July 15, 2007

by Reb Yudel
Two varieties of religious fanatic


Courtesy of the fine evolutionary biologists at Pharyngula, we present for your viewing pleasure two spieces of religious fanatic.

The first is Michael Korn. On his blog, he tells his story like this:

I was born in America, moved to Israel after graduating from Harvard, enlisted in the Ba'al Teshuva movement, and joined a Messianic Chassidic cult (Breslov) from 1990-1999.

So far, the story may sound familiar. An Ivy League grad Ba'al Teshuva, class of '83. Then the story takes a turn:
Through the help of South African missionaries, I came to see that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the World. I was baptized in a natural spring in the Israeli Galilee outside of the famous mystical city of Safed on 20 June 2000, and now I seek to introduce Jewish people to Jesus Christ, their Messiah whom they don't yet know.

Given this turn, perhaps its no surprise that in three months of blog postings, he begins as staunchly anti-Zionist and pro-muslim -- blaming 9/11 on Zionists, and Zionism on kabbalah -- until he reads a book which convinces him that Zionism is indeed God's plan, and Islam is indeed the enemy.

Given his tendency toward rapid hair-pin theological turns, one might wonder how tightly his head is screwed on.

Not too tightly, if one is to believe the allegations in the Daily Colorodan tht Korn is the person who has been sending threatening letters to biologists at the University of Colorado in Denver.

According to the notes,

“every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.”

“EBIO (evolutionary biology) professors are terrorists against America and -- intellectual and spiritual child abusers of their young and impressionable students -- 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 -- for all these reason all God-fearing and Truth-loving persons must say, They must go!”

But if Korn is the off-the-wall-crackpot sort of religious fanatic, he has succeeded in bringing out a similar, yet more dangerous, type of religious fanaticism from the fraudulent fellows at the Discovery Institute.

This is the type when confronted with a fellow religious fanatic who actually imagines carrying their religious beliefs to their logical yet criminal conclusion simply denies that the crime occured.

We've seen that happen with the belief of Muslims that the 9/11 hijacking "must" have been carried out by Israelis, because Muslims would "never do such a thing."

And we've seen the revsionist accounts by Baruch Goldstein's admirers that he could not have been guilty of the massacre he committed.

And now, the Discovery Institute's Robert Crowther offers a rare opportunity to see this mentality in action:

Something just doesn't smell right about this story.

The Denver Post reports:

University of Colorado police are investigating a series of threatening messages and documents e-mailed to and slipped under the door of evolutionary biology labs on the Boulder campus.

If true, it is of course reprehensible. But where's the evidence that the perps are actually creationists, or religious at all?

According to Boulder Police:


"It basically said anybody who doesn't believe in our religious belief is wrong and should be taken care of."

As one colleague pointed out, that is hardly the way religious believers refer to their own belief system. Rarely do Christian groups refer to their own “religious beliefs” — it is mainly secularists who refer to beliefs with the modifier “religious.”

In all the years of the ongoing evolution debates, nothing like this has ever happened that I've heard of, at least not from creationists. When such things have happened in the past, it was a Darwinist who claimed to be physically attacked by creationists. Remember Paul Mirecki at University of Kansas? (Need to jog your memory? Here, here, and here.)

I suspect that if these guys are ever caught, they won't turn out be creationists, or even very religious people.


A couple of interesting pointers to the level of intellectual discourse promulgated by the Discovery Institute.

For one, Crowther relied on the language of the police summary of the letter, rather than the actual letter itself, to dismiss the possibility of it coming from someone sympathetic to his own anti-evolution agenda.

For another, as Pharyngula pointed out, the phrase "religious beliefs" is indeed used by religious groups... and in fact can be found on the Discovery Institute web site.

And finally, of course, is the fact that Cowther's speculations here turned out to be simply, and objectively, wrong.


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