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Thursday, July 12, 2007

The shutting of arrogant mouths...

In yesterday's installment of my ongoing debate with creationist Paul Cohen we saw him claim that arrogant mouths like mine would soon be shut. I interpreted his statement as meaning that god would somehow show me the error of my ways but, it would now appear, not all creationists have quite the same perspective on the matter.

I refer in this case to threats made against the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Colorado University- Boulder. As reported in the Denver Post, a religious group has been e-mailing threatening notes to members of the department as well as slipping notes under doors and depositing packages.

The messages included the name of a religious-themed group and addressed the debate between evolution and creationism, CU police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said. Wiesley would not identify the group named because police are still investigating.

"There were no overt threats to anybody specifically by name," Wiesley said. "It basically said anybody who doesn't believe in our religious belief is wrong and should be taken care of."

The article itself is fairly short and uninformative but Matt Young over on The Panda's Thumb has posted copies of some of the threatening documents. I reproduce them here because, frankly, I think they deserve a wider airing. I have omitted the bolding from the original message because I'm a lazy bastard but, if you want to see it, you can click on the elegant and finely crafted link above. The messages are addressed to Dr. Michael Grant:

Professor Grant,

your sarcastic attitude is not at all becoming to an Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education of a major american university. judging from your response to me, you dont seem very skilled in human relations. i thought universities respected and cultivated a diversity of opinion. in fact that is why it derives from the root word universe.

but apparently you lived in a close[d] mental universe. by denigrating the diversity that the university should represent, you show yourself sadly unable to perceive the grandeur of the universe itself. and maybe that’s why you support the nihilistic concept of Darwinian evolution.

Po-fresser Grant [if you don’t understand the Yiddish pun, i shall be glad to enlighten you: it means “Here is someone who pretends to be a professor of higher knowledge, but actually is no more than an animal”],

concerning what you have written to me here:

Michael Grant … wrote:

Mr. [name deleted]:

Would you please remove my name and Dr. Mitton’s name from all of your e-mail lists? Neither of us has the slightest interest in your perspectives about evolution nor, really, about anything else.

Thank you,

Michael Grant

your attitude is simply unacceptable for an official of a PUBLIC university:

i happen to be one of the Colorado taxpayers who actually pay your salary, and therefore you should have some level of accountability to me and the rest of the citizens of this state.

therefore, i will be approaching Chanchellor (sic) Peterson to discuss your attitude to me. i spent a lot of my own money to collect SCIENTIFIC evidence debunking the major claims of evolution. statements from such eminent scientists as Francis Crick and Fred Hoyle are included, amongst hundreds of others.

you owe me the minimum level of courtesy of a reasoned response, and not just an arrogant withering insult.


you might laugh and mock at me, as you do to God who reigns above you. but we shall see who will be laughing after i speak with Chanchellor (sic) Peterson.

i also will be approaching the Governor of the State, as well as the State legislature, who pay your salary and authorize your position, as well as the Regents.

i will be speaking with my attorney as well, for i am planning to file legal charges against you, accusing you of child molestation. no, not of me, since although i am a child of God i also am an adult. but the children who attend your “university” and who are entrusted into your care, are being intellectually, morally, and spiritually molested by the bogus darwinian theories of nihilism and death that you teach in the name of “higher education”.

young persons come to your university seeking guidance, direction and focus for their talents and energies. instead they find professors like you who teach them that life is purposeless, pointless, and meaningless.

indeed i charge you and your devilutionist colleagues with being the source of every imaginable evil in our society: drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death, for the simple reason that you, the supposed elite of academia, teach our children that life has no higher purpose, value, or meaning.

i charge you with being a murderer of souls.

if you think i am joking, just wait till we meet in court.

“Mr. Big Brains on Biology”:

what a sad joke: the co-discoverer of a candidate for the world’s largest living organism, a grove of aspen clones in Utah, that led to a 1993 Discover magazine article titled “The Trembling Giant” can’t even see the forest for the trees. if you want to delude yourself, that is your tragic prerogative. but you cannot be permitted to defraud and deceive our children.

you will be held accountable for your malicious actions, attitudes, and satanic beliefs.

Sincerely in Christ,
[name deleted]

Cc: Chancellor Bud Peterson”

Speaking personally, I would really enjoy watching a lawyer explain to this individual that it is difficult, at best, to charge someone with child abuse for NOT sexually molesting someone who has reached the age of majority. Likewise, I'm curious how one would go about charging an individual with the crime of "muderer of souls." If nothing else, locating the "corpse" would be a smidge difficult.

In addition to this e-mail, however, there is also this more recent message:

“Pastor Jerry Gibson spoke at Doug Whites New Day Covenant Church in Boulder.

He said that every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.

But I believe it is far more effective to take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth.

President GW Bush II (sic) is waging a global war on terror. But it seems he has overlooked the terrorists operating in our own backyard!

He likes to say “God Bless America”, and our Pledge of Allegiance says “One Nation Under God”. And of course our Federal Reserve issued money says “In God We Trust”.

But the EBIO [now EEB] Department at CU Boulder denies a Creator God and claims that life evolved from inanimate matter without Divine Direction, Oversight, or Providence.

Many scientists today have denounced Darwinian theories as bogus science. Yet the EBIO department upholds it as the Gospel truth and hides itself in a false cloak of intellectual arrogance.

Academic freedom does not include the right to lie, obfuscate, and prevaricate. Yet this is exactly what these arrogant atheist professors do in the name of “higher education”!

EBIO professors are terrorists against America and against the true spirit of humanity, which consists of created beings beholden to their Creator!

EBIO Professors are also intellectual and spiritual child abusers of their young and impressionable students.

In addition, the New Testament states clearly that Adam and Eve were our original parents and that Noah’s Flood was an historical reality. So the EBIO department not only blasphemes God, who is invisible, but it blasphemes His Only Begotten Son and our Messiah, Jesus Christ, which is more unforgivable given the clear manifestations of His Godliness and Holiness and the confirmation of all He claimed to be through His historic Resurrection from the dead!

For all these reason all God-fearing and Truth-loving persons must say,

They must go!”

Are these messages truly threatening? Well... there are no threats of imminent harm in them. On the other hand, were I to receive messages like this I suspect that I would be very concerned for the safety of my family, my students, and of course myself. So, I'm pleased that the police are at least looking into matters. While I don't know that actual threats are being made, harrassment is clearly taking place. I am also reassured that the individuals making these threats are not typical of religious individuals nor even of creationists.* They are part of a minority of Christians much as Islamic terrorists are part of a small subset of Muslims world-wide.

At the same time, it's a shame that basic human decency sometimes falls to the wayside. Instead of responding to this situation with the compassion that befits a group that complains of discrimination, Robert Crowther of the Discovery Institute** prefers to suggest that the biologists are making it all up. Right. Possible, I suppose, but as an academic, I can tell you that we totally have better things to do with our time.

Debates are often useful and productive things but, seriously, can we at least agree not to make threats against each other?


* I hope. I have to admit, every time I think creationists have done every nutty thing possible, they consistently surprise me.

** For those who aren't familiar: the propaganda ministry for Intelligent Design Creationism.

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