Truly the Ayatollah of Appalachia

This is addressed to those who have expressed disagreement (for geographical reasons) with my referring to Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) as the ayatollah of Appalachia.

Take a look at what just popped up at the website of ol’ Hambo’s creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) — well, actually it’s at the website of his mind-boggling Creation Museum. The title is Appalachian Bible College Returns to the Creation Museum.

You must never again doubt your Curmudgeon. We know you’ll want to read the whole article for yourself, so we’ll just give you a hint of what awaits you when you click over there:

An annual trip to the Creation Museum is a part of the curriculum for a course at Appalachian Bible College: PS105 Freshman Seminar.

It’s an annual trip. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s more:

From the list of exhibits or presentations that the students are involved with at the Creation Museum, they must do the following for at least one of them:

• Describe the exhibit or presentation on one page (250 words) and
• Include on a second page a specific list of ten or more ways that this exhibit or presentation defends a biblical world view
• Keep an outline journal of the entire trip (two pages)
• Note that any material from the four lectures may be on the next exam

Bible college is hard work! One more excerpt:

Calvary Baptist Church in Covington, KY, has housed this group for all five years that they have done this, and the trip is funded by a generous donor to Appalachian Bible College for this specific purpose.

Isn’t that wonderful? Anyway, we don’t want any more complaints about our calling ol’ Hambo the ayatollah of Appalachia.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Discovery Institute: Natural Selection Is a Fallacy

The Discoveroids have been both incoherent and boring lately, but we finally found a post so ludicrous that it merits a brief look. It was written by Tom Bethell. He’s not officially a Discoveroid, but they publish his essays. Wikipedia says he advocates intelligent design and other fringe ideas. The last time we wrote about one of his essays was almost a year ago: Discoveroids and AIG on Extraterrestrial Life.

Bethell’s latest is: Dennett’s Algorithm: An Exercise in Circularity. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (DDI), Daniel Dennett reduced natural selection to an algorithm, or a set of mindlessly repeated steps. But as far as I can see, he never tells us exactly what these steps are. I have looked long and hard. However, the omission is helpfully redressed by a Dennett admirer named Vincent Poirier in an Amazon comment on DDI. He identifies the Darwinian (Dennettian) algorithm as a four-step process:

1. Organisms pass their characteristics on to their descendants, which are mostly but not completely identical to their parent organisms.
2. Organisms breed more descendants than can possibly survive.
3. Descendants with beneficial variations have a better chance of surviving and reproducing, however slight, than those with non-beneficial variations.
4. These slightly modified descendants are themselves organisms, so repeat from Step 1. (There is no stopping condition.)

Here’s the Amazon listing for Dennett’s book: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life. There are 186 comments, and we haven’t searched for the one that Bethell quoted. Dennett isn’t responsible for it, but it sounds reasonable to us. Bethell doesn’t think so, and he uses it — an Amazon comment! — not only to attack Dennett’s book, but Darwin’s theory in general. This is an extreme stretch, but we’re dealing with a Discoveroid article, so we have to expect such things. Let’s read on:

The beneficial variations are defined in terms of those that survive. Therefore, one might say, Dennett’s algorithm never comes to grips with the real world. “The survival of the fittest” has the same problem. It is circular. Fitness is defined in terms of survival, and there is no independent criterion of fitness.

Aaaargh!! Ah yes, survival of the fittest (which wasn’t Darwin’s phrase) is a wretched tautology — circular reasoning. That’s a classic creationist clunker, discussed in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims. The process of natural selection can be distorted seem tautological when it’s deliberately expressed as “survivors survive.” Well, yes — survivors do survive. Duh! But “survivors survive” isn’t even close to what natural selection means. As we said before, in Discovery Institute: A Cornucopia of Chicanery:

In any breeding population, some individuals of the current generation will be more capable than others at tasks like finding food, attracting mates, resisting disease, and escaping predators. Those individuals are less likely to die young, and are therefore more likely to be the progenitors of the next generation, which will inherit their parents’ advantageous genetic characteristics. That’s the mechanism Darwin proposed to explain how inherited “individual differences” (he didn’t know about genetics and mutations) can eventually transform a species into one that is better adapted to its environment. … It describes a natural process which isn’t the least bit tautological.

But Bethell says it is tautological. He also confuses the occurrence of mutations with the process of natural selection. We shall watch him as he does so:

No one knows at the time what a “beneficial variation” is. But retrospectively, we do. It is one that survives in offspring.

Aaaargh!! No one knows at the time? So what? No one needs to know! That’s the “natural” part of natural selection. But in the fantasy universe of the Discoveroids, their transcendent designer does know such things, because he designs variations to be beneficial. (He also withholds those variations from individuals he has intelligently decided shouldn’t survive.) Bethell continues:

In The Origin [he means Origin of Species], Darwin gives only one case in which he identifies a variation that is independent of survival. He imagines a wolf endowed with greater speed in an environment where prey are scarce.

That’s not related to survival? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s Bethell’s analysis:

But obviously stronger leg muscles in a wolf could produce thousands of problems. If you try to guard against all such unforeseen eventualities, you will end up claiming that a mutation that enables a wolf to catch scarce prey will allow it to catch scarce prey.

Aaaargh!! Only the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — can salvage this hopelessly tangled situation. Bethell doesn’t offer any further analysis. His essay ends abruptly, with this:

In short, natural selection makes a circular claim, Dennett does his best to skirt the problem, but no one has been able to get around it.

So there you are. Like a good creationist, Bethell claims that natural selection is merely a tautology, and the only way out of his phony conundrum is to invoke the intelligent designer — an imaginary entity who provides an imaginary solution for an imaginary problem. This is creationism at its best!

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

The Origin of Copulation

The subject of sex can be challenging to write about, but when it’s in the news it can’t be avoided. We shall endeavor to maintain our customary high standards throughout this post.

The topic is sometimes raised by creationists, who assert that sex couldn’t have evolved. The first time we ran across that argument was at the Jack Chick website — see Jack Chick: Sex Is Evolution’s Nightmare. Then the same line was echoed by Answers in Genesis (AIG). Our post about that one was Answers in Genesis: Sex Didn’t Evolve. Here’s a quote from the AIG article:

Sexual reproduction is only possible when both sexes have fully functional reproductive organs at the same time. … How is it then possible that such different and complex organs, which fit one another in every morphological and physiological detail, could have evolved suddenly?

Now we’ve found an article at PhysOrg that, ah … touches on the subject: Sex? It all started 385 million years ago (w/ Video). As that title suggests, there’s a video you can watch if you click over to their article. Your Curmudgeon hasn’t seen it, so proceed at your own risk. Anyway, here are some excerpts from the article, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:

It may not have been love as we know it, but around 385 million years ago, our very distant ancestors — armoured fish called placoderms — developed the art of intercourse. So suggest a team of evolutionary scientists, who point to the fossil of a placoderm species blessed with the name of Microbrachius dicki.

There’s some information about them at Wikipedia: Microbrachius, which briefly mentions the latest findings, but we’ll stay with PhysOrg. Let’s read on:

Measuring about eight centimetres (four inches) in length, M. dicki lived in habitats in modern-day Scotland — where the first specimen was found in 1888 — and in Estonia and China. Placoderms have previously been found to be the most primitive jawed animal — the earliest known vertebrate forerunner of humans.

Then it gets interesting:

But they now have an even more honoured place in the book of life.

Oh dear, here it comes:

Microbrachius is the first known species to copulate in order to carry out internal fertilisation, according to a paper published on Sunday in the journal Nature.

Here’s a link to that paper: Copulation in antiarch placoderms and the origin of gnathostome internal fertilization. PhysOrg continues:

Male fish had bony, L-shaped genital limbs called claspers which transferred sperm into the female, a more effective way of reproduction compared to spawning in the water, the study says. The females, for their part, developed small, paired bones with which they locked the male organs in place in order to copulate.

Egad, this is terribly graphic! Here’s more:

“‘Microbrachius’ means little arms, but scientists have been baffled for centuries by what these bony paired arms were actually there for,” said John Long, a professor of palaeontology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. “We’ve solved this great mystery because they were there for mating, so that the male could position his claspers into the female genital area.”

Ah, the mystery has been solved. Moving along:

Covered with thick, bony plates covering the head and trunk, placoderms ruled the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes for around 70 million years. They were then were wiped out around 360 million years ago in a mysterious mass extinction.

Well, they had a good long run. Another excerpt:

The critters handed on features such as jaws, teeth and paired limbs that are seen today in reptiles, birds and mammals, including humans. If the new study is right, the “claspers,” over hundreds of millions of years, evolved into the penis.

There’s more in the PhysOrg article. They actually describe how the, ah, deed was done. We’ll let you discover that for yourself. It’s going to be interesting to see what the creationists say about this — other than I ain’t no kin to no placoderm! Maybe they won’t say anything at all.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

AIG Talks About Ebola, Again

Our last post about AIG and Ebola was AIG Can Solve the Ebola Problem. Today they’re at it again — no doubt to serve the needs of the millions of people who turn to AIG for information about such things.

The new article is titled Is the Ebola Epidemic Evolution in Action? It was written by three of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the online ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo).

The three authors are: Elizabeth Mitchell (a creationist gynecologist), Georgia Purdom (this is her AIG bio page), and Tommy Mitchell (here’s his AIG bio page). Yes, it appears that Elizabeth and Tommy Mitchell are married to each other — a creationist power couple.

Most of the article seems to be standard information about Ebola, but we’ll skip that because there are more authoritative sources. What we’ll do here is give you the parts that are pure creationism. Okay, let’s get started, with some bold font added by us for emphasis. One of their introductory paragraphs asks:

In the past, outbreaks have remained geographically confined to the regions where the organism that harbors them lives. Why is this one different? Is Ebola wielding the power of Darwinian evolution over medical science?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What kind of a question is that? The kind that would occur only to a creationist. Skipping a load about case histories, symptoms, etc., they mention that the virus mutates, and then they say:

But is this evolution? No. When a virus or microorganism mutates, it might change some of its traits, producing some mutant copies better able to face the challenges in its environment and some less able. Obviously the ones better able to cope survive and become the “parents” of the next generation. But they do not change into different kinds of viruses or microorganisms. Ebola virus remains Ebola virus. This is not an example of molecules-to-man evolution.

Got that? It’s not turning into a crocoduck. Mutation isn’t evolution. Let’s read on:

What about concerns recently mentioned in the news that Ebola could evolve into an airborne virus? Many experts doubt this will occur. Why? Well, even though viruses mutate rapidly, they do not acquire the genetic information to build brand new structures that would make them into a different kind of virus.

You can relax, dear reader. The AIG creation scientists assure you that Ebola won’t become airborne. They explain why:

[W]hen we look at the reason many experts believe the virus will not be able to make this leap, we can see it is the distinction between molecules-to-man evolution (which does not happen) and variation within a created kind (which happens all the time) that makes this confidence possible. The fact that organisms are unable to gain new genetic information to add structures and functions leading them to become a different kind of organism, from the human point of view, is a very good thing.

Skipping over some stuff, they ask a very important question:

Why Did God Make Viruses?

You know the usual creationist answer, but it bears repeating. They say:

Because we are confident that the original world was good until the curse of man’s sin fell upon it, we know that the original viruses — like the original kinds of bacteria and all other microorganisms — must have been harmless and served useful purposes. Over the past 6,000 years many disease-causing variations have developed in viruses and indeed in all classes of microbes. However, the more science learns about this hard-to-see part of our world, the more hints we see that these things were designed as a vital part of our world.

Ebola isn’t God’s fault — it’s yours! Here’s more:

Ebola is indeed the latest challenge in this sin-cursed world, and a very dangerous one. But it is not powered by Darwinian evolution.

Ah, if it’s “not powered by Darwinian evolution,” we have nothing to fear. Then we come to the final paragraph, and it’s the funniest thing we’ve ever seen in an AIG article. Here it comes:

This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other health care professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider or go to a hospital.

That was priceless. Although AIG insists that they know far more about science than all those horrible secularists and evolutionists do, and although two of the three authors of their latest Ebola article are (or were) physicians, they have enough sense to caution their drooling readers not to rely on them. They don’t need to worry. The only people who take AIG seriously are already brain-dead.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article