Remember Burnett County, WI Sheriff Dean Roland? He's the government official who sent out an invitation to his May 1 "prayer breakfast" on official government stationery indicating that Burnett County Circuit Judge Mike Gableman is "a man who is deeply committed to our Lord, his religion and his profession."
The pancakes were indeed served and prayed over, and the Burnett County Sentinel carried a report of the bizarre event the other day.
Sheriff Roland tearfully recounted an "angry" phone call he said he'd received from someone seemingly taking issue with Roland's temerity in officially claiming that there's such a thing as an official, government-sponsored and -endorsed "Our" "Lord" just for Wisconsin.
"No greater love hath man ... I'm willing to die for you," Roland shouted down the phone, "Are you willing to die for me?" While Roland interpreted the predictable silence as a Righteous Victory against the godless hordes, I'm certain it was more the result of unalloyed dumbfoundedness with Roland's crude and fallacious meanderings.
Seriously, why do these government officials insist on getting up in front of a plate of flapjacks and publicly declaiming their various religions and supernatural beliefs? All it ever is is embarrassing. No wonder the Constitution counsels against it, for that reason alone.
I for one very much appreciate the dedication and service of law enforcement — as much as anybody, I'm sure. Public demonstrations of piety do nothing to enhance that appreciation.
Next came the guest of hizzoner, State Supreme Court Justice-elect* Mike Gableman, who delivered a liturgy comprised of carefully selected historical tidbits straight outta conservative Republican activist and notoriously unreliable pseudo-historian David Barton.
Then Gableman had a few words about religion and science.
"He quoted Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, a founder of modern physics, as saying, 'There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe, of which both man and nature are subservient.'"
"Science is catching up," Gableman added.
What's that supposed to mean? That science is proving God? Not exactly. Max Planck was a lifelong Christian. He accepted the existence of God entirely as a matter of subjective, personal faith. Not science. Planck was a believer long before he formulated quantum mechanics. And Planck's beliefs had little to do with the meddlesome Oriental deity about which Gableman is rambling.
In fact, Planck's position with respect to science and religion was precisely opposite of what Gableman suggested. "The faith in miracles," Planck said, "must yield, step by step, before the steady and firm advance of the facts of science, and its total defeat is undoubtedly a matter of time."
Planck would have found it odd to be invoked at a pancake breakast devoted to calling forth miracles from a god that tinkers about with cellular organelles and whatnot else. You're already seated comfortably in a nice restaurant, about to tuck into an infinite-cholesterol stack of Aunt Jemimas with syrup, and now you want a miracle also? Oy. I do and do and do for you kids ...
Anyway, there are plenty of scientists who believe in God. So what? As a matter of fact, one of the most vocal supporters of science education in America and by the same token one of the most vocal critics of so-called "intelligent design" creationism, Kenneth Miller, is a devout Catholic. So what? Nobody cares. That's his business.
The point is, "intelligent design" is a scam and a sham. So to suggest that because some scientist believes in god implies that science has proven god reflects a profound misunderstanding of both the limitless variety of personal theologies and science.
Gableman also mentioned the English philosopher Antony Flew. According to the Sentinel, "Professor Flew stated that developments in modern science had led him to accept the action of an Intelligent Mind in the creation of the world."
"Science is catching up," added Gableman.
Um, no. For one thing, Flew has contradicted himself on so many occasions over the last few years that it's nearly impossible for anyone, least of all Mike Gableman, to say what he thinks, or what led him where.
Most importantly, Flew's attitude toward a number of philosophical arguments for god have little to do with science. Flew doesn't even follow science. His idea of a scientist is Richard Dawkins. That's like me saying my idea of a musician is Hannah Montana.
The only people who care which philosophical argument for god Flew is accepting or rejecting this week are hamhanded apologists like Lee Strobel and Gary Habermas, who seize on Flew as some sort of poster child for Jesus, despite Flew throughout the "controversy" still categorically rejecting the existence of any of the Abrahamic models of god including the one Gableman and Sheriff Roland follow around.
And, same as Max Planck, for Gableman to suggest that science proved god to Antony Flew is just plain counterfactual and ridiculous. A better explanation is that Flew is losing his marbles or at least is having jolly sport at both his supporters and detractors.
After all, Flew came to America to accept something called the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth at an evangelical Christian college.
Just the inclusion of "Phillip E. Johnson" and "Truth" in the same sentence is enough to have them rolling in the aisles, including, I wouldn't be at all surprised, Antony Flew.
One may attempt to navigate Antony Flew's perturbations here.
All of which serves again to reinforce the brute fact that we're not currently putting our most thoughtful individuals on the State Supreme Court, only, in this latest instance, one merely capable of rehashing typically ill-informed and disingenuous conservative Republican propaganda.
* The phrase "Supreme Court Justice-elect" would surely cause James Madison to rotate in his crypt.