Robertson on Dover

Pat Robertson weighed in on the Dover intelligent-design case again during Wednesday night’s broadcast of “The 700 Club.”

Rather than attacking the voters in the Dover Area School District, – as he did last time – this time he directed his criticism toward the American Civil Liberties Union, Judge John E. Jones III and scientists who dismiss intelligent design.

“No scientist was there 15 billion years ago, so how can they say with great certainty that this is what happened?” Robertson asked.

Robertson called on the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group that he founded, to find a case where evolution is taught as the only theory on the origin of life, and challenge it on constitutional grounds.

“This is an appalling ruling by a man who has shown unbelievable arrogance,” Robertson said, referring to Jones.

Robertson previously commented on the case in November, after most of the candidates who supported the teaching of intelligent design were swept out of office.

In that broadcast, he stated:

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin.”

That comment led to a segment about Dover this month on “The Daily Show,” Comedy Central’s satirical news show.

(York Daily Record article)

Well, Pat, we know about things that happened in the absence of human observers because evidence is left behind. This is just as true for events of 15 billion years ago as it is for crimes that forensics experts scrutinize every day in the present. If Pat wishes to be consistent in his epistemology, we can empty out the prisons of this country of anyone convicted because of incriminating circumstantial evidence — fingerprints, DNA matches, that sort of thing — as opposed to good old testimony of an eyewitness. In the case of an event of the antiquity Pat states, surely he didn’t miss the announcement of the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation, did he? But at least Pat shows some consistency, for he uses the “no one was there” statement in his conclusions about scripture as well as science.

It is interesting that Robertson uses the Big Bang date in the above, given a previous statement that indicates that he accepts the Big Bang:

The current theory which I accept points to a big bang theory as the beginning of creation, when about 15 billion years ago an extraordinarily dense mass exploded, and out of that came an expanding universe. Part of the reason scientists believe this theory stems from the movement of the planets. Study of the cosmos indicates that the planets are still moving away from each other. Imagine that we took a big balloon that had not been expanded, put little dots all around it, and then began to blow up the balloon. As we blew up the balloon, the dots would get farther and farther apart. That is similar to what astronomers observe has been happening to our universe during these 15 billion years.

The big bang theory is not at odds with the belief in a creator or what is called intelligent design. The Bible neither supports or negates such a theory, since the Bible was not written as a science book. (p. 135, bold added)

(Tough Questions, Bad Answers)

[I should note that the above quote comes from a site that is critical of Robertson. While they claim to be quoting Robertson’s book, Bring It On, Tough Questions. Candid Answers, I can’t say that it would surprise me if the quotation were not entirely accurate. If someone could confirm that Robertson’s book actually says this, I’d appreciate it.]

Now, on to Pat’s claim that Jones displays arrogance. Irony is distinctly the wrong word to deploy here. Hypocrisy is, I think, the word that is indicated. How could Pat make any case for arrogance on Jones’ part? When one reads the decision, one finds that Jones is far from arrogant; he is almost not there at all as a personal figure. For every conclusion made, there is one or more items of evidence cited to substantiate the point. That makes a huge contrast to the evidence-free bombast that one can expect from nearly any text penned by Robertson.

I don’t think that Pat gave anything approaching an apology to the citizens of Dover. They should be commended for turning out untruthful public servants who let their personal agendas override consideration of what was best for the students of Dover. Instead, Pat berated them. In doing so, Pat was endorsing the actions of board members who lied under oath. It is not enough for Christians to have good intentions (though it is not at all clear that “good” describes the DASD intent); the means by which Christians take action should also reflect positive morality. And that does not encompass antievolution subterfuges and other forms of lying.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

One thought on “Robertson on Dover

  • 2005/12/24 at 6:49 pm
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    It is interesting to me to listen to what Pat has to say now. When I was a child my mom watched him near daily. He spoke out against “sin” but he always made a point of praying for those who had fallen into any of those sinfull traps. He made a point of telling them that God loved them and that he did too, welcoming them to find God’s redemption. Now he seems to be stuck on that vile cancer called hate. It would be interesting, albeit nauseating, to glimpse into the mind of mr. robertson to see what brought about such momentous change. I also accept that it could just be that I was a child then and missed the bile and in-sincerety.

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