I meant to write about this a couple weeks ago and forgot, but PZ’s post reminded me. Like PZ and Aron Ra, I knew Glenn Morton as an ally, and a very important one, in the fight against creationism. I worked with him on a couple different projects over the years. And I, too, am saddened that he has now deleted all of his writings on the subject and lashed out in a fit of irrational rage at those he previously worked with. PZ explains the nature of Morton’s Demon, an idea that Glenn came up with:
One of the concepts he crystallized, in addition, was the idea of Morton’s Demon. One of the notable things about arguments with creationists (perhaps you’ve noticed this too) is how they can stand there slack-jawed and dead-eyed while you explain an uncomfortable fact to them, and how they’ll suddenly leap into action when you say some word or phrase that cues a creationist script — you can be describing how the chemistry of the cell works, for instance, and if you mention “thermodynamics” suddenly you’ll get “The second law of thermodynamics proves that everything trends towards disorder, and is proof of a Fallen World!”…followed by slack passivity as you explain that no, it does no such thing. Morton’s Demon is the mental game creationists have going: they selectively shut out evidence against their pet theories and only allow in ideas their pastor has assured them are completely wrong.
Aron has now made me very sad. It turns out Morton’s Demon was an especially appropriate name for the concept, because Glenn Morton is severely afflicted with one. He escaped the Young Earth Creationist trap because his work exposed him to the counter-evidence every day, hammering the YEC-demon into submission…but I mentioned that he was a Christian. It turns out that he’s a right-wing conservative Christian, with a fully functioning filter tuned to select out anything from any source other than Limbaughesque talk radio.
In a post on the TheologyWeb forum, he explains why he deleted all of his important writings debunking young earth creationism in a furious and irrational screed against atheists and liberals. To wit:
The powers that be think that everyone MUST be forced to pay for contraception for the YES, slutty life style of Sandra Fluck who gave a speech at the Democratic convention bemoaning that we don’t pay for her contraception. (Rush Limbaugh got in lots of trouble for saying she is a slut, yet it is Sandra who wants to live a life of sex where everyone else pays to keep her from getting pregnant). Why must I as a Christian, who thinks such behavior abysmal, sinful and self destructive pay for her to have sexcapades without consequences? Why must my taxes be used to support what I view as her responsibility? Why does she have a right to pick the money in my pocket when she didn’t earn it? But, it seems, if you question this simple fact in today’s world, everyone will cluck their tongues at you, making you out to be the evil one. Why is it that they think that everyone MUST be forced to believe that what Sandra does is OK AND PAY FOR HER TO HAVE PLEASURE WITHOUT WORRY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES???? She can do what she wants, but don’t ask me to pay for it and don’t force me to approve of her behavior. The modern political left, and make no doubt, most anti-YEC folk are from the political left, want to enforce their conformity upon us because we can not be allowed to actually have an independent view of Sandra Fluck’s behavior or anything else, including anything they deem to be wrong. That is not to be allowed. Enforced conformity is what they want. I must smile while I give Sandra my money to pay for her sexcapades.
That’s painful for me to read and it just makes me sad. The whole thing is. It just reads like an old crank screaming at those atheist kids to get off his lawn. Glenn is getting old and he has faced some serious health problems, and I’d like to think those things are contributing to this, but I don’t know. It’s been years since I spoke to him. Regardless, I will continue to value his contributions to the public’s understanding of science, especially geology. His work in debunking common creationist arguments regarding the geologic column is outstanding. I wish he’d left them up.