The quote in L.A. is gone!

I was supposed to be interviewed today by a science reporter from KPCC, the public radio station in Los Angeles; the topic was to be the infamous “God quote” at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, something I posted about here and here. Here’s the quote to which I objected (but which some readers found inoffensive):

natural-history-museum

The quote is gone now.  I got this email from an anonymous source (posted with permission):

The anonymous donor quote at the NHM has been removed. My second-hand source tells me it will not be replaced. No doubt your efforts, coupled with those of a science reporter at KPCC looking into the mess, compelled the administration to finally do the right thing. Without doubt, you and your WEIT audience were the driving forces, for which I’m grateful.

I don’t know what happened, but I think those of us who objected played some role in this, as I know some readers wrote to Museum officials. I also suspect that some of the curators objected, and I’m pretty sure that the inquiring KPCC reporter is the same guy who was going to interview me, and his inquiries were the final blow.

If I get any other information I’ll convey it, but for now I’m pleased that God is out of the Museum and no longer gets credit for “creatures.”  It’s a victory for secularism, for sure.

Since creationist Michael Egnor posted a snarky piece at Evolution News and Views yesterday, gloating about the sign and accusing me of failed attempts to get religion out of a public museum, expect the whining from the Discovery Institute to commence in 3. . . 2. . . 1. .

55 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Wow. A welcome surprise!

  2. Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Well Done!!!

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Excellent! I like this Xmas present way better than WLC’s.

  4. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Critical thinking – 1, Superstition – 0.

    Great job for the Coyne Squad.

    • vall
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      The Coyne Machine is dispensing change.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        Wow! +42 for that gem.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Good one!

      • Posted December 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but what we really see here — as always, and as the great yogi learned after he asked the hotdog vendor to make him one with everything — is that true change comes from within.

        b&

  5. Kevin
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Success for science! Others may have contributed, but surely WEIT played a (the) major role.

  6. Martin
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait for the butt hurt to materialize. It’s just not complete a victory until the whining kicks in. All hail Ceiling Cat.

  7. Kevin Meredith
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Here’s what I predicted/speculated in the comments to the first post:

    “Now, what would be really funny is if there’s enough of an outcry, or anonymous is outed or something, so that he/she/them agrees to let the sign come down, but doesn’t insist on donation refund so as not to look any more ignorant.”

    The first part seems to have come true. The second part, re. what happens to the money, would be tougher to verify. Anonymous probably won’t ask for a refund of past cash, but I bet they withhold future payments, next year’s grant or whatever.

  8. alexandra moffat
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    and god was capitalized, making it even worse.
    Work well done!

  9. Janet
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Kudos…your seemingly tireless efforts on behalf of reason are well rewarded here. Hope they still do the interview!

  10. Matt G
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

    Margaret Mead

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted December 17, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day; it is for a vast future also.

      Abraham Lincoln

  11. Amelia Schuler
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Vigilance and perseverance rewarded. Well done!

  12. gravityfly
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Nice job, Jerry!

    Was the sign replaced with a different one?

    • rubicon
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      The quote was scrapped off, leaving bare glass. I prefer to think of it as more space to potentially speak of evolution.

      • gravityfly
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, that would be nice.

  13. WEIT 1 LA Museum 0
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Would be nice to see a pic of the [absent] sign, but take this as incentive to keep up the fight for reason

  14. Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Now that’s real commitment to incremental change over time.

    Reason + gradualism = we can haz change.

  15. gluonspring
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I was sort of looking forward to a pathogen display being set up right behind the sign so that you could get the phrase “all God’s creatures” a photo with the Plasmodium display behind it. Oh well, next best thing I suppose…

  16. Richard Olson
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    The 5 Freaks on the USSC are all pissy today: “Celebrate your little secular victory now, infidels, cuz you’ll be crying in 6 months when we issue rulings on ACA employer religious privilege.”

  17. Mike Barnes
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant news.

    My (London-based) suggestion for the next target: the Natural History Museum’s stock of Rupert Sheldrake books, on display in its ‘science’ bookstore.

  18. JGago
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Excellent news! This was the right decision by the administrators. I have already received an email from a colleague at the Museum and this are in fact great news. I know the curators and managers at the Museum played the main role by confronting the administrators, so thanks to them and to those of you who sent emails to the administrators.

  19. Art Rigsby
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Nice going Jerry!

  20. Sean
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Excellent! I feel much better about my membership there now…

  21. Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    May all your obstacles tumble so easily!

    Mazel tov!

    And thanks and kudos to KPCC and their reporters and editorial staff, too! The job of the press, of course, isn’t to change public policy, but it is to shine a light on institutions that go awry. When the press does so and the institutions straighten up, that’s evidence that the press is doing their job and that said job is vital.

    Cheers,

    b&

  22. Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Great news! Good on ya!

  23. JLP
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    If God had wanted a sign at the museum, Word could have been sent, or with a Finger it could have been personally carved. Absent such interventions, no sign is required other than what is revealed in nature itself.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Or he could have communicated through a burning bush outside the museum.

      • Matt G
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        I remember a great quote from The Onion years ago following a plane crash (which was less great). It went something like: “If God had wanted us to fly, he would have given brains capable of performing the necessary calculations.” I wish I could find the exact quote, which is much funnier.

      • Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        It’s a couple administrations late to be burning Bushes, though I’ll admit that that would at least have gotten my attention in a positive way….

        b&

  24. Tulse
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Booyah! Great work Jerry!

  25. susanlatimer
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Nicely done.

  26. Posted December 17, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Well, your countdown to a Discovery Institute explosion has just reached “liftoff” Jerry.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/12/coyne_totten_la080251.html

    I only wish that I too could do something that would make the Discovery Institute so incredibly infuriated.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 17, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I loved this little phrase: “…bowing to pressure from Darwin activists…”

      Or, what the rest of us call “scientists and scientifically minded citizens”.

  27. Mary L
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    May I suggest thank-you notes (heaped with praise) be sent to the museum?

  28. Trey R
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I am no trying to troll or bait. I have a genuine curiosity regarding this topic.

    It is my understanding that most Atheists, Agnostics and others with secular belief systems see death as the ultimate in finality. We just switch off and turn to dust.

    IF that is the case, then how do you derive satisfaction from your beliefs? Is there a pride in your scientific knowledge? Does it provide a feeling of superiority (probably a bad choice in words) over those with religious beliefs?

    I am trying to contrast this to the Christian belief in a spiritual afterlife. My real quandary is the payoff.

    If secular beliefs are correct and we switch off upon death then nobody can ever know the truth in any form. At the exact moment where the theory can be proven the ability to receive that information is lost.

    If those with a belief in a spiritual afterlife are correct then they get the benefits of comfort and guidance during this life. They are also prepared for the life beyond. They at least have an opportunity to be proven correct.

    If I were looking at belief systems as an investment then I’d say that religion has more upside potential than secularism.

    I’d love to hear any thoughts.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 18, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      I guess first of all I don’t personally see atheism as a belief system in the same way the faithful see belief systems. In the most precise and simplest terms, atheism is simply a rejection of the existence of gods based on lack of proof of said gods.

      How we cope with no life after death is that we try to enjoy the time we have and make the most of it for ourselves and others.

    • Posted December 18, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Actually, I’d turn that back around on you.

      All of human experience is that nothing is forever; the only constant is change. Even the stars themselves will one day fade and die.

      So, first, what makes you think you’re different?

      And, second, of what relevance is timelessness to meaningfulness?

      I’m sure that, not long from now, you will completely forget some minor little gesture of love or compassion that you’ll make later today, as will the person you express it towards. You might give a warm smile to a friend in appreciation for a hand reaching for something, or you might give a cat a quick back-scratch. Does the fact that nobody’s going to remember that sort of thing a month from now — let alone a year or a decade or a millennium — mean that there’s no meaning to the gesture? If so, would you not engage in it?

      If you need an infinite reward to be a good person, you’re simply not a good person.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        If you need an infinite reward to be a good person, you’re simply not a good person.

        Straight to the quotes file.

      • Trey R
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Ben,

        Interesting concept. I don’t quite agree with the premise that everything ends in human experience. I’d say that starting with creation (whatever you believe that was) nothing has ever ended. It has only changed forms.

        Stars become supernovae become stars again.

        Organisms become fertilizer become organisms.

        It seems to me to be part of a big loop.

        Why shouldn’t that be possible for our spirit as well?

        I just don’t see the downside to belief. If I’m right the benefits are felt now and in the afterlife. If I’m wrong I’ll never know.

        Cheers and thanks for the levelheaded exchange.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          The downside is that you are living in a make-believe world. You are wasting the one chance you have to live a life free of self delusion, squandering it because of ideas like “Why shouldn’t that be possible for our spirit as well?”

          There is no evidence that this thing you call “our spirit” exists.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          What spirit?

        • Posted December 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          If we apply your analogy in the way that you suggest, nothing of this “spirit” will ever be recognizable ever again. Every atom in your body was once part of a star; do you remember shining brightly into the darkness? At least some of the water in your body was once filtered through Caesar’s kidneys at one point; do you remember the smell of Cleopatra’s hair? At least some of the glucose molecules being used by your brain for fuel right now were created by photosynthesis in a plant. Do you remember feeling your leaves blowing in the wind?

          But all of that is granting you your argument, and ignoring the other, most important point I neglected to make.

          One should believe naturalism because it’s true.

          You might not be aware of it, but one of the significant results from CERN’s confirmation of the Higgs Boson is that, in the process, the LHC completed the search for fields / particles / forces (they’re interchangeable) that can affect human-scale phenomenon. If there was some sort of a soul that interacted with your body but is not part of your physical body, it would have to interact with the parts of your body that conform with Standard Model physics. But the Standard Model is complete, and no evidence of anything capable of such was found — and there’s nowhere else to look.

          Yes, of course — there’s still incredible amounts of neat things physicists don’t know (but hope to learn) about the way the universe works, with quantum gravity being the sexy thing everybody’s focussing their attention on right now. And it’s very reasonable to expect all sorts of unexpected new discoveries in the future.

          But.

          We know, as certainly as we know that an apple and a watermelon dropped from the tower at the same time will hit the ground at the same time, that souls and spirits and ghosts and all those sorts of things simply don’t exist. We’ve looked everywhere they could possibly hind, searched for tracks where tracks must without question be left…and found nothing.

          You may despair at such a notion, but I find it quite exciting — for what it truly means is that we finally know without doubt that we have all the pieces of the puzzle and all that’s left is to figure out how they fit together. Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that there are people alive today who will someday have a very accurate and detailed understanding of human consciousness, and that at least some of those reading these words will live long enough to read a summary of that in the popular press (or its future equivalent, presumably electronic).

          And how could one not find that exciting? ‘Twould have been exciting to have learned of Kepler’s discovery of planetary motion, or Newton’s of Mechanics, or Darwin’s of Evolution, or Einstein’s of Relativity, or any of the rest…but we may actually be amongst the first to understand ourselves in a way never before dreamt of. Aren’t you at least a little bit curious to learn what makes us tick?

          Cheers,

          b&

  29. Kim
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    The quote might be gone but God’s Word will remain forever. Praying you stop suppressing the truth & accept the free gift of salvation while there’s still time; eternity is a long time to be wrong:( The 7 Year Trib. is just around the corner; there will be plenty of ‘evidence’ of God’s existence & sovereignty then but it will be a super harsh wake-up call to all who are left behind:(

    Praying your heart of stone softens while grace & mercy still abound:(

    • Sam
      Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      blah blah blah

      May Odin have pity on you.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 20, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      Nothing fails like prayer, Kim. Quite literally.

    • Kevin Meredith
      Posted December 20, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      Kim, the 7 years of tribulation have been “just around the corner” for the last 2,000 years. I encourage you to put down your Left Behind comic books and Sunday school guides (or whatever alternate reality fiction you end-timers are using these days) and get to work on fixing a real world with real problems.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 20, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Seems rather cheap to accept salvation out of fear so trying to scare people into conversion is equally cheap.

      Too Pascal’s Wager-y

  30. Mary L
    Posted December 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ve yet to notice the truth being suppressed here.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 21, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Please clarify “here”.

      • Mary L
        Posted December 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        “here” = WEIT


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