighmare, et al, is entitled to an opinion.

Calliope877 9 years ago

Godot,

I see you've stopped touting the "Mirecki is running a political campaign & committing fraud" thing, which I hope you finally realized was out of context, and you're now trying to take a more indirect approach.

Well, I kinda sorta admire your persistence I guess...

Calliope877 9 years ago

Godot,

Yes, I absolutely agree that you're entitled to your opinion, but in my opinion, I think the reason why your posts are being met with some negativity is because your "focus" is a bit myopic. I don't think you're looking at the big picture. You're singling out an aspect and condemning the overall thing based on that one aspect. I agree that Mirecki's email was not written in good taste, but I think the class he wants to introduce has some merit. If he doesn't end up teaching it, that's fine. But the course still has validity, and it's unfortunate that its validity is being overshadowed by an email written by a professor prone to human error and a lack of good judgement.

Godot 9 years ago

Your attacks on me as a "fundie" show the emptiness of your thought processes, your fanatical need to generalize and make stereotypes of people who do not share your disdain for the mindset, and spirituality, of the vast majority of Kansans.

I don't even have a church. I don't espouse any particular religion. I respect all spiritual beliefs as being an important part of a soulful existence, in part, but not entirely, as a result of the liberal education I received 30 some years ago at KU.

I do, however, have strong sense of what is ethical and what is not. That is why I am in this argument.

PoeticHeteroSapien 9 years ago

No the issue at stake is Godot has become convinced that it's okay for religious studies department heads to make comments encouraging Christianity over other faiths, but if they degrade it in any way, even in a forum meant for private eyes only, it's "hateful."

The worst part for him is, as I pointed out, that the comments are only even disrespectful if taken way out of context and held out alone on the presupposition that it is unprofessional to take pot-shots at the religious far right, in private.

And, also as I pointed out, the religious right he said he was out to piss off has reacted precisely as Dr. Mirecki predicted in that private communique.

The facts are quite simple:

  1. The far right are carefully and precisely employing their publicly-documented Wedge Strategy, which includes a plan to use ID as the "tip of the wedge" to advance far-right, religious social and political ideas.

  2. They have succeeded in stage one of the Wedge Strategy, in that they have gotten ID into several school districts as a proposal as a new type of "science", though it really isn't science, as the Dover trial quite thoroughly revealed. Read the transcripts.

  3. Honest academics of both religious and irreligious backgrounds can see this ID Wedge for what it is, and have begun to call it what it is, to throw it back in the "big fat faces" of those pompous religionists who claim in public that they are not advancing religion, and then turn around when they think no one is looking and do exactly that-- I have witnessed John Calvert do EXACTLY this, at the Kansas school board meetings, with my own eyes.

  4. Mirecki is doing his job as a religious studies professor-- he's examining the American Creationist movement and its ID splinter in an academic setting designed to 'throw it in the faces' of those on the far right who claim it is a science and not a religious topic, by doing exactly what they asked for-- to review it in an academic setting. Everyone who isn't invested in advancing ID as part of the Wedge strategy can clearly see the reality of the situation: this has, in fact, pissed off the religious right. Thank you Dr. Mirecki for doing your job exactly as you are supposed to do. This will help educate KU's future alumni as to the nature of this very religion-driven attack on reality-based naturalistic science.

Godot, your comments about unprofessionalism look pretty stupid to those of us who have weathered decades of rhetorical fire from those in power who rabidly promote Christianity over non-Christianity. Now that Christianity has been given the exact same treatment, you're furious. And I'm going to enroll at KU, just to take this course. Everyone else should, too, before you judge it.

Godot 9 years ago

"At least you are persistent."

And others are not?

If Mirecki had simply put the class on the schedule without announcing it to the press, and if the title of the class had been academic, rather than sensational, in nature, there wouldn't have been a peep about this. It was a political gesture.

Calliope877 9 years ago

Godot,

I admire your alleged passion for ethical endeavors, but how is a course offering a different viewpoint on the foundations of spirituality unethical? Let's say the course was introduced by someone other than Mirecki, who didn't write the email you keep referring to as the basis of your arguement: Would you still have a problem with the class because it questioned the concept of I.D. and Creationism?

Calliope877 9 years ago

Posted by Godot (anonymous) on November 29, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"At least you are persistent."

{And others are not?

If Mirecki had simply put the class on the schedule without announcing it to the press, and if the title of the class had been academic, rather than sensational, in nature, there wouldn't have been a peep about this. It was a political gesture.}

Okay, now I think I know where you're coming from. If Professor Mirecki hadn't of been outspoken about his views, then you wouldn't have had a problem with the class? Well if that's the case, then, AGAIN you absolutely have a right to your opinion about Mirecki himself. But does that opinion in any way reflect on what the course is about? Because I think that even if Mirecki hadn't of posted that notorious message, the media probably would've still reported on the new course to contradict the recent vote to teach I.D. in public schools. Would you have had a problem with the media reporting on the course without blunt professor's comments?

Calliope877 9 years ago

Excuse me, I didn't mean "recent vote" I meant "recent decision"...my bad.

Calliope877 9 years ago

PoeticHeteroSapien,

I agree with Wendt. Your post was very good and well written.:)

ralphsantos 9 years ago

PoeticHeteroSapien,

I third wendt and Calliope877. You've snatched the pebble from the master's hand. Walk that rice paper, baby.

Godot 9 years ago

Thank you, Calliope877.

This is what bothers me.

I know that it takes planning to get a course on the schedule. I also know that resources are scarce. That a course was put on the schedule in response to a volatile political situation involving the elected State Board of Education which has no sway over the university, that the professor and/or the admin at KU went out of their way to get press coverage of this class, that the incriminating email and clear disdain for the subject matter surfaced, that in that email the professor intimated that he planned to get nationwide coverage of his activity in order to denigrate the "fundies" (are they a religion or a perceived policial force?), that the posters on this board evidence such venom toward people who don't agree with their pro-Mirecki viewpoint, that the professor in question did all this as part of his official function as a tenured (i.e. untouchable) professor....

Obviously, if so many of you more recently educated people can't find anything wrong with this, I must be wrong in my view that this is unethical behavior. If your goal is to stifle any discussion of the credibility and validity of all the various current theories of evolution, then, in your viewpoint, the end must justify the means.

Calliope877 9 years ago

Godot,

So you have a problem with Mirecki himself, and not the class? If that's the case, then I think that those are two completely different issues. I think the point that most people here are arguing is that the class is valid -- at least, that's the overall sense I get, and that's what I agree with. Mirecki is just as entitled to his opinion as everyone else. I don't know the guy personally, but I'm not going to judge him solely based off his email. I agree with PoeticHeteroSapien because Mirecki is doing his job as a religious instructor by introducing the class. Even if Mirecki ends up not teaching it, the instructor faced with the task should be allowed to inquire what political motivations may be behind the teaching of I.D. and creationism in public schools, and should encourage students to do the same.

I can see both sides of the perspective.

Calliope877 9 years ago

Excuse me, my last sentence was grammatically incorrect. I meant to say, "I can see both perspectives." It's been a long week....

Biodude 9 years ago

So...it is ethical for a political or religious movement to suppress scientific truth. Is that what you people call ethics? Right...and is it not true that those people over there are a direct threat to us over here...so...we better blow the hell out of them. Hum...sounds familiar...but that's just US foreign policy...we're talkin 'evilution...hearh..n...Kanny...never did git that one figgerd out...like rest of civilization. Dude..you better go back to KU...in 30 yrs you might have forgotten your "liberal" education! Anyone that says cut this sh-t out should never accept any remorse for absolutely not listening to one foul breath from these brainless idiots!! Evolution is not bloody sociology or politics or even geology...it is math, man...frickin calculus...you can do it with two colors of M&Ms.. Next thing you know we will have to think twice about teaching geometry unless we include the creator of the square...you know the one that should be shoved up the...okay...easy...Point is that there is only one theory for species variation on planet earth and it is Evolution by Natural Selection as formulated by Darwin and Wallace and confirmed by hundreds of thousands of experiments in completely disparate biological contexts by completely independent research scientists throughout Gods green earth! There is only one equation that makes any damn sense for gravity as well, or the weak force, or the strong force or the behavior of electrons in sodium...etc etc...that is because 150 years of research points to one bloody mechanism...which is the bloody truth...which should be taught as the bloody truth...and the truth about ID...which should be taught anywhere but science class...how about a class called, "And now for some really bogus bullsh-t schemes to make money from absolutely nothing." Indeed, ID is the same old snake-oil we semi-smart Kansans have been putting up with on behalf of our less-gifted brotheren for centuries (it's the inbreed'n that does it). ID is a money-for-nothing scheme invented by a bunch of criminals that want to take advantage of the good people of Kansas, etc. These A-oles never met a sucker they didn't like and they have never been to Kansas without meeting a veritable sh-t load!

More power to Mirecki...any respectable academic should be forced to write a letter to the closest paper or chat line and repeat these words..."ID is for idiots, anyone that believes ID will never be able to receive any kind of academic acknowledgement for the rest of their natural lives...so help me God...the God of life intertwined...the God of Darwin, and Wallace, and Copernicus, and Einstein and Goodall and all the other scientists that have taken human kind out of the darkness of ignorance and the suffering and pain of the past!"

MyName 9 years ago

The issue here is bad business and academic behavior on the part of a public employee who happens to be a tenured professor.

Bad behavior?? Exactly WHAT behavior are you refering to? The man is an unqualified expert on religion. It is his expert opinion that intelligent design is a mythos created by modern christianity. This mythos was created primarily to offset the advance of science (e.g. evolution) in modern society.

He has given this opinion in both public and private forums. He was even planning on teaching a class on the topic (Heaven forbid...a PROFESSOR PROFESSING his opinions in a CLASSROOM). It seems to me that the only thing you are accusing him of is of inadequately sugar-coating his expert opinion in a private forum in the off chance that some eavesdropper may be offended by his opinion.

Am I missing something here, because I've read the whole thread?

LarryFarma 9 years ago

HEY, FOLKS !! There is now a serious shortage of posted questions and comments for the Lawrence Journal-World's Wednesday chat on the controversy !! Time's a-wastin' !! To post yours, go to -- http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/nov/29/chat_wednesday_about_ku_and_intelligent_design/?evolution

Mari Aubuchon 9 years ago

Hey Parkay:

Let me get this straight:

You want a professor kicked out for teaching a course that is not required of any students in the state of Kansas but the rest of us are just supposed to calmly accept that public schools will force ALL students to learn about YOUR religious beliefs....

Do you think for one cotton-picking moment that I want my tax dollars to support this nonsense?

laughingatallofu 9 years ago

Wow, what a session! Lots of controversy, vitriol (very little courtesy extended to other posters, IMHO), ignorance, a tad of wisdom, and more ignorance.

Looking at all of the posts, it seems that the IDers are hiding (from what, I dunno). There are a few loudmouths---those who yell but can't be heard because of their ignorance--- out there who catalyzed the discussion, but not many.

Boy, I'd love to see Abrams, Corkins, O'Connor, et al contruibute to these discussions. I'd give up reading the funnies if only they would "contribute to the current debate". Oh well....we all have fantasies...

laughingatallofu 9 years ago

Biodude,

Omygosh. You were on a roll! Why did you stop? Did your keyboard melt? I loved it! I'm not sure that I agreed with (or understood) everything you talked about, but it was a fun post to read. Please do another brain dump when you're up to it. Seriously, this was one of the best posts that I've read in a long time.

Regards!

PoeticHeteroSapien 9 years ago

Guys, we're all entitled to have silly opinions. There is no need to be unkind to someone simply because their espoused position has been demonstrated to be an untenable one.

A plea for civility, s'il vous plait.

grimpeur 9 years ago

Godot:

I understand that you have a separate issue than evo/ID: a problem with Mirecki's behavior as a political stunt. You're right, it's not about you. But neither is it about Mirecki, even if you want it to be. It's about whether public schools should bend to the wishes of those who would, for some reason, demand that we teach their personal religious beliefs in a science class. But I'm not asking you to have that debate if you'd prefer to discuss Mirecki (an ancillary to the more serious issue).

Personally, I'd have felt better if Hemenway had come out and said,

"Damn straight we're teaching this course, and my only regret is that Mirecki wouldn't let me give it a more sarcastic course title! You got a problem with a professor who's not afraid to play their game? Talk to me."

Alas.

It's become clear that the fundies Mirecki accurately refers to will stop at no end of lies, name changes, false claims of controversy about evolution, denial of religious agenda, fake scientists, shill experts, and insidious and incestuous infiltration of school boards to perpetrate their religious beliefs in public schools.

In this light (to get back to your particular thang), Prof. Mirecki can be said to truly serve the public good, and the comparative real effect of his transgression indistinguishable from zero. Silly e-mail statements on a listserv? So freaking what? He's there for entertainment and speaking his mind, just like we're all here. Perhaps you're holding Mirecki to some standard you yourself aspire to (or perhaps even attain), but like most reasonable people, he recognizes ID as the dreck it is. You don't like that he said so. Or how he said it. Me neither.

But someone had to say it.

Bob Forer 9 years ago

Mirecki's e-mail "raises a larger question as to whether or not this individual is the right person to be teaching any course at a university," she said.

Yes it does. The good professor has abslolutely qualified himself as an able educator, one who recognizes and respects indiviudal differences but who nonetheless has the courage to stand up and call it like it is. Were it not for people like him, we would still be executing our most capable scientists for delcalring the earth is round.

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