Creationist Wisdom #486: Religion Offers More

Today’s letter-to-the-editor won’t rank among the great ones in our collection. In fact, it’s rather modest. But it’s good in its own way, and we haven’t found anything better this weekend.

The letter appears in the Daily Record of Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey. It’s titled Religion offers us more than science. We don’t see any comments section at the end.

Because today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t use his full name. Well, he’s an officer of his local Republican club, but that’s not a big deal. His first name is Ron, and that’s what we’ll call him. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

There seems to be a deep, abiding fear that religion will take over and make us all mind-numbed robots. Some say it’s better to trust in science.

Is that an unrealistic fear? There once was a time — appropriately called the Dark Ages — when it was so. Many preachers long for a return of those days, when men like them wielded power over their communities. There are parts of the world even today where holy men rule, and hunger to expand their domains. On the other hand, we haven’t seen any sign that science is trying to take over and “make us all mind-numbed robots.” But we sense that Ron doesn’t trust science any more than we trust theocracy. He tells us:

Religion and science are mutually exclusive. One cannot contradict the other. Let’s look at the difference.

Ah, Ron is going to enlighten us. Let’s read on:

Science deals with the here and now. It can be explored, analyzed, documented and explained. It is human-based and subject to human interpretation. It is not constant — what we believe to be true today can change tomorrow. It provides no basis for living a moral life because there are no scientific guidelines for a moral life.

Egad — what a turbulent and immoral thing science is! Ron continues:

Religion, on the other hand, is a belief system. It provides a moral basis for how we are to live our lives.

Oh, how wonderful! Here’s more:

We humans cannot determine what is right or wrong ourselves. What we feel is right today, we may feel is wrong tomorrow. We need a firm foundation which is constant.

Ron is right! How do mere humans know what’s right or wrong? We need help. Ron says:

Religion of any kind provides that consistency. Religion provides a set of moral laws which are not open to interpretation but as human beings we each interpret these moral laws in our own way. Just as with science, these interpretations yield different results but the basics still remain constant and unchanged.

Religion is constant and unchanging. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? This is the rest of Ron’s brief letter:

Science can explain but cannot give you faith, hope and love, but religion can.

Science is bad! It can’t give you faith, hope and love. Hey — neither can indoor plumbing, but we wouldn’t want to be without it.

Addendum: This is quite off-topic, but we can’t add pics to the comments, and this is a photo taken by retiredsciguy, which he calls “Eclipse with sunspots.”

Photo by retiredsciguy

Photo by retiredsciguy

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Darwin, Science, & the Antichrist

The RenewAmerica website is definitely trying to win the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award. They just posted another column by a preacher named Michael Bresciani, about whom we’re told: “Rev. Michael Bresciani is a Christian author and a columnist for several online sites and magazines.” The last time we wrote about one of his essays was Evolution — The Greatest Hoax of All Time.

The rev’s latest is Antichrist — there’s an app for that: or there soon will be. It’s so wildly incoherent that we can’t find any theme that even purports to hold it together. All we can do is give you a series of sentences we pulled out of the thing, each of which stands alone as a monument to wackiness. We don’t need to add any bold font to the excerpts. Imagine that they’re entirely in all caps and bold font. Okay, here it comes:

There’s little mystery to the fact that the world is becoming so openly hostile to the gospel and anything at all to do with the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It goes with the territory, the prophetic warnings and the rise of the well prophesied last and worst dictator of the world known as the Antichrist.

We know what you’re thinking: Yes, Curmy, that’s definitely crazy, but what does it have to do with the stuff you usually write about? All we can do is urge you to say with us, dear reader. Here’s more:

The spirit of Antichrist is working and preparing the hearts of men to fully receive him.

[...]

He will pop up on the scene rather suddenly as an amazing economist and political military genius unlike like the world has ever seen. He will be pleasant to look at and provide an air of confidence that those who are driven only by pop-culture’s fleeting standards will be quite satisfied with – regardless of what he proposes. He will be Obama on steroids or a sort of turbocharged Hitler.

That was just a warm-up. Let’s read on:

The icons are newly inaugurated heroes of the last centuries, entrepreneurs, tech wizards and silicon silly sots, stupefied by the culture’s prophets of science and their promises. People like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the headliners in the greatest dog and pony show since Barnum and Bailey.

Tech’s earliest pioneers were men like Darwin, who after noticing that Galapagos finches had different kinds of beaks, helped the world to leap to the conclusion that everything came from nothing.

You wanted evolution to be mentioned? You got it! The rev continues:

The hype quickly became hip and modern minds now refuse to examine creation science with its new proofs. Calls for evolutionists to deal with the myriads of un-answered questions go unheeded. It’s the old, ‘don’t confuse me with the facts’ that powers the engine of deleteriousness among the sycophants. If missing links were the means by which we calculated how smart we are – honest people would be forced to admit that this is the dumbest generation in history, in spite of technology.

We’re less than a third of the way into this mess, so we’ll have to be very selective from now on. Here’s more:

We have science softening the cruelty and inhuman practice of murdering what we all know are babies, by calling them – fetuses. Political correctness has joined with evolution and now we need not say that our grandparents were monkeys, baboons and gorillas, but they are – primates.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The rev is an adult primate fetus. Moving along:

Bad and false science, along with notably non-empirical guesswork, creates friction when it meets with truth. No problem, we reduce or eliminate the friction with fiction. We think we are going to flit about among the stars even though the unfathomable distances between stars says we are not.

[...]

We all want our children to be the next Einstein and we continue to laud the wonders produced by his masterpiece known as – relativity, but we are quiet about the fact that this man also unleashed the means by which to create the most devastating, world busting weapon men have ever known.

Science brings only death! Another excerpt:

People of God are not anti-science. They know that science is the means by which God has allowed us to peer into the wonders of his creation. But when it is exalted to the high place where it is allowed to figuratively give God his walking papers it has been raised to the place of an idol – that is far too high and that too is addressed in the bible.

Yeah, science has to be kept in its proper place — humble. On with the rev’s article:

Whether it’s a TV image or a holographic image that is televised matters little, he [the Antichrist] will make sure everyone in the world sees him on a regular basis – or else!

[...]

Antichrist will be seen the world over and if you are still here when that is happening, you will be in the most danger you have ever been in for your entire life.

But at the end, the rev is somewhat optimistic:

Technology will cease, and after Christ’s return, the need for it as we know it today, will meet with instant obsolescence. It takes no technology to circumvent the dangers that lie ahead; all it takes is a change of heart.

So there you are, dear reader. The rev is saying that if you abandon science, that mean ol’ Antichrist isn’t gonna getcha. You’ve been warned.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Casey Defeats Evolution! Well, Maybe Not

This must be Casey Luskin week at the Discovery Institute. That’s okay, he’s our favorite creationist. He’s talking again about his chapter in a new creationist book — we posted about it yesterday: Casey’s Evidence for Intelligent Design.

His new post is Humans Display Many Behavioral and Cognitive Abilities that Offer No Apparent Survival Advantage. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

In recent years, biologists have tried to explain human moral, intellectual, and religious capacities in terms of Darwinian evolution. Harvard University evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser has promoted the increasingly common hypothesis that “people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution.”

Maybe. Or maybe it’s all learned behavior. This is what Casey says:

Humans do appear hard-wired for morality, but were we programmed by unguided evolutionary processes? Natural selection cannot explain extreme acts of human kindness.

Nor can natural selection explain extreme acts of cruelty. So what? Humans have intelligence and free will; we aren’t creatures driven by pure instinct. After giving us a few examples of extremely altruistic behavior, Casey says:

In spite of the claims of evolutionary psychologists, many of humanity’s most impressive charitable, artistic, and intellectual abilities outstrip the basic requirements of natural selection. If life is simply about survival and reproduction, why do humans compose symphonies, investigate quantum mechanics, and build cathedrals?

Aaaargh!! Isn’t this grand? Casey is bravely battling a straw-man, and claiming victory over the non-existent “Darwinist” assertion that everything we do is “simply about survival and reproduction.” He proudly declares:

Contrary to Darwinism, the evidence indicates that human life isn’t about mere survival and reproduction.

Darwin was a fool, and Casey is victorious! Then he makes his point even stronger:

But in addition to our moral uniqueness, humans are also distinguished by their use of complex language.

Casey quotes somebody who allegedly says: “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world.” [*Curmudgeon swoons*] Wow — Casey is such a meticulous scholar! He concludes with this:

Finally, humans are also the only species that seeks to investigate the natural world through science. In fact, the next time someone tries to break down the differences between humans and apes, remind them that it’s humans who write scientific papers studying apes, not the other way around.

Okay, so where does that leave us? Casey has suddenly discovered that humans have unique abilities and exhibit unique behavior. But the rest of us already knew that, and Darwin’s theory doesn’t claim otherwise.

Has Casey’s discovery somehow defeated the theory of evolution? He may think so, but we just don’t see it. In fact, we don’t understand his post at all. So we appeal to you, dear reader. Can you figure out what Casey is trying to do?

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Creationism — So What?

There’s a relatively new website that seems to have a load of writers of the right-wing persuasion. Wikipedia has a brief writeup on them: The Federalist. They’re located in Alexandria, Virginia. Aside from their conservatism, which doesn’t much bother us, they appear to be a pack of creationists.

They’ve already been cited a few times by the Discoveroids — e.g.: Forget Cosmos, Here’s Further Confirmation of Neil Tyson’s Tendency to Commit Taradiddles. So because they may become a new source of entertainment, let’s take a look at something we found there today.

Here are some excerpts from Science Says Creationists Aren’t Idiots. Strange title, huh? We’ve added a bit of bold font for emphasis:

They being by mentioning some article written by Virginia Heffernan, Why I’m a creationist, in which she said that she “never found a more compelling story of our origins than the ones that involve God.” Then they mention some mainstream media criticism of her article, and they ask:

Now that a year has passed and the media circus has ended, we can re-examine the issue more calmly. Why does rejecting evolution get so much attention from mainstream journalists? [Two critics offered] one typical response: Heffernan’s writing couldn’t be trusted because she is a creationist. Heffernan’s “dedication to facts is somewhat in question.”

That seems reasonable to us, but The Federalist sees things differently. They say:

Note they make an empirical claim: because of their beliefs about the origins of life, creationists cannot think rationally or logically anywhere. Put another way, it’s possible to determine people’s general reasoning and analytical skills by knowing what they think about the theory of evolution. … Given that their argument depends on their ability to draw conclusions from creationists’ beliefs, it’s a glaring oversight.

Is it really? Let’s read on:

Suppose that rejecting evolution does not infringe on your ability to reason elsewhere. Suppose it is possible to be a creationist and also a top-notch journalist, doctor, or scientist. Suppose that your belief about the age of the Earth is irrelevant to your daily life and has no ill consequences. [The critics'] argument would then fall apart. As long as rejecting evolution in and of itself is harmless, why should anyone care what Heffernan believes about evolution? Why get excited?

A fair question. Your Curmudgeon has never claimed that all creationists are inherently incompetent at everything, and should therefore be confined to mental hospitals. Indeed, we’ve seen that a creationist can be an architect, or dentist, or a number of other things. Many seem to be engineers. But they function in those occupations by using knowledge, skills, and technologies that are clearly non-biblical. When they put their specialties aside and embrace creationism, they exhibit a disturbing willingness to accept ideas that not only can’t be tested or even investigated, but which require rejection of theories that are supported by vast amounts of verifiable evidence. This is reality denial, and it justifies skepticism about their overall commitment to rationality. The Federalist continues:

Feelings and desires don’t matter here — only data matter. We have to answer some empirical questions: Does rejecting evolution affect your thinking outside biology? Is there a connection between how we think about this and other topics?

Yes, we think there is a connection. It’s one thing to say “I don’t understand biology” (or cosmology, or geology), but it’s quite another to say “I reject them and all of their evidence because they disagree with my reading of scripture.” Here’s more:

A sports analogy might be illuminating. We don’t expect basketball players to excel at tennis. … Skills don’t always transfer from one area to another. I suspect we all grasp this idea. We are all good at some things and not others.

Bad analogy. Really bad. Moving along:

Let’s now reframe the debate: We already recognize that athletic skills in one area may be meaningless in another. Why don’t we do something similar for intellectual skills? Why conclude that rejecting evolution renders someone intellectually impotent everywhere? … [T]his is an empirical question that should be studied scientifically. We must look at the evidence before deciding.

[*Groan*] The author refers to some study that allegedly concludes “you can’t predict someone’s science literacy from his or her belief in evolution.” Well, we disagree. Here’s another excerpt:

Perhaps [the critics'] most egregious oversight was ignoring the data right in front of them: Heffernan was already an accomplished journalist!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! On with the article:

The [critics of Heffernan's creationism] are intellectually and ethically obligated to prove creationists’ beliefs are harmful. Not harmful in a metaphysical or abstract sense. And not in the “I’m uncomfortable with your lifestyle” or “creationism violates my moral values” sense. But concrete, measurable harm — the type of harm they demand proof for when conservatives suggest gay marriage and promiscuous sex are harmful.

Well, if a creationist is happy merely to live in his own world, and doesn’t insist on crippling science education, then the creationist is only affecting himself — and probably his children. But the creationist activists we write about are determined to shut down science — all of it. Now we come to the end:

Mainstream journalists have not come close to meeting their own standards. They have only shown they don’t like and are uncomfortable with creationists. But that’s not enough to justify the vitriol and acrimony they routinely heap on people like Heffernan. They must explain how, if being a creationist is such a problem, [various creationists can succeed in their specialties.] … Until they do, it’s perfectly okay — by their own values — to be a creationist. So go ahead, if you feel like.

Yeah, so what if someone is a creationist? Or an astrologer? Or a faith healer? Who cares? What’s the big deal? Teach the controversy!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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